THE GRACE OF GOD WITH RESPECT TO ITS
After considering the necessity of grace
for our final end, St. A Thomas passes to the treatment of its essence.
This question is particularly concerned with habitual or sanctifying
grace which, by antonomasia, is called “grace,” whereby man is made
pleasing to God, His child and heir. Actual grace is reducible to this
habitual grace in a certain sense, as a disposition to a form or a
proportionate movement within the same order and species. This actual
grace is considered by itself in question III on the divisions of
question (110) is divided into four articles which are arranged
progressively, proceeding from the general to the particular, from the
genus to the specific differences, as follows:
grace posits something in the soul, or whether it is something existing
in God outside of us.
2. Whether grace
is a quality.
3. Whether grace differs from infused virtue,
especially from charity.
it resides in the essence of the soul as in a subject; this question
presupposes the solution of article three.
therefore dealing both with the formal cause and with the quasi-material
cause or subject in which grace is received.
WHETHER GRACE POSITS ANYTHING IN THE SOUL
State of the question. In the first objections, St. Thomas
already set forth the arguments which were later proposed by the
Lutherans and Calvinists, who hold that sanctifying grace is not a gift
intrinsic to the soul, but an extrinsic designation, thanks to the
imputation of the justice of Christ, out of regard for whom God loves
the sinner and dissimulates his sin, as long as the sinner, with
trusting faith, firmly believes and hopes that God will condone his sins
to the end of his life for the sake of the merits of Christ. Hence the
words of Luther: “Sin strongly, but believe still more strongly.” These
words are not a direct exhortation to sin, but an indirect one.
anticipated this pernicious doctrine to a certain extent by proposing
three objections at the beginning of the article: 1) By the mere fact
that a man is said to have the grace of the king, nothing is posited in
him; it is only in the king that there resides an attitude of
benevolence toward this man. 2) God vivifies the soul as the soul
vivifies the body; but the soul vivifies the body immediately; therefore
there is no medium between God who vivifies and the soul that is
vivified. 3) Grace is the remission of sins; but this remission is
effected according as God does not impute sin to us. Therefore grace
does not posit anything in the soul. It is remarkable that the future
doctrine of Protestants on grace should have been so explicitly
formulated as early as the thirteenth century in such wise as to solve
In the same way,
St. Thomas, treating of the Sacrifice of the Mass (IIIa, q. 83, a. I)
under the title, “Whether in the celebration of this mystery Christ is
immolated,” stated an objection (as did St. Albert also in his
Sentences) in terms almost word for word as the Protestants would later
express it: “The immolation of Christ was made on the cross. But in the
celebration of the Mass, Christ is not crucified; therefore neither is
He immolated”; consequently the Mass is not a true sacrifice, but only a
memorial of the past sacrifice.
examples it should be evident how excellent is this method of proposing
difficulties at the beginning of any particularly fundamental question,
difficulties opposed to the solution which one accepts or which, at
least, seems to be proved the best. By this means, theology can more
easily foresee errors and avoid them. For if the question is correctly
stated, there cannot be many possible answers, but there are generally
two opposite ones, affirmative and negative. And before proving the
affirmative, it is profitable to examine the arguments which can be
adduced in support of the negative. Thus the crux of the problem to be
solved will be brought to light.
Habitual grace is a supernatural gift of God inhering in the soul.
1. Proof from
Scripture. “I will pour upon you clean water” (Ezech. 36:25). (Grace
is thus referred to metaphorically, in the New Testament as well: cf.
John 4:13.) The following verse continues: “And I
will give you a new heart, and put a new
spirit within you” (Ezech. 36:26). “He hath given us most great and
precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine
nature” (II Pet. 1:4). “The charity of God is poured forth in our
hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. 5:3). “Neglect not
the grace that is in thee” (I Tim. 4:14). “I admonish thee, that thou
stir up the grace of God which is in thee” (II Tim. 1:6). “Whosoever is
born of God, committeth not sin: for His seed abideth in him” (I John
3:9). “Who also hath sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in
our hearts” (II Cor. 1:22). “Whosoever drinketh of this water, . . . the
water . . . shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into
life everlasting” (John 4:13 f.).
As for the
teaching of the Fathers, Rouet de Journel (Enchiridion patristicurn,
theological index, nos. 354-65) sums up their testimony according to the
writings of each of them: the abiding, supernatural gift of habitual
grace is infused in justification; sins are really removed; man is
interiorly renewed; the Holy Ghost dwells in him; he is made a partaker
of the divine nature, an adopted son of God, an heir to the kingdom of
heaven, a friend of God; habitual grace ejects mortal sin. Man can never
be certain of being just or in the state of grace. The just can merit
Hence the Council
of Trent declares (Sess. VI, can. 11, Denz., no. 821): “If anyone
should say that men are justified either by the imputation of Christ’s
justice alone or by the remission of sins alone, exclusive of grace and
charity, which are diffused in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and that
it inheres in them, or even that grace, by which we are justified, is
only a favor from God: let him be anathema.” Cf. also Council of Trent
(Denz., nos. 799 ff ., 809).
theological proof is presented by St. Thomas in the article, which
should be read attentively; in it he begins with the definition of the
word “grace” which, by analogy, has several meanings, even in its merely
human signification. 1. Thus it means that by which someone is pleasing
or gratifying to others; and in this sense it may be the beauty of the
person, which is called grace of the countenance; or someone is said to
be pleasing, for instance, to the king because of the king’s benevolence
toward him; thus it is said that a man is in the king’s grace. 2. Grace
means a gift gratuitously given to someone; for example: I grant you
this grace. 3. It also signifies gratitude or the rendering of thanks.
In these human
connotations the word “grace” is already applied analogically. With
still greater reason is it used in an analogical sense of divine things,
yet not metaphorically, but properly, as will presently appear. 1. It is
applied to the love of God toward those who are pleasing to Him; 2. to
the gift gratuitously bestowed upon the just; 3. to the thanksgiving for
a benefit received. From God’s benevolent love proceeds the gratuitous
gift, and thereupon, gratitude.
On this basis St.
Thomas establishes the most sublime theological argument, connecting the
treatise on created grace with that on uncreated grace, or the uncreated
love of God “which infuses and creates goodness in things,” as explained
in Ia, q. 20, a. 2. This line of reasoning
can be reduced to the following.
What makes us
pleasing to God is that which is really produced in us by the uncreated
love of God for us. But grace is what makes us pleasing to God as
children and heirs. Therefore grace is that which is really produced in
us by the uncreated love of God for us.
The major is
proved in Ia, q. 20, a. 2, according as the uncreated love of God for us
does not presuppose any lovableness in us, but bestows it upon us. In
this respect it differs from created benevolence. For it is briefly
stated in this question of the First Part that, whereas our love is not
the cause of the goodness of things, but rather presupposes it, the love
of God is the cause of the goodness of things. And in the present
article St. Thomas adds: “Hence it is clear that any degree whatever of
God’s love is followed by some good caused in the creature. But God’s
common love is commensurate with what is bestowed on all created things
in the natural order; the other is a special love by which He draws the
rational creature up above the condition of nature to a participation in
the divine goodness.”
The minor is the
nominal definition of the word “grace” with respect to us. Thus in Holy
Scripture grace is said to be that by which we are pleasing to God,
“graced” (Ephes. 1:6), “justified freely by His grace” (Rom. 3:24), His
“beloved” (Ps. 107:7), not merely with a natural love from which proceed
natural benefits, such as being, life, but with a supernatural love
whereby we are called children of God, “born … of God” (John 1:13),
“partakers of the divine nature” according to the expression of St.
Peter: “He hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these
you may be made partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4). These
texts are accepted by Protestants with respect to God’s uncreated love
accordance with the aforesaid major, it follows that grace is in us a
supernatural gift of God inhering in the soul, by which we are truly
children of God, born of God, and participators in the divine nature.
Thus the love of God is effective in the supernatural as it is in the
natural order. And grace generally signifies this gift habitually
abiding in the soul, as often referred to by St. Paul.
St. Thomas observes in concluding the body of the article, grace
sometimes denotes that very eternal, uncreated love of God, so that
accordingly even predestination is called grace, “in that God
predestined or elected some gratuitously and not because of merit, for
it is said to the Ephesians (1:5): [He] ‘hath predestinated us unto the
adoption of children . . . unto the praise of the glory of His grace, in
which He hath graced us in His beloved Son’”; that is, unto the
manifestation of the diffusion and splendor of His uncreated grace, by
which we are made pleasing to God in His Son.
Thus “grace” is
applied analogically both in the natural and in the supernatural orders,
but analogically, in the strict sense, and not merely metaphorically.
In the first
place, with respect to us, according to the application of the word,
“grace” means that which is pleasing to others, for example, beauty of
countenance or mental qualities; and to this grace, by which someone is
pleasing to others, corresponds benevolence in others, which is present
in a different mode in God and in men. Thereafter, from benevolence
there arises some benefit and, thence, gratitude for the benefit
But in itself,
grace means in the first place that uncreated grace from which all
benefits proceed. Hence St. Thomas likewise declares (Ia, q. 13, a. 6):
Paternity, from our standpoint, denotes primarily an earthly father; but
in itself, it applies primarily to the heavenly Father, according to
Ephes. 3:14f.: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”
In all these
acceptations, “grace” is applied not metaphorically (as when God is said
to be angry) but properly. However, this proper meaning remains
analogical; the analogous significations are such as bear a common name,
and the meaning signified by the name is absolutely diverse, but under a
particular aspect it is the same (under the analogy of proportionality,
it is proportionately the same). Thus the notion of grace is
proportionately realized in both its human and its divine applications.
