It will come as no surprise that if God is God, then He’s in charge.
1 From the points that have been set forth we have adequately established that God is the end of all things. The next possible conclusion from this is that He governs, or rules, the whole of things by His providence.
2 Whenever certain things are ordered to a definite end they all come under the control of the one to whom the end primarily belongs. This is evident in an army: all divisions of an army and their functions are ordered to the commander’s good as an ultimate end, and this is victory. And for this reason it is the function of the commander to govern the whole army.
Likewise, an art which is concerned with the end commands and makes the laws for an art I concerned with means to the end. Thus, the art of civil government commands that of the military; the military commands the equestrian; and the art of navigation commands that of shipbuilding. So, since all things are ordered to divine goodness as an end, as we showed, it follows that God, to Whom this goodness primarily belongs, as something substantially possessed and known and loved, must be the governor of all things.
3 Again, whoever makes a thing for the sake of an end may use the thing for that end. Now, we showed above that all things possessing being in any way whatever are God’s products, and also that God makes all things for an end which is Himself. Therefore, He uses all things by directing them to their end. Now, this is to govern. So, God is the governor of all things through His providence.
Notes “[W]hoever makes a thing for the sake of an end may use the thing for that end.” Unless under coercion.
4 Besides, we have shown that God is the first unmoved mover. The first mover does not move fewer things, but more, than the secondary movers, for the latter do not move other things without the first. Now, all things that are moved are so moved because of the end, as we showed above. So, God moves all things to their ends, and He does so through His understanding, for we have shown above that He does not act through a necessity of His nature, but through understanding and will.
Now, to rule or govern by providence is simply to move things toward an end through understanding. Therefore, God by His providence governs and rules all things that are moved toward their end, whether they be moved corporeally, or spiritually as one who desires is moved by an object of desire.
5 Moreover, that natural bodies are moved and made to operate for an end, even though they do not know their end, was proved by the fact that what happens to them is always, or often, for the best; and, if their workings resulted from art, they would not be done differently.
But it is impossible for things that do not know their end to work for that end, and to reach that end in an orderly way, unless they are moved by someone possessing knowledge of the end, as in the case of the arrow directed to the target by the archer. So, the whole working of nature must be ordered by some sort of knowledge. And this, in fact, must lead back to God, either mediately or immediately, since every lower art and type of knowledge must get its principles from a higher one, as we also see in the speculative and operative sciences. Therefore, God governs the world by His providence.
6 Furthermore, things that are different in their natures do not come together into one order unless they are gathered into a unit by one ordering agent. But in the whole of reality things are distinct and possessed of contrary natures; yet all come together in one order, and while some things make use of the actions of others, some are also helped or commanded by others. Therefore, there must be one orderer and governor of the whole of things.
7 Moreover, it is not possible to give an explanation, based on natural necessity, for the apparent motions of celestial bodies, since some of them have more motions than others, and altogether incompatible ones. So, there must be an ordering of their motions by some providence, and, consequently, of the motions and workings of all lower things that are controlled by their motions.
8 Besides, the nearer a thing is to its cause, the more does it participate in its influence. Hence, if some perfection is more perfectly participated by a group of things the more they approach a certain object, then this is an indication that this object is the cause of the perfection which is participated in various degrees. For instance, if certain things become hotter as they come nearer to fire, this is an indication that fire is the cause of heat.
Now, things are found to be more perfectly ordered the nearer they are to God. For, in the lower types of bodies, which are very far away from God in the dissimilarity of their natures, there is sometimes found to be a falling away from the regular course of nature, as in the case of monstrosities and other chance events; but this never happens in the case of the celestial bodies, though they are somewhat mutable, and it does not occur among separate intellectual substances. Therefore, it is plain that God is the cause of the whole order of things. So, He is the governor of the whole universe of reality through His providence.
Notes This: “an indication that fire is the cause of heat”, which of course is not a proof, unless that indication is joined to induction, which the proof becomes complete. By “chance” he means unpredictable.
9 Furthermore, as we proved above, God brings all things into being, not from the necessity of His nature, but by understanding and will. Now, there can be no other ultimate end for His understanding and will than His goodness, that is, to communicate it to things, as is clear from what has been established. But things participate in the divine goodness to the extent that they are good, by way of likeness.
Now, that which is the greatest good in caused things is the good of the order of the universe; for it is most perfect, as the Philosopher says. With this, divine Scripture is also in agreement, for it is said in Genesis (1:31): “God saw all the things He had made, and they were very good,” while He simply said of the individual works, that “they were good.” So, the good of the order of things caused by God is what is chiefly willed and caused by God. Now, to govern things is nothing but to impose order on them. Therefore, God Himself governs all things by His understanding and will.
10 Moreover, any agent intending an end is more concerned about what is nearer to the ultimate end, because this nearer thing is also an end for other things. Now, the ultimate end of the divine will is His goodness, and the nearest thing to this latter, among created things, is the good of the order of the whole universe, since every particular good of this or that thing is ordered to it as to an end (just as the less perfect is ordered to what is more perfect); and so, each part is found to be for the sake of its whole. Thus, among created things, what God cares for most is the order of the universe. Therefore, He is its governor.
11 Again, every created thing attains its ultimate perfection through its proper operation, for the ultimate end and the perfection of a thing must be either its operation or the term or product of its operation. Of course, the form, by virtue of which the thing exists, is its first perfection, as is evident from Book II of On the Soul [1: 412a 28].
But the order of caused things, according to the distinction of their natures and levels, proceeds from divine Wisdom, as we showed in Book Two. So also does the order of their operations, whereby caused things draw nearer to their ultimate end. Now, to order the actions of certain things toward their end is to govern them. Therefore, God provides governance and regulation for things by the providence of His wisdom.
Notes Modernity, fully embracing nominalism, which is the religion of man, does not believe things have a proper order, except for the supremacy of man’s will.
12 Hence it is that Sacred Scripture proclaims God as Lord and King, according to the text of the Psalm (99:2): “The Lord, He is God”; and again: “God is the King of all the earth” (Ps. 46:8); for it is the function of the king and lord to rule and govern those subject to their command. And so, Sacred Scripture attributes the course of things to divine decree: “Who commands the sun, and it rises not, and shuts up the stars, as it were under a seal” (Job 9:7); and also in the Psalm (10:6): “He has made a decree and it shall not pass away.”
13 Now, by this conclusion the error of the ancient philosophers of nature is refuted, for they said that all things come about as a result of material necessity, the consequence of which would be that all things happen by chance and not from the order of providence.