Having arrived at a definition of
sanctifying grace, we must now consider the divisions of grace. As a
matter of fact, at the beginning of this treatise, when we were
establishing our terminology, we enumerated the various significations
of created grace which may be reduced to the following outline.
In the present
question St. Thomas examines the basis of these principal traditional
divisions. He does so in five articles. The first and the last two deal
with the graces gratis datae as compared with sanctifying grace;
the second and third are concerned with the division into operative and
cooperative grace, prevenient and subsequent grace, this latter division
being the occasion for a discussion of efficacious and sufficient grace.
WHETHER GRACE IS PROPERLY DIVIDED INTO
SANCTIFYING GRACE AND GRACE
State of the question.
This article endeavors to explain the text of I Cor. 12:8-10, wherein
St. Paul enumerates nine graces gratis datae:
“To one indeed,
by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom: and to another, the word of
knowledge, according to the same Spirit; to another faith in the same
spirit; to another the grace of healing in one Spirit: to another the
working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discerning of
spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues; to another interpretation
of speeches”; and further (ibid., 12:31 and 13:1 f.): “I show
unto you yet a more excellent way. If I speak with the tongues of men
and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a
tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith so that I
could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (Cf. St.
Thomas on this Epistle.) From this contrast has arisen the traditional
division between the graces gratis datae, also called
charismata, and sanctifying grace. The statement of the question
will be more manifest from the problems raised at the beginning of the
St. Thomas shows the appropriateness of this traditional twofold
1. In the
argument Sed contra, on the authority of St. Paul who attributes
both characteristics to grace, namely, that of making us pleasing (“He
hath graced us,” Ephes. 1:6) and that of being a gratuitous gift (Rom.
11:6). Hence grace may be differentiated according to whether it
possesses but one of these notes, that is, being a free gift (and every
grace is gratuitous) or both notes, not only that of being given freely,
but also that of making us pleasing.
This is explained
more clearly in the answer to the third objection: “Sanctifying grace
adds something beyond the reason of graces gratis datae, . . .
that is, it makes man pleasing to God. And therefore grace gratis
data, which does not have this effect, retains merely the generic
name,” just as brute beasts are called “animals”; the name of the genus
is applied to the least distinguished member. Hence this division is
between an affirmation and a negation. In other words, grace in general
is defined as a supernatural gratuitous gift bestowed by God upon a
rational creature; and grace thus defined is divided according to
whether it renders him pleasing or does not. Thus grace gratis data
is not opposed, strictly speaking, to the other, in the sense that it
cannot be the object of merit, for neither can the first sanctifying
grace be merited, nor the last, that is, final perseverance, nor
eficacious actual grace to persevere in good acts throughout the course
of life. Nevertheless, as stated in the body of the article, grace
gratis data is granted over and above the merits of the person. (Cf.
below, q. I 14.)
2. By a
theological argument the appropriateness of the aforesaid divisions is
proved from a consideration of the ends.
Since grace is
ordained to the end that man may be restored to God, grace is twofold
according to the twofold restoration to God.
restoration to God is twofold, thus: 1. uniting man himself to God
immediately, and this is effected by sanctifying grace; 2. not of itself
uniting man to God, but causing him to cooperate in the salvation of
others, and this is brought about by grace gratis data.
traditional division is correct. In other words, the union with God is
either formal or only ministerial. This division is adequate since to
render pleasing and not to render pleasing are contradictory opposites
to one another and there can be no middle ground between them. Grace
gratis data is per se primarily ordained to the salvation of
others, or “unto profit.”
Sanctifying grace is per se primarily ordained to the salvation
of the recipient, whom it justifies.
It should be
noted that these two statements are qualified as “per se
primarily,” that is, essentially and immediately; however, grace gratis
data may secondarily lead to the salvation of the recipient, provided,
that is, it be employed by charity. Likewise, sanctifying grace may
secondarily lead to the salvation of others through the example of
virtue. But the primary end of each is the one assigned to it above.
Unlike sanctifying grace, the graces gratis datae may sometimes
be found in the wicked or sinners; for although sinners neglect their
own salvation, they may procure the salvation of others and cooperate in
it, after the manner of those who built Noah‘s ark and yet were
submerged in the waters of the flood.
prophesied as one divinely inspired, saying “It is expedient . . . that
one man die for the people” (John 11:50). Again, as narrated in the Book
of Numbers (23:22 ff.), Balaam, although a soothsayer and idolater,
received the gift of prophecy; likewise the sibyl, in spite of being a
pagan. (Cf. IIa IIae, q. 172, a. 4); with respect to prophecy (q.178, a.
2), the wicked can perform miracles in order to confirm revealed truths;
but if the gift of prophecy, which is the highest among the graces
gratis datae, exists in the wicked, with still greater reason is
this true of the others. Hence St. Paul himself says: “I chastise my
body, . . . lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself
should become a castaway” (I Cor. 9:27).
Whether “sanctifying grace” can be taken in a twofold sense.
Undoubtedly. 1. Strictly, it refers to habitual grace, distinct from the
infused virtues, by which we are justified or formally rendered pleasing
to God. 2. Broadly, it includes that which is ordained to the
justification of its subject, whether antecedently as stimulating grace
which disposes us for justification, or concomitantly, or consequently,
as, for example, supernatural helps, the infused virtues, the gifts, the
increase of grace, and glory, which is the consummation of grace. In the
present question sanctifying grace is thus broadly taken in contrast to
grace gratis data. And thus the aforesaid division is adequate.
Vasquez did not take this extended use of the term into account when, in
commenting on the article, he declared this division to be insufficient
since faith, hope, and actual helps could not be found under either of
its members. Hence sanctifying grace is identical here with the “grace
of the virtues and gifts with their proportionate helps,” which St.
Thomas speaks of (IIIa, q. 62, a. I): whether sacramental grace adds
something over and above the grace of the virtues and gifts. Indeed to
sanctifying grace also belong the sacramental graces which are the
proper effects of the sacraments; for example, baptismal grace, the
grace of absolution, of confirmation, nutritive grace (cf.p. 148 above).
Corollary. It is of great importance to determine clearly whether
infused or mystical contemplation, according as it is distinguished from
private revelations, visions, and even from words of wisdom or
knowledge, pertains to sanctifying grace and is in the normal way to
sanctity, or to the graces gratis datae as something
extraordinary. Theologians generally teach that infused contemplation
belongs to sanctifying grace, or to the grace of the virtues and gifts;
it is something not properly extraordinary but eminent, for its proceeds
not from prophecy but from the gifts of wisdom and understanding as they
exist in the perfect. Cf. IIa IIae, q. 180, on contemplative life, after
he considered graces gratis datae in particular.
Let us pass immediately to articles four and five which deal with the
same material, because afterwards there will be a longer consideration
of articles 2 and 3 with reference to operative and cooperative grace,
sufficient and efficacious grace.
WHETHER GRACE GRATIS DATA IS ADEQUATELY SUBDIVIDED BY THE
APOSTLE (I COR. 12:8-10)
State of the question. St. Paul here enumerates nine graces
gratis datae. St. Thomas shows the appropriateness of this division.
Many Thomists, Gonet among them, hold this division to be adequate; so
also does Mazella. On the other hand, Medina, Vasquez, Bellarmine,
Suarez, and Ripalda do not consider this division all-embracing, but
maintain that St. Paul was enumerating only the principal graces.