CONFIRMATION FROM THE REFUTATION OF
Reply to first
objection. That which in us
is pleasing to our friends is presupposed by their love, and is not in
us as received from them, whereas that which in us is pleasing to God is
caused by the divine love.
second objection. God does
not vivify the soul as the soul does the body; for the soul is the form
of the body and hence vivifies it immediately; on the contrary, God is
not the form of the soul, but a separate agent; hence He vivifies the
soul not immediately but by a form produced in the soul, that is, by
grace, which is life in first act, while the vital operations are life
in second act.
Reply to third
objection. As St. Augustine
says (I Retract., chap. 23), to grace pertains not only the
remission of sins, but also reconciliation and peace; moreover, the very
remission of sins is itself accomplished by sanctifying grace received
into the soul, as will be clear from what follows below (q.113, a. 2).
objections. According to Isa.
43:4, God proclaims: “Since thou becomest honorable in My eyes, thou art
glorious: I have loved thee.”
The word “since” does not here signify cause, but concomitance, for
“what hast thou that thou hast not received?” Moreover, one person may
be more pleasing to God inasmuch as, receiving grace with more fidelity,
he performs greater works.
God loves the predestinate. But this love does not posit anything
supernatural in them when they are in sin. Therefore not all the love of
God posits something in the person loved.
God does not love the predestinate with a terminative efficacious love
while he is in sin, but He decreed from all eternity to grant him
efficacious graces at such and such a time toward his salvation.
Even if the love of God is eacacious, it suffices that it cause in man
This is true of the imperfect love whereby God disposes the sinner for
justification, not of the perfect love whereby God loves man as a son
and heir; hence man ought to participate in the divine nature, “made
partaker of the divine nature.”
corollary. A threefold love
of God toward us wayfarers can be distinguished and designated by the
effects of each.
natural love, which causes natural goods such as being, life,
Supernatural but imperfect love, which causes in the sinner supernatural
faith, hope, and practical helps.
Supernatural and perfect love, which communicates habitual grace by
which man is made absolutely pleasing to God, His friend, a partaker of
the divine nature, and an heir to the kingdom of heaven. (Cf. below,
what is said of justification in opposition to Protestantism.)
Second corollary. It is already vaguely apparent from the major
premise (the love of God infuses and creates goodness in things), that
grace is intrinsically efficacious, that is, because God wills, and not
because man wills, to render it efficacious. “It is God who worketh in
you both to will and to accomplish, according to His good will.” “What
hast thou that thou hast not received?” (Cf. below, on efficacious
grace.) From the foregoing it is evident that he who actually fulfills
the commands of God is better than he who can fulfill them and, in fact,
does not do so.
But no one would be in any respect better were he not more loved and
assisted by God (Ia, q. 20, a. 3 f.). “What hast thou that thou hast not
Therefore the grace whereby we actually fulfill the precepts of God
contains more in itself than the sufficient grace whereby we can fulfill
it, without however doing so in fact.
WHETHER GRACE IS A QUALITY OF THE SOUL
of the question. Having established that habitual grace is something
created inhering in the soul, we must discover to what category of
created being it can be reduced, whether to the category of a quality
rather than to a substance, a quantity, a relation, an action, or a
passion. It seems that it is not a quality, for the following rea-sons.
acts in the soul, justifying it; but a quality does not act upon its
2. Grace is
nobler than the soul, therefore it should not be an accident or quality,
but a substance.
grace were an accident or quality, it would be corrupted upon the
entrance of mortal sin; this is unbecoming, since grace is the beginning
of eternal life.
Note. The Nominalists, before Luther, declared that habitual grace is
something ontologically natural, but something which bestows a moral
right to eternal life, just as a bank note is physically, ontologically
only a slip of paper, although its possession gives one a moral right to
the equivalent gold.
On the contrary, certain Cartesian and Ontologist theologians said that
grace and charity are the Holy Ghost Himself dwelling in the soul, as
the Master of the Sentences might say. The Cartesians in
particular maintained this, for they did not admit of a real distinction
between substance and accident; hence grace could not be a real,
supernatural accident distinct from the soul, but must be a substance,
that is, God inhabiting it and impelling it to meritorious works
availing to salvation.
Reply. St. Thomas replies to the question with a twofold
conclusion regarding 1. actual grace and 2. habitual grace.
First conclusion. Actual grace is not a quality but a certain
motion of the soul.
Proof. Actual grace is a gratuitous effect of God by which the
soul of man is impelled by God toward something which ought to be known
or willed or done. But that by which the soul is thus moved is not a
permanent quality, but something transient, that is, a certain motion of
the soul quite distinct both from the uncreated action of God whence it
proceeds and from our action thus produced.
It should be noted that certain Molinists, misinterpreting St. Thomas,
understand him thus: actual grace is a certain motion of the soul, that
is, an indeliberate operation on our part which inclines toward a
deliberate act, determinable by man alone. On the contrary, when St.
Thomas says that actual grace is a certain motion of the soul, he does
not say it is an operation of the soul, but, as he himself wrote, it is
a motion whereby “the soul is moved by God toward something which is to
be known or willed or done.” In other words, it is the application of
the faculties that they may pass from potency to act and may elicit
their operation; for an operation, immediately by God alone; but under
the infusion of actual grace, the soul elicits vitally even indeliberate
operations. On the other hand, actual grace is not elicited by us.
Hence St. Thomas says: “The act of a mover in the moved is a motion”
according to Aristotle (III Physics). For, as Aristotle declares,
motion, inasmuch as it is produced by an agent, is called action or
motion, and motion, as it is in the one moved, is “passion.” But the
action of a bodily agent is formally transitive and terminates in the
“patient,” whereas the uncreated external action of God is formally
immanent and only virtually transitive. Therefore actual grace is
something created, as an effect of God, according to St. Thomas (he does
not say that actual grace is our action, our vital operation), and it is
in us as a motion-passion received in the will, by which the will is
moved to elicit its operation.
Zigliara explains this well (Theol. nat., Bk. III, art. 4,
& 5, p. 498) by the example of heat.
1. Heat is an action in the fire, or by the fire (formally transitive
2. Heat is a passion in the wood, in that the wood is heated;
3. Heat is an operation, since the wood, once heated, gives heat.
Likewise, with respect to divine motion.
1. Motion is an action in God, uncreated, formally immanent and
virtually transient action.
2. Motion-passion by which the will is moved, or is made to pass from
the potency of willing into the act of willing, is the completion of
causality, referred to by St. Thomas (Contra Gentes, Bk. III,
3. The operation elicited by the will, even if indeliberately, is yet
St. Thomas says (Contra Gentes, Bk. III, chap. 66): “For the
completion of the power of the secondary agent comes from the first
agent.” And again (De potentia, q. 3, a. 7 ad 7): “That which is
made by God in the natural order, by which He may actually operate, is,
as a mere intention He has, in a certain sense incomplete, in the way
that colors exist in the air or the power of an art in the artist’s
instrument”; hence the power of an art is distinguished from the action
which proceeds from this power. (Cf. our Dieu, 8th
ed., p. 480, and the Salmanticenses, De gratia, disp. 5, dub.
1-6, on actual grace as distinct from the uncreated action of God and
from our indeliberate operation.)
Objection. An immanent action elicited by us is reduced, as
immanent, to the category of quality,
and consequently actual grace ordained toward this action may be reduced
to a quality.
Reply. Certainly thus actual grace reductively belongs to the
category of quality, but not as something habitual and permanent. What
St. Thomas is particularly insistent upon is that actual grace is not
something habitual and abiding, as a quality properly so called, but
something passing in a transitory manner.
Second conclusion. Sanctifying grace is a certain supernatural
quality abiding in the soul.
1. Scriptural proof. Proof from the passages of Sacred Scripture
quoted in the explanation of the preceding article wherein grace is
referred to as the seed of glory, a pledge, a seal, a fountain; likewise
from St. Augustine, here quoted in the argument Sed contra, who
calls it the luster of the soul. But all these expressions signify
something permanent in the soul, by reason of which God abides in the
soul, according to the words of John 14:23: “We will come to him, and
will make Our abode with him.”
Similarly the Council of Trent (Denz., no. 821) speaks of grace as
diffused and inhering in the soul; again (Denz., no. 809): “It is called
our justice because by its inherence in us we are justified.” As Gonet
observes in his commentary on this article (p. 87), the Council of Trent
proscribes the error of the Master of the Sentences according to whom
charity is the Holy Ghost Himself dwelling in us and moving us to the
act of charity.
2. Theological proof. God does not provide less amply for our
souls with respect to supernatural good than with respect to natural
But with respect to natural good He not only moves us actually, but
gives us qualities or faculties, namely, principles, eliciting
operations, so that these may be vital and connatural to us.
Therefore it is fitting that God should likewise not only move us to
act, but should also give us a habitual principle of supernatural
operation, that is, a certain quality, namely, grace itself.
Thus has He disposed all things sweetly. St. Thomas here differentiates
between habitual and actual grace more decidedly than does St.
Augustine, since he considers the matter more deeply from the
ontological aspect, and not merely from the psychological and moral
point of view.
