Up to this point we have considered the
necessity, essence, divisions, and cause of grace; now we are to examine
its effects, of which the two principal ones are: I. the justification
of the wicked, “which is the effect of operative grace,” and merit,
which is the effect of cooperative grace.
PART ONE: THE
JUSTIFICATION OF THE WICKED, OR SINNERS
There are three
parts to this question:
1. What justification is and whether an infusion of
grace is necessary for it (a. 1 and 2).
2. The acts
required for the justification of adult sinners (a. 3-6), that is,
whether it requires a movement of the free will, or of faith or of
contrition and the remission of sins.
3. The properties of justification (a.7-10); that
is, whether it is brought about instantaneously or whether there is a
priority and posteriority of nature in the acts which concur toward it;
whether justification is the greatest work of God; whether it is a
JUSTIFICATION OF THE
WICKED IS THE
REMISSION OF SINS
The reply is in the
affirmative; it is of faith and opposed to Protestant teaching. For
Protestants contended that by justification, the sins of the sinner were
not really effaced or removed, but remained in their entirety in man,
being merely covered over or no longer imputed to him.
Proof from the
Council of Trent, Sess. V,
can. 5, (Denz., no. 792): “If anyone denies that through the grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ, conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin
is remitted, or even asserts that all that is included in the true and
proper reason of sin is not removed, but is only said to be erased or
not imputed, let him be anathema.”
of the Church’s faith is based on many texts of Sacred Scripture: “Blot
out my iniquity…blot out all my iniquities….Thou shalt wash me, and I
shall be made whiter than snow” (Ps. 50); “I am he that blot out thy
iniquities for My own sake” (Isa. 43:25); “And I will pour upon you
clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness” (Ezech.
36:25); “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who taketh away the sin of
the world” (John 1:29); “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth
us from all sin” (I John 1:7); “The unjust shall not possess the kingdom
of God. Do not err; neither fornicators…nor adulterers, nor the
effeminate…nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God. And such
some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you
are justified” (I Cor. 6:9-11). Again, St. Augustine writes, refuting
two letters of Pelagius (Ad Bonifacium, Bk. I, chap. 12): “We
hold that baptism bestows remission of sins and removes our crimes, not
merely erasing them.”
proof. Since justification is
derived from justice, taken passively, it implies a motion toward
justice, as calefaction imparts a motion toward heat. But the justice
with which we are here concerned requires of a man not merely rectitude
toward another man, but toward God, inasmuch as reason is subject to God
and lower powers to reason, which rectitude excludes injustice or mortal
sin. Therefore the justification of a sinner is a transmutation to the
state of justice demanding the remission of sins.
This reasoning is
based on the definition of motion which is from a contrary to a
contrary, that is, from the terminus a quo, namely, the state of
sin or injustice, to the terminus ad quem, which is the state of
justice. However, justification may also be, as in Adam before the fall
and in the angels, a simple generation, that is, from privation to a
form. This mode of justification is appropriate to one who is not in
sin, as stated in the body of the article.
second objection. It is noted
that this transmutation is named from justice rather than from charity
since justice demands the complete rectitude of order in general and is
thus distinguished as a special virtue.
Reply to third
objection. According to the
words of St. Paul: “Whom He called, them He also justified” (Rom. 8:30),
vocation precedes justification as it excites one to give up sin.
of the reply by reduction ad absurdum. If in the justification of the
wicked, sins remain and are merely covered over but not effaced, it
1. that man is simultaneously just and unjust: just
because justified, and unjust because he remains in habitual mortal sin,
which is essentially injustice;
2. that God loves
sinners as His friends;
3. that Christ is not the Lamb of God who takes away
the sins of the world
4. that He spoke a falsehood when He said: “Now you
are clean” (John 15:3);
5. that God’s evaluation, reputing him to be just
who is in sin, must be false. These are the arguments generally proposed
by theologians against the so-called Reformers.
WHETHER AN INFUSION OF GRACE IS NECESSARY FOR THE REMISSION OF GUILT,
WHICH IS THE JUSTIFICATION OF THE WICKED
the question. In the second objection St. Thomas had already
formulated the Protestant opinion according to which justification does
not require an infusion of grace. The Protestants declared that man was
rendered just, not by an intrinsically justifying form, but either by
the justice whereby God is just or by the justice of Christ imputed
extrinsically. Therefore the justification of the wicked would be an
The reply of St. Thomas is: “The remission of guilt is
inconceivable without an infusion of grace.” This reply contains two
elements: 1. the remission of guilt is in fact produced by an infusion
of grace, and 2. it cannot be effected otherwise, even by the absolute
power of God.
The first of
these is of faith; the second is opposed to Scotus, the Scotists, and
Definition of faith by the Council of Trent (Sess.
VI, can. 10 and 11; Denz., nos. 820, 821):
“If anyone should say that men are just without the
justice of Christ whereby He merited our justification or by that
justice itself formally, let him be anathema.” “If anyone should say
that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of
Christ or by the remission of sins alone, excluding grace and charity
which is poured forth into their hearts by the Holy Ghost and abides in
them, or even that the grace whereby we are justified is only a favor
from God, let him be anathema.
This article of the Church’s faith is clearly based
on Sacred Scripture: “Of his fullness we all have received, and grace
for grace” (John 1:16); “The charity of God is poured forth in our
hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5); “To every one
of us is given grace, according to the measure of the giving of Christ”
Theological proof. St. Thomas shows the very
impossibility of the remission of sin without the infusion of grace,
thus admirably founding his argument on God’s love for us.
The remission of
sin is effected according as God is pacified in our regard, loving us
with special benevolence. But God cannot love the sinner with a special
love except by infusing grace whereby the sinner is intrinsically
transformed and made pleasing to God. Therefore the remission of sin
cannot be effected without an infusion of grace.
The major is
self-evident, for God cannot remit the offense of the sinner unless He
makes peace with him, and God makes peace with us inasmuch as He loves
us with a special love. Thus nothing else can be designated wherein our
peace with God consists; in other words, God makes peace with us in the
matter of our offense on account of His special benevolence toward us.
The minor is
based on St. Thomas’ principle enunciated in Ia IIae, q. 110, a. I, and
Ia, q. 20, a. 2, to the effect that “the love of God does not presuppose
goodness in us but produces it”; “the love of God infuses and creates
goodness in things,” since He is the author of all good. Nor are we here
concerned with the general love whereby God loves and preserves the very
nature of the sinner while he is in the state of sin, but rather with
the special love whereby He remits or pardons the offense. This special
love cannot but produce some effect in us, that is, it cannot help but
make man pleasing; otherwise God’s created love for us would be no more
effective than the love of our friends, who cannot change the interior
state of our souls. Now habitual grace excludes mortal sin absolutely,
which is precisely the privation of the life of grace, or the death of
the soul. (Cf. ad I.)
second objection. “God’s not
imputing sin to man” proceeds “from the divine love for US,” and this
divine love “produces an effect in us.”
Reply to third
objection. The cessation of
actual sin does not suffice for the remission of sin, since, as has
already been said, habitual sin and the liability to punishment remain.
Scotus. God can be pacified
by a negative love by which He wills only not to be offended any more,
just as may be done among men.
Cf. IIIa, q. 85, a. 2. The case is not parallel, for man can pardon the
offense of another through a change in himself, without any change in
the offender; God, however, is changeless but works a change in others.
Hence the transformation is here confined to man, who at first was not
pleasing to God and was then made pleasing through the effect of God’s
love for him.
theological proof may be
adduced, as many theologians propose, on the basis of created grace
A privation can
only be removed by the opposite form, blindness, for instance, only by
sight, darkness by light. But habitual sin con-sists essentially in the
privation of sanctifying grace. Therefore, habitual sin can be removed
only by the form of sanctifying grace.
major is true of physical privation, but not of moral privation, which
is the absence of a form the subject ought to have, not by the nature of
things, but by divine ordination. This moral privation can be removed,
not only by the introduction of the op-posite form, but precisely by the
fact that God’s ordination is changed, determining that this form is no
longer due to this subject. God would thus act if He were to withdraw
man’s ordination toward a supernatural end.
Although God can withdraw man’s ordination toward a supernatural end, He
cannot bring it about that at the time when man sinned he was not
ordained to a supernatural end, for power does not extend to the past.
Moreover, the voluntary privation of grace does not cease to exist in
the sinner except by a retractation of his previous will.
theological proof on the part
of man. Man does not cease to be turned away from God unless he is
converted to Him by an interior transformation. But habitual mortal sin
implies a habitual aversion to God. Therefore habitual mortal sin does
not cease unless man is converted to God by an interior transformation.
