introductory remarks are necessary so as to avoid repetition:
1. On the
various meanings of the word “grace” and presupposed notions from the
treatise on God;
2. On the
errors involved in this subject.
MEANINGS OF THE WORD “GRACE”
meanings are indicated by St. Thomas (Ia Iae, q. 110, a. 1), but it is
fitting that we say something of them at the beginning so that the
connection may be apparent between the present question and the
questions relating to God’s love for us.
First, there are
of course three acceptations of this word “grace” even used in human
affairs. For grace (χάρις) originally refers to something, which is not
due or is freely bestowed; this meaning is very common in both profane
and biblical writings. Hence even in purely human matters the term
“grace” has a threefold application, as follows:
1. The love of
benevolence conferring a gift, which is not due; for example, we say:
This soldier has the grace of the king.
gift itself freely bestowed; thus we say: I grant you this grace.
Gratitude for a benefit received; thus: I render you thanks for your
three significations may be transferred to the supernatural order,
whereupon the word grace applies to the following.
1. The love of
benevolence on the part of God, conferring supernatural, life. This love
of God is uncreated grace.
supernatural gift of grace itself freely bestowed and ordained to
eternal life; this is created grace, of which we are now treating,
whether it is interior or exterior, such as the preaching of the gospel.
gratitude to God.
Between the human
and the supernatural meanings of the word “grace” there lies a great
difference which is principally based upon the fact that God’s love of
benevolence for us, as stated in Ia, q. 20, a. 2, infuses and creates
goodness in things, whereas the love of benevolence of one man for
another presupposes something lovable in that other. But “God’s love for
the creature is twofold, the common love whereby natural being is
bestowed on created things, and the other special love by which God
raises the rational creature above the state of nature unto a
participation in the divine good. Thus grace is the effect of the love
of God in us and signifies the supernatural gift freely granted by God
to an intellectual creature ordained to eternal life (Ia IIae, q. 110,
Thus the whole
treatise on grace in the Summa theologica of St. Thomas depends
upon the treatise on the love of God (Ia, q. 20), in which are expressed
and explained two supreme principles which throw a light from above upon
all the articles of the treatise on grace and virtually contain them.
Hence St. Thomas
says: “It is demonstrated above (q. 19, a. 4) that the will of God is
the cause of all things; so it must be that so far as a thing possesses
being or any good whatever, to that extent it is willed by God.
Therefore God wills some good to whatever exists. And since loving is
nothing else but wishing well to someone, it is clear that God loves all
things that are, not however in the same way as we do, our will is not
the cause of the goodness of things. But the love of God infuses and
creates goodness in things” (Ia, q. 20, a. 2). Accordingly the will of
God is also the cause of the goodness of our acts, while preserving
their liberty. As St. Thomas says: “If the will of God is most
efficacious, it follows not only that those things will be done which
God wills to be done, but that they will be done in the way God wills
them to be done. Thus God wills certain things to be necessary, others
to be contingent, that there may be order among things for the
perfection of the universe” (Ia, q. 19, a. 8).
From this first
principle thus understood the second follows: “Since the love of God is
the cause of the goodness of things, nothing is in any respect better,
if God does not will one thing to be better than another” (Ia, q. 20, a.
4, 5). This is the principle of predilection, which is valid for every
created being and for the facility, or difficulty of each of its acts:
No created being is in any respect better if it is not preferred by God.
St. Thomas deduces from this that “in God love precedes election . . .
for His will, willing good to whatever it loves, is the cause of its
possessing this good from Him beyond others” (ibid., q. 23, a.
This principle of
predilection presupposes that the divine decrees in regard to our future
acts conducive to salvation are infallibly efficacious of themselves and
not from a foreknowledge of our consent (Ia, q. 19, a. 8). Otherwise, of
two men equally loved and assisted by God, one would be in some respect
better. He would be better of himself and not so far as preferred by
God; and therefore the free determination in him to be saved would be
something good which would not proceed from the source of all good,
contrary to the words of St. Paul: “For who distinguisheth thee? Or what
hast thou that thou hast not received?” (I Cor. 4:7.)
These are the
principles already laid down and explained in the treatises on the will
and on the love of God; they virtually contain what is now to be said
concerning grace, both habitual grace and actual grace.
Finally, it must
be remarked that the Pelagians, not wishing to recognize the love of God
as being the first cause of all our good choices, were equally averse to
distinguishing the natural from the supernatural meanings of this word
“grace.” They therefore misused it in a broad, incorrect sense and
applied the word “grace” to any free gift of God whatever; thus
creation, preservation, and even free will are called by them graces.
created grace properly so called is defined in a variety of ways:
1. As external
grace, such as the preaching of the gospel, the example of Christ; and
the Pelagians admitted this grace.
2. As internal
grace, namely, that which is received in the interior of the soul,
ennobling it. Moreover, this internal grace may be either that which
makes one pleasing (gratum faciens), which is divided into
habitual or sanctifying grace, and actual grace, or charismatic grace (gratia
gratis data), which is principally or primarily for the benefit of
Since grace is
indeed supernatural, and frequently in this treatise there will be
question of the distinction between what is supernatural substantially
and what is supernatural modally, it will be well to recall the
definition and division of supernaturalness itself as it has already
been set forth in fundamental theology. The supernatural, according to
the Catholic Church, is that which is above all created nature; which,
although it exceeds the powers and requirements of any nature created or
capable of being created, does not exceed the passive capacity of
perfectibility and aptitude of our nature. (Cf. Denz, nos. 1790, 1795,
1808, 1816; Garrigou-Lagrange, De revelatione, I, 193, 197, 202.)
Moreover, according to the Church,
supernaturalness is at least twofold, namely:
supernaturalness of miracles, which surpasses the efficient powers and
requirements of any created nature, but not, however, the cognitive
powers of human nature. (Denz, nos. 1790, 1818.)
supernaturalness of mysteries strictly speaking and of the life of grace
and glory is that which surpasses not only the efficient powers and
requirements of any created nature, but also the cognitive and
appetitive powers (or natural merit) of any intellectual nature created
or capable of being created.
Such is the
declared doctrine of the Church as follows from the condemnation of
naturalism, rationalism, semi-rationalism (which deviates in the matter
of the powers), Baianism (an excess as to requirements), and agnosticism
(denying that miracles are ascertainable). Cf. Denz., nos. 1795, 1808;
cf. De Revelatione, I, 193.
This division of
supernaturalness may be otherwise expressed according to the terminology
rather generally accepted among theologians, thus:
This is found in
John of St. Thomas, the Salmanticenses, and Suarez. Cf. De
revelatione, I, 205, for the explanation of this division and its
reduction to the division of the four causes. The miraculous
substantially is not to be confused with the supernatural substantially.
ERRORS CONCERNING GRACE
introduction a brief reference must be made to the history of this
doctrine of grace in relation to the mutually opposing errors on the
subject: that is, Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism on the one hand,
Baianism and Jansenism on the other. For at the appearance of these
contrary errors, the Church solemnly defined its doctrine on grace. It
is therefore advisable to determine at the start at least the principal
opposing theses, which have been condemned; thus will be brought to
light the problems still disputed among Catholic theologians. It will be
easier in explaining the articles later to show how St. Thomas’
arguments prevail over such and such a heresy.
Since St. Thomas
preceded Baius, he could not have before his eyes, as we have, several
definitions of the Church which clearly determined how the excess
contrary to Pelagianism was to be avoided; yet St. Thomas was acquainted
with predestinationism from the Council of Lyons (475) and its
subsequent condemnation at the Council of Quierzy against Gottschalk,
who prepared the way for Lutheranism and thereby for Baianism and
it is true, when great problems must be solved, there arise almost from
the beginning mutually opposing theses, and only by degrees, under the
inspiration of God, does the mind attain to the summit of truth whereon
diverse aspects of reality are reconciled. St. Thomas reached this
summit and escaped the excess of future Jansenism no less than the
defect of Pelagianism.
As we observed in
De revelatione (I, 398), the two extremes that are to be avoided
may be termed naturalism and pseudo-supernaturalism.
that the Christian life is beyond natural powers; in other words, it
declares that what is in reality achieved by it can be achieved without
interior grace. Indeed it maintains that the human intellect in its
natural development is capable of attaining to the possession of every
truth and good, even to the intuition of God. (Denz.,no. 1808.)
