In this question
there are ten articles, methodically arranged in progressive order,
beginning with the lesser actions for which grace is necessary (for
example, knowing some truth) and ending with the last supreme good work,
that is, final perseverance. (Cf. titles.) There are three parts, as
Cajetan observes at the beginning of article 7:
WHETHER WITHOUT GRACE MAN CAN KNOW ANY TRUTH
Statement of the
question. It seems that grace is required for knowing any truth
whatever, for it is said in II Cor. 35: “Not that we are sufficient to
think anything of ourselves as of ourselves.” And St. Augustine
maintained this answer in a certain prayer, but he himself retracted
later (Retract., I, 4), as is said in the argument to the contrary and
declared that it could be refuted thus: “Many who are not sinless know
many truths,” for example, those of geometry.
conclusion is the following.
To know any truth, man requires at least natural help from God, but he
does not require a new supernatural illumination for it. The aforesaid
natural help is due to human nature as a whole, but not to any
Proof of the
first part. Since every created agent requires divine premotion in order
to pass from potency to act, “however perfect the nature of any corporal
or spiritual being, it cannot proceed to act unless moved by God.”
Proof of the
second part. Because many truths do not surpass the power proper to our
intellect, they are easily knowable naturally (cf. ad 1, ad 2, ad 3).
It should be
noted that the natural concurrence called here by St. Thomas “motion” (motio)
is not mere simultaneous cooperation.
Likewise, contrary to Suarez, the virtual act of the will cannot,
without divine motion, be reduced to a secondary act, for St. Thomas
said: “However . . . (cf. Suarez, Disp. met., disp. 29,
sect. I, no. 7, on virtual act). We reply: there is more in the
secondary act than in the virtual act, which in reality differs from the
action, nor is it its own action. Already in this first article it is
evident that St. Thomas withdraws nothing from divine motion.
conclusion is the following. For attaining a knowledge of supernatural
truths, our intellect stands in need not only of the natural concurrence
of God, but of a special illumination, namely, the light of faith or the
light of prophecy and of a proportionate motion. The reason is that
these truths surpass the power proper to our intellect.
the first conclusion. Vasquez
presents several objections in the first place, he says:
indifferent to truth and falsehood, is determined by grace toward any
intellect is indifferent to truth and falsehood.
our intellect is determined by grace toward any truth.
I distinguish the major: by grace, broadly speaking, granted; properly,
denied. Let the minor pass, although the intellect is not so indifferent
to truth and falsehood as not to incline naturally to truth. It is
called grace broadly since, for example, it is given to Aristotle rather
than to Epicurus.
Grace properly speaking, is required in this case, at least after
original sin, according to the fideists, such as Bautin, Bonetti.
Grace, properly speaking, is required that the
wounded intellect may be healed.
But when it knows
any truth, our intellect is at least partially healed.
properly speaking, is required for knowing any truth.
I distinguish the major: for knowing the whole body of natural truths, I
concede; for any one truth, I deny. The intellect would thus be not
merely darkened but extinct, were it incapable of knowing even the least
truth without healing grace. Let the minor pass. I distinguish the
conclusion in the same way as the major- I say transeat in regard
to the minor but I do not concede since the intellect is not properly
healed when it knows a truth of geometry but rather when it knows the
truth of natural religion.
Instance: But the
intellect is extinct or almost extinct, according to the Jansenists.
Ignorance is opposed
to knowledge as being a total deprivation.
But the wound of
ignorance is in the intellect, according to tradition.
I distinguish the major: total ignorance, granted; partial ignorance,
denied. I contradistinguish the minor; explanation: the wound of
ignorance affects principally the practical intellect wherein prudence
resides; but there remains in the practical intellect a synderesis, and
the speculative intellect is less wounded, since it does not presuppose
rectitude of the appetites.
the second conclusion.
Whatever does not surpass the object of our intellect can be known
without grace. The mysteries of faith do not surpass the object of our
I distinguish the major: a proportionate object, granted; an adequate
object, surpassing a proportionate object, denied. I contradistinguish
But the mysteries of faith do not surpass the proportionate object. That
which is known habitually to the senses does not surpass the
But the mysteries
of faith are known habitually to the senses.
I distinguish the major: whatever is so known without revelation,
granted; after revelation, I distinguish further: they do not surpass
the remotely proportionate object, granted; proximately proportionate,
But at least, after external revelation, the mysteries of the faith do
not surpass the proximately proportionate object.
That which is
known by its species abstracted from the senses and through external
signs does not surpass the proximately proportionate object.
mysteries of faith are thus known.
I distinguish the major: if this is known from a human motive, granted;
and then it does not require supernatural grace; and contrariwise if it
is known from a supernatural motive, that is, on the authority of God
revealing in the order of grace (cf. below, Corollary 4).
But man is made in the image of the Trinity. And he is naturally capable
of knowing this image.
I distinguish the minor: so far as man is the image of God, the author
of nature, granted; so far as he is the image of the Trinity, denied,
since the term of this relationship is of a higher order. Thus if
someone is given an image of an entirely unknown man, he cannot say
whose image it is. (For a correct treatment, cf. Salmanticenses, De
gratia, disp. III, dub. IV, no. 40, and Billuart, De gratia,
diss. III, a. 2). Thomists have drawn several corollaries from this
article, using more modern terminology.
Fallen man, without grace, with natural concurrence alone, is capable of
knowing certain natural truths, namely, the first speculative and
practical principles of reason and the conclusions which are easily
drawn from them. This is contrary to some ancient writers who do not
distinguish sufficiently between grace and natural concurrence; it is
also contrary to Vasquez who, following the ways of the nominalists,
disparaged the powers of reason excessively, as did Baius and the
Jansenists, Quesnel and the nineteenth-century fideists, such as Bautin
and Bonetty. With regard to this conclusion, cf. the following condemned
Denz., no. 1022.
This one of Baius is condemned: “Those who consider, with Pelagius, the
text of the Apostle to the Romans (2:14): ‘The Gentiles, who have not
the (written) law, do by nature those things that are of the law,’
understand it to apply to the Gentiles who have not the grace of faith.”
For it is certainly contrary to Baius that, without grace, man by
natural reason can know the first precepts of the natural law: good
ought to be done, thou shalt not kill.
Denz., no. 1391.
This proposition of Quesnel is condemned: “All knowledge of God, even
natural, even in pagan philosophy, can come only from God, and without
grace it produces nothing but presumption, vanity, and opposition to God
Himself, in place of sentiments of adoration, gratitude, and love.” Thus
had spoken previously Luther and Calvin (I De Inst., chaps. 1 and
2), as if peripatetic philosophy had come from diabolic inspiration. The
natural reason of Aristotle was capable of discovering the theory of
potency and act, of the four causes, and this without any opposition to
Denz., no. 1627. The
following may probably be attributed to Bautin: Although reason is
obscure and weak through original sin, there still remains in it enough
lucidity and power to lead us with certainty to (the knowledge of) the
existence of God, to the revelation made to the Jews by Moses and to the
Christians by our adorable God-man.”
The Vatican Council defined the following (Denz.,
no. 1806): “If anyone says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord,
cannot certainly be known by the light of natural human reason, let him
be anathema.” This is contrary to the traditionalists, Kant, and the
Positivists. Finally, in the oath against Modernism: “I acknowledge in
the first place and of a truth, that, by the light of natural reason
through the things which have been made, that is, through the visible
works of creation, God, the beginning and end of all things, can be
certainly known and even demonstrated.” Likewise in regard to miracles
confirming the Gospel it is similarly declared that they are “most
certain signs that the Christian religion is of divine origin . . . and
even in the present time especially adapted to the intelligence of all
reason for this conclusion is the one given in the article, that is:
infused in created things is efficacious in respect to its own proper
But our intellect
is a power infused into us by God and, granted that it is darkened by
sin, yet it is not extinct.
Therefore it can
of itself, with natural concurrence, arrive at a knowledge of certain
intellectual power would be, in its own order, much more imperfect than
are the powers of bodies, of plants and animals,in respect to their own
objects, sight and hearing, for example.
As a matter of
fact, the natural concurrence required for the knowledge of any truth
may be called grace in the broad sense, inasmuch as it is not due to any
individual but to human nature in general; (cf.Ia, q. 21, a. I ad 3):
“It is due to any created thing that it should have that which is
ordained to it, as to a man that he have hands and that the other
animals serve him; and thus again God works justice when He gives to
anything that which is due to it by reason of its nature and condition.”
God owes it to Himself to give to the various kinds of plants and
animals and to humankind the natural concurrence enabling them to reach
their final end on account of which they were made. But, on the other
hand, it is not to be wondered at that what is deficient should
sometimes fail, and God is not bound to preventthese defects, since, if
He prevented them all, greater goods would not come about, and it is on
account of these many goods that He permits the defect. Hence, as our
intellect is defective, there is due to it, according to the laws of
ordinary providence, that it should atleast sometimes be moved toward
the truth and not always fall into error. But the fact that Aristotle,
for example, rather than another, let us say Epicurus, may be moved in
the direction of truth, this is not due to him; it is by a special
providence and benevolence, and in this sense such natural concurrence
is called “grace” broadly speaking. And it is proper to pray that one
may obtain this grace in the wide sense of the term.
Fallen man, without a special added grace, cannot, at least with any
moral power, know either collectively or even separately all natural
truths, speculative or speculative-practical, or, for still greater
reason, practical-practical; since for these last, as for prudence,
rectitude of the appetite is required.
Many hold, not
without probability, that without special grace man can know all natural
speculative truths, by physical power, since these truths do not exceed
the capacity of a man possessing a keen mind. But in the present
corollary it is a question of moral power, that is, such as may be
rendered active without very great difficulty. And it is certain that
this moral power is not given in regard to all the aforesaid kinds of
truth taken together. Rather, it was on this account that the Vatican
Council declared (Denz., no. 1786) revelation to be morally necessary
“so that those things concerning divine matters which are not of
themselves impenetrable to human reason may nevertheless, in the present
condition of the human race, be readily known by all with a firm
certainty and no admixture of error.” This is explained by St.Thomas (Ia,
q. I, a. I; IIa IIae, q. 2, a. 3 and 4; Contra Gentes, Bk.I,
chaps. 4 and 6; Bk. IV, Gentes, chap. 52). For the impediments
are manifold: the shortness of life, the weakness of the body, domestic
cares, the disorder of the passions, etc. It is clearly evident that,
with all these impediments, fallen man without grace has not the moral
power to attain to the knowledge of all natural truths together; nor
even, as a matter of fact to the separate knowledge of them: 1. Because
the wound of ignorance is in the intellect, preventing especially
thatease of understanding necessary to prudence, for prudence
presupposes rectitude of the appetite; 2. because many speculative
natural truths are very difficult, demanding long and rigorous study for
a certain and complete knowledge of them and therefore a constantly good
will, burning love of truth, a relish for contemplation, undisturbed
passions, a good disposition of the senses, leisure uninterrupted by
cares. All of this cannot be arrived at easily before regeneration by
healing grace; indeed even afterward a special grace is required for it.
truths, according to Billuart, there are some so extremely difficult
that no man has thus far been able to attain a certain knowledge of
them, for example, the ebb and flow of the tides, the essence of light,
electricity, magnetism, the inner development of the embryo; similarly,
the inner nature of sensation, the active intellect and its functioning,
the intimate relationship between the last practical judgment and
choice, etc.; likewise the reconciling of the attributes of God as
naturally knowable, although the knowledge of the existence of God,
supreme Ruler, is easily arrived at by common sense from the order of
Whether this special grace required for a knowledge of all these natural
truths is properly supernatural.
It suffices that it is supernatural in respect to the manner of which is
supernatural in respect to its substance, because the knowledge of which
we are speaking is ontologically natural.
Supposing the existence of an external revelation, fallen man, with
natural, general concurrence alone and without a special added grace, is
able to know and enlarge on supernatural truths, from some human or
Thus the demons
believe naturally, by a faith not infused but acquired, on the evidence
of compelling miracles, as is demonstrated in IIa IIae, q. 5, a. 2. And
formal heretics retain certain supernatural truths, not from the
supernatural motive of divine revelation (otherwise they would believe
all that is revealed), but from a human motive,
that is, on the
bases of their own judgment and will; for example, because they consider
this faith to be honorable or useful to themselves, or because it seems
to them very foolish to deny certain things in the Gospel. The reason
for this is that, although a true supernatural is in itself entitatively
supernatural, yet, as depending upon a human or natural motive, it is
not formally supernatural.
Why? Because an
object, not as a thing, but by reason of object, is formally constituted
by the formal motive through which it is attained. Thus when a formal
heretic from a human motive and by human faith believes in the
Incarnation, while rejecting the Trinity; then the object believed, as a
thing, is supernatural, but, as an object, it is not supernatural.
Therefore it may thus be attained by the natural powers, and then the
supernatural truth is attained only materially because it is not
attained formally in its supernaturalness, as it is supernatural.
That a demon
should naturally believe the mysteries of faith is analogical, all
proportions being maintained, to a dog’s materially hearing human speech
as sound but not really hearing formally the intelligible meaning of
this same speech. Similarly, “the sensual man (for example, a heretic
retaining certain mysteries of faith) perceiveth not these things that
are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot
understand” (I Cor. 2:14); cf. also St. Thomas’ Commentary on this
Epistle. We might draw another comparison with the case of one who
listens to a symphony of Beethoven or Bach, possessed of the sense of
hearing but devoid of any musical sense; he
would not attain
to the spirit of the symphony (cf. our De revelatione, I, 478,
based on IIa IIae, q. 5, a. 3).
Man cannot believe supernatural truths from the supernatural motive of
divine revelation without a special interior grace, both in the
intellect and in the will.
This is contrary,
first, to the Pelagians, who say that external revelation is sufficient
for the assent of faith (cf. Denz., nos. 129 ff.) and, secondly, to the
Semi-Pelagians, who would have it that the beginning of faith comes from
us (cf. Denz., nos. 174 ff.; Council of Orange, c. 5, 6, 7); therein it
is declared that the inspiration and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit is
required in this matter (Denz., nos. 178-80).
of the Church are based upon several texts of Sacred Scripture cited by
the Council of Orange, for example, Ephes. 2:8: “for by grace you are
saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of
God; not of works, that no man may glory.” This does not refer to
external revelation, for it is further said in the same Epistle (1:17
f.): “That . . . God . . . may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of
revelation, in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your heart enlightened,
that you may know what the hope is of his calling”; and (Acts 16:14): “
. . . Lydia . . . whose heart the Lord opened to attend to those things
which were said by Paul.”
fourth corollary is opposed to Molina and many Molinists who declare
that fallen man can, without supernatural grace, believe supernatural
truths from a supernatural motive, but then he does not believe as is
necessary for salvation, for which grace is required. And therefore
Molina holds that the assent of faith is supernatural not in respect to
substance by virtue of its formal motive, but only in respect to mode,
by reason of the eliciting principle and by reason of its extrinsic end.
(Cf. Concordia, q. 14, a. 13, disp. 38, pp. 213 ff., and our
De revelatione, I, 489, where Molina and Father Ledochowski are
This question has
been treated at length and fully by the Salmanticenses in their
Commentary on our article, De gratia, disp. III, dub. III, and I
have quoted their principal texts in De revelatione, I, 494, 496,
showing that therein they are in accord with all Thomists from Capreolus
to the present day (pp. 458-514). Their conclusions, here cited, ought
to be read. The argument put forth against Molina and his disciples is
found in IIa IIae, q. 6, a. I, “Whether faith is infused in man by God”:
“For, since man, assenting to the things which are of faith, is raised
above his nature, it is necessary that this be instilled into him by a
supernatural principle impelling him interiorly through grace,” for an
act is specified by its formal object (objectum formale quo et quod);
if, therefore, the latter is supernatural, the act specified by it is
essentially supernatural and cannot be elicited without grace. Further,
St. Thomas affirms this to be true even of faith lacking form (informus),
that is, faith without charity (IIa IIae, q. 6, a. 2); even faith
lacking form is a gift of God, since it is said to lack form on account
of a defect of extrinsic form, and not on account of a defect in the
specific nature of infused faith itself, for it has the same specifying
comments on our article: “the formally supernatural object as such
cannot be attained except by a supernatural act. This upsets the basic
assertion of Molina, who maintains that the assent to faith from the
motive of divine revelation is natural in respect to its substance, and
supernatural in respect to its mode. . . . This opinion does not seem to
us sufficiently removed from the error of the Semi-Pelagians.”