Suarez would further add to them the priestly character, jurisdiction in
the internal forum, and the special assistance conferred upon the
St. Thomas seems to judge the enumeration given by St. Paul to be
entirely sufficient and he defends it brilliantly in a remarkable
discussion both here and in his commentary on I Cor. 12 (cf. De
revelatione, I, 209).
It should be noted that St. Thomas, treating of these graces in
particular (IIa IIae, q. 171-79) in that case divides them according as
they pertain either to knowledge or to speech or to action; and under
the heading “prophecy” he includes all those which refer to the
knowledge of divine things, except words of wisdom and knowledge. For
those which pertain to prophecy are knowable only by divine revelation,
whereas whatever is included under words of wisdom and science and
interpretation of speeches can be known by man through his natural
reason, although they are manifested in a higher mode by the
illumination of divine light.
Confirmation from the refutation of objections.
1. The graces gratis datae exceed the power of nature, as when a
fisherman is fluent in words of wisdom and science; they are thus
differentiated from the natural gifts of God which likewise do not make
us pleasing to God.
2. The faith of which it is a question here is not
the theological virtue present in all the faithful, but a supereminent
certitude of faith by which a man is rendered capable of instructing
others in the things that pertain to faith.
grace of healing, the gift of tongues, and the interpretation of
speeches possess a certain special motivation impelling faith, according
as they excite admiration or gratitude. In the grace of healing the
benignity of God toward the misery of man shines forth; in the
performance of miracles, such as the opening of a passage through the
sea or the stopping of the sun in its course, the omnipotence of God
and knowledge are included among the graces gratis datae not
because they are gifts of the Holy Ghost, but because, by means of them,
a man may instruct others and vanquish his opponents. Therefore they are
purposely set down in the present enumeration as utterances of wisdom or
knowledge. (Cf. St. Thomas, IIa IIae, q. 45, a. 5 and on I Cor. 12, lect.
According to Thomists, in opposition to Suarez, the sacramental
character and jurisdiction in the internal forum, and the assistance of
the Holy Ghost do not belong to the graces gratis datae, but to
the ministries and operations which St. Paul himself distinguishes from
the graces gratis datae.“There are diversities of graces, but the
same Spirit; and there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord;
and there are diversities of operations, but the same God.” And they are
indeed distinguished, as Billuart observes, inasmuch as grace gratis
data concerns only an act which manifests faith, whereas
ministration or the ministry refers to the authority to perform some act
with respect to other men, such as the apostolate, the episcopate, the
priesthood, or any other dignity. An operation, moreover, is the
exercise of a ministry. Thus in the Old Testament priests and prophets
Doubt. Whether the aforesaid graces gratis datae reside in
man after the manner of a habit or rather as a transient movement. (Cf.
Gonet, De essentia gratiae.)
Reply. Gonet replies: Generally they are present as transient
movements, such as the gift of prophecy, the grace of healing or of
prodigies, the discerning of spirits. This is evident from the fact that
a prophet or wonderworker does not prophesy or work miracles whenever he
wills. (Cf. IIa IIae, q. 171, a. 2.)
However, according to the same authority, faith, words of wisdom and of
knowledge do exist after the manner of habits, since one who receives
them uses them when he so wills.
In Christ all these graces were present as habits for two reasons.
1. On account of the hypostatic union He was an instrument united to the
2. He had supreme power, by reason of which He disposed of all creatures
and hence at will He could perform miracles or cast out demons, as
explained in the treatise on the Incarnation, IIIa, q. 7, a. 7 ad I.
WHETHER GRACE GRATIS DATA IS SUPERIOR TO SANCTIFYING GRACE
This question is of great importance with respect to mystical theology;
for example, which are higher among the works of St. Theresa, those
which pertain to sanctifying grace or those pertaining to graces
State of the question. It seems that grace gratis data is
superior: 1. because the good of the Church in general, to which graces
gratis datae are ordained, is higher than the good of one man, to
which sanctifying grace is ordered; 2. because that which is capable of
enlightening others is of greater value than that which only perfects
oneself; it is better to enlighten than merely to shine; and 3. because
the graces gratis datae are not given to all Christians, but to
the more worthy members of the Church, especially to the saints.
However, in spite of these arguments, St. Thomas’ conclusion is in the
negative; and so is that of theologians generally.
The reply is: Sanctifying grace is much more excellent than grace
First proof, from the authority of St. Paul, who, after
enumerating the graces gratis datae, continues: “And I show unto
you yet a more excellent way. If I speak with the tongues of men and of
angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a
tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all
mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith so that I
could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing’’ (I Cor.
12:31-13:2). But prophecy is the highest of all the graces gratis
datae (cf. IIa IIae, q.171), and this is said to be below charity,
which pertains to sanctifying grace. Therefore.
In his commentary on the first Epistle to the Corinthians (chap. 13),
St. Thomas thus explains the words “I am nothing,” that is, with respect
to the being of grace, described in Ephesians (2:10): “For we are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works”; likewise II Cor.
5:17, and Gal. 6:15.In the same place it is shown that charity surpasses all
these charismata in three respects:
1. From necessity, since without charity, the other gratuitous gifts do
2. From utility, since it is through charity that every evil is avoided
and every good work performed. “Charity is patient, . . . beareth all
things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
3. From its permanence, for “charity never falleth away,” as St. Paul
declares, whether prophecies shall be made void or tongues shall cease.
Hence charity is said to be the bond of perfection uniting the soul to
God and gathering together all other virtues to ordain them toward God.
Therefore can Augustine say: “Love and do what you will.”
Second proof from theological argument.
The excellence of any virtue is higher according as it is ordained to a
higher end; and the end is superior to the means.
But sanctifying grace ordains men immediately to union with his final
end; and the graces gratis datae ordain him toward something
preparatory to his final end, since by miracles and prophecies men are
led to conversion.
Therefore sanctifying grace is much more excellent than grace gratis
In a word, sanctifying grace unites man immediately to God, who dwells
in him; on the other hand, grace gratis data serves only to
dispose others for union with God. This argument appears even more
profound when we observe that sanctifying grace, inasmuch as it unites
man immediately to God, his final supernatural end, is supernatural
substantially. It is indeed the root of the theological virtues which
are immediately specified by their formal supernatural object (objectum
formale quo et quod), and it is the seed of glory, the beginning of
eternal life which is essentially supernatural.
On the contrary, the graces gratis datae are generally
supernatural. only with respect to the mode of their production, in the
same way as miracles. As a matter of fact, with respect to this
supernaturalness, the division of the charismata corresponds to
the division of miracles given by St. Thomas (Ia, q. 105, a. 8); the
comparison may be made as follows:
Thus the great
difference becomes evident between the supernatural substantially and
the miraculous substantially; in the former “substantially” means
formally, by virtue of its formal object; in the latter “substantially”
means effectively, or concerning an effect the substance of which cannot
be produced by a created cause in any manner or in any subject, such,
for instance, as the glorification of the body.
Hence below intrinsically supernatural knowledge, such as the beatific
vision or infused faith, there exist the following three kinds of
effectively supernatural knowledge the object of which is intrinsically
Effectively, with respect to the substance of cognition, such as the
prophetic knowledge of future natural events taking place at a remote
time. This exceeds every created intellect, not by reason of the
essential supernaturalness of its object, as would be that of the
Trinity, but by reason of the uncertainty or indetermination of the
future, for example, the date when some war would end.
with respect to the subject in which it resides, such as the knowledge
of a natural object already actually existing, but removed in regard to
place or exceeding the faculty of vision of this particular man,
although not of all men (IIa IIae, q. 171, a. 3). Likewise the knowledge
of the secrets of hearts which are known nat-urally by the person whose
secrets they are.