Pseudo-supernaturalism denies that the Christian life is above the
requirements of nature; in other words, human reason is so weak that it
necessarily stands in need of revelation, which accordingly is not
properly supernatural, and its exaltation to a participation in the
divine nature was due to it for the integrity of its original state.
In both errors
there is a confusion of the two orders, but the first confusion sins by
exaggerated optimism in regard to the powers of human nature, and the
second by exaggerated pessimism in regard to the destitution of nature.
naturalism differs, as a matter of fact, from modern rationalism so far
as it does not reject the external revelation of the Gospel confirmed by
miracles, holding it to be divine, as did the Semi-rationalists (Froschammer,
Gunther, and Hermes), who nevertheless wished to prove every mystery.
But in all these doctrines the tendency is the same, namely, to deny the
necessity of grace.
should be noted that naturalism proceeds historically from the pagans or
Gentiles; many of their philosophers thought that moral powers came from
man alone and not from God, and they besought God only for fortune or a
happy outcome. Thus, in particular, Cicero and Seneca who agreed that
“there is one good, which is the cause and foundation of a blessed life:
to have faith in oneself” (Letter 31, 3). Such is the opinion of
naturalists today, whether atheists or deists, who deny that providence
extends to every individual thing, or theists, who admit providence in
the natural order but not in the supernatural. Liberal Protestants
adhere to this teaching in a greater or less degree.
On the other
hand, Judaism inclined toward naturalism in another way, for Judaism,
contrary to the evident testimony of Holy Scripture, made justice or
justification dependent, not on the supernatural grace of God, but on
the external observance of the law and the physical origin of the
children of Abraham. Against this, cf. Council of Jerusalem, Acts of the
Apostles, A.D. 50 (Acts, 15), and St. Paul (Rom. 2-4; Gal., 3-5).
Origenists and Theodore of Mopsuestia did not recognize sufficiently the
necessity of grace.
chief heresy of this kind, gathered together the preceding errors of
like tendency into something of a system and spread it throughout the
world in the fifth century. Historically speaking, there were three
phases to the doctrine of the Pelagians.
1. It denied
original sin, the necessity of baptism and interior grace for obtaining
ordinary eternal life. It declared, however, that baptism and grace are
necessary for entering the kingdom of God, which is something excelling
ordinary eternal life. Hence, to attain to eternal life as commonly
accepted, no grace was necessary, not even the grace of faith or the
knowledge of external revelation. But, said Pelagius, God gave us a
power or faculty, i.e., free will; moreover, willing and doing are
eminently proper to us. Grace would be only an unnecessary adornment,
just as some souls have visions and ecstasies, without which, however, a
man can be saved.
2. Later, to
refute the objections drawn from Holy Scripture, Pelagius admitted the
term “grace” and the necessity of grace, but by this name he designated
free will, and subsequently the external grace of revelation or the
preaching of the gospel.
Pelagius, not knowing how to reply to the objections of Catholics,
admitted internal grace, but first in the intellect alone, that is, as
enlightenment; secondly, he recognized some habitual grace, but not as
plainly gratuitous (he maintained that it was given according to the
merits of nature) nor strictly supernatural; thirdly, the Pelagians
ultimately admitted as more probable actual grace in the will, not
however plainly gratuitous (but granted according to natural merits) nor
necessary for doing good, but only for working more easily and
perfectly. Cf. Billuart (De gratia, diss. I), who cites many
texts of St. Augustine on the subject.
there are in Pelagianism two heresies in particular regarding internal
1. If internal
grace is given, it is not simply gratuitous, but is bestowed according
to natural merit.
2. It is not
necessary for merely acting as is needful for salvation, but for doing
so with greater facility or for accomplishing some more excellent works.
Thus without the
internal grace of faith we can arrive at the formal motive of Christian
This is the
teaching of Pelagius and of his principal disciples, Caelestius and
Julian of Eclanum, against whom Augustine and Jerome wrote. Cf. Tixeront,
Hist. des dogma.
This heresy was
condemned by twenty-four separate councils, notably by the first and
second councils of Carthage, that of Milevum, and finally by the
ecumenical Council of Ephesus, 431; cf. Denz., nos. 101 ff., 126, 129,
142, 174 ff., 138.
admitted not only external revelation, but properly supernatural
internal grace, although they erred in two respects, namely, in regard
to initial grace and final grace.
They said: 1. The
beginning of salvation depends on man’s petitioning for it, so far as
man, without grace, by desiring through a pious disposition to believe,
by knocking, by asking, can prepare himself for grace, which is bestowed
on account of this natural preparation. Hence initial grace was not
simply gratuitous. Likewise they all maintained that the consent to the
initial grace offered is entirely yours.
2. The last
grace, namely, of final perseverance, is not strictly gratuitous but may
be obtained by our merits; nay rather, they said, “man perseveres to the
end, so far as he abides in that consent to the grace offered him,
bestowed at the moment of justification” (Billuart, loc. cit.).
From these two
errors it followed that predestination, whether to grace or to glory, is
not strictly gratuitous for, according to this teaching, the first grace
is conferred on account of the merits of nature, broadly speaking, and
the term of salvation depends upon the preceding merits which have been
foreseen. (See the canons of the Council of Orange; Denz., nos. 176 ff
It would be well
to have a thorough knowledge of the history of Semi-Pelagianism so as to
understand correctly what was condemned in it and in what respect
Molinism differs from it.
It is clear, as
Billuart demonstrates (ibid.), that the Semi-Pelagians taught
that predestination, whether to grace or to glory, was not gratuitous,
but that God accompanied all men, the reprobate as well as the
predestinate, with equal love, and offered grace and glory to all
equally; hence, according to the Semi-Pelagians, of two men to whom
grace is offered equally by God, he possesses grace who consents to it
of himself, he receives no greater help, and he receives glory who, of
himself, perseveres in the grace received.
Semi-Pelagians declared in respect to foreknowledge: “God, from
eternity, predestined to grace those who He foresaw would consent and
utilize it well, and He predestined to glory those who He foresaw would
similarly persevere in grace, of themselves.” Thus the knowledge of God
is not the cause of things; at least it is not the cause of our
determination toward the good, which is first in the affair of
salvation. Hence men rather save themselves than are saved by God; in
other words, God would not bestow our consent to good, but would expect
it of us. (Denz., no. 177; Summa theol., Ia, q.23, a. 5, 2nd
Indeed the Semi-Pelagians
hit upon mediate knowledge (scientia media) before Molina, as the
Thomists in general clearly show, particularly, among the more recent,
Father del Prado (De gratia et lib arb., III, 312). And this is
also evident from the epistles of St. Prosperto St. Augustine and from
the book on the Predestination of the Saints, (chaps. 14 and 17).
As a logical
conclusion to their theory, the Semi-Pelagians necessarily arrived at
mediate knowledge, at least in regard to the salvation of infants. They
were therefore obliged to solve this objection: among infants, some,
without any merit on their part, are predestined to baptism and eternal
life. But not being willing to admit gratuitous predestination even in
this case, the Semi-Pelagians replied: God knows even the conditional
future, and predestined to baptism those infants who He foresaw would
have consented to grace and persevered if they had reached the age of
maintained, in regard to infidels: God foresaw what they would have
done, of themselves, if the preaching of the gospel had been proposed to
Moreover, this foreknowledge of conditional future events or of events
possible in the future, independent of divine decree, is the
foreknowledge, which is now called scientia media. But Molina
admitted, above and beyond this, prevenient grace.
From this theory
they further deduced many corollaries, for instance: Christ died equally
for all, and dispenses the price of His death equally to all, so that
the vessels of mercy receive no more of benefit than the vessels of
wrath, whatever St. Paul may say (Rom. 9:22). Otherwise, as they said,
God would be an unjust respecter of persons if, without previous merit
or disposition, He were to give grace to one and deny it to another.
And, they added, this would lead to fatalism, would deprive reproof and
prayer of their usefulness, and would lead to despair.
such as Cassian (13th Conference), although they admitted
initial grace, whenever it was given gratuitously without any merits,
allowed that it was more often bestowed on the basis of merit. Further,
certain Semi-Pelagians openly declared that perhaps prevenient grace was
truly gratuitous in respect to initial acts, and was indeed conferred by
God, although He expects our consent. And, as Billuart remarks (loc.
cit.): “This was the last stand of this heresy, so far as its
concessions are concerned, namely: it depends upon us to accept or
reject grace, so that in those who accept it their consent does not
depend on the grace of God, but on themselves. In this sense they
withdrew from grace the initial step toward salvation as well as
perseverance, and attributed them to free will.”