(Likewise, the Salmanticenses, loc. cit.)
The Council of Orange (c. 5,6,7; Denz., nos. 178-80) defined grace to be
necessary for the initial step toward faith and for the belief necessary
But to believe on
account of the formal supernatural motive of infused faith itself is
already to believe in the way necessary to salvation; what more formal
belief can then be required?
believe on account of this supernatural motive is impossible without
difficulties would arise from any other opinion.
1. An act cannot
be specified by an eliciting principle, for this eliciting principle
itself requires specifying, and it is specified by the act toward which
it tends, as the act is specified by its object. Otherwise specification
would come from the rear rather than from thefront, as if the way from
the College “Angelicum” to the Vatican were specified by the terminus
from which, and not by the terminus toward which.
2. An act of
faith would be no more supernatural than an act of acquired temperance
ordered by charity to a supernatural end; it would be less supernatural
than an act of infused temperance, as referred to by St. Thomas (Ia IIae,
q. 63, a. 4). This supernatural in respect to mode is the supernatural
almost as applied from without, like gold applied over silver for those
who cannot afford to buy pure gold jewelry: it is “plated,” “veneered.”
3. What Molina
says of the act of theological faith, could equally be said of the act
of hope, and even of the act of charity, for the substance of which
natural good will would sufice, and the supernatural mode would be added
to make it what is required for salvation. But then the charity of the
viator thus specified by a formal object naturally attainable
would not be the same as the charity of the blessed, which must be, like
the beatific vision, essentially supernatural. Hence charity would be
something different in heaven from what it is now, contrary to the words
of St. Paul, “charity never falleth away” (I Cor. 13:8). Thus even
Suarez vigorously opposes Molina in this matter. There would be
innumerable other consequences as indicated in De revelatione, I,
therefore admit the following two theses of Cardinal Billot on the
subject as put forward in his book, De virtutibus infusis (71,
87, 88): “Supernatural formality, causing acts to be proportioned to the
condition of objects conformable to themselves, does not proceed from
the object in that it performs in respect to us the office of an object,
nor, namely, either from the material object which is believed, hoped,
or loved, or from the formal object on account of which it is believed,
hoped, or loved, but solely from the principle of grace by which the
operative faculty is elevated.” “Supernatural habits are not necessarily
distinguished from natural habits according to their objects” (p. 84).
In opposition to
our thesis, cf. the objections in De revelatione, I, 504-11. The
principal one is the following.
believe (Jas. 2), and they believe without grace. But they believe from
the motive of divine revelation. Therefore grace is not necessary to
believe from a motive of divine revelation.
I concede the major. I distinguish the minor: that the demons believe
formally from the motive of divine revelation according as it is
supernatural in respect to substance in itself and on that account, I
deny; that they believe materially on the evidence of the signs of
revelation, I grant; to this evidence their faith is ultimately
reducible. (Cf. IIa IIae, q. 5, a. 2 ad I, 3.) They believe, says
St.Thomas, as it were under constraint from the evidence of miracles,
for it would be exceedingly stupid for them to reject this evidence.
They therefore attain to God the author of nature and of miracles, but
not really to God the author of grace, nor to revelation as it proceeds
from God the author of grace. On the contrary, revelation as proceeding
from God, the author of grace, specifies infused faith which is of a
higher species than would be a faith, supernatural in respect to mode,
based upon the revelation of God, author of nature. (Cf. Salmanticenses
quoted in De revelatione, I, 496,471.)
WHETHER MAN CAN WILL TO DO ANY
GOOD WITHOUT GRACE
State of the
question. It seems that man
can do some good without grace: 1. for his acts are in his power, since
he is ruler of his acts; 2. for everyone can do better that which
pertains to him by nature than that which is beyond him by nature; but
man can sin by himself, which is acting beyond and even against nature;
therefore with even greater reason can he do good of himself. This
objection raises the question whether not sinning, or persevering in
good, is itself a gift of God; whether of two men, equally tempted and
equally assisted, it can happen that one sins and the other does not. 3.
Just as our intellect can, of itself, know truth, so our will can, of
itself, will the good.
concerns: 1. a morally or ethically good work in the natural order (such
as proceeds from the dictates of right reason and is not vitiated by any
circumstances) so that it is not a sin; and 2. good works conducive to
salvation, such as are ordained to a supernatural end, not indeed always
as meritorious acts presupposing habitual grace, but as salutary acts
disposing to justification and presupposing actual grace.
In respect to these two problems, certain truths are articles of faith.
1. It is of faith that not all the works of infidels or sinners are sins
(against Wyclif, Denz., no. 606; John Hus, no. 642, Baius, nos. 1008,
1027 ff .; Quesnel, nos. 1351, 1372, 1388) Therefore without the grace
of faith a man can do some morally or ethically good works. 2. It is of
faith that supernatural good cannot be effected by fallen man without
grace. Cf. Council of Orange (Denz., no. 174), can. 6, 7, 9, 11, 12-20,
22; and Council of Quierzy (Denz., no. 317), c. 2. These two articles of
faith are based on many passages in Holy Scripture.
1. Holy Scripture
does indeed praise certain works of infidels and testifies that they
were rewarded by God; for example, it praises the kind-heartedness of
the Egyptian midwives who did not wish to kill the children of the
Hebrews in conformity with the iniquitous command of Pharaoh (Exod.,
chap. I); the hospitality of Rahab the harlot, who refused to betray the
men sent by Josue (Josue, chap. 2), is also praised; likewise God gave
the land of Egypt to King Nabuchodonosor, that he might wage a
successful war against the inhabitants of Tyre, according to the command
of God (Ezech. 29:20). St. Augustine says (De civ. Dei, Bk. V,
chap. 15) that God granted a vast empire to the Romans as a temporal
reward of their virtues and good works. But God neither praises nor
rewards sins, but rather punishes. Therefore. Similarly it is said in
Romans (2:14): “The Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those
things that are of the law”; in other words, they do at least some good
works, as St. Augustine shows (De spiritu et littera, chap. 27).
2. The other
proposition of faith, that supernatural good works cannot be performed
by fallen man without grace, is also based on many texts from Scripture
cited by the Council of Orange: “A man cannot receive anything, unless
it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27). “This is the work of God, that
you believe in Him whom He hath sent” (John 6:29). “Without Me you can
do nothing” (John 15:5). “I am the vine; you the branches” (ibid.).
“It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that
showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). “It is God who worketh in you, both to will
and to accomplish, according to His good will” (Phil. 2:13). “What hast
thou that thou hast not received?” (I Cor. 4:7.) “No man can say the
Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost” (I Cor. 12:3). “Not that we are
sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our
sufficiency is from God” (II Cor. 3 5 ). “Every best gift, and every
perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights”
(Jas. 1:17). There are innumerable texts from St. Augustine; for
example, the one quoted in the Sed contra. In the body of the
article are found four conclusions, which should be consulted in the
1. To accomplish
any good whatever, man, in any state, requires the general concurrence
of God, whether in the state of incorrupt or of corrupt nature (or even
in the state of pure nature of which St. Thomas does not speak here, but
the possibility of which he admits, as stated in II Sent., d. 31,
q. I, a. 2 ad 3, and Ia, q. 95, a. I). The reason for this is that every
creature, since it neither exists nor acts of itself, is in potency
regarding action, and needs to be moved from without that it may act, as
said in article I. This efficacious concurrence toward a naturally
virtuous good is due, as we have said, to human nature in general, not
to any individual, in whom God may permit sin.
2. In the state
of integral nature, man did not require special added grace, except for
performing supernatural works, not, that is, for morally good works
commensurate with nature. For nature was then in a perfect state and
needed only general concurrence, which is, of course, to be understood
in the sense of a concurrence which is prior and efficacious in itself,
not in the sense accepted by Molina.
3. In the state
of fallen nature man requires supernatural grace not only to perform a
supernatural work, but to observe the whole natural law (as will be made
more evident later in article 5).
4. Fallen man can
do some morally good work in the natural order with general concurrence
alone, for example, build houses, plant vineyards, and other things of
this kind; and he can do this on account of a duly virtuous end, so that
this act may be ethically good from the standpoint of its object, its
end, and all its circumstances; for instance, that a man build a home
for the good of his family, that is, in such a way that there is no sin
involved. This is particularly evident from the fact that, for St.
Thomas, there are no indifferent acts in regard to an individual (Ia
IIae, q. 18, a. 9; cf. above, Ia IIae, 65, a. 2): “Acquired virtues,
according as they are operative of good ordained to an end which does
not exceed the natural faculty of man, can be deprived of charity,” but
they are so on the part of the subject in the circumstance of his
disposition, not in the circumstance of a virtue difficult to set in
motion, nor closely connected actually.
Thus not all the
works of infidels and sinners are sins. The reason is that, since human
nature “is not totally corrupted” by sin so as to be entirely deprived
of natural good, therefore it can, through the power which remains,
easily do some morally good works with general concurrence, just as a
sick man may have some power of movement in himself, although he is not
able to move perfectly unless he is cured.
REFUTATION OF OBJECTIONS
(cf. De veritate, q. 24, a. 14)
objection. That is in the
power of a man of which he is master. But a man is master of his acts.
Therefore it is
in the power of a man to do good.
I distinguish the major: without the concurrence of God, denied; with
the concurrence of God, granted. I grant the minor. I distinguish the
conclusion in the same way as the major. (Read St. Thomas’ answer.)
objection. Everyone can do
better that which pertains to him by nature than that which is beyond
his nature. But man can sin of himself, which is beyond nature.
Therefore man can do good of himself. (See a similar objection in De
veritate, q. 24, a. 14, objections 3 and 4, also objection 2 and the
body of the article toward the end.) Likewise some say that of two men,
tempted in the same way and equally assisted, it may be that one
perseveres in attrition or in an easy, imperfect prayer, whereas the
other, on the contrary, sins by not continuing this easy act.
St. Thomas’ reply
to objection 2 is as follows: “Every created thing needs to be preserved
in the goodness proper to its nature by something else (that is, by
God), for of itself it can fall away from goodness. At least, he who
does not sin is divinely preserved in the goodness proper to his nature,
while God does not preserve the other, but, on the contrary, permits sin
in him; therefore they are not equally assisted. However, nature is not
completely corrupt; it is able to do some good but with the help of God,
which is due to nature in general, but not indeed to this individual.
Therefore, as Augustine says, we ought to thank God inasmuch as we avoid
sins which were possible to us, for the very fact of not sinning is a
good coming from God; it is, in other words, being preserved in
In reply to the
third objection it is noted that “human nature is more corrupted by sin
in regard to its appetite for the good than in regard to its knowledge
of the truth.” This is because original sin first causes an aversion of
the will directly from the final supernatural end, and indirectly from
the final natural end; and consequently a disorder in the sensitive
appetite tending toward sensible goods, not according to the dictates of
How is this general concurrence, necessary for fallen man to accomplish
any moral good, to be understood?
The Molinists understand it as a natural, general, indifferent
concurrence which the will, through its own volition, directs toward the
good. But the Thomists reply that in that case God, by moving one as far
as the exercise of the will is concerned, would be no more the author of
a good work than of a bad one (contrary to the Council of Trent, Denz.,
Therefore they insist upon a prevenient, determining, and effective
concurrence enabling a man to do good rather than evil. The early
Thomists called this a special concurrence, a since it is not due to
this or that individual; but later Thomists call it a general
concurrence, because it is, in a certain sense, due to human nature,
even in its fallen state, for nature is not totally corrupt or confirmed
in evil, but only weakened. However, it is not due to one individual
rather than to another, and from this aspect it is special.
In the same way
various texts from Scripture, the councils, the Fathers, and St. Thomas,
which seem to be contradictory, are reconciled. For example: “No one has
anything of himself but sin and lying,” says the Council of Orange (can.
22). That is to say, no one tells the truth with honest intent without
at least the natural assistance of God, which is a grace, broadly
speaking, with respect to this man on whom it is bestowed rather than on
another; otherwise it would have the meaning which Baius gives to it
when he says: “Man’s free will, without the grace and help of God, is of
no use except to commit sin.” Baius means not only natural assistance,
or grace broadly speaking, but grace in the proper sense, which comes
from Christ, hence sanctifying grace and charity.
WHETHER MAN CAN LOVE GOD ABOVE
ALL THINGS WITHOUT GRACE, BY HIS
MERELY NATURAL POWER
We are especially
concerned, in this article, with the love of God, author of nature,
above all things, although there is still a reference in the reply to
the first objection to the love of God, author of grace, which proceeds
from infused charity. St. Thomas had already dealt with this subject (Ia,
4.60, a.5) in respect to the angels, and later (IIa IIae, q. 26, a. 3),
where he distinguishes more explicitly between natural and supernatural
love of God. (Likewise on I Cor., XIII, lect. 4; De virtutibus,
q. 2, a. 2 ad 16; q. 4, a. I ad 9; Quodl. I, q. 4, a. 3.)
In the statement
of the question he sets down the objections to the possibility of a
natural love of God above all things. Later, Baius and Jansen again
voice the same objections. This natural love of God above all things
seems impossible: 1. because loving God above all things is proper to
the act of infused charity; 2. since no creature can rise
above itself, it
cannot naturally love God more than itself; 3. because, grace would be
added to no purpose. Let us examine: 1. the doctrine of St. Thomas; 2.
its confirmation by the condemnation of Baius and Quesnel; 3. the
controversy of modern theologians on this subject.
I. THE TEACHING OF ST. THOMAS
can be reduced to three conclusions treating of
1. the love of God, author of nature, above all
things in the state of integral nature.
2. the love of
God, author of nature, above all things in the state of corrupt nature.
supernatural love of God, author of grace, above all things.
We shall see
later, in reference to a particular problem, whether man in the state of
pure nature would be able to love God, author of nature, above all
things. This question is not solved by the Sed contra, because in
it the expression “by merely natural powers” does not refer to pure
nature but to integral nature. The article itself should be read.
In the state of integral nature, man did not require an added gift of
grace to love God, the author of nature, above all things efficaciously;
he required only the help of God moving him to it, or natural
concurrence. This is proved as above, in regard to the angels, that is,
Loving God, the
author of nature, above all things is natural to man and to every
creature, even irrational, in its own way; for, as the good of the part
is for the sake of the good of the whole, every particular thing
naturally loves its own good on account of the common good of the whole
universe, which is God.
But man in the
state of integral nature could have performed, by virtue of his nature,
the good which was natural to him.
Therefore man in
the state of integral nature could, by virtue of his nature without any
added grace, efficaciously love God the author of nature above all
The major is
explained above (Ia, 60, a. 5) and later (IIa IIae, q. 26, a. 3).
According to Ia, 60, a. 5: “The natural inclination in those things
which are without reason throws some light upon the natural inclination
in the will of the intellectual nature. But in natural things,
everything which, as such, naturally belongs to another, is principally
and more strongly inclined to that other to which it belongs than toward
itself. For we observe that a (natural) part endangers itself naturally
for the preservation of the whole, as the hand exposes itself without
any deliberation to receive a blow for the safeguarding of the whole
body. And since reason imitates nature, we find an imitation of this
manner of acting in regard to political virtues. For it is the integral
nature; corrupt nature; part of a virtuous citizen to expose himself to
the danger of death for the safety of the whole nation. And if a man
were a natural part of this state, this inclination would be natural to
him. Since, therefore, the universal good is God Himself, and angels and
men and all creatures are encompassed by this goodness, and since every
creature naturally by its very being belongs to God, it follows that
even by a natural love angels and men love God in greater measure and
more fundamentally than they do themselves. Otherwise, if they naturally
loved themselves more than God, it would follow that natural love was
perverse and would not be perfected by charity but rather destroyed.”
These last words imply that in the state of pure nature man would be
able to love God naturally above all things, otherwise natural love
would be perverse; but we shall see in the second conclusion that this
is not so in the state of fallen nature on account of its wounds.
The major of the
present argument is entirely fundamental and a most beautiful concept.
