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Title: Grace, Actual and Habitual

Author: Joseph Pohle

Release Date: July 29, 2009 [Ebook #29540]

Language: English

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***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK GRACE, ACTUAL AND HABITUAL***

Grace

Actual and Habitual

A Dogmatic Treatise

By

The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph Pohle, Ph.D., D.D.

Formerly Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Joseph's Seminary, Leeds (England), Later Professor of Fundamental Theology at The Catholic University of America

Adapted and Edited by

Arthur Preuss

Third, Revised Edition

W. E. Blake & Son, Limited

Catholic Church Supplies

123 Church St.

Toronto, Canada

1919


Contents

[pg i]

Imprimatur

NIHIL OBSTAT

Sti. Ludovici, die 18 Jan. 1919

F. G. Holweck,
Censor Librorum

IMPRIMATUR

Sti. Ludovici, die 21 Jan. 1919

Joannes J. Glennon
Archiepiscopus
Sti. Ludovici

Copyright, 1914
by
Joseph Gummersbach

All rights reserved

Printed in U. S. A.

BECKTOLD
PRINTING & BOOK MFG. CO.
ST. LOUIS. U. S. A.

[pg 001]

Introduction

Humanity was reconciled to God by the Redemption. This does not, however, mean that every individual human being was forthwith justified, for individual justification is wrought by the application to the soul of grace derived from the inexhaustible merits of Jesus Christ.

There are two kinds of grace: (1) actual and (2) habitual. Actual grace is a supernatural gift by which rational creatures are enabled to perform salutary acts. Habitual, or, as it is commonly called, sanctifying, grace is a habit, or more or less enduring state, which renders men pleasing to God.

This distinction is of comparatively recent date, but it furnishes an excellent principle of division for a dogmatic treatise on grace.1

[pg 003]

Part I. Actual Grace

Actual grace is a transient supernatural help given by God from the treasury of the merits of Jesus Christ for the purpose of enabling man to work out his eternal salvation.

We shall consider: (1) The Nature of Actual Grace; (2) Its Properties, and (3) Its Relation to Free-Will.

General Readings:—St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 1a 2ae, qu. 109-114, and the commentators, especially Billuart, De Gratia (ed. Lequette, t. III); the Salmanticenses, De Gratia Dei (Cursus Theologiae, Vol. IX sqq., Paris 1870); Thomas de Lemos, Panoplia Divinae Gratiae, Liège 1676; Dominicus Soto, De Natura et Gratia, l. III, Venice 1560; *Ripalda,2 De Ente Supernaturali, 3 vols. (I, Bordeaux 1634; II, Lyons 1645; III, Cologne 1648).

*C. v. Schäzler, Natur und Übernatur: Das Dogma von der Gnade, Mainz 1865; Idem, Neue Untersuchungen über das Dogma von der Gnade, Mainz 1867; *J. E. Kuhn, Die christliche Lehre von der göttlichen Gnade, Tübingen 1868; Jos. Kleutgen, S. J., Theologie der Vorseit, Vol. II, 2nd ed., pp. 152 sqq., Münster 1872; R. Cercià, De Gratia Christi, 3 vols., Paris 1879; *C. Mazzella, S. J., De Gratia Christi, 4th ed., Rome 1895; *J. H. Oswald, Die Lehre von der Heiligung, d. i. Gnade, Rechtfertigung, Gnadenwahl, 3rd ed., Paderborn 1885; *D. Palmieri, S. J., De Gratia Divina Actuali, Gulpen 1885; *Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, Mainz 1897; *S. Schiffini, S. J., De Gratia Divina, Freiburg 1901; G. Lahousse, S. J., De Gratia Divina, Louvain [pg 004] 1902; Chr. Pesch, S. J., Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Vol. V, 3rd ed., Freiburg 1908; G. van Noort, De Gratia Christi, Amsterdam 1908; E. J. Wirth, Divine Grace, New York 1903; S. J. Hunter, S. J., Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. III, pp. 1 sqq.; Wilhelm-Scannell, A Manual of Catholic Theology, Vol. II, 2nd ed., pp. 227 sqq., London 1901; A. Devine, The Sacraments Explained, 3rd ed. pp. 1-43, London 1905.—L. Labauche, S. S., God and Man, Lectures on Dogmatic Theology II, pp. 123 sqq., New York 1916.—J. E. Nieremberg, S. J., The Marvels of Divine Grace, tr. by Lady Lovat, London 1917.

On the teaching of the Fathers cfr. Isaac Habert, Theologiae Græcorum Patrum Vindicatae circa Universam Materiam Gratiae Libri III, Paris 1646; E. Scholz, Die Lehre des hl. Basilius von der Gnade, Freiburg 1881; Hümmer, Des hl. Gregor von Nazianz Lehre von der Gnade, Kempten 1890; E. Weigl, Die Heilslehre des hl. Cyrill von Alexandrien, Mainz 1905.

[pg 005]

Chapter I. The Nature Of Actual Grace

Section 1. Definition Of Actual Grace

1. General Notion of Grace.—The best way to arrive at a correct definition of actual grace is by the synthetic method. We therefore begin with the general notion of grace.

Like “nature,”3 grace (gratia, χάρις) is a word of wide reach, used in a great variety of senses. Habert4 enumerates no less than fourteen; which, however, may be reduced to four.

a) Subjectively, grace signifies good will or benevolence shown by a superior to an inferior, as when a criminal is pardoned by the king's grace.

b) Objectively, it designates a favor inspired by good will or benevolence. In this sense the term may be applied to any free and gratuitous gift (donum gratis datum), as when a king bestows graces on his lieges.

[pg 006]

c) Grace may also mean personal charm or attractiveness. In this sense the term frequently occurs in Latin and Greek literature (the Three Graces). Charm elicits love and prompts a person to the bestowal of favors.

d) The recipient of gifts or favors usually feels gratitude towards the giver, which he expresses in the form of thanks. Hence the word gratiae (plural) frequently stands for thanksgiving (gratias agere,” Deo gratias,” “to say grace after meals”).5

The first and fundamental of these meanings is “a free gift or favor.” The benevolence of the giver and the attractiveness of the recipient are merely the reasons for which the gift is imparted, whereas the expression of thanks is an effect following its bestowal.

Dogmatic theology is concerned exclusively with grace in the fundamental sense of the term.

e) Grace is called a gift (donum, δωρεά), because it is owing to free benevolence, not required by justice. It is called gratuitous (gratis datum), because it is bestowed without any corresponding merit on the part of the creature. [pg 007] A gift may be due to the recipient as a matter of distributive or commutative justice, and in that case it would not be absolutely gratuitous (gratis). Grace, on the contrary, is bestowed out of pure benevolence, from no other motive than sheer love. This is manifestly St. Paul's idea when he writes: “And if by grace, it is not now by works: otherwise grace is no more grace.”6 It is likewise the meaning of St. Augustine when he says, in his Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, that grace is “something gratuitously given ... as a present, not in return for something else.”7

2. Natural and Supernatural Grace.—Grace is not necessarily supernatural. Sacred Scripture and the Fathers sometimes apply the word to purely natural gifts. We petition God for our daily bread, for good health, fair weather and other temporal favors, and we thank Him for preserving us from pestilence, famine, and war, although these are blessings which do not transcend the order of nature.8

a) Our petitions for purely natural favors are inspired by the conviction that creation itself, and everything connected therewith, is a gratuitous gift of God. This conviction is well founded. God was under no necessity of creating anything: creation was an act of His free-will. Again, many of the favors to which human nature, as such, has a claim, are free gifts when conferred upon the individual. Good health, fortitude, talent, etc., are natural [pg 008] graces, for which we are allowed, nay obliged, to petition God. The Pelagians employed this truth to conceal a pernicious error when they unctuously descanted on the magnitude and necessity of grace as manifested in creation. It was by such trickery that their leader succeeded in persuading the bishops assembled at the Council of Diospolis or Lydda (A. D. 415) that his teaching was quite orthodox. St. Augustine and four other African bishops later reported to Pope Innocent I, that if these prelates had perceived that Pelagius meant to deny that grace by which we are Christians and sons of God, they would not have listened to him so patiently, and that, consequently, no blame attached to these judges because they simply took the term “grace” in its ecclesiastical sense.9

b) Generally speaking, however, the term “grace” is reserved for what are commonly called the supernatural gifts of God, the merely preternatural as well as the strictly supernatural.10 In this sense "grace" is as sharply opposed to purely natural favors as nature is opposed to the supernatural.

The importance of the distinction between supernatural and purely natural grace will appear from an analysis of the concept itself. Considered as gifts of God, the strictly supernatural graces (e.g., justification, divine sonship, the [pg 009] beatific vision) ontologically exceed the bounds of nature. Considered as purely gratuitous favors, they are negatively and positively undeserved. The grace involved in creation, for instance, is not conferred on some existing beneficiary, but actually produces its recipient. The creation itself, therefore, being entirely gratis data, all that succeeds it, supernatural grace included, must be negatively undeserved, in as far as it was not necessary for the recipient to exist at all. But the supernatural graces are indebitae also positively, i.e. positing the creation, because they transcend every creatural claim and power. Both elements are contained in the above-quoted letter of the African bishops to Pope Innocent I: “Though it may be said in a certain legitimate sense, that we were created by the grace of God, ... that is a different grace by which we are called predestined, by which we are justified, and by which we receive eternal beatitude.”11 Of this last-mentioned grace (i.e. grace in the strictly supernatural sense), St. Augustine says: “This, the grace which Catholic bishops are wont to read in the books of God and preach to their people, and the grace which the Apostle commends, is not that by which we are created as men, but that by which as sinful men we are justified.”12 In other words, natural is opposed to supernatural grace in the same way that nature is opposed to the supernatural. “[To believe] is the work of grace, not of nature. It is, I say, the work of grace, which the second Adam brought us, not of nature, which Adam wholly lost in himself.”13 [pg 010] Adding the new note obtained by this analysis we arrive at the following definition: Grace is a gratuitous super-natural gift.14

3. The Grace of God and the Grace of Christ.—Though all supernatural graces are from God, a distinction is made between the “grace of God” and the “grace of Christ.” The difference between them is purely accidental, based on the fact that the “grace of Christ” flows exclusively from the merits of the atonement.

a) The following points may serve as criteria to distinguish the two notions:

A) The gratia Dei springs from divine benevolence and presupposes a recipient who is unworthy merely in a negative sense (=not worthy, non dignus), whereas the gratia Christi flows from mercy and benevolence and is conferred on a recipient who is positively unworthy (indignus).

B) The gratia Dei elevates the soul to the supernatural order (gratia elevans), while the gratia Christi heals the wounds inflicted by sin, especially concupiscence (gratia elevans simul et sanans).

C) The gratia Dei is a gratuitous gift conferred by the Blessed Trinity without regard to the theandric merits of Jesus Christ, whereas the gratia Christi is based entirely on those merits.

b) The Scotists hold that the distinction between gratia Dei and gratia Christi is purely logical. They regard [pg 011] the God-man as the predestined centre of the universe and the source of all graces.15 The Thomists, on the other hand, regard the grace of the angels, and that wherewith our first parents were endowed in Paradise, purely as gratia Dei; they hold that the merits of Christ did not become operative until after the Fall, and that, consequently, there is a real distinction between the grace of the angels and that of our first parents on the one hand, and the grace of Christ on the other.

As it cannot reasonably be supposed that the angels are endowed with specifically the same graces by which mankind was redeemed from sin, the Scotists are forced to admit a distinction between the grace of Christ as God-man (gratia Christi Dei-hominis) and the grace of Christ as Redeemer (gratia Christi Redemptoris), so that even according to them, the dogmatic treatise on Grace is concerned solely with the grace of Christ qua Redeemer.

Hence, grace must be more particularly defined as a gratuitous supernatural gift derived from the merits of Jesus Christ.16

4. External and Internal Grace.—External grace (gratia externa) comprises all those strictly supernatural institutions which stimulate pious thoughts and salutary resolutions in the human soul. Such are, for example, Holy Scripture, the Church, the Sacraments, the example of Jesus Christ, etc. Internal grace (gratia interna) inheres or operates invisibly in the soul, and places it in relation with God as its supernatural [pg 012] end. Internal graces are, e.g., the theological virtues, the power of forgiving sins, etc. The Pelagians admitted external, but obstinately denied internal grace.17

St. Paul18 emphasizes the distinction between external and internal grace by designating the former as “law” (lex, νόμος) and the latter as “faith” (fides, πίστις). With one exception, (viz., the Hypostatic Union, which is the climax of all graces), external is inferior to, because a mere preparation for, internal grace, which aims at sanctification. We are concerned in this treatise solely with internal grace. Hence, proceeding a step further, we may define grace as a gratuitous, supernatural, internal gift of God, derived from the merits of Jesus Christ.19

5. Gratia Gratis Data and Gratia Gratum Faciens.”—The supernatural grace of Christ, existing invisibly in the soul either as a transient impulse (actus) or as a permanent state (habitus), tends either to the salvation of the person in whom it inheres or through him to the sanctification of others. In the former case it is called ingratiating (gratia gratum faciens), in the latter, gratuitously given (gratia gratis data). The term gratia gratis data is based on the words of our Lord recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, [pg 013] cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give.”20

a) The gratia gratum faciens is intended for all men without exception; the gratia gratis data only for a few specially chosen persons. To the class of gratuitously bestowed graces belong the charismata of the prophets and the ordinary powers of the priesthood.21

Each of these two species of internal grace may exist independently of the other because personal holiness is not a necessary prerequisite for the exercise of the charismata or the power of forgiving sins, etc.

b) Considered with regard to its intrinsic worth, the gratia gratum faciens is decidedly superior to the gratia gratis data. St. Paul, after enumerating all the charismata, admonishes the Corinthians: “Be zealous for the better gifts, and I show unto you yet a more excellent way,”22 and then sings the praises of charity:23 “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 [pg 014] all the mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, I am nothing, etc.”24 Charity is a gratia gratum faciens. Hence, since the gratia gratis data is treated elsewhere (Apologetics, Mystic and Sacramental Theology), we must add another note to our definition: Grace is a gratuitous, supernatural, internal gift, derived from the merits of Jesus Christ, by which man is rendered pleasing in the sight of God.25

6. Actual and Habitual Grace.—The gratia gratum faciens is given either for the performance of a supernatural act or for the production of a permanent supernatural state (habitus). In the latter case it is called habitual, or, as it sanctifies the creature in the eyes of God, sanctifying grace.

Actual grace comprises two essential elements: (1) divine help as the principle of every salutary supernatural act, and (2) the salutary act itself. Hence its designation by the Fathers as Θεοῦ ἐνέργεια, ἡ τοῦ Λόγου χείρ, θεία κίνησις, or, in Latin, Dei auxilium, subsidium, adiutorium, motio divina,—all of which appellations have been adopted by the Schoolmen. Actual grace invariably tends either to produce habitual or sanctifying grace, or to preserve and [pg 015] increase it where it already exists. It follows that, being merely a means to an end, actual grace is inferior to sanctifying grace, which is that end itself.

Actual grace may therefore be defined as an unmerited, supernatural, internal divine help, based on the merits of Jesus Christ, which renders man pleasing in the sight of God, enabling him to perform salutary acts; or, somewhat more succinctly, as a supernatural help bestowed for the performance of salutary acts, in consideration of the merits of Jesus Christ.

Actual grace is (1) a help (auxilium), because it consists in a transient influence exercised by God on the soul. (2) A supernatural help, to distinguish it from God's ordinary providence and all such merely natural graces as man would probably have received in the state of pure nature.26 (3) It is attributed to the merits of Jesus Christ, in order to indicate that the graces granted to fallen man are all derived from the atonement both as their efficient and their meritorious cause. (4) Actual grace is said to be given for the performance of salutary acts to show that its immediate purpose or end is an act, not a state, and that the acts for which it is given must be in the order of salvation.

7. The Twofold Causality of Actual Grace.—If grace is a supernatural help, mere nature cannot, of its own strength, perform salutary acts. Consequently, actual grace exercises a [pg 016] causal influence without which man would be helpless in the matter of salvation.

The causality of actual grace is both moral and physical.

a) As a moral cause grace removes the obstacles which render the work of salvation difficult. Besides this negative it also has a positive effect: it inspires delight in virtue and hatred of sin.

This mode of operation manifestly presupposes a certain weakness of the human will, i.e. concupiscence, which is an effect of original sin. Actual grace exercises a healing influence on the will27 and is therefore called gratia sanans sive medicinalis. “Unless something is put before the soul to please and attract it,” says St. Augustine, “the will can in no wise be moved; but it is not in man's power to bring this about.”28 Concretely, this moral causality of grace manifests itself as a divinely inspired joy in virtue and a hatred of sin, both of which incline the will to the free performance of salutary acts. These sentiments may in some cases be so strong as to deprive the will temporarily of its freedom to resist. The sudden conversion of St. Paul is a case in point. Holy Scripture expressly assures us that God is the absolute master of the human will and, if He so chooses, can bend it under His yoke without using physical force. Cfr. Prov. XXI, 1: “The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever he will, [pg 017] he shall turn it.” “Who will be so foolish as to say,” queries St. Augustine, “that God cannot change the evil wills of men, whichever, whenever, and wheresoever He chooses, and direct them to what is good?”29 It is but rarely, of course, that God grants to any man a summary victory over his sinful nature; but this fact does not prevent the Church from praying: “Vouchsafe, O Lord, to compel our wills to thee, even though they be rebellious.”30

b) Even more important than the moral causality of grace is its physical causality. Man depends entirely on God for the physical strength necessary to perform salutary works. Grace elevates the faculties of the soul to the supernatural sphere, thereby enabling it to perform supernatural acts.

Physical is as distinct from moral causality in the order of grace as in the order of nature. The holding out of a beautiful toy will not enable a child to walk without support from its elders. Moral causality is insufficient to enable a man to perform salutary acts. Grace (as we shall show later) is absolutely, i.e. metaphysically, necessary for all salutary acts, whether easy or difficult, and hence the incapacity of nature cannot be ascribed solely to weakness and to the moral difficulty resulting from sin, but must be attributed mainly to physical impotence. A bird without wings is not merely impeded but utterly unable [pg 018] to fly; similarly, man without grace is not only handicapped but absolutely incapacitated for the work of salvation. Considered under this aspect, actual grace is called gratia elevans, because it elevates man to the supernatural state.31

This double causality of grace is well brought out in Perrone's classic definition: Gratia actualis est gratuitum illud auxilium,32 quod Deus33 per Christi merita34 homini lapso35 largitur, tum ut eius infirmitati consulat,36 ... tum ut eum erigat ad statum supernaturalem atque idoneum faciat ad actus supernaturales eliciendos,37 ut iustificationem possit adipisci38 in eaque iam consecuta perseverare, donec perveniat ad vitam aeternam.39 In English: “Actual grace is that unmerited interior assistance which God, by virtue of the merits of Christ, confers upon fallen man, in order, on the one hand, to remedy his infirmity resulting from sin and, on the other, to raise him to the supernatural order and thereby to render him capable of performing supernatural acts, so that he may attain justification, persevere in it to the end, and thus enter into everlasting life.” This definition is strictly scientific, for it enumerates all the elements that enter into the essence of actual grace.

[pg 019]

Section 2. Division Of Actual Grace

Actual grace may be divided according to: (1) the difference existing between the faculties of the human soul, and (2) in reference to the freedom of the will.

Considered in its relation to the different faculties of the soul, actual grace is either of the intellect, or of the will, or of the sensitive faculties. With regard to the free consent of the will, it is either (1) prevenient, also called coöperating, or (2) efficacious or merely sufficient.

1. The Illuminating Grace of the Intellect.—Actual grace, in so far as it inspires salutary thoughts, is called illuminating (gratia illuminationis s. illustrationis).

This illumination of the intellect by grace may be either mediate or immediate. It is mediate if grace suggests salutary thoughts to the intellect by purely natural means, or external graces, such as a stirring sermon, the perusal of a good book, etc.; it is immediate when the Holy Ghost elevates the powers of the soul, and through the instrumentality of the so-called potentia obedientialis,40 produces in it entitatively supernatural acts.

The existence of the grace of immediate illumination follows from its absolute necessity as a means of salvation, [pg 020] defined by the Second Council of Orange, A. D. 529.41

a) The grace of mediate illumination may be inferred aprioristically from the existence of a divine revelation equipped with such supernatural institutions as the Bible, the sacraments, rites, ceremonies, etc. In conformity with the psychological laws governing the association of ideas, intelligent meditation on the agencies comprised under the term “external grace”42 elicits in the mind salutary thoughts, which are not necessarily supernatural in their inception.

It is not unlikely that Sacred Scripture refers to such graces as these when it recommends “the law of God” or “the example of Christ” as fit subjects for meditation. Cfr. Ps. XVIII, 8 sq.: “The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls, ... the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes.”43 1 Pet. II, 21: “Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps.”44 St. Augustine probably had in mind the grace of mediate illumination when he wrote: “God acts upon us by the incentives of visible objects to will and to believe, either externally by evangelical exhortations, ... or internally, as no man has control over what enters into his thoughts.”45 The grace [pg 021] of mediate illumination has for its object to prepare the way quietly and unostentatiously for a grace of greater import, namely, the immediate illumination of the mind by the Holy Ghost.

b) The grace of immediate far surpasses that of mediate illumination because the supernatural life of the soul originates in faith, which in turn is based on a strictly supernatural enlightenment of the mind.

α) St. Paul expressly teaches: “And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God; not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God.”46

The salient portion of this text reads as follows in the original Greek: Οὐχ ὅτι ἱκανοί ἐσμεν λογίσασθαί τι ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτῶν ὡς ἐξ ἑαυτῶν, ἀλλ᾽ ἡ ἱκανότης ἡμῶν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ. Speaking in the plural (pluralis maiestaticus), the Apostle confesses himself unable to conceive a single salutary thought (λογίσασθαι), and ascribes the power (ἱκανότης) to do so to God. Considered merely as vital acts, such thoughts proceed from the natural faculties of the mind (ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτῶν), but the power that produces them is divine (ἐκ Θεοῦ), not human (ἐξ ἑαυτῶν). Hence each salutary thought exceeds the power of man, and is an immediate supernatural grace.

A still more cogent argument can be derived from 1 Cor. III, 6 sq.: “I have planted, Apollo watered, but [pg 022] God gave the increase. Therefore, neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”47 In this beautiful allegory the Apostle compares the genesis of supernatural faith in the soul to that of a plant under the care of a gardener, who while he plants and waters, yet looks to God for “the increase.” The Apostle and his disciple Apollo are the spiritual gardeners through whose preaching the Corinthians received the grace of mediate illumination. But, as St. Paul says, this preaching would have been useless (non est aliquid) had not God given “the increase.” In other words, the grace of immediate illumination was necessary to make the Apostolic preaching effective. “For,” in the words of St. Augustine, “God Himself contributes to the production of fruit in good trees, when He both externally waters and tends them by the agency of His servants, and internally by Himself also gives the increase.”48

β) The argument from Tradition is based chiefly on St. Augustine, “the Doctor of Grace,” whose authority in this branch of dogmatic theology is unique.49 His writings abound in many such synonymous terms for the grace of immediate illumination, as cogitatio pia, vocatio alta et secreta, locutio in cogitatione, aperitio veritatis, etc., etc.