The advocates of
Semi-Pelagianism were certain monks of Hadrumetam, as well as Cassian,
Gennadius of Marseilles, and Faustus of Riez.
of Cassian is found particularly in his thirteenth Conference entitled:
“Of God’s Protection,” in which he teaches: “Grace and free will
certainly concur in the matter of salvation to the extent that the
initial good will and pious disposition to believe, that is, the first
step toward salvation, is ordinarily from man alone, and not from God,
although in exceptional cases the beginning of salvation and good will
comes from God, as in the vocations of St. Matthew and St. Paul.”
of Semi-Pelagianism were the aged St. Augustine
and St. Prosper, St. Fulgentius,
Hilary, and Caesarius of Arles.
This heresy was
condemned by Pope Celestine (432), Pope Gelasius (494), who denounced
the books of Faustus and Cassian, and finally by the Second Council of
Orange (529), which had the special approbation of Boniface II. In
regard to the condemnation of Semi-Pelagianism, Denzinger records the
entire Second Council of Orange (529), that is, twenty-four canons; see
especially 3-12, 18-22, 25.
from Semi-Pelagianism in three respects: 1. In regard to prevenient
grace; 2. in regard to the covenant entered into between God and Christ
the Redeemer; 3. in regard to the circumstances of the life of the
predestinate. Cf. Molina, Concordia.
1. Molina admits
prevenient grace inclining to the initial movement to salvation, or
consent to good, but he says: the distinction between the will
consenting to this grace offered and the will rejecting it depends on
man’s liberty alone. Cf. Molina, op. cit., pp. 230, 459.
object that before this distinction, there is not yet any initial step
toward salvation, because it is not found in those who resist first
grace, as in Lessius, De gratia efficaci, chap. 18, no. 7.
maintains that, if anyone does whatever he can by means of mere natural
powers, God does not refuse grace; but he avoids Semi-Pelagianism by
saying: God does not confer grace on account of this good natural
disposition, but because of the covenant entered into between Himself
and Christ the Redeemer. Cf. infra, q. 109, a. 6; q. 112, a. 3;
Molina, op. cit., pp. 1543, 564; Index, “Faciens quod in se
Molina says (pp.
51, 565): help being equal, it is possible for one of those called to be
converted and another not converted. With less assistance from grace it
is possible for the one assisted to make progress, while another, with
greater help, does not improve, and hardly perseveres. They are not aids
established as efficacious in themselves which distinguish between the
predestinate and the nonpredestinate.
according to Molina, the predestinate receives greater help than the
reprobate from the standpoint of the situation in which he is placed by
the divine good pleasure, for indeed he is placed in circumstances in
which God foresees by mediate knowledge that he will consent to grace.
Hence, from the
viewpoint of circumstances, the gift of final perseverance depends
solely on the divine good pleasure; thus, to a certain extent at least,
the gratuity of predestination, denied by the Semi-Pelagians, is
preserved; but, as the Thomists declare, this is seen to be gratuity of
predestination only in regard to the circumstances which are more or
less appropriate or suitable.
THE PSEUDO-SUPERNATURALISM OF PREDESTINATIONISM,
PROTESTANTISM, BAIANISM, AND JANSENISM
pseudo-supernaturalism is the error opposed to naturalism; it sins by
excess, that is, it affirms the necessity of grace even for all natural
good works, so that all the works of infidels are sins. But in reality,
as we have said, it further confuses the order of grace with the order
of nature, as it holds that grace is not above the exigencies of our
nature, which it considers entirely impotent even in its own order.
Whence it can be seen that it extols grace, while it proclaims its
necessity beyond measure, but it actually destroys the supernaturalness
of grace and depreciates nature. It is pessimistic in regard to nature
as Pelagianism is optimistic in its estimate of nature.
pseudo-supernaturalism appears in predestinationism (cf. Denz., nos. 316
ff., 320 ff.). The doctrine is attributed to Lucidus, a priest of the
fifth century, who retracted his error. But the heresy is found
especially in the writings of Gottschalk, in the ninth century (cf. Denz.,
nos. 316 ff .; Dict. théol, cath., “Predestination,” section on
the Middle Ages, ninth century).
predestinationism, grace and predestination are necessary for doing
good; whence those who are not predestined to eternal life sin
necessarily, just as the predestinate are necessarily saved. Thus no
real liberty remains after original sin.
predestinationism, there is not only predestination to eternal life, but
also predestination to evil for the reprobate.
All these errors
were condemned, in 853, at the Council of Quierzy at which the following
was defined (Denz., no. 317): “There is no predestination to evil . . .
We have a free will for good, aided by prevenient grace . . . We have a
free will for evil, deprived of grace.” Likewise Denz., no. 318:
“Almighty God wills that all men without exception should be saved (I
Tim., 2:4) although all are not saved. That some are saved is due to the
gift of salvation; that some are lost is due to the lack of merit in the
reprobate.” Denz., no. 319: “There never was and never will be a man . .
. for whom Christ did not suffer that all are not redeemed by the
mystery of His passion pertains to the working of infidelity . . . ,
unless they drink, they cannot be cured.”
This error was
revived by Luther and Calvin. Luther maintained that grace and integrity
were due to nature in the state of innocence; whereas in the state of
fallen nature, free will is so corrupted that it is a mere name without
a reality, and therefore requires grace, to such an extent that whatever
is done without faith and grace is sin.
Whence it follows
that all the works of infidels and sinners are sins. Sanctifying grace
is, in fact, only an external imputation of the merits of Christ, and
man is justified by faith alone without works; man is justified by a
“fiduciary” faith by which he believes that his sins are forgiven.
with Luther in this, and adds that God predestined some to hell, and the
faithful who believe themselves predestined are saved by this very
faith. Further, children born of predestinate parents are by that very
fact children of God and can be saved without baptism.
Thus it is
apparent how, in this pseudo-supernaturalism, nature is greatly
depreciated and even grace is only apparently extolled, since it is due
to nature and reduced to a mere extrinsic denomination or to an external
imputation of the merits of Christ. The way was prepared for this
teaching by Ockham and the Nominalists of whom Luther was a disciple at
the University of Wittemberg, as Denifle shows in his Luther and
Luthertum, 1904. For the Nominalists, habitual grace is not
intrinsically supernatural, but only by extrinsic denomination, as a
bank note is not gold. Baianism is again a somewhat attenuated
Protestantism. It teaches in particular three doctrines:
1. The grace
accorded to Adam was due to nature, and hence did not exceed the
requirements of nature.
2. Faith is
therefore necessary even for natural good, so that all the virtues of
infidels are vices.
grace is so necessary that all the works of sinners are sins. (Denz.,
nos. 1001 ff.) Baianists almost identify grace and natural probity.
retained these same errors in substance, as is evident from the five
propositions of Jansen. (Denz., no. 1092.) It suffices to note the first
of these to make it clear how widely Thomism differs from Jansenism,
whatever else may be sometimes asserted. This first Jansenist
proposition is, in fact, thus expressed: “Some precepts of God to just
men who are willing and striving, are, in the present state of their
powers, impossible; grace is wanting to them, also, by which such
precepts may become possible.” Augustine declared the contrary, as cited
by the Council of Trent: “God does not command the impossible, but by
commanding He incites thee both to do what thou canst and to ask what
thou canst not, and He assists thee that thou mayest be able” (Denz.,
propositions of Quesnel were condemned in the bull
1351, 1451); lastly the synod of Pistoia was condemned by Pius VI in the
bull Auctorem fidei.
(Denz., nos. 1516 ff .)
As can be seen,
Baianists and Jansenists agree in some respects with Pelagianists, that
is, in denying the gratuity and therefore the true supernaturalness of
the state of innocence. Jansen also said that in the state of innocence
efficacious grace in itself was not necessary. (He was a Molinist in
this regard.) In line with the same tendency, the immanentism of the
Modernists, for example, Laberthonniere, asserts that grace is demanded
by nature, and thus they destroy its supernaturalness (cf. Denz., no.