3. Effectively, modally, such as the instantaneous knowledge of some
human science or unknown tongue without human study. Thus the
supernaturalness of prophecy is of an inferior order to the
supernaturalness of divine faith. Therefore St. Thomas says (III Sent.,
d. 24, a. 1 ad 3): “Although prophecy and faith treat of the same
matter, such as the passion of Christ, they do not do so in the same
way; for faith considers the Passion formally under the aspect of
something which borders on the eternal, that is, according as it was God
who suffered, although materially it considers a temporal event. This is
not true of prophecy.”
But what has been said of the supernaturalness of prophecy, the highest
of all the graces gratis datae, can be said of all the
charismata, as is very evident in the case of the gift of tongues,
the grace of healing, the performing of prodigies, and the discernment
of spirits. The same may be said of utterances of wisdom and knowledge
and of the interpretation of speech, for these latter three supply in a
supernatural way for what would be attained naturally by acquired
theology or hermeneutics. Thus, in general, the charismata are
supernatural modally only, and therefore sanctifying grace, which is
supernatural substantially, as a participation in the divine nature, is
“much more excellent,’’ as St. Thomas declares.
Confirmation of the aforesaid conclusion from the refutation of
First objection. The common good of the Church is better than the
good of one man. But sanctifying grace is ordained only to the good of
one, whereas grace gratis data is ordered to the common good of
the Church. Therefore.
Reply. The major is to be distinguished: the common good which is
in the Church is below the separated common good, that is, God: granted;
I distinguish the minor: sanctifying grace is ordained to the good of
the individual and also to the separate common good, that is, to God to
whom it unites us immediately: granted; otherwise, denied.
Hence, above the common good of the Church, which is the ecclesiastical
order, there is the separate common good, which is God Himself, to whom
sanctifying grace unites us immediately. Similarly, above the common
good of an army, which is its order, there is the common good considered
separately, namely, the good of the country.
On this account St. Thomas says later (IIa IIae, q. 182, a. 1-4) that
contemplative life, which is immediately ordained to the love and praise
of God, is, in an absolute sense, better, higher, and more meritorious
than the active life, which is ordained toward the love of neighbor and
to the common good of the Church not considered apart. Therefore did
Christ say (Luke 10:42): “Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall
not be taken away from her.” Many moderns would do well to read this
response to the first objection.
Again St. Thomas declares (IIa IIae, q. 182, a. I ad I): “It not only
pertains to prelates to lead the active life, but they should also excel
in the contemplative life”; which St. Gregory had already expressed in
the words: “Let the leader be eminent in action, and sustained in
contemplation above all others.”
Second objection. It is better to enlighten others than merely to
be enlightened; but by the graces gratis datae man enlightens
others; by sanctifying grace he is only enlightened himself. Therefore.
Reply. I distinguish the major: it is better than merely to be
enlightened to enlighten others formally: granted; to enlighten others
merely by disposing them: denied.
I distinguish the minor: that man, by grace gratis data,
enlightens others formally: denied; by disposing them, granted; on the
contrary he is formally enlightened by sanctifying grace.
For, by the graces gratis datae man cannot produce sanctifying
grace in another, but only offer him certain disposing or preparatory
factors toward justification, such as preaching to him or performing
miracles. God alone directly or through His sacraments infuses
sanctifying grace. Similarly, in the natural order, St. Thomas
maintains, the heat by which fire acts is not more estimable than the
form of fire itself.
I insist. Then St. Thomas was wrong when he said later (IIa IIae,
q. 188, a. 6) that the apostolic or mixed life “proceeding from the
fullness of contemplation is to be preferred absolutely to
contemplation, since it is a greater thing to enlighten than merely to
Reply. The apostolic life is preferred to simple contemplation
inasmuch as it includes this and something more; on the contrary, grace
gratis data does not include sanctifying grace and something
Third objection. That which is proper to the more perfect is
better than that which is common to all. But the graces gratis datae
are gifts proper to the more perfect members of the Church. Therefore
they are higher than the grace common to all the just, as reasoning
power is superior to sensation.
Reply. There is a disparity, for sensation (which is common to
all animals) is ordained to ratiocination. But on the contrary the
graces gratis datae (which are proper) are ordained to the
conversion of men, in other words, to sanctifying or justifying grace.
First corollary. Sanctifying grace or the grace of the virtues
and gifts belongs to the normal supernatural. But it exists in three
degrees, that of beginners, proficients, and perfect; in other words,
the purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways, the last being the age of
maturity of the spiritual life.
Second corollary. The graces gratis datae belong to the
extraordinary supernatural, so called not so much in relation to the
Church as to the individual, for example, private revelations, visions,
and internal words pertaining to prophecy.
Third corollary. Infused contemplation, proceeding from the gifts
of wisdom and understanding as they exist in the perfect, is therefore
not something extraordinary, like prophetic revelation, but something
normal and eminent, that is, in the normal way of sanctification.
Fourth corollary. Cajetan In llam llae, q. 178, a.2 (quoted by
Father Del Prado, De gratia et libero arbitrio, p. 268): “It is a
most pernicious error to consider the gift of God in the working of
miracles to be greater than in the works of justice. And this, contrary
to the popular idea and common error of humankind, which judges men who
perform miracles to be saints and, as it were, gods, whereas these
dullminded people have almost no esteem whatever for just men. The
complete opposite ought to be considered of high value, as it truly is.”
Although the sanctity of the servants of God is outwardly manifested by
miracles, the saint who performs more miracles than another is not, on
that account, a greater saint.
Fifth corollary. Del Prado (op. cit., p. 261): “The
graces gratis datae may exist without sanctifying grace for the
manifesting of divine truth; for of themselves they do not justify.
Hence St. Thomas says, commenting on I Cor. (13, lect. 1): ‘It is
obvious with regard to prophecy and faith, that they may be possessed
without charity. But it is to be remarked here that firm faith, even
without charity, produces miracles. Wherefore the apostle Matthew
(7:22), in reply to those who will ask: ‘Have we not prophesied in Thy
name . . . and done many miracles?’ declares that our Lord will reply:
‘I never knew you.’ For the Holy Ghost works prodigies even by the
wicked, just as He speaks truth through them.”
Sixth corollary. However, the graces gratis datae are, in
the saints, also a manifestation of their sanctity (Del Prado, ibid.);
cf. St. Thomas on I Cor. (12, lect. 2); whence it is said in Acts (6:8)
that “Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs
among the people.”
WHETHER GRACE IS
INTO OPERATIVE AND COOPERATIVE GRACE
State of the question. This article
explains the division made by St. Augustine (De gratia et libero
arbitrio, chap. 17); it should be carefully studied, for Molina
maintains (Concordia, q. 14, a. 13, disp. 42, p. 242) that St.