[pg 023]

He says among other things: “Instruction and admonition are external aids, but he who controls the hearts has his cathedra in heaven.”50 Augustine esteems human preaching as nothing and ascribes all its good effects to grace. “It is the internal Master who teaches; Christ teaches and His inspiration.”51 In harmony with his master, St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, the ablest defender of the Augustinian (i.e. Catholic) doctrine of grace, says: “In vain will our sacred discourses strike the external ear, unless God by a spiritual gift opens the hearing of the interior man.”52

2. The Strengthening Grace of the Will.—This grace, usually called gratia inspirationis,53 may also be either mediate or immediate, according as pious affections and wholesome resolutions are produced in the soul by a preceding illumination of the intellect or directly by the Holy Ghost. Owing to the psychological interaction of intellect and will, every grace of the mind, whether mediate or immediate, is eo ipso also a mediate grace of the will, which implies a new act of the soul, but not a new grace. What we are concerned with here is the immediate [pg 024] strengthening grace of the will, which is far more important and more necessary.

We are not able to demonstrate this teaching from Sacred Scripture. The texts John VI, 44 and Phil. II, 13, which are usually adduced in this connection, are inconclusive.

Hence we must rely solely on Tradition. The argument from Tradition is based mainly on St. Augustine. In defending divine grace against Pelagius, this holy Doctor asserts the indispensability and superior value of the strengthening grace of the will.

“By that grace it is effected, not only that we discover what ought to be done, but also that we do what we have discovered; not only that we believe what ought to be loved, but also that we love what we have believed.”54 And again: “Let him discern between knowledge and charity, as they ought to be distinguished, because knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.... And inasmuch as both are gifts of God, although one is less and the other greater, he must not extol our righteousness above the praise which is due to Him who justifies us in such a way as to assign to the lesser of these two gifts the help of divine grace, and to claim the greater one for the control of the human will.”55 St. Augustine emphasized the [pg 025] existence and necessity of this higher grace of the will in his controversy with the Pelagians. He was firmly convinced that a man may know the way of salvation, and yet refuse to follow it.56 He insisted that mere knowledge is not virtue, as Socrates had falsely taught.

Ecclesiastical Tradition was always in perfect accord with this teaching, which eventually came to be defined by the plenary Council of Carthage (A. D. 418) as follows: “If any one assert that this same grace of God, granted through our Lord Jesus Christ, helps to avoid sin only for the reason that it opens and reveals to us an understanding of the [divine] commands, so that we may know what we should desire and what we should avoid; but that it is not granted to us by the same (grace) to desire and be able to do that which we know we ought to do, let him be anathema;—since both are gifts of God: to know what we must do and to have the wish to do it.”57

Like the illuminating grace of the intellect the strengthening grace of the will effects vital acts and manifests itself chiefly in what are known as the emotions of the will. St. Prosper, after Fulgentius the most prominent disciple of St. Augustine, enumerates these as follows: “Fear (for ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’); joy (‘I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord’); desire [pg 026] (‘My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord’); delight (‘How sweet are thy words to my palate, more than honey to my mouth’);”—and he adds: “Who can see or tell by what affections God visits and guides the human soul?”58

3. Actual Graces of the Sensitive Sphere.—Though it cannot be determined with certainty of faith, it is highly probable that actual grace influences the sensitive faculties of the soul as well as the intellect and the will.

God, who is the first and sole cause of all things, is no doubt able to excite in the human imagination phantasms corresponding to the supernatural thoughts produced in the intellect, and to impede or paralyze the rebellious stirrings of concupiscence which resist the grace of the will,—either by infusing contrary dispositions or by allowing spiritual joy to run over into the appetitus sensitivus. The existence of such graces (which need not necessarily be supernatural except quoad modum et finem) may be inferred with great probability from the fact that man is a compound of body and soul. Aristotle holds that the human mind cannot think without the aid of the imagination.59 If this is true, every supernatural thought must be preceded by a corresponding [pg 027] phantasm to excite and sustain it. As for the sensitive appetite, it may either assume the form of concupiscence and hinder the work of salvation, or aid it by favorable emotions excited supernaturally. St. Augustine says that the delectatio victrix has for its object “to impart sweetness to that which gave no pleasure.”60 St. Paul, who thrice besought the Lord to relieve him of the sting of his flesh, was told: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”61

4. The Illuminating Grace of the Mind and the Strengthening Grace of the Will Considered as Vital Acts of the Soul.—If we examine these graces more closely to determine their physical nature, we find that they are simply vital acts of the intellect and the will, and receive the character of divine “graces” from the fact that they are supernaturally excited in the soul by God.

a) The Biblical, Patristic, and conciliar terms cogitatio, suasio, scientia, cognitio, as well as delectatio, voluptas, desiderium, caritas, bona voluntas, cupiditas, all manifestly point to vital acts of the soul. But even where grace is described as vocatio, illuminatio, illustratio, excitatio, pulsatio, inspiratio, or tractio, the reference can only be—if not formaliter, at least virtualiter—to immanent vital acts of the intellect or will. This is the concurrent teaching of SS. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. The former says: “God calls [us] by [our] innermost thoughts,” [pg 028] and: “See how the Father draws [and] by teaching delights [us].”62 The latter quotes the Aristotelian axiom: Actus moventis in moto est motus.63

If the graces of the intellect and of the will are supernaturally inspired acts of the soul, by what process does the mind of man respond to the impulse of illumination and inspiration?

The language employed by the Fathers and councils leaves no doubt that supernatural knowledge manifests itself mainly in judgments. But simple apprehension and ratiocination must also play a part, (1) because these two operations are of the essence of human thought, and the grace of illumination always works through natural agencies; and (2) because some intellectual apprehensions are merely condensed judgments and syllogisms.

The graces of the will naturally work through the spiritual emotions or passions, of which there are eleven: love and hatred, joy and sadness, desire and abhorrence, hope and despair, fear and daring, and lastly anger. With the exception of despair (for which there is no place in the business of salvation), all these passions have a practical relation to good and evil and are consequently called “graces” both in Scripture and Tradition. Love (amor) is the fundamental affection of the will, to which all others are reducible, and hence the principal function of grace, in so far as it affects the will, must consist in producing acts of love.64 The Council of Carthage (A. D. 418) declares that “both to know what we must do, and to love to do it, is a gift of God.”65 It would be a mistake, [pg 029] however, to identify this “love” with theological charity, which is “a perfect love of God above all things for His own sake.”66 Justification begins with supernatural faith, is followed by fear, hope, and contrition, and culminates in charity.67

St. Augustine sometimes employs the word caritas in connections where it cannot possibly mean theological love.68 This peculiar usage is based on the idea that love of goodness in a certain way attracts man towards God and prepares him for the theological virtue of charity. In studying the writings of St. Augustine, therefore, we must carefully distinguish between caritas in the strict, and caritas in a secondary and derived sense.69 The champions of the falsely so-called Augustinian theory of grace70 disregard this important distinction and erroneously claim that St. Augustine identifies “grace” with caritas in the sense of theological love; just as if faith, hope, contrition, and the fear of God were not also graces in the true meaning of the term, and could not exist without theological charity.

b) Not a few theologians, especially of the Thomist school, enlarge the list of actual graces by including therein, besides the supernatural vital acts of the soul, certain extrinsic, non-vital qualities (qualitates fluentes, non vitales) that precede these acts and form their basis. It is impossible, they argue, to elicit vital or immanent [pg 030] supernatural acts unless the faculties of the soul have previously been raised to the supernatural order by means of the potentia obœdientialis. The gratia elevans, which produces in the soul of the sinner the same effects that the so-called infused habits produce in the soul of the just, is a supernatural power really distinct from its vital effects. In other words, they say, the vital supernatural acts of the soul are preceded and produced by a non-vital grace, which must be conceived as a “fluent quality.” These “fluent” (the opponents of the theory ironically call them “dead”) qualities are alleged to be real graces.71 Alvarez and others endeavor to give their theory a dogmatic standing by quoting in its support all those passages of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers and councils in which prevenient grace is described as pulsatio, excitatio, vocatio, tractio, tactus, and so forth. The act of knocking or calling, they say, is not identical with the act of opening, in fact the former is a grace in a higher sense than the latter, because it is performed by God alone, while the response comes from the soul coöperating with God.72

The theory thus briefly described is both theologically and philosophically untenable.

α) Holy Scripture and Tradition nowhere mention any such non-vital entities or qualities,—a circumstance which would be inexplicable if it were true, what Cardinal Gotti asserts,73 that the term “grace” applies primarily and in the strict sense to these qualities, while the vital acts are merely effects. Whenever Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, and the Church speak literally, without the use [pg 031] of metaphors, they invariably apply the term “grace” to these vital acts themselves and ascribe their supernatural character to an immediate act of God.74 In perfect conformity with this teaching St. Augustine explains such metaphorical terms as vocare and tangere in the sense of credere and fides.75 God employs no “fluent qualities” or “non-vital entities” in the dispensation of His grace, but effects the supernatural elevation of the soul immediately and by Himself.76

β) The theory under consideration is inadmissible also from the philosophical point of view. A quality does not “flow” or tend to revert to nothingness. On the contrary, its very nature demands that it remain constant until destroyed by its opposite or by some positive cause. It is impossible to conceive a quality that would of itself revert to nothingness without the intervention of a destructive cause. Billuart merely beats the air when he says: Potest dici qualitas incompleta habens se per modum passionis transeuntis.77 What would Aristotle have said if he had been told of a thing that was half ποιόν and half πάσχειν, and consequently neither the one nor the other? Actual grace is transitory; it passes away with the act which it inspires, and consequently may be said to “flow.” But this very fact proves that it is not a dead quality, but a modus vitalis supernaturalis. In the dispensation of His grace, God employs no fluent qualities or non-vital entities, but He Himself is the immediate cause of the supernatural elevation of the human soul and [pg 032] its faculties. St. Thomas is perfectly consistent, therefore, when he defines actual grace as a vital act of the soul.78

5. Prevenient and Coöperating Grace.—The vital acts of the soul are either spontaneous impulses or free acts of the will. Grace may precede free-will or coöperate with it. If it precedes the free determination of the will it is called prevenient; if it accompanies (or coincides with) that determination and merely coöperates with the will, it is called coöperating grace.

Prevenient grace, regarded as a divine call to penance, is often styled gratia vocans sive excitans, and if it is received with a willing heart, gratia adiuvans. Both species are distinctly mentioned in Holy Scripture. Cfr. Eph. V, 14: “Wherefore he saith: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee.” 2 Tim. I, 9: “Who hath delivered us and called us by his holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of the [pg 033] world.” Rom. VIII, 26: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity.” Rom. VIII, 30: “And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Apoc. III, 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, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

St. Augustine says: “Forasmuch as our turning away from God is our own act and deed, and this is [our] depraved will; but that we turn to God, this we cannot do except He rouse and help us, and this is [our] good will,—what have we that we have not received?”79

An equivalent division is that into gratia operans and coöperans, respectively—names which are also founded on Scripture. Cfr. Phil. II, 13: “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.” Mark XVI, 20: “But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.”

St. Augustine describes the respective functions of these graces as follows: “He [God] begins His influence by working in us that we may have the will, and He completes it by working with us when we have the will.”80

A third division of the same grace is that into praeveniens and subsequens. It is likewise distinctly Scriptural,81 [pg 034] and its two members coincide materially with gratia vocans and adiuvans, as can be seen by comparing the usage of St. Augustine with that of the Tridentine Council. “God's mercy,” says the holy Doctor, “prevents [i.e. precedes] the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing lest he will in vain.”82 And the Council of Trent declares that “in adults the beginning of justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their part, they are called.”83

If we conceive a continuous series of supernatural graces, each may be called either prevenient or subsequent, according as it is regarded either as a cause or as an effect. St. Thomas explains this as follows: “As grace is divided into working and coöperating grace, according to its diverse effects, so it may also be divided into prevenient and subsequent grace, according to the meaning attached to the term grace [i.e., either habitual or actual]. The effects which grace works in us are five: (1) It heals the soul; (2) moves it to will that which is good; (3) enables man efficaciously to perform the good deeds which he wills; (4) helps him to persevere in his good resolves; and (5) assists him in attaining to the state of glory. In so far as it produces the first of these effects, grace is called prevenient in respect of the second; and in so far as it produces the second, it is called subsequent in respect of the first. And as each effect is posterior to one and prior [pg 035] to another, so grace may be called prevenient or subsequent according as we regard it in its relations to different effects.”84

Among so many prevenient graces there must be one which is preceded by none other (simpliciter praeveniens), and this is preëminently the gratia vocans s. excitans.

There is a fourth and last division, mentioned by the Council of Trent, which is also based on the relation of grace to free-will. “Jesus Christ Himself,” says the holy Synod, “continually infuses His virtue into the justified, and this virtue always precedes, accompanies, and follows their good works.”85 The opposition here lies between gratia antecedens, which is a spontaneous movement of the soul, and gratia concomitans, which coöperates with free-will after it has given its consent. This terminology may be applied to the good works of sinners and saints alike. For the sinner no less than the just man receives two different kinds of graces—(1) such as precede the free determination of the will and (2) such as accompany his free acts.

Thus it can be readily seen that the fundamental division [pg 036] of actual grace, considered in its relation to free-will, is that into prevenient and coöperating grace. All other divisions are based on a difference of function rather than of nature.86

a) The existence of prevenient grace (gratia praeveniens s. excitans s. vocans) may be inferred from the fact that the process of justification begins with the illumination of the intellect, which is by nature unfree, i.e. devoid of the power of choosing between good and evil. That there are also graces which consist in spontaneous, indeliberate motions of the will,87 is clearly taught by the Council of Trent,88 and evidenced by certain Biblical metaphors. Thus God is described as knocking at the gate (Apoc. III, 20), as drawing men to Him (John VI, 44), and men are said to harden their hearts against His voice (Ps. XCIV, 8), etc. Cfr. Jer. XVII, 23: “But they did not hear, nor incline their ear: but hardened their neck, that they might not hear me, and might not receive instruction.”

The Catholic tradition is voiced by St. Augustine, who says: “The will itself can in no wise be moved, unless it meets with something which [pg 037] delights or attracts the mind; but it is not in the power of man to bring this about.”89 St. Prosper enumerates a long list of spontaneous emotions which he calls supernatural graces of the will.90

Prevenient grace is aptly characterized by the Patristic formula: Gratia est in nobis, sed sine nobis,” that is, grace, as a vital act, is in the soul, but as a salutary act it proceeds, not from the free will, but from God. In other words, though the salutary acts of grace derive their vitality from the human will, they are mere actus hominis (θέλησις), not actus humani (βούλησις).91 “God,” explains St. Augustine, “does many good things in man, which man does not do; but man does none which God does not cause man to do.”92 And again: “[God] operates without us, in order that we may become willing; but when we once will so as to act, He coöperates with us. We can, however, ourselves do nothing to effect good works of piety without Him either working that we may will, or coöperating when we will.”93 St. Bernard employs similar language.94

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b) Coöperating grace (gratia cooperans s. adiuvans s. subsequens) differs from prevenient grace in this, that it supposes a deliberate act of consent on the part of the will (βούλησις, not θέλησις). St. Gregory the Great tersely explains the distinction as follows: “The divine goodness first effects something in us without our coöperation [gratia praeveniens], and then, as the will freely consents, coöperates with us in performing the good which we desire [gratia cooperans].”95 That such free and consequently meritorious acts are attributable to grace is emphasized by the Tridentine Council: “So great is the bounty [of God] towards all men that He will have the things which are His own gifts to be their merits.”96 Such free salutary acts are not only graces in the general sense, but real actual graces, in as far as they produce other salutary acts, and their existence is as certain as the fact that many men freely [pg 039] follow the call of grace, work out their salvation, and attain to the beatific vision. It is only in this way, in fact, that Heaven is peopled with Saints.

α) St. Augustine embodies all these considerations in the following passage: “It is certain that we keep the commandments when we will; but because the will is prepared by the Lord, we must ask of Him that we may will so much as is sufficient to make us act in willing. It is certain that we will whenever we like, but it is He who makes us will what is good, of whom it is said (Prov. VIII, 35): ‘The will is prepared by the Lord,’ and of whom it is said (Ps. XXXVI, 32): ‘The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the Lord, and his way doth He will,’ and of whom it is said (Phil. II, 13): ‘It is God who worketh in you, even to will.’ It is certain that we act whenever we set to work; but it is He who causes us to act, by giving thoroughly efficacious powers to our will, who has said (Ezech. XXXVI, 27): ‘I will cause you to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgments, and do them.’ When He says: ‘I will cause you ... to do them,’ what else does He say in fact than (Ezech. XI, 19): ‘I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh,’ from which used to rise your inability to act, and (Ezech. XXXVI, 26): ‘I will give you a heart of flesh,’ in order that you may act.”97

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β) The manner in which grace and free-will coöperate is a profound philosophical and theological problem. A salutary act derives its supernatural character from God, its vitality from the human will. How do these two factors conjointly produce one and the same act? The unity of the act would be destroyed if God and the free-will of man in each case performed, either two separate acts, or each half of the same act. To preserve the unity of a supernatural act two conditions are required: (1) the divine power of grace must be transformed into the vital strength of the will and (2) the created will, which by its own power can perform at most a naturally good act, must be equipped with the supernatural power of grace. These conditions are met (a) by the supernatural elevation of the will (elevatio externa), and (b) by the supernatural concurrence of God (concursus supernaturalis ad actum secundum). The supernatural elevation of the will is accomplished in this wise: God, by employing the illuminating and strengthening grace, works on the potentia obœdientialis, and thus raises the will above its purely natural powers and constitutes it a supernatural faculty in actu primo for the free performance of a salutary act. The divine concursus supervenes to enable the will to perform the actus secundus or salutary act proper. This special divine concurrence, in contradistinction to the natural concursus whereby God supports the created universe,98 is a strictly supernatural and gratuitous gift. Consequently, God and the human will jointly perform one and the [pg 041] same salutary act—God as the principal, the will as the instrumental cause.99

6. Efficacious Grace and Merely Sufficient Grace.—By efficacious grace (gratia efficax) we understand that divine assistance which with infallible certainty includes the free salutary act. Whether the certainty of its operation results from the physical nature of this particular grace, or from God's infallible foreknowledge (scientia media), is a question in dispute between Thomists and Molinists.100

Merely sufficient grace (gratia mere sufficiens) is that divine assistance whereby God communicates to the human will full power to perform a salutary act (posse) but not the action itself (agere).

The division of grace into efficacious and merely sufficient is not identical with that into prevenient and coöperating. Coöperating grace does not ex vi notionis include with infallible certainty the salutary act. It may indeed be efficacious, but in matter of fact frequently fails to attain its object because the will offers resistance.

a) The existence of efficacious graces is as certain as that there is a Heaven filled with Saints. [pg 042] God would be neither omnipotent nor infinitely wise if all His graces were frustrated by the free-will of man. St. Augustine repeatedly expresses his belief in the existence of efficacious graces. Thus he writes in his treatise on Grace and Free-Will: “It is certain that we act whenever we set to work; but it is He [God] who causes us to act, by giving thoroughly efficacious powers to the will.”101 And in another treatise: “[Adam] had received the ability (posse) if he would [gratia sufficiens], but he had not the will to exercise that ability [gratia efficax]; for if he had possessed that will, he would have persevered.”102

b) Before demonstrating the existence of sufficient grace it is necessary, in view of certain heretical errors, carefully to define the term.

α) Actual grace may be regarded either in its intrinsic energy or power (virtus, potestas agendi) or in its extrinsic efficacy (efficientia, efficacitas). All graces are efficacious considered in their intrinsic energy, because all confer the physical and moral power necessary to perform the salutary act for the sake of which they are bestowed. From this point of view, therefore, and in actu primo, there is no real but a purely logical distinction between efficacious and merely sufficient grace. If we look to the final result, [pg 043] however, we find that this differs according as the will either freely coöperates with grace or refuses its coöperation. If the will coöperates, grace becomes truly efficacious; if the will resists, grace remains “merely sufficient.” In other words, merely sufficient grace confers full power to act, but is rendered ineffective by the resistance of the will.

The inefficacy of merely sufficient grace, therefore, is owing to the resistance of the will and not to any lack of intrinsic power. This is a truth to which all Catholic systems of grace must conform.

Merely sufficient grace may be subdivided into gratia proxime sufficiens and gratia remote sufficiens.

Proximately sufficient grace (also called gratia operationis) confers upon the will full power to act forthwith, while remotely sufficient grace (also termed gratia orationis) confers only the grace of prayer, which in its turn brings down full power to perform other salutary acts.

The gratia orationis plays a most important rôle in the divine economy of grace. God has not obliged Himself to give man immediately all the graces he needs. It is His will, in many instances, as when we are besieged by temptations, that we petition Him for further assistance. “God does not enjoin impossibilities,” says St. Augustine, “but in His injunctions He counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do.”103

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Hence, though grace may sometimes remain ineffective (gratia inefficax = gratia vere et mere sufficiens), it is never insufficient (insufficiens), that is to say, never too weak to accomplish its purpose.

Calvinism and Jansenism, while retaining the name, have eliminated sufficient grace from their doctrinal systems.

Jansenius (+ 1638) admits a kind of “sufficient grace,” which he calls gratia parva, but it is really insufficient because no action can result from it unless it is supplemented by another and more powerful grace.104 This heretic denounced sufficient grace in the Catholic sense as a monstrous conception and a means of peopling hell with reprobates.105 Some of his followers even went so far as to assert that “in our present state sufficient grace is pernicious rather than useful to us, and we have reason to pray: From sufficient grace, O Lord, deliver us!”106

β) It is an article of faith that there is a merely sufficient grace and that it is truly sufficient even when frustrated by the resistance of the will. The last-mentioned point is emphasized by the Second Council of Orange (A. D. 529): “This also we believe, according to the Catholic [pg 045] faith, that all baptized persons, through the grace received in Baptism, and with the help and coöperation of Christ, are able and in duty bound, if they will faithfully do their share, to comply with all the conditions necessary for salvation.”107 The existence of sufficient grace was formally defined by the Council of Trent as follows: “If any one saith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, ... no wise coöperates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of justification; that it cannot refuse its consent if it would, ... let him be anathema.”108

This dogma can be convincingly demonstrated both from Sacred Scripture and Tradition.

(1) God Himself complains through the mouth of the prophet Isaias: “What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it? Was it that I looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it hath brought forth wild grapes?”109 This complaint clearly applies to the Jews. Yahweh did for the Jewish nation whatever it behooved Him to do lavishly (gratia vere sufficiens), but His kindness was unrequited [pg 046] (gratia mere sufficiens). In the Book of Proverbs He addresses the sinner in these terms: “I called, and you refused: I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded.”110 What does this signify if not the complete sufficiency of grace? The proffered grace remained inefficacious simply because the sinner rejected it of his own free will. Upbraiding the wicked cities of Corozain and Bethsaida, our Lord exclaims: “If in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes.”111 The omniscient God-man here asserts the existence of graces which remained inefficacious in Corozain and Bethsaida, though had they been given to the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, they would have proved effective. The conclusion evidently is: these graces remained ineffective, not because they were unequal to the purpose for which they were conferred, but simply and solely because they were rejected by those whom God intended to benefit.112

(2) Though they did not employ the name, the Fathers were thoroughly familiar with the notion of sufficient grace.