Again in IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 2, he makes it clear that charity is
something created in the soul and not, as the Master of the Sentences
would have it, the Spirit Himself moving us to an act of charity. In the
latter case, the soul would not produce the act of charity connaturally
or meritoriously; to do so requires an infused habit elevating the will.
Otherwise the supernatural order would be less perfect than the natural
order. At the same time, an infused habit is, as it were, a second
nature in us, so that our supernatural acts are also connatural.
Confirmation from the reply to the objections.
1. Grace, as a quality, acts in the soul not effectively but formally,
justifying it or making it just, as whiteness makes a thing white and
justice renders one just.
2. Grace cannot be the substance of God since it is the effect of the
uncreated love of God (according to Article I); nor can it be the
substance of the soul, since it would then be something natural, would
be identified with nature, from which it is to be distinguished,
according to revelation.
Therefore it can only be an accident and is thus inferior to the soul
with respect to the mode of its being, that is, being in something else;
but it is nobler than the soul according as it is a certain supernatural
participation in the divine nature as it is divine, that is, in the
intimate life of God. Deity is in a certain sense above being, above
unity, above life, and above knowledge, for these are contained within
it formally and eminently.
Corollary. The essentially supernatural cannot be in us or in the
angels otherwise than as an accident; in God alone is it substance.
Reply to third objection. Since grace is an accident, it is not
that which is made or corrupted, but that by which someone is made
pleasing, who may subsequently become unpleasing; in other words, grace
is drawn forth from the obediential power of the soul, and after its
loss nothing but the obediential power remains, that is, no repug-nance
to receiving a return of grace.
The present conclusion may be confirmed by showing that sanctifying
grace cannot be classified under any other category of created being. 1.
Not under quantity, for quantity results from the composite nature of
matter. 2. It is not a relation, since relation demands a foundation,
and sanctifying grace is itself the foundation of the relationship by
which we are called children of God and it ordains us to glory, inasmuch
as it is the seed of glory. It is likewise the foundation or root of the
infused virtues, wherein there is a transcendental relationship to our
supernatural object. 3. It cannot be an action, not even an immanent
action, but is the radical principle of immanent actions, such as acts
of charity, faith, hope. 4. It is not a passion; in this it differs from
actual grace, which is in us a motion of the soul, or a motion-passion.
Finally, it is evident that habitual grace does not belong to any other
categories which are found only in bodies, for instance, location,
position, time, habit or adornment, although metaphorically it is called
the adornment of the soul.
It should be remarked that theologians generally maintain, in opposition
to Ripalda and, in a certain measure, to Scotus, not only that grace is
not a substance but that God, even by His absolute power, cannot produce
a created, supernatural substance to which the vision of the divine
essence would be natural. (Cf. De revelatione, I, 364, and
Billuart, De Deo, diss. 4, a. 54; Gonet, De gratia, disp.
11, a. 3.)
This would be incompatible from the standpoint of the object, since such
a substance would have an intellect of the same nature as the divine
intellect, for it would be specified by the same formal object; hence it
would be a created divine nature, which is repugnant by its terms as is
It would also be inconsistent on the part of the subject, for something
created cannot be essentially supernatural without being essentially
related to the Deity as such and specified by it, since only the essence
of God is above all created nature. But no created substance can be
essentially related to the Deity and specified by it, because substance
is being in itself and for itself (in se et ad se), that is, it
has within itself its own specification and cannot be defined with
reference to anything else.
On the contrary, any accident, such as a power or habit, can be
essentially related to something else; thus grace, which is the seed of
glory, is specified by the essence of God, of which it is a
participation and toward the vision of which it ordains us. But Scotus
did not understand this well, for he held that grace and the light of
glory are supernatural only in fact, because God so willed it, but that
He could have willed them to be natural, so that there could be a
creature to whom the beatific vision would be natural.
There are several problems to be examined in connection with this
article on account of the errors of the Nominalists who came after St.
Thomas and prepared the way for Lutheranism.
First doubt. Is it of faith that sanctifying grace is a quality
and a habit?
Reply. It is not a defined article of faith, for the Council of
Trent as well as the Council of Vienne, refrained from using the words
“quality” and “habit” so as not to define a question disputed among
theologians. Hence it seems that the demands of faith would be satisfied
by holding that sanctifying grace is a habitual gift, permanently
inhering in the soul.
Second doubt. Is it, nevertheless, a certain theological
conclusion that sanctifying grace is a quality and a habit, entitatively?
Reply. Assuredly, on account of the argument given by St. Thomas
and commonly accepted at present. For habitual grace cannot be conceived
as belonging to any other category than that of a quality, as we have
said; and within this category it is reducible to a habit. For a habit
is a permanent quality, difficult to dislodge (at least by any internal
cause), disposing the subject to a certain state, whether for good or
evil, in regard to its being (an entitative habit, such as beauty,
health) or in regard to its operation (an operative habit).
But sanctifying grace is a permanent quality, as has been shown;
moreover it is difficult to dislodge, as far as itself and its
principles are concerned, supported as it is by the divine infusion, and
indeed being in the spiritual soul the very seed of glory, or life
eternal already begun; it is therefore difficult to dislodge, although
accidentally, by reason of the subject and of the aberrations and
caprices of its free will, it can be lost. “For we carry this treasure
in fragile vessels.” (Cf. De veritate, q. 27, a. 1-9.)
Finally it disposes the subject in a good, or favorable, state toward
God and for avoidance of sin. But in the following article, where
habitual grace is distinguished from charity, we shall see that the
former is an entitative and not an operative habit, except radically.
Third doubt. Is habitual grace a habit univocally or only by
ananlogy, properly speaking?
Reply. It is called a habit not only metaphorically, but
properly. However, in agreememt with several Thomists (Gardeil, Billot,
De virt. Inf., pp. 30, 33) it seems to us that it does not
correspond univocally with habits of the natural order, by the very fact
that it belongs to a higher order which surpasses all nature, created or
capable of creation. Hence St. Thomas often speaks of it as a certain
quality or as reducible to the genus: quality (cf. Ia IIae, q. 63, last
That this solution is indeed St. Thomas’ teaching can be proved from
1. He observes (Ia IIae, q. 61, a. I ad I) that “virtue” is applied
analogically even to the moral and intellectual virtues; hence, with
still greater reason, to the supernatural virtues, the notion of virtue
belongs casually by priority to prudence as directing, rather than to
the other moral virtues.
2. St. Thomas declares (De veritate, q. 14, a.9, 2) that “belief,
as it exists in the demons, is not conformable to infused faith, except
equivocally”; the demons believe by acquired faith based on the evidence
of miracles, forced, as it were, to accept this evidence.
3. St. Thomas maintains in several places that the infused virtues
differ from the acquired inasmuch as they not only bestow the power to
act rightly, but bestow it absolutely, according as they give the first
upward impetus to a higher order; therefore they partake in a certain
sense of the nature of a power and in a certain sense of that of a
4. St. Thomas states in various articles that “grace is reducible to
the primary species of a quality” (habit); cf. Ia IIae, q. 110, a. 3 ad
3; De veritate, q. 27, a. 2 ad 7; 11, d. 26, q. I, a. 4 ad I.
However, John of St. Thomas, commenting on De virtutibus, Ia IIae,
disp. 16, a. 6, fol. 152, seems to hold that grace and the infused
virtues are in accord univocally with the acquired virtues as classified
by predicates and analogically as classified by their causative motive
or regulative force.
But John of St. Thomas states in his Cursus Phil., dealing with
the four causes, that they conform univocally in the general notion of
cause, which seems to be false.
The argument which impels John of St. Thomas is that acquired virtue is
logically univocal in kind, that is, in the order of logic; yet,
causally, virtue is predicated of prudence in a prior sense to that of
the virtues which are directed by it.
Fourth doubt. Whether habitual grace is a gift entitatively (that
is, intrinsically, essentially) and supernaturally.
This is denied by Scotus (q. I of the introduction and 4, dist. 10, q.
8), where he says that if God so willed, He could give us grace and the
light of glory as natural properties; and he maintains that the
supernatural differs from the natural only on the part of the efficient
cause, as sight supernaturally given to a man born blind differs from
natural sight. Hence grace would not be something intrinsically and
essentially supernatural; it would not be supernatural substantially or
essentially, but only with respect to the mode of its production under
present circumstances. Thus the distinction between the order of grace
and the order of nature would not be necessary, in other words, not
based upon its divine nature according to which it exceeds all nature,
created or capable of creation, but would be a contingent distinction,
founded upon the free will of God. This is “contingentism” and “libertism.”
The Nominalists, such as Ockham, followed, maintaining that grace should
be looked upon as a bank note (cf. Salmanticenses, dub. II, 3, no. 34).
For as this note, of its nature, before being issued by the government,
has no monetary value, but subsequently is equal to gold; so sanctifying
grace intrinsically is a certain entity, lacking sufficient value to
render man acceptable to God, but by the accession of an extrinsic
disposition of God, or by the favor of God, without any intrinsic
transformation, this entity receives a moral value, comparable to that
of the bank note. Such, according to the Salmanticenses, was the
teaching of Ockham, Gabriel, and a disciple of Ailly (probably Gerson),
Durandus (I, d. 17, q. I, nos. 7 and 8) and Scotus (ibid., q. 2)
seem to agree with them. To the same effect, Ockham declared that man
can merit eternal life by a natural act, if this act is accepted by God.