Thomas misinterprets Augustine. After giving his own interpretation,
Molina says: “This is manifest in the clearest light, although Augustine
has been understood otherwise by St. Thomas (Ia IIae, q. III, a. 2 and
3), by Soto and by certain others.” In fact, Molina attempts to
demonstrate (ibid., p. 243) that Augustine cannot be interpreted
in any other way, in the light of faith. Since this is a most serious
charge, the question must be considered attentively.
point at issue between Thomists and Molinists on this subject may be
formulated thus: For Molina (Concordia, p. 565), Suarez
and their disciples, operative
actual grace urges only by moral, and not by physical, impulsion, and
leads only to indeliberate acts, but never of itself alone to free
choice or consent. But cooperative actual grace, according to Molina,
produces, by moral impulsion, a free choice, with simultaneous
concurrence, in such a way that man is determined by himself alone. Thus
man and God seem to be rather two causes acting coordinately, like two
men rowing a boat, than two causes of which one is subordinate, acting
under the impulsion of the superior cause.
For Thomists, on
the other hand, operative actual grace does not merely urge by moral
impulsion, but operates physically as well, with respect to the
performance of an act and sometimes even leads to free choice; that is,
when man cannot move himself to this choice deliberately by virtue of a
previous higher act, such as the moment of conversion to God or the acts
of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which proceed from a special
inspiration. Cooperative actual grace, moreover, is also a physical
impulsion under which man, by virtue of a previous act of willing the
end, moves himself to will the means to the end.
Let us examine:
1. the text of St. Augustine, 2. the interpretation of Molina, 3. the
article of St. Thomas referred to and also the reply to objections (Ia
IIae, q. 9, a. 6 ad 3). The teaching of St. Thomas will be defended.
Augustine. The text of St. Augustine (De gratia et libero
arbitrio, chap. 17) reads thus: “God Himself works so that we may
will at the beginning what, once we are willing, He cooperates in
perfecting; therefore does the Apostle say: ‘Being confident of this
very thing, that He who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it
unto the day of Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 1:6). That we should will
therefore, He accomplishes without us; but when we do will, and so will
as to do, He cooperates with us.”
opinion. For Molina, operative grace is nothing more than prevenient
grace morally urging us; cooperative grace assists us. Hence, according
to Molina, “a person assisted by the help of less grace may be
converted, although another with greater help does not become converted
and continues to be obdurate.” Cf. Concordia p.565.
As Father Del
Prado observes (De gratia, I, 226): “Molina departs from the ways
of St. Thomas in the explanation of the nature of divine grace,
operative and cooperative, and refuses to admit that the grace of God
alone transforms the wills of men or that only God opens the heart.
Consequently, whether Molina will have it or not, although it is God who
stands at the gate and knocks, it is man who begins to open and man
alone who, in fact, does open it . . . Hence the beginning of consent,
for Molina, resides in man, who alone determines himself to will,
whereas God, who stands at the gate knocking, awaits his will.” Before
this beginning of consent proceeding from us alone, Molina maintains,
however, against the Semi-Pelagians, that there are moral divine
impulsions drawing us as well as the indeliberate movement of our will,
but that they are equal and even stronger in him who is not converted.
This is corroborated by some of his
well-known propositions; for instance, in the Concordia under the
heading “auxilium” in the index, we read: “It may happen that with equal
assistance, one of those who are called may be converted and another not
converted” (p. 51). Furthermore, “he who is helped by the aid of less
grace may be con-verted, although another with more does not become
converted and perseveres in his obstinacy” (p. 565). Hence, as Lessius
declares, “not that he who accepts does so by his freedom alone (since
there was grace attracting him), but that the turning point arose from
his freedom alone and thus not from a diversity of prevenient helps.”
(Cf. Salmanticenses, De gratia, tr. XIV, disp. 7.)
St. Thomas, on
the contrary, referring to the words of St. Matthew (25:15), “And to one
he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one,” comments:
“He who makes more effort has more grace, but the fact that he makes
more effort requires a higher cause.” Again, with reference to the
Epistle to the Ephesians (4:7), “to everyone of us is given grace,
according to the measure of the giving of Christ,” he repeats this
observation, and similarly in Ia IIae, q. 112, a. 4, on whether grace is
equal in all men.
The root of the
disagreement is manifold, but the principal point of contention is the
one mentioned by Molina himself in the Concordia (q.14, a. 13,
disp. 26, p. 152). “There are two difficulties, it seems to me, in the
teaching of St. Thomas (Ia, q. 105, a. 5); the first is that I do not
see what can be that impulse and its application to secondary causes, by
which God moves and applies them to act . . . Wherefore I confess
frankly that it is very difficult for me to understand this impulsion
and application which St. Thomas requires in secondary causes.
But, as Father
Del Prado observes (op. cit., p. 227): “In this article,
such application and impulsion is clearly affirmed even in free
secondary causes, and so, with respect to the interior act of the free
will, ‘the will is situated as moved only and not as moving, God alone
being the Mover. Here, as we shall presently see, physical premotion conquers,
rules, and triumphs. Thence proceed the anger and the unmentioned
recriminations which Molina gives vent to against the teaching of St.
Thomas, under the pretense of vindicating St. Augustine.”
holds (Concordia, disp. 42, p. 242) that according to St. Augustine (De
gratia et libero arbitrio, chap. 17) “whatever God effects in us
that is supernatural, until the moment when He leads us to the gift of
justification, whether we cooperate in it by our free will or not, is
called ‘operative grace’; that, however, by which He henceforth assists
us to fulfill the whole law and persevere . . . is called ‘cooperative
grace.’. . . And this is plainly the sense and intention of Augustine in
this place when he draws a distinction between operative and cooperative
grace, which will be obvious in the clearest light to anyone examining
that chapter, notwithstanding the fact that St. Thomas understands
Augustine otherwise in the two articles quoted (Ia IIae, q. III, a. 2
and 3), as well as Soto (De natura et gratia, Bk. I, chap. 16)
and some others.”
is obliged to explain on the following page (p. 243) the words of St.
Paul to the Philippians (2:13): “It is God who works in you, both to
will and accomplish,” with regard to which Augustine had said:
“Therefore, that we will is brought about by God, without us; but when
we will, and so will as to act, He cooperates with us.” With regard to
this text, Molina says: “But neither does Augustine mean to assert that
we do not cooperate toward willing, by which we are justified, or that
it is not effected by us, but by God alone. That certainly would be both
contrary to faith and opposed to the teaching of Augustine himself in
many other places.”
these last words of Molina, Father Del Prado (op. cit. I,
226) declares: “Does St. Thomas teach something contrary to faith in
drawing the distinction between operative and cooperative grace? . . .
From the lofty and profound teaching of St. Thomas propounded in this
article, wherein all is truth and brilliance, does something follow
which is contrary to the Catholic faith and the teaching of Augustine
himself? . . . Molina departs from the ways of St. Thomas (since he will
not admit that God applies and moves the will beforehand, but). . . . He
holds that, while God, drawing the soul morally, stands at the gate and
knocks, it is man who begins to open, and man alone who actually does
open.” In the Apocalypse (3:20) we read: “I stand at the gate, and
knock. If any man shall hear My voice, and open to Me the door, I will
come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” But man does not
open it alone; he opens in fact according as God knocks efficaciously.
Otherwise how would the words of St. Paul be verified: “What hast thou
that thou hast not received?” In the business of salvation, not
everything would then be from God.
respect to Molina’s opinion. For Molina and Suarez and the Molinists in
general, operative grace is nothing else but prevenient grace which
urges morally, but does not really assist,
and only cooperative grace
assists the soul.
Suarez himself admits this.
For the beginning of consent,
according to Molina, comes from man, who alone determines himself to
will; while God almost waits for our consent. Indeed, for Molina, “he
who is aided by the help of less grace may be converted, whereas
another, with greater help, is not converted and persists in his
obduracy” (op. cit., p. 365).