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Thus St. Irenaeus comments on our Lord's lamentation over the fate of the Holy City: “When He says: (Matth. XXIII, 37): ‘How often would I have gathered together thy children, ... and thou wouldest not,’ He manifests the ancient liberty of man, because God hath made him free from the beginning.... For God does not employ force, but always has a good intention. And for this reason He gives good counsel to all.... And those who do it [gratia efficax] will receive glory and honor, because they have done good, though they were free not to do it; but those who do not do good will experience the just judgment of God, because they have not done good [gratia inefficax], though they were able to do it [gratia vere et mere sufficiens].”113 St. Augustine is in perfect agreement with ecclesiastical tradition, and the Jansenists had no right whatever to claim him for their teaching. “The grace of God,” he expressly says in one place, “assists the will of men. If in any case men are not assisted by it, the reason lies with themselves, not God.”114 And again: “No one is guilty because he has not received; but he who does not do what he ought to do, is truly guilty. It is his duty to act if he has received a free will and amply sufficient power to act.”115

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Readings:—St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 1a 2ae, qu. 110, art. 1; qu. 111, art. 1-5.—J. Scheeben, Natur und Gnade, Mainz 1861.—M. Glossner, Lehre des hl. Thomas vom Wesen der Gnade, Mainz 1871.—Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes. 1-16, Gulpen 1885.—Oswald, Die Lehre von der Heiligung, 3rd ed., § 1-3, Paderborn 1885.—S. Schiffini, De Gratia Divina, disp. 1, sect. 2; disp. 3, sect. 1-5, Freiburg 1901.—Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, pp. 3 sqq., Mainz 1897.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp. 234 sqq.

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Chapter II. The Properties Of Actual Grace

Actual grace has three essential properties: (1) necessity, (2) gratuity, and (3) universality. The most important of these is necessity.

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Section 1. The Necessity Of Actual Grace

In treating of the necessity of actual grace we must avoid two extremes. The first is that mere nature is absolutely incapable of doing any thing good. This error was held by the early Protestants and the followers of Baius and Jansenius. The second is that nature is able to perform supernatural acts by its own power. This was taught by the Pelagians and Semipelagians.

Between these two extremes Catholic theology keeps the golden mean. It defends the capacity of human nature against Protestants and Jansenists, and upholds its incapacity and impotence against Pelagians and Semipelagians. Thus our present Section naturally falls into three Articles.

Article 1. The Capacity Of Mere Nature Without Grace

The capacity of nature in its own domain may be considered with regard either to the intellect or to the will.

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Thesis I: Man is capable by the natural power of his intellect to arrive at a knowledge of God from a consideration of the physical universe.

This proposition embodies an article of faith defined by the Vatican Council: “If any one shall say that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be certainly known by the natural light of human reason through created things, let him be anathema.”116

For a formal demonstration of this truth we must refer the reader to our treatise on God: His Knowability, Essence, and Attributes, pp. 17 sqq. The argument there given may be supplemented by the following considerations:

1. The Vatican Council vindicates the native power of the human intellect when it says: “The Catholic Church, with one consent, has ever held and does hold, that there is a twofold order of knowledge, distinct both in principle and in object: in principle, because our knowledge in the one is by natural reason, and in the other by divine faith; in object, because, besides those things to which natural reason can attain, there are proposed to our belief mysteries hidden in God, which, unless divinely revealed, cannot be known.”117 This teaching, which the [pg 052] Church had repeatedly emphasized on previous occasions against the scepticism of Nicholas de Ultricuria,118 the rationalistic philosophy of Pomponazzi, the “log-stick-and-stone” theory119 of Martin Luther, the exaggerations of the Jansenists, and the vagaries of the Traditionalists,120 is based on Revelation as well as on sound reason. Holy Scripture clearly teaches that we can gain a certain knowledge of God from a consideration of the created universe.121 Reason tells us that a creature endowed with intelligence must be capable of acquiring natural knowledge, and that supernatural faith is based on certain praeambula, which are nothing else than philosophical and historical truths.122 “The existence of God and other like truths,” says St. Thomas, “are not articles of faith, but preambles to the articles; for faith presupposes natural knowledge, even as grace presupposes nature, and perfection something that can be perfected.”123 Luther denounced reason as the most dangerous thing on earth, because “all its discussions and conclusions are as certainly false and erroneous as there is a God in Heaven.”124 The [pg 053] Church teaches, in accordance with sound philosophy and experience, that the original powers of human nature, especially free-will, though greatly weakened, have not been destroyed by original sin.125 The Scholastics, it is true, reckoned ignorance among the four “wounds of nature” inflicted by original sin.126 But this teaching must be regarded in the light in which the Church condemned Quesnel's proposition that “All natural knowledge of God, even that found in pagan philosophers, can come from nowhere else than God, and without grace produces nothing but presumption, vanity, and opposition against God Himself, instead of adoration, gratitude, and love.”127 The Traditionalist contention that the intrinsic weakness of the human intellect can be cured only by a primitive revelation handed down through the instrumentality of speech and instruction, or by a special interior illumination, involves the false assumption that there can be a cognitive faculty incapable of knowledge,—which would ultimately lead to a denial of the essential distinction between nature and the supernatural, because it represents exterior revelation or interior grace as something positively due to fallen nature.128 Following the lead of St. Thomas,129 Catholic apologists, while maintaining the necessity of a [pg 054] supernatural revelation even with regard to the truths of natural religion and ethics, base their argument not on the alleged physical incapacity of reason to ascertain these truths, but on the moral impossibility (i.e. insuperable difficulty) of finding them unaided. “It is to be ascribed to this divine Revelation,” says the Vatican Council, “that such truths among things divine as are not of themselves beyond human reason, can, even in the present state of mankind, be known by every one with facility and firm assurance, and without admixture of error.”130 In conformity with the teaching of Revelation and Tradition, the Church has always sharply distinguished between πίστις and γνῶσις,—faith and knowledge, revelation and philosophy,—assigning to reason the double rôle of an indispensable forerunner and a docile handmaid of faith. Far from antagonizing reason, as charged by her enemies, the Church has on the contrary always valiantly championed its rights against Scepticism, Positivism, Criticism, Traditionalism, Rationalism, Pantheism, and Modernism.131

2. As regards those purely natural truths that constitute the domain of science and art, Catholic divines are practically unanimous132 in holding that, though man possesses the physical ability of knowing every single one of these truths, even the most highly gifted cannot master them all. Cardinal Mezzofanti had acquired a knowledge of many languages,133 and undoubtedly was capable [pg 055] of learning many more; yet without a special grace he could not have learned all the languages spoken on earth, though their number is by no means infinite. The science of mathematics, which embraces but a limited field of knowledge, comprises an indefinite number of propositions and problems which even the greatest genius can not master. Add to these impediments the shortness of human life, the limitations of the intellect, the multitude and intricacy of scientific methods, the inaccessibility of many objects which are in themselves knowable, (e.g. the interior of the earth, the stellar universe)—and you have a host of limitations which make it physically impossible for the mind of man to encompass the realm of natural truths.134

Thesis II: Fallen man, whether pagan or sinner, is able to perform some naturally good works without the aid of grace.

This thesis may be technically qualified as propositio certa.

Proof. A man performing moral acts may be either in a state of unbelief, or of mortal sin, or of sanctifying grace. The question here at issue is chiefly whether all the works of pagans, that is all acts done without grace of any kind, are morally bad, or whether any purely natural works may be good despite the absence of grace. Baius and Jansenius [pg 056] affirmed this; nay more, they asserted that no man can perform good works unless he is in the state of grace and inspired by a perfect love of God (caritas). If this were true, all the works of pagans and of such Christians as have lost the faith, would be so many sins. But it is not true. The genuine teaching of the Church may be gathered from her official condemnation of the twenty-fifth, the twenty-sixth, and the thirty-seventh propositions of Baius. These propositions run as follows: “Without the aid of God's grace free-will hath power only to sin;”135 “To admit that there is such a thing as a natural good, i.e. one which originates solely in the powers of nature, is to share the error of Pelagius;”136 “All the actions of unbelievers are sins and the virtues of philosophers vices.”137 To these we may add the proposition condemned by Pope Alexander VIII, that “The unbeliever necessarily sins in whatever he does.”138

1. Sacred Scripture and the Fathers, St. Augustine included, admit the possibility of performing naturally good, though unmeritorious, [pg 057] works (opera steriliter bona) in the state of unbelief; and their teaching is in perfect conformity with right reason.

a) Our Divine Lord Himself says:139 “If you love them that love you, what reward140 shall you have? Do not even the publicans this? And if you salute141 your brethren only, what do you more? Do not also the heathens142 this?” The meaning plainly is: To salute one's neighbor is an act of charity, a naturally good deed, common even among the heathens, and one which, not being done from a supernatural motive, deserves no supernatural reward. But this does not by any means imply that to salute one's neighbor is sinful.

St. Paul143 says: “For when the gentiles,144 who have not the law,145 do by nature146 those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: who shew the work of the law written in their hearts.” By “gentiles” the Apostle evidently means genuine heathens, not converts from paganism to Christianity, and hence the meaning of the passage is that the heathens who know the natural law embodied in the Decalogue only as a postulate of reason, are by nature147 able to “do those things that are of the law,”148 i.e. observe at least some of its precepts. That St. Paul did not think the gentiles capable of observing the whole law without the aid of grace appears from his denunciation of their folly, a little further up in the same Epistle: “Because that, [pg 058] when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened, etc.,”149 and also from the hypothetic form of Rom. II, 14 in the original Greek text: “Ὅταν γὰρ ἔθνη ... τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῶσιν—Si quando gentes, ... quae legis sunt, faciunt.150

In Rom. XIV, 23: “For all that is not faith is sin,”151 a text often quoted against our thesis, “faith” does not mean the theological habit of faith, but “conscience,”152 as the context clearly shows.153

b) The teaching of the Fathers is in substantial harmony with Sacred Scripture.

α) Thus St. Jerome, speaking of the reward which Yahweh gave to Nabuchodonosor for his services against Tyre,154 says: “The fact that Nabuchodonosor was rewarded for a good work shows that even the gentiles in the judgment of God are not passed over without a reward when they have performed a good deed.”155 In his commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians the same holy Doctor observes: “Many who are without the faith and have not the Gospel of Christ, yet perform prudent and holy actions, [pg 059] e.g. by obeying their parents, succoring the needy, not oppressing their neighbors, not taking away the possessions of others.”156

β) The teaching of St. Augustine offers some difficulties. There can be no doubt that this Father freely admitted that pagans and infidels can perform naturally good works without faith and grace. Thus he says there is no man so wicked that some good cannot be found in him.157 He extols the moderation of Polemo158 and the purity of Alypius, who were both pagans.159 He admires the civic virtues of the ancient Romans,160 etc. Holding such views, how could Augustine write: “Neither doth free-will avail for anything except sin, if the way of truth is hidden.”161 And what did his disciple Prosper mean when he said: “The whole life of unbelievers is a sin, and nothing is good without the highest good. For wherever there is no recognition of the supreme and immutable truth, there can [pg 060] be no genuine virtue, even if the moral standard be of the highest.”162

To understand these and similar passages rightly and to explain at the same time how it was possible for Baius and Jansenius to bolster their heretical systems with quotations from the writings of St. Augustine and his disciples, it is necessary to observe that the quondam rhetorician and Platonic idealist of Hippo delights in applying to the genus the designation which belongs to its highest species, and vice versa.163 Thus, in speaking of liberty, he often means the perfect liberty enjoyed by our first parents in Paradise;164 in using the term “children of God” he designates those who persevere in righteousness;165 and in employing the phrase “a good work” he means one supernaturally meritorious. Or, vice versa, he designates the slightest good impulse of the will as caritas,” as it were by anticipation, and brands every unmeritorious work (opus informe s. sterile) as false virtue (falsa virtus), nay sin (peccatum). To interpret St. Augustine correctly, therefore, allowance must be made for his peculiar idealism and a careful distinction drawn [pg 061] between the real and the metaphorical sense of the terms which he employs. Baius neglected this precaution and furthermore paid no attention to the controversial attitude of the holy Doctor. Augustine's peculiar task was not to maintain the possibility of naturally good works without faith and grace, but to defend against Pelagius and Julian the impossibility of performing supernaturally good and meritorious works without the aid of grace. It is this essential difference in their respective points of view that explains how St. Augustine and Baius were able to employ identical or similar terms to express radically different ideas.166

c) It can easily be demonstrated on theological grounds that fallen man is able, of his own initiative, i.e. without the aid of grace, to perform morally good works, and that Baius erred in asserting that this is impossible without theological faith.

α) With regard to the first-mentioned point it will be well, for the sake of clearness, to adopt Palmieri's distinction between physical and moral capacity.167 Man sins whenever he transgresses the law or yields to temptation. [pg 062] This would be impossible if he were physically unable to keep the whole law and resist temptation. Hence he must be physically able to do that which he is obliged to do under pain of sin, though in this or that individual instance the difficulties may be insuperable without the aid of grace. To put it somewhat differently: Baius and Jansenius hold that fallen man can perform no morally good works because of physical or moral impotence on the part of the will. This assumption is false. Man is physically able to perform good works because they are enjoined by the moral law of nature under pain of sin; he is morally able because, in spite of numerous evil tendencies, not a few gentiles and unbelievers have led upright lives and thereby proved that man can perform good works without the aid of grace.168 This is also the teaching of St. Thomas.169

β) It is an expressly defined dogma that the process of justification starts with theological faith (fides), preceded by the so-called grace of vocation, which prepares and effects conversion. To say, as Baius did, that all good works performed in a state of unbelief are so many sins, is tantamount to asserting that the preliminary acts leading up to faith, and which the unbeliever performs by the aid of prevenient grace, are sinful; in other words, that God requires the unbeliever to prepare himself for justification by committing sin. This is as absurd as it is heretical.170

The whole argument of this section applies a fortiori to [pg 063] the theory that no act can be morally good unless prompted by both theological charity and theological faith.171

2. We must now define the limitations of fallen nature unaided by grace. Though the graces dispensed by Providence even for naturally good deeds are in the present economy de facto nearly all supernatural, nothing prevents us from conceiving a different economy, consisting of purely natural helps, such as would have been necessary in the state of pure nature.172

As regards the limitations of man's moral power in the natural order, we may say, in a general way, that the will is able to keep the easier precepts of the moral law of nature without the assistance of grace (either supernatural or natural). However, as it is impossible in many instances to determine just where the easier precepts end and the more difficult ones begin, a broad field is left open for theological speculation.

a) Theologians are practically unanimous in holding that man cannot observe the natural law in its entirety for any considerable length of time without the aid of grace.

Suarez is so sure of this that he does not hesitate to denounce the contrary teaching,—which is (perhaps unjustly) ascribed to Durandus, Scotus, and Gabriel Biel—as [pg 064] “rash and verging on error.”173 In matter of fact the Church has formally defined that, because of concupiscence, no one, not even the justified man, much less the sinner, is able, without divine assistance (grace), to keep for any considerable length of time the whole Decalogue, which embodies the essentials of the moral law. “Nevertheless,” says the Council of Trent, “let those who think themselves to stand take heed lest they fall, and with fear and trembling work out their salvation, ... for ... they ought to fear for the combat which yet remains with the flesh, with the world, with the devil, wherein they cannot be victorious unless they be with God's grace obedient to the Apostle, who says: ‘We are debtors, etc.’ ”174

St. Paul, who lived, so to speak, in an atmosphere of grace, yet found reason to exclaim: “I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man, but I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my members,”175 and: “Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord.”176 Surely it would be vain to expect the proud ideal of the Stoics or Pelagius' presumptuous claim of impeccability ever to be realized on earth except by a special privilege of grace, such as that bestowed upon the Blessed Virgin Mary.177

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The Fathers follow St. Paul in describing the power of concupiscence, even after justification.178

b) A pertinent question, closely allied to the proposition just treated, is this: Can the human will, without the aid of grace, overcome all the grievous temptations to mortal sin by which it is besieged?

It is the common teaching of theologians that, without the aid of grace, man in the fallen state succumbs with moral (not physical) necessity to grievous temptations against the moral law, i.e. to mortal sin. This conclusion flows from the impossibility, which we have demonstrated above, of observing the whole law of nature for life or for any considerable length of time without the help of grace. If man were able to resist all violent temptations, he would be able to keep the whole law.

The theological teaching which we are here expounding may be formulated in two different ways: (1) No man can overcome all grievous temptations against the moral law without the aid of grace; (2) there is no man living who is not now and then assailed by temptations to which he would inevitably succumb did not God lend him His assistance.

In its first and rather indefinite form the proposition is attacked by Ripalda,179 Molina,180 and many later Scholastics. These writers argue as follows: It is impossible to deduce from Revelation or experience a definite rule by which man could determine the conditions on which the grievousness of a temptation depends. To [pg 066] say that a temptation is grievous when it cannot be resisted without the aid of grace, would be begging the question. Besides, the possibility always remains that there be men who, though in theory unable to withstand all grievous temptations without the aid of grace, de facto never meet with such temptations, but only with the lighter kind which can be overcome without supernatural help.

The second and more specific formulation of our proposition is supported by Sacred Scripture, which explicitly declares that all men are subject to temptations which they could not resist if God did not uphold them.181

If the just are obliged to watch and pray constantly, lest they fall,182 this must be true in an even higher degree of sinners and unbelievers. St. Augustine writes against the Pelagians: “Faithful men say in their prayer: ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ But if they have the capacity [of avoiding evil], why do they pray [for it]? Or, what is the evil which they pray to be delivered from, but, above all else, the body of this death?... the carnal lusts, whence a man is liberated only by the grace of the Saviour.... He may be permitted to pray that he may be healed. Why does he presume so strongly on the capability of his nature? It is wounded, hurt, harassed, destroyed; what it stands in need of is a true confession [of its weakness], not a false defense [of its capacity].”183

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c) Another question, on which Catholic divines disagree, is this: Can fallen man, unaided by grace, elicit an act of perfect natural charity (amor Dei naturalis perfectus)?

Scotus answers this question affirmatively,184 and his opinion is shared by Cajetan,185 Bañez,186 Dominicus Soto,187 and Molina.188 Other equally eminent theologians, notably Suarez189 and Bellarmine,190 take the negative side.

In order to obtain a clear understanding of the question at issue we shall have to attend to several distinctions.

First and above all we must not lose sight of the important distinction between the natural and the supernatural love of God. Supernatural charity, in all its stages, necessarily supposes supernatural aid. The question therefore can refer only to the amor Dei naturalis.191 That this natural charity is no mere figment appears from the ecclesiastical condemnation of two propositions of Baius.192

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Another, even more important distinction is that between perfect and imperfect charity. Imperfect charity is the love of God as our highest good (amor Dei ut summum bonum nobis); perfect charity is the love of God for His own sake above all things (amor Dei propter se et super omnia). The holy Fathers and a number of councils193 declare that it is impossible to love God perfectly without the aid of grace. The context and such stereotyped explanatory phrases as sicut oportet or sicut expedit ad salutem,”194 show that these Patristic and conciliary utterances apply to the supernatural love of God. Hence the question narrows itself down to this: Can fallen man without the aid of grace love God for His own sake and above all things by a purely natural love? In answering this question Pesch,195 Tepe,196 and other theologians distinguish between affective and effective love. They hold that whereas the amor affectivus in all its stages is possible without the aid of grace, not so the amor effectivus, since that would involve the observance of the whole natural law. This compromise theory can be demonstrated as highly probable from Scripture and Tradition. St. Paul says197 that the gentiles knew God and should have glorified Him. This evidently supposes that it was possible for them to glorify God, and consequently to love Him affectively, as easily and with the same means by which they knew Him. [pg 069] Else how could the Apostle say of those gentiles who, “when they knew God, glorified him not as God,” that they “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator”?198 This interpretation of Rom. I, 21 sqq. is explicitly confirmed by St. Ambrose when he says: “For they were able to apprehend this by the law of nature, inasmuch as the fabric of the cosmos testifies that God, its author, is alone to be loved, as Moses hath set it down in his writings; but they were made impious by not glorifying God, and unrighteousness became evident in them when, knowing, they changed the truth into a lie and refused to confess the one God.”199

3. It follows, by way of corollary, that Vasquez's opinion,200 that there can be no good work without supernatural aid in the shape of a cogitatio congrua, is untenable, as is also the assertion of Ripalda201 that in the present economy purely natural good actions are so invariably connected with the prevenient grace of Christ that they practically never exist as such.

a) Vasquez, whose position in the matter is opposed by most other theologians, contends202 that no man can perform a good work or resist any temptation against the natural law (Decalogue) without the help of supernatural [pg 070] grace derived from the merits of Christ. To avoid the heretical extreme of Baianism, however, he makes a twofold limitation. He assumes with the Scotists that there is such a thing as a morally indifferent act of the will,203 and defines the grace which he holds to be necessary for the performance of every morally good deed, as cogitatio congrua. This “congruous thought,” he says, is in itself, i.e. ontologically, natural, and can be regarded as supernatural only quoad modum et finem. The subtle argument by which Vasquez tries to establish this thesis is based principally on St. Augustine and may be summarized as follows: Whenever the Fathers and councils insist on the necessity of grace for the performance of good works, they mean all good works, natural as well as supernatural. The only alternative they know is virtue or vice, good or evil. Consequently the grace of Christ, in some form or other, is a necessary requisite of all morally good deeds.

As we have already intimated, we regard this opinion of the learned Spanish divine as erroneous.204 Three solid reasons militate against it. The first is that, to guard against Baianism, Vasquez is compelled to assume the existence of morally indifferent acts of the will, which is untenable, as “St. Augustine and St. Thomas, and theologians generally teach that there is no such thing in the concrete as a morally indifferent act of the free will, and consequently, if the will is able, without grace, to perform acts that are not evil, it is also able [pg 071] to perform good acts.”205 Second, Vasquez's theory counterfeits the notion of Christian grace. “Good thoughts” come so natural to man, and are so closely bound up with the grace of creation, that even Pelagius found no difficulty in admitting this sort of “grace.”206 Surely fallen nature is not so utterly corrupt that a good child is unable to honor and love his parents without the aid of “grace” (in the sense of cogitatio congrua ex meritis Christi). The third reason which constrains us to reject Vasquez's theory, is that it leaves no room for natural morality (naturaliter honestum) to fill the void between those acts that are naturally bad (moraliter inhonesta, i.e. peccata) and such as are supernaturally good (supernaturaliter bona, i.e. salutaria). The existence of such naturally good acts would seem to be a highly probable inference from the condemnation, by Pius VI, of a certain proposition taught by the pseudo-Council of Pistoia.207

b) Martinez de Ripalda (+1648) tried to improve Vasquez's theory by restoring the Christian concept of grace and adding that Providence invariably precedes all naturally good works, including those performed by heathens and sinners, with the entitatively supernatural grace of illumination and confirmation.208 In this hypothesis [pg 072] the necessity of grace is not theological but purely historic.209

Despite the wealth of arguments by which Ripalda attempted to prove his theory,210 it has not been generally accepted. While some, e.g. Platel211 and Pesch,212 regard it with a degree of sympathy, others, notably De Lugo213 and Tepe,214 are strongly opposed to it. Palmieri thinks it may be accepted in a restricted sense, i.e. when limited to the faithful.215

Ripalda's hypothesis of the universality of grace is truly sublime and would have to be accepted if God's salvific will could be demonstrated by revelation or some historic law to suffer no exceptions. But Ripalda has not been able to prove this from Revelation.216 Then, too, his theory entails two extremely objectionable conclusions: (1) a denial, not indeed of the possibility (Quesnel), but of the existence of purely natural good works, and (2) the possibility of justification without theological faith. Neither of these difficulties probably occurred to Vasquez [pg 073] or Ripalda,217 because at the time when they wrote Pius VI had not yet condemned the teaching of the pseudo-Council of Pistoia,218 nor had Innocent XI censured the proposition that “Faith in a broad sense, as derived from the testimony of creatures or some other similar motive, is sufficient for justification.”219 If the love of God, even perfect love, (such as we have shown to be possible in the natural order), were of itself necessarily supernatural, as Ripalda contends, it would be possible for a pagan to receive the grace of justification without theological faith, which he does not possess, as is evident from the Vatican teaching that it is “requisite for divine faith that revealed truth be believed because of the authority of God who reveals it.”220

Thesis III: Not all actions performed by man in the state of mortal sin are sinful on account of his not being in the state of grace.