2103, and Hugon, De gratia, p. 212).
should be remarked that, just as Molinism withdraws from Semi-Pelagianism,
so Thomism recedes from Calvinism and Jansenism, as the Sovereign
Pontiffs, Clement XI, Benedict XIII, and Paul V have declared. (Denz.,
p. 342 note.) Benedict XIII forbade anyone to condemn the doctrine of
St. Thomas and his school or traduce it as condemned by the bull
Unigenitus. Subsequently Clement XII forbade “the branding of this
doctrine by any note or theological censure by the schools holding
diverse opinions . . . until the Holy See should pass judgment by some
definition or pronouncement in regard to such controversies.” Cf. Denz.,
no. 1097 note.
particularly from predestinationism and Jansenism in the following
denies predestination to evil and the opinion that God is the author of
2. It teaches
that predestination to glory does not destroy, through intrinsically
efficacious grace, the freedom necessary for meriting, but rather brings
it into play.
3. It admits that
God wills the salvation of all men and gives to all adults truly
suscient graces; but if a man resists them, he deserves to be deprived
of the efficacious graces which he would otherwise receive. Hence God
does not ask the impossible and wills the salvation of all men, but He
does not will the salvation of all equally, contrary to what the Semi-Pelagians
And herein lies a
great mystery, namely, that God often but not always gives to sinners
the efficacious grace of conversion; indeed, He always bestows it upon
the predestinate to whom He has determined to grant the gift of final
perseverance; often He even confers the grace of conversion upon others,
but later denies them, for reasons of justice, on account of repeated
sins, the grace of perseverance, which, absolutely speaking, He could
grant them for reasons of mercy. Whence it becomes evident that in this
treatise the following two principles are reconciled.
1. God does not
ask the impossible, and sincerely wills the salvation of all, contrary
to predestinationism, Protestantism, Baianism, and Jansenism.
2. “Without Me ye
can do nothing” in the order of salvation. “What hast thou that thou
hast not received?” (I Cor. 4:7); or, as St.Thomas says (Ia, q. 20, a.
3), “Since the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things,
nothing is in any respect better if God does not will greater good to
one than to another.”
principles are most certain, but their intimate reconciliation remains
hidden, for it is the intimate reconciliation of infinite mercy,
infinite justice, and supreme liberty in the sublime depth of the Deity.
I have presented this matter in the volume entitled, La
prèdestination des saints et la grâce, pp. 49-51, 132 ff.
relative position of the various doctrines can thus be indicated.
it must be observed that two contradictory propositions cannot be true
at the same time or false at the same time; one is true, the other
false. On the other hand, Pelagianism and predestinationism are
doctrines simultaneously false; they are not contradictory in this, but
in other respects. For instance, Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism
erroneously maintain that “God wills equally the salvation of all men,
namely, the elect and the reprobate.” The contradictory proposition:
“God does not will equally the salvation of all men,” is true. This
indeed is what the predestinationists, Calvinists, and Jansenists
declare and in so doing they do not err, but they do err by denying the
will of universal salvation, which is affirmed by Augustine when he
says: “God does not demand the impossible.”
contradictory propositions: “Grace is intrinsically efficacious,” and
“Grace is not intrinsically efficacious,” cannot be true at the same
time or false at the same time; one is true, the other is false. The
first is maintained by Thomism, the second by Molinism and likewise by
the congruism of Suarez. Which, then, is true remains to be discovered.
THE VARIOUS STATES OF HUMAN NATURE
St. Thomas speaks
particularly of two states of nature which are properly states of this
nature considered formally as a nature, namely, the state of original
nature in the innocent Adam and the state of corrupt nature after the
sin of our first parents, before baptismal regeneration. Cf. Ia, q. 94,
a. 2; Ia IIae, q. 109, a. 2.: “The nature of man may be considered in
two ways, either in its integrity, as it existed in our first parents
before sin, or as it exists in us, corrupted by the sin of our first
parents,” and q. 114, a. 2, where he speaks of “corrupt nature, as it
exists in us before its reparation by grace.” These last words show that
St. Thomas further admits the state of repaired nature, which is called
the state of grace and subsequently the state of glory or of grace
consummated. As we shall see, he certainly speaks of the possibility of
another state merely natural or of pure nature, and in the state of
innocence he distinguishes the integrity of nature itself from the grace
which elevated it. Cf. IIIa, q. 53, a. 2.
more or less generally, distinguish five states of nature.
State, as a
general term, is the condition proper to man with a certain stability
and permanence, (Cf. IIa IIae, q. 184, a. I.) That which human nature
possesses of itself as ordained to its final end is here taken as a
stable condition and mode. Five such states are differentiated: 1. the
state of pure nature, 2. the state of incorrupt nature, 3. the state of
original justice, 4. the state of fallen nature, 5. the state of
restored nature. We might add the state of glory and the state of
damnation, but we are not concerned with these, since we are now
directing our attention to nature only so far as, with divine help, it
tends toward its final end.
The state of pure
nature or the merely natural state. St. Thomas speaks of it, II Sent.,
d. 31, q. I, a. 2 ad 3. “In the beginning when God created man, He could
also have formed another man from the slime of the earth and have left
him in the condition of his nature, that is, mortal and passable, and
experiencing the struggle between concupiscence and reason; nothing of
human nature would have been removed thereby, for this condition follows
from the principles of nature. Nor would this defect in it be a reason
for blame or punishment, since the defect would not be caused by its own
Again, St. Thomas
alludes to this state of pure nature as being possible: “Humankind in
general suffers diverse pains, corporal and spiritual . . . , (death,
hunger, thirst . . . weakness of intellect . . . from which there
results an inability to overcome animal appetites entirely).
Nevertheless, one may say of such defects, corporal as well as
spiritual, that they are not punitive, but rather natural defects
consequent upon the requirements of matter. For instance, the human
body, since it is composed of unlike substances, must of necessity be
corruptible . . . , and the intellect . . . , on account of the ease
with which it may deviate from the truth through phantasms” (Contra
Gentes, Bk. IV, chap. 52). St. Thomas adds, however, that,
considering the sweet providence of God, it was fitting that man at his
creation should be delivered from these defects by supernatural gifts.
How is the state
of pure nature to be defined? The state of pure nature means precisely
nature with its intrinsic constituent principles and such as follow from
them or are due to them; in other words, it implies all those notes
which are included in the definition of man, a rational animal, and
further the properties of man and the natural aids due to human nature
that it may attain its final natural end.
that men are actually in this merely natural state.
Hence in this
state man would have a body and a rational soul lower and higher
faculties of the soul, would know the natural law, and would accept the
helps of a natural order for arriving at his final natural end, which
consists in the abstract knowledge of God and in the natural love of God
above all things. However, since what is naturally deficient sometimes
fails, in this state also God would permit sin against the natural law
in one individual more than in another who received more assistance, and
therefore, in this state, there would be given sufficient helps of the
natural order to all, but efficacious helps to certain ones. These
efficacious natural helps would be due, not to this individual in
particular, in whom God could permit sin, but due to human nature as a
whole; for God would be creating human nature incompetent for its final
end if no individual of the species attained its end.
This state of
pure nature may thus be considered in accordance with the four causes:
1. formal cause: the rational soul with its faculties; 2. material
cause: the body; 3. efficient cause: God, the author of nature, from
whom proceed the natural law and the helps of the natural order, whether
sufficient or efficacious; 4. final cause: God, the author of nature,
known abstractly and loved above all things. This is the order that
philosophy speaks of when it abstracts from both original sin and grace.
corollary. Neither habitual
grace nor the infused virtues and gifts nor actual grace of the
supernatural order belong to this state of pure nature.
corollary. Moreover, man,
like any other animal, would be subject to pain, death, and so also to
ignorance and concupiscence. Thus four unhappy natural consequences
would follow. He would be subject to pain and death; for, as his body is
composed of elements capable of suffering from exterior causes and often
at war with one another, old age and death normally come upon man as
upon other animals. Likewise man would be subject to ignorance because
our intellectual knowledge, having its source in the senses, is very apt
to deviate from the truth on account of its disordered phantasms, for
example, by interpreting in an excessively material sense things which
are spiritual and which are known only as through a glass in the natural
manner of the senses. (Cf. ibid.) Similarly he would be subject
to concupiscence, for the sensitive appetite naturally obeys right
reason only as a subject, not as a slave; indeed, it can be carried
toward its own proper object, that is, toward a delectable good or
toward a sensible good difficult of attainment, according to the
suggestion of the senses and imagination without any rational direction.