Thus the salient
point at issue, as Father Del Prado says (op. cit., I,
223), is: “Whether the free will of man, when moved by the gratuitous
impulsion of God to accept and receive the gift of the grace of
justification, at that very instant of justification, in in a condition
of being moved only, and not of moving, while God alone moves. When God
stands at the gate of the heart and knocks, that we may open to Him, is
it man who alone opens his heart, or God who begins to open and is the
first to open and, having opened, confers upon us that we, too, may
ourselves open to Him?” This is the question which St. Thomas solves in
that celebrated article 2 and explains more fully below, in question
113. But Molina jumps from what precedes our justification to what
follows it, and is not willing to examine the very moment when the free
will of man is moved by God, through the love of charity, and from one
who is averse to Him is made a convert to Him, and is intrinsically
transformed by God who infuses sacnctifiying grace.” This is the crux of
the present controversy.
3. St. Thomas’
opinion. St. Thomas rightly interprets St. Augustine (cf. Del Prado,
op. cit. I, 224 and 202); for Augustine declares:
“God, cooperating with us, perfects what He began by operating in us;
because in beginning He works in us that we may have the will, and
cooperates to perfect the work with us once we are willing. For this
reason the Apostles say (Phil. 1:6): ‘Being confident of this very
thing, that He, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto
the day of Christ Jesus.’ That we should will is, therefore,
accomplished without us; but once we are willing, and willing to such an
extent that we act, He cooperates with us; however, without either His
operation or His cooperation once we will, we are incapable of any good
works of piety. With regard to His bringing it about that we will, it is
said in Philippians (2:13): ‘For it is God who worketh in you, . . . to
will.’ But of His cooperation, when we already are willing and willingly
act, it is said: ‘We know that to them that love God, all things work
together unto good’ (Rom. 8:28).” St. Augustine reiterates this opinion
in chapters 5 and 14 of the same book.
Again, writing to
Boniface (Bk. II, chap. 9): “God accomplishes many good things in man
which man does not accomplish (operative grace); but man does nothing
good which God does not enable him to do (cooperative grace).” This is
observed by the Council of Orange (c. 20, Denz., no. 193).
according to Augustine, operative grace is not simply grace urging
equally him who is converted and him who is not, for Augustine repeats
in several places, with reference to predestination: “Why does He draw
this man and not that? Do not judge if you do not wish to err” (Super
Joan., tr. 26; cf. Ia, q. 23, a. 5). This teaching of Augustine is
mentioned by St. Gregory (Moral., Bk. XVI, chap. 10) and by St.
Bernard (De gratia et libero arbitrio, chap. 14); both are quoted
by Del Prado (op. cit., I, 203).
In article 2 of
the present question there are two conclusions, one concerning actual
grace and the other habitual grace.
conclusion. Actual grace is
properly divided into operative and cooperative grace.
Council of Orange. Above and beyond the aforesaid authority of
St. Augustine, this conclusion is supported by the Council of Orange (Denz.,
no. 177, can. 4): “It must be acknowledged that God does not wait upon
our wills to cleanse us from sin, but also that we should wish to be
cleansed by the infusion and operation of the Holy Ghost in us.” In
canon 23 it is said that God prepares our wills that they may desire the
good. Again (can. 25, Denz., no. 200): “In every good work, it is not we
who begin . . . but He (God) first inspires us with faith and love of
Him, through no preceding merit on our part.” All these texts pertain to
operative grace, as does the beginning of canon 20 (Denz., no. 193), as
follows: “God does many good works in man which man himself does not
do.” But the second part of this canon applies to cooperative grace,
thus: “But man does no good works which God does not enable him to do.”
An operation is
not attributed to the thing moved, but to the mover; for example, the
fact that a cart is drawn is attributed to the horse.
But in the first
interior act, the will is situated as moved only, whereas God is the
mover; whereas in the exterior act, ordered by the will, the will is
both moved and moves.
Therefore in the
first act the operation is attributed to God, and therefore the grace is
termed operative; in the second act the operation is attributed not only
to God, but also to the soul, and the grace is termed cooperative.
The major is
clear with regard to an inanimate thing that is moved, as the cart is
moved by the horse, but if the thing moved is a living thing and the
operation is a vital act, it is elicited, indeed, from it. Thus, the
very first act of the will is elicited vitally from it; however, the
will is not said to move itself to it, properly speaking, since, as
explained above (Ia IIae, 9.9, a.3), “the will, by the very fact that it
desires the end, moves itself to will those things which conduce to the
end; just as the intellect, by the fact that it knows a principle,
reduces itself from potency to act, with respect to the knowledge of the
conclusion.” To move oneself is, indeed, to reduce oneself from potency
to act. Hence it is not to be wondered at that, in this act wherein the
will cannot move itself by virtue of a previous effcacious act of the
same order, it should be referred to as moved only, and the operation
attributed to God.
The minor needs
explanation. What is this interior act? It is manifold. It is that first
of all by which we desire happiness in general, and for this,
supernatural help is not required (cf. Ia IIae, q. 9, a. 4, c. 2); it is
particularly, according to St. Thomas (ibid.), “that the will
which previously desired evil now begins to will the good.” This is
explained (IIa, q. 86, a. 6 ad I): “The effect of operative grace is
justification of the wicked, as stated in Ia IIae, q. 113, a. 1-3, which
[justification] consists not only in the infusion of grace and the
remission of sins, but also a movement of the free will toward God,
which is the act of formed faith, and a movement of the free will in
relation to sin, which is the act of penance. But these human acts are
present as effects of operative grace, produced in the same way as the
remission of sins. Hence the remission of sin is not accomplished
without an act of the virtue of penance, even if it is the effect of
operative grace.” These acts are therefore vital, rather are they even
free, but the will does not move itself toward them, strictly speaking,
by virtue of a previous eflicacious act of the same order, since
beforehand, a prior act of this kind did not exist.
synopsis, which we have already given in the introduction and which can
now be explained, should be read in an ascending order, from the natural
to the supernatural.
We explained this
elsewhere (Christian Perfection and Contemplation, p. 285). From
the same point of view Father Del Prado has made an excellent study of
the present article (op. cit., I, 206, 235; II, 220); and
before him, Cajetan, commenting on this article, as well as Soto, Lemos,
Thomas declares in the reply to the second objection: “Through the
movement of the free will, when we are justified, we consent to the
justice of God.” But man does not move himself, properly speaking, to
justification; he is moved to it, freely of course, but moved
nonetheless; hence it is the effect of operative, not cooperative grace.
grace given at the instant of justification is, as Father Del Prado
states (ibid., II, 220), a kind of introduction to all the free
movements toward the good, meritorious for salvation, a quasi door into
the supernatural order, and, as it were, the first step in the work of
divine predestination. And this first act of charity is rather a simple
willing of the final end than election, for election as such, properly
so called, belongs to those things that are means to an end. Cf. IIa
IIae, q. 24, a. I ad 3: “Charity, the object of which is the final end,
should rather be said to reside in the will than in free choice.” Hence
operative grace includes not only vocation to the Christian life or the
prompting by which God knocks at the gate (wherein our cooperation is
non-existent; they precede our consent at any time whatever), but also
the movement by which we are justified, freely consenting to it. Thus
we read in Ezechiel (36:25f.): “I will pour upon you clean water, and
you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness . . . . And I will give
you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away
the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh.”
