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Nature And Grace by Aquinas

Article One Whether there is Love in God

Whether there is Love in God

We proceed to the first article thus:

1. It seems that love is not in God. For there is no passion in God, and love is a passion. It follows that love is not in God.

2. Again, love, anger, sadness, and the like are condivided. But sadness and anger are not attributed to God otherwise than metaphorically. Neither, therefore, is love.

3. Again, Dionysius says (4 Div. Nom, lect.12): |Love is a power which unites and binds.| But there is no place for this in God, since God is simple. It follows that love is not in God.

On the other hand: it is said in I John 4:16: |God is love.| I answer: we are bound to say that there is love in God, because the first movement of the will, and indeed of any appetitive power, is love. An act of will or of any appetitive power seeks both good and evil as its proper object, but good is the object of will or appetite more fundamentally and essentially. Evil is its object secondarily and derivatively, that is, in so far as it is opposed to good. Hence actions of will or appetite which refer to good are bound to be naturally prior to those which refer to evil, as joy is prior to sadness, and love prior to hate. Again, that which is more universal is naturally prior. Thus the intellect is related to universal truth before it is related to any particular truths. Now some actions of will and appetite refer to the good under some special circumstance. Joy and delight, for example, refer to good which is present and possessed, while desire and hope refer to good which is not yet possessed. Love, on the other hand, refers to the good universally, whether it be possessed or not possessed, and is therefore naturally the first action of the will and of the appetite. Hence all other appetitive movements presuppose love, as their first root. No one desires anything except as a good which is loved. Neither does anyone rejoice except in a good which is loved. Neither is there hatred, except of that which is opposed to what is loved. It is likewise obvious that sadness and other such feelings depend on love as their first principle. There must therefore be love in whomsoever there is will, or appetite, since if that which is first is removed, the rest is removed. Now it was proved in Q.19, Art.1, that there is will in God. We are therefore bound to say that there is love in God.

On the first point: the cognitive power moves only through the medium of the appetitive power. Thus the notion of the universal moves us through the notion of the particular, as is said in 3 De Anima, texts 57-58. So also the intellectual appetite, which we call the will, moves in us through the medium of the sensitive appetite, whose action is always accompanied by some sensible change, especially in the heart, which according to the philosopher is the first principle of movement in animals (De Part. Animalium 2, ch.1; 3, ch.4). It is indeed because they are accompanied by bodily change that actions of the sensitive appetite are called passions, and not actions of will. Accordingly, in so far as love, joy, and delight signify actions of the sensitive appetite, they are passions. But in so far as they signify actions of the intellectual appetite, they are not passions. Now they signify the latter when referred to God. That is why the philosopher says: |God rejoices by one, simple operation| (7 Ethics, text ult.). God also loves in the same manner, without passion.

On the second point: we must pay attention to the material element in the passions of the sensitive appetite, namely to the bodily change, and also to the formal aspect of an appetite. The material element in anger is the increase of blood around the heart, or something of the kind, while formally it is the desire for revenge. Further, the formal aspect of some passions involves a certain imperfection. Desire, for example, involves an unattained good. Sadness involves an evil which is endured, as does anger also, since it presupposes sadness. Other passions, however, such as love and joy, involve no imperfection. Now none of these can be attributed to God in respect of their material element, as we argued above. Nor can we attribute to God any passion which even formally involves imperfection, except in the metaphorical manner permissible in view of the likeness borne by an effect. (Q.3, Art.2; Q. ig, Art.2.) But those which do not involve imperfection, such as love and joy, are rightly attributed to God, yet as without passion, as we have said.

On the third point: an act of love is always directed to two things. It is directed to the good which one wills for someone, and also to the person for whom one wills it. To love someone is in fact to will good for him. Hence when anyone loves himself he wills good for himself, and seeks to acquire it so far as he can. This is the reason why love is called a |uniting| power, even in God. Yet love is not composite in God, because the good which God wills for himself is not other than himself, since God is good by his own essence, as we proved in Q.4, Arts.1 and 3. Again, when anyone loves another and wills good for him, he substitutes this other for himself, and counts good for him as good for himself. For this reason love is called a |binding| power. It joins another to oneself, and relates oneself to him as if to oneself. In so far as God wills good to others, the love which is in God is an incomposite binding power.

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