It is thus explained (Ia, q. 60, a. 5 ad I): “Every (natural) part
naturally loves the whole more than itself. And every individual member
naturally loves the good of its species more than its own individual
good.” Hence onanism, preventing fertility, is a crime against nature,
against the good of the species. A good Thomist, then, loves and defends
the doctrine of St. Thomas more than his personal opinions. However, in
the exposition of this major the excess of pantheism must be avoided,
for then the creature would love God more than self naturally in such a
way that sin would be impossible. This impossibility of sinning only
follows confirmation in goodness, and especially the beatific vision.
excess would be a pessimism arising from dualism, which would lead to
Manichaeism, that is, the doctrine of two principles. As Father
Rousselot demonstrates in his thesis, “Pour l’histoire du problème de
l’amour au Moyen Age,”
there are various theories
between these two mutually opposing excesses. There is already,
therefore, in our nature an inclination to love God, the author of
nature, more than ourselves.
In the state of fallen nature, in order to love God, the author of
nature, above all things efficaciously, man requires the help of grace
restoring nature. (Cf. the end of the article’s conclusion.) The proof
given in the words of St. Thomas is as follows: “because, on account of
the corruption of nature, the will adheres to a private good, unless
cured by the grace of God.” In other words, unless cured by grace, man
does not refer to God, efficaciously loved as an end, his love of self
and of all other things; thus, unless cured by grace, man does not love
God more than himself with a natural love. And inasmuch as this
disordered inclination is perverse, it is called an inordinate love of
self, self-love, or egoism. By original sin, man’s will is directly
averse to his final supernatural end and indirectly to his final natural
end. For every sin against the supernatural law and end is indirectly
against the natural law which prescribes that God is to be obeyed,
whatever He commands. Hence fallen man is averse to God as his final end
Man in any state requires the help of special grace to love God, the
author of grace, with an infused, supernatural love (cf. ad I). This is
of faith, contrary to Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism (Council of
Orange, can. 17, 25; Denz., nos. 190, 198; Council of Trent, Sess. VI,
can. 3; Denz. no. 813). It was declared that “if anyone should say that,
without a prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost and His assistance,
man can believe, hope, love, or repent in such a way that the grace of
justification would be conferred on him, let him be anathema.” This
definition of faith is based on the texts of Sacred Scripture quoted at
the Council of Orange as follows: “The charity of God is poured forth in
our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us (Rom. 5:5). “No man
can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost” (I Cor. 12:3). “The fruit
of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22). “Peace be to the
brethren and charity with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus
Christ” (Ephes. 6:23). “Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for
charity is of God. And everyone that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth
God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is charity” (I John
4:7 f.); that is, he does not know, as it were, experimentally, with an
affective knowledge. Baius and Quesnel said that he does not know in any
In regard to the
explanation of this third conclusion, see the reply to the first
objection, which was quoted against Baius. St. Thomas says: “Nature
loves God above all things since God is the beginning and end of natural
good; charity, however, loves God since He is the object of
(supernatural) beatitude and since man has a certain spiritual
fellowship (by grace) with God.” From which is to be intimated what man
would be capable of even in the state of pure nature. Cf. IIa IIae, q.
26, a. 3, where it is declared that: “We can receive a two-fold good
from God, the good of nature and the good of grace. Moreover, natural
love is based upon the communication of natural goods made to us by
God. . . . Hence this is much more truly evident in the friendship of
charity, which is based upon the communication of the gifts of grace.”
Again in the reply to the second objection: “Any part loves the good of
the whole according as it is becoming to itself, not however in such a
way as to refer the good of the whole to itself, but rather so as to
refer itself to the good of the whole.” And in reply to the third
objection: “We love God more with a love of friendship than with a love
of concupiscence, for the good of God is in se greater than the good
which we can share by enjoying Him.” And thus, absolutely, man loves God
more in charity than himself. And he loves the God who is to be seen
more than the beatific vision or the created joy following upon this
vision. Thus, it may be said (IIa IIae, q. 17, a. 6 ad 3): “Charity
(inasmuch as it surpasses hope) properly causes a tending toward God,
uniting the affections of a man with God, so that man does not live for
himself but for God.” This is pure love properly understood, that is,
above hope; but not excluding hope, as the Quietists would have it.
Whether in the state of pure nature man would be able to love God the
author of nature, above all things, with a natural love.
Thomists generally reply in the affirmative.
1. On account of
the universality of the principle invoked by St. Thomas (Ia, q. 60, a.
5, and in the present article): “Every creature according to its being
as such, is of God, and therefore it loves God with a natural love more
than self.” This principle is valid for any natural state in which there
is no disorder. But in the state of pure nature there would be no
2. In Quodl.,
I, a.8, St. Thomas enunciates the principle of our article in a very
comprehensive way, so that it would be valid for any natural state in
which there is no perversion.
3. Since it is
said (Ia, q. 60, a. 5) that, “if (man) were to love himself naturally
more than God, it would follow that natural love would be perverse, and
that it would not be perfected by charity but destroyed.” But this
natural love would not be perverse in the state of pure nature.
4. Since man in
the state of pure nature would not be born, as now, habitually averse to
his final supernatural end directly and to his final natural end, but
the possibility of conversion or aversion.
Man has less powers in the state of fallen nature for naturally doing
what is morally good than he would have in the state of pure nature.
This is contested by several authors of the Society of Jesus.
II.CONFIRMATION OF THIS DOCTRINE OF ST. THOMAS FROM
THE CONDEMNATION OF
BAIUS (cf. Denz., nos.1034, 1036, 1038) AND QUESNEL (Denz.,nos. 1394-95)
The entire solution may be reduced to
Hence it must be firmly maintained that
the natural love of God above all things is the supreme precept of the
natural law, and with still greater reason does this hold in the
supernatural order, as it was already formulated in Deut. 6:5: “Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart”; but there it was
proclaimed as a law of thesupernatural order as well, as also in Matt.
22:27, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27. But the natural law is neither abolished
by sin nor given by grace, since it is naturally stamped upon creatures.
III. CONTROVERSIES AMONG MODERN THEOLOGIANS ON THIS SUBJECT
is twofold, first on natural love and secondly on supernatural love. The
first problem is whether fallen man can, without repairing grace, love
God the author of nature above all things with a love that is
affectively efficacious. (Cf. Billuart, De gratia, diss. III, a.
3.) The second problem is whether the act of the love of God, author of
grace, considered substantially, is impossible without grace.
Molina denies this. First of all the terminology
must be explained as follows:
1. It is
certainly true that without grace there can be: a) an innate love or
natural inclination to love God above all things; this is the faculty of
the will itself; b) a necessary, elicited love of God vaguely loved in
happiness in general, which all desire; in this case God is not loved
above all things, since He is not considered as distinct from all other
goods; c) a free inefficacious love, or simple complacency in the
goodness of God, not going so far as to adopt means of pleasing God nor
of withdrawing from mortal sin, for which natural concurrence would be
adequate. Thus many poets have written beautiful poems on the goodness
and wisdom of God, ruler of the world, but without the intention of
reforming their voluptuous lives.
shall see in the following article that effectively efficacious love, at
least absolutely, or the practice of all the commands of the natural law
which are gravely obligatory, cannot now be possessed without a special
controversy, therefore, concerns affectively efficacious love, by which
God, author of nature, distinctly known, is loved with esteem above all
things, with the intention of pleasing Him in all things and of
withdrawing from mortal sins against the natural law.
that this affectively efficacious love cannot exist in fallen man
without healing grace.
And in this regard they differ especially from Molina, who teaches that
fallen man can, by his natural powers, thus love God, the author of
nature, with an affectively efficacious love, and even, after having
been instructed in the teaching of faith, can, likewise by his natural
powers, love God as author of grace substantially, although not in
respect to supernaturalness of mode, which is bestowed by charity.
Molina adds to this that the affectively efficacious natural love of
God, author of nature, is not meritorious of grace (that would be Semi-Pelagianism)
but, on account of the covenant between God and Christ the Redeemer, if
man thus does what in him lies through his natural powers, God will not
refuse sanctifying grace.
With still greater reason, for Molina, if anyone imbued with the
doctrine of faith undertakes an act, natural substantially, of
affectively efficacious love of God, author of grace, God infuses
charity, and this love become supernatural in respect to mode and thus
available for salvation. Scotus, Gabriel, and certain others are cited
as holding the same opinion.
Against the first
of these teachings of Molina on the possibility of an affectively
efficacious love of God, author of nature, above all things without
grace, Thomists declare that: 1. This doctrine does not seem to preserve
sufficiently the sense of the words of the Council of Orange (can. 25;
Denz., no. 199): “We must believe that by the sin of the first man free
will was so inclined and weakened that no one subsequently is able
either to love God as he ought, . . . or to do for the sake of God what
is good, unless the grace of mercy anticipates him.” The Molinists reply
that the Council says, “as he ought with regard to salvation,” and hence
refers only to supernatural love. To this the
that the Council is not referring to supernatural love alone, since it
repeats that the impotence to love God above all things arises not from
the supernaturalness of the act but from the infirmity of fallen nature;
therefore it refers to natural love as well, since the impotence arising
from the supernaturalness of the act was
in the state of innocence. This also seems to be the meaning of the
Council of Trent (Sess. VI, can. 3; Denz., no. 813): “If anyone should
say that without the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and His assistance
man can believe, hope, love, or repent as is required in order that the
grace of justification should be granted to him, let him be anathema.”
Thomists add, it is not possible for the grace of justification not to
be conferred upon one who loves God, the author of nature, above all
things with an affectively efficacious love. (Cf. below, q. 109, a. 6,
on whether man, without grace, can prepare himself for grace, and q.
112, a. 3.).
aforesaid teaching of Molina is contrary to the final proposition of the
body of the present article of St. Thomas, where he contrasts the state
of fallen nature with that of integral nature: “In the state of corrupt
nature, man requires the help of grace healing nature, even for loving
God naturally above all things.” There is no doubt but that St. Thomas
is speaking also of affectively efficacious natural love, that is, with
the intention of pleasing God in all things and of withdrawing from
mortal sin. This is confirmed by what has been said above (Ia IIae, q.
89, a. 6): “When man begins to have the use of reason . . . (he should)
deliberate concerning himself. And if anyone orders his life toward the
proper end (that is, to God even as author of nature), he will obtain
the remission of original sin by grace. In the present article St.
Thomas is not yet speaking of effectively efficacious love, that is, of
the fulfillment of every natural precept; but he refers to it in the
opinion of Molina is thus refuted by theological argument: A weak power,
inclined to selfish good opposed to the divine, cannot produce the
superior act of a healthy power with reference to God, unless it is
healed. But man in the state of fallen nature has a weak will, inclined
to a selfish good. Therefore he cannot produce a preeminent work with
reference to God. This act is pre-eminently that of a healthy power,
since it virtually contains the fulfillment of the whole natural law,
for the actual accomplishment of the law follows from the efficacious
will to fulfill it. Hence grace is necessary not only for the actual
observance of the whole natural law, but also for the intention of
fulfilling it. Nor is the eflicacious natural volition granted for
accomplishing anything which is now naturally impossible.
This weakness of
the will consists in its “following a selfish good unless healed by the
grace of God,” as stated in the article. In other words, it is turned
away from God and even its natural final end; for sin offends God even
as author of nature. Moreover, it is a disorder of the concupiscence
which the demon augments and enkindles.
What, then, of the natural love of God in the separated souls of
children who die without baptism, of whom St. Thomas speaks
(IIa, d. 33,
q. 2, a. 2 ad 5)?
There is, first of all, an innate love and a necessary, elicited mlove
of God, confusedly, as in happiness in general, for this love remains
even in the demons (Ia, q. 60, a. 5 ad 5). Secondly, there is a free,
imperfect, inefficacious love, or love of complacency, toward God as
principle of all natural good, but not really an efficacious love.
Otherwise we should have to deny the last proposition in the body of the
connection it seems that, as stated in a.2 ad 3, “Nature is more
corrupted in regard to the appetite for good than in regard to the
knowledge of the truth.” For the mind of fallen man is able by its own
powers to judge speculatively that God is the highest good, lovable and
worthy of love above all things; but without healing grace, he is
incapable of recognizing this with his practical judgment, impelling him
to action. Hence the words of Medea spoken of by the poet: “I see what
is better, and I approve it (speculatively), but I follow what is
worse.” Man, then, is more deeply wounded in his will by which he sins
than in his intellect. If, therefore, a child, reaching the full use of
reason, loves God, the author of nature, above all things with an
affectively efficacious love, this can only be by means of healing
Fallen man can, without grace, love his country, or his friend, or his
chastity more than his own life; therefore, with still greater reason
can he so love God, the author of nature.
I reply by distinguishing the antecedent: fallen man does this without
the special help of God, if it is done from a worldly motive, such as
the desire for fame or glory, granted; but if from the pure motive of
virtue, denied; for this requires the special help of God, as conceded
to many pagans, according to Augustine. Moreover it is more difficult to
love God, the author of nature, above all things in a manner that is
affectively efficacious than to love the attractiveness of any
particular virtue more than one’s life; for this is, at least virtually,
to love all the virtues beyond all sensible feelings.This is more
difficult; for instance that a soldier, ready to die for his country, is
not willing to spare his enemy when he should.
What grace is required for this affectively efficacious love of God,
author of nature above all things?
Of itself, by reason of its object, it requires only help of a natural
order, but accidentally and indirectly, by reason of the elevation of
the human race to the supernatural order, it requires supernatural help,
that is, healing grace (as declared in the article). This is because the
aversion to a final natural end cannot be cured without the aversion to
a final supernatural end being cured; for this latter contains
indirectly an aversion to the final natural end, for every sin against
the supernatural law is indirectly against the natural law: God is to be
obeyed, whatever He may command. Moreover, as we shall state in the
following article, the love of God virtually includes the fulfillment of
the whole natural law, for which supernatural healing grace is required.
The Thomists also
reject the other opinion of Molina, that man imbued with the teaching of
faith can without grace love God, the author of grace, in respect to the
substance of this act, although not in respect to its mode as proper to
salvation. Contrary to this, the Thomists generally hold, as for the act
of faith, that the act is specified by its formal object; but the formal
object of the aforesaid act is God, the author of grace; therefore this
act is essentially supernatural, or supernatural in respect to substance
and not merely in respect to mode (cf. Salmanticenses, De Gratia,
disp. III, dub. III; and our De revelatione, I, 498, 511). A
natural act in respect to substance would be an act specified by a
natural object, such as an act of acquired temperance, which might yet
become supernatural in respect to mode, according as it is commanded by
charity and ordered by it to the reward of eternal life.
WHETHER MAN, WITHOUT GRACE, BY HIS NATURAL POWERS,\
CAN FULFILL THE PRECEPTS OF THE NATURAL LAW
of the question. In this
article, as is evident in the body, we are especially concerned with the
precepts of the decalogue which already belong to the natural law and
can substantially be fulfilled without charity; indeed, even the acts of
faith and hope can be accomplished in the state of mortal sin. Let us
Thomas’ conclusions and arguments;
they are based on Holy Scripture and tradition;
refutation of the objections. (The article should be read.)
I. ST. THOMAS’ CONCLUSION
His first conclusion is that in the
state of corrupt nature, man cannot, without healing grace, fulfill all
the precepts of the natural law with respect to the substance of the
works, while on the contrary he would be able to do this without grace
in the state of integral nature (supposing, however, natural
concurrence). From these last words, which are found in St. Thomas, it
is evident that he is concerned in this instance with the precepts of
the natural law in respect to the substance of the works, for the
substance of a work correlative with a supernatural precept is
supernatural and cannot, even in the state of integral nature, be
produced without grace. In fact, precepts are called supernatural
because they enjoin acts which surpass the powers of nature. In article
two it is stated that “grace was necessary to man in the state of
integral nature in order to perform or will a supernatural work.”
supporting this conclusion is the same as in the preceding article for
the impossibility of loving God, author of nature, with an affectively
efficacious love; indeed the argument now holds with still greater
reason, that is, in the case of effectively efficacious love or the
fulfillment of all the precepts of the natural law.
In other words, a
weak man cannot of himself perform the very superior work of a healthy
man, unless he is first cured. Nor can a will turned away from even its
natural final end be properly oriented in regard to all the means to
that end. It would be rash to deny this first conclusion or to maintain
that effectively efficacious love of God, author of nature, above all
things can be attained without grace. This is conceded by the Molinists.
