Of God and His Creatures

How they who see the Divine Substance see all things

SINCE the vision of the divine substance is the final end of every subsistent intelligence, and the natural desire of every being is at rest when it has attained to its final end, the natural desire of every intelligence that sees the divine substance must be perfectly set at rest. But it is the mind's natural desire to know the genera and species and capabilities of all things and the whole order of the universe, as is shown by the zeal of mankind in trying to find out all these things.* Every one therefore of those who see the divine substance will know all the above-mentioned objects.

2. In this is the difference between sense and intellect, as shown in De anima, III, iv, that sense is spoilt or impaired by brilliant or intense sensible objects, so that afterwards it is unable to appreciate similar objects of lower degree: but intellect, not being spoilt or checked by its object, but simply perfected, after understanding an object in which there is more to understand, is not less but better able to understand other objects which afford less scope for understanding. But the highest in the category of intelligible beings is the divine substance. When then an understanding is raised by divine light to see the substance of God, much more is it perfected by the same light to understand all other objects in nature.

4. Though of those who see God one sees Him more perfectly than an other, every one nevertheless sees Him with such perfection as to fill all his natural capacity, nay, the vision transcends all natural capacity (Chap. LII). Every one therefore, seeing the divine substance, must know in that substance all things to which his natural capacity extends. But the natural capacity of every intelligence extends to the knowledge of all genera and species and the order of creation. These things therefore every one of those who see God will know in the divine substance.

Hence to Moses asking for a sight of the divine substance the Lord replied: I will show thee all good (Exod. xxxiii, 19); and Gregory says (Dialogues iv, 33): "What is it that they do not know, who know Him who knows all things?"

But on careful reflection upon what has been said it appears that they who see the divine substance in one way know all things, and in one way they do not. If by 'all things' is meant whatever belongs to the perfection of the universe, the arguments alleged prove that they do see all things.* To the perfection of natural being belong specific natures, with their properties and powers: for the intention of nature fixes on specific natures: as for individuals, they are for the species.* It belongs then to the perfection of a subsistent intelligence, that it should know the natures and capabilities and proper accidents of all species. And by the knowledge of natural species individuals also existing under these species are known by the intelligence that sees God.*

But if by 'all things' is meant all things that God knows by seeing His essence, no created intelligence sees all things in the substance of God, as has been shown above (Chap. LVI).* This may be verified in various respects. First, as regards things that God can do, but neither does nor ever means to do. All such things cannot be known without a thorough comprehension of His power, which is not possible to any created intelligence (Chap. LV). Hence it is said: Perchance thou wilt seize upon the footprints of God and perfectly discover the Almighty. He is higher than heaven, and what wilt thou do? He is deeper than hell, and whence shalt thou know? Longer than the earth is his measure, and broader than the sea (Job xi, 7-9). Secondly, as regards the plans of things made, no intelligence can know them all without comprehending the divine goodness. For the plan of every thing made is taken from the end which the maker intends; and the end of all things made by God is the divine goodness: the plan therefore of things made is the diffusion of the divine goodness in creation. To know then all the plans of things made, one would have to know all the good things that can come about in creation according to the order of the divine wisdom: which would mean comprehending the divine goodness and wisdom, a thing that no created intelligence can do. Hence it is said: I understood that of all the works of God man cannot find out the plan (Eccles. viii, 17). Thirdly, as regards things that depend on the mere will of God, as predestination, election, justification, and the like, which belong to the sanctification of the creature, it is said: The things that are in man none knoweth but the spirit of man that is in him: in like manner the things that are of God none knoweth but the Spirit of God (1 Cor. ii, 11).

3.58 : That one may see God more perfectly than another
3.60 : That they who see God see all things in Him at once