The fourth objection relates to liberty and contingency

That which is done by the immutable decree of God cannot be done contingently and freely, but necessarily. But man things are done contingently and freely. Therefore many things are not done by the immutable decree and providence of God, or else liberty and contingency are taken away.


1. We reply to the major: that which Is done by the unchangeable decree of God, cannot be done contingently, viz: in respect to the first cause, or in respect to the same immutable divine decree: yet it may be done contingently in respect to a second and last cause working contingently or freely. For contingency is the order between a changeable cause and its effect: just as necessity is the order between a necessary cause and its effect. Hence the cause must be of the same character as the effect. But the same effect may proceed fro m a changeable and necessary cause in different respects, as is the case with all things which God does through his creatures; of which both God and his creatures are the cause. Thus in respect to God there is an unchangeable order between cause and effect; but in respect to creatures, there is a changeable order between the cause and the same effect. Hence in regard to God it is necessary, but in regard to the creature it is contingent in the same effect. Therefore it is not absurd that the same effect should be said to be necessary and contingent in respect to different causes, that is, in respect to a changeable second cause acting contingently.

2. We also deny what is said in the major, that that is not done, or ma be done freely which is done by the immutable decree of God. For it is not immutability, but constraint; or it is not the necessity of unchangeableness, but that of constraint which take away liberty. God is unchangeably and necessarily good, and yet he is at the same time most freely good: the devils are unchangeably and necessarily evil; and yet they are evil, and do that which is evil with the greatest freedom of the will.