It would be rash because the
Council of Orange (Denz., nos. 181 ff., 199) refers not only to
impotence arising from the supernaturalness of the work, but from the
weakness of fallen nature.
conclusion is that in no state can man without grace fulfill the
commands of the law with respect to the mode of acting, that is,
performing them from charity. This is of faith. St. Thomas makes the
assertion without proof, for he has already said, in article two, that
man even in the state of incorrupt nature required “grace added to
nature in order to perform or will supernatural good,” and particularly
to elicit a supernatural act of charity. For acts are specified by their
objects and therefore the act specified by a supernatural object is
II. THE BASES OF TRADITION
as indicated by Billuart, in addition to many texts of St. Augustine.
Council of Milevum (Denz., no. 105), against the Pelagians who
declared that without grace man can keep all the commandments of God,
but with difficulty; with grace, however, he can do so with facility; it
is defined that “if anyone should say . . . that grace . . . is given to
us that we may more easily fulfill the divine commands, and . . ., that,
without it, we are able to fulfill them, although not easily, let him be
anathema.” From this it is deduced that the commandments of God cannot
be fulfilled as is necessary for salvation, that is, from charity,
always defends this truth against the Pelagians in his De spiritu et
littera, De gratia Christi, De libero arbitrio; in the
book De haeresibus (heresy 88), speaking of the Pelagians, he
says: “They are such enemies of the grace of God that they believe a man
can accomplish all the divine commands without it.” Likewise, St.
Augustine on Ps. 118, conc. 5, and in Sermon 148 (de tempore),
chap. 5, where he is concerned with the precepts of the decalogue.
error in Baius (Denz., nos. 1061,1062) was condemned because it rejects
the distinction between fulfilling the commandments in respect to
substance and in respect to mode, supernaturally.
The Council of Orange
(II, c. 25; Denz., no. 199) declared: “We must believe that through the
sin of the first man free will was so inclined and weakened, that no one
has since . . . been able to perform what is good for the sake of God
unless the grace of divine mercy precedes him.” Hence St. Thomas’ second
conclusion is of faith; that is, without grace, men cannot fulfill the
commandments with respect to supernaturalness of mode, namely,
so as to be
performed out of charity. And the Molinists admit this.
Whether grace is necessary for the fulfilling of any supernatural
precept, in respect to its substance. Herein lies the controversy with
the Molinists. Scotus and the Molinists hold that without grace men
imbued with the teaching of faith can fulfill, substantially, even
interior works correlative to the supernatural precepts of faith, hope,
The Thomists reply that it is not possible, since precepts are called
supernatural because they enjoin acts which, in themselves, essentially
surpass the powers of nature, and these acts are such, in fact, because
they are specified by a supernatural formal object. Thus, for example,
an act of Christian faith differs from an act of acquired temperance.
by Molina, Lugo, and Billot, that diversity of the activating principles
(that is, of habits) alone is sufficient to cause acts to differ in
species, even when they attain the same formal object.
These very activating principles, that is, habits and powers, should be
specified by the formal object. 2. The Salmanticenses reply (De
gratia, disp. III, dub. III, no. 60): “I deny the antecedent, for if
it were true, as our adversaries contend, nothing in true philosophy but
would waver (or be overturned) in regard to species and the distinction
of powers and habits; we should be compelled to establish new bases such
as were not taught by Aristotle, Master Thomas, or the leaders of other
schools. Although younger writers would easily grant this, we should
have no leader from among the ancients. The result would indeed be to
the highest detriment of true wisdom; wherefore it is essential in this
respect to hinder their proclivity with all our powers.” Cf. other texts
of the Salmanticenses quoted in our De revelatione, I, 495.
To the same
effect Thomas de Lemos, O.P., replied in the celebrated discussions of
the Congregatio de Auxiliis, on May 7 and 28, 1604, before
Clement VIII (cf. De revelatione, I, 491). He challenged the
opinion of Molina in the following words: “By which system he would
overturn faith as well as philosophy; faith, certainly, because thus God
is feared and loved by the powers of nature, as the end is supernatural;
philosophy indeed since, in this way, the formal object of a superior
habit is attained by the inferior powers.” And on May 28, 1604, session
54 settled a problem proposed according to the interpretation of the
Thomists explained by Lemos. Lemos expresses the same opinion in his
Panoplia gratiae at the beginning of Bk. IV, nos. 24f. (Cf. De
revelatione, I, 491; Del Prado, De gratia, I, 48;
Suarez expresses agreement with us in De gratia, Bk. II, c. II,
nos. 22 f., quoted in De revelatione, ibid.) Thus Suarez,
as well as Lemos and the Salmanticenses considers it rash to deny the
aforesaid traditional teaching of theologians. In respect to this matter
many Jesuits follow Suarez, including the Wirzburg school (De
virtutibus theologicis, disp. II, c. III, a. 3); Bellarmine is also
cited and, among more recent writers, Wilmers (De fide divina,
1902, pp. 352, 358, 375); Mazzella, in the first two editions of De
virtutibus infusis, and Pesch (De gratia, nos. 69, 71, 410).
The Molinists object, referring to Ia IIae, q. 54, a. 2 where it is
stated that “the species of habits are distinguished in three ways: 1.
according to the activating principles of such dispositions, 2.
according to nature, 3. according to objects.” Therefore, declare the
Molinists, habits are not specified only by their objects.
All of these are to be taken together and not separately. An act cannot
be essentially supernatural from the standpoint of its eliciting
principle and according as it presupposes habitual grace unless it is at
the same time supernatural from the standpoint of its object. Moreover,
we contend in De revelatione, I, 506, in agreement with the
Salmanticenses and other Thomists, that from St. Thomas’context it is
clearly evident that, when he says habits are specified according to
their active principles, he means according to their objective,
regulating, specifying principles; for he says in the answer to the
second objection of the same article: “The various means (of knowledge)
are like various active principles according to which the habits of
science are differentiated.” And in answer to the third objection:
“Diversity of ends differentiates virtues as diversity of active
principles” or motives according as the end is the object of a prior act
of the will, in other words, the intention.
Similarly in Ia
IIae, q. 51, a. 3, St. Thomas shows that the regulating reason is the
active principle of the moral virtues, and the understanding of
principles is the principle of knowledge, that is, as proposing the
formal object (objectum formale quo) or motive. Moreover, when he
says that habits are specified according to nature, this is according as
the habit is good or bad, suitable or not suitable to the nature; or
according as it is suitable to human nature as such, or suitable to the
divine nature in which man participates; but it cannot be of itself
suitable to a higher nature, unless at the same time it has a formal
object proportionate or of the same order; otherwise it would be an
accidentally infused habit, such as infused geometry. Father Ledochowski,
General of the Society of Jesus, further acknowledges that the teaching
of Molina we are discussing is not that of St. Thomas (cf. De
revelatione, I, 489).
OF THE PRINCIPAL OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE NECESSITY OF GRACE FOR OBSERVING
SUBSTANTIALLY ALL THE PRECEPTS OF THE NATURAL LAW
classical difficulty is
indicated by St. Thomas in the first objection, taken from the text of
St. Paul to the Romans (2:14): “The Gentiles who have not the (written)
law, do by nature those things which are of the law.”
According to St. Augustine, followed by St. Prosper, St. Fulgentius, and
by St. Thomas here in his refutation, these words are to be understood
of the Gentiles acting from grace; and then “by nature” is not
interpreted according as it is opposed to grace, and according as it is
equivalent to “the powers of nature,” but according as it is opposed to
the Mosaic law, so that the meaning is: “The Gentiles who have not the
written law, do naturally those things which are of the law,” in other
words, without the law of Moses, but not without the spirit of grace.
Thus Augustine in De spiritu et littera, Bk. I, c. 27, quoted
here by St. Thomas; likewise St. Chrysostom.”
But other interpreters understand this of the infidel Gentiles and hence
“by nature” of the powers of nature; but this disposes of the objection
just as well, for the meaning is that the Gentiles by their own natural
powers perform certain works of the law, but not all.
difficulty is as follows: if
the observance of the whole natural law, in respect to the substance of
the works, is impossible to fallen nature, then the Jansenist heresy
follows logically, that is, that certain of the precepts of God are
impossible to fallen man. Luther and Calvin held the same opinion.
“What we can do with divine assistance is not altogether impossible for
us”; and we avoid Jansenism by declaring that the grace necessary to
accomplish the commandments is not wanting to anyone except by reason of
his own fault. All adults receive graces at least remotely sufficient
for salvation, and if they did not resist them, they would obtain
further graces. The error of Luther and Calvin is apparent from this:
according to them, Christ did not come to form observers of the law, but
to redeem the faithful from the obligation of observing the law, in
accordance with Luther’s words : “Sin strongly and believe more
strongly,” in other words, believe firmly that you are freely elect, and
you are saved, even if you persevere in crimes and the transgression of
the law until death.
erred similarly by maintaining that certain commands of God are
impossible not only to fallen man, but even to the just man. This is
manifest from the first proposition of Jansen (Denz., no. 1092): “Other
precepts of God are impossible to just, willing, zealous men with the
powers which they now possess; they also lack the grace which would make
them possible”; in 1653 this was condemned as heretical. The Council of
Trent had previously defined (Denz., no. 804): “God does not command the
impossible, but by commanding He urges you both to do what you can and
to ask what you cannot, and He assists you that you may be able.” Also
in the corresponding canon (Denz., no. 828). The foregoing words of the
Council are taken from St. Augustine, and, according to them, sufficient
grace to pray is never wanting, and by it man has at least the remote
power of observing the divine precepts, for “by commanding, God urges
you to do what you can and to ask what you cannot, and He assists you
that you may be able.”
God cannot demand that a blind man see, although he may see by a
miracle; therefore, neither can He demand that fallen man observe the
law, although he may do so by means of grace.
The disparity lies particularly in the fact that the blind man is not
offered a miracle which would cure him; but fallen man is offered grace
by which he may observe the law, and he would receive it if he did not
voluntarily set obstacles in the way. Hence one must pray as did
Augustine, saying: “Lord, grant what Thou commandest and command what
Thou wilt,” that is, give us grace to fulfill Thy commands and command
what Thou wilt.
Which grace is required by fallen man for the keeping of the whole
As in the explanation of the preceding article: of itself, by reason of
its object, help of the natural order would suffice, since the object is
natural. Accidentally, however, and by reason of the elevation of the
human race to a supernatural end, supernatural grace is required, which
under this aspect is called healing grace. This is because in the
present economy of salvation man cannot be converted to God, his final
natural end, and remain estranged from God, his supernactural end, since
this aversion is indirectly opposed to the natural law, according to
which we ought to obey God, whatever He may command.
To observe the whole natural law for a long time is supernatural actual
grace sufficient, or is habitual grace required?
According to ordinary providence, habitual grace is required, by which
alone man is solidly well disposed toward his final end. And this firm
disposition toward his final end is itself required that man may keep
the whole natural law enduringly and perseveringly. Nevertheless, by an
extraordinary providence, God can fortify a man’s will in regard to the
observance of all the natural precepts by means of continuous actual
graces; but if a man does what lies within his power by the help of
actual grace, God will not withhold habitual grace from him. As we shall
see below (a. 9), over and above habitual grace, actual grace is
required for the just man to perform any supernatural good work, and
even to persevere for long in the observance of the whole natural law,
in spite of the rebellion of the sense appetites against reason, and the
temptations of the world and the devil.
Whether in the state of pure nature man would be able to observe
enduringly the whole natural law without special help of the natural
I reply in the negative with Billuart: Since to do so demands constancy
of the will in good against the ternmations that arise. A constancy
which man established in the state of pure nature would not have had, of
himself, with the aid of ordinary concurrence alone; hence, to persevere
he would have had need of special natural help which God would have
given to many, but not to those in whom He would have permitted the sin
of impenitence of this natural order in punishment for preceding sins.
In his commentary on the present article, which preceded the disputes
aroused by Molina, at a time when the terminology of this subject was
not yet fully established, Cajetan spoke less accurately in explaining
the answer to the third objection. He says, “man, by nature, can
believe, hope, love God, with respect to the substance of the act,” and
he cites the example of a formal heretic who adheres to certain dogmas.
He expresses himself similarly in regard to IIa IIae, q. 171, a. 2 ad 3.
But it is evident from the context and from this example that Cajetan is
referring to the generic substance of the acts, not to the specific
substance, not to the formal object itself (objectum
formale quod et quo);
for a heretic believes formally, not by divine, but by human faith.
corrects his terminology (commenting on IIa IIae, q. 6, a. I, no. 3 ),
declaring that “it should be said, therefore, that the act of faith
springs forth as a result of no natural knowledge, of no natural
appetite, but from the appetite for eternal beatitude and from an
adherence to God supernaturally revealing and preserving His Church.”
Cajetan likewise defends the common opinion of Thomists against Scotus
and Durandus (Ia IIae, q. 51, a. 4): “Infused habits are of themselves
essentially supernatural.” Also, q. 62, a:3; q. 63, a. 6, and IIa IIae,
q. 17, a. 5, no. I, where he defends the opinion that with out infused
virtue there would be no act “proportionate to the supernatural object,”
nor to the supernatural end. (Cf. Del Prado, De gratia, I,
50 and our De revelatione, I, 484 f., note I.)
WHETHER MAN CAN MERIT ETERNAL
LIFE WITHOUT GRACE
the observance of the divine commands in themselves, St. Thomas
considers it in relation to eternal life. The question is here posed
generally and indefinitely; later, in q. I 14, a. 1 2,3, here he is
dealing with merit properly speaking, the question will be more
particularly treated as to whether man without grace can merit de
condigno eternal life. The answer is negative and is of faith,
against the Pelagians.
1. It is
proved from authority in the argument Sed contra (Rom. 6:23):
“the grace of God life eternal,” which is thus explained by Augustine,
here quoted: “that it may be understood that God, in His compassion,
leads us unto eternal life.” St. Augustine is also quoted in the answer
to the second objection. (Cf. Council of Orange, II, can. 7, Denz., no.
180; and Trent, Sess. VI, can. 2, Denz., no. 812.)
2. It is
thus proved by theological reasons: Acts leading to an end must be
proportionate to the end. But eternal life is an end exceeding the
proportion of human nature (cf. Ia IIae, q. 5, a. 5, on supernatural
beatitude). Therefore man cannot by his natural powers produce works
meritorious of eternal life. Read the answer to the third objection with
respect to the distinction between final natural end and supernatural
end (cf. Contra Gentes, Bk. III, chap. 147, and De veritate,
q. 14, a. 2). These references are clear, and whatever is to be said on
this subject is reserved for consideration in q. 114, a. 1 and 2, that
is, whether man can merit anything de condigno, and so merit
WHETHER MAN CAN PREPARE HIMSELF FOR GRACE
BY HIMSELF WITHOUT THE EXTERIOR HELP OF GRACE
State of the question.
The external help of grace with which we are here concerned, is not only
the preaching of the gospel itself, confirmed by miracles (the Pelagians
admitted this), nor is it only the natural concurrence of God for the
performance of a naturally good act, the necessity of which the Semi-Pelagians
did not deny, but, as the body of the article explains, it refers to
actual supernatural help.
difficulty of this question may be more manifest, St. Thomas considers
the following. 1. The arguments maintained by the Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians,
namely. it seems that without actual grace man can prepare himself for
habitual grace, for, we read (Zach. 1:3): “Turn ye to Me . and I will
turn to you.” 2. It is frequently said. “To him who does what he can,
God does not deny grace”; and (Luke 11:13): “If you then, being evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your
Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask Him?” 3. It
would be an infinite process, since to prepare himself for a prior
grace, man would require another, and so on ad infinitum.
4. In the Book of Proverbs (16:1) it is said that “it is the part of man
to prepare the soul,” according to the Vulgate; but in many codices this
verse is lacking and in the Greek codices in which it occurs, the sense
is: “It is the part of man to form a proposal in his heart,” as if to
say: man proposes and God disposes.