This is absolute contingentism. Molina retains something of this
Nominalism when he says that the theological virtues are supernatural
modally, but not by virtue of their formal object.
Thus the Nominalists denied the principles of traditional theology and
prepared the way for Lutheranism, which holds that grace is only an
extrinsic denomination; in other words, corruption remains in man, but
sin is no longer imputed to him, as long as a man believes himself to be
predestined. Therefore, “sin strongly, and believe even more strongly.”
This is the Nominalist tendency. On the contrary, immoderate realism
would tend to identify being in general with the divine being, and to
identify grace with God dwelling in us, as the Master of the Sentences
maintained. Toward this latter error the Cartesian and ontologistic
theologians inclined, refusing to admit that habitual grace is an
accident, since they denied any real distinction between substance and
Against Scotus and the Nominalists what is to be said? Gonet (a. 3)
states that this opinion is commonly rejected because it does not
distinguish between what is intrinsically or substantially supernatural,
and what is extrinsically or modally supernatural. However, this
distinction is generally accepted by theologians, especially since the
Council of Trent’s condemnation of Protestantism, as Lichetto himself
acknowledges, referring to Scotus. (Cf. Scotus, Opera, ed. Vives,
XV, 200; and our De revelatione, I, 216.) Lichetto maintains,
after Trent, that there are habits which of themselves are necessarily
infused, such as the theological virtues. Moreover, the Church has
always distinguished between the supernaturalness of miracles naturally
intelligible, and the supernaturalness of grace and of mysteries which
are naturally unintelligible even for the angels (Council of the
Vatican). Hence even the Molinists hold that, although the theological
virtues are supernatural substantially, yet they are not supernatural by
virtue of their formal object; and therein lies the inconsistency of
At present theologians generally agree, in opposition to Scotus and
Ripalda, that God, even by His absolute power, cannot create a
supernatural substance or a substance to which the vision of the divine
essence would be natural. (Cf. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. 7, Denz.,
no. 800.) In regard to the justification of sinners: “By it we are
renewed in spirit . . . ; we are indeed called just and so we are. Hence
in this same justification, together with the remission of sins, man
receives simultaneously the infusion of all these: faith, hope, and
charity.” Thus the virtues are, by their very nature, infused, not
accidentally infused, as infused geometry would be. But we shall give
the complete refutation of the foregoing theory of the Nominalists in
the solution of the next problem.
Fifth doubt. Whether sanctifying grace is a formal and physical
participation in the divine nature.
State of the question. In articles 3 and 4 of the present
question, as well as in q. 112, a. I, St. Thomas says that grace is a
participation in the divine nature, and St. Thomas was speaking
formally; but later, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, there
were great discussions between Thomists and Nominalists over that word
“participation.” All Catholic theologians have certainly always held
that sanctifying grace is in some sense a participation in the divine
nature, on account of the express testimony of Sacred Scripture and the
Fathers, to be quoted below, particularly on account of the words of St.
Peter’s Second Epistle (1:4): “that by these [gifts] you may be made
partakers of the divine nature.”
In the first place, the Nominalist definition of “participation” should
be noted. The expression “to participate” means to take part; thus are
distinguished the subject participating and the perfection participated.
Cf. Tabula aurea of the works of St. Thomas, s.v. Participatio.
“Participate” means to take part; it is primarily applied to
quantitative things which possess integral parts, for instance, to
participate in this meal; subsequently it can be applied to qualities,
for example, to participate in or partake of heat, light, whiteness, or
to spiritual qualities, as a pupil participates in the knowledge of his
master when he receives a share in it, or a soldier participates in the
victory of his general.
Thus Plato often used this word in the philosophical order when, for
instance, he stated that men participate in the idea of humanity, and
bulls in the idea of bovinity; but he thought that these exemplary ideas
had separate being. On the contrary, a separate man or bull cannot
exist, since they would have to have bones and flesh, in other words, a
common, not an individual material, and bones and flesh cannot exist
without being these particular bones and flesh, as Aristotle maintained.
But God is essential being, essential good, and essential truth.
It is commonly said that stones participate in being, plants and animals
participate in life, men participate in intellect, and thus they are
analogically like unto God with regard to being, life, and intellect
respectively. Now it must be determined whether by habitual grace the
just man participates in the divine nature, in the intimate life of God
or in the Deity by which God is, properly speaking, God; in other words,
whether he participates in the radical principle of operations which are
properly divine, by which God knows and loves Himself immediately.
As the Salmanticenses here record (dub. III, no. 54), the Nominalists,
consistently with their thesis, mentioned above, denied that sanctifying
grace is a physical and formal participation in the divine nature.
(Likewise Coninck, In Ilam Ilae, d. 21, no. 75, and Lessius Bk. II,
The Nominalists declare that sanctifying grace is a moral participation,
consisting in a rectitude of the will and an imitation of the sanctity
and justice of God, just as those who imitate the faith of Abraham are
called sons of Abraham, and those who imitate the malice of the devil
are called his sons, although physically they are not born of either. In
accordance with this tendency, the Protestants held that man is by grace
a son of God, since he believes his sins are externally removed or no
longer imputed to him. And Baius, who was a moderate Protestant, denied
the strict supernaturalness of sanctifying grace, which he limited to
natural, Christian virtue.
Other Catholic theologians maintained that sanctifying grace is a
physical participation in the divine nature, not however formal, but
virtual; that is, not formal, as the light of the air is a participation
in the light of the sun, but virtual, as the seed is a participation in
the procreator, by a power derived from it to produce a likeness of
itself. (Cf. Gonet.)
Lastly, the Thomists hold that sanctifying grace is a physical and
formal participation in the divine nature; but with respect to some
secondary points they are not agreed. Cajetan, Ledesma, Martines, Gonet,
and the Salmanticenses claim that it is even a physical, formal,
analogical participation in the very infinity of God; others (Curiel,
for example) declare that a participation in infinity is impossible.
But this minor disagreement seems to be a mere matter of terminology,
for John of St. Thomas and Billuart reconcile these two opinions of
Thomists, as will presently be explained (cf. below: the dignity of
The more general conclusion is that sanctifying grace is a participation
in the divine nature, not only moral but physical, not only virtual but
formal, analogical however, imperfectly imitating as an accident what,
in God, is substance.
1. This conclusion is based upon Sacred Scripture: “By whom [Christ] .
. . hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you
may be made partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4). Likewise in
Sacred Scripture it is attested in various places that the just are, by
grace, generated, born, reborn, of God and made sons of God; but by
generation and birth, nature is communicated. “Of His own will hath He
begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of His
creature” (Jas. 1:18). “He gave them power to be made sons of God, . . .
who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, . . . but of
God” (John 1:12 f.). What would remain of this text, according to
Nominalism and Lutheranism? “Unless a man be born again of water and the
Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
“Whosoever is born of God committeth not sin: for His seed abideth in
him” (I John 3:9). And again (ibid., 5:1): “Whosoever . . . is
born of God” does not sin, but the grace of God preserves him; that is,
he who remains in the state of grace, as a child of God, does not sin
mortally. Thus it is proved from Sacred Scripture that grace is a
participation in the divine nature.
Similarly this is the obvious meaning of the Church’s definitions which
are thus brought together by Denzinger in his index (p. 598): “Habitual
grace is distinct from actual grace (nos. 1064 ff.); it is an infused,
inherent quality of the soul by which man is formally justified, made a
partaker of the divine nature, regenerated, abides in Christ, puts on
the new man, is made an heir to eternal life” (cf. references according
to Denz., ibid.).
2. Theological proof. There are two arguments in particular: a)
taken from the definition of nature; b) from the essential
supernaturalness of grace itself.
The first argument is stated thus: By divine nature is meant the radical
principle of the divine operations by which God sees Himself intuitively
and loves Himself.
But sanctifying grace imitates physically and formally this radical
principle of properly divine operations, for it radically disposes man
to see God intuitively and to love Him with the beatific love.
Therefore sanctifying grace is a physical and formal participation in
the divine nature.
The major is based on the very definition of nature, which is the root
of the properties and the radical principle of operations in any being.
Thus analogically but according to the strict and not the metaphorical
sense, nature is in God that which is conceived in Him as the root of
the divine perfections and the radical principle of properly divine
operations, which are specified by the very essence of God, seen and
loved; whereas, on the contrary, the creative act proceeds, not from the
divine nature, but from the divine liberty, for God does not operate
outside of Himself from any necessity of nature.
The minor is clear especially with regard to grace consummated, which is
called glory, from which proceeds the light of glory in the intellect
and the charity of beatitude in the will. Moreover, according to St.
Paul, the charity of the wayfarer never falls away, but is the same as
in heaven; and faith is the substance of things hoped for. Hence grace
is spoken of, in tradition, as the seed of glory, a certain beginning of
eternal life, according to the words of Christ: “He that believeth in
the Son, hath life everlasting” (John 3:36); “He that believeth in Me,
hath everlasting life” (ibid., 6:47, also 6:40 and 6:55); “Every
one that . . . believeth in Me, shall not die forever” (ibid.,
It is a question of grace, which establishes the adoptive sonship, which
is a certain participated likeness in the sonship of the Word, for in
natural filiation the whole undivided nature is communicated, essence
and substance, as it is in the Father; but to us is communicated a
participation in the divine nature by accidental gift.
Objections. Adversaries of this conclusion raise the following
First objection. It is said in the book of Job (38:28): “Who is
the father of rain? or who begot the drops of dew?” That is, God; but
the rain does not participate in the nature of God; therefore neither do
the other texts quoted prove anything.