(Cf. Ia IIae, 9. I77 a. 7.)
subject may be divided thus:
agree that this state of pure nature never existed. Baius and the
Jansenists denied its possibility; we shall see later the refutation of
The state of
incorrupt nature consists in the perfect subjection of the body to the
soul and of the sense appetites to the reason; therefore it implies
exemption from the four unfortunate natural consequences, that is, from
ignorance, concupiscence, pain, and death. If only the sense appetites
are subject to reason without the subjection of the body to the soul,
the perfection of nature is only partial, not total, since the defects
of old age and death will appear.
In this integrity
of nature Adam was created, according to revelation, which declares that
“through sin death entered the world” (Rom. 5:12); and before sin, Adam
and Eve, although naked, experienced no shame; but only after sin, as we
read in Gen. 2:25, since before sin no inordinate passion of which they
might be ashamed, could arise.
This gift of
integrity, according to St. Thomas (Ia, q. 97, a. I c. and 3 ad 2; Ia
IIae, q. 91, a. I), resided in a certain force of a natural order, just
as we find even now that certain people possess greater health and
sturdiness. In the beginning God made man perfect, for the works of God
Himself are perfect, and as every agent produces something like himself,
a most perfect agent produces a perfect work; for example, when God
wills to establish a new religious order, He sends to the Church a holy
founder, in whom all the perfections of this new order are at least
virtually present. Hence, with all the more reason, when He created the
first man He created him perfect, with full natural perfection; in other
words, He created him in the adult state, with those virtues capable of
being acquired although sometimes accidentally infused. Thus is
explained this force in which the gift of natural integrity consisted.
This gift of
integrity in Adam sprang de facto from sanctifying grace, by
which the higher reason was subjected to God. From this primary harmony
there followed, as St. Augustine and St. Thomas maintain, two others,
namely, between right reason and the sensitive appetite and between body
and soul. Moreover, natural integrity belonged to the natural order
(like the acquired virtues) and thus was differentiated from grace which
elevated to the supernatural order. The gift of integrity did not
constitute man an adopted son of God, a participant in the divine
nature, an heir to the kingdom of heaven; all of these were bestowed by
sanctifying grace. Hence nothing prevented God from being able to create
man in the state of incorrupt nature without original grace; for,
although these two states were combined in Adam, the Fathers and
theologians often speak of them as if they were one.
The state of
original justice or of innocence is described by St. Thomas (Ia, q. 95,
a. I). It consists: 1. in the perfect subjection of the reason to God by
grace and charity; 2. in the perfect subjection of the sense appetites
to reason; 3. in the perfect subjection of the body to the soul.
As long as the
soul adhered to God by grace, the rest were perfectly subject to it;
however, it was capable of failing in this perfect subjection to God
through sin, for the will was not yet confirmed in goodness.
Some say, Father
Kors among them, that, according to St. Thomas, sanctifying grace in
Adam was not an endowment of nature but only a personal gift, as it is
in us; and accordingly grace would be the external root of original
justice, which would be nothing else but integrity of nature.
Generally, in fact,
Thomists hold that, according to St. Thomas, sanctifying grace was in
Adam an endowment of nature: first, because it was to be transmitted
with nature by way of generation; for if Adam had not sinned, his
children would have been born with grace, receiving at the same time the
spiritual soul and grace, at the time the body is ultimately disposed to
receive the soul (Ia, q. 100, a. 1 and 2). Thus sanctifying grace is the
intrinsic root of original justice, as the root is an intrinsic part of
Secondly, because original sin is, as declared by the councils (Denz.,
no. 175, Council of Orange), the death of the soul. But the death of the
soul is the privation not only of the integrity of nature, but of
sanctifying grace or spiritual life. Thirdly, thus is explained the
remission of original sin by baptism, although this sacrament does not
restore the integrity of nature.
this state of original justice the following pertain: 1. sanctifying
grace, the infused virtues whether theological or moral, the gifts of
the Holy Ghost, actual graces; 2. exemption from the four lamentable
consequences to nature, namely, ignorance, concupiscence, pain, and
death. The first two consequences are also called wounds; two other
wounds are malice and weakness. These are the six punishments of this
life (Ia IIae, q. 85, a. 3).
If original justice is understood adequately, it include several habits,
such as habitual grace, infused virtues, and preternatural privileges,
namely, exemption from ignorance, concupiscence, pain, and death. In
fact the root of all these perfections was habitual grace, or the union
of the soul with God, the author of grace.
Whether the sanctifying grace of the state of innocence was of the same
kind as the sanctifying grace, which is granted to us now unto
justification. We answer in the affirmative that it was the same kind as
to substance, since its formal effect was the same, to make man pleasing
to God, an adopted son, a friend, and an heir to the kingdom of heaven.
However, in regard to the manner of its being communicated to the
subject, there is a twofold difference between the two.
1. On the part of
the principle: the grace of the state of innocence as an endowment of
nature proceeded from God as Creator establishing nature in its natural
as well as in its supernatural being. On the contrary, habitual grace
now proceeds from God as Redeemer, not as establishing nature but as
restoring persons to health.
2. On the part of
the subject, the grace of the original state regarded nature directly as
an endowment of nature, and persons by reason of their nature, in other
words it was communicated at the same time with nature, and fully,
entirely communicated itself to nature in respect to all its operations
(Ia, q. 100, a. I; Ia IIae, q. 81, a. 1 and 2).
On the contrary,
habitual grace now regards, primarily and directly, the person to be
restored by means of humility and penance; it does not look primarily
and directly to nature, and accordingly it is no longer communicated
with nature. Thus the son of Christian, even saintly, parents is now
born in original sin, and the punishments of this life remain after
baptism, as opportunities for struggle and merit (IIIa, q. 69, a. 3 and
49, a. 5 ad I).
The state of
fallen nature is described at length in the treatise on original sin. It
is the state of nature despoiled of sanctifying grace, of the virtues
attached to it, and of the gift of integrity, in other words, subject to
pain and death as well as the four wounds of ignorance in the intellect,
malice in the will, concupiscence in the concupiscible appetite, and
weakness in the irascible (cf. Ia IIae, q. 85, a. 3, 5, 6, on the four
wounds and also pain and death).
generally hold that man in the state of fallen nature not yet restored
has less strength for moral good than he would have had in the state of
pure nature. The principal reason is that in the state of fallen nature,
man is born with his will directly opposed to his final supernatural end
and indirectly opposed to his final natural end, because every sin
against his supernatural end is indirectly against the natural law,
according to which we ought always to obey God, whatever He commands us.
On the contrary, in the state of pure nature, man would be born with his
will directed neither toward nor away from his final natural end, but
with a capacity for directing himself either toward or away from this
The state of
restored nature. It belongs properly to the treatise on grace to deal
with this state, and the whole of question 109 is a discussion of it, as
well as of the state of fallen nature considered as its contrary.
At the outset,
however, certain general observations should be made to avoid
repetition. This expression, “the state of restored nature,” is not
actually found in St. Thomas, who rather speaks of the state of grace
after justification or of the healing grace, but not expressly of the
state of restored nature. Perhaps the reason is that after sin, habitual
grace regards primarily and directly the person to be cured and nature
by reason of the person. Moreover, nature is not fully or perfectly
restored; there remain the four wounds, which are only in process of
being healed in the baptized; besides, pain and death remain. Therefore
the state of restored nature will not be perfect except in heaven. Cf.
IIIa, q. 49, a. 5 ad I, and 69, a. 3.
expression may be accepted in treating of these different states of
nature, as grace is the seed of glory and as grace is now considered as
healing the person and, by reason of the person, the nature.
This state is
expressed by various names in Holy Scripture; it is termed redemption,
liberation, (spiritual) resuscitation, regeneration, vivification,
reconciliation, renovation. Thus in I Tim. 2; Ephes. 2; II Cor. 5.
resembles the state of innocence inasmuch as sanctifying grace is
present in both, identical as to substance and similarly ordered to the
supernatural beatitude of heaven.
are several differences.