On the other hand
we find in the Gospel according to St. John (6:44): “No man can come to
me, except the Father, who hath sent Me, draw him.” How are these
quotations to be reconciled? Let us examine 1. The errors on this
subject which have been condemned; 2. the disagreement among Catholic
theologians; and 3. the opinion of St. Thomas.
condemned errors. The Pelagians, denying original sin, maintained,
at least at the beginning of their heresy, that man by his own powers,
without grace, can prepare himself for grace so as to merit the first
grace. This was condemned by the Councils of Neo-Caesaria and Milevum (Denz.,
nos. 104 ff., 133 ff .).
The Semi-Pelagians said that fallen man, without grace, can have of
himself the beginning of salvation and can prepare himself for grace,
by asking, desiring, knocking, seeking; thus he does not merit grace,
but he disposes himself for it by himself alone, and God seizes upon
this beginning of salvation as an occasion for conferring grace,
otherwise He would be an acceptor of persons if He conferred grace upon
one rather than another without any reason on the part of man.”
This was condemned by the Council of Orange (II, can. 3 and 6, Denz.,
nos. 176,179). The same declaration was made by the Council of Trent (Sess.
VI, can. 3, Denz., no. 813).
II. Among Catholic theologians, notwithstanding the condemnation
of the Semi-Pelagians, Molina, following the lead of Durandus, Scotus,
and Gabriel Biel, maintains in his Concordia (disp. 10), that if
one does what one can by merely natural powers, God never denies actual
grace, and at last bestows sanctifying grace; not that man may prepare
himself positively for grace, but he prepares himself negatively by not
placing obstacles to it and by removing impediments.
And in order to avoid Semi-Pelagianism, Molina declares It that God
confers actual grace and subsequently habitual grace, not on account of
the merit of a natural act, but on account of the covenant between God
and Christ from the beginning. Christ indeed presented His merits to the
Father, and the Father promises that He will bestow grace upon anyone
who does what is possible to his natural powers or who uses well the
goods of nature.
III. The doctrine of St. Thomas, as is clear from the last lines
of the article and from the answer to the second objection, is that
fallen man cannot prepare himself for habitual grace except by the help
of prevenient actual grace, and “when it is said that man does what he
can, the meaning is that this is within the power of man, as he is moved
by God.” These words in the answer to the second objection are contrary
to the opinion proposed subsequently by Molina. Stated more briefly the
thesis of St. Thomas is: Fallen man can in no way dispose himself either
for habitual or for actual grace by his natural powers alone.
Scriptural proof. It is proved from the authority of Scripture in
the argument Sed contra: “No man can come to Me, except the
Father, who hath sent Me, draw him” (John 6:44). But if man could
prepare himself, there would be no need of his being drawn by another.
“Convert us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall be converted” (Lam. 5:21).
See also Jer. 31:18. “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35,
according to the Septuagint, but the Hebrew text is not so clear). St.
Augustine here and there puts it forward against the Semi-Pelagians, and
it is quoted by the Council of Orange, Denz., no. 177). “Without Me you
can do nothing” (John 15:15); therefore neither can one prepare oneself
for grace, since that is doing something ordained to salvation. “Who
hath first given to Him, and recompense shall be made him? For of Him,
and by Him, and in Him, are all things” (Rom. 11:35 f.). According to
the contrary opinion a man could reply: I first gave him my effort and
disposition. “Who distinguisheth thee?” (I Cor. 4:7.) Man may answer: my
striving. “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” (ibid.)
Man may reply: I have my effort and my disposition. “You have not chosen
Me: but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). The Semi-Pelagians would say: I
chose Thee first by disposing myself for grace. This text is addressed
to the apostles, of course, but in that they are the friends of God, and
therefore it also applies to other friends of God.
The Council of Orange (can. 3, Denz., no. 176), according to the obvious
meaning of the words, declares that all preparation for grace is of
itself prevenient grace; there is no reference to a covenant entered
into between God the Father and Christ. Read canons 3, 4, 5. Likewise
the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. 5, Denz. 797, and chap. 6).
St. Augustine (De peccatorum meritis, Bk. I, chap. 22),
especially in the three arguments against the Semi-Pelagians, maintained
1. In the affair of salvation nothing at all must be withdrawn from
divine grace; but something would be withdrawn if the disposition for
grace were not from grace.
2. The Church prays God not only to help those who will and strive after
good, but also that those who will it not be made to will it.
3. It is said in II Cor. 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient to think
anything of ourselves, as of ourselves.” But the slightest preparation
for grace is a good thought. Therefore. Hence the words of Augustine on
St. John, at the beginning of tract 26: “Why does God draw this man and
not that man? Do not attempt to judge if you do not wish to err.”
proof. By theological
argument St. Thomas thus proves his thesis in the body of the article in
Since every agent
acts on account of a proportionate end, the order of agents corresponds
to the order of ends, and the disposition toward a supernatural end
cannot be produced except by God, the supernatural agent.
But man prepares
himself for grace according as he disposes himself for it as for a
proximate supernatural end, and according as he turns to God as to his
final supernatural end.
cannot prepare himself for grace except by the supernatural help of God,
moving him. St. Thomas does not fear to repeat this principle often;
these repetitions are a kind of leitmotiv in theology, like St. John’s
often repeated: “Beloved, let us love one another” (I John 4:7).
The major of this
argument is based on the principle of finality, not that from this
metaphysical principle the dogma may be rationally demonstrated, but
that the dogma cannot be contrary to the principle of finality. For the
corollary of this principle is: the order of agents corresponds to the
order of ends; hence it is necessary that man be converted to his final
end by the motion of the prime mover, just as the will of the soldier is
directed toward striving for victory by the motion of the leader of the
army, and toward following the standard of some battle by the motion of
the commander. Moreover, according to this principle, the disposition
toward a supernatural end cannot be produced except by a supernatural
agent, that is, except by God according as He moves toward something
which exceeds all nature created or capable of being created.
The minor of this
argument, however, is explained later in more detail, but it is already
self-evident (cf. q. 112, a. 3). More briefly, the argument can be
disposition, whether remote or proximate, should have a certain
proportion to the form for which it disposes; otherwise it would not
dispose for it.
natural acts have no proportion with supernatural grace; they do not
attain to the life of grace nor do they in any way require it.
Therefore man by
his own natural powers cannot prepare himself even remotely for grace,
without supernatural help; it is not only morally impossible, but
physically and absolutely as well.
In order to dispose himself, man would at least need to have a good
thought from himself.
But, according to
II Cor. 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves,
as of ourselves,” in the order of salvation.
Hence, with still
greater reason, to desire, ask, merit even de congruo, or dispose
ourselves in any way. For merit de congruo already pertains to
salvation; it is a right, based on friendship, to a supernatural reward.
And if man without grace could pray and thus obtain grace, the first
step to salvation would be attributable to nature. Hence this is
condemned by the Council of Orange, c. 7.
The whole proof,
therefore, is reducible to the infinite distance between the order of
nature and the order of grace, since grace as essentially supernatural
surpasses the powers and the requirements of any intellectual nature,
created or capable of creation. God from all eternity might at any time
create angels of greater and ever greater perfection so that they would
have an ever loftier natural intelligence and an ever more steadfast
will; but never could these superior angels naturally dispose themselves
for grace, which is of a higher order.
imagination may become ever better endowed in its own order but it will
never arrive at the dignity of the intellect; thus the sides of a
polygon inscribed in a circle may be ever multiplied but, however small
each side, it will never be equivalent to a point. With still greater
reason, when it is a question of the impossibility of disposing oneself
naturally for the life of grace, natural good works can be ever
increased, but they will never amount to a disposition proportionate to
grace, which is essentially supernatural, whether for man or for any
angel capable of being created, and they can always be created with
greater perfection, since no limit of possibility can be named which
would exhaust divine omnipotence.
how wonderful; how great a light there is in this doctrine! “All bodies,
the firmament and the stars, the earth and its kingdoms, are not worth
the least of spirits, for it is conscious of all that and of itself; and
bodies are conscious of nothing. All bodies and all spirits together and
all their productions are not worth the slightest movement of charity,
for that is of an infinitely higher order” (Pascal, Thoughts).
the refutation of the objections.
objection. But it is said in
Zach. 1:3: “Turn ye to Me . . . and I will turn to you.”
It is indeed prescribed for man that he turn to God freely, but the free
will cannot turn to God unless God Himself converts it to Himself,
according to the words of Jer. 31:18: “Convert me, and I shall be
converted.” Likewise Augustine and the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap.
6; Denz., no. 797).
objection. But it is
generally said that to him who does what he can God does not deny grace.
Contrary to what Molina says, to him who does what he can, with God’s
help; and it is a question of supernatural help granted through Christ
the Redeemer, since the following words of Christ are quoted: “Without
Me ye can do nothing.” Nor does natural help suflice to produce a
disposition which is supernatural in form, since the order of agents
should correspond to the order of ends. And God, as author of nature,
cannot move one to a supernatural end.
objection. But this would be
an infinite process, for man would need some grace to prepare himself
for grace, and so on indefinitely.
A disposition is required only for habitual grace, for every form
requires a disposition capable of receiving it. But for actual grace a
disposition is not required, since a disposition is not necessary for
yet another disposition.
objection. But in Prov. 16:1
it is written: “It is the part of man to prepare the soul and of the
Lord to govern the tongue”; and further: “The heart of man disposes the
way, but it is the Lord who directs his steps.”
Certainly, because man does this through his free will, but he does not
therefore do it without the help of God moving and drawing him. The
meaning of Holy Scripture here is that it does not suffice to consider
what thou wilt say or do, unless God directs the tongue and the work so
that thou mayest succeed. And this is also a very common saying: Man
proposes and God disposes. St. Thomas teaches this doctrine in several
other places as well. (Cf. Quodl., Ia, a. 7; in Ed. ad
Rom., c. 10, lect. 3; III C. Gentes, chap. 150;
De verit., q. 24, a. 15.)
Whether according to St. Thomas, following the doctrine which he
maintains in Ia IIae, q. 89, a. 6, to all who arrive at the use of
reason sufficient help is given for fulfilling the precept, there and
then urgent, of loving God efficaciously above all things.
The Salmanticenses reply in the affirmative (In lam llae, q. 89,
a. 6, no. 65); God gives efficacious help only to those whom He at the
same time decided to justify and with the aforesaid efficacious help He
gives them sanctifying grace and explicit faith concerning the things
which are necessary as means essential to salvation.
sufficient help which is then given to all is supernatural. It is at
least supernatural modally through the merits of Christ; but it may also
be said that it is supernatural substantially since it gives the
proximate power of accomplishing an efficacious act of the love of God
above all things, beyond the powers of fallen nature. This supernatural
help should result in a certain supernatural enlightenment for the
intellect and, if man would not resist this enlightenment, he would
receive the grace of faith with respect to the things necessary to
salvation. (Cf. below, what is said on justification and the salutary
but not meritorious acts which precede it; also Billuart, De gratia,
diss. VII, a. 4, nos. 2,3.)
It should be
remarked that Quesnel’s proposition was condemned:
“No graces are
given except through faith” (Denz., no. 1376); “Faith is the first grace
and the source of all the others” (Denz., no. 1377); “The first grace
which God grants to the sinner is the remission of sins” (Denz., no.
1378); likewise the Synod of Pistoia was condemned, denying grace
preceding good will and faith.
Molinist interpretation of the common axiom: “to him who does what he
can, God does not refuse grace.” Cf. Concordia, disp. X, latest
edition, Paris, pp. 43 and 564: “God always confers the helps of
prevenient grace on him who strives with natural powers to accomplish
what in him lies.” Molina, as we have said, maintained that: to him who
does what he can by his natural powers alone, God never denies actual
grace, and later He gives habitual grace. To avoid Semi-Pelagianism, he
continues, 1. claiming that this is done not on account of the value of
a natural good work, but for the sake of a convenant entered into
between God and Christ the Redeemer, a covenant for thus certainly
conferring grace; and 2. claiming that man thus naturally prepares
himself negatively only, that is, by not raising obstacles, not sinning
at least for some little time; but always, or as it were infallibly,
actual grace is then conferred upon him.
What is to be
thought of this covenant and of this natural, negative preparation? In
regard to the covenant, we may say with the Thomists that it lacks a
basis in tradition; on the contrary, it seems to be opposed to the
testimony of tradition and to the principles of sound theology.
pact has no basis either in Scripture or in the councils or in the
Fathers, Hence it is clearly fictitious. Certainly the Council of Orange
does not speak of it, although it would have been most useful for
recalling the Semi-Pelagians to the faith, had this theory been true.
The Semi-Pelagians would very easily have admitted it, since they did
not deny Redemption through Christ nor did they deny that the primary
grace was conferred on account of the merits of Christ upon those who
prepared themselves naturally for it. The Semi-Pelagians did not contend
that the primary grace was given on account of natural merit, but by the
occasion of natural good works. Neither does Pius IX (Denz., nos.
1648,1677) refer to this covenant.
matter of fact, Valentia, S.J., attempted to demonstrate this pact at
the Congregatio de Auxiliis from Augustine (The City of God, Bk.
XIX, chap. 13) but to obtain this proof, in reading the text of
Augustine he changed the particle scilicet to et.
Immediately, however, Thomas de Lemos, recognizing the text of
Augustine, replied: “The text is not being rendered correctly,” and
taking up Augustine’s book he read the text as it was. (Cf. Billuart, d.
III, a. 7, and Serry, Histoire de la Congregatio de Auxiliis, Bk.
III, chap. 5.) It is said in Scripture and tradition only that God wills
the salvation of all men, that Christ died for all, and that,
accordingly, graces suacient for salvation are conferred upon all
adults. 2. Not only is this covenant not affirmed by tradition, but it
seems to be contrary to the Council of Orange (can. 6, Denz., no. 179)
which condemned anyone who should say that, “Without the grace of God,
mercy is bestowed upon those who believe, will and desire it.” But
supposing the aforesaid covenant, the mercy of Christ and of God would
thus be conferred upon men naturally desiring it. (Likewise can. 4.).
pact is opposed to the teaching of Augustine, who declared against the
Pelagians (De peccatorum meritis, Bk. I, chap. 22) that there are
among infidels and sinners some who observe many precepts of the law and
are less wicked, more modest, temperate, and merciful, and yet grace
passes them by and converts the most infamous; in other words, those who
are converted are not always those who do more naturally good works.
according to St. Augustine, the judgment of God is inscrutable, for He
draws one and does not draw another; as he says in regard to St. John
(at the beginning of tract 26): “Why does He draw this man and not that
one? Do not attempt to judge if you do not wish to err.” St. Thomas
refers to this in Ia, q. 23, a. 5 ad 3. But assuming the existence of
the aforesaid covenant and the resulting law, God’s judgment would not
be inscrutable, rather could it be easily explained, for indeed God
draws this man and not another because this one does what he can by his
own powers and the other does not.
pact seems to be contrary to the principles of sound theology based on
revelation. For, according to this hypothesis, man would have something
of himself to distinguish him, in which he would glory, in other words,
something ordained to salvation he would not receive from God, namely, a
good work of nature which, according to the law established, would lead
to salvation, and to which grace would infallibly be attached.
is incompatible that Christ should merit the establishment of this law
on the part of God the father, by which the reason for grace would be
destroyed. For if this pact were formed and this law established, grace
would be given on account of works, and thus would no longer be grace,
prevenient grace would be anticipated by the free will, the first place
would be given to man, the last place to God, and thus the doctrine of
grace defended by St. Augustine would be overthrown. With this law in
effect, a natural good work possesses some proportion and some right to
the help of grace. All these suppositions seem to be contrary to the
words of St. Paul (I Cor. 4:7): “Who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast
thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost
thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it ?”
Particularly opposed to these words is the teaching of Molina which
holds that man thus naturally disposes himself for grace with the aid of
simultaneous natural concurrence only determinable by human liberty
alone. But this doctrine is not very much developed by admitting
general, indifferent premotion, ultimately determinable by man alone,
since one man would thus distinguish himself from another who was not
converted. Moreover, as we have said, intrinsically efficacious,
predetermining premotion of a natural order does not suflice as a
preparation for grace; the supernatural help of grace is required,
because the order of agents should correspond to the order of ends. Here
indeed the end, whether proximate (grace) or remote (glory), is
therefore not to be wondered at that the French clergy, in a general
assembly, in 1700, condemned this teaching in regard to a covenant,
declaring that “it restores Semi-Pelagianism, merely changing its
language . . . The pact which is held to exist between God and Christ,
is an audacious, erroneous invention brought forth, not only under the
silence of Holy Scripture and the tradition of the Holy Fathers, but
even under their contradiction.” (Cf. Billuart, De gratia, diss.