Reply. The language of the book of Job is frequently poetical in
style, and in this text “the father of rain” is poetically used for the
creator of rain. Likewise when it asks “who begot the drops of dew,” the
word “begot” is taken in a broad and not a strict sense. But this is not
so when it is declared of the just (II Pet. 1:4) that they are made
“partakers of the divine nature.”
I insist. Sacred Scripture also calls “children of God” those who
lead good lives and do the will of God; for example, “Do good to them
that hate you . . . that you may be the children of your Father” (Matt.
5:44 f.). “But love ye your enemies . . . and you shall be the sons of
the Highest” (Luke 6:35). In these texts only a moral relationship with
God is meant, and we are made His sons morally, or by imitation of His
Reply. To be sure, we are also made children of God, morally, by
imitation of His ways, but this moral relationship does not exclude the
other but rather, indeed, presupposes it. For God first infuses grace by
which we are partakers of the divine nature and are made pleasing to God
and His children, by a physical participation in His nature. Then man,
by meritorious acts, also becomes a child of God morally, imitating the
paternal manner of acting. Thus the child of any distinguished man, if
he follows the practices of his father, is said to be made his son to
that extent, and this is implied by the words of Christ: “Do good to
them that hate you . . . that you may be the children of your Father who
is in heaven.” These words presuppose that God is already a father on
some other account than that of the love of enemies.
I insist. By grace we are made only adoptive sons of God.
However, adoption does not communicate nature, but only a moral right to
an inheritance. Therefore grace is only a moral participation in the
divine nature by imitation of the divine ways.
Reply. Adoption communicates only a moral right to an inheritance
in human affairs: granted; in divine things: denied. In human affairs
this is true for two reasons: 1) because human adoption presupposes in
the child adopted the same nature specifically as in the person
adopting; it is otherwise in divine adoption; 2) because the love of the
man adopting is only affective, and produces no physical effect in the
child adopted, but only a moral right to an inheritance; on the
contrary, “the love of God infuses and creates goodness in things.”
First confirmation. Grace partakes of the divine nature as
charity and the light of glory partake of the divine attributes. But
charity participates strictly and physically in the divine love as
divine, since it is specified by the same formal object; and the light
of glory participates in the same way in the divine light as divine.
Thus Christ says: “The glory which thou hast given Me, I have given to
them” (John 17:22). Therefore habitual grace partakes of the divine
nature as divine, that is, in the Deity itself, not only with reference
to being, but to Deity as such.
Second confirmation. A cause the effects of which are real and
physical is itself real and physical. But the effects of sanctifying
grace, as a participation in the divine nature, are real and physical,
namely, the supernatural virtues which follow upon it as properties.
For, according to the Council of Trent, charity is something diffused
and inhering in our hearts. The end of sanctifying grace is also
something real and physical, that is, the beatific vision. Therefore
sanctifying grace itself, as a participation in the divine nature, is
something real and physical, not something merely moral as an imitation
of the divine ways.
It must, however,
be termed an analogical, not a univocal, participation, since it is
something created; moreover it is an accident. The Fourth Lateran
Council (Denz., no. 432), explaining the words, “Be ye perfect even as
your heavenly Father is perfect,” declares that it is “as if our Lord
were to say: Be perfect, with the perfection of grace, as your heavenly
Father is perfect, with the perfection of nature; manifestly, each in
his own mode, since between the Creator and the creature such a
similarity cannot be acknowledged, without acknowledging that the
dissimilarity between them is even greater.” Therefore it is only an
analogy, not however a mere metaphor, but strictly speaking, according
as grace properly ordains us to the operations of beatitude which are
properly divine and have the same formal object as the uncreated
operations of God Himself. Thus grace is more than a virtual
participation in Deity; it is participation as a permanent form and by
reason of the specifying, connatural formal object.
That which can be called a
virtual participation in the divine nature is the instrumental power
residing in the sacraments for the production of grace and likewise the
actual grace which disposes one for habitual grace.
Following this first argument with its confirmations, another can thus
be proposed which is drawn from the essential supernaturalness of grace.
grace, in both men and angels, is, according to the Church, an
essentially supernatural gift, exceeding any nature created or capable
of being created.
grace cannot thus exceed any nature capable of creation unless it is a
formal and physical participation in the divine nature.
sanctifying grace is a formal and physical participation in the divine
It should be
remarked that this argument can be inverted and proposed as a corollary
of the preceding argument, to prove against the Nominalists that grace
is intrinsically supernatural since it is a physical participation in
the divine nature. This is done by Billuart.
But our major can be
proved from the authority of the councils, for, according to the Vatican
Council (Denz., 1796): “divine mysteries (among which is sanctification
by grace) by their very nature so exceed the created intellect that even
when transmitted by revelation and received by faith, they yet remain
covered over by the veil of faith itself and enshrouded in a certain
darkness, as long as we are making our way in this life toward God.”
Similarly with respect to the essential supernaturalness of grace,
according as it surpasses the powers and merits of nature (cf. the
condemnation of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism by the Second Council
of Orange) and according as it exceeds the requirements of our nature
(cf. the condemnation of Baius, especially Denz., nos. 1021, 1023, and
the reference just quoted). Moreover, the Vatican Council (Denz., no.
teaching that “miracles can certainly be known”
even naturally, distinguishes expressly between the supernaturalness of
miracles, which exceeds our efficient created powers but not our
cognoscitive powers, and the supernaturalness of mysteries and of grace,
which exceed the powers of understanding of any intellect capable of
being created. Thus without a special revelation no one is absolutely
certain of being in the state of grace.
Our minor is thus
proved: natures created or capable of being created have a participated
likeness to God with respect to being, life, and intellect, but not with
respect to Deity as such. For God exceeds all nature created or capable
of being created by reason of the radical principle of properly divine
operations which have God Himself for specifying object. This is the
intimate life of God, belonging to God by the very strict, intimate
reason of His Deity, which is in a certain sense above being, unity,
life, and intellect, because it contains formally and eminently these
absolutely simple perfections. Therefore grace, according as it exceeds
all nature created or indeed capable of creation, is a formal and
physical participation in the divine nature, or Deity as such.
But even a stone is a certain physical participation in the divine
nature inasmuch as it is substantial, and so is a plant inasmuch as it
has life in first act and second act; with still greater reason the
intellectual soul is a physical participation in the divine nature with
respect to intellectual life at least in first act and our understanding
with respect to life in second act; cf. Gardeil, O.P., Structure de
l’âme et experience mystique, 1927, I, 373.
The stone does not participate in the divine nature. It participates in
being, being in general, not divine being; and thus it is an anological
likeness of the divine being since it is being, not as being God.
Likewise the plant participates in life in general, not divine life; and
in the same way the rational soul participates in intellectual life in
general and thus has a participated likeness of the divine intellect on
the general analogical basis of intellection. In all of these there is
present the common resemblance (being, life, intellect) which God and
the creature share analogically.
On the other
hand, sanctifying grace as such is not a participation in being in
general, nor in life in general, nor in intellectuality in general, but
a participation in Deity, which is found naturally only in God. Thus
only grace is called a participation in the divine nature according as
it is in us the radical principle of operations strictly divine, of
which the formal object is (in heaven, at least) absolutely the same as
the formal object of the uncreated operations of God.
All of this may
be diagrammed as follows:
Thus the stone
participates in being and has a likeness to God on the basis of being;
grace, on the contrary, is directly and immediately a participation in
the divine nature, not in any perfection analogically shared by God and
as such cannot be partaken of except by some essentially supernatural
gift. And, conversely, grace cannot be essentially supernatural unless
it is a formal and physical participation in the divine nature as
divine, that is, in the intimate life of God, or Deity as Deity,
ordaining us to the knowledge of God as He Himself knows Himself
immediately and to the love of God as He loves Himself.
sanctifying grace is a participation in Deity as it is in itself and not
merely as it is known to us. For it is produced in our soul by an
immediate infusion altogether independently of our knowledge of the
Deity; and just as Deity as such is communicated to the Son by eternal
generation, so Deity as such is partaken of by the just, especially by
the blessed, through divine adoption.
materially, grace is a finite accident, an entitative habit, but
formally it is a formal participation in Deity as it is in itself, as it
subsists in the three persons. Thus it is clearly evident that Deity as
such in a certain sense surpasses being and intellection, since all
absolutely simple perfections are identified in the eminence of Deity
and can be naturally participated in, but Deity cannot be participated
in naturally. (Cf. below, pp. 138 ff.: The dignity of sanctifying
corollary. Our adoptive
sonship is formally and physically a participated likeness of the
eternal sonship of the Son of God. (Cf. St. Thomas on Rom. 8:29: “He . .
. predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son”; the
Tabula aurea, “Adoptio,” 21; Ia, 9.93, a. 4, 2; IIa IIae, q.45, a.6;
IIIa, q.3, a. 8; q. 23, a. 1, 2, 3, 4.) The reason is that, just as the
Father communicates to His only-begotten Son the whole of His nature,
without multiplication or division of this nature, so He communicates to
us physically and formally, by an accidental gift, a participation in
this divine nature, or in His intimate life, that we may see Him as He
sees Himself immediately, although in a finite manner; for to
participate is to take a part and to leave a part; Deity is substance in
God, its participation is an accident in us.
texts of Holy Scripture on the divine adoption are the following: “For
whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For
you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have
received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father).