1. From the
standpoint of their end: the remote end of the grace of the state of
innocence was the manifestation of the divine liberality, whereas the
end of the state of restored nature is the manifestation of mercy and
now, certainly, the gift is greater, namely, the only-begotten Son of
God: God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son. To be
sure, God does not permit evil to be done except that He may bring good
even out of evil, as St. Augustine says (Enchir., chap. 11), that
is, except on account of a greater good. The Church sings: “O happy
fault which merited to have such and so great a reparation!” And St.
Paul also said (Rom. 5:20): “Where sin abounded, grace did more abound.”
Hence, according to several Thomists (for example, the Salmanticenses):
God permitted the sin of Adam and original sin for the sake of the
redemptive Incarnation, as for a greater good; cf. IIIa, q. I, a. 3 ad
3. Likewise He permitted the threefold denial of Peter for the sake of
the greater humility of the Apostle. Thus in the life of the
predestinate the divine permission of sin is indirectly the working out
of predestination, namely, that the elect may attain to greater
Hence Billuart (De
gratia) rightly says that in the state of restored nature the
charity of God toward us is greater, for it is a greater charity to do
good to enemies and especially the gift itself is greater, namely, the
only-begotten Son of God. The new Adam is infinitely above the first
Adam, and the Blessed Virgin Mary far surpasses Eve in excellence; the
worship of the Eucharist is higher than the worship in the Garden of
proximate end of the grace of the state of innocence was the imprinting
of the image of God the Creator upon man; now it is, above and beyond
this, the imprinting of the image of the redeeming Christ as well,
according to the words in Rom. 8:29: “whom . . . He predestinated to be
made conformable to the image of His Son”; and all things in the present
state of restored nature are referred to the glory of Christ.
2. The second
difference lies in the efficient cause, according as the order of action
should correspond to the order of ends. God is the efficient cause of
the state of innocence immediately, but of the state of restored nature
through Christ, since Christ merited this restoration for us and is its
efficient instrumental cause, as an instrument in dissolubly united to
3. The third
difference is on the part of the subject. The subject in the state of
innocence was nature possessing no right to the gratuitous gifts of this
state, but with nothing, on the other hand, that would resist them. The
subject of the state of restored nature is nature which must be cured of
sin or, preferably, already cured and adorned with virtue.
Whether in the state of restored nature man has less powers for doing
good conducive to salvation than he had in the state of innocence.
It is not easy to
reply because innocent nature, healthy and vigorous, was in itself more
capable of doing good and persevering in it than nature restored but
still weak and harassed by many temptations; therefore the sin of Adam
was all the more grave inasmuch as it could more easily have been
avoided. But on the other hand, “Where sin abounded, grace did more
abound,” “and with Him plentiful redemption.” Besides, the Redeemer,
head of the Church, substantially present in the Eucharist, is
infinitely higher than Adam, head of elevated nature in the state of
innocence. Eucharistic Communion, which offers sustaining grace is
infinitely above the tree of life, the proper effect of which was to
preserve the vegetative faculty against the infirmity of old age.
Hence, unless I
am mistaken, the question must be solved by making a distinction, thus:
in the state of restored nature, still weak and vexed by many
temptations, man has less strength on the part of nature than in the
state of innocence.
But on the part of Christ the
Redeemer, present in the Eucharist, good Christians who generously
strive after intimacy with Christ and attain it seem, in spite of
temptations, to receive greater graces, at least in the unitive life,
than they would have had in the state of innocence, on account of their
greater union with God through Christ the Redeemer. Nature, indeed, even
in the unitive way is not yet fully restored; there remain pain, old
age, death, a certain disorder in the feelings. But the life of the
saints, after achieving the victory, is higher, most assuredly in the
Blessed Virgin Mary and very probably, if not certainly, in St. Joseph,
the apostles, and the great saints. As a matter of fact, in every
fervent Eucharistic Communion it seems that the union with God through
Christ is greater than it was in the earthly paradise. And in the
Sacrifice of the Mass the consecration is infinitely above the worship
rendered in the state of innocence.
St. Thomas says (Ia, q. 95, a. 4): “The works of man would be more
efficacious for meriting in the state of innocence than after sin, if
the amount of merit is estimated from the standpoint of grace; for this
latter would then have been more plentiful, finding no obstacle in human
nature. Likewise, also, if the absolute quantity of his work be
considered, for if man were possessed of greater powers, he would do
greater works. But if the amount is considered proportionately, the
reckoning of merit after sin is found to be greater, on account of the
weakness of man, for a work of less magnitude done under difficulty
greatly exceeds a work of greater magnitude performed without any
In this text St. Thomas seems to compare the merits of man in general in
these two states. He is not really comparing the merits of Adam with the
merits of any great saint of the New Testament; for, most certainly, the
merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary are much higher than the merits of
Adam. Moreover, when he says, “grace would be more plentiful, finding no
obstacle in human nature,” he is speaking of grace in relation to
incorrupt nature in general, not in relation to such and such a person.
article (Ia, q. 95, a. 4) is indeed true of men as a whole, and on the
part of nature, but he does not compare Adam with the saints of the New
Testament who, after the victory over all temptations, seem, by the
power of Christ the Mediator, through the Sacrifice of the Mass and
Communion, to attain a greater union with God.
Cf. on this
subject St. Thomas’ Commentary on the words of St. Paul: “And where sin
abounded, grace did more abound” (Rom. 5:20);“grace, which hath super
abounded in us in all wisdom” (Ephes. 1:8); “Now the grace of our Lord
hath abounded exceedingly with faith”(I Tim. 1:14); “I exceedingly
abound with joy in all our tribulation”(II Cor. 7:4). These words could
never be said of Adam.
Commenting on the
Epistle to the Romans (5:20), St. Thomas says: “Sin abounded, that is,
in the human race, and especially in the Jews (more enlightened and more
ungrateful), but grace super abounded, that is, in Christ remitting sin.
Hence it is said (II Cor. 9:23): ‘God is able to make all grace abound
in you.”’ But two reasons may be assigned to what is said here. “One
from the operation of grace, . . . for it required abundant grace to
cure an abundance of sins; ‘many sins are forgiven her, because she hath
loved much’ (Luke 7:47).”The other reason is derived from the
disposition of the sinner, for whenever through divine assistance he is
rendered more humble by the consideration of his sins, he attains to
greater grace, according to these words of Ps. 15:4: “Their infirmities
were multiplied: afterward they made haste.” Thus St. Peter after his
conversion; thus, among mankind, the saints after the redemption of the
human race by Christ. Besides, with God there is plentiful redemption,
as has already been said regarding the Psalm De profoundis and,
in truth, redemption through Christ was superabundant. Cf. also III a,
q. I, a. 3 ad3: “Nothing prevents human nature from being advanced to
something greater after sin, for God permits evil to be done that He may
draw something better there from. Hence it is said in Romans (5:20):
‘Where sin abounded, grace did more abound,’ and in the blessing of the
paschal candle we find the words: ‘O happy fault, which deserved to have
such and so great a Redeemer!’”
In the article on
whether God would have become incarnate had man not sinned, St. Thomas
uses the above words (“O happy fault,” etc.) to refute the following
objection: “Human nature did not, through sin, become more receptive of
grace; therefore even if man had not sinned God would have become
incarnate.” Because of this reply of St. Thomas, I cannot doubt the
proposition held by many Thomists, though not by all of them, namely,
that according to St. Thomas and according to the true state of things,
God permitted original sin that He might draw something better there
from, the redemptive Incarnation. Thus there is mutual causality: merits
dispose for the reception of glory, in the way of a disposing cause, but
glory is the cause of merits, as a final cause (Ia, q. 23, a. 5).
problem in regard to the various states is this: What is the order of
these states according to the decrees of divine providence? There is not
complete agreement even among Thomists on this problem (cf. Billuart,
De incarnatione, d. 11, a.3), just as some (the Salmanticenses,
Godoy, Gonet) admit that original sin was permitted by God for the sake
of a greater good, that is, the redemptive Incarnation, whereas others
do not (Biluart, John of St. Thomas).
For the solution
of this question particular stress must be laid on the text of St.
Thomas already quoted (III a, q. I, a. 3 ad 3): “Nothing prevents human
nature from being advanced to something greater after sin, for God
permits evil to be done that He may draw something better there from.
