As I said at the end of the last chapter, Aquinas maintains that God's mercy and love are aspects of his providence. But he has more to say about providence than that. To start with, we shall look at his teaching on providence in general. We shall then turn to what, for him, are three implications of this—ones concerning chance, the action of created causes, and the topic of predestination. Finally, we shall see what he says on three topics which fall within the notion of providence as he understands it and as others have also, i.e. miracles, human freedom, and prayer.
The English word 'providence' derives from the Latin providentia. Strictly speaking, therefore, it means 'foresight' or 'protective care' ('provision'). So to ascribe providence to God is to say (and has always been understood as saying) that he tends to his creation or that he somehow looks after it. Though Aquinas thinks of providence in this sense, however, he mostly speaks of it while having in mind the way in which God governs or rules his created order. His teaching on God's providence is really equivalent to what he thinks about the relation of creatures to God. Essentially, therefore, it comprises the beliefs (1) that creatures are made by God ex nihilo, (2) that they depend on him entirely for their being or goodness, and (3) that they are moved by God both as efficient cause and as final cause (as alpha and omega). Indeed, it is with specific reference to these beliefs that Aquinas ascribes providence to God in the first place.
We have to declare that God has providence. He creates every goodness in things, as we have already shown. It is not only in the substance of created things that goodness lies, but also in their being ordained to an end, above all
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Publication information: Book title: The Thought of Thomas Aquinas. Contributors: Brian Davies - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 158.
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