For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the
sons of God. And if sons, heirs also” (Rom. 8:14-17). “For whom He
foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of
His Son; that He might be the first-born among many brethren” (ibid.,
8:29). “God hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through
Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the purpose of His will” (Ephes.
1:5). “God sent His son . . . that we might receive the adoption of
sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into
your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant,
but a son; and if a son, an heir also through God” (Gal. 4:47).
St. Thomas treats
of our adoptive sonship particularly in IIIa, q. 23, a. I, 2, 3, 4. He
shows how divine adoption differs from human adoption (inasmuch as God
by the gift of grace makes the man or angel whom He adopts fit for his
inheritance). He shows especially how adoptive sonship through grace is
a participated likeness of natural sonship: as the only-begotten Son of
God receives eternally the whole divine nature from His Father, the
adoptive son of God receives, in time, a participation of the divine
nature, or grace, the seed of glory, the beginning of eternal life.
to the whole Trinity, but is appropriated to the Father as its author,
to the Son as its exemplar, to the Holy Ghost as engraving upon us the
likeness of this exemplar.
corollary. The existence and
actual possibility of grace cannot be strictly proved by reason alone,
since the supernatural substantially, taken formally, is also
supernatural with respect to intelligibility; truth and being are
convertible. For that which is essentially supernatural has no
necessary, evident connection with things of the natural order;
otherwise it would be reduced to the philosophical order, as is the
existence of God as author of nature.
corollary. Grace is nobler
than all other created being, since it participates more perfectly in
the divine good than any nature capable of being created. Hence St.
Thomas says (below, Ia IIae, q. 113, a. 9 ad 2): “The goodness of the
grace of one (man) is greater than the goodness of the nature of the
whole universe.” (Cf. Cajetan’s Commentary on this, and Gonet.)
That is better which is loved more by God. But, as the Apostle says, God
did all things for the sake of the elect (II Tim. 2:10), and therefore
He loves the just more than all creatures of the natural order, as a
father loves his son more than his fields, his house, and his cattle.
corollary. For perfect
knowledge of the value of grace we would need to know glory itself
experimentally, just as the knowledge of the value of an infant’s
intelligence requires a knowledge of intellectual life in its full
evolution. How great, then, is the evil of mortal sin! “If thou didst
know the gift of God.” Thus the three orders of sensitive life, natural
life, intellectual life, and the life of grace were clearly
distinguished long before Pascal.
Whether sanctifying grace of itself alone ensures one’s being formally
the adopted son of God. State of the question. Adoption is generally
defined as “a gratuitous admission of a stranger into the inheritance of
another.” According to revelation, God adopts men as children, as is
evident from the Epistle to the Romans (8:15): “You have received the
spirit of adoption”; from Galatians (4:5): “that we might receive the
adoption of sons”; and from Ephesians (1:5): “Who hath predestinated us
unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ.” And this definition
of adoption is, in fact, verified according as God gratuitously admits
and elevates an alien into a beatitude which exceeds the natural
requirements or rights of this person. This is generally accepted by the
Fathers, especially Cyprian, Pope Leo, and Augustine.
adoptive sonship is taken either formally, as it consists in a
relationship, or fundamentally, as the foundation of the aforesaid
relationship. We are now inquiring what this fundation is. In the
natural order natural sonship is formally the relationship, and
fundamentally it is passive generation or nature received through
generation. Hence, proportionately, the primary formal effect of
sanctifying grace is the deification of the soul; the secondary formal
effect is adoptive sonship.
To the question
thus stated the Nominalists replied, with Scotus and Durandus, that
through sanctifying grace we are adopted sons of God, not on account of
the very nature of grace, but because God wished to concede this by way
of an extrinsic favor.
maintain, on the contrary, that we are adoptive sons of God through
sanctifying grace on account of its very nature, without looking for any
extrinsic favor. To understand this teaching the difference between
human and divine adoption must be kept well in mind. It is twofold: 1.
Human adoption presupposes in the one adopted the same nature
specifically as in the one adopting; it is otherwise in divine adoption.
2. The love which the man adopting bears toward the one adopted produces
no physical effect in the latter, but only something moral and civil,
that is, the right of inheritance. On the contrary, the love of God
whereby He adopts men through grace is effective and efficacious, and by
it He effects a participation in the divine nature, or sanctifying
grace. Therefore this sanctifying grace of itself is the foundation of
the relationship of adoptive sonship; just as the communication of the
whole divine nature, by eternal, quasi-passive generation of the Second
Person of the Trinity, is the foundation of the relationship of natural
sonship. Hence, as sanctifying grace is not merely a moral, but also a
physical and formal, participation in the divine nature, it lays the
foundation of adoptive sonship immediately, without the need of looking
for any extrinsic favor.
Habitual grace is nature proportioned to the beatific vision, that is,
to the eternal inheritance. Likewise, we maintain, in opposition to
Lessius, that the divinity of the Holy Ghost intrinsically united to us
or assisting and dwelling in us does not produce, by way of form,
adoptive sonship, since the form terminating spiritual generation is
that by which the generated term lives, spiritually. But God is our life
not formally, but only effectively. (Cf. IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 2 ad 2,
against the Master of the Sentences.)
We also hold,
contrary to the opinion of Suarez, that to be the adopted son of God
without habitual grace implies a contradiction. For there is required
by this sonship at least an analogical conformity with God in His
nature; but this is brought about only by habitual grace whereby man is
spiritually begotten by God. Thus to live the divine life radically
without grace implies a contradiction; without it man would have only
natural justice, and not even that, since in the present state healing
grace is required for the observance of the whole natural law.
RECAPITULATION: THE DIGNITY OF
sanctifying grace is formally and physically a participation in infinite
This is a
disputed question among Thomists. Cajetan, Gonet, and the Salmanticenses
answer in the affirmative, since it is a participation in Deity. Curiel
and certain others deny it, since, as they say, the infinite as such
cannot be participated in, for it is always received in a finite way.
John of St. Thomas, Billuart, and also the Salmanticenses reconcile
these two opinions thus: Grace participates in the nature of infinite,
pure Act not adequately and subjectively (since whoever receives it does
so in a finite way) but objectively and inadequately, for he
participates in what is proper to God, or Deity itself, as the root of
strictly divine operations which terminate objectively in the Deity
itself clearly seen and loved. The disagreement is rather a matter of
terms than of ideas.
John of St.
Thomas says that grace is a participation in infinity objectively, as it
is the likeness and splendor of the divine intellect; elevating the
rational creature so that he may receive, as specifying, connatural
object, God in His infinity, or rather we should say, in that He is God,
according to the most eminent and proper reason of Deity. Deity as such,
of which grace is a participation, in a certain sense surpasses
infinity, which is a mode, as it were, of the attributes of
God which are identified in the eminence
of the Deity.
As Gonet declares
(De essentia gratiae, no. 52): “The beatific vision, which is the
operation of consummated grace, corresponds to God as He is the infinite
being and in His essence. Therefore consummated grace participates in
the divine nature as it is an infinite being,” for it is the connatural
principle of the beatific vision.
does not take unto itself the whole infinity of God, but infinity in a
certain manner, or inadequately; that is, it has the divine essence for
its connatural, immediate object; but it is not identified with this
infinite object, nor does it comprehend it as God does. For this reason
grace, like charity, can be increased infinitely (cf. IIa IIae, q. 24,
a. 7; Gonet, op. cit., for the solution of objections).
corollary. Habitual grace is
a participation in the divine nature as a nature, just as charity is a
participation in divine love as being its operation. But both are
participations of the intimate life of God. In contrast to natural
vegetative, sensitive, or intellectual life, it is said of grace that it
is a participation in the divine nature or life as divine.
corollary. Sanctifying grace
is, through itself, directly, but secondarily, a participation in the
nature of God as it is in the three persons; for the nature of God as
such subsists as such in three persons and has an infinite inward
fecundity by way of the divine processions. Hence from grace rises
charity, which is an inclination toward God as He subsists in three
persons, and also from grace, in heaven, rises the light of glory and
the vision of the Trinity itself.
However, grace is
not a participation in the personal divine fatherhood, since the
adoptive sonship which follows from grace is a participated likeness in
the eternal sonship of the Word; even by the eternal generation of the
Word the divine nature is indeed communicated, but not the paternity.
Therefore by divine adoption a participation of the divine nature is
communicated, but not of the personal fatherhood. But from the infusion
of grace there does follow the adoptive sonship which renders us like
the Word, who is the image of the Father, and from grace flows that
charity which produces in us a likeness to the Holy Ghost.
corollary. The infused
virtues flow from sanctifying grace physically, as properties of the
soul. (Cf. Salmanticenses.)
corollary. From the absolute
power of God several kinds of sanctifying grace, essentially differing
among themselves, cannot be bestowed, whatever some modern theologians
may assert, for grace is a formal participation in the divine nature
which is absolutely simple, nor can anything higher be conceived in
which it would participate. Hence, whatever Father Billot may hold (De
Verbo incarnato, thes. XVII, 6th ed., p. 208), not even
in the most holy soul of Christ is habitual grace of a higher species
than in any just man, although it is much more intense and extensive.