Again in the Acts of the Apostles (16:14): “whose heart [Lydia’s] the
Lord opened to attend to those things which were said by Paul.”
Hence, when God
says (Apoc. 3:20): “Behold, I stand at the gate and knock,” it is not
man who begins to open and separates himself from sinners. Rather, as
God opened the heart of Lydia, so does He open the heart of any of the
just at the instant of justification. “God begins to open, He first
opens, and in doing so, confers upon us that we, too, may open to Him,”
as Father Del Prado so well expresses it (op. cit., I,
The third example
of operative grace is the special inspiration we receive with docility
by means of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to Cajetan (cf. Ia
IIae, q. 68, a. 1-3), since “the gifts are certain habits by which man
is perfected so as to obey the Holy Ghost promptly. . . . But man, thus
acted upon by the Holy Ghost, also acts, according as it is by free
choice,” as stated in the same article 3, ad 2. Hence these operations
proceeding from the gifts, for instance, from the gift of piety in the
will, are vital, free, and meritorious, and yet the will does not,
properly speaking, move itself to perform them, as it moves itself by
deliberation to works of virtue in a human manner, but is specially
moved by the Holy Ghost. This is well explained by St. Thomas in his
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (8:14, lect. 3), a beautiful
commentary on the present article. Regarding the words: “Whosoever are
led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” he writes as
follows: “They are said to be led who are moved by some superior
instinct: thus we say of brutes, not that they act, but that they are
led or impelled to act, since they are moved by natural instinct, and
not by personal movement, to perform their actions. Likewise the
spiritual man is inclined to perform some act, not, as it were, mainly
by the movement of his own will, but by an instinct of the Holy Ghost.”
This does not, however, prevent spiritual men from using their will and
free choice, since what the Holy Ghost causes in them is precisely the
movement of their will and free choice, according to Phil. 2:13: “For it
is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish.”
explanation of the minor, we now come to the question of cooperative
grace. This is conferred for good works in which our will is not only
moved, but moves itself, that is, when, already actually willing the
final supernatural end, it converts itself to willing the means
conducive to that end. This act is said to be external, although it may
be only internal, since it is commanded by the will in virtue of a
previous efficacious act of the same order. Thus it is in the use of the
infused virtues, by deliberation properly so called, that the act is
performed in the human mode, for example, when the will commands an act
of justice or religion or fortitude or temperance, by virtue of a
previous act of love of God. Not only are these acts vital, free, and
meritorious, but the will properly moves toward them or “determines
itself to will this or that,” as is said in the well-known reply to the
third objection, Ia IIae, q. 9, a. 6.
It is this
cooperative grace that is referred to in Sacred Scripture; indeed there
is even a comparison made with operative grace; for example, in Ezech.
36:27: “And I will put My spirit in the midst of you [operative grace]:
and I will cause you to walk in My commandments, and to keep My
judgments, and do them [cooperative grace].” Again in I Cor. 15:10: “But
by the grace of God, I am what I am [operative grace]; and His grace in
me hath not been void, but I have labored more abundantly than all they:
yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” This latter is cooperative
Doctor always speaks in harmony with these texts. According to him,
under operative grace, the will elicits its act vitally, in fact, it
freely consents to the divine motion or inspiration, but it does not
strictly move itself by its own proper activity in virtue of a previous
efficacious act of the same order, for this previous efficacious act is
wanting at that time; for example, in justification, in the acts of the
gifts of the Holy Ghost, such as the gift of piety. With respect to
justification, St. Thomas declares (Ia IIae, q. III, a. 2 ad 2): “God
does not justify us without ourselves, since by the movement of free
will when we are justified we consent to the justice of God. However,
this movement is not the cause of grace, but its effect; hence the whole
action pertains to grace.” Again, he states (IIIa, q. 86, a. 4 ad 2): It
pertains to grace to operate in man, justifying him from sin, and to
cooperate with man in right action. Therefore the remission of sins and
of the guilt deserving of eternal punishment belongs to operative grace,
but the remission of guilt which merits temporal punishment pertains to
cooperative grace, that is, according as man, enduring sufferings
patiently with the help of divine grace, is also absolved from the guilt
of temporal punishment, . . . the first effect is from grace alone, the
second from grace and free will.” (See also q. 86, a. 6 ad I.) It is
previously declared (9.85, a. 5 c.): “Penance as a habit is immediately
infused by God, without any principal operation on our part, but not
however without our disposing ourselves to cooperate by some acts.”
of Father Del Prado (op. cit., I, 21 I ): By operative
grace God operates in us without our acting or moving ourselves, but not
without our consent. Cf. a. 2: Thus in the instant of justification and
in the operation of the seven gifts. In fact, certain operative grace is
even antecedent in time to our consent, such, for instance, as vocation
and admonition when God stands at the gate and knocks before it is
opened. Here, however, the free consent may, broadly speaking, be called
cooperation on our part; but not in the strict and formal sense in which
the term is used by St. Thomas in this article. On the contrary, by
cooperative grace, God works in us, not only with our consent, but with
our action or motion. This is the Thomistic interpretation of St.
Augustine’s teaching; it is eminently profound and in full conformity
Thus the opposition between St. Thomas’ doctrine and that of heresy is
manifest. Of the operative actual grace by which we are justified (cf.
Del Prado, op. cit., I, 213): Calvin holds that free will
is moved without any action on its own part, and is merely passive.
Jansen holds that free will is moved necessarily, and cannot resist even
if it wills to do so; Pelagius holds that free will begins to move
itself to this first volition; Molina holds 1. that free will is moved
by virtuous, indeliberate impulses which, willy-nilly, are supernatural.
2. Then it begins to deliberate within itself, freely accepting them. In
his first contention, Molina borders on Jansenism; in the second he does
not seem sufficiently removed from Pelagius. In both respects, the
opinion of Molina deviates from the teaching of St. Thomas. As declared
in the reply to the third objection, grace is not called “cooperative”
in the sense that God here places Himself in the position of a secondary
agent; He ever remains the principal agent. But the will also moves
itself in this case “once the end is taken for granted” in the intended
act, and God assists it in the pursuit of this intended end.
conclusion is that habitual
grace can also be referred to as operative and cooperative (cf. end of
article) since it has two effects:1. it justifies the soul; this is
operative grace, not effectively but formally, that is, it makes
pleasing, just as whiteness makes a thing white, as stated in the reply
to the first objection; 2. it is the root principle of meritorious
works, which proceed from the free will; in this sense it is
arising from the reply to the fourth objection (cf. Del Prado, op.
cit., I, 228): Whether operative and cooperative grace may be the
Yes, if it is a question of habitual grace, which is at the same time
justifying (formally) and the root principle of meritorious works. This
is clearly stated here in the answer to the fourth objection and in
article 3 ad 2, where it is clearly a question of habitual grace, which
is said to remain numerically the same in glory, where it is
consummated. Cf. also De veritate, q. 27, a. 5 ad I, and IIIa, q.
60, a. 2; q. 72, a. 7. Sacramental grace is a mode of habitual grace and
is applied with various effects.