It follows from this that, even by absolute power, mortal sin whether
actual or habitual cannot coexist with habitual grace in the same
subject. This is commonly held by theologians against the Nominalists,
Scotus, and Suarez. The reason is that man would be at one and the same
time actually, or at least habitually, turned away from God, his last
end, and habitually converted to God. For the primary formal effect of
sanctifying grace is to sanctify man, to justify or “rectify” him (that
is, to confer rectitude with regard to God, his last end), and thereby
to make man a child of God. Whereas on the other hand, mortal sin is
essentially iniquity and departure from rectitude with relation to our
last end, and therefore destroys divine filiation or participation in
the divine nature. But even by absolute power justice cannot be made to
coexist with injustice, sanctity with iniquity and impurity, or
rectitude with a turning aside from rectitude.
This would be the
denial of the principle of contradiction or of identity: being is being,
nonbeing is nonbeing, good is good, evil is evil, spirit is spirit,
flesh is flesh. But once this supreme principle should be denied, it
would give way to absolute, atheistic evolutionism the formula of which
is found in the first proposition of the syllabus of Pius IX (Denz., no.
1701): “No supreme, all-wise, all-provident divine power exists distinct
from the universe of things; God is the same as the nature of things and
therefore subject to change, God is actually made in man,…and God is one
and the same thing with the world and, therefore, spirit with matter,
necessity with liberty, truth with falsehood, good with evil, and the
just with the unjust.” It is to this that the opinion of the Nominalists,
Scotus, and Suarez leads.
The sanctification or deification of the soul is not a primary but a
secondary effect of grace. But by absolute power secondary effects may
be separated from a form, as risibility from rationality. Therefore by
absolute power habitual grace may exist without sanctification.
I deny the major. This effect, namely, sanctification, is the primary
effect of sanctifying grace, for grace is essentially a participation in
the divine nature and supernatural substantially; it is not, as the
Nominalists claimed, something entitatively natural conferring, by
divine institution, a right to glory, as a bank note confers a right to
receive money. Cf. above on the essence of sanctifying grace the primary
formal effect of which is to sanctify. Thus the Nominalist conception of
grace would be destructive of the whole supernatural order in us since
this order would become entitatively natural. This debased form of
theology held by the Nominalists is indeed wretched and worthy of
Molina, although he taught that the act of infused faith is not
specified by a higher formal object than that of acquired faith such as
exists in the demons, never-theless elsewhere deplored deep-rooted and
An act can coexist with the contrary habit, for instance, an act of
intemperance with the habit of temperance. But habitual grace is a
habit, whereas mortal sin is an act. Therefore they can co-exist in the
1. This proves too much, for then even by ordinary power habitual grace
might coexist with mortal sin, just as the habit of temperance may
coexist in corrupt human nature with the sin of intemperance by ordinary
power. But all theologians deny such a possibility by ordinary power.
2. There is a
distinction to be made between acquired habits which are acquired by
repeated acts and not destroyed by one sin, and the infused habits of
grace and charity which are not acquired and are taken away in an
instant by mortal sin which essentially includes the opposite matter of
injustice and deviation from rectitude with regard to the final end.
But habitual grace resides in the essence of the soul, whereas sin lies
in the will.
By the very fact that there is mortal sin, it follows that injustice and
iniquity are present in the whole man; for sin destroys in the will the
last disposition for habitual grace which resides in the essence of the
soul and destroys as well the necessary properties of grace.
But sin does not expel grace physically, but only demeritoriously.
It does not expel grace physically, by a positive form, acting
physically: granted; by its nature: denied. For iniquity, injustice,
withdrawal from God, the death of the soul by its nature physically
expels sanctity, approach to God, the life of the soul.
God is not necessitated to withdraw grace from a sinner. Therefore.
God is not necessitated absolutely to do so: granted; but He is
necessitated on the supposition that He permits man to fall into mortal
sin, for God cannot will two contradictories simultaneously.
God does not remove His grace from those once justified, unless He is
first abandoned by them, according to the Council of Trent, Sess. VI,
chap. II. Therefore sin precedes the withdrawal of grace and hence
coexists with grace.
That mortal sin precedes the withdrawal of grace by a priority of time:
denied; by a priority of nature on the part of the material cause:
granted, as will be explained below (a. 8), just as darkness ceases in
the atmosphere before the latter is illuminated, by a priority of nature
but not of time.
PART TWO: THE ACTS
WHICH CONCUR IN THE
JUSTIFICATION OF A
N ADULT SINNER
State of the
question. We have already
seen (q.112, a. 2) that a certain disposition is required for the
justification of an adult which is effected under the influence of
prevenient actual grace. Now we are concerned with the free acts
required for justification. Let us first examine the Church’s definition
of faith according to the Council of Trent, in opposition to the
Protestants who held that only confident faith in the remission of our
sins was required for justification, The Council of Trent (Sess. VI,
chap. 6; Denz., no. 798) assigns six acts required for the justification
of an Bdult sinner: I. faith, 2. fear, 3. hope, 4. love of God, 5.
repentance or contrition, and 6. the intention of receiving the
sacrament instituted for the remission of sins, of beginning a new life
and of keeping the divine commands, which intention is included in
contrition itself. We shall see how this doctrine of the Church had
already been admirably explained in the present article by St. Thomas
long before the Protestant heresy.
WHETHER A MOVEMENT OF
THE FREE WILL IS REQUIRED FOR THE JUSTIFICATION OF A N ADULT
GUILTY OF SIN
It seems not to be, since: I. it is not
required in infants, 2. a man may be justified while asleep, and 3.
grace is preserved in us without any movement of free will, so that it
should also be capable of being produced in the same way.
however, is that a movement of the free will to accept the gift of grace
is required for the justification of an adult guilty of sin.
1 . Proof from
authority. According to the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. 6,
can. 9; Denz., nos. 798, 819): “If anyone should say…that for
justification…it is not necessary for a man to prepare and dispose
himself by a movement of his will, let him be anathema.” This definition
is based on Sacred Scripture (I Kings 7:3): “Prepare your hearts unto
the Lord,” and (Zach. 1:3): “Turn ye to Me…and I will turn to you.”
proof. In justifying man, God moves him to justice according to the
condition of his nature. But it is in accordance with the proper nature
of man that he should possess free will. Therefore in one who has the
use of free will, God does not produce a motion toward justice without a
movement of the free will, or without the free acceptance of the gift of
Reply to first
objection. This is not
required in infants since they do not yet have the use of free will;
thus without personal consent they are freed from original sin, the
guilt of which they contracted without personal consent. The same reason
applies to the insane or mentally deranged who have never had the use of
free will. But if a person has had the use of free will for some time
and later loses it either by some infirmity or merely by sleep, he does
not obtain justifying grace through baptism, in the ordinary
dispensation of providence, unless he first has at least the implicit
desire for the necessary sacrament; cf. treatise on baptism. By absolute
power, however, a sleeping man can be justified without a previous
desire for baptism.
second objection. St. Thomas
makes note of two possibilities: 1. In a prophetic sleep a person may
retain the use of free will; 2. without a complete movement of free will
the intellect may be enlightened by the gift of wisdom, “since wisdom
perfects the intellect which precedes the will.” (Cf. Job 33:15.)
Reply to third
objection. The preservation
of grace in the soul involves no transformation of the soul from the
state of injustice to the state of justice; therefore it does not
require a movement of free will but “only a continuation of the divine
influx.” Thus the Trinity dwelling in the just soul preserves grace in
it merely by the continua-tion of the divine presence or influx.
A MOVEMENT OF FAITH IS REQUIRED FOR
THE JUSTIFICATION OF AN ADULT GUILTY OF SIN
It seems not to
be so, for: 1. an act of humility or of love of God suffices: 2. natural
knowledge of God on the part of the intellect is sufficient; 3. at the
moment of justification a man cannot think of all the articles of faith.
however, is that an act of supernatural faith is required for the
justification of an adult sinner. This is of faith.
1. Proof from
authority. The Council of Trent (Sess. VI, can. 12; Denz., nos. 822,
799, 802) in opposition to the Protestants who held that confident faith
alone in the remission of our sins is required, whereby we trust that
our sins are remitted for the sake of Christ. According to the Council
(Sess. VI, chap. 6; Denz., no. 798) faith by hearing is required of
which St. Paul speaks in Rom. 10:17: “They are disposed for justice
when, aroused by divine grace and aided, receiving faith by hearing
(Rom. 10:17), they are freely moved unto God, believing those things to
be true which are divinely revealed and promised, and this primarily:
that the wicked are justified by His grace ‘through the redemption,
which is in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 3:24).” Again the same Council,
referring to the vain confidence of heretics, declares (Sess. VI, chap.