This is de fide.

Proof. Though this thesis is, strictly speaking, included in Thesis II, it must be demonstrated separately on its own merits, because it embodies [pg 074] a formally defined dogma which has been denied by the Protestant Reformers and by the followers of Baius and Jansenius. Martin Luther taught,—and his teaching was adopted in a modified form by the Calvinists,—that human nature is entirely depraved by original sin, and consequently man necessarily sins in whatever he does,221 even in the process of justification. Against this heresy the Tridentine Council defined: “If any one shall say that all the works done before justification ... are indeed sins, ... let him be anathema.”222

The Protestant notion of grace was reduced to a theological system by Baius223 and Jansenius,224 whose numerous errors may all be traced to their denial of the supernatural order.

The Jansenist teaching was pushed to an extreme by Paschasius Quesnel, 101 of whose propositions were formally condemned by Pope Clement XI in his famous Constitution Unigenitus.”225 The Jansenistic teachings of the Council of Pistoia were censured by Pius VI, A. D. 1794, in his Bull Auctorem fidei.” The quintessence of this heretical system is embodied in the proposition [pg 075] that whatever a man does in the state of mortal sin is necessarily sinful for the reason that he is not in the state of grace (status caritatis). Baius226 and Quesnel227 gave this teaching an Augustinian turn by saying that there is no intermediate state between the love of God and concupiscence, and that all the works of a sinner must consequently and of necessity be sinful. This heretical teaching is sharply condemned in the Bull Auctorem fidei.”228 Quesnel pushed it to its last revolting conclusion when he said: “The prayer of the wicked is a new sin, and that God permits it is but an additional judgment upon them.”229

The teaching of Baius and Quesnel is repugnant to Revelation and to the doctrine of the Fathers.

a) The Bible again and again exhorts sinners to repent, to pray for forgiveness, to give alms, etc. Cfr. Ecclus. XXI, 1: “My son, thou hast sinned? Do so no more: but for thy former sins also pray that they may be forgiven thee.” Ezech. XVIII, 30: “Be converted, and do penance for all your iniquities: and iniquity shall not [pg 076] be your ruin.” Dan. IV, 24: “Redeem thou thy sins with alms, and thy iniquities with works of mercy to the poor: perhaps he will forgive thy offences.” Zach. I, 3: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Turn ye to me, saith the Lord of hosts: and I will turn to you.” If all the works thus enjoined were but so many sins, we should be forced to conclude, on the authority of Sacred Scripture, that God commands the sinner to commit new iniquities and that the process of justification with its so-called dispositions consists in a series of sinful acts. Such an assumption would be manifestly absurd and blasphemous.

Quesnel endeavored to support his heretical conceit by Matth. VII, 17 sq.: “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit; a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.” But as our Lord in this passage speaks of prophets, the fruits he has in mind must obviously be doctrines not works.230 And what if they were works? Are not doctrines and morals ultimately related, and may we not infer from the lives they lead (according to their doctrines) whether prophets are true or false? By their fruits (i.e. works) you shall know them (i.e. the soundness or unsoundness of the teaching upon which their works are based).

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b) In appealing to the testimony of the Fathers the Jansenists were notoriously guilty of misinterpretation.

α) Origen plainly teaches that prayer before justification is a good work. “Though you are sinners,” he says, “pray to God; God hears the sinners.”231 The seemingly contradictory text John IX, 31: “Now we know that God doth not hear sinners,”232 is thus explained by St. Augustine: “He speaks as one not yet anointed; for God also hears the sinners. If He did not hear sinners, the publican would have cast his eyes to the ground in vain and vainly struck his breast saying: O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”233 Moreover, since there is question here of extraordinary works and signs only (viz. miracles), the text is wholly irrelevant in regard to works of personal righteousness. St. Prosper teaches: “Human nature, created by God, even after its prevarication, retains its substance, form, life, senses, and reason, and the other goods of body and soul, which are not lacking even to those who are bad and vicious. But there is no possibility of seizing the true good by such things as may adorn this mortal life, but cannot give [merit] eternal life.”234

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β) Baius and Quesnel succeeded in veiling their heresy by a phraseology of Augustinian color but with implications foreign to the mind of the Doctor of Grace. Augustine emphasized the opposition between “charity” and “concupiscence” so strongly that the intermediary domain of naturally good works was almost lost to view. Thus he says in his Enchiridion: “Carnal lust reigns where there is not the love of God.”235 And in his treatise on the Grace of Christ: “Here there is no love, no good work is reckoned as done, nor is there in fact any good work, rightly so called; because whatever is not of faith is sin, and faith worketh by love.”236 And again in his treatise on Grace and Free Will: “The commandments of love or charity are so great and such, that whatever action a man may think he does well, is by no means well done if done without charity.”237 We have purposely chosen passages in which the “Doctor of Grace” obviously treats of charity as theological love, not in the broad sense of dilectio.238 At first blush these passages seem to agree with the teaching of Baius, who says: “Every love on the part of a rational creature is either sinful cupidity, by which the world is loved, and which is forbidden by St. John, or that praiseworthy charity which is infused into the heart by the Holy Spirit, and by which we love God;”239 and with the forty-fifth [pg 079] proposition of Quesnel: “As the love of God no longer reigns in the hearts of sinners, it is necessary that carnal lust should reign in them and vitiate all their actions.”240 Yet the sense of these propositions is anything but Augustinian. Augustine upholds free-will in spite of grace and concupiscence, whereas the Jansenists assert that the carnalis cupiditas and the caritas dominans produce their effects by the very power of nature, i.e. necessarily and of themselves.241

Besides this capital difference there are many minor discrepancies between the teaching of St. Augustine and that of Baius and Quesnel. Augustine, it is true, in his struggle with Pelagianism,242 strongly emphasized the opposition existing between grace and sin, between love of God and love of the world; but he never dreamed of asserting that every act performed in the state of mortal sin is sinful for the reason that it is not performed in the state of grace. Scholasticism has long since applied the necessary corrective to his exaggerations. It is perfectly orthodox to say that there is an irreconcilable opposition between the state of mortal sin and the state of grace. “No one can serve two masters.”243 This is not, however, by any means equivalent to saying, as the Jansenists do, that the sinner, not being in the state of grace, of necessity sins in whatever he does. Augustine expressly admits that, no matter how deeply God may allow a man to fall, and no matter how strongly concupiscence may dominate his will, he is yet able to pray for grace, which is in itself a distinctly salutary [pg 080] act. “If a sin is such,” he says in his Retractationes, “that it is itself a punishment for sin, what can the will under the domination of cupidity do, except, if it be pious, to pray for help?”244 Compare this sentence with the fortieth proposition of Baius: “The sinner in all his actions serves the lust which rules him,”245 and you will perceive the third essential difference that separates the teaching of St. Augustine from that of the Jansenists. The former, even when he speaks, not of the two opposing habits, but of their respective acts, does not, like Jansenism, represent the universality of sin without theological charity as a physical and fundamental necessity, but merely as a historical phenomenon which admits of exceptions. Thus he writes in his treatise On the Spirit and the Letter: “If they who by nature do the things contained in the law, must not be regarded as yet in the number of those whom Christ's grace justifies, but rather as among those whose actions (although they are those of ungodly men who do not truly and rightly worship the true God) we not only cannot blame, but actually praise, and with good reason, and rightly too, since they have been done, so far as we read or know or hear, according to the rule of righteousness; though were we to discuss the question with what motive they are done, they would hardly be found to be such as to deserve the praise and defense which are due to righteous conduct.”246

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In conclusion we will quote a famous passage from St. Augustine which reads like a protest against the distortions of Baius and Jansenius. “Love,” he says, “is either divine or human; human love is either licit or illicit.... I speak first of licit human love, which is free from censure; then, of illicit human love, which is damnable; and in the third place, of divine love, which leads us to Heaven.... You, therefore, have that love which is licit; it is human, but, as I have said, licit, so much so that, if it were lacking, [the want of] it would be censured. You are permitted with human love to love your spouse, your children, your friends and fellow-citizens. But, as you see, the ungodly, too, have this love, e.g. pagans, Jews, heretics. Who among them does not love his wife, his children, his brethren, his neighbors, his relations and friends? This, therefore, is human love. If any one would be so unfeeling as to lose even human love, not loving his own children, ... we should no longer regard him as a human being.”247 Tepe pertinently observes248 that St. Augustine in this passage asserts not only the possibility but the actual existence of naturally good though unmeritorious works (opera steriliter [pg 082] bona), and that the theory of Ripalda249 is untenable for this reason, if for no other, that the quoted passage is cited in Pius VI's Bull Auctorem fidei.”250

Article 2. The Necessity Of Actual Grace For All Salutary Acts

Salutary acts (actus salutares) are those directed to the attainment of sanctifying grace and the supernatural end of man.

According to this double purpose, salutary acts may be divided into two classes: (1) those that prepare for justification (actus simpliciter salutares), and (2) those which, following justification, gain merits for Heaven (actus meritorii).

In consequence of the supernatural character of the acts which they comprise, both these categories are diametrically opposed to that class of acts which are good only in a natural way,251 and hence must be carefully distinguished from the latter. The Fathers did not, of course, employ the technical terms of modern theology; they had their own peculiar phrases for designating what we call salutary acts, e.g. agere sicut oportet vel expedit, agere ad salutem, agere ad iustificationem, agere ad vitam aeternam, etc.252

1. Pelagianism.—Pelagianism started as a reaction against Manichaeism, but fell into the [pg 083] opposite extreme of exaggerating the capacity of human nature at the expense of grace. It denied original sin253 and grace.

As the necessity of grace for all salutary acts is a fundamental dogma of the Christian religion, the Church proceeded with unusual severity against Pelagian naturalism and condemned its vagaries through the mouth of many councils.

a) Pelagius was a British lay monk, who came to Rome about the year 400 to propagate his erroneous views.254 He found a willing pupil in Celestius, who after distinguishing himself as a lawyer, had been ordained to the priesthood at Ephesus, about 411.

The Pelagian heresy gained another powerful champion in the person of Bishop Julian of Eclanum in Apulia. Its strongest opponent was St. Augustine. Under his powerful blows the Pelagians repeatedly changed their tactics, without however giving up their cardinal error in regard to grace. Their teaching on this point may be summarized as follows: The human will is able by its natural powers to keep all the commandments of God, to resist temptation, and to gain eternal life; in fact it can attain to a state of holiness and impeccability255 in which the petition “Forgive us our trespasses” no longer has any meaning except perhaps as an expression of humility.256 In so far, however, as free-will is itself a gift of [pg 084] the Creator, man can perform no good works without grace. At a later period of his career Pelagius admitted the existence of merely external supernatural graces, such as revelation and the example of Christ and the saints,—which led St. Augustine to remark: “This is the hidden and despicable poison of your heresy that you represent the grace of Christ as His example, not His gift, alleging that man is justified by imitating Him, not by the ministration of the Holy Spirit.”257 But even this external grace, according to Pelagius, does not confer the strength necessary to perform good works; it merely makes it easier to keep the commandments. Pelagius did not deny that justification and adoptive sonship, considered in their ideal relation to the “kingdom of Heaven,” as distinguished from “eternal life,”258 are not identical in adults with the grace of creation, but he denied their gratuity by asserting that the free will is able to merit all these graces by its own power.259

Whatever may have been the variations of Pelagianism, it is patent from the writings of St. Augustine that its defenders one and all rejected the necessity and existence of the immediate grace of the will.260 Their attitude towards the illuminating grace of the intellect is in dispute. Some theologians261 think the Pelagians admitted, others262 that they denied its existence. No matter what [pg 085] they may have held on this point, there can be no doubt that the followers of Pelagius conceived the object of grace to be nothing more than to facilitate the work of salvation.

b) Within the short span of twenty years (A. D. 411 to 431) no less than twenty-four councils occupied themselves with this new heresy.

At first the wily heretic succeeded in deceiving the prelates assembled at Lydda (Diospolis), A. D. 415; but the bishops of Northern Africa, among them St. Augustine, roundly condemned his teaching at two councils held with the sanction of Pope Innocent I at Carthage and Mileve in 416. Shortly afterwards, deceived by the terms of the creeds and explanations which they circulated, Pope Zosimus (417-418) declared both Pelagius and Celestius to be innocent. Despite this intervention, however, two hundred African bishops, at a plenary council held at Carthage, A. D. 418, reiterated the canons of Mileve and submitted them for approval to the Holy See. These proceedings induced Zosimus to adopt stronger measures. In his Epistula Tractoria (418) he formally condemned Pelagianism and persuaded the Emperor to send Julian of Eclanum and seventeen other recalcitrant bishops into exile. The canons of Carthage and Mileve were subsequently received by the universal Church as binding definitions of the faith. The most important of them in regard to grace is this: “If anyone shall say that the grace of justification is given to us for the purpose of enabling us to do more easily by the aid of grace what we are commanded to do by free-will, as if we were able, also, though less easily, to observe the commandments of [pg 086] God without the help of grace, let him be anathema.”263 The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (A. D. 431), with the approval of Pope Celestine I, renewed the condemnation of Celestius, but it was not until nearly a century later that Pelagianism received its death-blow. In 529 the Second Council of Orange defined: “If any one assert that he is able, by the power of nature, and without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, who grants to all men the disposition believingly to accept the truth, rightly (ut expedit) to think or choose anything good pertaining to eternal salvation, or to assent to salutary, i.e. evangelical preaching, such a one is deceived by a heretical spirit.”264 This decision was reiterated by the Council of Trent: “If any one saith that the grace of God through Jesus Christ is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly and to merit eternal life, as if by free-will without grace he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty, let him be anathema.”265

2. Pelagianism Refuted.—Sacred Scripture and the Fathers plainly teach that man is unable to perform any salutary act by his own power.

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a) Among the many Biblical texts that can be quoted in support of this statement, our Lord's beautiful parable of the vine and its branches is especially striking. Cfr. John XV, 4 sq.: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”266

α) The context shows that Jesus is not speaking here of purely natural works of the kind for which the concursus generalis of God suffices, but that He has in mind salutary acts in the strictly supernatural sense; and the truth He wishes to inculcate is that fallen nature cannot perform such acts except through Him and with His assistance. This supernatural influence is not, however, to be understood exclusively of sanctifying or habitual grace, because our Divine Saviour refers to the fruits of justification and to salutary works. “Of these he does not say: ‘Without me you can do but little,’ but: ‘Without me you can do nothing.’ Be it therefore little or much, it cannot be done without Him, without whom nothing can be done.”267 If this was true of the Apostles, who were in the state of sanctifying grace,268 it must be [pg 088] true a fortiori of sinners. Consequently, supernatural grace is absolutely necessary for the performance of any and all acts profitable for salvation.

β) Nowhere is this fundamental truth so clearly and insistently brought out as in the epistles of St. Paul, who is preëminently “the Doctor of Grace” among the Apostles.

There are, according to him, three categories of supernatural acts: salutary thoughts, holy resolves, and good works.

St. Paul teaches that all right thinking is from God. 2 Cor. III, 5: “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God.”269

He also declares that all good resolves come from above. Rom. IX, 15 sq.: “For he saith to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”270

He furthermore asserts that all good works come from God. Phil. II, 13: “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.”271 1 Cor. XII, 3: “No man can say: Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost.”272 Pronouncing the [pg 089] holy name of Jesus is obviously regarded as a salutary act, because mere physical utterance does not require the assistance of the Holy Ghost.273 But the act as a salutary act is physically impossible without divine assistance, because it is essentially supernatural and consequently exceeds the powers of nature.274

b) The argument from Tradition is based almost entirely on the authority of St. Augustine, in whom, as Liebermann observes, God wrought a miracle of grace that he might become its powerful defender. There is no need of quoting specific texts because this whole treatise is interlarded with Augustinian dicta concerning the necessity of grace.

α) An important point is to prove that the early Fathers held the Augustinian, i.e. Catholic view. It stands to reason that if these Fathers had taught a different doctrine, the Church would not have so vehemently rejected Pelagianism as an heretical innovation. Augustine himself insists on the novelty of the Pelagian teaching. “Such is the Pelagian heresy,” he says, “which is not an ancient one, but has only lately come into existence.”275 And this view is confirmed by Pope Celestine I, who declares in his letter to the Bishops of Gaul (A. D. 431): “This being the state of the question, novelty should cease to attack antiquity.”276

In fact the teaching of the Apostolic Fathers, although [pg 090] less explicit, agrees entirely with that of Augustine. Thus St. Irenaeus says: “As the dry earth, if it receives no moisture, does not bring forth fruit, so we, being dry wood, could never bear fruit for life without supernatural rain freely given.... The blessing of salvation comes to us from God, not from ourselves.”277

The necessity of grace is indirectly inculcated by the Church when she petitions God to grant salutary graces to all men—a most ancient and venerable practice, which Pope St. Celestine explains as follows: “The law of prayer should determine the law of belief. For when the priests of holy nations administer the office entrusted to them, asking God for mercy, they plead the cause of the human race, and together with the whole Church ask and pray that the unbelievers may receive the faith, that the idolaters may be freed from the errors of their impiety, that the veil be lifted from the heart of the Jews, and they be enabled to perceive the light of truth, that the heretics may return to their senses by a true perception of the Catholic faith, that the schismatics may receive the spirit of reborn charity, that the sinners be granted the remedy of penance, and that the door of heavenly mercy be opened to the catechumens who are led to the sacraments of regeneration.”278 In matters of salvation [pg 091] prayer and grace are correlative terms; the practice of the one implies the necessity and gratuity of the other.279

β) That the Fathers not only conceived grace to be necessary for the cure of weakness induced by sin (gratia sanans) in a merely moral sense, but thought it to be metaphysically necessary for the communication of physical strength (gratia elevans), is evidenced by such oft-recurring similes as these: Grace is as necessary for salvation as the eye is to see, or as wings are to fly, or as rain is for the growth of plants.

It will suffice to quote a passage from the writings of St. Chrysostom. “The eyes,” he says, “are beautiful and useful for seeing, but if they would attempt to see without light, all their beauty and visual power would avail them nothing. Thus, too, the soul is but an obstacle in its own way if it endeavors to see without the Holy Ghost.”280

This view is strengthened by the further teaching of the Fathers that supernatural grace was as indispensable to the angels in their state of probation (in which they were free from concupiscence) and to our first parents in Paradise (gifted as they were with the donum integritatis), as it is to fallen man; the only difference being that in the case of the latter, grace has the additional object of curing the infirmities and overcoming the difficulties arising from concupiscence. In regard to the angels St. Augustine says; “And who made this will but He who created them with a good will, that is to say with a chaste love by which they should cleave to Him, in one [pg 092] and the same act creating their nature and endowing it with grace?... We must therefore acknowledge, with the praise due to the Creator, that not only of holy men, but also of the holy angels, it can be said that ‘the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given unto them.’ ”281

Equally convincing is the argument that Adam in Paradise was unable to perform any salutary acts without divine grace. “Just as it is in man's power to die whenever he will,” says St. Augustine, “... but the mere will cannot preserve life in the absence of food and the other means of life; so man in Paradise was able of his mere will, simply by abandoning righteousness, to destroy himself; but to have led a life of righteousness would have been too much for his will, unless it had been sustained by the power of Him who made him.”282

This is also the teaching of the Second Council of Orange (A. D. 529): “Even if human nature remained in the state of integrity, in which it was constituted, it would in no wise save itself without the help of its Creator. If it was unable, without the grace of God, to keep what it had received, how should it be able without the grace of God to regain what it has lost?”283

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c) The theological argument for the metaphysical necessity of grace is based on the essentially supernatural character of all salutary acts.

α) St. Thomas formulates it as follows: “Eternal life is an end transcending the proportion of human nature, ... and therefore man, by nature, can perform no meritorious works proportioned to eternal life, but requires for this purpose a higher power,—the power of grace. Consequently, man cannot merit eternal life without grace. He is, however, able to perform acts productive of some good connatural to man, such as tilling the soil, drinking, eating, acts of friendship, etc.”284 For the reason here indicated it is as impossible for man to perform salutary acts without grace as it would be to work miracles without that divine assistance which transcends the powers of nature.285

β) Catholic theologians are unanimous in admitting that all salutary acts are and must needs be supernatural; but they differ in their conception of this supernatural quality (supernaturalitas). The problem underlying this difference of opinion may be stated thus: A thing may [pg 094] be supernatural either entitatively, quoad substantiam, or merely as to the manner of its existence, quoad modum. The supernaturale quoad substantiam is divided into the strictly supernatural and the merely preternatural.286 The question is: To what category of the supernatural belong the salutary acts which man performs by the aid of grace? Undoubtedly there are actual graces which are entitatively natural, e.g. the purely mediate grace of illumination,287 the natural graces conferred in the pure state of nature, the actual graces of the sensitive sphere,288 and the so-called cogitatio congrua of Vasquez.289 The problem therefore narrows itself down to the immediate graces of intellect and will. Before the Tridentine Council theologians contented themselves with acknowledging the divinely revealed fact that these graces are supernatural; it was only after the Council that they began to speculate on the precise character of this supernaturalitas.

Some, following the teaching of the Scotist school, ascribed the supernatural character of salutary acts to their free acceptation on the part of God, holding them to be purely natural in their essence and raised to the supernatural sphere merely per denominationem extrinsecam.290 This view is untenable. For if nature, as such, possessed the intrinsic power to perform salutary acts, irrespective of their acceptation by God, the Fathers and councils would err in teaching that this power is derived from the immediate graces of illumination and strengthening.291

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Others hold that the salutary acts which grace enables man to perform, are supernatural only quoad modum; because while it is the Holy Ghost Himself who incites the natural faculties to salutary thoughts and good resolves, He does not eo ipso raise these thoughts and resolves to the supernatural plane. This theory, besides being open to the same objection which we have urged against the first, involves another difficulty. If all salutary acts were supernatural only quoad modum, sanctifying grace, which is as certainly supernatural in its essence as the beatific vision of God,292 would cease to have an adequate purpose; for the intrinsic reason for its existence is precisely that it raises the nature of the justified into a permanent supernatural state of being.