But if the
question is about actual grace, then operative grace and cooperative
grace are not one and the same numerically; for the reason is the same
for actual grace and for the act of the will, of which it is the
principle and beginning. But the act is twofold, interior wherein the
will does not move itself, exterior wherein it does. Therefore there are
likewise two actual graces, for actual grace passes and ceases with the
very operation toward which it moves. John of St. Thomas and the
Salmanticenses hold this opinion.
sometimes, after an act proceeding from operative grace, there is not
elicited an act for which cooperative grace is required, as is evident
in the case of one who, immediately after absolution and justification,
sins, by not performing the act of virtue which he ought to perform. In
such a one, operative grace efficaciously produced justification freely
accepted, but it did not produce the following act. To produce it a new
actual grace is required, that is, cooperative grace, for there is a new
passage from potency to act, and whatever is moved to a new supernatural
act, is moved supernaturally by another.
grace and cooperative actual grace are therefore distinct, since at
times the first is given without the second or vice versa. But if the
superior and inferior acts are simultaneous, as in infused contemplation
which is prolonged by some discourse, or an inspiration of the gift of
council which is simultaneous with an act of prudence, then perhaps it
suffices that operative grace should be given, provided that, according
to God’s decree, it contains cooperative grace eminently; it is then
more perfect than if it did not contain it. Second doubt. Whether
operative actual grace requires a twofold motion, namely, moral on the
part of the object and physical on the part of the subject. (Cf. Del
Prado, op. cit., I, 233.)
I reply in the affirmative, together with John of St. Thomas and Father
Del Prado; for operative grace first enlightens the intellect, then
touches the will and causes a sudden desire for the object proposed
through the representation of the intellect; and this is the in-spiration
that opens the heart, as the heart of Lydia was “opened to attend to
those things which were said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Hence operative
grace not only excites by moral movement, but also operates physically,
so that by it the heart of man is opened and led not only to
indeliberate acts but sometimes to consent as well, for example, in
justification or in acts of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
What are the effects of operative grace in us? There are three. (Cf.
Father Del Prado, op. cit., I, 234.)
enlightenment of the intellect and the objective pulsation of the heart:
this is a moral movement prior to any consent; thereupon the acts are
indeliberate, and with respect to this stage operative grace is nothing
but a grace which urges.
application of the free will to the holy affection or action, that it
may be converted to God; this application is the complement in the
secondary cause of the power to operate.
very act of willing, applied to the action, namely, the very act of
believing, hoping, and loving: in these acts the will does not remain
passive, but elicits the acts freely. However, the will does not
properly move itself to such an act as a result of a preceding act,
since this act is first in the order of grace and relates to the final
end. Hence, contrary to the opinion of Molina, operative grace
determinately moving toward these acts is more than a mere urging, and
yet liberty is safeguarded, according to St. Thomas.
Fourth doubt. Whether cooperative grace produces in us three
similar effects. Undoubtedly, for cooperative grace is also a previous
movement according to a priority not of time but of causality. But these
three effects are in another way, since with cooperative grace the will
moves itself on account of some preceding act; thus it wills,
presupposing the end already intended. On the contrary, with operative
grace the will wills by tending toward the end, and the act of the will
resembles that first act of the angels discussed in Ia, q. 63, a. 5, or
that first act of the soul of Christ which is considered in IIIa, q. 34,
a. 3. In the first instant of His conception, Christ merited not
incarnation but the glory of immortality, just as an adult at the
instant of justification acquires not the grace of justification but the
Final corollary. We may now read again the well-known reply to
the third objection of Ia IIae, q. 9, a. 6, and easily grasp its
meaning: “Occasionally God moves some men especially toward willing
something determinate which is good, as in those whom He moves by grace,
as stated below,” that is, in our article 2. This is operative grace
moving determinately, but with which liberty still remains.
SOME FALSE NOTIONS CONCERNING OPERATIVE AND COOPERATIVE GRACE ( CF.
does not consist in an indeliberate act, according as it depends upon
God, as Ripalda would have it, since an indeliberate supernatural act
presupposes operative help moving one to this act. Nor does it consist
in an indeliberate act, with God’s assistance, as Suarez holds, for God
is not united to us in the manner of an operative power.
opposition to Alvarez and Gonet, operative grace is not a simple
movement applying a previous one, for operative grace thus understood
pertains to all operations of the will, indeliberate as well as
deliberate, as these authors admit, whereas St. Thomas declares that
operative grace, specifically so called, pertains only to the act of the
will by which it is moved toward something freely, but does not move
itself by discursive deliberation.
is not the indeliberate act itself inclining toward deliberate consent,
because cooperative grace, and not this indeliberate act, has an
infallible connection with the deliberate operation to which it moves us
and which, in fact, it produces, since by such grace God cooperates and
influences the eliciting of the aforesaid act. But the indeliberate
affection, left to itself, has no infallible connection with deliberate
assent, since we often resist a sudden inspiration or inclination;
therefore cooperative grace cannot consist in an indeliberate affection;
but there must be added a motion which joins the indeliberate act with
the deliberate act or which ensures that the deliberate act is
effective. Cf. below, p. 230, the opinion of Gonzales, where it is a
matter of the fundamental distinction between efficacious and sufficient
WHETHER GRACE IS
AND SUBSEQUENT GRACE
of the question. This article
is intended to explain the classical division of grace, according to
Augustine, De natura et gratia, chap. 31, and ad Bonifacium,
Bk. 11, chap. 9, as here cited at the end of the article. These terms
should be carefully defined that it may be clear wherein lay the error
of the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, who de-nied the necessity of
prevenient grace. According to them, generally, every internal grace was
subsequent with respect to free will; only external preaching of the
word was antecedent, according as the beginning of salvation came from
us and not from God. Thus did they interpret the words of Apoc. 3:20: “I
stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear My voice, and open
to Me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he
presently see that grace can never be thus termed “subsequent” with
respect to free will, but only in the sense that it follows another
grace or another effect of grace; cf. below, Ia IIae, q. 112, a. 2:
“Whatever preparation (for grace) may be present in man is derived from
the help of God moving the soul to good”; and in IV Sent., d. 17,
q. I, a. I, solut. 2 ad 2: “Our will is entirely attendant upon divine
grace and in no way before hand.”
Grace, habitual as well as actual, is properly divided into prevenient
proof, in the argument Sed
contra; namely, that the grace of God proceeds from His mercy. But
it is said (Ps. 58:11): “His mercy shall prevent me,” and again (Ps.
22:6): “Thy mercy will follow me.” Therefore.
Likewise in the
prayers of the Church; the collect Pretiosa: “Anticipate, O Lord, we
beseech thee, our actions by Thy inspiration, and continue them by Thine
assistance; that every one of our works may begin always from Thee, and
through Thee be ended.” The collect for the Sixteenth Sunday after
Pentecost: “O Lord, we pray Thee that Thy grace may always go before and
follow us.” And the collect of Easter Sunday: “Grant that the vows Thou
inspirest us to perform, Thou wouldst thyself help us to fulfill.”
Similarly on the
authority of St. Augustine, here cited in the body of the article, from
De natura et gratia, chap. 31: “(God) precedes us that we may be
healed; He follows us that, even healed, we may yet be invigorated. He
precedes us that we may be called; He follows us that we may be
glorified. He precedes us that we may live piously;
He follows us
that we may live with Him forever, since without Him we can do nothing.”
Grace is properly
classified according to its various effects.