9; Denz., no. 802): “No one is capable of knowing with the certainty of
faith, in which no falsehood lies concealed, that he has obtained the
grace of God.” (Cf. also Denz., nos. 822 ff., 851, 922.)
fact, distinguished a threefold faith as follows:
called this last form of faith “confidence,” confusing faith, which
resides in the intellect, with confidence, which pertains to hope and to
the will; for confidence is a firm hope (cf. IIa IIae, q. 129, a. 6).
The Protestants held that only this confident hope is required for
justification. Some of them, however, maintained that love, contrition,
and good works were necessary, not as conducing to justification but as
a sign of justifying confidence.
laxist propositions have been condemned; cf. Denz., no. 1173: “Faith
broadly speaking, on the testimony of creatures or some similar motive,
suffices for justification”; ibid., no. 1172: “Only faith in one
God seems to be necessary by mediate necessity, but not explicit faith
in a Rewarder.” Hence there is required supernatural faith at least that
God exists and is a rewarder; otherwise man cannot tend toward his final
supernatural end. Further condemnation follows (ibid., no. 1207):
“It is probable that natural attrition of an honorable kind suffices.”
contrition is necessary. It is thereupon declared that for sacramental
justification, in other words, absolution, “a knowledge of the mysteries
of the Trinity and the Incarnation” is required. That is, such knowledge
is necessary at least with a necessity of precept; but more probably
also with mediate necessity, at least directly, but not indirectly or
accidentally, if these are not known on account of insufficient
preaching of the gospel in some particular region. This is the opinion
of the Salmanticenses, in the treatise on faith (IIa IIae, q 4 a .7).
belief in this matter, thus defined, is based clearly on many scriptural
texts: “Preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth [the
gospel]…shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned”
(Mark 16:15 f.); “But my just man liveth by faith” (Heb. 10:38); “But
without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to
God, must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him” (ibid.,
11:6). And St. Paul demonstrates this truth by Old Testament history,
citing the faith of Abel, Henoch, Noe, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and
faith of which St. Paul speaks is faith in the revealed mysteries, for
it is defined in the same Epistle (Heb. 11:1): “Now faith is the
substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear
not,” and one must at least believe, as he says, “that God is, and is a
rewarder,” that is, believe in God as author of salvation and not merely
in God as author of nature, known by natural means; such belief was
necessary even before Christ. This is confirmed in our Lord’s words to
Martha (John 11 q-27): “I am the resurrection and the life; he that
believeth in Me . . . shall not die forever,” and her reply: “Yea, Lord,
I have believed that Thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art
come into this world.” Again, St. John tells us in his Gospel (20:31):
“But these signs are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the
Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in His
name.” That faith is justifying which Christ and His apostles preached;
but they preached faith in the mysteries, not that individual, fiduciary
faith whereby each one believes that his own sins are remitted.
tradition. From the beginning the Church, when faith is required of
candidates for baptism, demanded no other faith but that by which we
believe the articles of faith contained in the Creed, and not the faith
by which we trust that our sins are forgiven. (Cf. on this subject with
respect to the Fathers, St. Robert Bellarmine, De justif.,
Bk. I, chap. 9.)
But it is written in St. Matthew’s Gospel: “And Jesus, seeing their
faith, said to the man sick of the palsy: Be of good heart, son, thy
sins are forgiven thee” (9:2), and further: “Be of good heart, daughter,
thy faith hath made thee whole” (9:22).
Reply. Before the paralytic and the woman
obtained the remission of their sins they already had faith and
nevertheless they did not yet believe that their sins were forgiven.
Hence when Christ said: “Thy faith hath made thee whole,” He was
referring to dogmatic faith, the same of which St. Paul speaks to the
Romans (10:9): “If thou . . . believe . . . that God hath raised Him
[the Lord Jesus] up from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
theological argument in the body of the article is as follows:
justification of adults who are in sin a movement of the soul is
required freely turning toward God. But the first conversion toward God
is through faith. Therefore an act of faith is required for the
justification of an adult in sin.
The major is
proved by what has already been said and is confirmed by Ps. 84:7: “Thou
wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life.”
The minor is according to St. Paul
(Heb. 11:16): “For he that cometh to God, must believe that He is, and
is a rewarder to them that seek Him.” It is confirmed by the principle
that nothing is willed without being previously known; but a
supernatural end cannot first be known by wayfarers except through
second objection. Natural
knowledge of God does not suffice for justification, since by it a man
is not converted to God as object of (supernatural) beatitude and cause
of justification. The distinction is clearly affirmed here between the
two orders. Lamennais and the liberals fell into error by holding (Denz.,
no. 1613) that: “The eternal salvation of souls may be purchased by any
profession of faith whatsoever, if their morals are required to conform
to a right and honorable standard.” Lammenais maintained that common
sense was enough, since it was founded originally on the first
revelation made to Adam. This was a confusion of the two orders, as in
the case of the traditionalists. Nor does there consequently appear to
have been any progress made in theology on this subject since St.
Thomas, although, in founding his periodical, l’Avenir, Lammenais
thought he was opening a new era. He passed from one extreme to the
other, that is, from traditionalism to liberalism, declaring that the
common traditions of all the people are sufficient.
Reply to third
objection. St. Thomas
determines which kind of faith is required according to St. Paul: “But
to him that . . . believeth in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his
faith is reputed to justice, according to the purpose of the grace of
God” (Rom. 4:5). “From which it appears,” as St. Thomas adds, “that for
justification an act of faith is required to this extent: that a man
believe God to be the justifier of men through the mystery of Christ.”
This text may be cited in favor of the opinion which holds that, after
Christ, faith in the redemptive Incarnation is necessary even by a
necessity of means for salvation, since the promulgation of the gospel.
(Cf. treatise on faith, IIa IIae, q. 2, a. 7.)
The answer to the
first objection will be explained below in the refutation of the error
error: faith alone suffices for the justification of an adult.
It was declared
at the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, can. 9 and 19; Denz., nos. 819, 829)
that neither the confident faith referred to by Protestants, nor true
Christian faith alone suffices for justification.
In this respect Protestants revived
an ancient heresy. Simon the Magician and, later, Eunomius misunderstood
St. Paul’s words concerning the merely natural or legal works of the
Jews, and maintained that Christian faith alone, that is, in the
articles of the Creed, sufficed for salvation, without works of charity.
It was against this error of Simon the Magician, as St. Irenaeus and St.
Augustine tell us, that Peter, John, James, and Jude wrote in their
epistles. However, in reviving this heresy, the Lutherans and Calvinists
modified it by declaring that fiduciary faith suffices for
justification, whereas the older heretics had reference to the faith by
which we believe all the articles of faith. The innovators insisted that
their doctrine was based on certain texts of St. Paul.
definition of the Council of Trent is clearly based on many scriptural
texts. St. James asks (2:14-26): “What shall it profit, my brethren, if
a man says he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to
save him? . . . So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.
. . . Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith
only? . . . Faith without works is dead.” And in St. Peter’s Second
Epistle we read (1:10): “Labor the more, that by good works you may make
sure your calling and election.” St. Jude exhorts the faithful: “Keep
yourselves in the love of God” (verse 21). Again St. John declares:
“Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doth justice is just”
(I John 3:7). And St. Paul writes: “If I should have all faith, so that
I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (I Cor.
13:2); “For in Christ Jesus neither circum-cision availeth anything nor
uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity” (Gal. 5:6); “For not
the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law
shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13).
everywhere recommends good works as necessary for justification and
salvation: “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your
good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. . . . Unless your
justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall
not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:16, 20); “Every tree that
bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into
the fire” (ibid., 7:19); “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the
commandments” (ibid., 19:18).
Thus it becomes
evident that Luther perverted Christ’s doctrine radically under the
pretext of a deeper understanding of it. In his sermon on the words,
“God so loved the world,” Luther teaches that, once justified by faith,
although a man becomes a thief, murderer, adulterer, or sodomite, he
still remains just; hence faith justifies without good works, indeed,
even when accompanied by the worst possible works. Luther reiterates
this opinion with reference to the second chapter of Galatians.