A third school of theologians tries to solve the difficulty by adding to the natural operation of the intellect and the will some accidental supernatural modus. There are several such modi, which, though inhering in nature and really distinct therefrom, depend solely on the Holy Ghost, and consequently transcend the natural powers of man, e.g. the duration or intensity of a salutary act. This theory at first blush appears more plausible than the other two, but it cannot be squared with the teaching of Tradition. In the first place, the duration or intensity of a salutary act cannot affect its essence or nature. Then again, every such accidental supernatural modus is produced either by grace alone, or by grace working conjointly with free-will. In the former hypothesis it would be useless, because it would not render the free salutary act, as such, supernatural; in the latter case it could do no [pg 096] more than aid the will to do what is morally impossible, whereas every salutary act is in matter of fact a physical impossibility, that is, impossible to unaided nature.293

There remains a fourth explanation, which ascribes to every salutary act an ontological, substantial, intrinsic supernaturalitas, whereby it is elevated to a higher and essentially different plane of being and operation. This theory is convincingly set forth by Suarez in his treatise on the Necessity of Grace.294

It may be asked: If the salutary acts which we perform are supernatural in substance, why are we not conscious of the fact? The answer is not far to seek. Philosophical analysis shows that the intrinsic nature of our psychic operations is no more a subject of immediate consciousness than the substance of the soul itself. Consequently, sanctifying grace cannot reveal its presence through our inner consciousness. Having no intuitive knowledge of our own Ego, we are compelled to specify the different acts of the soul by means of their respective objects and their various tendencies (cognition, volition). To our consciousness the supernatural love of God does not present itself as essentially different from the natural.295

Article 3. The Necessity Of Actual Grace For The States Of Unbelief, Mortal Sin, And Justification

Every adult man, viewed in his relation to actual grace, is in one of three distinct states:

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(1) The state of unbelief (status infidelitatis), which may be either negative, as in the case of heathens, or positive, as in the case of apostates and formal heretics;

(2) The state of mortal sin (status peccati mortalis), when the sinner has already received, or not yet lost, the grace of faith, which is the beginning of justification;

(3) The state of justification itself (status iustitiae sive gratiae sanctificantis), in which much remains yet to be done to attain eternal happiness.

The question we have now to consider is: Does man need actual grace in every one of these three states, and if so, to what extent?

1. Semipelagianism.—Semipelagianism is an attempt to effect a compromise between Pelagianism and Augustinism by attributing to mere nature a somewhat greater importance in matters of salvation than St. Augustine was willing to admit.

a) After Augustine had for more than twenty years vigorously combatted and finally defeated Pelagianism, some pious monks of Marseilles, under the leadership of John Cassian, Abbot of St. Victor,296 tried to find middle ground between his teaching and that of the Pelagians. Cassian's treatise Collationes Patrum,297 and the reports sent to St. Augustine by his disciples Prosper and Hilary, enable us to form a pretty fair idea of the Semipelagian system. Its principal tenets were the following:

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α) There is a distinction between the “beginning of faith” (initium fidei, affectus credulitatis) and “increase in faith” (augmentum fidei). The former depends entirely on the will, while the latter, like faith itself, requires the grace of Christ.

β) Nature can merit grace by its own efforts, though this natural merit (meritum naturae) is founded on equity only (meritum de congruo), and does not confer a right in strict justice, as Pelagius contended.

γ) Free-will, after justification, can of its own power secure the gift of final perseverance (donum perseverantiae); which consequently is not a special grace, but a purely natural achievement.

δ) The bestowal or denial of baptismal grace in the case of infants, who can have no previous merita de congruo, depends on their hypothetical future merits or demerits as foreseen by God from all eternity.298

b) Informed of these errors by his disciples, St. Augustine energetically set to work, and in spite of his advanced age wrote two books against the Semipelagians, entitled respectively, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum and De Dono Perseverantiae. The new teaching was not yet, however, regarded as formally heretical, and Augustine treated his opponents with great consideration, in fact he humbly acknowledged that he himself [pg 099] had professed similar errors before his consecration (A. D. 394).299

After Augustine's death, Prosper and Hilary went to Rome and interested Pope Celestine in their cause. In a dogmatic letter addressed to the Bishops of Gaul, the Pontiff formally approved the teaching of St. Augustine on grace and original sin, but left open such other “more profound and difficult incidental questions” as predestination and the manner in which grace operates in the soul.300 But as this papal letter (called Indiculus) was an instruction rather than an ex-cathedra definition, the controversy continued until, nearly a century later (A. D. 529), the Second Council of Orange, convoked by St. Caesarius of Arles, formally condemned the Semipelagian heresy. This council, or at least its first eight canons,301 received the solemn approbation of Pope Boniface II (A. D. 530) and thus became vested with ecumenical authority.302

2. The Teaching of the Church.—The Catholic Church teaches the absolute necessity of actual grace for all stages on the way to salvation. [pg 100] We shall demonstrate this in five separate theses.

Thesis I: Prevenient grace is absolutely necessary, not only for faith, but for the very beginning of faith.

This is de fide.

Proof. The Second Council of Orange defined against the Semipelagians: “If any one say that increase in faith, as well as the beginning of faith, and the very impulse by which we are led to believe in Him who justifies the sinner, and by which we obtain the regeneration of holy Baptism, is in us not as a gift of grace, that is to say, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, but by nature, ... is an adversary of the dogmatic teaching of the Apostles....”303

a) This is thoroughly Scriptural doctrine, as St. Augustine304 and Prosper305 proved. St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians had opened the eyes of Augustine, as he himself admits. 1 Cor. IV, 7: “For who distinguisheth306 thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” The Apostle [pg 101] means to say: In matters pertaining to salvation no man has any advantage over his fellow men, because all receive of the grace of God without any merits of their own. This statement would be false if any man were able to perform even the smallest salutary act without the aid of grace.

With a special view to faith the same Apostle teaches: “For by grace you are saved through faith,307 and that not of yourselves,308 for it is the gift of God;309 not of works,310 that no man may glory.”311 This, too, would be false if faith could be traced to a purely natural instinct or to some meritum de congruo in the Semipelagian sense.312 Our Lord Himself, in his famous discourse on the Holy Eucharist, unmistakably describes faith and man's preparation for it as an effect of prevenient grace. “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him.”313 The metaphorical expression “come to me,” according to the context, means “believe in me;” whereas the Father's “drawing” plainly refers to the operation of prevenient grace. Cfr. John VI, 65 sq.: “But there are some of you that believe not.... Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by the Father.” John VI, 29: “This is the work of God,314 that you believe in him whom he hath sent.” According to our Saviour's own averment, therefore, preaching is of no avail unless grace gives the first impulse leading to faith.

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b) As regards the argument from Tradition, it will suffice to show that the Fathers who wrote before Augustine, ascribed the beginning of faith to prevenient grace.

α) In the light of the Augustinian dictum that “prayer is the surest proof of grace,”315 it is safe to assume that St. Justin Martyr voiced our dogma when he put into the mouth of a venerable old man the words: “But thou pray above all that the gates of light may be opened unto thee; for no man is able to understand the words of the prophets [as praeambula fidei] unless God and His Christ have revealed their meaning.”316 Augustine himself appeals to SS. Cyprian, Ambrose, and Gregory of Nazianzus, and then continues: “Such doctors, and so great as these, saying that there is nothing of which we may boast as of our own, which God has not given us; and that our very heart and our thoughts are not in our own power, ... attribute these things to the grace of God, acknowledge them as God's gifts, testify that they come to us from Him and are not from ourselves.”317

β) Like the Pelagians in their teaching on original sin,318 the Semipelagians in their teaching on grace relied mainly on the authority of St. John Chrysostom, from whose writings they loved to quote such perplexing passages as this: “We must first select the good, [pg 103] and then God adds what is of His; He does not forestall our will because He does not wish to destroy our liberty. But once we have made our choice, He gives us much help. For while it rests with us to choose and to will antecedently, it lies with him to perfect and bring to an issue.”319

To understand St. Chrysostom's attitude, and that of the Oriental Fathers generally, we must remember that the Eastern Church considered it one of its chief duties to safeguard the dogma of free-will against the Manichaeans, who regarded man as an abject slave of Fate. In such an environment it was of supreme importance to champion the freedom of the will320 and to insist on the maxim: “Help yourself and God will help you.” If the necessity of prevenient grace was not sufficiently emphasized, the circumstances of the time explain, and to some extent excuse, the mistake. St. Augustine himself remarks in his treatise on the Predestination of the Saints: “What need is there for us to look into the writings of those who, before this heresy sprang up, had no necessity of dwelling on a question so difficult of solution as this, which beyond a doubt they would do if they were compelled to answer such [errors as these]? Whence it came about that they touched upon what they thought of God's grace briefly and cursorily in some passages of their writings.”321 Palmieri remarks322 that it would be easy to cite a number of similar passages from the writings of the early Latin Fathers before Pelagius, [pg 104] who certainly cannot be suspected of Semipelagian leanings.323

The orthodoxy of St. Chrysostom can be positively established by a twofold argument. (1) Pope Celestine the First recommended him as a reliable defender of the Catholic faith against Nestorianism and Pelagianism.324 (2) Chrysostom rejected Semipelagianism as it were in advance when he taught: “Not even faith is of ourselves; for if He [God] had not come, if He had not called, how should we have been able to believe?”325 and again when he says in his explanation of the Pauline phrase ἀρχηγὸς τῆς πίστεως:326 “He Himself hath implanted the faith in us, He Himself hath given the beginning.”327 These utterances are diametrically opposed to the heretical teaching of the Semipelagians.328

c) The theological argument for our thesis is effectively formulated by Oswald329 as follows: “It is faith which first leads man from the sphere of nature into a higher domain,—faith is the beginning of salutary action. That this beginning must come wholly from God, and that it cannot come from man, goes without saying. By beginning we mean the very first beginning. Whether we call this first beginning itself faith, or speak, as the Semipelagians did, of certain preambles [pg 105] of faith,—aspirations, impulses, desires leading to faith (praeambula fidei: conatus, desideria, credulitatis affectus), makes no difference. Wherever the supernatural domain of salutary action begins—and it is divided off from the natural by a very sharp line—there it is God who begins and not man, there it is grace which precedes,—gratia praeveniens, as it has come to be known by a famous term.”

Indeed, if man were able by his own power to merit for himself the first beginnings of grace, then faith itself, and justification which is based on faith, and the beatific vision, would not be strictly graces.

As for the precise moment when prevenient grace begins its work in the soul, the common opinion is that the very first judgment which a man forms as to the credibility of divine revelation (iudicium credibilitatis) is determined by the immediate grace of the intellect,330 and that the subsequent affectus credulitatis springs from the strengthening grace of the will. St. Augustine, commenting on 2 Cor. III, 5, demonstrates this as follows:

“Let them give attention to this, and well weigh these words, who think that the beginning of faith is of ourselves, and the increase of faith is of God. For who cannot see that thinking is prior to believing? For no one believes anything unless he has first thought that it is to be believed.... Therefore, in what pertains to religion and piety [of which the Apostle was speaking], if we are not capable of thinking anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, we are certainly not [pg 106] capable of believing anything as of ourselves, since we cannot do this without thinking, but our sufficiency, by which we begin to believe, is of God.”331

Thesis II: The sinner, even after he has received the faith, stands in absolute need of prevenient and co-operating grace for every single salutary act required in the process of justification.

This proposition also embodies an article of faith.

Proof. The Semipelagians ascribed the dispositions necessary for justification to the natural efforts of the will, thereby denying the necessity of prevenient grace. This teaching was condemned as heretical by the Second Council of Orange (A. D. 529),332 and again by the Council of Trent, which defined: “If any one saith that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without His help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so that the grace of justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.”333

[pg 107]

a) The Scriptural texts which we have quoted against Pelagianism334 also apply to the Semipelagian heresy.

Our Lord's dictum: “Without me you can do nothing,”335 proves the necessity of prevenient and co-operating grace, not only at the beginning of every salutary act, but also for its continuation and completion. St. Augustine clearly perceived this. “That he might furnish a reply to the future Pelagius,” he observes, “our Lord does not say: Without me you can with difficulty do anything; but He says: Without me you can do nothing.... He does not say: Without me you can perfect nothing, but do nothing. For if He had said perfect, they might say that God's aid is necessary, not for beginning good, which is of ourselves, but for perfecting it.... For when the Lord says, Without me you can do nothing, in this one word He comprehends both the beginning and the end.”336

St. Paul expressly ascribes the salvation of man to grace when he says: “... with fear and trembling work out your salvation; for it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish.”337

The Tridentine Council, as we have seen, designates the four salutary acts of faith, hope, love, and penitence as a preparation for justification. Now St. Paul teaches: [pg 108] “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope and in the power of the Holy Ghost;”338 and St. John: “Charity is of God.”339

b) The argument from Tradition is chiefly based on St. Augustine, who in his two treatises against the Semipelagians, and likewise in his earlier writings, inculcates the necessity of grace for all stages on the way to salvation.

Thus he writes in his Enchiridion: “Surely, if no Christian will dare to say this: It is not of God that showeth mercy, but of man that willeth, lest he should openly contradict the Apostle, it follows that the true interpretation of the saying (Rom. IX, 16): ‘It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy,’ is that the whole work belongs to God, who both prepares the good will that is to be helped, and assists it when it is prepared. For the good will of man precedes many of God's gifts, but not all; and it must itself be included among those which it does not precede. We read in Holy Scripture, both ‘God's mercy shall prevent me’ (Ps. LVIII, 11), and ‘Thy mercy will follow me’ (Ps. XXII, 6). It precedes the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing to render his will effectual. Why are we taught to pray for our enemies, who are plainly unwilling to lead a holy life, unless it be that God may work willingness in them? And why [pg 109] are we admonished to ask that we may receive, unless it be that He who has created in us the wish, may Himself satisfy the same? We pray, then, for our enemies, that the mercy of God may precede them, as it has preceded us; we pray for ourselves, that His mercy may follow us.”340

That grace accompanies us uninterruptedly on the way to Heaven is also the teaching of St. Jerome: “To will and to run is my own act; but without the constant aid of God, even my own act will not be mine; for the Apostle says (Phil. II, 13): ‘It is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish.’... It is not sufficient for me that He gave it once, unless He gives it always.”341

St. Ephraem Syrus prays in the name of the Oriental Church: “I possess nothing, and if I possess anything, Thou [O God] hast given it to me.... I ask only for [pg 110] grace and acknowledge that I shall be saved through Thee.”342

The Second Council of Orange summarizes the teaching of Tradition on the subject under consideration.343

c) The theological argument for our thesis is based on the character of the adoptive sonship resulting from the process of justification.344 This sonship (filiatio adoptiva) is essentially supernatural, and hence can be attained only by strictly supernatural acts, which unaided nature is both morally and physically incapable of performing.345

Thesis III: Even in the state of sanctifying grace man is not able to perform salutary acts, unless aided by actual graces.

This is likewise de fide.

Proof. The faculties of the just man are permanently kept in the supernatural sphere by sanctifying grace and by the habits of faith, hope, and charity. Hence the just man in the performance of salutary acts does not require the same measure of prevenient grace as the unregenerate sinner, [pg 111] who lacks all, or at least some, of the habits mentioned.

The question here at issue, therefore, can only be: Is actual grace (as gratia excitans s. vocans, not elevans) absolutely necessary to enable a man in the state of sanctifying grace to perform salutary acts? The answer is—Yes, and this teaching is so firmly grounded on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, and so emphatically sanctioned by the Church, that we do not hesitate to follow Perrone in qualifying it as de fide.346 The councils in their teaching on the necessity of grace, assert that necessity alike for the justified and the unjustified. That of Trent expressly declares: “Whereas Jesus Christ Himself continually infuses His virtue into the justified,—as the head into the members, and the vine into the branches,—and this virtue always precedes and accompanies and follows their good works, which without it could not in any wise be pleasing and meritorious before God, we must believe that nothing further is wanting to the justified....”347

a) Our thesis can be easily proved from Holy Scripture. We have already shown that the Bible and Tradition make no distinction between the different stages on the way to salvation, or between different salutary acts, but indiscriminately [pg 112] postulate for all the illuminating grace of the intellect and the strengthening grace of the will. It follows that to perform salutary acts the justified no less than the unjustified need actual grace. Our Saviour's pithy saying: “Without me you can do nothing,”348 was not addressed to unbelievers or sinners, but to His Apostles, who were in the state of sanctifying grace.349

This interpretation is fully borne out by Tradition. St. Augustine, after laying it down as a general principle that “We can of ourselves do nothing to effect good works of piety without God either working that we may will, or co-operating when we will,”350 says of justified man in particular: “The Heavenly Physician cures our maladies, not only that they may cease to exist, but in order that we may ever afterwards be able to walk aright,—a task to which we should be unequal, even after our healing, were it not for His continued help.... For just as the eye of the body, even when completely sound, is unable to see, unless aided by the brightness of light, so also man, even when fully justified, is unable to lead a holy life, unless he be divinely assisted by the eternal light of righteousness.”351

This agrees with the practice of the Church in exhorting [pg 113] all men without exception, saints as well as sinners, to pray: “Precede, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspiration, and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance, that every prayer and work of ours may begin always from Thee, and through Thee be happily ended.”352

b) Some theologians have been led by certain speculative difficulties to deny the necessity of actual grace in the state of justification.

Man in the state of justification, they argue, is endowed with sanctifying grace, the supernatural habits of faith, hope, and charity, and the infused moral virtues, and consequently possesses all those qualifications which are necessary to enable him to perform salutary acts with the supernatural concurrence of God. Why should the will, thus supernaturally equipped, require the aid of additional actual graces to enable it to perform strictly supernatural, and therefore salutary, actions?353

We reply: The necessity of actual grace in the state of justification is so clearly taught by divine Revelation that no theological theory is tenable which denies it. Besides, the objection we have briefly summarized disregards some very essential considerations, e.g. that there remains in man, even after justification, concupiscence, which is accompanied by a certain weakness [pg 114] that requires at least the gratia sanans sive medicinalis to heal it.354 Furthermore, a quiescent habitus cannot set itself in motion, but must be determined from without; that is to say, in our case, it must be moved by the gratia excitans to elicit supernatural thoughts and to will supernatural acts. Just as a seed cannot sprout without the aid of appropriate stimuli, so sanctifying grace is incapable of bearing fruit unless stimulated by the sunshine and moisture of actual graces. Man may perform purely natural acts even though he be in the supernatural state of grace; hence if any particular act of his is to be truly supernatural and conducive to eternal salvation, God must lend His special aid.355

Thesis IV: Except by a special privilege of divine grace, man, even though he be in the state of sanctifying grace, is unable to avoid venial sin throughout life.

This is likewise de fide.

Proof. The Pelagians held that man is able to avoid sin, nay to attain to absolute impeccability,356 without supernatural assistance. Against this error the Second Council of Mileve (A. D. 416) defined: “It likewise hath pleased [the holy Synod] that whoever holds that the words of the Our Father: ‘Forgive us our trespasses,’ when pronounced by saintly men, are pronounced in token of humility, but not truthfully, should be anathema.”357 Still more to the [pg 115] point is the following declaration of the Council of Trent: “If any one saith that a man once justified ... is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial, except by a special grace from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.”358

To obtain a better understanding of this Tridentine definition it will be well to ponder the following considerations:

The Council declares that it is impossible for man, even in the state of sanctifying grace, to avoid all sins during his whole life, except by virtue of a special privilege such as that enjoyed by the Blessed Virgin Mary.359 A venial sin is one which, because of the unimportance of the precept involved, or in consequence of incomplete consent, does not destroy the state of grace. Such a sin may be either deliberate or semi-deliberate. A semi-deliberate venial sin is one committed in haste or surprise. It is chiefly sins of this kind that the Tridentine Council had in view. For no one would seriously assert that with the aid of divine grace a saint could not avoid at least all deliberate venial sins for a considerable length of time. The phrase in tota vita indicates a period of some length, though its limits are rather difficult to determine. Were a man to die immediately after justification, the Tridentine canon would [pg 116] per accidens not apply to him. As the Council says in another place that “men, how holy and just soever, at times fall into at least light and daily sins, which are also called venial,”360 it is safe practically to limit the period of possible freedom from venial sin to one day. Theoretically, of course, it may be extended much farther. The phrase omnia peccata must be interpreted collectively, not distributively, for a sin that could not be avoided would cease to be a sin. For the same reason the term non posse must be understood of (moral, not physical) disability; in other words, the difficulty of avoiding sin with the aid of ordinary graces for any considerable length of time, is insuperable even for the just. This moral impossibility of avoiding sin can be removed only by a special privilege, such as that enjoyed by the Blessed Virgin Mary. It may incidentally be asked whether this privilege was also granted to other saints, notably St. Joseph and St. John the Baptist. Suarez lays it down as a theological conclusion that no human being has ever been or ever will be able entirely to avoid venial sin except by a special privilege, which must in each case be proved. Palmieri maintains that the moral impossibility of leading an absolutely sinless life without the special assistance of grace is taught by indirection in the canons of Mileve (416) and Carthage (418), which declare that no such life has ever been led by mortal man without that assistance.361

a) The Scriptural argument for our thesis was fully developed by the councils just mentioned. [pg 117] The careful student will note, however, that those texts only are strictly conclusive which positively and exclusively refer to venial sins. Thus when St. James says: “In many things we all offend,”362 he cannot mean that all Christians now and then necessarily commit mortal sin. For St. John expressly declares that “Whosoever abideth in him [Christ], sinneth not.”363

It follows that not even the just can wholly avoid venial sin. Hence the most devout and pious Christian may truthfully repeat the petition of the Lord's Prayer which says: “Forgive us our trespasses,364 as we forgive those who trespass against us.”365 Profoundly conscious of the sinfulness of the entire human race, the author of the Book of Proverbs exclaims: “Who can say, My heart is clean, I am pure from sin?”366

Other Scripture texts commonly cited in confirmation of our thesis lack cogency, because they either deal exclusively with mortal sin or do not refer to sin at all. Thus Prov. XXIV, 16: “A just man shall fall seven times and shall rise again,” is meant of temporal adversities.367 Eccles. VII, 21: “There is no just man [pg 118] upon earth, that doth good and sinneth not,”368 can scarcely be understood of venial sin, because the sacred writer continues: “For thy conscience knoweth that thou also hast often spoken evil of others.”369 1 John I, 8: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,”370 would be a splendid argument for our thesis, could it be shown that the Apostle had in mind only the venial sins committed in the state of justification. This is, however, unlikely, as the term peccatum throughout St. John's first Epistle371 is obviously employed in the sense of mortal sin.372

b) Tradition is again most effectively voiced by St. Augustine, who writes: “There are three points, as you know, which the Catholic Church [pg 119] chiefly maintains against them [the Pelagians]. One is, that the grace of God is not given according to our merits.... The second, that no one lives in this corruptible body in righteousness of any degree without sins of any kind. The third, that man is born obnoxious to the first man's sin....”373 To Pelagius' objection: “If all men sin, then the just must die in their sins,” the holy Doctor replies: “With all his acuteness he [Pelagius] overlooks the circumstance that even righteous persons pray with good reason: ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’... Even if we cannot live without sin, we may yet die without sin, whilst the sin committed in ignorance or infirmity is blotted out in merciful forgiveness.”374 In another chapter of the same treatise he says: “If ... we could assemble all the afore-mentioned holy men and women, and ask them whether they lived without sin, ... would they not all exclaim with one voice: ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us’?”375

[pg 120]

c) We come to the theological argument. The moral impossibility of avoiding venial sin for any considerable length of time results partly from the infirmity of human nature (infirmitas naturae), partly from God's pre-established plan of salvation (ordo divinae providentiae).