But there are
five effects appointed to grace: 1. that the soul may be healed; 2. that
it may will the good; 3. that it may eficaciously perform the good it
wills; 4. that it may persevere in the good; 5. that it may attain to
grace causing the first effect is properly termed “prevenient” with
respect to the second effect, and as causing the second it is called
“subsequent” in relation to the first effect; and so with the rest. Thus
the same act is at once prevenient and subsequent with respect to
Thus grace is called prevenient with respect to some following act,
although it is also prevenient with respect to the act toward which it
moves immediately, according as it is previous to it with the priority
of causality. And grace is not said to be subsequent in relation to free
will, as Pelagius held, but relative to another grace or effect of
As St. Thomas
remarks (De veritate, q. 27, a. 5 ad 6): “Prevenient and
subsequent grace may be understood in another way with respect to the
man whom it moves; thus prevenient grace causes a man to will what is
good, and subsequent grace causes him to perform the good which he has
willed.” As Augustine declares in the Enchiridion, chap. 32: “He
precedes the unwilling, that he may will, and follows the willing lest
he will in vain.”
Reply to first
objection. Since the
uncreated love of God for us is eternal, it is always prevenient. (Cf.
Del Prado, op. cit., I, 247.)
Both operative and cooperative grace, since they move toward diverse
acts, may be called prevenient and subsequent.
Whether prevenient and subsequent grace may be the same grace
numerically. The solution is found in the reply to the second objection,
that is, in the case of habitual grace, yes; but in that of actual
grace, no, for the same reason as for operative and cooperative grace.
For it is evident that the same habitual grace, numerically, is called
prevenient inasmuch as, justifying us, it precedes meritorious works; it
is called subsequent inasmuch as it will be consummated, thus it is
In fact, St.
Thomas expressly states here in the reply to the second objection:
“Subsequent grace pertaining to glory is not different numerically from
prevenient grace by which we are justified now; for as the charity of
the wayfarer is not made void but perfected in heaven, so also can this
be said of the light of grace, for neither of them bears any
imperfection in its principle.”
But if it is a
question of actual grace, which ceases with the very act toward which it
moves immediately and of which it is the beginning, then it is
multiplied along with the acts enumerated above, as we said before of
operative actual grace and cooperative actual grace.
To complete this
Question III on the division of grace, two articles must be added since
the Council of Trent and the condemnation of Jansenism: 1. The
distinction between exciting or stimulating grace and assisting grace,
which was considered by the Council, Sess. VI, chap. 5; 2. The
difference between sufficient and efficacious grace, in respect to which
the Protestants and Jansenists erred.
THE DIVISION OF ACTUAL
GRACE INTO STIMULATING AND ASSISTING GRACE (CF. DEL PRADO, OP.
CIT., I, 243)
This division is
explained at the Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. 5 (Denz., no. 797):
“It is declared, moreover, that the beginning of this very justification
in adults is received from God through Christ Jesus by prevenient grace
(can. 3), that is, by His vocation, in that none are called on account
of their own existing merits; that they who were turned away from God by
sin, may be disposed by His stimulating and assisting grace to become
converted to their own justification, freely (can. 4 and 5) assenting to
and cooperating with the same grace.”
According to this
text, grace rousing one from the sleep of sin by moral movement, that
is, by enlightenment and attraction, and grace assisting one to will the
good, by the application of the will to its exercise, are included under
prevenient grace, which precedes the free consent of man’s will, whereby
we consent to justification and may be prepared for it. Hence this
prevenient grace to which the Council refers is the same as the
operative grace considered by St. Thomas in article two, especially in
the reply to the second objection: “God does not justify us without
ourselves, since by the movement of free will, when we are justified, we
consent to the justice of God. However, this movement is not the cause
of grace [as the Semi-Pelagians held], but its effect; hence the whole
operation belongs to grace.” (Cf. Del Prado, De gratia, I, 228.)
corroborated our interpretation of article two, that is: operative grace
is not only stimulating but assisting. Under Sess. VI, chap. 5 of the
Council the same doctrine is explained as in article two of the present
question (III). The Council of Trent, Sess. VI, can. 4 (Denz., no. 814)
uses the term “moving grace” for assisting grace. Doubt. Whether the
prevenient grace which stimulates the intellect and assists in the
application of the will is absolutely prior to our consent, or
subsequent to it. How are we to understand the following text of the
Apocalypse (3:20)? “Behold, I stand at the gate and knock. If any man
shall hear My voice, and open to Me the door, I will come in to him.”
This grace is, with respect to its efficient cause, absolutely prior to
our consent, according to St. Thomas (Ia IIae, q. III, a. 2 ad 2; q.
113, a. 8 c.). At the same instant: 1. there is an infusion of grace; 2.
a movement of the free will with respect to God; 3. a movement of the
free will in regard to sin; 4. the remission of sin. Similarly in the
answers to the first and second objections. (Cf. Dominic Soto, De
natura et gratia, Bk. I, chap. 16, and Del Prado, De gratia,
Del Prado, op. cit. (I, 248): From the notion of operative
and cooperative grace, propounded by St. Thomas in article two, it can
easily be demonstrated that the gratuitous movement of God, whereby He
impels us to meritorious good, is efficacious, not on account of the
consent of the free will that has been moved, but on account of the will
and intention of God who moves it, as St. Thomas expressly declares in
the following question (112, a. 3).
Even in article
two of the present question, the Angelic Doctor has already said with
reference to operative grace, that “with it, our mens is moved and not
the mover”; and, in the answer to the second objection, that the
movement of the free will, when we are justified and consent to the
justice of God, “is not the cause of grace, but its effect, so that the
whole operation belongs to grace.”
Again in the body
of this second article it is declared of cooperative grace: “And since
God also helps us in this (deliberate) act, both by interiorly
strengthening the will that it may accomplish the act, and by exteriorly
supplying the faculty to perform it, with respect to this kind of act it
is called cooperative grace.”
matter of fact, Molina would not have denied the interpretation of
Augustine given by St. Thomas, were it not declared in this
interpretation that grace is efficacious of itself.
We have treated
this question at length elsewhere: Christian Perfection and
Contemplation; The Three Ages of the Interior Life.
divinae gratiae, Bk. III, chap. 5, no. 4; cf. Del Prado,
De gratia et libero arbitrio, I, 228.
cooperative grace, according to St. Thomas; cf. Ia IIae, q. III,
a.2, o., 4; a.3, c; II Sent., dist. 26, a. 5, o., 4;
De veritate, q. 27, a. 5, I, 2; II Cor., 6, lect. I (at the
beginning); IIIa, q. 86, a. 4, 2; a. 6 ad I; q. 88, a. I, 4.
St. Thomas had
also said, Ia IIae, q.55, a.4 ad 6: “Infused virtue is caused in
us by God, without our action, not however without our consent”;
and further, Ia IIae, q.113, a.3: “By infusing grace God at once
moves the free will to accept the gift of grace, in those who
are capable of this movement.” As Del Prado rightly observes,
op. cit., I, 213: The will cannot strictly move
itself to this first act of charity, for as a supernatural
conclusion is not contained in a natural principle, neither is a
supernatural choice contained in man’s primary natural
intention. In fact, before the gift of justifying grace, the
will of man is turned away from God on account of mortal sin.
Hence it is God who must begin to move the free will of man
determinately by grace toward the initial volition of
supernatural good, as stated in the famous reply to the third
objection, Ia IIae, 9.9, a.6. Similarly, Soto, De nat. et
gratia, chap. 16. This is the true interpretation of St.
Thomas given by Cajetan, Soto, Lemos, etc.; also by the
Salmanticenses, disp. V, dub. VII, no. 165.