Therefore he said: “Sin strongly and believe more strongly.” And
Protestant historians, such as Harnack, would have us believe that this
represents progress in the development of dogma. (Cf. Denifle, Luther
objection of the heretics is based upon the text of St. Paul to the
Romans (4:2): “If Abraham was justified by works, he hath whereof to
glory, but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham
believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice [Gen. 15:6]. Now to
him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but
according to debt. But to him that worketh not, yet believeth in Him
that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reputed to justice, according
to the purpose of the grace of God. . . . Blessed are they whose
iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered [Ps. 31:1]. Blessed
is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin.”
This text of St. Paul is explained in the light of other texts of the
Apostle by the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. 8; Denz., no. 801).
The meaning here is the same as in the preceding chapter of Romans (3:21
ff.): “But now without the law the justice of God is made manifest,
being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the justice of God, by
faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe in Him. .
. . Being justified freely [that is, not by works] by His grace, through
the redemption, that is in Christ Jesus”; and again later (ibid.,
11:16): “If by grace, it is not now by works: other-wise grace is no
more grace.” Such texts are often quoted against the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians.
Hence the reply
is: St. Paul (Rom 4:5) denies only that the natural good works of pagans
or the legal works of the Old Law can obtain justification for us, since
justification is gratuitous, proceeding from faith in Christ the
Redeemer and from grace. Therefore he declares: “To him that worketh not
[that is, the natural works of the pagans or the works of the Mosaic
law] yet believeth in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is
reputed to justice, according to the purpose of the grace of God.” This
text should be cited against the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians who hold
that “if one does what in one lies by natural power alone, God
infallibly confers grace.” (Cf. Council of Trent, Denz. no. 801, and
with respect to the Fathers, cf. St. Robert Bellarmine, De
justificatione, Bk. I, chaps. 20-25.)
doctrine on this subject, however, is perfectly clear, both from his
answer to the first objection of the present article and from subsequent
articles. Thus he maintains in his answer to the first objection of
article 4: “The movement of faith is not perfect unless it is informed
by charity, hence in the justification of adults guilty of sin there is
a movement of charity simultaneous with the movement of faith.”
Therefore justification is attributed to faith as its beginning and
root, not however excluding other works which dispose for it;
consequently the faith which justifies is a living faith which operates
through charity. The Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. 6; Denz., no.
798) indicates an act of love of God following acts of faith, fear, and
In the reply to
the first objection St. Thomas had likewise noted an act of fear; indeed
he specified a kind of fear when he wrote: “However the free will is
moved toward God so far as it subjects itself to Him; hence there also
concurs an act of filial fear [that is, fear of sin] and an act of
humility” (to the extent that man understands himself to be a sinner, as
the Council of Trent declares, ibid.). In fact, St. Thomas
mentions “an act of mercy or of love toward one’s neighbor” according as
it either follows justification, or disposes one for it, or is
concomitant with it at the very moment of justification itself. Finally,
the Angelic Doctor remarks that one and the same act of free will
participates in several virtues so far as one imperates and the others
are imperated.” In article 8 he indicates the order of these acts.
problem: On the justification of a pagan child who, when he arrives at
the full use of reason, does what lies in his power, with the help of
actual grace, to love God above all things.
writes, Ia IIae, q. 89, a. 6: “When a child begins to have the use of
reason, he should order his acts toward a proper end, to the extent that
he is capable of discretion at that age.” And again in the answer to the
third objection: “The end is first in the intention. Hence this is the
time when the child is obliged by the affirmative command: ‘Turn ye to
Me. . . .’ But if the child does this, he obtains the remission of
original sin.” It is an excellent form of baptism of desire. St. Thomas
and Thomists reconcile this doctrine with the legitimate interpretation
of the axiom: “To one who does what in him lies (with the help of actual
grace), God does not deny habitual grace,” and in the present case God
does not deny what is necessary for justification, that is, the
supernatural presentation of the truths of faith which are necessary by
a necessity of means, at least that God “is, and is a rewarder” in the
order of grace.
this thesis is extremely difficult and very complex, demanding the
refutation of numerous objections, it will be well to offer here a
recapitulation of its proof while at the same time solving the principal
difficulties. (Cf. especially on this subject John of St. Thomas, De
praedestinatione, disp. 10, a. 3, nos. 40-41, and the thesis of
Father Paul Angelo, O.P., La possibilità di salute nel primo atto
morale per il fanciullo infedele, Rome, the Angelicum, 1946.)
I. Why does it not suffice, when a child begins
to have the use of reason, that he wills, for example, not to lie, when
the occasion arises?
Reply. Because the end is first in the
intention; and the end in question is not only happiness in general, but
at least some honorable good to be accomplished, as expressed in the
first precept of the natural law (to live according to right reason);
cf. Ia IIae, q. 94, a. 2.
2. At that moment is not the moral obligation
properly so called, of loving an honorable good (living according to
right reason), more than a pleasurable or useful good, and more than
sensitive life, made evident explicitly to the child?
3. Does not the explicit knowledge of this moral
obligation demand that, the next moment at least, the child know
explicitly, although confusedly, that this moral obligation proceeds
from the author of his nature?
Reply. Yes; at least according to St.
Thomas, since right reason does not bind except as a second cause
dependent upon the first and since passive ordering of the child’s will
toward loving an honorable good efficaciously, even at great cost,
supposes the active ordination of the author of nature. Otherwise there
could be a philosophical sin against right reason which would not be a
sin against God. However, this has been condemned as an error (Denz.,
But yet, in this instant the honorable good is known before the ultimate
honorable good known confusedly, and before the ultimate basis of moral
obligation, namely, the ordination proceeding from the author of nature.
4. Does the child, by loving an honorable good
efficaciously and explicitly more than himself, love God, the author of
nature, efficaciously but implicitly?
5. Why in the present state cannot the child love
God, the author of nature, efficaciously and implicitly more than
himself, without grace which is at once healing and elevating?
Reply. Because by original sin “man follows
his own exclusive good unless he is healed by the grace of God” (Ia IIae,
q. 109, a. 3). And this healing grace is at the same time elevating.
6. Does it not suffice for the child to be
justified that in a brief moment of time he elicits a single act of
efficacious love of God, the author of nature?
Reply. Yes; but in fact this single act
cannot be produced unless he is already healed by grace. He will thus be
instantly justified, as St. Thomas remarked, De veritate, q. 24,
a. 12 ad 2: “he will have grace immediately,” or will be justified.
7. Why cannot this child be at the same time
converted to God, the author of nature, and in the state of original
Reply. Because original sin brings about
directly aversion from the final supernatural end, and indirectly from
the final natural end; for the natural law decrees that God is to be
obeyed whatever He may command. Accordingly in the present state
habitual grace cannot heal, without at the same time elevating, and
being the root of infused charity.
8. But the difliculty remains with respect to the
revelation of the first articles of belief. Is not a revelation,
strictly speaking, required?
Reply. Yes, a revelation, strictly speaking,
is required, either immediately, or mediately through the guardian
angel, since there can be no justification of an adult without an act of
faith based on the authority of God who reveals. But at the moment of
the moral beginning of the use of reason two physical instants can be
distinguished, and this revelation is given in the second of them, if
the child does not set up an obstacle but, with the help of actual
grace, does whatever is in his power.
9. In this second physical instant of the first use
of reason, can the act of faith coexist with merely implicit knowledge
Reply. No, the knowledge of God must be
explicit, and at least vague and obscure, such as that possessed by many
Christians of long standing but very poorly instructed.
10. But what are the motives of belief for this
child who is unacquainted with either miracles or prophecies?
Reply. The internal motives of belief then
supply for the others under divine inspiration, for instance, an
experience of great peace which manifests itself as proceeding from on
11. Is not this divine intervention miraculous?
Reply. No, for it is produced according to
the law: “To him who does what in him lies, God does not refuse grace.”
But is it not extraordinary?
Reply. Yes, indeed.
Is it frequent among pagans?
Reply. It is difficult to say; probably the
number of these baptisms of desire has increased since the consecration
of the human race to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was made by Leo XIII
at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Does God really give to pagan children at that
moment sufficient grace for ordering their lives toward the proper end?
13. Why do not the desire for faith and implicit
faith in the primary objects of belief suffice?
Reply. Because implicit faith must be
contained in a principle which is more universal, not of an inferior
order. Thus implicit faith in the Trinity is contained in supernatural,
explicit faith in God, the rewarder, but not in knowledge of an inferior
14. But if a child does not resist the first
prevenient grace inclining him to a pious disposition to believe, will
he not receive the enlighten-ment necessary for an act of faith?