III, What, then, is to be said of the negative natural preparation, that
is, not setting up obstacles to grace, which being accomplished, God
infallibly confers grace, according to Molin?
1. Not to set up any obstacles at all is to observe the whole
natural law, avoiding every sin against it, and this cannot be done
without healing grace, as we have already shown. 2. Not to set up
obstacles in some respects, observing certain precepts, avoiding certain
sins, with general natural help, does not infallibly dispose one for
grace; since, as we asserted with Augustine and as experience
demonstates, some men observe many commandments, and yet grace is denied
them which, at one time or other, is granted to the most profligate, who
have no regard for any law, according to the words of Isaias (65:1), as
quoted in Rom. 10:20: “I was found by them that did not seek Me: I
appeared openly to them that asked not after Me.”
3. Nowhere is
there a basis for this principle: upon him who does not set up obstacles
to grace through his powers of nature alone, God infallibly confers
4. All the
aforesaid objections reappear; thus it would no longer be inscrutable
why God confers grace upon one and not upon another; one could
distinguish himself and glory over another; the beginning of salvation
would not be the compassion of God alone, but the willing of man as
well; and other conclusions opposed to the words of St. Paul: “It is not
of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth
mercy” (Rom. 9:16).
How, then, are we
to understand the common axiom: to him who does what he can, God does
not deny grace? I answer as St. Thomas here interprets it (q.109, a. 6
ad 2), namely, “to him who does what he can, with the help of actual
grace, God does not deny further grace.” We are concerned with
supernatural help, which comes from Christ the Redeemer, for the words
of Christ are quoted here: “Without Me you can do nothing.” And (q.112,
a. 3) St. Thomas shows that a. 7.) this preparation, since it is from
God moving supernaturally, has an infallible connection with the
infusion of sanctifying grace. Hence, as Father Hugon indicates (De
gratia, p. 267), this axiom is threefold: 1. the necessity of a
certain preparation for justification on the part of an adult man, 2.
the infallibility of its connection with sanctifying grace, 3. the
gratuity of justification, which is accomplished by God alone. “No one
can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him.” Therefore the
meaning is: to him who does what he can by the power of actual grace,
God does not deny sanctifying grace. This opinion is also held by
Cardinal Billot, but with indifferent concurrence.
The axiom thus
explained is only the theological formula of the dogma of God’s will to
save. For, once it is admitted that God wills the salvation of all, it
follows that sufficient grace necessary for salvation is conferred upon
all; and if man does not resist this grace, he will receive a higher
grace and thus arrive at justification. Man indeed resists by himself,
but not to resist is already a good and proceeds from God preserving him
in good and helping him, for at that moment God can permit resistance,
as happens in the case of many. (Cf. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap.
5, Denz., no. 797.) “Hence,” says the Council, “when it is written in
Holy Scripture: ‘Turn ye to Me, . . . and I will turn to you’ (Zach.
1:3), we are reminded of our liberty; when we reply: ‘Convert us, O
Lord, to Thee, and we shall be converted’(Lam. 5:21), we acknowledge
that we are anticipated by the grace of God.”
The real clarity of the principles of superior reasoning leads to a
translucent obscurity of mysteries, while, on the contrary, the false
clarity of the fiction of inferior reasoning, withdrawing from the
principles of superior reasoning, shuns supernatural mysteries, denying
particularly evident in the present question; thus, the true clarity of
the principle, that the order of agents corresponds to the order of
ends, leads to the translucent obscurity of the mystery: “No one can
come to Me, unless the Father, who sent Me, draw him.” This obscurity is
fully preserved by the contemplation of Augustine, when he says: “Why
does He draw this man and not that one? Do not attempt to judge if you
do not wish to err.”
mysteries, which are the object of contemplation, are all the more
obscure the higher they are, with this obscurity which is not
incoherence or absurdity below the level of understanding, but light
inacessible beyond understanding, with respect to us who are wayfarers.
Therefore it is said that Thomism fears neither logic nor mystery, but,
fearlessly following the logic of first principles, arrives at the
highest and most profoundly inscrutable mysteries, which are the true
object of infused contemplation.
On the other
hand, the false clarity of the fictions of inferior reasoning is evident
in these words: to him who does what he can by his natural powers alone,
God does not refuse grace; in other words, man can naturally prepare
himself for supernatural grace. But this assertion of inferior reasoning
withdraws from the principle: the order of agents should correspond to
the order of ends, and a supernatural agent to a supernatural end.
withdrawing from this principle, this false clarity ignores the
inscrutable mystery: “No one can come to Me, unless the Father, who sent
Me, draw him.” Nor indeed is it true any longer to say: “Why does He
draw one man and not another? Do not attempt to judge if you do not wish
to err.” But on the contrary, all things are clearly explained by the
fiction: “this man is drawn by God because he disposed himself
naturally.” The mystery is removed, and with it is taken away the
highest object of contemplation; we descend to an inferior order of
reasoning by rational subtleties, and inordinately so, which leads not
to the obscurity of a mystery, but to the absurd denial of a principle:
that the order of agents should correspond to the order of ends, every
agent acts on account of a proportionate end. Hence false clarity must
not be confused with true clarity. The purification of the spirit by the
gift of understanding dispels such deceptive clearness and purifies
“from phantasms and errors” (IIa IIae, q.8, a. 7).
REFUTATION OF THE PRINCIPAL OBJECTIONS OF THE MOLINISTS
1. In Holy
Scripture many are mentioned who attained to grace by a natural good
work, such as the Egyptian midwives moved by natural compassion for the
Hebrew children, Rahab the harlot receiving and not exposing the scouts
sent by God, Zachaeus welcoming Christ to his house, Cornelius
practicing almsgiving and prayer before he believed in Christ.
These natural good works do not exclude the necessity of interior grace,
but remain inadequate unless God disposes the heart interiorly by His
grace; in other words, these naturally good works as such do not
infallibly prepare for grace, and it is erroneous to declare that “to
him who of himself does natural works, God does not deny grace.”
Moreover, as Augustine says, among infidels and sinners, those who are
converted are often not those who at first were less wicked. And at the
Council of Orange (can. 25) it was stated that in the good thief, in
Zachaeus and Cornelius, their pious disposition to believe was the
result of a gift of God. But it is true that the occasions by which some
seem to reach grace were procured for them by the special favor of
providence disposing external matters in such a way that they would
combine to lead these rather than others to grace. Thus in the cases of
Zachaeus and Cornelius.
St. Paul says (I Tim. 1:13): “I obtained the mercy of God, because I did
it ignorantly in unbelief.” Therefore he disposed himself negatively
Ignorance is alleged not as a negative and infallible disposition for
grace, but as matter more appropriately calling forth mercy, since
indigence as such is involuntary, such as ignorance, and for this reason
induces mercy. On the other hand, sin, inasmuch as it is voluntary, does
not call forth mercy, but avenging justice, and this all the more so in
proportion to its gravity. Thus St. Augustine explains in his eighth,
ninth, and tenth sermons on the words of the Apostle. The meaning is the
same as when Christ says: “Father, forgive them for they know not what
they do.” Estius is also thus interpreted.
But at times Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and Clement of Alexandria,
quoted in this regard by Billuart, seem to teach that grace does not
anticipate our wills but awaits them.
I. In these quotations they are speaking either of habitual grace
or of the increase of actual grace for more perfect works, but they are
certainly not speaking of the first actual grace, through which a
beginning of good will is attained. Hence their meaning is: God awaits
not our bare will, but our will supported by grace. These Fathers also
deny that this first grace is an imposition of necessity, in opposition
to the Manichaeans who would deprive man of free will (cf. Ia, q. 23, a.
I ad I). This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that the aforesaid
Fathers teach in various places the Catholic dogma on prevenient grace,
when they explain the words of St. Paul: “What hast thou that thou hast
not received? What then distinguisheth thee?” Nor is it remarkable if
they at times spoke less accurately on the need for prevenient grace,
when the Pelagian heresy had not yet broken out flagrantly, particularly
since they desired to defend free will against the Manichaeans. At that
time no one was attacking grace. St. Augustine replied similarly in his
De praedestinatione sanctorum (chap. 14).
But St. Thomas himself says (IIa, d. 5, q. I, a. I): “For the eliciting
of an act of conversion free will suffices, which prepares and disposes
itself for obtaining grace through this act.” Similarly (IIa, d. 28, q.
I, a. 4) he declares: “Since the preparation made for grace is not by
acts which are commensurate to grace itself with an equality of
proportion, as merit is commensurate to its reward, therefore it is not
necessary that the acts by which man prepares himself for grace should
exceed human nature.”
I. If such were the meaning of these passages quoted, we should have
to admit that St. Thomas had subsequently retracted his own words,
changing the opinion which he had held when he was younger. He wrote on
the Sentences at Paris when he was only twenty-five years of age. 2. But
St. Thomas did not change his opinion, for in the Commentary on the
Sentences he rejects the opinion of certain others who held that man, to
prepare himself for habitual grace, requires a habitual supernatural
light, preamble to sanctifying grace. (Cf. II, d. 28, q. I, a. 4.) St.
Thomas denies this, maintaining that this would go on into infinity, but
he docs not exclude actual grace which he clearly aflirms in the
Summa and in Quodl., I, a. 7, even more clearly: “It pertains
to the Pelagian error to say that man can prepare himself for grace
without the help of divine grace.” (Likewise Ia, q. 23, a. 5, on the
beginning of good works.) Indeed certain thus prepared the way for
Molina. Nor did St. Thomas say that a preparation is not required
“proportionate to grace,” but proportionate in the way in which merit is
commensurate with reward. This is true since merit demands nature
elevated by sanctifying grace; merit is a right to a supernatural
reward. (Cf. Quodl., I, a.7 ad I.) The distance is greater
between the sinner and the just man than between the just and the
blessed, for grace is the seed of glory, but nature is not really the
seed of grace.
But of what use, then, are natural good works performed at the dictate
of reason alone without any grace?
They are meritorious de congruo of temporal good, to the extent
that it is appropriate for divine liberality in consideration of them,
to grant certain temporal benefits. Hence Christ says: “They have
received their reward” (Matt. 6:2). And on the other hand, good works
done outside of charity, but with the help of actual grace, are a
disposition to habitual grace; St. Thomas refers to them in IV Sent.,
q. 14, a. 4, and also in De veritate, q. 14, a. II ad I, when he
says: “If a person brought up in the wilderness follows the guidance of
reason (with actual grace), it can be held for a certainty that God will
either reveal to him by inspiration the things that are necessary to
believe or will send some preacher of the faith to him, as he sent St.
Peter to Cornelius.”
Nevertheless, natural good works done without the help of actual grace
seem to be at least a negative disposition to actual grace.
An infallible negative disposition, excluding every impediment to grace:
denied. A fallible negative disposition, excluding some impediment: let
But man of himself can refrain from setting up an obstacle, at least at
the moment when the grace is offered to him.
At that moment, of himself, with general concurrence which is in some
way special for this individual, he can do so partially: granted.
Completely: denied; that would be loving God the author of nature above
St. Thomas (Contra Gentes, Bk. III, q. 159) declares: “Fallen man
can hinder or not hinder the reception of grace.”
Not hinder, in part (and this with the concurrence of God preserving Him
in good whereas He could permit sin): granted; totally: denied, because
of himself he cannot avoid every sin, observing every precept of the
natural law (cf. ibid., c. 160).
objection. In Ia, q. 62, a.
6, it is taught that God conferred grace and glory upon the angels in
proportion to their nature; hence there is no incompatibility in His
conferring grace upon men who do what they can by natural powers alone.
St. Thomas himself replies to this objection (ibid., ad 2): “The
acts of a rational creature are from itself; but the nature is
immediately from God. Hence it seems rather that grace is given
according to the rank of the (angelic) nature than according to its
works.” For thus man would single out himself, and God would be moved
objectively by another, which is not the case when He gives grace to the
angels at the instant of their creation according to the quantity of
their nature, which He alone created. To the same effect it is said that
“it is reasonable for the angels, who have a better nature, to be
converted to God even more powerfully and eflicaciously,” since in them
nothing retarded the movement of the intellect and will. There is,
moreover, an analogy between converted angels and men, for “according to
the intensity of their conversion is greater grace given.”
But the disposition can be of an inferior order, as, for example, the
disposition of the embryo to a spiritual soul.
But then they belong to the same nature, which is not true of grace.
God owes it to Himself to bestow His gifts upon those who are more
worthy. But he is more worthy who does many natural good works of
himself than he who does less. Therefore God should confer grace upon
I deny the minor: he is not more worthy because natural works have no
proportion with grace; they are of an inferior order.
Nevertheless he who sets up less impediments is less indisposed.
Let it pass. But he is not more disposed and worthy; thus a worm and a
dog are certainly unequal; yet the dog is not more disposed to
rationality. Therefore it is not unusual for God to draw to Himself
those who are worse.
Thus we are back
again at what we said at the end of the exposition of this thesis.
WHETHER MAN CAN RISE FROM SIN
WITHOUT THE HELP OF GRACE
State of the
question. This article,
following upon the preceding ones, may seem a useless repetition. Such
is not the case, however, for, as Cajetan remarks: “thus far St. Thomas
was dealing with the necessity of grace for doing good; now he is
concerned with evil,” and in the last two articles with the necessity of
grace for the man who is already just.
What is meant by
rising from sin? It is not the same as ceasing from the act of sin, as
Protestants claim, but it is man being restored to what, by sinning, he
had forfeited. Now, by sinning, man incurs a threefold loss: the stain
(habitual sin, privation of the ornament of grace), the incurring of
punishment, and the decrease of the natural inclination to virtue, as
stated previously (q.85-87). The reply to the question thus posed is
negative; that is certain, so that Pelagius himself did not deny it but
only insisted that grace should be bestowed on account of merits.
The answer is of
faith, defined at the Council of Orange, can. 4, (Denz., no. 177) also
can. 14 and 19; and at the Council of Trent, Sess. VI, can. 1 (Denz.,
no. 811), can. 3 (Denz., no. 813). The teaching of the Fathers is clear;
cf. the words of Augustine quoted in the argument Sed contra;
otherwise “Christ died for nothing,” if man can rise from sin without
the help of grace.
is proved by theological argument as follows:
To rise from sin
is for man to be restored and liberated from the evils which he incurred
But by sin he
incurred a threefold loss which cannot be repaired except by grace.
The minor is
proved thus: 1. The stain is a privation of the ornament of grace,
therefore it cannot be repaired except by grace itself. 2. The decrease
in the inclination of the will toward virtue cannot be repaired unless
God draws the will to Himself. 3. The incurring of punishment cannot be
remitted except by God against whom the offense was committed.
Nevertheless there can be an imperfect resurrection without habitual
grace, by actual grace which is present in attrition when the sinner
aspires after reconciliation. Cf. on this subject the sixty-fourth
proposition of Baius (Denz., no. 1064).
WHETHER WITHOUT GRACE MAN CAN AVOID SIN
State of the
question. From the second
article wherein it is said that fallen man can, with the natural
concurrence of God, perform some good works, it is to be supposed
likewise that with this natural concurrence he can, for a certain length
of time, avoid sin and overcome slight temptations. For it is not
necessary that he should continually sin by act, by a sin of commission,
such as blasphemy, or of omission, such as never praying when he ought
to pray, since the good of reason is not entirely extinct in him. As a
matter of fact, this natural concurrence, although it is in a way due to
human nature in general, may, as we have said, be called gratuitous in a
certain sense with respect to\this man to whom it is given here and now
rather than to another in whom God permits sin; from this standpoint it
may be called grace, broadly speaking. This observation is necessary in
order to reconcile various texts of the councils and of the Fathers on
this question. Hence the problem, properly stated, is: whether man
without grace, strictly speaking, can, over a long period of time, avoid
mortal sins. Cf. above, Ia IIae, q. 109, a. z ad 2, and De veritate,
q. 3, a. 14 ad 2 and 3.