α) The infirmity of human nature flows from four separate and distinct sources: (1) concupiscence (fomes peccati); (2) imperfection of the ethical judgment (imperfectio iudicii); (3) inconstancy of the will (inconstantia voluntatis); and (4) the weariness caused by continued resistance to temptation. In view of these agencies and their combined attack upon the will, theologians speak of a necessitas antecedens peccandi;—not as if the will were predestined to succumb to any one temptation in particular, but in the sense that it is morally unable to resist the whole series (suppositione disiunctâ). The will simply grows weaker and weaker, and in course of time fails to resist sin with sufficient energy.

Let us exemplify. The proofsheets of a book are scrutinized by several trained readers, yet in spite of the greatest care and many ingenious devices for the elimination of error, a perfect book, i.e. one entirely free from mistakes, is a practical impossibility. How much harder must it be for man to avoid moral lapses throughout his whole life, considering that he cannot choose his own time for meeting temptations, but must [pg 121] keep his mind and will under constant control and be prepared to resist the enemy at any moment.376

St. Thomas Aquinas says: “Man cannot avoid all venial sin, because his sensual appetite is depraved. True, reason is able to suppress the individual stirrings of this appetite. In fact, it is on this account that they are voluntary and partake of the nature of sin. But reason is not able to suppress them all [collectively], because, while it tries to resist one, there perhaps arises another, and, furthermore, reason is not always in a condition to exercise the vigilance necessary to avoid such impulses.”377

It follows that the necessitas peccandi antecedens does not destroy the liberty of the will or the moral imputability of those venial sins which a man actually commits; for it is merely a necessitas indeterminata, which refers not to certain particular instances, but to the one or other indeterminately. It follows further that God does not command the impossible when He insists that we should avoid venial sin, for He does not in each single case command something which is physically or morally impossible,378 but merely demands a perfection which in itself is not entirely unattainable hic et nunc with the assistance of ordinary grace.379

β) The second theological reason for the impossibility of avoiding venial sin for any considerable time is based [pg 122] on the eternal scheme of salvation decreed by Divine Providence. This scheme of salvation must not, of course, be conceived as a divine precept to commit venial sins. It is merely a wise toleration of sin and a just refusal, on the part of the Almighty, to restore the human race to that entirely unmerited state of freedom from concupiscence with which it was endowed in Paradise, and which alone could guarantee the moral possibility of unspotted innocence. Both factors in their last analysis are based upon the will of God to exercise those whom He has justified in humility and to safeguard us against pride, which is the deadliest enemy of our salvation.380 In making this wise decree God, of course, infallibly foresaw that no man (with the sole exception of those to whom He might grant a special privilege) would de facto be able to pass through life without committing venial sins. This infallible foreknowledge is based not alone on the scientia media, but also on the infirmity of human nature.

Hence Suarez was entirely justified in rejecting the singular opinion of de Vega,381 that the Tridentine definition does not exclude the possibility of exceptions.382

Nevertheless the faithful are wisely warned against both indifference and despondency. “Let no one say that he is without sin, but let us not for this reason love sin. Let us detest sin, brethren. Though we are not without sins, let us hate them; especially let us [pg 123] avoid grievous sins, and venial sins, too, as much as we can.”383

Thesis V: No man can persevere in righteousness without special help from God.

This proposition is also de fide.

Proof. The Semipelagians asserted that man is able by his own power to persevere in righteousness to the end.384 Against this teaching the Second Council of Orange defined: “Even those who are reborn and holy must implore the help of God, in order that they may be enabled to attain the good end, or to persevere in the good work.”385 This definition was repeated in substance by the Council of Trent: “If any one saith that the justified either is able without the special help of God to persevere in the justice received, or that, with that help, he is not able; let him be anathema.”386

Perfect perseverance is the preservation of baptismal innocence, or, in a less strict sense, of the state of grace, until death. Imperfect perseverance is a temporary [pg 124] continuance in grace, e.g. for a month or a year, until the next mortal sin. Imperfect perseverance, according to the Tridentine Council, requires no special divine assistance (speciale auxilium).387

Final perseverance is either passive or active, according as the justified dies in the state of grace irrespective of his will (as baptized children and insane adults),388 or actively coöperates with grace whenever the state of grace is imperilled by grievous temptation. The Council of Trent has especially this latter case in view when it speaks of the necessity of a speciale auxilium, because the special help extended by God presupposes coöperation with grace, and man cannot strictly speaking coöperate in a happy death. The Council purposely speaks of an auxilium, not a privilegium, because a privilege is by its very nature granted to but few, while the special help of grace extends to all the elect. This auxilium is designated as speciale, because final perseverance is not conferred with sanctifying grace, nor is it a result of the mere power of perseverance (posse perseverare). The state of sanctifying grace simply confers a claim to ordinary graces, while the power of perseverance of itself by no means insures actual perseverance (actu perseverare). The power of perseverance is assured by those merely sufficient graces which are constantly at the command of the righteous. Actual perseverance, on the other hand, implies a series of efficacious graces. God is under no obligation to bestow more than sufficient grace on any man; consequently, final perseverance is a special grace, or, more correctly, a continuous series of efficacious graces. [pg 125] The Council of Trent is therefore justified in speaking of it as “a great gift.”389

a) Sacred Scripture represents final perseverance as the fruit of prayer and as a special gift not included in the bare notion of justification.

α) Our Divine Saviour Himself says in His prayer for His disciples, John XVII, 11: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we also are.”390 St. Paul teaches in his Epistle to the Colossians: “Epaphras saluteth you ... who is always solicitous for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and full in all the will of God.”391 Hence the necessity of constantly watching and praying: “Watch ye and pray that ye enter not into temptation.”392

β) That perseverance is not included in the bare notion of justification appears from such passages as these: Phil. I, 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.”393 1 Pet. I, 5: “Who, by the power of God, are kept by faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.”394

[pg 126]

b) The threads of Tradition run together in the hands of St. Augustine, who has written a special treatise On the Gift of Perseverance.395

His main argument is based on the necessity of prayer. “Why,” he asks, “is that perseverance asked for from God, if it is not given by God? Is it a mocking petition inasmuch as that is asked of Him which it is known He does not give, but, although He gives it not, is in man's power?... Or is not that perseverance, perchance, asked for from Him? He who says this, is not to be rebuked by my arguments, but must be overwhelmed with the prayers of the saints. Is there indeed one among them who do not ask for themselves from God that they may persevere in Him, when in that very prayer which is called the Lord's—because the Lord taught it—whenever it is prayed by the saints, scarcely anything else is understood to be prayed for but perseverance?”396 He then proceeds to show, in accordance with St. Cyprian's little treatise On the Lord's Prayer, that the seven petitions of the “Our Father” are all prayers for perseverance, and concludes as follows: “Truly in this matter let not the Church look for laborious disputations, but consider her own daily prayers. She prays that the unbelieving [pg 127] may believe; therefore God converts to the faith. She prays that believers may persevere; therefore God gives perseverance to the end.”397 And again: “For who is there that would groan with a sincere desire to receive what he prays for from the Lord, if he thought that he received it from himself and not from the Lord?”398

c) From this teaching flows a corollary of great practical importance, to wit: The grace of final perseverance cannot be merited by good works, but it can be obtained by pious and unremitting prayer.

“This gift of God,” says St. Augustine, speaking of final perseverance, “may be obtained suppliantly [by prayer], but when it has been given, it cannot be lost contumaciously.”399 And again: “Since it is manifest that God has prepared some things to be given even to those who do not pray for them, such as the beginning of faith, and other things not to be given except to those who pray for them, such as perseverance unto the end, certainly he who thinks that he has this latter from himself, does not pray to obtain it.”400

[pg 128]

Between merit (meritum) and prayer (oratio, preces) there is this great difference, that merit appeals to God's justice, prayer to His mercy. If man were able to merit final perseverance by good works (meritum de condigno), God would be in justice bound to give him this precious grace. But this is plainly incompatible with the Catholic conception of final perseverance.

It may be asked: Is God determined by the meritum de congruo inherent in all good works to grant the gift of final perseverance as a reward to the righteous? Theologians are at variance on this point. Ripalda401 thinks that this is the case at least with the more conspicuous good works performed in the state of grace. Suarez modifies this improbable contention somewhat by saying that prayer alone can infallibly guarantee final perseverance.402 Our prayers are infallibly heard if we address the Father through Jesus Christ, because Christ has promised: “If you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you.”403 To insure its being infallibly heard, prayer for perseverance must be made in the state of grace and unremittingly. True, Christ did not make sanctifying grace a necessary condition of efficacious prayer. But, as Suarez points out, prayer cannot be infallibly efficacious unless it proceeds from one who is in the state of grace, because the moral conditions that render it efficacious are found only in that state.404 As to [pg 129] the second point, if we say that prayer for perseverance must be unremitting, we mean, in the words of the same eminent theologian, that it must continue throughout life and must be made with becoming trustfulness and zeal, especially when there is a duty to be fulfilled or a temptation to be overcome.405

Readings:—Suarez, De Gratia, 1. I-II.—*Tricassin, O. Cap., De Necessaria ad Salutem Gratia.—Byonius, De Gratiae Auxiliis, in Becanus, Theologia Scholastica, Rouen, 1658.—Scheeben Natur und Gnade, Mainz 1861.—Idem, Dogmatik, Vol. III, § 292-298, Freiburg 1882.—*Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes. 19-29, Gulpen 1885.—Oswald, Lehre von der Heiligung, § 9-11, 3rd ed., Paderborn 1885.—Tepe, Institutiones Theologicae, Vol. III, pp. 8-51, Paris 1896.—*Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, § 396-416, Mainz 1897.—Chr. Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Vol. V, 3rd ed., pp. 32 sqq., Freiburg 1908.—Schiffini, De Gratia Divina, disp. 2, Freiburg 1901.

On St. Augustine and his teaching cfr. *J. Ernst, Werke und Tugenden der Ungläubigen nach Augustinus, Freiburg 1871.—F. Wörter, Die Geistesentwicklung des hl. Augustinus bis zu seiner Taufe, Paderborn 1898.—Wolfsgruber, Augustinus, Paderborn 1898.—Boucat, Theologia Patrum Dogmatico-Scholastico-Positiva, disp. 3, Paris 1718.—*Zaccaria, Dissert. de Adiutorio sine quo non, in the Thesaurus Theol., Vol. V, Venice 1762.—O. Rottmanner, O. S. B., Geistesfrüchte aus der Klosterzelle, München 1908.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. I, St. Louis 1917, pp. 306 sqq., 374 sq.

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On the heresy of Pelagianism cfr. *F. Wörter, Der Pelagianismus nach seinem Ursprung und seiner Lehre, Freiburg 1874.—F. Klasen, Die innere Entwicklung des Pelagianismus, Freiburg 1882.—Schwane, Dogmengeschichte, Vol. II, 2nd ed., § 60 sqq., Freiburg 1895.—H. Zimmer, Pelagius in Irland, Berlin 1901.—Warfield, Two Studies in the History of Doctrine, New York 1897.—Tixeront, Histoire des Dogmes, Vol. II, 2nd ed., Paris 1909 (English tr., St. Louis 1914).—Pohle in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XI, pp. 604-608.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. I, pp. 357 sqq.

On Semi-Pelagianism cfr. Suarez, De Gratia, Prolegom., V, 5 sqq.—Livinus Meyer, De Pelag. et Semipelag. Erroribus.—Wiggers, Geschichte des Semipelagianismus, Hamburg 1835.—A. Hoch, Lehre des Johannes Cassianus von Natur und Gnade, Freiburg 1895.—*A. Koch, Der hl. Faustus, Bischof von Riez, Stuttgart 1895.—Fr. Wörter, Zur Dogmengeschichte des Semipelagianismus, Münster 1900.—Sublet, Le Semipélagianisme, Namur 1897.—Tixeront, Histoire des Dogmes, Vol. II, 2nd ed., Paris 1909 (English tr., St. Louis 1914).—Pohle in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIII, pp. 703-706.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. I, pp. 379 sqq.

On Jansenism cfr. *Steph. Dechamps, De Haeresi Ianseniana, Paris 1645.—Ripalda, De Ente Supernaturali, Vol. III: Contra Baium et Baianos, Cologne 1648.—Duchesne, Histoire du Baianisme, Douai 1731.—*Linsenmann, Michael Bajus und die Grundlegung des Jansenismus, Tübingen 1867.—A. Schill, Die Konstitution Unigenitus, ihre Veranlassung und ihre Folgen, Freiburg 1876.—Ingold, Rome et France: La Seconde Phase du Jansénisme, Paris 1901.—P. Minges, O. F. M., Die Gnadenlehre des Duns Scotus auf ihren angeblichen Pelagianismus und Semipelagianismus geprüft, Münster 1906.—Lafiteau, Histoire de la Constitution Unigenitus, 2 vols., Liège 1738.—Van den Peereboom, Cornelius Jansenius, Septième Évêque d'Ypres, Bruges 1882.—J. Forget in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. VIII, pp. 285-294.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, pp. 507 sqq.

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Section 2. The Gratuity Of Actual Grace

All grace ex vi termini is a free gift.406 This applies particularly to Christian grace, which is so absolutely gratuitous that its gratuity, together with its necessity, may be called the groundwork of the Catholic religion.

1. State of the Question.—To show what is meant by “gratuity” (gratuitas) we must first explain the technical term “merit.”

a) “Merit” (meritum=that which is earned) is that property of a good work which entitles the performer to receive a reward from him to whose advantage the work redounds.

α) An analysis of this definition shows that (1) merit is found only in such works as are positively good; (2) merit and reward are correlative terms which postulate each other; (3) merit supposes two distinct persons, one who deserves and another who awards; (4) the relation between merit and reward is based on justice, not on benevolence or mercy. The last-mentioned determination is by far the most important of the four.407

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β) Ethics and theology clearly distinguish two kinds of merit: (1) condign merit,408 which is merit in the strict sense (meritum adaequatum sive de condigno), and (2) congruous merit (meritum inadaequatum sive de congruo), so called because of the congruity, or fitness, that the claim should be recognized. Condign merit presupposes some proportion between the work done and the reward given in compensation for it (aequalitas s. condignitas dati et accepti). It is measured by commutative justice and thus confers a real claim to a reward. For example, a conscientious workman has a strict claim to his wage. Owing to the lack of intrinsic proportion between service and reward, congruous merit can claim a remuneration only on grounds of fairness.

A distinction between these two kinds of merit was already made by the Fathers, though not in the terms of present-day theology. It was known to the older Scholastics and emphasized anew by Luther's famous adversary Johann Eck.409

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No relation of strict justice is conceivable between the Creator and His creatures. On the part of God there can only be question of a gratuitous promise to reward certain good works,—which promise He is bound to keep because He is veracious and faithful.410

b) Two other terms must also be clearly defined in order to arrive at a true conception of the gratuity of Christian grace. They are prayer for grace,411 and a capacity or disposition to receive it.412 To pray means to incite God's liberality or mercy by humble supplication.

α) Despite the contrary teaching of Vasquez413 and a few other theologians, congruous merit and prayer are really distinct because one can exist without the other. As the angels in Heaven are able to pray for us without earning a meritum de congruo, so conversely, all salutary works are meritorious even without prayer. Moreover, humble supplication does not involve any positive service entitled to a reward.

There is another important and obvious distinction, viz.: between purely natural prayer (preces naturae) and supernatural prayer inspired by grace (oratio supernaturalis).

β) Capacity or disposition, especially when it [pg 134] takes the form of preparation, may be either positive or negative. Positive capacity is defined as “that real mode by which a subject, in itself indifferent, becomes apt to receive a new form.” Such a capacity or disposition always entails a claim to its respective form.

Positive capacity or disposition differs from both prayer or quasi-merit (meritum de congruo). Quasi-merit is entitled to a reward on the ground of fairness, whereas the capacitas s. dispositio positiva is at most the fulfilment of an expectation based upon purely teleological considerations. Again, a reward can be bestowed upon some subject other than the one by whom the service was rendered, whereas the introduction of a new form necessarily supposes a subject disposed for or prepared to receive it. Thus only he who is hungry is disposed for the reception of food and entitled to have his craving satisfied.

Negative capacity consists in the absence or removal of obstacles that impede the reception of a new form, as when green wood is dried to become fit for burning.

c) There arises the important question whether or not divine grace is an object of merit, and if so, to what extent it can be merited by prayer and preparation.

It is of faith that the just man, by the performance of supernaturally good deeds, can merit de condigno an increase in the state of grace and eternal glory, and that [pg 135] the sinner is able to earn justification de congruo. On the other hand, it is also an article of faith that divine grace is strictly gratuitous.414 The two dogmas seem incompatible, but they are not, as will become evident if we consider that the good works of the just and the salutary works of the sinner are entirely rooted in divine grace and consequently the merits which they contain are strictly merits of grace in no wise due to nature.415 When we speak of the absolute gratuity of grace, therefore, we mean the very first or initial grace (gratia prima vocans), by which the work of salvation is begun. Of this initial grace the Church explicitly teaches that it is absolutely incapable of being merited; whence it follows that all subsequent graces, up to and including justification, are also gratuitous,416 i.e. unmerited by nature in strict justice, in so far as they are based on the gratia prima.

2. The Gratuity of Grace Proved From Revelation.—Keeping the above explanation well in mind we now proceed to demonstrate the gratuity of divine grace in five systematic theses.

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Thesis I: Mere nature cannot, in strict justice (de condigno), merit initial grace (gratia prima), nor, consequently, any of the series of subsequent graces in the order of justification.

This proposition embodies an article of faith.

Proof. It was one of the fundamental errors of Pelagius that grace can be merited by purely natural acts.417 When, at the instance of the bishops assembled at Diospolis (A. D. 415), he retracted his proposition that “the grace of God is given according to our merits,”418 he employed the term gratia Dei dishonestly for the grace of creation. The Second Council of Orange (A. D. 529) formally defined that grace cannot be merited, but is purely and strictly gratuitous.419 And the Council of Trent declared: “In adults the beginning of justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called....”420 The non-existence of merits prior to the bestowal of the prima gratia vocans, so positively asserted in this definition, plainly excludes any and all natural merit de condigno.

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a) St. Paul demonstrates in his Epistle to the Romans that justification does not result from obedience to the law, but is a grace freely bestowed by God.

The Apostle regards the merciful dispensations of Providence in favor of the Chosen People, and of the entire sinful race of men in general, as so many sheer graces. Rom. IX, 16: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”421 The gratuity of grace is asserted in terms that almost sound extravagant two verses further down in the same Epistle: “Therefore he hath mercy on whom he will; and whom he will, he hardeneth.”422 The same truth is emphasized in Rom. XI, 6: “And if by grace, it is not now by works: otherwise grace is no more grace.”423 Lest any one should pride himself on having obtained faith, which is the root of justification, by his own merits, St. Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man may glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.”424 These and many similar passages425 make it plain that grace cannot be merited without supernatural aid.

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b) The leading champion of the dogma of the gratuity of grace among the Fathers is St. Augustine, who never tires of repeating that “Grace does not find merits, but causes them,”426 and substantiates this fundamental principle thus: “Grace has preceded thy merit; not grace by merit, but merit by grace. For if grace is by merit, thou hast bought, not received gratis.”427

c) The theological argument is based (1) on the disproportion between nature and grace and (2) on the absolute necessity of grace for the performance of salutary works.

There is no proportion between the natural and the supernatural, and it would be a contradiction to say that mere nature can span the chasm separating the two orders. To assume the existence of a strict meritum naturae for it, would be to deny the gratuity as well as the supernatural character of grace. To deny these would be to deny grace itself and with it the whole supernatural order that forms the groundwork of Christianity. We know, on the other hand,428 that grace is absolutely indispensable for the performance of salutary acts. Hence, to deny the gratuity of grace would be to credit nature with the ability to perform salutary acts by its own power, or at least to merit grace by the performance of naturally good deeds. In the first hypothesis grace would no longer be necessary for salvation; in the second, [pg 139] it would be proportionate to natural goodness, and therefore no grace at all. Consequently, the gratuity of grace cannot be consistently denied without at the same time denying its necessity.429

Thesis II: There is no naturally good work by which unaided nature could acquire even so much as an equitable claim to supernatural grace.

This proposition may be technically qualified as fidei proxima saltem.

Proof. The Semipelagians held that, though nature cannot merit grace in strict justice, it can merit it at least congruously, i.e. as a matter of fitness or equity.430 This contention was rejected by the Second Council of Orange (A. D. 529), which defined that “God works many good things in man that man does not work, but man works no good deeds that God does not give him the strength to do.”431 And again: “[God] Himself inspires us with faith and charity without any preceding [natural] merits [on our part].”432 The phrase “without any preceding merits” (nullis praecedentibus meritis) excludes both the meritum de condigno and the meritum de congruo.

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a) The Scriptural argument given above for thesis I also covers this thesis.

The Semipelagians quoted Matth. XXV, 15 in support of their teaching: “To one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one, to every one according to his proper ability.”433 But this text is too vague to serve as an argument in such an important matter. Not a few exegetes treat it as a kind of rhetorical figure. Others, following the example of the Fathers, take “talents” to mean purely natural gifts, or gratiae gratis datae, while by “ability” (virtus) they understand the already existing grace of faith or a certain definite measure of initial grace.434 But even if virtus meant natural faculty or talent, it cannot be identical with “merit.” Considering the common teaching of theologians that the angels were endowed with grace according to the measure of their natural perfection,435 we may well suppose that man receives grace likewise according to his natural constitution (gratia sequitur naturam)—a predisposition or aptitude which God ordained in His infinite wisdom to be the instrument through which His graces should operate either for personal sanctification or the good of others.

b) St. Augustine and his disciples, in defending the orthodox faith against the Semipelagians, strongly insisted on the gratuity of the grace of faith, and above all of the initial gratia praeveniens.

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α) St. Augustine comments on 1 Cor. IV, 7 as follows: “Nothing is so opposed to this feeling as for any one to glory concerning his own merits in such a way as if he himself had made them for himself, and not the grace of God,—a grace, however, which makes the good to differ from the wicked, and is not common to the good and the wicked.”436 And in another place he says: “For it would not in any sense be the grace of God, were it not in every sense gratuitous.”437

β) Certain of the Greek Fathers have been suspected of Semipelagian leanings because they appear to assign the chief rôle in the business of salvation to nature.438 A careful study of their writings, however, shows that these authors had in mind co-operating, not prevenient grace. The general teaching of the Orientals on the gratuity of grace is sufficiently indicated by the demand made at the Council of Lydda (A. D. 415), that Pelagius be compelled to retract the proposition: Gratiam Dei secundum merita nostra dari. The Fathers who have been accused of Semipelagian sympathies merely wished to emphasize free-will and to incite the morally indifferent to co-operate heartily with divine grace.

St. Chrysostom, in particular, expressly asserts the absolute gratuity of grace when he says of faith: “That which is a merit of faith, may not be ascribed [pg 142] to us, for it is a free gift of God,”439 and directly contradicts Cassian and the Massilians when he declares: “Thou hast it not of thyself, thou hast received it from God. Hence thou hast received whatever thou hast, not only this or that, but all thou hast. For it is not thine own merit, but the grace of God. Although thou allegest the faith, thou hast received it by vocation.”440

c) The theological argument for our thesis may be succinctly stated thus: The grace of God is the cause of our merits, and hence cannot be itself merited. Being the cause, it cannot be an effect.441

Thesis III: Nature cannot merit supernatural grace even by natural prayer.

This thesis, like the preceding one, may be technically qualified as fidei proxima saltem.