15. The final objection of the Nominalists is as
follows: This doctrine of St. Thomas seems to be true in the abstract
but not in the concrete. In the abstract, the major, the minor, and even
the consequence are valid, hence the conclusion is logically arrived at,
but the mind is not convinced that the theory is true in the concrete.
Many young students admit of this reaction.
This is the objection of the Nominalists or subjective conceptualists,
according to whom our concepts have no certain objective value. They
argue that a perfect circle does not exist in the concrete, though it
may be conceived as perfect in the abstract. The answer is that,
although it may be difficult to form a perfectly accurate circle, the
nature of a circle truly exists so far as it corresponds to its
definition. With still greater reason, according to moderate realism,
the nature of intelligence and will exists in the concrete here and now
in this child, and therefore the properties of deliberating intelligence
and of will directed toward the final end are strictly verified in him;
while a wayfarer he begins to walk rationally in the path of good or of
evil. There is no doubt of these two truths: the end is first in the
intention, and, if a person does what he can (with divine assistance),
God does not refuse grace.
Nominalists hold that the proof of free will given by St. Thomas is
valid only in the abstract, since in practice the stronger motive here
and now draws one, and the opposite motive is not sufficient. This is
Kant’s idea, at least in the phenomenal order.
Likewise the Jansenists held that sufficient grace
is sufficient in the abstract, but not here and now in practice. The
fact remains that our will, by its nature, is free with regard to any
object “not in every respect good,” and that sufficient grace confers,
in the concrete, here and now, the power of doing good, since potency is
distinguished from act, just as the faculty of sight is distinguished
from vision itself; otherwise a person who is asleep and not actually
seeing would be blind. Matters must be judged according to the very
nature of things, despite what may be held by Nominalism or Positivism,
which is the negation of all philosophy and theology.
JUSTIFICATION OF THE WICKED REQUIRES A MOVEMENT OF THE FREE WILL IN
RELATION TO SIN
State of the
question. It seems that
charity toward God should suffice, without hatred for sin, since I.
charity covers a multitude of sins; 2. he who stretches out toward what
is before should not look back upon what is behind, according to St.
Paul; and 3. man cannot remember all his sins.
however, is that an act of contrition or hatred of sin is required for
the justification of an adult in sin.
Proof from the
declaration of the Church,
particularly in view of the quotation previously cited from the Council
of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. 6; Denz., no. 798): “They are disposed for
justice when, aroused by divine grace and assisted . . . they are moved
against sin by a certain hatred and detestation”; also canon 9. This
definition is based on several scriptural texts. In the argument Sed
contra, St. Thomas quotes Ps. 31:5: “I said I will confess against
myself my injustice to the Lord: and Thou hast forgiven the wickedness
of my sin.”
proof. The justification of
sinners is a movement of the mind from the state of sin to the state of
justice. But the mind cannot freely approach justice without freely
withdrawing from sin by detestation of it. Therefore the justification
of sinners requires not only the desire of tending toward God and
justice, but the hatred of sin or injustice. Hence faith alone does not
In other words,
there can be no free approach to the terminus toward which one is moving
without a free departure from the terminus away from which one is
moving; or, there is no desire for good without flight from evil or
aversion for evil, according to the words of the Psalmist: “You that
love the Lord, hate evil” (96:10). Cajetan observes that from the motion
of hatred for evil and the motion of affection for good there is formed,
as it were, a single, complete motion of the will from evil to good.
(Cf. a. 7 ad 2.)
Reply to first
objection. It pertains to
charity to love God and, consequently, to hate sin or offense against
God; hence charity controls penitence. Cf. the treatise on penance and
article 8 of the present question on the order of these acts and also of
attrition and contri-tion.
second objection. Man ought
not to look back on past sins to love them but rather to detest them.
Reply to third
objection. Man should detest
all the sins he has committed, including those he has forgotten, for he
would hate these also if they were present to his memory.
WHETHER THE REMISSION
OF SIN SHOULD BE NUMBERED AMONG THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE JUSTIFICATION
State of the
question. This seems not to be true, since I. this remis-sion is
justification itself and not merely a part of it; 2. since the same
thing should not be enumerated together with itself, and the infusion of
grace is the same as the remission of sin.
is, nevertheless, in the affirmative.
1 . Proof in
general. Since the remission of sin is the effect and end of
justification; contrary to what Luther declared, sins are not merely
covered over but forgiven. But the end toward which justification is
ordained should not be omitted.
proof. Justification is a motion of the mind from the state of sin
to the state of justice. But in any motion, three elements are
necessary: 1. the motion of the mover, this is the infusion of grace; 2.
the movement of the moved, that is, a motion of living faith and
contrition; and 3. the attainment of the end, which is the remission of
Later, in his
treatise on penance (IIIa, q. 85, a. 5 c.), St. Thomas states that
“Penance as a habit is immediately infused by God, without any principal
operation on our part; not, however, without our cooperation in
disposing ourselves by certain acts.
standpoint, we may speak of penance as it consists of acts in which we
cooperate toward the penance which God produces; the first and principal
of these acts is the operation of God converting our hearts, according
to Lam. 5:21: “Convert us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall be converted.”
The second act is the movement of faith; the third is the movement of
servile fear, whereby a person is drawn away from his sins through fear
of punishment. The fourth act is a movement of hope, by which he
resolves to amend in the hope of obtaining pardon. The fifth is a
movement of charity whereby sin becomes displeasing on its own account
and no longer for fear of punishment. The sixth is a movement of filial
fear which voluntarily offers some amendment to God out of reverence for
Reply to first
objection. The justification
of sinners is said to be identical with the remission of sins so far as
all movement is specified by the terminus toward which it tends.
second objection. The
infusion of grace and the remission of sins are the same with regard to
the substance of the act, for God, by the same act, bestows grace and
remits guilt; but they differ in relation to their objects, according to
the distinction between guilt which is removed and grace which is
infused. Thus, in natural processes, generation and corruption are
differentiated, although the generation of one thing is the corruption
of another. In the same way, the infusion of grace is the remission of
this second part of question 113, that is, the consideration of the acts
requisite for the justification of an adult. They are found to be: an
act of living faith, that is, of faith and charity, together with acts
of filial fear and hope (a. 4 c and ad I) and an act of contrition
(a.5). All of these were subsequently defined by the Council of Trent (Sess.
VI, chap. 6; Denz., no. 798) when six acts were indicated as concurring
in justification: I. faith, 2. fear of both punishment and guilt (Denz.,
no. 818), 3. hope, 4. love of God, 5. contrition, 6. the intention of
receiving the sacraments, of beginning a new life, and of keeping the
commandments, which intention is included in contrition. The fourth act
is thus designated by the Council: “They begin to love God as source of
all justice and, consequently, they are moved to withdraw from sin” (Denz.,
necessity of at least a beginning of this love for justification through
the sacrament, there is a well-known controversy, which is analyzed in
the treatise on penance with reference to attrition and contrition.
Contrition is said to be perfect if sin is displeasing principally as an
offense against God; it is said to be imperfect if sin displeases
principally as harmful to the sinner. Attrition is imperfect contrition
(cf. Denz., nos. 898, 915). The controversy arises over the attrition
necessary for justification with the sacrament, since attrition for sin
committed may proceed from various motives, either natural or
supernatural: 1. whether from the fact that sin is ugly in itself and
revolting to right reason, 2. or because it is the cause of temporal
evils, 3. or because it leads to damnation, 4. or because it deprives
one of eternal glory, or 5. because it is evil and an offense against
God. According to the Church, in opposition to the laxists, a natural
motive does not suffice even for sacramental justification (Denz., no.
1207) ; attrition must be supernatural in its motivation (Denz., nos.
699, 751, 897, 1536). Perfect contrition arising from charity with the
desire for the sacrament justifies even before the reception of the
latter, and that not merely in case of necessity or martyrdom. The
Church likewise declared that attrition without charity is not evil and
may be supernatural, and that, if it is supernatural, it suffices with
the sacrament of penance for justification. But it is a disputed point
among theologians just what is required to make attrition supernatural,
from which supernatural motive it should proceed, and whether it
includes an incipient love of God, distinct from charity. According to
many Thomists, it includes a love of benevolence toward God, distinct
from charity, just as in faith there is a devout will to believe with
reference to divine truth. We have discussed this subject at length in
the treatise De poenitentia appended to the De Eucharistia
(1943, pp. 360-79).