That such is the
proper statement of the question is evident from the objections or
difficulties which are raised against the first article: it seems that
man can, without grace, avoid sin: 1. because no one sins in that which
is unavoidable; 2. because otherwise the sinner would be blamed without
cause, if he could not avoid sin; 3. because a person who sins does not
cease to be a man, and it is within his power to choose good or evil;
for human nature after the fall is not totally corrupt.
stated in the argument Sed contra, St. Augustine declared that:
“Whoever denies that we ought to pray, lest we enter into temptation,
ought to be removed from the ears of all and anathematized by the mouth
of all, I have no doubt.”
In the body of
the article there are two principal conclusions, which, all things
considered, can and ought to be proposed thus: I. concerning fallen man
avoiding mortal sin; 2. concerning the just man avoiding venial sins.
conclusion, which is proved
in the second part of the article is as follows: Fallen man being in the
state of mortal sin, cannot, without the addition of healing, habitual
grace, continually avoid all mortal sin against the natural law and
overcome all temptations. In this regard, St. Thomas seems to correct
what he had said in II Sent., d. 28, q. I, a. 2.
1. This is proved
first of all from Holy Scripture: “By Thee I shall be delivered from
temptation” (Ps. 17:30). “Being pushed I was over turned that I might
fall: but the Lord supported me” (Ps. 117:13). “Unhappy man that I am,
who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (And he replies): The
grace of God, by Jesus Christ” (Rom. 7:24 f.). This is true with still
greater reason of fallen man before justification. “And God is faithful,
who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but
will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it”
(I Cor. 10:13). Likewise the Council of Neocaesarea (chap. II) against
the Pelagians condemned the following proposition of Pelagius: “Our
victory is not by the help of God.” Similarly the Council of Milevum (Denz.,
nos.103 f.), Pope St. Celestine (Denz., no. 132), and the Council of
Orange against the Semi-Pelagians (Denz., nos. 184, 186, 192, 194).
2. The conclusion
is proved, secondly, from theological argument which is the corollary of
articles 3 and 4 (explained here in the second part of the article):
fallen man cannot, without healing grace, efficaciously love God the
author of nature above all things nor observe all the precepts of the
natural law; therefore neither can he avoid every mortal sin, for they
are committed by transgression of the commandments.
The basis of this
argument lies in the fact that man in the state of mortal sin has his
will turned away from even his natural final end; therefore he is
already inclined toward some mortal sins. In order, then, continually to
avoid all mortal sins and overcome all temptations, he must have his
will directed toward his final end, adhering to God so firmly that he
will not be separated from Him for the sake of anything created; cf. the
end of the body of the article.
In short, an infirm nature cannot efficiently produce an act of healthy
nature. St. Thomas says that this requires healing grace, that is,
habitual grace; for without it man is not firmly established in good
dispositions with regard to his final end.
objections are made to this first conclusion.
objection. Some pagans have
withstood very serious temptations for the sake of virtue.
As we have already said, perhaps they did so from a human motive of
glory or pride, and, in that case, without the special help of God, or
else they did so for love of virtue, in which case it was not without
the special help of God. (See Augustine, Bk. IV against Julian, chap.
objection, which St. Thomas
mentions first as follows: if man in the state of mortal sin cannot
avoid sin, then by sinning he does not sin, for sin is always avoidable.
(ad I ): “Man (in the state of mortal sin) can avoid individual acts of
(mortal) sin, but not all, except by means of grace. Nevertheless man is
not excused, since the fault is his own that he does not prepare himself
to possess grace . . .”; in other words, grace is offered to him and is
not lacking except through his fault. (Cf. above, a. 4 ad 2.)
objection. But then it would
follow that man in the state of mortal sin is bound to repent instantly,
for otherwise he will always be in danger of committing sin again.
He is bound to repent instantly when the danger of sinning is certain
and definite; otherwise there is no grave obligation to repent
conclusion. The just man, by
the ordinary assistance of grace without any special privilege, can
continually avoid all mortal sins, but not however, over a long period
of time, all venial sins, although he can avoid individual venial sins.
The first part of
this conclusion is that the just man can, without very special help,
continually avoid all mortal sins (to avoid them actually and
continually until death, however, requires the gift of final
perseverance, as we shall explain in article 10). In support of this
first part of the conclusion the following scriptural texts are quoted:
“If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him,
and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him” (John 14:23 ). “My
grace is sufficient for thee” (II Cor. 12:9). Also the Council of Trent
(Denz., no. 804): “For God will not forsake those who are once justified
by His grace, unless He is first abandoned by them”; cf. below, q. 112,
argument is the opposite of the reasoning in the preceding conclusion:
since the just man firmly adheres to his final end, therefore he can
avoid all mortal sin; he has even the proximate power to do so; whether
he actually perseveres or not is another matter. Neither does the just
man acfually avoid sins of omission unless he performs a good work, with
the help of actual grace. And that he should actually persevere in the
state of grace until death, is still another question (cf. a. 10, and q.
114, a. 9).
The second part
of this conclusion is as follows: The just man cannot avoid all venial
sins collectively. It is proven from Holy Scripture: “There is no man
who sinneth not” (III Kings 8:46). “There is no just man upon earth,
that doth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclus. 7:21). “In many things we all
offend” (Jas. 3:2). “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8). This second part of
this conclusion is also declared by the Council of Milevum (can. 6 and
7, Denz., nos. 106, 107) and of Trent (Sess. VI, can. 23, Denz., no.
833), where it was stated that it was the special privilege of the
Blessed Virgin Mary that she could avoid all venial sin. Likewise,
against the Beghards and several propositions of Michael Molinos (from
55 to 63, Denz., nos. 471, 1275, 83)
theological argument for this conclusion is proved in the body of the
argument as follows:
sanctifying grace heals a man with respect to his spirit, there still
remains a disorder of the sensitive appetite, so that inordinate
movements often arise.
But allowing that
his reason can repress individual movements (thus they have an element
of involuntary act) yet not all, because while he is endeavoring to
resist one, perhaps another will arise and also because the reason
cannot always be vigilant.
In other words,
the reason itself can be watchful to avoid some inordinate movement, but
not all. But in order that this movement be voluntary it is essential
that the reason have the power and duty of considering this movement in
individual cases. To continue in goodness without venial sin presents
great difficulty the surmounting of which requires a very special grace,
by which the instability of the will is stabilized, infirmity healed,
weariness refreshed, and disgust overcome.
It is a disputed
question in mystical theology whether the soul that arrives at
transforming union can continually avoid all venial sins collectively.
It is admitted that it can avoid all fully deliberate venial sins, but
not all semi-deliberate ones, except while it is under the influence of
the actual grace of union. But this actual union is not absolutely
continuous, saving always the exception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Cf.
St. Theresa, Interior Castle, Seventh Mansion, chap.
The fact remains
that resisting sufficient grace is an evil, and man is sufficient unto
himself to do so; but not resisting grace is a good, which proceeds from
God, the source of every good. 4.)
WHETHER THE JUST MAN CAN PERFORM GOOD WORKS
(AVAILING TO SALVATION) AND AVOID SIN WITHOUT ACTUAL GRACE
The state of
the question appears from the
objections at the beginning of the article. Some hold with Molina
that natural concurrence suffices (cf. Hugon, De gratia, p. 282).
answer is: The just man needs the help of actual grace to act aright
1. This is proved
from authority; Augustine is quoted in the argument Sed contra,
which should be read.
Scripture: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it
abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John
15:4); as the branch cannot bear fruit without a continual infusion from
the vine, neither can the just man without a continual infusion of
Christ. Therefore does He say: “Without Me ye can do nothing,” and “You
must pray always.” (Cf. Council of Orange, can. 10, Denz., no. 183.)
Zozimus (Epist. tractoria, PL, XX, 693, quoted by Denz., nos.
135 ff.) says: “Therefore our aid and our protector should be appealed
to in all acts, causes, thoughts, and movements.” Also Council of Orange
(can. 10 and 25, Denz., nos. 183,200) and Pope Celestine I (Denz., no.
c ) Council of
Trent (Denz., no. 809): “Since indeed this same Christ Jesus, as
head in the members and as the vine in the branches, continually infuses
power into justified souls, which power always precedes, accompanies,
and follows their good works, and without which they cannot be pleasing
to God or meritorious in any way.”
Also Trent, Sess. VI, can. 2.
theological proof is twofold: by title of dependence and by title of
a) The first
proof is general, by title of dependence. St. Thomas states only the
major, but the syllogism is easily completed from what has previously
been said, thus:
No created thing
can proceed to any act except by the power of divine motion (a. I).
But for any
supernatural act in a just soul a proportionate motion is required,
since the order of agents should correspond to the order of ends (as has
been said in a. 6). Therefore the just man requires supernatural, actual
grace for any supernatural act.
A certain law of
metaphysics, namely, the principle of finality, requires that the
introduction of the agent which is to make the transi- tion from potency
to act must be of the same order as the act and the end toward which it
moves. As stated in the reply to the first objection, even in the state
of glory man requires commensurate actual help (cf. ad 2). Hence natural
concurrence does not suflice, as Molina would have it (op. cit.,
p. 36), and as Cardinal Billot sometimes seems to imply (Virt.
infusis, 1905, thes. VII, p. 176). Thus even Pesch declares (De
gratia, no. 109): “Should it be denied that any supernatural help is
required (for any work conducive to salvation), this doctrine is most
generally and deservedly rejected by theologians.” Similarly Mazzella (De
gratia, disp. II, a. 2, prop. 8,) declares: “The opinion maintaining
the necessity of actual grace for individual acts conducive to
salvation, even in a man trained to supernatural habits, seems
altogether to be held more consistently, considering the authority of
Holy Scripture, the constant teaching of the Fathers, and the decrees of
b) The second
proof from theology is somewhat special: “by reason of infirmity”
applies to the condition of human nature, not as fallen, since we are
concerned with a just man, but as not fully regenerated thus:
He who is not
perfectly cured requires external assistance in order to act properly.
that the just man is cured by sanctifying grace, he is still subject to
inordinate concupiscence and the obscurity of ignorance. Therefore, for
this special reason, the just man requires the help of God to direct and
protect him; hence he should say daily: “and lead us not into
corollary. This second
argument should be distinguished but not separated from the first as if
it were interpreted thus: infallibly efficacious concurrence is required
only for difficult acts conducive to salvation, but not for easy ones.
This is false for, according to the first argument, in every state,
general concurrence, at least, is required, but infallibly efficacious
concurrence for any good act proposed here and now.
corollary. In connection with
this article Billuart brings forward a new distinction which may be
admitted but it is not necessary, that is: the just man requires the
general help of God, as author of the supernatural, for any easy
supernatural acts, and this general help, although, in a sense, due to
nature raised to the supernatural, is yet not due to this individual
rather than to another, since free will remains defectible and God is
not always bound to profer a remedy for this defectibility, even for the
just. But the just man requires special help for more difficult acts and
also for constant perseverance.
maintains, several texts of the Fathers are more concurrence is
sufficient in the just man for individual supernatural acts (which are
not difficult), seems to mean, in agreement with Bilhart, general
supernatural concurrence or ordinary actual grace; this is admissible.
But Billot is more probably referring to general supernatural
concurrence with respect to mode, whereas we refer to it with respect to
substance. Cf. above, p. 51, his theory on the supernaturalness of
WHETHER MAN I N THE STATE OF GRACE REQUIRES
THE HELP OF GRACE TO PERSEVERE
State of the
question. We are not
concerned here with perseverance taken as a virtue inclining one to
elicit the intention of persevering lo I the consequent will. And the
antecedent will never produces any good, even the (cf. IIa IIae, q. 137)
nor with the intention of persevering itself, but with the actual
exercise of perseverance in good conducive to salvation until the end of
one’s life. That this is the sense in which it is used is evident from
the body of the article, at the very beginning of which St. Thomas
eliminates the consideration of the acquired virtue of perseverance,
discussed by Aristotle, and of the infused virtue of temperance, annexed
to fortitude, which are infused with sanctifying grace. Here it is
rather a question “of the continuation in good until the end of life.”
perseverance thus defined is capable of a twofold acceptation: 1. the
enduring continuation in grace and good works until death, as attained
to by many predestined adults; and 2. the coincidence of habitual grace
and death, without prolonged continuation, as occurs in children who die
after their baptism
and also in adults who die
shortly after obtaining justification,
for example, the good thief; and thus it becomes the grace of a happy
To the question thus stated, the Church, as we shall presently see,
replies that a special gift of perseverance is required. But in what
does this special gift consist? Is it a habitual gift or an actual
grace? This is the statement of the question which is quite complex. Let
us examine: 1. the errors involved, 2. the teaching of Holy Scripture
and the Church, 3. St. Thomas’ conclusion, and 4. the problems to be
I. ERRORS ON THIS SUBJECT
The Pelagians, at
least in the beginning, attributed perseverance to the powers of nature
alone. The Semi-Pelagians maintained that grace was required for it, but
not a special gift distinct from sanctifying grace, and, according to
them, grace is given to those who possess the beginning of salvation
through their natural effort. Hence the grace of final perseverance is
always given to those who persevere in this natural effort. In
opposition to them, St. Augustine proved that the gift of final
perseverance is a special gift and not subject to merit. Certain
theologians, such as Duval and Vega, hold that a special gift is
required for perseverance which is active and protracted over a long
period of time, but not for a brief perseverance during which no special
II. THE TEACHING
OF SCRIPTURE AND THE CHURCH
In Scripture our
perseverance in good until the end is attributed to God. “I set the Lord
always in my sight: for He is at my right hand, that I be not moved”
(Ps. 15:8). “Perfect Thou my goings in Thy paths: that my footsteps be
not moved” (Ps. 165). “Be Thou my helper, forsake me not; do not Thou
despise me” (Ps. 26:g). Likewise Ps. 37:22. “When my strength shall
fail, do not Thou forsake me” (Ps. 70:g). “And unto old age and gray
hairs: O God, forsake me not” (Ps. 70:18). Christ says to His disciples
in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into
temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak” (Matt.
26:41). “And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and
I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name whom Thou hast given
Me; that they may be one, as We also are” (John 17:11). “He that
thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall” (I Cor.
10:12). “With fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God
who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to His
good will” (Phil. 2:12 f.).
The doctrine of
the Church. It is of faith that final perseverance is something
gratuitous, not due to the powers of nature, and more a gift distinct
from the grace of justification. This was defined against the Pelagians
and Semi-Pelagians whom St. Augustine specifically refuted in his book
on the gift of perseverance.
Cf. Denz., no.
132, the letter of Pope Celestine I: “No one, even among the baptized,
is sufliciently restored by grace to triumph over the wiles of the devil
and overcome the temptations of the flesh unlessby the daily help of God
he receives perseverance in the frequent practice of good.”
Also the Council
of Orange, can. 10 (Denz., no. 183): “The help of God, even for the
redeemed and sanctified, is ever to be implored, that they may come to a
good end or continue in good works.” (Likewise can. 25, Denz., no. 200.)
The Council of
Trent (Sess. VI, can. 16, Denz., no. 826) declares: “If anyone should
say with absolute and infallible certainty that he surely will have the
great gift of perseverance to the end, unless he learns it from special
revelation, let him be anathema.” Likewise (can. 22, Denz., no. 832):
“If anyone should say either that a justified soul can persevere in the
justice it has received without the special help of God, or that with it
it cannot do so, let him be anathema.”
Father Hugon (De
gratia, p. 286) asks whether this canon also includes perseverance
for a short space of time (for instance, between justification shortly
before death and death itself) and passive perseverance (of infants
dying after baptism). The Council does not distinguish; several
authorities consider that a real distinction is not to be excluded from
the sense of the definition. At least, it is of faith that for the
active perseverance of adults over a long period of time a special aid
is required distinct from habitual grace.
Fathers, Augustine in particular is cited (De dono perseverantiae,
chap. 2); he refutes the objections of the Pelagians, to which may be
added those which are presented by St. Thomas at the beginning of the
article, as follows:
in virtue is something less than the virtue of perseverance itself which
can be acquired by repeated acts. 2. Christian perseverance is a certain
moral virtue, annexed to fortitude, and infused at the same time as
grace. 3. Adam in the state of innocence would have been able to
persevere, but those who are justified by Christ are not in a less
perfect state with respect to grace.
difficulties, St. Thomas explains, in the body of the present article,
that the term “perseverance” is used in a threefold sense:
perseverance, described by Aristotle (Ethics, Bk. VII, chap. 7).