Proof. Let us first clearly establish the state of the question. Our thesis refers to that particular kind of prayer (preces naturae) which by its intrinsic value, so to speak, obliges Almighty God to grant what the petitioner asks for, as is undoubtedly the case with supernatural prayer, according [pg 143] to our Saviour's own promise: “Ask and ye shall receive.”442 The inefficacy of natural prayer asserted in our thesis, is not, as in the case of merit,443 due to any intrinsic impossibility, but to a positive divine decree to grant supernatural prayer.

The Second Council of Orange defined against the Semipelagians: “If any one says that the grace of God can be obtained by human [i.e. natural] prayer, and that it is not grace itself which causes us to invoke God, he contradicts the prophet Isaias and the Apostle who say: I was found by them that did not seek me; I appeared openly to them that asked not after me.”444

a) Sacred Scripture teaches that, unless we are inspired by the Holy Ghost, we cannot pray efficaciously. It follows that to be efficacious, prayer must be an effect of prevenient grace. We should not even know for what or how to pray, if the Holy Ghost did not inspire us. Cfr. Rom. VIII, 26: “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us [inspires us to ask] with unspeakable groanings.”445 1 Cor. XII, 3: “No [pg 144] man can say: Lord God, but by the Holy Ghost.”446 Supernatural union with Christ is an indispensable condition of all efficacious prayer. John XV, 7: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.”447

b) This is also the teaching of the Fathers. “Who would truly groan, desiring to receive what he prays for from the Lord,” says St. Augustine,448 “if he thought that he received it from himself, and not from God? ... We understand that this is also itself the gift of God, that with a true heart and spiritually we cry to God. Let them, therefore, observe how they are mistaken who think that our seeking, asking, knocking is of ourselves, and is not given to us; and say that this is the case because grace is preceded by our merits; that it follows them when we ask and receive, and seek and find, and it is opened to us when we knock.”449

c) From the theological point of view the inefficacy of purely natural prayer in matters pertaining [pg 145] to salvation can be demonstrated thus: Revelation tells us that the work of salvation requires for its beginning an initial supernatural grace. Now prayer, that is to say, efficacious prayer, is in itself a salutary act. Consequently, there can be no efficacious prayer without prevenient grace, and purely natural prayer is inefficacious for salvation.

Ripalda holds that, in an economy different from the present, natural prayer would have a claim to be heard. This opinion can be defended without prejudice to the dogma of the gratuity of grace. No doubt God might condescend to hear such petitions if He would, though, of course, He is not bound to do so by any intrinsic power inherent in natural prayer. Unlike merit, prayer appeals to the mercy of God, not to His justice. Ripalda's theory, however, rests upon an unprovable assumption, namely, that man in the state of pure nature would be able to know of the existence, or at least the possibility, of a supernatural order and to strive for the beatific vision as his final end.450

Thesis IV: Man cannot move God to the bestowal of supernatural grace by any positive disposition or preparation on his part.

This thesis may be qualified as propositio certa.

Proof. Positive preparation or disposition for grace (capacitas sive praeparatio positiva) is practically on a level with natural prayer. The positive [pg 146] disposition for a natural good sometimes includes a certain demand to satisfaction, as e.g. thirst demands to be quenched. This is still more the case when the disposition has been acquired by a positive preparation for the good in question. Thus a student, by conscientiously preparing himself for examination, acquires a claim to be admitted to it sooner or later. Can this also be said of grace? Does there exist in man a positive disposition for grace in the sense that the withholding of it would grievously injure and disappoint the soul? Can man, without supernatural aid, positively dispose himself for the reception of supernatural grace, confident that God will reward his efforts by bestowing it on him? Both these questions must be answered in the negative.

a) If there were something in the natural make-up of man which would move the Almighty to give him grace, the bestowal of grace would no longer be a free act of God. But to assert the consequent would be Semipelagian, hence the antecedent must be false.

b) This truth can easily be deduced from the teaching of the Fathers in the Semipelagian controversy. They declare, in perfect conformity with St. Paul, that grace is bestowed gratuitously because God can give or withhold it as He pleases. St. Augustine says451 that the grace of Baptism is granted freely, that is, without regard to any positive disposition on the part of the baptized [pg 147] infant. It should be remembered, moreover, that nature never existed in its pure form, and is now tainted by original sin.452 Surely a nature tainted by sin cannot possibly possess the power of meriting divine grace.

c) The contention of the so-called Augustinians, that pure nature needs actual grace to save itself, and consequently has a claim to such grace at least ex decentia Creatoris and ex lege iustissimae providentiae, perilously resembles Baius' condemned proposition that the state of pure nature is impossible.453

Thesis V: Man may prepare himself negatively for the reception of supernatural grace by not putting any obstacles in its way.

This proposition is held by a majority of Catholic theologians (sententia communior).

Proof. The solution of this question is intimately connected with the famous Scholastic axiom: Facienti quod est in se Deus non denegat gratiam,” that is, to the man who does what he can, God does not refuse grace. This axiom is susceptible of three different interpretations.

a) It may mean: Facienti quod est in se cum auxilio gratiae Deus confert ulteriorem gratiam, i.e., to him who does what he can with the help of supernatural grace, God grants further and more powerful graces up to justification. This is merely another way of stating the indisputable [pg 148] truth that, by faithfully coöperating with the grace of God, man is able to merit additional graces, and it holds true even of infidels and sinners. The first freely performed salutary act establishes a meritum de congruo towards other acts disposing a man for justification. And since the first as well as all subsequent salutary acts, in this hypothesis, are pure graces, this interpretation of our axiom is entirely compatible with the dogma of the gratuity of grace.454

b) Facienti quod est in se ex viribus naturalibus Deus non denegat gratiam (to him who does what he can with his natural moral strength, God does not refuse grace.) This does not mean that, in consequence of the efforts of the natural will, God may not withhold from anyone the first grace of vocation. In this sense the axiom would be Semipelagian, and has been rejected by a majority of the Schoolmen. It is said of Molina that he tried to render it acceptable by the hypothesis that God bound Himself by a contract with Christ to give His grace to all men who would make good use of their natural faculties. But how could the existence of this imaginary contract be proved? In matter of fact Molina taught, with a large number of other divines,455 that God in the bestowal of His graces freely [pg 149] bound Himself to a definite rule, which coincides with His universal will to save all mankind. In the application of this law He pays no regard to any positive disposition or preparation, but merely to the presence or absence of obstacles which would prove impediments to grace. In other words, God, generally speaking, is more inclined to offer His grace to one who puts no obstacles in its way than to one who wallows in sin and neglects to do his share.456

c) Facienti quod est in se ex viribus naturae negative se disponendo [i.e. obicem non ponendo] Deus non denegat gratiam (to the man who does what he can with his natural moral strength, disposing himself negatively [i.e., by not placing any obstacle] God does not deny grace. In this form the axiom is identical with our thesis. The question arises: Can it be made to square with the dogma of the absolute gratuity of grace? Vasquez,457 Glossner,458 and some others answer [pg 150] this question in the negative, whereas the great majority of Catholic theologians hold with Suarez459 and Lessius,460 that there is no contradiction between the two. Though Lessius did not succeed in proving his famous contention that the axiom Facienti quod est in se Deus non denegat gratiam, was for three full centuries understood in this sense by the schools,461 there is no doubt that many authorities can be cited in favor of his interpretation.462

The theological argument for our thesis may be formulated thus: The gratuity of grace does not imply that the recipient must have no sort of disposition. It merely means that man is positively unworthy of divine favor. Otherwise the Church could not teach, as she does, that the grace bestowed on the angels and on our first parents in Paradise was absolutely gratuitous, nor could she hold that the Hypostatic Union of the two natures in Christ, which is the pattern and exemplar of all true grace,463 was a pure grace in respect of the humanity of our Lord. The dogma of the gratuity of grace is in no danger whatever so long as the relation between negative disposition and supernatural grace is conceived as actual (facienti=qui facit), not causal [pg 151] (facienti=quia facit). The motive for the distribution of grace is to be sought not in the dignity of human nature, but in God's will to save all men. We must, however, guard against the erroneous notion that grace is bestowed according to a fixed law or an infallible norm regulating the amount of grace in accordance with the condition of the recipient. Sometimes great sinners are miraculously converted, while others of fairly good antecedents perish. Yet, again, who could say that to the omniscient and all-wise God the great sinner did not appear better fitted to receive grace than the “decent” but self-sufficient pharisee?

Readings:—Hurter, Compendium Theologiae Dogmaticae, Vol. III, thes. 187.—Oswald, Lehre von der Heiligung, § 8, Paderborn 1885.—*Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, c. 3, Gulpen 1885.—Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, § 417-420, Mainz 1897.—Chr. Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Vol. V, 3rd ed., pp. 105 sqq., Freiburg 1908.—Schiffini, De Gratia Divina, pp. 468 sqq., Freiburg 1901.
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Section 3. The Universality Of Actual Grace

The gratuity of grace does not conflict with its universality. Though God distributes His graces freely, He grants them to all men without exception, because He wills all to be saved.

This divine “will to save” (voluntas Dei salvifica) may be regarded in relation either to the wayfaring state or to the status termini. Regarded from the first-mentioned point of view it is a merciful will (voluntas misericordiae) and is generally called first or antecedent will (voluntas prima s. antecedens) or God's salvific will (voluntas Dei salvifica) in the strict sense of the word. Considered in relation to the status termini, it is a just will, as God rewards or punishes each creature according to its deserts. This second or consequent will (voluntas secunda s. consequens) is called “predestination” in so far as it rewards the just, and “reprobation” in so far as it punishes the wicked.

God's “will to save” may therefore be defined as an earnest and sincere desire to justify all men and make them supernaturally happy. As voluntas antecedens it is conditional, depending on the free co-operation of man; as voluntas consequens, on the other hand, it is absolute, because God owes it to His justice to reward or punish every man according to his deserts.464

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Hence we shall treat in four distinct articles, (1) Of the universality of God's will to save; (2) Of the divine voluntas salvifica as the will to give sufficient graces to all adult human beings without exception; (3) Of predestination, and (4) Of reprobation.

Article 1. The Universality Of God's Will To Save

Although God's will to save all men is practically identical with His will to redeem all,465 a formal distinction must be drawn between the two, (a) because there is a difference in the Scriptural proofs by which either is supported, and (b) because the latter involves the fate of the fallen angels, while the former suggests a question peculiar to itself, viz. the fate of unbaptized children.

Thesis I: God sincerely wills the salvation, not only of the predestined, but of all the faithful without exception.

This proposition embodies an article of faith.

Proof. Its chief opponents are the Calvinists and the Jansenists, who heretically maintain that God wills to save none but the predestined. Against Calvin the Tridentine Council defined: “If any one saith that the grace of justification [pg 154] is attained only by those who are predestined unto life, but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being, by the divine power, predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.”466

The teaching of Jansenius that Christ died exclusively for the predestined,467 was censured as “heretical” by Pope Innocent X. Hence it is of faith that Christ died for others besides the predestined. Who are these “others”? As the Church obliges all her children to pray: “[Christ] descended from heaven for us men and for our salvation,”468 it is certain that at least all the faithful are included in the saving will of God. We say, “at least all the faithful,” because in matter of fact the divine voluntas salvifica extends to all the descendants of Adam, as we shall show further on.469

a) Holy Scripture positively declares in a number of passages that God wills the salvation of all believers, whether predestined or not. Jesus Himself says in regard to the Jews: Matth. XXIII, 37: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that [pg 155] are sent unto thee, how often would I (volui) have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not (noluisti).” Two facts are stated in this text: (1) Our Lord's earnest desire to save the Jewish people, anciently through the instrumentality of the prophets, and now in His own person; (2) the refusal of the Jews to be saved. Of those who believe in Christ under the New Covenant we read in the Gospel of St. John (III, 16): “God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him470 may not perish, but may have life everlasting.” However, since many who believe in Christ do actually perish,471 the divine voluntas salvifica, in principle, extends not only to the predestined, but to all the faithful, i.e. to all who have received the sacrament of Baptism.

b) The teaching of the Fathers can be gathered from the quotations given under Thesis II, infra.

c) The theological argument may be briefly summarized as follows: God's will to save is co-extensive with the grace of adoptive sonship (filiatio adoptiva), which is imparted either by Baptism or by perfect charity. Now, some who were once in the state of grace are eternally lost. Consequently, God also wills the salvation [pg 156] of those among the faithful who do not actually attain to salvation and who are, therefore, not predestined.

Thesis II: God wills to save every human being.

This proposition is fidei proxima saltem.

Proof. The existence of original sin is no reason why God should exclude some men from the benefits of the atonement, as was alleged by the Calvinistic “Infralapsarians.” Our thesis is so solidly grounded on Scripture and Tradition that some theologians unhesitatingly call it an article of faith.

a) We shall confine the Scriptural demonstration to two classical passages, Wisd. XI, 24 sq. and 1 Tim. II, 1 sqq.

α) The Book of Wisdom, after extolling God's omnipotence, says of His mercy: “But thou hast mercy upon all, because thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance. For thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made.... Thou sparest all, because they are thine, O Lord, who lovest souls.”472

In this text the mercy of God is described as universal. Misereris omnium, parcis omnibus. This universality is based (1) on His omnipotence (quia omnia potes), which is unlimited. His mercy, being equally boundless, [pg 157] must therefore include all men without exception. The universality of God's mercy is based (2) on His universal over-lordship and dominion (quoniam tua sunt; diligis omnia quae fecisti). As there is no creature that does not belong to God, so there is no man whom He does not love and to whom He does not show mercy. The universality of God's mercy in the passage quoted is based (3) on His love for souls (qui amas animas). Wherever there is an immortal soul (be it in child or adult, Christian, pagan or Jew), God is at work to save it. Consequently the divine voluntas salvifica is universal, not only in a moral, but in the physical sense of the term, that is, it embraces all the descendants of Adam.

β) 1 Tim. II, 2 sqq.: “I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men.... For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all.”473

The Apostle commands us to pray “for all men,” because this practice is “good and acceptable in the sight of God.” Why is it good and acceptable? Because God “will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In other words, God's will to save is universal.

The question arises: Is the universality of the divine [pg 158] voluntas salvifica, as inculcated by St. Paul, merely moral, or is it physical, admitting of no exceptions? The answer may be found in the threefold reason given by the Apostle: the oneness of God, the mediatorship of Christ, and the universality of the Redemption. (1) “For there is [but] one God.”474 As truly, therefore, as God is the God of all men without exception, is each and every man included in the divine voluntas salvifica. (2) “There is [but] ... one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” The human nature which Christ assumed in the Incarnation is common to all men. Hence, whoever is a man, has Jesus Christ for his mediator.475 (3) Christ “gave himself a redemption [i.e. died] for all.” That is to say, God's will to save is co-extensive with His will to redeem. The latter is universal,476 consequently also the former.477

b) The Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers were wont to base their teaching in this matter on the above-quoted texts, and clearly intimated that they regarded the truth therein set forth as divinely revealed. Passaglia478 has worked out the Patristic argument in detail, quoting no less than two hundred authorities.

α) We must limit ourselves to a few specimen citations. St. Ambrose declares that God wills to save all men. “He willed all to be His own whom He [pg 159] established and created. O man, do not flee and hide thyself! He wants even those who flee, and does not will that those in hiding should perish.”479 St. Gregory of Nazianzus holds God's voluntas salvifica to be co-extensive in scope with original sin and the atonement. “The law, the prophets, and the sufferings of Christ,” he says, “by which we were redeemed, are common property and admit of no exception: but as all [men] are participators in the same Adam, deceived by the serpent and subject to death in consequence of sin, so by the heavenly Adam all are restored to salvation and by the wood of ignominy recalled to the wood of life, from which we had fallen.”480 St. Prosper concludes that, since all men are in duty bound to pray for their fellowmen, God must needs be willing to save all without exception. “We must sincerely believe,” he says, “that God wills all men to be saved, since the Apostle solicitously prescribes supplication to be made for all.”481 The question why so many perish, Prosper answers as follows: “[God] wills all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth, ... so that those who are saved, are saved because He wills them to be saved, while those who perish, perish because they deserve to perish.”482 In his Responsiones ad Capitula Obiectionum Vincentianarum the same writer energetically defends St. Augustine against the accusation that his teaching on [pg 160] predestination is incompatible with the orthodox doctrine of the universality of God's saving will.483

β) St. Augustine aroused suspicion in the camp of the Semipelagians by his general teaching on predestination and more particularly by his interpretation of 1 Tim. II, 4. The great Bishop of Hippo interprets this Pauline text in no less than four different ways. In his treatise De Spiritu et Litera he describes the divine voluntas salvifica as strictly universal in the physical sense.484 In his Enchiridion he restricts it to the predestined.485 In his Contra Iulianum he says: “No one is saved unless God so wills.”486 In his work De Correptione et Gratia: “God wills all men to be saved, because He makes us to will this, just as He sent the spirit of His Son [into our hearts], crying: Abba, Father, that is, making us to cry, Abba, Father.”487 How did St. Augustine come to interpret this simple text in so many different ways? Some think he chose this method to overwhelm the Pelagians and Semipelagians with Scriptural proofs. But this polemical motive can hardly have induced him to becloud an obvious text and invent interpretations which never occurred to any other ecclesiastical writer before or after his time. The conundrum can only be solved by the assumption that Augustine believed in a plurality of literal senses in the Bible and held that over and above (or notwithstanding) the sensus obvius [pg 161] every exegete is free to read as much truth into any given passage as possible, and that such interpretation lay within the scope of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost quite as much as the sensus obvius. In his Confessions488 he actually argues in favor of a pluralitas sensuum. He was keen enough to perceive, however, that if a Scriptural text is interpreted in different ways, the several constructions put upon it must not be contradictory. As he was undoubtedly aware of the distinction between voluntas antecedens and consequens,489 his different interpretations of 1 Tim. II, 4 can be reconciled by assuming that he conceived God's voluntas salvifica as antecedens in so far as it is universal, and as consequens in so far as it is particular. St. Thomas solves the difficulty in a similar manner: “The words of the Apostle, ‘God will have all men to be saved, etc.,’ can be understood in three ways: First, by a restricted application, in which case they would mean, as Augustine says, ‘God wills all men to be saved that are saved, not because there is no man whom he does not wish to be saved, but because there is no man saved whose salvation He does not will.’ Secondly, they can be understood as applying to every class of individuals, not of every individual of each class; in which case they mean that ‘God wills some men of every class and condition to be saved, males and females, Jews and Gentiles, great and small, but not all of every condition.’ Thirdly, according to the Damascene, they are understood of the antecedent will of God, not of the consequent will. The distinction must not be taken as applying to the divine will itself, in which there is nothing antecedent or consequent; but to the [pg 162] things willed. To understand which we must consider that everything, so far as it is good, is willed by God. A thing taken in its strict sense, and considered absolutely, may be good or evil, and yet when some additional circumstance is taken into account, by a consequent consideration may be changed into its contrary. Thus, that men should live is good; and that men should be killed is evil, absolutely considered. If in a particular case it happens that a man is a murderer or dangerous to society, to kill him becomes good, to let him live an evil. Hence it may be said of a just judge that antecedently he wills all men to live, but consequently he wills the murderer to be hanged. In the same way God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some to be damned, as His justice exacts. Nor do we will simply what we will antecedently, but rather we will it in a qualified manner; for the will is directed to things as they are in themselves, and in themselves they exist under particular qualifications. Hence we will a thing simply in as much as we will it when all particular circumstances are considered; and this is what is meant by willing consequently. Thus it may be said that a just judge wills simply the hanging of a murderer, but in a qualified manner he would will him to live, inasmuch as he is a man. Such a qualified will may be called a willingness rather than an absolute will. Thus it is clear that whatever God simply wills takes place; although what He wills antecedently may not take place.”490

[pg 163]

Thesis III: The lot of unbaptized infants, though difficult to reconcile with the universality of God's saving will, furnishes no argument against it.

Proof. The most difficult problem concerning the divine voluntas salvifica—a real crux theologorum—is the fate of unbaptized children. The Church has never uttered a dogmatic definition on this head, and theologians hold widely divergent opinions.

Bellarmine teaches that infants who die without being baptized, are excluded from the divine voluntas salvifica, because, while the non-reception of Baptism is the proximate reason of their damnation, its ultimate reason must be the will of God.

a) This rather incautious assertion needs to be carefully restricted. It is an article of faith that God has instituted the sacrament of Baptism as the ordinary means of salvation for all men. On the other hand, it is certain that He expects parents, priests, and relatives, as his representatives, to provide conscientiously for its proper and timely administration. Sinful negligence on the part of these responsible agents cannot, therefore, be charged to Divine Providence, but must be laid at the door of those human agents who fail to do their duty. In exceptional cases infants can be saved even by means of the so-called Baptism of blood (baptismus sanguinis), i.e. death for [pg 164] Christ's sake. On the whole it may be said that God has, in principle, provided for the salvation of little children by the institution of infant Baptism.

b) But there are many cases in which either invincible ignorance or the order of nature precludes the administration of Baptism. The well-meant opinion of some theologians491 that the responsibility in all such cases lies not with God, but with men, lacks probability. Does God, then, really will the damnation of these innocents? Some modern writers hold that the physical order of nature is responsible for the misfortune of so many innocent infants; but this hypothesis contributes nothing towards clearing up the awful mystery.492 For God is the author of the natural as well as of the supernatural order. To say that He is obliged to remove existing obstacles by means of a miracle would disparage His ordinary providence.493 Klee's assumption that dying children become conscious long enough to enable them to receive the Baptism of desire (baptismus flaminis), is scarcely compatible with the definition of the Council of Florence that “the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin, or only in original sin, forthwith descend to hell.”494 A still more unsatisfactory supposition is that [pg 165] the prayer of Christian parents acts like a baptism of desire and saves their children from hell. This theory, espoused by Cardinal Cajetan, was rejected by the Fathers of Trent,495 and Pope Pius V ordered it to be expunged from the Roman edition of Cajetan's works.496

A way out of the difficulty is suggested by Gutberlet and others, who, holding with St. Thomas that infants that die without Baptism will enjoy a kind of natural beatitude, think it possible that God, in view of their sufferings, may mercifully cleanse them from original sin and thereby place them in a state of innocence.497 This theory is based on the assumption that the ultimate fate of unbaptized children is deprivation of the beatific vision of God and therefore a state of real damnation (poena damni, infernum), and that the remission of original sin has for its object merely to enable these unfortunate infants to enjoy a perfect natural beatitude, which they could not otherwise attain. It is reasonable to argue that, as these infants are deprived of celestial happiness through no guilt of their own, the Creator can hardly deny them some sort of natural beatitude, to which their very nature seems to entitle them. “Hell” for them probably consists in being deprived of the beatific vision of God, which is a supernatural grace and as such lies outside the sphere of those prerogatives to which human nature has a claim by the fact of creation. This theory would seem to establish at least some manner of salvation for the infants in question, and consequently, to vindicate the divine voluntas salvifica in the same measure. Needless to say, it can claim no more than probability, [pg 166] and we find ourselves constrained to admit, at the conclusion of our survey, that there is no sure and perfect solution of the difficulty, and theologians therefore do well to confess their ignorance.498

c) The difficulty of which we have spoken does not, of course, in any way impair the certainty of the dogma. The Scriptural passages cited above499 clearly prove that God wills to save all men without exception. In basing the universality of God's mercy on His omnipotence, His universal dominion, and His love of souls, the Book of Wisdom500 evidently implies that the unbaptized infants participate in that mercy in all three of these respects. How indeed could Divine Omnipotence exert itself more effectively than by conferring grace on those who are inevitably and without any fault of their own deprived of Baptism? Who would deny that little children, as creatures, are subject to God's universal dominion in precisely the same manner as adults? Again, if God loves the souls of men, must He not also love the souls of infants?

