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Nature And Grace by Aquinas

Article Two Whether God's Justice is Truth

Whether God's Justice is Truth

We proceed to the second article thus:

1. It seems that God's justice is not truth. Justice is in the will. It is in fact uprightness of will, as Anselm says (De Verit.13). But the philosopher says that truth is in the intellect (6 Metaph.8; 6 Ethics 2, 6). Hence justice has no relation to truth.

2. Again, according to the philosopher, truth is a virtue distinct from justice. Hence truth is not included in the idea of justice.

On the other hand: it is said in Ps.85:10: |Mercy and truth are met together,| and truth here means justice.

I answer: truth consists in conformity between an intellect and a thing (Q.16, Art.1). But an intellect which causes a thing is the rule and the measure of it, whereas the thing itself is the rule and the measure of a mind which apprehends it. When things are the rule and measure of the intellect, truth consists in conformity of the intellect to the thing. So it is with ourselves. What we think and say is true or false according to what the thing is or is not. But when the intellect is the cause and rule of things, truth consists in conformity of the thing to the intellect. The work of an artist, for example, is said to be true when it conforms to his art. Now just works bear the same relation to the law which they obey as do works of art to the art itself. God's justice is therefore rightly called truth, because it determines the order of things in conformity with his wisdom, which is its law. We ourselves speak of the truth of justice, in this same sense.

On the first point: the justice which obeys a regulative law is in the reason, or intellect. But the justice which obeys a command which regulates an action according to a law is in the will.

On the second point: the truth of which the philosopher is speaking is that virtue by which a man plainly shows what manner of man he is through his words or his deeds. This consists in the conformity of a sign to what it signifies. It does not consist in the conformity of an effect to its cause and rule, as we have said of the truth of justice.

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