Whether all six acts enumerated by the Council of Trent must be
The acts of faith and of love must be formal or explicit since neither
in the intellect nor in the will are any more excellent or higher acts
produced wherein they might be virtually contained. It seems that hope
would be virtually contained in the more eminent act of charity, should
a person be suddenly moved to conversion. The act of contrition, so it
seems, must be explicit at least essentially, since man should regret
his sin not only because it is contrary to divine goodness but also as a
violation of the divine law, and this pertains formally not to charity
but to penance; but accidentally a person may not think explicitly of
his sins but only of loving God, and he is then justified. It suffices
for the purpose of amendment to be virtual in the contrition.
The third part of
the present question deals with the properties of justification,
according as it takes place in an instant, including however the
priority and posteriority of nature (a. 7 and 8), according as it is the
greatest work of God with regard to the effect produced (a. 9) ,
although it is not a miracle, at least ordinarily (a. 10).
JUSTIFICATION OF SINNERS TAKES PLACE I N AN INSTANT OR SUCCESSIVELY
State of the
question. It seems not to be
instantaneous, since: 1. it requires an act of free will which entails
previous deliberation; 2. it requires two acts, the love of God and the
hatred of sin, which do not seem to be simultaneous; 3. habitual grace
itself is susceptible of greater or less measure, and therefore is not
received in an instant, but little by little according to its various
degrees; 4. the movement of free will concurring toward justification is
meritorious; therefore it cannot take place until after the infusion of
grace, which is the principle of merit; 5. the same instant cannot be at
once the first instant of the life of grace and the last instant of the
state of sin, since these two opposites cannot coexist; but between two
instants there must be an intermediate time; otherwise they would be
is, nevertheless, that the
justification of sinners is effected by God instantaneously, at least so
far as it signifies the infusion of habitual grace and the remission of
sins, although the previous dispositions by which the sinner is prepared
are ordinarily produced successively. However, these dispositions, as
explained in the reply to the first objection, are the path to
justification, but not the real substance of justification.
Scripture, according to which
the Holy Ghost comes into the souls of men suddenly: “And suddenly there
came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming” (Acts 2:2).
Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chaps. 5 and 6) refers not only to the
infusion of grace, but also to the antecedent dispositions by which the
sinner is prepared, and, in this sense, justification is ordinarily
effected successively, as St. Thomas himself here declares in the body
of the article, in the answer to the first objection, in the preceding
article 5 ad 3, and in q. 112, a. 2 ad I and 2. His teaching may be
summarized as follows: Ordinarily justification including also the
preceding dispositions is produced successively, for it is only under
extraordinary circumstances that God sometimes bestows at the same
moment of time the complete disposition and the infusion of grace, as in
miraculous conversions which are utterly instantaneous, even in regard
to their preparation; cf. a. 10.
proof. A form is impressed
upon a previously disposed subject in an instant when the agent does not
require time to overcome the resistance of the subject. But
justification is the impressing of habitual grace upon a previously
disposed subject by God who requires no time. Therefore justification,
inasmuch as it is the infusion of grace, is effected in an instant.
We are here
supposing the disposition to be primary in time, not final, since
justification is understood as signifying only the infusion of grace,
and God almighty requires no other disposition than that which He
produces and which He can also effect at the very instant when He
produces grace itself, as He did in St. Paul, or gradually and
successively; but this does not pertain to justification taken in sense
of the infusion of grace. What does pertain to it, as we shall see in
the following article, is the final disposition through an act of living
faith and contrition at the very instant of justification. Therefore
justification, taken in this sense, is effected in an instant.
The major is
verifiable even in the natural order, inasmuch as, once the disposition
for the substantial form is present in the matter, this form, of which
the specific difference is indivisible, is produced in an instant; for
example, an animal either is a lion; and again, transparency which is
predisposed can be suddenly illuminated.
The minor is
clear with reference to the infusion of grace in its precise
acceptation. Indeed God sometimes produces in an instant, under
extraordinary circumstances, the preliminary dispositions for grace,
since acts of free will can be made instantaneously.
Confirmation. (De veritate, q. 8,
a. 9.) When there is no mean between the extremes of a change, just as
there is no mean in the substantial change between being and nonbeing
(for example, between the being of form of a lion and not being), then
the transition is made instantaneously. But between the extremes
involved in justification, habitual grace on the one hand and
deprivation of habitual grace on the other, there can be no mean; for
man either possesses habitual grace or he does not; if he does, even in
the least degree, he is already justified. Therefore.
Further confirmation is found in the refutation of
Reply to first objection. The deliberation
which precedes by a priority of time is the way to justification but not
the substance of justification, for which there is required the final,
instantaneous consent of the deliberation to detest sin and be united to
Reply to the second objection. These two
acts of hatred for sin and love and love of God can be simultaneous
inasmuch as one is ordained to the other, for man detests sin for the
reason that it is against God to whom he wishes to adhere.
Reply to the third objection. Some forms can
be received to a greater or less degree, such as light or grace; yet
they are produced instantaneously, for even if possessed in the least
degree their essence is already present. The slightest degree of
habitual grace is already a participation in the divine nature.
Reply to the fourth objection. The movements
of living faith and of contrition are meritorious inasmuch as they
proceed from habitual grace itself at the very moment of infusion. For
grace begins to operate at once, just as fire immediately forces itself
upward or produces light. This is a remarkable fact: life is infused
simultaneously in first act and in second act.
Reply to fifth
objection. There is no last
instant in which guilt was present in the soul, but there is a last
time; whereas there is a first instant in which habitual grace is
present therein; however, throughout the preceding time, guilt was
present. Hence the first nonexistence of guilt is the first existence of
grace, which presents no contradiction. The text should be consulted in
this regard. This question of the final instant is of great importance
in the matter of the end of life.
It should be
remarked that Cajetan (Ia, q. 64, a. I, no. 18), wishing to explain the
obstinacy of a damned soul by comparison with the obstinacy of the
demon, declares: “I say that the soul is settled in obstinacy by the
first act which it elicits in the state of separation, and that the soul
then demerits, not as in life, but as having arrived at its term; as
appears from what has been said above (q. 63, a. 6, no.3) , the instant
of death belongs intrinsically to the state of wayfarer.”
Salmanticenses remark (De gratia, “de merito,” disp. I, dub. IV,
no. 36): “This manner of speaking of Cajetan is generally not admitted
because of the testimony of several scriptural texts according to when
men can merit or lose merit before death but not in death.” Hence the
same thing should be said of the state of wayfarer as has been said here
of the state of sin: there is not the last instant of the life of the
wayfarer, but the last moment of time; on the other hand, there is the
first instant of life of the separated soul; and throughout the
preceding time, infinitely divisible, the life of the wayfarer ex-isted.
Hence the first
nonexistence of the wayfarer’s state is the first existence of the state
of separated soul; and, as it seems, merit is then no longer possible,
but only immediately before, since it is man who must merit and not a
separated soul, for his body is given to him that he may tend toward his
end, and after separation from the body his choice is rendered
permanent. Thus is confirmed by revelation the Aristotelian thesis of
the soul as the form of the body.
This problem is
extremely difficult; cf. St. Thomas, Contra Gentes, Bk. IV,
chaps. 92, 93, and the Commentary of Francis Silvester (Ferrariensis)
who does not follow Cajetan. We have dealt with this question in the
treatise De Deo creatore, pp. 408-12.
THE INFUSION OF GRACE IS
FIRST IN ORDER OF NATURE AMONG THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE JUSTIFICATION OF SINNERS
State of the question.
This question is attractive and, on the other hand, it illustrates the
problem of the culpability of the sinner, according as the resistance to
sufficient grace precedes, at least by a priority of nature, the refusal
of divine efficacious grace. It seems that the infusion of grace is not
first in order of nature, since: 1. withdrawal from evil precedes the
approach to good; therefore the remission of guilt is prior to the
infusion of grace; 2. the movement of free will is a disposition for the
reception of grace and therefore precedes it; 3. indeed the remission of
guilt takes place before the movement of free will, for that which
prevents the movement is removed before the movement can follow. Such
objections are often proposed in similar questions. Many argue on the
basis of priority in the order of material cause, as if the material
cause were absolutely prior to any other. This would lead to
materialism, and, in the present problem, to Pelagianism, which is a
materialistic explanation of justification, to the extent that at least
the beginning of salvation would proceed from nature.
of St. Thomas is twofold; he
explains the profound meaning of our Lord’s words of Mary Magdalen (Luke
7:47): “Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to
whom less is forgiven, he loveth less.” These words seem to be opposed
to each other.
conclusion. 1. On the part of
God, the agent, and absolutely, the infusion of grace is prior not by a
priority of time but of nature:
2. a movement of free will toward God is
produced, namely, of living faith and charity; detestation for sin; and
3. detestation of sin; and
4. the remission of guilt.
