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WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE UNDERSTANDING OF GOD
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ON THE UNDERSTANDING OF GOD
I. The understanding of God is that faculty of his life which is first in nature and order, and by which the living God distinctly understands all things and every one, which, in what manner soever, either have, will have, have had, can have, or might hypothetically have, a being of any kind, by which he also distinctly understands the order, connection, and relation of all and each of them between each other, and the entities of reason, those beings which exist, or which can exist, in the mind, imagination, and enunciation.
II. God knows all things, neither by intelligible representations, nor by similitude, but by his own and sole essence; with the exception of evil things, which he knows indirectly by the good things opposed to them, as privation is known by means of our having been accustomed to any thing.
IV. The succession of order, in the objects of the divine knowledge, is in this manner: First. God knows himself entirely and adequately, and this understanding is his own essence or being. Secondly. He knows all possible things, in the perfection of his own essence, and, therefore, all things impossible. In the understanding of possible things, this is the order:
(1.) He knows what things can exist by his own primary and sole act.
(2.) He knows what things, from the creatures, whether they will come into existence or will not, can exist by his conservation, motion, assistance, concurrence, and permission.
(3.) He knows what things he can do about the acts of the creatures consistently with himself or with these acts. Thirdly. He knows all entities, even according to the same order as that which we have just shown in his knowledge of things possible.
V. The understanding of God is certain and infallible; so that he sees certainly and infallibly, even, things future and contingent, whether he sees them in their causes, or in themselves. But this infallibility depends on the infinity of the essence of God, and not on his unchangeable will.
VI. The act of understanding of God is occasioned by no external cause, not even by its object; though if there be not afterwards an object, neither will there be any act of God's understanding about it.
VII. How certain soever the acts of God's understanding may themselves be, this does not impose any necessity on things, but rather establishes contingency in them. For, as he knows the thing itself and its mode, if the mode of the thing be contingent, he must know it as such, and, therefore, it remains contingent with respect to the divine knowledge.
VIII. The knowledge of God may be distinguished according to its objects. And, First, into the theoretical, by which he understands things under the relation of entity and truth; and into the practical, by which he considers things under the relation of good, and as objects of his will and power.
IX. Secondly. One [quality of the] knowledge of God is that of simple intelligence, by which he understands, himself, all possible things, and the nature and essence of all entities; another is that of vision, by which he beholds his own existence and that of all other entities or beings.
X. The knowledge by which God knows his own essence and existence, all things possible, and the nature and essence of all entities, is simply necessary, as pertaining to the perfection of his own knowledge. But that by which he knows the existence of other entities, is hypothetically necessary, that is, if they now have, have already had, or shall afterwards have, any existence. For when any object, whatsoever, is laid down, it must, of necessity, fall within the knowledge of God. The former of these precedes every free act of the divine will; the latter follows every free act. The schoolmen; therefore, denominate the first "natural," and the second "free knowledge."
XI. The knowledge by which God knows any thing if it be or exist, is intermediate between the two [kinds] described in theses 9 & 10; In fact it precedes the free act of the will with regard to intelligence. But it knows something future according to vision, only through its hypothesis.
XII. Free knowledge, or that of vision, which is also called "prescience," is not the cause of things; but the knowledge which is practical and of simple intelligence, and which is denominated "natural," or "necessary," is the cause of all things by the mode of prescribing and directing to which is added the action of the will and of the capability. The middle or intermediate [kind of] knowledge ought to intervene in things which depend on the liberty of created choice or pleasure.
XIII. From the variety and multitude of objects, and from the means and mode of intelligence and vision, it is apparent that infinite knowledge and omniscience are justly attributed to God; and that they are so proper or peculiar to God according to their objects, means and mode, as not to be capable of appertaining to any created thing.