Moreover, in Christ this habitual grace is derived from the uncreated
grace of union or from the Word terminating the human nature; but
considered intrinsically, habitual grace is not of a higher species in
Christ than in us: it is always and everywhere a formal and physical
participation of the divine nature; nor is it possible to conceive of
anything higher in which it could participate than the Deity itself as
such. If habitual grace in Christ were of a higher kind, so also would
be His beatific vision, as Father Billot declares (ibid.), and
then the following principle would not be observed: habit and act are
specified by their formal object, for the formal object of the beatific
vision of Christ is identical with that of the beatific vision of all
the other blessed in heaven.
And on account of the absolute power, habitual
grace, charity, and the light of glory, even in the most holy soul of
Christ, could always be increased. We cannot conceive of the highest
possible degree of this participation, for between any degree, even the
highest, and the Deity itself, there is always an infinite distance, as
there is between the incomprehensive beatific vision on the one hand,
and the uncreated, comprehensive vision on the other. (Cf. IIIa, q. 10,
a. 4 ad 3, and q. 7, a.12 ad 2.)
If there were two graces of essentially different kinds, there would
likewise be two charities of essentially different kinds and two lights
of glory essentially distinct. But this is impossible, for the essential
reason of charity is to tend supernaturally toward God as He is in
Himself, to be loved with a love of esteem above all things, and the
light of glory is terminated in God as He is. No higher specifying
object can be conceived, and habits are specified by their formal
corollary. Hence in Adam
before the fall and in Christ sanctifying grace was not of another kind
than in us; but it did have other effects
in them, however; in fact, even in the natural order the same human
species has different effects in man and in woman. Thus grace causes
repentance in us, but not in Christ since He was impeccable; in us it
caused adoptive sonship, but not in Christ, for He was already the
natural Son of God and therefore incapable of adoption. Likewise in the
innocent Adam grace was the root of original justice which involves
integrity of nature; this is not true in us. In the angels it does not
produce the virtues of temperance and fortitude, since the angels have
By the same
token, sanctifying grace remaining but one in species has nevertheless
two states, that of the present life and that of heaven. In the former
it requires faith and hope connaturally, but not in the latter, which,
in turn, demands the light of glory and, after the resurrection, the
glorification of the body. Nor is it to be wondered at, considering the
diversity of these states, that the same grace is the root of different
corollary. Sanctifying grace
is absolutely more perfect than charity, the light of glory, or the
beatific vision, which have their source in it, as an essence is more
perfect than any of its properties; for grace participates in the divine
nature, under the concept of nature, not under the concept of
intellectual power or intellection or love. However, the beatific vision
is more perfect, under a certain aspect, than grace, as second act is
more perfect than first act. Thus a tree is something more perfect than
its fruit, but the tree is rendered still more perfect when it bears
sanctifying grace is absolutely more noble than the substance of any
soul, even the soul of Christ, more noble than any angelic substance
created or capable of being created; accidentally, however, according to
its mode of being, that is, under a particular aspect, it may be less
noble. With respect to the soul of Christ, cf. De verit., q. 27,
a. 1 ad 6; and IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 3: “Charity is absolutely more
perfect than the essence of the soul,” lust as the intellectual faculty,
although an accident, is more noble than a stone. Grace is, then, more
spiritual and incorruptible in itself than the human soul; “we have this
treasure in fragile vessels.” However, sanctifying grace is absolutely
less noble than the divine motherhood of the Word incarnate, for this
motherhood by reason of its term belongs to the order of the hypostatic
union, and this order surpasses not only the order of nature, but also
the order of grace and glory.
St. Thomas says (Ia,
q. 25, a. 6 ad 4): “The Blessed Virgin, because she is the Mother of
God, has a certain infinite dignity deriving from the infinite good
which is God; and because of this nothing better than this can be made.”
On this account the cult of hyperdulia is due to her (cf. IIIa, q. 25,
a. 5); for, as Cajetan declares, her “dignity borders upon the confines
Whether actual grace disposing toward justification is a physical and
formal participation of the divine nature. I reply that it is a
physical, virtual, but not formal participation, as the seed is a
participation in the generator as a power derived from it to produce a
likeness of itself. It is not a formal participation, however, since it
does not yet confer the power of eliciting connaturally supernatural
operations of the order of grace. It is, as it were, a supernatural
regeneration in process only, as we should say, referring to
Whether sanctifying grace formally procures the adoptive sonship of God
and whether it alone can bring about such an effect (cf. Gonet, loc.
cit.). Adoption is usually defined as a gratuitous admission of a
stranger into the inheritance of another. Thus an adopted son is
distinguished from a son by nature in both human and divine
applications. It is assumed as certain from faith that the just man is
an adopted son of God: “That we might receive the adoption of sons”
(Gal. 4:5); “You have received the spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:15); “Who
hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus
Christ” (Ephes. 1:5).
To the question
as stated the reply is more commonly in the affirmative, since, just as
natural sonship is a formally real relationship based on passive
generation, or on nature received through generation, in like manner
adoptive sonship is formally a real relationship based on a passive
participation of the divine nature received through regeneration. This
is true even independently of the subsequent acceptation of God, in
opposition to the Nominalists, Durandus, and Scotus. This is confirmed
by the fact that no other reality can be the foundation of this real
relationship: 1) not indeed the Holy Ghost, whatever Lessius may say,
since He assists us as an extrinsic cause, and is not the form by which
anyone is regenerated as a child of God; 2) nor charity, which
presupposes habitual grace as its root, as will be more clearly
corollary. Hence, contrary to
the followers of Suarez, Thomists hold that there is a contradiction
implied in being the adoptive son of God without habitual grace. For
this sonship requires an analogical conformity to God in the divine
nature; and it implies a contradiction that the creature be conformed
analogically to God in His nature without a participation of the divine
nature by grace. Thus by the very fact that the just man possesses grace
he is the adoptive son of God and has a right to be received into glory.
(Cf. Gonet, op. cit., no. 136)
corollary. The adoption of
man as a son is common to the three persons, in that the act of infusing
grace, since it is a free, external operation, is common to the whole
Trinity as omnipotence is.
stated in IIIa, q. 23, a. 2, active adoption is appropriated to the
Father, according as adoptive sonship is a certain participated likeness
in the eternal sonship. Moreover, to the extent that this adoption is
brought about through grace, which is the work of divine love, it is
appropriated to the Holy Ghost, the sanctifier.
corollary. During the time
that he is in the state of grace, the reprobate is an adopted son of
God; and when the predestinate is not in the state of grace, he is not
an adopted son of God. 136.)
ARTICLE III. WHETHER GRACE IS IDENTICAL
VIRTUE, PARTICULARLY WITH CHARITY
State of the
question. We are not
considering whether grace is identical with the acquired virtues, nor
with faith or hope, for these can be possessed in the state of mortal
sin, that is, without sanctifying grace. But since the state of grace is
inseparable from charity, some were of the opinion that sanctifying
grace was not really distinguished from charity. According to the Master
of the Sentences, as quoted in the article, they seem to be
distinguished only as concepts, since, for him, both grace and charity
are the Holy Ghost indwelling and moving to the act of love.
In the opinion of
Durandus, they are distinguished in name only (Nominalism removes almost
all real distinctions); Scotus declares them to be formally
distinguished; according to certain others, they are distinguished
virtually by reason of a diversity of functions. St. Thomas, those of
his school, and many outside of it maintain that they are really
distinct. (Cf. De veritate, q. 27, a. 2.)
conclusion is that sanctifying grace is something beyond the infused
virtues which are derived from it, just as the natural light of reason
is something beyond the acquired virtues derived from that light.
1 . Scriptural
proof. Holy Scripture speaks of grace and of charity as of two
separate things. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of
God” (II Cor. 13:13). “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts,
by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5); but He is given to us
through grace, by reason of which He dwells in us. “The grace of our
Lord hath abounded exceedingly with faith and love” (I Tim.1:14).
Council of Vienne (Denz., no. 483) speaks of the baptized as those to
whom “grace and the virtues” were imparted. The Council of Trent (Sess.
VI, can. 7, Denz., no. 799) declares that “the renewal of the inner man
is brought about by the voluntary acceptance of grace and the gifts”;
canon II (Denz., 821) defines “man as not justified without grace and
charity.” Moreover, in this sense the mind of the Council is interpreted
by the Catechism of the Council (part 2, “Baptism,” chap. 38) wherein
sanctifying grace is described, while not yet speaking of charity, and
then (chap. 39) it is declared: “To this is added the most noble train
of all the virtues, which are infused in the soul together with grace.”
speaks in the same strain as quoted in the argument Sed contra (De
dono persever., chap. 16): “Grace precedes charity.” But no reason
can be adduced to explain why Holy Scripture, the Councils, and the
Fathers, referring to a matter of dogma, should always understand one
and the same thing under diverse names; it would be, at least, useless
repetition; and since it occurs frequently, we may draw from these
authorities, at least as more probable, the opinion that grace and
charity are really distinct.
proof, based on the definition of virtue and on a parallelism
between the natural and supernatural orders.
