Are necessary and eternal things
subject to the eternal law?
It seems that necessary and eternal
things are subject to the eternal law:
Objection 1: Everything
reasonable (rationabile) is subject to a plan
(ratio). But Godís will is reasonable,
since it is just. Therefore, it is subject to
a plan. But the eternal law is Godís plan.
Therefore, Godís will is subject to the eternal law.
But Godís will is something eternal. Therefore,
even eternal and necessary things are subject to the
Whatever is subject to the king is subject to the kingís
law. But as 1 Corinthians 15:24 and 28 says, ďthe Son
will be subject to God and the Father ...... when He has
handed over the kingdom to Him.Ē Therefore, the Son, who
is eternal, is subject to the eternal law.
The eternal law is the plan of divine providence. But
many necessary things, e.g., the endurance of incorporeal
substances and of the celestial bodies, are subject to
divine providence. Therefore, even necessary things are
subject to the eternal law.
But contrary to this:
Things that are necessary are such that it is impossible
for them to be otherwise, and so they do not need to be
restrained. By contrast, as is clear from what was said
above (q. 92, a. 2), law is imposed on men in order to
restrain them from evil. Therefore, necessary things are
not subject to law.
As was explained above (a. 1), the eternal law is the
plan of divine governance. Therefore, whatever
is subject to divine governance is likewise subject
to the eternal law, and whatever is not subject to eternal
governance is likewise not subject to the eternal law.
the distinction between these two sorts of things can
be understood on the basis of what we are familiar with.
For things that can be done by men are subject
to human governance, whereas things that belong to
manís natureóe.g., that a man has a soul or hands
or feetóare not subject to human governance. So,
then, whatever exists in the things created by Godówhether
it be contingent or necessaryóis subject to the eternal
law, whereas whatever pertains to Godís own nature or
essence is not subject to the eternal law, but is in
reality the eternal law itself.
Reply to objection 1:
We can speak of Godís will in two ways.
First, we can speak of the will itself, and
if we are speaking in this way, then since Godís will
is His very essence, it is not subject either to divine
governance or to the eternal law; instead, it is just
the same as the eternal law.
we can speak of the divine will in relation what
God wills concerning creatures. The things
He wills concerning creatures are subject to the eternal
law insofar as a plan for them exists in Godís wisdom.
It is in relation to these things that Godís will is
called reasonable. On the other, in virtue of
its very self, Godís will should instead be called the
Reply to objection 2:
The Son of God is not made by God, but is instead
naturally generated by Him. And so He is not subject to
divine providence or to the eternal law, but, as is clear
from De Vera Religione, is rather Himself the
eternal law through a certain appropriation (cf. ST
1, q. 39, a. 7-8). However, He is said to be subject to
the Father by reason of His human nature, in accord with
which the Father is also said to be greater than He is.
Reply to objection 3:
We concede the third objection, since it has do with
necessary things that are created.
Reply to argument for the contrary:
As the Philosopher says in Metaphysics 5, certain
necessary things have a cause of their necessity, and so
they depend on another for the very fact that it is
impossible for them to be otherwise. And this in itself
is a certain kind of efficacious restraint. For things
that are restrained are said to be restrained to the
extent that they are unable to act differently from the
way in which they are determined to (de eis disponatur).