This is a moral virtue attached to fortitude which consists in a certain
firmness of the reason and will, so that a man may nqt be dissuaded from
the path of virtue by the onslaught of melancholy. This perseverance
maintains itself against such an onslaught as continence does against
the temptations of the flesh. Cf. IIa IIae, q. 137, a. 2 ad 2.
2. The infused
virtue of perseverance. By this virtue man has the intention of
persevering in good until the end. But many had this intention during
their lives and yet, in fact, did not persevere to the end. This virtue
gives the power of persisting in the first act in spite of the
difficulty which arises from the long duration of the act itself. Cf.
IIa IIae, q. 137, a. 3 and 4.
in the sense of a continuation of a certain good work until the end of
one’s life. For this, the just man requires a special grace, not
habitual but actual, directing and protecting him against the impelling
force of temptation. This follows from the preceding article in which it
was proved that the just man needs the help of actual grace to do good
and avoid evil and therefore, with still greater reason, to do good and
avoid evil until the end of his life. This is the perseverance of which
we are now speaking.
Similarly, in IIa
IIae, q. 137, a. 4, the question, whether perseverance requires the help
of grace, is answered thus: 1. the infused virtue of perseverance
presupposes habitual grace; 2. for the act of perseverance lasting until
death “man requires not only habitual grace, but also the gratuitous
help of God preserving a man in good unti the end of life.” “Since, with
free will, man himself is changeable, and this condition is not altered
by habitual grace in the present life, it is not within the power of
free will, even restored by grace, to remain fixed in the good, although
it is in its power to choose to do so. For the most part, election falls
within our power, but not execution” (ibid.) .
III. ST. THOMAS’ CONCLUSION
The conclusion is
thus proved. The just man requires the help of actual grace to do the
good necessary for salvation and to avoid evil (preceding article).
is the continuation of a certain good work until the end of life.
this perseverance until the end a special actual grace is required,
distinct from habitual grace and even from the preceding actual graces,
such, that is, as precede the moment of death. (Cf. ad 3.)
thus proposed is metaphysical: no one is preserved in good works until
death unless specially preserved by God. Some authors state this
argument in a slightly different way, so that its metaphysical necessity
is less evident. They say that for perseverance until the end there is a
great threefold difficulty for the surmounting of which a special actual
gift is required. Thus they rather proceed inductively.
It is a great
threefold difficulty: 1. to shun evil, 2. to fulfill every commandment
continually and enduringly, and 3. to have death coincide with grace, or
to die at the opportune time. But all these taken together require a
special favor from God, distinct from habitual grace. Since man cannot,
without additional help, overcome temptations and elicit supernatural
acts, for still greater reason does he require aid to practice these
until the end. Moreover, only God, who is master of grace and of death,
can cause grace to coincide with death; in doing so He manifests a
special providence toward the elect. Therefore final perseverance (at
least such as endures for a long time before death) requires a special
favor distinct from habitual grace. This point, at least, in the
question, is of faith and is confirmed by this argument based upon still
higher principles of faith. This argument is good, but is better
formulated by St. Thomas, inasmuch as he shows more clearly why an
utterly special actual gift is required for surmounting this great
difficulty in fact, that is, preservation in good.
Whether a special grace, distinct from ordinary, actual helps, is
required for long-continued, active final perseverance.
theologians generally reply in the affirmative, which is thus proved by
the following arguments. a) From authority, since Christ prayed
especially for the perseverance of His disciples, who were already just:
“Holy Father, keep them” (John 17:11-15). Likewise the Church thus prays
in particular: “Enable us always to obey Thy commandments” (Tuesday
after the Second Sunday of Lent). “Never permit me to be separated from
Thee” (prayer before Communion). The Council of Trent calls the gift of
perseverance, “that great, special gift.” b) From theological argument.
(Cf. ad 3.) Long- continued, active final perseverance, that is, with
our cooperation, demands not only sufficient grace, but efficacious
grace, nay rather the most important of all efficacious graces which
consummates the state of wayfarer and brings about an infallible
coincidence between the state of grace and death. This efficacious grace
confers the final act of the wayfarer connected with the attainment of
the final end and therefore proceeds from a very special infusion by
which God is the mover. And this, too, certainly depends upon the merits
of Christ who merited for us all the graces, both sufficient and
efficacious, which we receive and also all the effects of our
Whether a special gift distinct from the ordinary aids is required for
final perseverance over a short space of time, either in adults or in
infants who die soon after their justification. At present most
theologians generally reply in the affirmative.
a) Since this
seems to be the obvious meaning of the Councils of Orange and Trent (Denz.,
nos. 183, 200, 806, 826, 832, 805 ff.), although this was not expressly
defined. The Council of Orange declared (no. 183). “The help of God is
to be implored even by the redeemed and sanctified, that they may arrive
at a good end or may continue long in good works.” In speaking thus, as
Billuart remarks, the Council distinguishes perseverance taken as a
continuation of good over a long period of time, and for both of these
require a special help which is to be implored even by those who are
living a holy life. Likewise the Council of Trent requires a special
help for perseverance simply and without any limitations.
argument. The very special effect of predestination, which has an
infallible relationship to glory, is a very particular gift. But the
coincidence of grace with death is an effect of this kind, conferred
only on the prefestinate. Therefore it is a very special gift,
surpassing ordinary aids, which are attributed to ordinary providence.
This is confirmed
from the consideration of death. Death may come about, for those who
persevere, in a twofold manner: 1. Beyond the natural course of events,
according to divine decree, the time of death is hastened or delayed;
then it is manifestly a special favor. 2. Or it occurs according to the
natural order, but even then providence had this special gift does not
require internal actual grace but consists in an external grace, that
is, in a special providence by virtue of which the infant dies when in
the state of grace. And this indicates a special care on the part of
providence had disposed natural events from all eternity so that they
would bring about death at an opportune time, when a man is in the state
of grace. And this indicates a special care on the part of providence,
which extends to all things, ordains means to their end, and in
particular to the glory of God and of the elect. Therefore the
coincidence of the state of grace with death is a special favor from
God, who alone can cause these two to coincide, since He is the master
of grace and of death. At least, this disposition of circumstances is in
some respects a special favor; this is admitted by Molina when he
maintains that God foresees through mediate knowledge that, if a certain
person at the moment of death were placed in such and such
circumstances, he would elicit an act of contrition. (Cf. Concordia,
ed. cit., p. 548)
In what does this special gift of final perseverance consist? A
distinction must be made between adults and infants.
a) In baptized
children who die before attaining the use of reason, this special gift
does not require internal actual grace but consists in an external
grace, that is, in a special providence by virture of which the infant
dies when in the state of grace.
b) In adults,
however, the gift of final perseverance does not consist in any one
indivisible thing, but comprises a great many, thus: 1. on the part of
God it is the special providence causing grace to coincide with death;
2. on the part of man it consists in a series of helps by which he is
preserved from temptation, or overcomes temptations, or, if he falls, he
rises again at the opportune time; finally, it includes the last
efficacious grace, connecting the last meritorious act with the end,
which, as it is an efficacious grace, is called by antonomasia “the
great and signal gift of God.”
But whether this
last grace is intrinsically efficacious, as the Thomists hold, or
extrinsic through the prevision of the scientia media, Billuart (diss.
III, a. 10) cites texts from Scripture and from St. Augustine in which
it is attributed to the grace of final perseverance that man does
persevere. “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” (I Cor. 4:7.)
Therefore election “is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,
but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). That is, divine election
does not depend on the will or the effort of man, but on God who shows
mercy. “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to
accomplish” (Phil. 2:13).
references to the subject include the following: They receive “grace
which is not rejected by any hard heart, since it is first granted to
them to have their hardness of heart taken away” (De praedestinatione
sanctorum, chap. 8). “God has the wills of men in His power to a
greater extent than they themselves have” (De correptione et gratia,
chap. 14). “We are speaking of that perseverance which perseveres until
the end; if it is granted, one perseveres until the end; but if one does
not persevere until the end, it is not granted” (De dono
perseverantiae, chap. 6). “Therefore the weakness of the human will
is assisted, so that it may be moved invariably and in- evitably by
divine grace, and hence, although weak, it may not fail nor be overcome
by any adversity” (De correptione et gratia, chap. 12). Cf. R. de
Journel, Enchir. patr., no. 1958; read also the reply to
the third objection of the present article.
The question is
whether this grace is efficacious because God wills it to be so or
because man wills to render it so. In the answer to the third objection
St. Thomas says: “By the grace of Christ many receive the gift of grace
by which they can persevere and also it is further granted to them that
they do persevere.” Hence if, of two equally obdurate sinners, one is
converted rather than the other, this is the effect of a special mercy
toward him, With still greater reason, if anyone perseveres in good
throughout the whole of his life, this is the effect of a special mercy
of God toward him.
Whether perseverance was a very special gift for the angels. The
Jansenists reply negatively, both for angels and for man in the state of
innocence. The answer of St. Thomas and the generality of theologians is
affirmative. Cf. III C. Gentes, chap. 155, and IIa IIae,
q. 137, a. 4.
a) The foregoing
arguments are also valid for the angels and for man in the state of
innocence, in whom free will was capable of defection.
b) Moreover, for
the angels, final perseverance is the proper effect of predestination,
and not all the angels were predestined. Further, this is implied by the
Council of Orange (Denz., no. 192) when it declares: “Human nature, even
had it remained in that state of integrity
in which it was created, would by no
means have preserved itself without the aid of its Creator.” And St.
Augustine, in The City of God (Bk. XIII, chap. 9 ) maintains: “If in
both cases (the angels) were created equally good, some fell through bad
will, while others, receiving more help, attained that fullness of
beatitude, whence they were made absolutely certain that they will never
Fifth doubt. Whether the gift of final
perseverance is identical with the gift of confirmation in grace. Cf.
Salmanticenses, De gratia, q. 110, disp. III, dub. XI, no. 259.
The answer is in the negative, since the gift of final perseverance is
common to all the predestinate, but not the gift of confirmation in
grace, which was conferred upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost and
upon souls that arrived at the intimate union with God which is called
the transforming union. In what respects do they differ? In this: the
gift of confirmation in grace preserves one from mortal sin and also
generally from deliberate venial sin, according to the mode in which it
is given, that is, by a certain participation in the impeccability of
the blessed, and the intrinsic gift requires to be completed by the
extrinsic protection of God. Hence this gift of confirmation in grace
adds something over and above the gift of persererance, namely,
something intrinsic and habitual which prevents sin, almost binding the
power to preserve it from sin, on the other hand, the gift of final
perseverance does not necessarily demand anything more than the
conjunction of the state of grace with death.
REFUTATIONS OF OBJECTIONS
First objection. Final perseverance is the
coincidence of grace with death. But shortly before death, the justified
man with the ordinary helps can persever for a considerable time in
goodness until his death. Therefore final perseverance is not a special
Reply. I distinguish the major: final
perseverance is the coincidence of grace with death, willed in virture
of itself by God for the efficacious purpose of glory: granted; a
fortuitous and accidental coincidence: denied. I likewise distinguish
the minor: for a moderately long time until the accidental conjunction
of grace and death: granted; for a definite interval of time until the
conjunction of habitual grace with death willed in virtue of itself by
Second objection. To those who possess
grace, glory is due. Therefore with still greater reason is the help due
to them for the continuation of grace with glory.
Reply. I deny the conclusion, for, although
glory is due to a man who possess grace, as long as he remains in grace,
it is not however due to him that he be invariably preserved in grace
until death, since he is of an erratic, defectible nature.
Third objection. According to the Council of
Trent, “God does not abandon a soul that is once justified unless He is
first abandoned by it” (Denz., no. 804). But if, in order to persevere,
the just man requires special help, which God denies to many of the
just, He would desert him before being deserted by him. Therefore.
Reply. The sense of the major is: God does
not abandon by with dreawing the efficacious actual grace, unless man
first resists sufficient grace. But to ask why God does not give to all
the just efficacious grace, by means of which they many not neglect
sufficient grace. But to aks why God does not give to all the just
efficacious grace, by means of which they may not neglect sufficient
grace. But to ask why God does not give to all the just efficacious
grace, by means of which they may not neglect sufficient grace, by means
of which they may not neglect sufficient grace, is equivalent to asking
why he permits sin in one defectible soul rather than in another,
whereupon the answer, in the words of St. Augustine (de dono
perseverantiae, chap. 9), is that “in this respect the judgment of
God is inscrutable”; and further, in his commentary on St. John 6:44,
“No man can come to Me, except the Father, who sent Me, draw him,” he
adds: “Why does He draw one and not another? Do not judge if you do not
wish to err; but accept and understand: if you are not yet drawn, pray
that you may be drawn.” Cf. St. Thomas on John 6:44. Hence we should
pray in the words of the Mass, before the Communion: “Grant me ever to
adhere to Thy commandments and never permit me to be separated from
Further, according to the Council of Trent (Denz.,
no. 806): “The gift of perseverance . . . can be possessed only by the
one who is able to make him who stands, stand (Rom. 14:4), that he may
persevere standing, and to raise up him who falls.” Cf. below (q.114, a.
9 ) on the gift of perseverance which cannot be the object of merit, but
which can be obtained by virtue of humble, persevering, impetratory
prayer in union with the prayer of Christ, the High Priest of the
Sacrifice of the Mass. How advantageous it is, then, to celebrate or
hear Mass in order to obtain the grace of a happy death, as Benedict XV
This terminates the question of the necessity of
grace for knowing natural and supernatural truth, for doing natural and
supernatural good, for avoiding evil, and for persevering unto the end.
Thus the Council
of Orange (can. 22, Denz., no. 195): “No one has anything of his
own but lying and sin. But if man has something of truth and
justice, it comes from that source after which we should thirst
in this desert land.” At least natural concurrence is
concurrence, admitted by Molina, God and the secondary cause I
are like two men rowing a
boat, that is, like two coordinated causes. On the contrary, for
St. Thomas, God’s premotion and the secondary cause thus moved
are two causes of which the second is subordinated to the
supreme first cause, with reference both to causality and to
The excess of
Jansenism is found to a certain extent in the argument proposed
by Pascal as “the wager,” in which he says: a choice must be
made between the Christian life which is set before us as the
way to heaven, and the life of the libertine which is said to be
the way of damnation. Some might add a third alternative:
natural virtue. But in practice, the argument proposed by Pascal
holds good, since the fullness of natural virtue is not present
in fallen nature without grace.
It is a question
of the consequent power. Cf. Salmanticenses, De gratia,
disp. II, dub. IV, no. 135, where other important Thomists are
quoted; cf. also John of St. Thomas, Gonet, Billuart.
Concordia, Paris ed., 1876, pp. 31, 34, 68 A,, 73, 255.
first conclusion on the necessity of grace to fulfill
substantially all the precepts of the natural law is commonly
accepted by theologians, although it was formerly denied by
Scotus (II, d.28, .1), Gabriele, and Durandus; to deny it would
be rash or erroneous and savors of Pelagianism. Cf. Hugon, De
gratia, p. 259.
in his fifth homily on the Epistle to the Romans, declares: “The
Apostle refers not to the idolatrous Greeks but to those who by
worshiping God and obeying the natural law, practiced all those
things that pertain to piety, even prior to the Jewish
observances; such were those who lived with Melchisedech, such
was Job, such were the Ninivites, such finally was Cornelius.”
St. Chrysostom, in his thirteenth homily on the same Epistle,
commenting on the words “miserable man that I am,” teaches that
the law without grace does not suffice. Thirteenth homily on the
same Epistle, commenting on the words “miserable man that I am,”
teaches that the law without grace does not suffice.
This cannot all
be regarded as applying to habitual grace, which is not a
subsequent but a permanent aid; hence it must refer to actual
It is obvious
that the divine withdrawal of efficacious grace is a punishment,
and as a punishment it presupposes at least an initial fault or
resistance to sufficient grace. And on the other hand, even an
initial fault presupposes the divine permission of it. To
confuse this divine permission with a divine refusal or with the
withdrawal of efficacious grace is to set the punishment before
the fault, and this is the cruelty which is found in Calvinism,
condemned at the Council of Trent.