Hence it is said in Romans (5:20): ‘Where sin abounded, grace did more
abound,’ and in the blessing of the paschal candle we find the words: ‘O
happy fault, which deserved to have such and so great a Redeemer.’”
Likewise III a, q. 46, a. I ad 3.
We consider the
solution advanced by the Salmanticenses (Cursus theol., “De
motivo incarnationis”) as well as by Goday and Gonet, to be true. They
maintain the following views.
1. God, through
the knowledge of simple intelligence, knows all things possible, among
which is this possible world in which the order of nature, the order of
grace with the permission of original sin, and the order of hypostatic
union, or the redemptive Incarnation, are subordinate the one to the
intends to manifest His goodness outside Himself.
3. God judges the
aforesaid possible world to be a very suitable medium for manifesting
the divine goodness.
chooses this disposition of things (this is the determination of His
5. God commands
the execution of these means to be set in action in time (this is,
6. For the
operation of the aforesaid disposition of things God moves the universe
by directing it. Thus by a single decree God simultaneously willed this
possible world with all its parts; in the same way, a builder does not
first design the foundation of the house and afterward the roof, but
first he designs a suitable dwelling place and, with this in view, the
whole house and all its parts in harmony. This interpretation seems
profound because of its superior simplicity according as it answers the
question: Why did God permit the sin of Adam? Hence it is more and more
accepted by modern Thomists.
THE POSSIBILITY OF THE STATE OF PURE NATURE
To complete these
preliminary observations in regard to the five states of nature,
something must be said against Baius and the Jansenists and also against
certain Modernists about the state of pure nature. Certainly this state
never existed; and Augustine, writing against Pelagius, shows that Adam
in the state of innocence received more than natural gifts. But Jansen
maintained that the state of pure nature is impossible. This thesis is
well explained by Billuart, why should be read; here it suffices to
present his principal arguments.
Augustine says (Retract.,
Bk. I, chap. 9.): “Ignorance and difficult belong to the wretchedness of
just damnation . . . although, even if they were the natural beginnings
of man, God is not to be blamed on this account, but rather praised.”
Likewise (De dono perseverantiae, chap. II): “Even if it were
true that ignorance and difficulty, without which no man is born, were
not the original penalties of nature, still the Manichaeans would be
refuted.” That is, not on this account is the Author of nature to be
St. Thomas is in
agreement with this (II Sent., d. 31, q. I, a. 2 ad 3; text cited
above on the definition of pure nature. Cf. p. 21).
reason. The state of pure
nature is not contradictory either from the part of man or from the part
of God; hence it is simply possible. On the part of man, neither
sanctifying grace nor the gifts of integrity and immortality are due to
human nature regarded in itself, but are merely gratuitous. Hence the
state of pure nature without these gifts is not contradictory from the
side or part of man.
The antecedent is
evident from the very notion of grace; if it is due, it is no longer a
grace; nor is the adoption of sonship due to us, for adoption is made by
the free will of the one adopting; and neither to our nature nor to the
angelic nature is due the elevation to a participation in the divine
nature, as the Church declared against Baius
1021, 1026, 1055, 1078, 1079) and against Quesnel (Denz.,nos. 1384 ff
.), Thus Augustine (De civitate Dei, Bk. XII, chap. 9 ) says of
the angels: “God created them, at the same time creating nature in them
and bestowing grace upon them.”
Nor is the gift
of integrity and immortality due to our nature; for ignorance,
concupiscence, passibility, and mortality proceed from the elements of
human nature, as St. Thomas teaches (Contra Gentes, Bk. IV, chap.
Thus man, created
in a purely natural condition, would possess all those things that
coincide with his nature, in both his physical and his moral being; in
other words, he would have a body and rational soul with their
properties and powers, spiritual as well as sensitive, that is, with
free will and the potentiality of achieving his natural end. The
proximate end of man in the state of pure nature would be an honorable
good, and his final end God as the author of nature, known abstractly
and loved above all things with a natural love. In this state all the
sufficient aids of a natural order would be given to all, and to some
certain efficacious helps which are indeed not due to any particular
individual, but are necessary to human nature so that, in some
individuals it may attain the end for which it was created by God.
state of pure nature is not contradictory on God’s part; for God could
have denied gratuitous gifts to man without detriment to His justice,
goodness, or wisdom, just as, without any injustice, He did not prevent
the sin of Adam, which He most easily could have prevented. Hence even
by His ordinary power God could have created man in the state of pure
possibility of the state of pure nature there is a particular objection,
which deserves to be considered: man cannot have even perfect natural
happiness without a body, that is, without resurrection after death. But
resurrection is a miracle and therefore would not be possible in the
state of pure nature. Therefore this state is impossible. As a solution
of this objection theologians propose three opinions.
1. In this state
of pure nature there would not be the resurrection of bodies; and yet at
the end of their way the just would be essentially happy, just as now,
in the supernatural order, the souls of the saints are essentially happy
before the resurrection of the body, which imparts only an accidental
happiness. This first opinion is probable.
2. In this state
of pure nature there would be a resurrection; and this is not unlikely,
for the resurrection of the body is supernatural only as to mode (or
modally), not as to substance (or substantially) as grace is. Therefore
this state of pure nature in its term, for the just would have a certain
perfection of integral nature. Moreover, God could perform a miracle in
the state of pure nature to confirm the natural truths of religion. This
second opinion is also probable.
3. In this state
the just man would not die to be beatified; God would transfer him, body
and soul, to the place of beatitude. This third opinion seems least
probable; perhaps the second opinion is the more probable. In order to
defend the possibility of a state of pure nature, it is not necessary to
prove conclusively by what means man would attain to beatitude, just as,
to demonstrate the immortality of the soul, it is not necessary to
determine categorically the particular way by which the separated soul
derives its knowledge. This will suffice, then, in regard to the
possibility of the state of pure nature.
objections of the Jansenists are of less consequence and may easily be
found in the writings of Thomists.
THE VARIOUS DEGREES OF DIVINE MOTION
This is the last
preliminary note to the understanding of our treatise. It is to be
interpreted in the light of what has been said above (Ia, q. 105, a. 5
and 6; Ia IIae, q. 9, a. 6; q. 10, a. 4; q. 79, a. 1 and 2).
As explained by Father del Prado,
O.P. (De gratia, II, 240, 253-57), according to the terminology
of St. Thomas there are three degrees of divine motion in the natural
order and three corresponding degrees in the supernatural; for in both
the natural and the supernatural order divine motion is either before
our deliberation or after it or above it.
deliberation, as long as we naturally desire to be happy, we are moved
to desire happiness in general. For, since this desire is the first act
of our will, we are not moved to it by virtue of a previous act of
deliberation. There is something similar in the supernatural order when
we are moved to our final supernatural end, for we cannot be moved to it
by virtue of a previous higher act by way of deliberation.
deliberation, or at its end, we are moved toward some good (on which we
have deliberated) by virtue of a previous act; for by intending the end
we are moved to choose the means to the end under divine cooperating
concursus; this, indeed, whether in the natural order or in the
supernatural by the exercise of the infused virtues.
deliberation we are moved toward some object, which surpasses our
powers, Thus, in the natural order, under special inspiration of God,
the author of nature, great geniuses in the philosophic, poetic, or
strategic sphere, as well as great heroes are moved. There is something
similar and even more frequent in the supernatural order, when a just
man is moved by special inspiration of the gifts of the Holy Ghost; this
is properly above discursive deliberation and the human mode of
operation. St. Thomas often refers to the matter.
Whence the following may be
drawn, reading from below in an ascending order.
(N.B. Father del
Prado distinguishes only five degrees, since he does not mention our
third degree separately, but reduces it to the sixth.)
mode is explained in Ia IIae, q. 9, a. 6 ad 3, q. 10, a.1, 2, 4.
The second mode
is explained in Ia IIae, q.68, a. 1 and 2, and whether the will may move
itself, Ia IIae, q. 9,a.3.
The third mode is
explained in Ia IIae, q. 68, a. 1, where the Ethics attributed to
Aristotle, is cited, Bk. VII, chap. 14: “On good fortune.”