It is assumed from the preceding article that
justification with respect to its essence, in the strict sense, is
effected in an instant, so that the same instant is the first
nonexistence of sin and the first existence of habitual grace. But there
may be preceding dispositions beforehand, although not the final
disposition which is produced at the very instant of justification.
Proof from common principles, from the
argument Sed contra. Because a cause is prior to its effect; but
the infusion of grace is the cause of the movement of free will toward
God, of contrition, and of the remission of sin.
particular; the body of the
article should be read. In any movement there is: 1. the motion of the
mover, 2. the movement of the object set in motion, and 3. the terminus
toward which it is moved. But the justification of a sinner is the
transmutation effected by God from the state of sin to the state of
grace. Therefore it involves: 1. the motion of God infusing grace, 2. a
twofold movement of free will, and 3. the end of the movement, that is,
the remission of guilt.
Why does the
movement of free will toward God precede contrition? Because we detest
sin inasmuch as it is against God; our love of God is the cause of our
contrition, which is the cause of the remission of guilt. Hence our Lord
says of Mary Magdalen: “Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath
loved much” (Luke 7:47); but He adds: “To whom less is forgiven, he
loveth less.” This is explained by St. Thomas’ second conclusion which
concerns the movable element or material cause.
conclusion refutes the first
objection as follows: With regard to the movable element or the
justified man, freedom from guilt is prior in order of nature to the
acquisition of grace. Observe well that St. Thomas uses the terms
liberation from guilt rather than remission of guilt, and acquisition of
grace rather than infusion of grace, since he is here considering the
matter from the standpoint of the man justified and not of God who
justifies. (Consult the answer to the first objection.)
On the part of the object moved, withdrawal from the terminus a quo
it precedes the approach to the terminus ad quem. For instance,
with regard to the lighting up of the atmosphere, the dispelling of
darkness precedes the arrival of the light, not by a priority of time
but of nature, whereas on the other hand, in relation to the sun,
illumination is prior by nature to the removal of darkness. Therefore,
from the standpoint of man, liberation from guilt precedes the
acquisition of grace, whereas, from the standpoint of God, the infusion
of grace precedes the remission of guilt.
Again, St. Thomas
says in answer to the second objection: “The movement of free will
precedes in the order of nature the acquisition of grace for which it
disposes one, but it follows the infusion of grace.”
He is here referring
to the final disposition which is present in the same instant as
justification itself, in the strict sense; but there may be previous
dispositions preceding in time, as remarked in the foregoing article (ad
I, and a. 5 ad 3; q. 112, a. 2 ad I and 2).
Finally in reply
to the third objection: Since the end is first in the intention, free
will is moved toward God as to its end before the motion to remove the
impediment of sin. Thus, in the present article, St. Thomas applies with
remarkable aptness the principle of Aristotle (Met., Bk. V, chap.
2): “Causes are causes to each other but under different aspects”; thus
there is a mutual relationship of priority without a vicious circle,
since the mutual causes are not such under the same aspect, but under
different aspects. Absolute evolutionism, however, perverts this
principle and falls into contradiction by claiming that evolution is, of
itself, creative and that God is the world or is made in the world. God
makes all that are made in the world, but He several of which I have
indicated in God: His Existence and His Nature, II, 313 ff. The
efficient cause is attracted by or from the end and obtains or produces
the end; the matter is determined by the form and limits it; a bird
bears its wings, but is borne by them; the intellect receives its object
from the senses, but it passes judgment upon them; it directs the will,
but is applied by the will; the final practical judgment precedes choice
and is confirmed by it. Revelation is proposed by the Church and is a
motive for believing in the infallibility of the Church. Again, the Word
would not have become incarnate if man had not sinned, but God permitted
the sin of the first man for the greater good of the Incarnation itself.
corollary. The passive
purifications of the spirit are often made according to the same order,
inasmuch as God, through the illumination of the gifts of intellect,
purifies from all imperfection faith, hope, and charity, that the formal
motive of these virtues may appear in all its purity and move the soul;
and on the part of God, the purification of these virtues precedes, at
least by a priority of nature, the more intense contrition.
But on the part
of the purified soul the order is reversed; thus there first appears the
purification of humility by a profound realization of I was not made.
There are many other applications of this principle, our misery and a
hatred for sin; there follows the purification of faith, amid the
overcoming of temptations against faith; then the purification of hope,
surmounting the temptation to despair; and finally the purification of
love or charity, described by St. Theresa in the seventh mansion.
Hence the passive
purification of the spirit renews once more and much more profoundly
what takes place in the justification of sinners; both of them are
sanctifying, the first imperfectly, the second perfectly. God is the
author of both, just as a farmer first plows a shallow furrow and then a
much deeper one to extirpate stubborn weeds and roots and prepare the
soil, so that the grain of wheat falling into it may bear much fruit.
corollary. The argument is
the same in the opposite direction. To explain the culpability of the
sinner it must be said conversely that in the first sin the resistance
to sufficient grace absolutely precedes by a priority of nature the
divine refusal of efficacious grace. St. Thomas had said in the reply to
the first objection of our present article: “And since the infusion of
grace and the remission of guilt are said to be on the part of God who
justifies, therefore in the order of nature the infusion of grace is
prior to the remission of guilt.” On the other hand it must be said:
“And since sin as such is a defect which of itself is reducible, not to
God who is indefectible, but to the defective and deficient free will,
therefore in the order of nature, at the same instant, the initial
defect or voluntary heedlessness in fulfilling an obligation or
resistance to sufficient grace is prior absolutely to the divine refusal
of efficacious grace, which is a punishment presupposing a fault, and to
the divine motion concurring in the matter of the sin. Thus the divine
denial of efficacious grace, so far as it is a punishment presupposing a
fault, signifies something more than the simple divine permission of
the initial sin, which is the condition without which there could be no
sin, but not its cause. Cf. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. II: “God
by His grace does not abandon souls once justified (by the refusal of
efficacious grace) unless He is first abandoned by them”; but man would
not abandon God if God did not permit it; hence we must pray: “Permit me
not to be separated from Thee!” We have explained this elsewhere: God:
His Existence and His Nature, 11,371 ff ., and De Deo creatore,
The point to be
emphasized is that abandoning God is a defect pertaining to man and
therefore this priority on the part of the material cause is absolute;
while on the contrary, in the infusion of grace, which is the work of
God, the priority on the part of the agent is absolute. (Cf. Ia IIae, q.
79, a. 1 and 2: whether God is the cause of sin and the cause of the act
Whether the acts of charity and contrition, which dispose finally for
habitual grace, proceed from it effectively or only from the actual help
communicated in a transitory way; cf. Salmanticenses, dub. 3 and 4.
Billuart (De gratia, d. 7, a. 4, § 4) remarks that there are the
three following opinions on this subject.
1. The old school of Thomists, Cajetan, Francis
Silvester (Ferrariensis), Soto, Bañez, Alvarez, Godoy, the
Salmanticenses, Gonet, and Serra declare that these acts proceed
effectively from habitual grace by charity and penance, and they hold
this answer to be more conformable to the principles of St. Thomas.
2. More recent theologians, such as Suarez, Molina,
Bellarmine, and, among Thomists, John of St. Thomas, Contenson, and
Philip of the Holy Trinity, maintain that they proceed from actual help
distinct from habitual grace. St. Bonaventure and Scotus are quoted in
support of this opinion.
3. Goudin, wishing to reconcile the two foregoing
opinions, proposed that the acts proceed from grace by charity and
penance, not permanently in the manner of a habit, but transiently,
communicated in the same way as habitual grace in the process of being
conferred. It seems to us that the first opinion is correct as very well
explained by the Salmanticenses and Gonet, Clypeus, with reference to
the present article.
