MT208-P01. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPThe will of God, by which He chooses to love Himself, follows necessarily from His understanding, by which He knows Himself. But we do not know how His essence and His understanding, by which he knows Himself, differ from His will, by which he chooses to love Himself. Nor does the term personality, which theologians use to explain this, escape our notice. Although we are not ignorant of the term, we are ignorant of its significance, and unable to form any clear and distinct concept of its content. Nevertheless, we consistently believe in the beatific vision of God, which is promised to faithful ones that this would be revealed to them.
We cannot distinguish between God's essence, His understanding by which He knows Himself, and His will by which He loves Himself.
MT208-P02. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPAs is sufficiently clear from the preceding, God's will and power considered objectively cannot be distinguished from His understanding. For we have made it clear that God has not only decreed that things should exist, but also what character they should have, i.e., their essence and existence depend upon the will and power of God. From this we see that God's understanding and power, and will, by which He created and understands, and conserves or loves the world, cannot be distinguished from one another except in respect to our understanding.
God's will and power considered as objective cannot be distinguished from His understanding.
MT208-P03. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPMoreover, when we say that God holds certain things in disfavor, and loves others, this is spoken figuratively, as when the Scriptures say that the earth shall bring forth men. That God is not angry with any one, nor loves any one in the sense that people ordinarily believe, is evident from the Scriptures themselves. So Isaiah says, and more clearly the Apostle to the Romans, chapter 9: "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purposes of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth, that the older shall serve the younger, etc." And a little below: "Therefore, hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say men unto me: Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor?" etc.
It is improperly said that God hates certain things and loves others.
MT208-P04. PREV - NEXT - THIS - UPPER - TOPIf then, you ask: Why, then, does God admonish men? To this it may be responded, that God has decreed from eternity to admonish them at a given time in order that those whom He wished to save might be converted.
Why God admonishes men; why He does not save them without admonishment; and why the wicked are punished.
If you inquire further: Whether God was not able to save them without
this admonishment, we respond that He was. Why, then, does He not thus
save them, you might inquire. To this I will reply after you
have told me why He did not make the Red Sea passable without a
strong east wind, and why He does not make things to move without the
agency of other things, and an infinite number of other things which
He does by means of mediating causes. Then you will ask: Why are the
wicked punished, since, because of their nature, they clearly fulfill
the divine decree? I respond that it is also according to the divine
decree that they should be punished. And if only those whom we believe
to sin from choice should be punished, why do men attempt to exterminate
venomous serpents? for they only act according to their nature, nor are
they able to do otherwise.