The fourth mode
is explained in Ia IIae, q. III, a.2 c and as 2 operating grace before
an interior act, especially when the will, which previously willed evil,
begins to will the good. The will does not properly move itself, since
the efficacious act is not given beforehand in respect to the final
supernatural end, by virtue of which it could move itself toward that
end. Further (IIa IIae, q. 24, a. I ad 3): “Charity, whose object is the
ultimate end should rather be said to reside in the will that in free
choice,” for choice properly applies to the means to the end (Ia IIae,
q. 13, a. 3).
The fifth mode is
explained in Ia IIae, q. III, a.2, cooperating grace (cf. Cajetan); and
Ia, 63, a. 1, 5, 6, concerning the second instant in the life of the
angels when they were able to sin.
mode is explained in Ia IIae, q. 68, a. 1 ff.
GENERAL HELP AND SPECIAL HELP
St. Thomas and
nearly all theologians employ this terminology, and commonly apply the
term “general help” to that which is given for operations in accordance
with the universal or common mode of acting. “Special help” is that
which is given for operations above the aforesaid universal or common
mode, and this in a variety of ways; for example, either because a
particular difficulty is to be overcome, or because this mode is
properly extraordinary or miraculous. Hence there are many more or less
special degrees. At the outset the principal degrees should be noted
(cf. John of St. Thomas, De gratia, index under “gratia
specialis”; also the Salmanticenses, Gonet, and Lemos).
1. The most
general help is that by which the will is moved toward the universal
good, as described above in the synopsis (no. I); without this help the
will can will nothing, nor, in fact, can it sin.
2. General help
often signifies the motion indicated in no. 2, as when the will is moved
in the natural order toward some real good, or instance, honoring one’s
father. In fact this “general help” is sometimes called grace in a broad
sense because, although it is due to human nature in general, it is not
due to this individual whom God may permit to sin by his not honoring
his father; so in a certain sense this help is special in relation to
this individual who does not sin (cf. also De veritate, q. 24, a.
see also the Salmanticenses on q. 109, a. 2, as well as Gonet, d. I, a.
3, nos. 148, 170, Cajetan, Billuart, De gratia, diss. I, a. I,
help,” sometimes by many theologians of almost all schools, signifies
the entirely common actual grace of the supernatural order, indicated in
our synopsis as no. 5, provided that there is no special difficulty to
be overcome. For example, it is said that, for overcoming slight
temptations against supernatural precepts, general help of the
supernatural order suffices, and that this help is due to elevated
nature in general, but not to this just one in particular.
John of St.
Thomas (De gratia, disp. 21, a. I, no. 11) thus distinguishes
between general and special help and also uses the terms “ordinary” and
“extraordinary help,” but this extraordinary does not here signify
3. The term
“special help” is usually applied by theologians to that which is
included under nos. 3, 4, and 6 of our synopsis, that is, to a special
inspiration, particularly of the supernatural order, an operating grace
either in the moment of justification or later in accordance with the
exercise of the gifts. Sometimes “special help” signifies, although less
properly, actual grace even cooperating necessarily in overcoming a
great difficulty. Thus it is almost commonly said that to overcome grave
temptations special help, or special grace, is required. (Billuart, diss.
III, a. 6). Such help is not due to this just man, nor proximately due
to elevated nature, but is particularly to be obtained by praying for
In respect, not to nature, but to individual persons, all supernatural
help is special, according to John of St. Thomas (Ia IIae, q. 109, disp.
21, a. I, no. 11), for aid given to one person and not to another is
special to the person to whom it is given; yet that aid can be called
general in relation to common elevated nature, e.g., in the overcoming
following speak in like manner: Billuart, De gratia, beginning;
Salmanticenses, De gratia, Ia IIae, q. 109, disp. 11, dub. 11,
nos. 27, 34, and disp. V, dub. VII, no. 171; Gonet, De gratia,
disp. I, a. 3, & 5, nos. 157, 170, 172; Lemos, Panoplia, t. IV,
p. Ia, q. 85, no. 162. Lemos here maintains that general help is
twofold; one is sufficient, bestowing the power to conquer a slight
temptation, and this is given to all, the other is efficacious,
bestowing the conquest of this slight temptation, and this is not given
to all; it is necessary to pray in order to receive it.
corresponds to the division of the divine will into antecedent and
consequent as explained in Ia, q. 19, a. 6, where it is stated that
“whatever God wills absolutely, happens; although what He antecedently
wills may not happen. He wills absolutely or simply when He wills a
thing considering all its particular circumstances,
now, as a just judge wills absolutely that a murderer be hanged,
although in a certain sense he wills him to live inasmuch as he is a
man.” Likewise in Ia, q. 20, a. 4, it is said that God always loves
better men more, but they would not be better were they not loved more
by God. (Cf. De veritate, q. 6, a. 2; Ia IIae, q. 109, a. 9, at
the end of the body of the article.)
Not all the Semi-Pelagians understood in the same way that the
initial step to salvation comes from us and not from God. Some
who approached nearer to Pelagius placed the beginning of
salvation in some acts performed, such as the act of believing,
desiring, asking, seeking grace and salvation. Others, convinced
by the arguments of Catholics, that every work conducive to
salvation is from God, limited this initial movement to the
consent to that grace which God offered each one that it might
co- operate in a good act, On this beginning, whatever it might
be, and on perseverance in it they based their argument for
predestination, (Cf. Billuart, op. cit.) They
maintained that this beginning of salvation, proceeding from us
and not from God, merits the first grace, at the favorable
moment, so to speak. This is evident from Faustus, who, as
Gennadius relates in his life, used to say: “Whatever freedom of
the will may acquire of honest reward for labor is not, properly
speaking, merit.” Likewise Cassian in his Collutiones,
chap. 14: “God is ready in the event of the offering of our will
to bestow all these things upon it”.
And, on the
other hand, infants who die without baptism would be punished
for sins, which they would have committed if they had lived for
a long time. Thus they would be punished for sins that were not
real but only conditional, which is unjust.
De civ. Dei,
Bk. XII, chap. 6: “If the efficient cause of bad is sought, none
will be found. . . . If two individuals similarly constituted as
to soul and body, both perceive the beauty of the same body; if,
having seen it, one of the two is moved to illicit enjoyment,
whereas the other perseveres firmly in a virtuous will, what
shall we consider to be the cause of bad will present in one and
not in the other? . . . If both are tempted by the same
temptation and one yields and consents, while the other remains
unmoved, what else is evident but that one willed and the other
did not will to fail in chastity? . . . The same beauty was seen
equally by the eyes of both; the same interior temptation
solicited both equally; what, therefore caused that particular
bad will in one of them? . . . , Nothing presents itself. Can
(human) nature be the cause of evil will in that it is human
nature? No, for it is found in both individuals. But so far as
it is drawn from nothingness, it is deficient in one and not in
the other.” (St. Thomas says: that which is defectible in itself
can be reasonably expected to fail in some respect, with divine
permission.) Chap. 7: “Let no one, therefore, seek the efficient
cause of bad will, since it is not efhcient, but deficient; for
this is not an effect, but a defect. To fall away then, from
what is greater to what is less is to begin to have an evil
will.” Chap. 9: “These angels, who were created with the good,
and are yet bad, bad by their own will, either received less
grace of divine love than those who persevered in it, or if they
were both created equally good, when the former fell from evil
will, the latter, receiving greater help, attained to that
fullness of beatitude.”
same Augustine says, commenting on St. John (tr. 26): “If you do
not wish to fall into error, do not attempt to judge why God
draws this one and does not draw that one.” Likewise St. Thomas
(Ia, q.23, a.5), when the Semi-Pelagians said: “God draws this
person because He sees the initial step to salvation naturally
in him and not in another.”
At the Council
of Trent it was declared (Denz., no. 789) that Adam “lost for
himself and for us the sanctity and justice received from God”;
therefore he received it for himself and for us as an endowment
granted to nature, not merely as a personal gift.
declares: “In the state of innocence grace, conferred as an
endowment of nature, encountered nothing contrary to itself in
integral nature, and accordingly communicated itself fully to
nature, with regard to all its effects, primary as well as
secondary.” Now, grace regards directly (per se) and
primarily the justified person, who previously was unworthy and
finds in nature four wounds which are only in process of being
healed: ignorance, malice, weakness, concupiscence, and, in
addition, pain and death. Hence grace does not now communicate
itself fully to nature. But the justified person ought to fight
manfully and continually to implore the help of
De gratia, diss. III, a. I.