Proof from the authority of St. Thomas in this
article, the argument Sed contra and the reply to the second
objection: “The final disposition of the subject precedes the reception
of a form, in the order of nature, but it follows the action of the
agent whereby the subject itself is disposed. Therefore the movement of
free will precedes in the order of nature [on the part of the subject]
the acquisition of grace, but it follows the infusion of grace.” Cf.
also Ia IIae, q. 113, a. 6,7 ad I, and later a. 10, nonmiraculous
conversion; likewise, Ia IIae, q. 112, a. 2 ad I, where this
disposition is said to be meritorious, and therefore proceeds from
habitual grace which is the principle of merit; IIIa, q. 7, a. 13 ad 2;
q. 9, a. 3 ad 2. In the same way, the body is organized finally only by
the soul, and this organization is the disposition for receiving the
soul, Ia, q. 76, a. 4 ad I. Thus great teachers have their own peculiar
language, terminology, and characteristic mannerism which finally
prepare the student to receive and understand their teaching.
proof. Since these acts are
vitalized by supernatural life, and at the same time connatural and
meritorious, as St. Thomas declares, they should therefore proceed from
a faculty elevated by infused habits. Nor is there any impossibility in
this; rather is it the application of the principle: causes are a cause
to each other in different orders. Thus habitual grace precedes these
acts under the aspect of formal cause, and follows them under the aspect
of material, disposing cause. Absolutely, however, the infusion of grace
and the movement (as efficient cause) precede the acts to which we
refer. Cf. below, note 10.
In the same way,
air will not enter a room unless a window is opened, nor can the window
be opened without the air entering. So does God knock at the door of the
heart and it opens, and at the same time, we open it by consenting.
Actual grace suffices for a disposition which is not final, but the
final disposition is effected at the very instant when the form is
produced and, although as a disposition it precedes it in the genus or
order of material cause, it nevertheless follows it in the genus or
order of formal, efficient, and final cause. Likewise the final
disposition toward a spiritual soul precedes it under the genus of
material cause, and follows it under the genus of formal cause, as the
property of form which inheres in a compound; when it is destroyed,
death ensues, or the separation of soul from body.
JUSTIFICATION OF SINNERS IS THE GREATEST
WORK OF GOD
State of the
question. It seems not to be so, since: 1. the glorification of the just
is higher than the justification of sinners; 2. even the creation of
heaven and earth is a higher thing inasmuch as the good of the universe
is greater than the good of one justified man; and 3. creation was made
conclusion, however, is that
from the standpoint of the thing produced, or absolutely, justification
is a greater work than creation, although not so great as glorification,
since creation terminates in a good of a mutable nature in the natural
order; whereas justification terminates in the eternal good of
participation in the divine nature, the beginning of eternal life; and
glorification terminates in the gift of glory which is greater than the
gift of grace. This conclusion is based on Holy Scripture as cited in
the argument Sed contra: “His . . . mercies are over all His
works” (Ps. 144:9). And the Church prays in her Collect: “O God who,
more than in all things else, showest forth Thine almighty power by
sparing and by having mercy . . .”; and Augustine comments on St. John’s
Gospel (chap. 14): “It is a greater work to make a just man of a sinner
than to create heaven and earth.”
from the answer to the second objection: “The good of grace in one man
is greater than the natural good of the whole universe,” greater even
than all the angelic natures capable of being created taken together.
For grace is of a superior order; likewise the tiniest plant or blade of
grass, so far as it is living, is something more perfect than mountains
of gold or silver. (Cf. Salmanticenses.)
conclusion. From the
standpoint of the mode of action, creation is a greater work than
justification, since it is a more excellent mode of operation to make
something out of nothing. But this superiority with regard to the mode
of operation is limited to a par-ticular aspect, for, as St. Augustine
says, absolutely “it is a greater thing to make a just man out of a
sinner than to create heaven and earth. . . . Heaven and earth shall
pass away, but the salvation and justification of the predestinate will
conclusion. The justification
of sinners is a greater work than glorification with respect to
proportionate quantity, but not to absolute quantity. For the gift of
grace exceeds the deserts of a sinner, who was worthy of punishment,
more than the gift of glory does those of the just man, who is worthy of
glory. Furthermore, the gift of grace exceeds human or angelic nature
more than the gift of glory exceeds grace; for grace is the seed of
glory, but even angelic nature is not the seed of grace. Such is the
doctrine that ought to be preached; it is the basis of true mysticism.
The Incarnation is a more perfect work than justification ; likewise the
divine maternity is immeasur-ably above the order of grace and glory
because, by reason of its term, it belongs to the hypostatic order.
JUSTIFICATIONOF SINNERS IS MIRACULOUS
State of the
question. It seems to be so,
since: 1. it is a greater work than other miraculous works; it is, as it
were, the resurrection of the soul, surpassing that of the body; 2. the
will of the sinner tends toward evil as a corpse toward corruption; 3.
it is miraculous for a person to obtain wisdom from God suddenly,
without any study; therefore it is equally so to attain to grace in an
conclusion, nevertheless, is
that the justification of a sinner, so far as it is ordinarily
accomplished, cannot be termed miraculous, although it is a very
It is said to be wonderful since it can be effected only by God.
However, for a miracle, strictly speaking, it does not suffice that God
alone be able to accomplish it; it must be out of the ordinary course of
divine providence, such as raising of the dead or giving sight to one
born blind. But justification, inasmuch as it commonly comes to pass, is
within the ordinary course of supernatural providence; that is,
imperfect conversion takes place first, which is the disposition for
perfect conversion. The soul is naturally, by reason of its obediential
power, “capable of grace,” and is made “capable of God by grace.”
Certain immanentists misunderstood these words of St. Thomas: “the soul
is naturally capable of grace”; it does not possess within itself the
germ of grace but only an obediential power, as St. Thomas declares in
several places; cf. ad 3.
however, justification or conversion is miraculous, according as God,
operating outside the usual order of His providence, suddenly moves a
sinner to perfect conversion, without any preceding disposition in
priority of time. This occurred in the conversion of St. Paul which is
commemorated by the Church as a miracle for two reasons: I. because, as
St. Thomas says, St. Paul “suddenly attained to a certain perfection of
justice”; 2. and because a miraculous external prostration was also
added to it. The sudden conversion of Mary Magdalen is also cited by
many theologians, such as Billuart, as miraculous. And in the nineteenth
century such was the conversion of Father Ratisbonne in Rome.
Reply to first objection. Very many
miracles, such as the resurrection of the body, are inferior to
justification, with respect to the good they produce, although they
possess more of the nature of a miracle. In the same way, the grace of
the virtues and the gifts is higher than the graces gratis datae,
for example, than prophecy, Ia IIae, q. III, a. 4; cf. Salmanticenses.
THE INDWELLING OF THE
MOST BLESSED TRINITY
We have dealt with
this question at length in the treatise De Deo Trino, explaining
St. Thomas’ article, Ia, q. 43, a. 3: Whether the invisible mission of a
divine person is only according to the gift of sanctifying grace. Only
the principal points will be outlined here.
God is already
present in all things according as He preserves them in being (Ia, q. 8,
a. 3) ; but He is especially present in the just, according as He is in
them as an object quasi-experimentally knowable and lovable, and
sometimes actually known and loved. Thus Christ promises (John 14:23):
“If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him,
and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.” And again,
St. Paul writes (Rom. 5:5): “The charity of God is poured forth in our
hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.” Cf. the encyclical of
Leo XIII, Divinum illud munus, May 9, 1897. It is a question of
the special presence of the most Blessed Trinity according as, through
living faith illuminated by the gift of wisdom, God is known
quasi-experientially and loved, and we take delight in Him, as St.
Thomas explains (Ia, q. 43, a. 3; IIa IIae, q.45, a.2)
But there are
three different interpretations of this doctrine, the first proposed by
Vasquez, the second by Suarez, and the third by the most eminent
that this special presence is not of itself real, but only affective,
like the presence of a friend who is physically at a distance; God is,
nevertheless, really present in us by His ordinary presence as
preserving us in being. But Vasquez does not sufficiently safeguard the
words of Holy Scripture on this special presence.
that the most Blessed Trinity is really present in the just as object of
charity, even independently of its ordinary presence; for the charity of
a wayfarer demands and constitutes a presence not merely affective but
real of the object which we enjoy.
foremost Thomists, notably John of St. Thomas, declare that the charity
of a wayfarer demands the affective presence and craves the real
presence of the God it loves, but does not constitute that presence.
Thus we love the humanity of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary,
although they do not dwell in us. Hence a special presence of the most
Blessed Trinity presupposes the ordinary presence of God preserving us
in being, but it is nevertheless a real presence by a reason of its own
in the sense that it is the presence of an object known and loved
quasi-experientially; for a quasi-experiential knowledge has its term in
a thing present, not at a distance. (Similarly accident pre-supposes
substance but is itself a reality.) We know God quasi-experientially by
the filial affection He excites in us; thus “the Spirit Himself giveth
testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:16).
Divine adoptive filiation follows from deification,
unless a man is already the natural Son of God, which is true
only of Christ.