Virtue is really
distinct from the proportionate nature which it presupposes; as the
acquired virtues from the nature of the soul.
supernatural virtues presuppose nature elevated by sanctifying grace.
supernatural virtues, even charity, are really distinct from sanctifying
is based on the Aristotelian definition of virtue, namely, “a
disposition of a perfect thing is that which is best”; in other words,
virtue presupposes a nature proportioned to itself, is a perfection of a
power corresponding to that nature, and hence is really distinct from
nature as already constituted. Thus the acquired virtues, such as wisdom
and prudence, are really distinguished from the light of reason which
they presuppose and which existed before the acquisition of these
minor: As human virtue presupposes human nature which it disposes in the
direction of its natural end, so does supernatural virtue presuppose
nature elevated to supernatural being, which it disposes aptly toward
its consequent supernatural end. Moreover, there is no doubt but that
charity is a supernatural virtue and that it is supernaturally
communicated by grace.
is really distinguished from sanctifying grace which it presupposes, as
a habit which is immediately operative is differentiated from an
entitative habit by which the essence of the soul is itself elevated, as
will be made more evident in Article 4. But even here in the reply to
the third objection it is declared: “Grace is reducible to the primary
species of a quality [that is, of a habit]; nor is it indeed the same as
a virtue, but rather a certain habit [entitative habit] which is
presupposed by the infused virtues as their principle and root.”
But the same accidental form can simultaneously elevate a nature and
dispose it to operate, as heat causes wood both to be hot and to give
1. The same accidental form cannot be received by two really distinct
subjects; but the elevation of a nature must be effected in the essence
of the soul, while charity, as a virtue, must be in some faculty, that
is, the will. Therefore.
2. By the
same token one and the same accidental form would be capable of
producing the effects of all the virtues and gifts. And hence there
would be no distinction between the three theological virtues, the four
infused cardinal virtues, and the seven gifts, a distinction which is
made by the whole of tradition on the basis of Holy Scripture itself.
3. In any
order, operation follows being; especially does connatural operation
presuppose a proportionate principle of being. The answer to the example
of heat in the wood is: the disparity arises from the fact that heat is
not a virtue in the wood, but a simple sensible quality.
of the conclusion.
1. God hath first
loved us (I John 4:10); but the effect of this love is grace; but
charity is the proximate principle by which we love God.
2. Grace is a
participation in the divine nature; charity is a participation in the
inclination follows upon form; but charity is an inclination of the
supernatural order; therefore it presupposes the super-natural form upon
which it follows.
makes no less provision for the soul in the supernatural order than in
the natural order; but in the natural order the faculties follow upon
the essence of the soul; therefore in the supernatural order the infused
virtues follow upon grace.
And what we have
said applies also to the angels, since their essence is not immediately
operative, and thus differs from the divine essence which alone is its
own being and act.
But then faith and hope could not exist without habitual grace, as
properties cannot exist without essence.
Faith and hope remain in the sinner as in a subject to which they are
not connatural, but praeternatural. And they do not have the element of
virtue except with grace. A sinner can indeed believe, but not so well
as one ought to believe. Thus, in the natural order, heat is in fire as
in a connatural subject, but in water as in a subject under compulsion,
for heat is not a property of water, which is naturally cold.
However, the same
effects are often attributed to both grace and charity, since they are
inseparably connected. The proper effects of charity thus proceed from
grace as from a root. (See Billuart for less important objections.)
ARTICLE IV. WHETHER HABITUAL GRACE IS IN
ESSENCE OF THE SOUL AS I N A SUBJECT
State of the
question. Those who say that
grace is identical with charity hold grace to be attributable to the
will and not immediately to the essence of the soul. Thus Scotus (II
Sent., dist. 26), who adopted as his own doctrine St. Thomas’
objections, as he frequently did.
conclusion: Habitual grace,
inasmuch as it is presupposed by the infused virtues, is in the essence
of the soul as in a subject, and not in any faculty.
Commonly, as found in the argument Sed contra: grace we are
regenerated as children of God, according to Holy Scripture.” But
generation has its term first in the essence and then in the powers. It
is so in the natural order; why not in the supernatural order?
In particular, as a corollary of the preceding article, thus:
of a rational faculty is a virtue or good operative habit.
grace is not a virtue, but is presupposed by the infused virtues (cf.
habitual grace is not in the faculties of the soul but in the very
essence of the soul presupposed by the faculties.
Hence it is a
participation in the divine nature by a certain regeneration or
recreation, whereas charity is a participation by the will in divine
love, and faith a participation of divine knowledge in the intellect,
although all these infused habits are formally participations in the
intimate life of God. But we are now considering them rather under their
material aspect, that is, on the part of the subject in which they
Reply to third
objection. The soul is the
subject of grace, since it resides in a species of intellectual nature,
or in the intelligent soul, although the infused virtue of chastity is
in the sensitive appetite.
It would be unbecoming for the essence of the soul to be less perfected
Supernaturally than its own faculties. The whole man would not be
supernaturally complete, with respect both to being and to operation;
and its radical vitality would not be elevated. Such would be the
result if Scotus’ teaching were true.
corollary. Glory, taken as
the root of the light of glory and of charity, is likewise in the
essence of the soul; for it is grace consummated. It is also an
entitative habit, for St. Thomas says in several places that habitual
grace, the seed of glory, is a certain beginning of eternal life, for it
is the same habit. On the contrary, infused faith, which is obscure, is
not a certain beginning of the beatific vision.
corollary. Grace is the
radical principle of merit, but charity is its proximate principle.
corollary. Mortal sin, being
the privation of sanctifying grace, is death to the soul in the essence
of the soul, and in that it is a vicious habit or act it is in the will,
or in some other faculty under the command of the will.
As a complement to
this question of the essence of grace, two articles in the treatise
De lege nova
(Ia IIae, q. 106, a. I) should be read on whether the new law is written
or set in the heart. The reply is as follows: “That which is most
powerful in the law of the New Testament, and in which all its virtue
consists, is the grace of the Holy Ghost, which is given through the
faith of Christ. Therefore the new law is principally that very grace of
the Holy Ghost, which is given to the faithful of Christ . . . Hence St.
Paul declares that ‘the law of the spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, hath
delivered me from the law of sin and of death’ (Rom. 8:2). . . .
Therefore it may be said that the new law is primarily a law set in the
heart, but secondarily it is a written law.”
Likewise the Summa (Ia IIae, q. 106, a. 2) declares
that “the law of the Gospel (by means of what is primary in it)
justifies.” And in the answer to the second objection (ibid.),
St. Thomas states: “On account of what it is of itself [as habitual
grace] it gives sufficient help to avoid sin,” that is, of itself it
bestows the power not to sin, although as long as we are wayfarers the
power to do the opposite remains in us. Again (IIIa, q. 8, a. 1, 2, 5),
Christ as man merited for us all the graces we receive and He
communicates them to us now as instrumental, physical cause of our
divinization. (Cf. IIIa, q. 62, a. 5; q. 43, a. 2; q.48, a. 6.)
According to IIIa,
q.62, a.2: “Sacramental grace adds, over and above [habitual] grace
generally so called and above the virtues and gifts, a certain divine
help toward the attainment of the end of the sacrament.” In the reply to
the first objection of the same article St. Thomas maintains that “the
grace of the virtues and gifts perfects the essence and powers of the
soul sufficiently with respect to the general ordering of the acts of
the soul (so it was in Adam before the Fall and in the angels in whom
did not reside Christian grace strictly speaking, which was conferred
upon men by Christ the Redeemer). But with respect to certain special
effects which are demanded by a Christian life, sacramental grace is
required.” Thus it may also be said that in the angels and in Adam
before the Fall there resided supernatural grace, as a participation of
the divine nature, but not however as Christian grace proceeding from
Christ the Redeemer and forming souls in the image of Christ crucified.
is not a new infused habit really distinct from habitual grace, but it
adds over and above ordinary grace a certain right to actual graces to
be received at the appropriate time and corresponding to the special end
of the sacraments; for example, the grace of holy orders confers the
right to the actual graces necessary to celebrate Mass. And this moral
right is a relationship which requires a real basis; the real basis is
sacramental grace, properly speaking, inasmuch as it is really permanent
in the soul. And the more probable opinion, as Thomists assert, is that
it is a special mode and a special force of sanctifying grace, which
overflow into the acts of the virtue. (Cf. St. Thomas, De veritate,
q. 27, a. 5 ad 12.) Thus we speak of priestly charity, of priestly
prudence. John of St. Thomas, the Salmanticenses, Contenson, Hugon,
Merkelbach, and several other Thomists accept this explanation.
sanctifying grace is the principle of the sanctification of the just,
whether men or angels, so is the sacramental grace of baptism the
principle of Christian sanctification, and the sacramental grace of holy
orders the principle of sanctification of priests, who are the ministers
now compare habitual grace with the graces gratis datae and with
Cf. St. Thomas,
Contra Gentes, Bk. I, chap. 100, and John of St. Thomas,
Phil. nut., q.4, a.4: action, which properly belongs to the
category of action, is transitive action
producing a correlative passion in the patient; immanent
action is reducible to the category of quality.
St. Thomas says
(De verit., q.27, a.I ad 9): “Although by one act of
mortal sin grace may be expelled, grace is not, however,
expelled easily; for it is not easy for one who possesses grace
to perform such an act, on account of the inclination in a
contrary direction; thus the Philosopher says in his Ethics,
Bk. V, chap. 6, that it is difficult for the just man to commit
effect is not present in Christ, since He is already the natural
Son of God. Cf. Ma. 9.23, a.4.
Nor is Scotus’
distinction, “formal-actual,” admissible, which would be a
medium between a real distinction and a rational distinction
based on the reality, for there cannot be given a medium between
a distinction existing before being considered by our mind and
one which does not exist before being considered by the mind;
there is no medium between two opposites. And the distinction
which existed before being considered by our minds, however
slight it may be, is nevertheless real.