1 Tim. II, 4501 applies primarily to adults, because strictly speaking only adults can “come to the knowledge of the truth.” But St. Paul employs certain middle terms which undoubtedly [pg 167] comprise children as well. Thus, if all men have but “one God,” this God must be the God of infants no less than of adults, and His mercy and goodness must include them also. And if Jesus Christ as God-man is the “one mediator of God and men,” He must also have assumed the human nature of children, in order to redeem them from original sin. Again, if Christ “gave himself a redemption for all,” it is impossible to assume that millions of infants should be directly excluded from the benefits of the atonement.502

Article 2. God's Will To Give Sufficient Grace To All Adult Human Beings In Particular

In relation to adults, God manifests His saving will by the bestowal of sufficient grace upon all.503 The bestowal of sufficient grace being evidently an effluence of the universal voluntas salvifica, the granting of such grace to all who have attained the use of reason furnishes another proof for the universality of grace.

God gives all men sufficient graces. But He is not obliged to give to each efficacious graces, because all that is required to enable man to reach his supernatural destiny is coöperation with sufficient grace, especially with the gratia prima vocans, which is the beginning of all salutary operation.

To prove that God gives sufficient grace to all adult [pg 168] human beings without exception, we must show that He gives sufficient grace (1) to the just, (2) to the sinner, and (3) to the heathen. This we shall do in three distinct theses.

Thesis I: God gives to all just men sufficient grace to keep His commandments.

This is de fide.

Proof. The Tridentine Council teaches: “If any one saith that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.”504

A contrary proposition in the writings of Jansenius505 was censured by Pope Innocent the Tenth as “foolhardy, impious, blasphemous, and heretical.”

The Church does not assert that God gives to the just sufficient grace at all times. She merely declares that sufficient grace is at their disposal whenever they are called upon to obey the law (urgente praecepto). Nor need God always bestow a gratia proxime sufficiens; in many instances the grace of prayer (gratia remote sufficiens) fully serves the purpose.506

This dogma is clearly contained in Holy Scripture. We shall quote the most important texts.

[pg 169]

a) 1 John V, 3 sq.: “For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not heavy. For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world.”507 According to this text the “charity of God” manifests itself in “keeping his commandments” and “overcoming the world.” This is declared to be an easy task. Our Lord Himself says: “My yoke is sweet and my burden light.”508 Hence it must be possible to keep His commandments, and therefore God does not withhold the absolutely necessary graces from the just.

St. Paul consoles the Corinthians by telling them that God will not suffer them to be tempted beyond their strength, but will help them to a happy issue, provided they faithfully coöperate with His grace. 1 Cor. X, 13: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.”509 As it is impossible even for the just to overcome grievous temptations without supernatural aid,510 and as God Himself tells us that we are able to overcome them, it is a necessary inference that He [pg 170] bestows sufficient grace. The context hardly leaves a doubt that St. Paul has in mind the just, for a few lines further up he says: “Therefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.”511 But there is no exegetical objection to applying the text to all the faithful without exception.512

b) This dogma is clearly set forth in the writings of the Fathers. Some of them, it is true, when combating the Pelagians and Semipelagians, defended the proposition that “grace is not given to all men,”513 but they meant efficacious grace.

α) A typical representative of this group of ecclesiastical writers is the anonymous author of the work De Vocatione Omnium Gentium,514 whom Pope Gelasius praised as probatus Ecclesiae magister.” This fifth-century writer, who was highly esteemed by his contemporaries, discusses the question whether and in what sense all men are called, and why some are not saved. He begins by drawing a distinction between God's general and His special providence.515 “It so pleased God,” he says, “to give His efficacious grace to many, and to withhold His sufficient grace from none, in order that it might appear from both [actions] that what is conferred upon a portion is not denied to the entire race.”516

[pg 171]

β) The Jansenists appealed in favor of their teaching to such Patristic passages as the following: “After the withdrawal of the divine assistance he [St. Peter] was unable to stand;”517 and: “He had undertaken more than he was able to do.”518 But the two Fathers from whose writings these passages are taken (SS. Chrysostom and Augustine) speak, as the context evinces, of the withdrawal of efficacious and proximately sufficient grace in punishment of Peter's presumption. Had St. Peter followed our Lord's advice519 and prayed instead of relying on his own strength, he would not have fallen. That this was the mind of St. Augustine clearly appears from the following sentence in his work De Unitate Ecclesiae: “Who shall doubt that Judas, had he willed, would not have betrayed Christ, and that Peter, had he willed, would not have thrice denied his Master?”520

c) The theological argument for our thesis may be formulated as follows: Since the state of grace confers a claim to supernatural happiness, it must also confer a claim to those graces which are necessary to attain it.

To assert that God denies the just sufficient grace to observe His commandments, to avoid mortal sin, and to persevere in the state of grace, would be to gainsay [pg 172] His solemn promise to His adopted children: “This is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day.”521 Consequently, God owes it to His own fidelity to bestow sufficient graces upon the just.

Again, according to the plain teaching of Revelation, the just are obliged, under pain of sin, to observe the commandments of God and the precepts of His Church.522 But this is impossible without the aid of grace. Consequently, God grants at least sufficient grace to his servants, for ad impossibile nemo tenetur.523

Thesis II: In regard to Christians guilty of mortal sin we must hold: (1) that ordinary sinners always receive sufficient grace to avoid mortal sin and do penance; (2) that God never entirely withdraws His grace even from the obdurate.

The first part of this thesis embodies a theological conclusion; the second states the common teaching of Catholic theologians.

1. Proof of the First Part. The distinction here drawn between “ordinary” and “obdurate” sinners has its basis in revelation and is clearly demanded by the different degrees of certainty attaching to the two parts of our thesis.

An “ordinary” sinner is a Christian who has lost sanctifying grace by a grievous sin. An “obdurate” sinner [pg 173] is one who, by repeatedly and maliciously transgressing the laws of God, has dulled his intellect and hardened his will against salutary inspirations. A man may be an habitual sinner (consuetudinarius) and a backslider, without being obdurate, or, which comes to the same, impenitent. Weakness is not malice, though sinful habits often beget impenitence, which is one of the sins against the Holy Ghost and the most formidable obstacle in the way of conversion.

With regard to ordinary sinners, our thesis asserts that they always receive sufficient grace to avoid mortal sin and do penance.

a) Experience teaches that a man falls deeper and deeper if he does not hasten to do penance after committing a mortal sin. But this is not the fault of Almighty God, who never withholds His grace; it is wholly the fault of the sinner who fails to coöperate with the proffered supernatural assistance.

α) A sufficient Scriptural argument for this part of our thesis is contained in the texts cited in support of Thesis I. If it is true that God suffers no one to be tempted beyond his strength,524 this must surely apply to Christians who have had the misfortune of committing mortal sin. St. John says that the commandments of God “are not heavy” and that faith is “the victory which overcometh the world.”525 Faith in Christ remains in the Christian, even though he be guilty [pg 174] of mortal sin, and consequently if he wills, he is able, by the aid of sufficient grace, to overcome the “world,” i.e. the temptations arising from concupiscence,526 and thus to cease committing mortal sins.

β) As for the teaching of Tradition, St. Augustine lays down two theological principles which apply to saint and sinner alike.

“God does not enjoin impossibilities,” he says, “but in His injunctions counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do.”527 It follows that the sinner always receives at least the grace of prayer, which Augustine therefore calls gratia initialis sive parva, and of which he says that its right use ensures the gratia magna.

The second principle is this: Cum lege coniuncta est gratia, quâ lex observari possit. That is, every divine law, by special ordinance, carries with it the grace by which it may be observed. In other words, the laws of God can always be obeyed because the lawgiver never fails to grant sufficient grace to keep them.528

b) That the sinner always receives sufficient grace to be converted, follows from the Scriptural injunction of conversion. If conversion to God is a duty, and to comply with this duty is impossible without the aid of grace,529 the divine [pg 175] command obviously implies the bestowal of sufficient grace.

That conversion is a duty follows from such Scriptural texts as these: “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways!”530 “The Lord delayeth not his promise, as some imagine, but dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance.”531

This teaching is faithfully echoed by Tradition.

2. Proof of the Second Part. Obduracy is a serious obstacle to conversion because the obdurate sinner has confirmed his will in malice532 and by systematic resistance diminished the influence of grace. The question here is whether or not God in such cases eventually withdraws His grace altogether.

Some rigorists hold that He does so, with the purpose of sparing the sinner greater tortures in hell.533 Though this assertion cannot be said to contravene the dogma of the universality of God's salvific will, (its defenders do not deny that He faithfully does His share to save these unfortunate reprobates), we prefer to adopt the sententia [pg 176] communis, that God grants even the most obdurate sinner—at least now and then, e.g. during a mission or on the occasion of some terrible catastrophe—sufficient grace to be converted. The theological reasons for this opinion, which we hold to be the true one, coincide in their last analysis with those set forth in the first part of our thesis.

a) Sacred Scripture, in speaking of the duty of repentance, makes no distinction between ordinary and obdurate sinners. On the contrary, the Book of Wisdom points to one of the most wicked and impenitent of nations, the Canaanites, as a shining object of divine mercy and patience.534 According to St. Paul, God calls especially upon hardened and impenitent sinners to do penance. Rom. II, 4 sq.: “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and patience, and long suffering? Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his works.”535

There are some Scriptural passages which seem to imply that God withdraws His grace from those who are [pg 177] obdurate, nay, that He Himself hardens their hearts in punishment of sin. Thus the Lord says of Pharao: “I shall harden his heart,”536 and Moses tells us: “The Lord hardened Pharao's heart, and he harkened not unto them.”537 But it would be wrong to assume that this denotes a positive action on the part of God. Pharao, as we are told further on, “hardened his own heart” (ingravavit cor suum).538 The fault in all cases lies with the sinner, who obstinately resists the call of grace. God's co-operation in the matter is merely indirect. The greater and stronger graces which He grants to ordinary sinners, He withholds from the obdurate in punishment of their malice. This is, however, by no means tantamount to a withdrawal of sufficient grace.539

b) The Fathers speak of God's way of dealing with obdurate sinners in a manner which clearly shows their belief that He never entirely withdraws His mercy. They insist that the light of grace is never extinguished in the present life. “God gave them over to a reprobate mind,” says St. Augustine, “for such is the blindness of the mind. Whosoever is given over thereunto, is shut out from the interior light of God: but not wholly as yet, whilst he is in this life. For there is ‘outer darkness,’ which is understood to belong rather to the day of judgment; that he should rather be wholly without [pg 178] God, whosoever, whilst there is time, refuses correction.”540

It follows that no sinner, how desperate soever his case may appear, need be despaired of. As long as there is life there is hope.541 The Fathers consistently teach that the reason why reprobates are lost is not lack of grace but their own malice. Thus St. Chrysostom comments on Isaias' prophecy regarding the impenitence of the Jews: “The reason they did not believe was not that Isaias had predicted their unbelief, but his prediction was based on the fact that they would not believe. They were unable to believe, i.e. they had not the will to believe.”542

c) The theological argument for our thesis is well stated by St. Thomas. He distinguishes between obstinatio perfecta and obstinatio imperfecta and says: Perfect obstinacy exists only in hell. Imperfect obstinacy is that of a sinner who has his will so firmly set on evil that he is incapable of any but the faintest impulses towards virtue, though even these are sufficient to prepare the way for grace.543 “If any one falls into sin after [pg 179] having received Baptism,” says the Fourth Lateran Council, “he can always be restored by sincere penance.”544 As the power of the keys comprises all sins, even those against the Holy Ghost, so divine grace is held out to all sinners. The Montanistic doctrine of the unforgivableness of the “three capital sins” (apostasy, murder, and adultery) was already condemned as heretical during the life-time of Tertullian. The sinner can obtain forgiveness only by receiving the sacrament of Penance or making an act of perfect contrition.545 Justly, therefore, does the Church regard despair of God's mercy as an additional grievous sin. If the rigorists were right in asserting that God in the end absolutely abandons the sinner, there could be no hope of forgiveness, and despair would be justified.

Thesis III: The heathens, too, receive sufficient graces for salvation.

This proposition may be qualified as certa.

Proof. The “heathens” are those whom the Gospel has not yet reached. They are called infideles negativi in contradistinction to the infideles positivi, i.e. apostates and formal heretics who have fallen away from the faith. We assert that God gives to the heathens sufficient grace to know the truth and be saved. Pope Alexander VIII, [pg 180] on December 7, 1690, condemned Arnauld's Jansenistic proposition that “pagans, Jews, heretics, and others of the same kind experience no influence whatever from Christ, and it may therefore be rightly inferred that there is in them a nude and helpless will, lacking sufficient grace.”546 A proposition of similar import, set up by Quesnel, was censured by Clement XI.547 Though not formally defined, it is a certain truth—deducible from the infallible teaching of the Church—that God does not permit any one to perish for want of grace.

a) The Biblical argument for our thesis is based on the dogma that God wills all men to be saved. 1 Tim. II, 4: “[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth [i.e. the true faith].” In speaking of the “day of wrath,” St. Paul emphasizes the fact that the Almighty Judge “will render to every man according to his works,”—eternal life to the good, wrath and damnation to the wicked.548 And he continues: “But glory, and honor, and peace to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek; for there is no respect of persons [pg 181] with God.”549 “Greek” is here evidently synonymous with gentile or heathen. It follows that the heathens are able to perform supernatural salutary acts with the aid of grace, and that they will receive the reward of eternal beatitude if they lead a good life.

In another passage (1 Tim. IV, 10) the Apostle calls Christ “the Saviour of all men, especially of the faithful.”550 Consequently, Christ is the Saviour also of unbelievers and heathens.551

b) St. Paul's teaching is faithfully echoed by the Fathers. Thus St. Clement of Rome,552 in commenting on the penitential sermons of Noë and the prophet Jonas, says: “We may roam through all the ages of history and learn that the Lord in all generations553 gave opportunity for penance to all who wished to be converted, ... even though they were strangers to him.”554

St. Chrysostom says in explanation of John I, 9: “If He enlightens every man that comes into this world, how is it that so many are without light? For not all know Christ. Most assuredly He illumines, so far as He is concerned.... For grace is poured out over all. It flees or despises no one, be he Jew, Greek, barbarian or Scythian, freedman or slave, man or woman, old or [pg 182] young. It is the same for all, easily attainable by all, it calls upon all with equal regard. As for those who neglect to make use of this gift, they should ascribe their blindness to themselves.”555

Similar expressions can be culled from the anonymous work De Vocatione Omnium Gentium556 and from the writings of SS. Prosper and Fulgentius, and especially from those of Orosius, who says that grace is given to all men, including the heathen, without exception and at all times.557

c) Catholic theologians have devoted considerable thought to the question how God provides for the salvation of the heathen.

To the uncivilized tribes may be applied what has been said regarding the fate of unbaptized infants. The real problem is: How does the merciful Creator provide for those who are sufficiently intelligent to be able to speculate on God, the soul, the future destiny of man, etc.? Holy Scripture teaches: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him.”558 Faith here means, not any kind of religious belief, but that theological faith which the Tridentine Council calls “the beginning, the foundation, and the root of all justification.”559 Mere intellectual assent to the existence of God, immortality, and retribution would not be sufficient for salvation, even if elevated to the supernatural sphere and transfigured by grace. This is [pg 183] evident from the condemnation, by Pope Innocent XI, of the proposition that “Faith in a wide sense, based on the testimony of the created universe, or some other similar motive, is sufficient unto justification.”560 The only sort of faith that results in justification, according to the Vatican Council, is “a supernatural virtue, whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the things which He has revealed are true; not because of the intrinsic truth of the things, viewed by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, who reveals them, and who can neither be deceived nor deceive.”561 Of special importance is the following declaration by the same Council: “Since without faith it is impossible to please God and to attain to the fellowship of His children, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification....”562

The Catechism demands of every one who desires to be saved that he have a supernatural belief in six distinct truths: the existence of God, retribution in the next world, the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, the immortality of the soul, and the necessity of grace. The first two are certainly necessary for salvation, both fide explicitâ and necessitate medii. With regard to the other four there is a difference of opinion among theologians. We base our argumentation on the stricter, though not absolutely certain view, that all six articles must be believed necessitate medii. On this basis God's method of [pg 184] providing sufficient graces for the heathen may be explained in one of two ways, according as a fides explicita is demanded from them with regard to all the above-mentioned dogmas, or a fides implicita is deemed sufficient in regard to all but the first two. By fides explicita we understand the express and fully developed faith of devout Christians; by fides implicita, an undeveloped belief of desire or, in other words, general readiness to believe whatever God has revealed.

α) The defenders of the fides explicita theory are compelled to assume that God must somehow reveal to each individual heathen who lives according to the dictates of his conscience, the six truths necessary for salvation. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”563

But how can the gentiles believe in a revelation that has never been preached to them? Here is an undeniable difficulty. Some theologians say: God enlightens them interiorly about the truths necessary for salvation; or He miraculously sends them an apostle, as He sent St. Peter to Cornelius;564 or He instructs them through the agency of an angel.565 None of these hypotheses can be accepted as satisfactory. “Interior illumination” of the kind postulated would practically amount to private revelation. That God should grant a special private revelation to every conscientious pagan is highly improbable. Again, an angel can no more be the ordinary means of conversion than the miraculous apparition of a missionary. Nevertheless, these three hypotheses admirably illustrate the firm belief of the Church in the universality [pg 185] of God's saving will, inasmuch as they express the conviction of her theologians that He would work a miracle rather than deny His grace to the poor benighted heathen.566 The difficulties to which we have adverted constitute a strong argument in favor of another theological theory which regards explicit belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation merely as a necessitas praecepti, from which one may be dispensed.

β) The fides implicita theory is far more plausible, for it postulates no miracles, implicit faith (or fides in voto) being independent of the external preaching of the Gospel, just as the baptism of desire (baptismus in voto) is independent of the use of water.

Cardinal Gotti regards the first-mentioned of the two theories as safer (tutior), but admits that the other is highly probable, because it has the support of St. Thomas.567 However, a great difficulty remains. Though it may suffice to hold the dogmas of the Trinity and the Incarnation, and a fortiori those of the immortality of the soul and the necessity of grace, with an implicit faith, it is [pg 186] the consentient teaching of Revelation, the Church, and Catholic divines that the two principal truths of religion, viz.: the existence of God and retribution, must be held fide explicitâ and necessitate medii, because a man cannot be converted to God unless He knows Him. But how is he to acquire a knowledge of God? Does this not also necessitate a miracle (e.g. the sending of an angel or of a missionary, which we have rejected as improbable)? There can be but one answer to this question. Unaided reason may convince a thoughtful pagan of the existence of God and of divine retribution, and as these two fundamental truths have no doubt penetrated to the farthest corners of the earth also as remnants of primitive revelation, their promulgation may be said to be contained in the traditional instruction which the heathen receive from their forebears. This external factor of Divine Revelation, assisted by interior grace, may engender a supernatural act of faith, which implicitly includes belief in Christ, Baptism, etc., and through which the heathen are eventually cleansed from sin and attain to justification.568

Some theologians hold that those to whom the Gospel has never been preached, may be saved by a quasi-faith based on purely natural motives.569

For the rest, no one will presume to dictate to Almighty God how and by what means He shall communicate His grace to the heathen. It is enough, and very consoling, too, to know that all men receive sufficient [pg 187] grace to save their souls, and no one is eternally damned except through his own fault.570

Readings:—*Didacus Ruiz, De Voluntate Dei, disp. 19 sqq.—Petavius, De Deo, X, 4 sqq.; De Incarnatione, XIII, 1 sqq.—Fontana, Bulla Unigenitus Dogmatice Propugnata, prop. 12, c. 5, Rome 1717.—Passaglia, De Partitione Voluntatis Divinae in Primam et Secundam, Rome 1851.—*Franzelin, De Deo Uno, thes. 49-51, Rome 1883.—*Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes. 59-62, Gulpen 1885.—A. Fischer, De Salute Infidelium, Essen 1886.—*J. Bucceroni, De Auxilio Sufficiente Infidelibus Dato, Rome 1890.—Fr. Schmid, Die ausserordentlichen Heilswege für die gefallene Menschheit, Brixen 1899.—Chr. Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Vol. II, 3rd ed., pp. 144 sqq., Freiburg 1906.—L. Capéran, Le Problème du Salut des Infidèles, Paris 1912.—A. Wagner, Doctrina de Gratia Sufficiente, Graz 1911.—J. Bainvel, S. J., Is There Salvation Outside the Catholic Church? (tr. J. L. Weidenhan), St. Louis 1917.

Article 3. The Predestination Of The Elect

1. What is Meant by Predestination.—We have shown that God antecedently wills to save all men,571 and that He gives to all sufficient grace to work out their eternal salvation.

On the other hand, Sacred Scripture assures us that some are lost through their own fault. Cfr. Matth. XXV, 41: “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire.”

It follows that God's will to save, considered as voluntas consequens, remains ineffective with regard to a portion of the human race, and consequently, [pg 188] in this respect, is no longer universal but particular.

Being omniscient, God has foreseen this from all eternity and disposed His decrees accordingly. It is in this sense that Catholic theology teaches the existence of a twofold predestination: one to Heaven, for those who die in the state of grace, another to hell, for those who depart this life in mortal sin.

Present-day usage reserves the term predestination for the election of the blessed.

a) Rightly does the Council of Trent call predestination a “hidden mystery.”572 For in the last analysis it rests solely with God, who are to be admitted to Heaven and who condemned to hell. But why does God give to some merely sufficient grace, with which they neglect to coöperate, while on others He showers efficacious graces that infallibly lead to eternal salvation? In this unequal distribution of efficacious grace lies the sublime mystery of predestination, as St. Augustine well knew, for he says in his treatise On the Gift of Perseverance: “Therefore, of two infants equally bound by original sin, why the one is taken and the other left; and of two wicked men already mature in years, why one should be so called that he follows Him that calleth, while the other is either not called at all, or is not called in such a manner,—are unsearchable judgments of God.”573

[pg 189]

b) What is meant by “predestination of the elect”? In view of the many errors that have arisen with regard to this important dogma, it is necessary to start with clearly defined terms.

Predestination may mean one of three different things. A man may be simply predestined to receive certain graces (praedestinatio ad gratiam tantum); or he may be predestined to enjoy eternal happiness without regard to any merits of his own (praedestinatio ad gloriam tantum); or, again, he may be predestined to both grace and glory, glory as the end, grace as a means to that end—vocation, justification, and final perseverance. When the concepts of grace and glory are considered separately, and each is made the object of a special predestination, we have what is called incomplete or inadequate predestination (praedestinatio incompleta sive inadaequata). It is this incomplete predestination that St. Paul574 and St. Augustine575 have in mind when they apply the term to the vocation of men to grace, faith, and justification. Theologians speak of praedestinatio ad gloriam tantum, that is, ante praevisa merita, as a true predestination, but disagree as to its existence.576

The dogma of predestination, which mainly concerns us here, has for its sole object predestination in the complete or adequate sense of the term, which is explained by St. Augustine as follows: “Predestination is nothing else than the foreknowledge and the preparation of [pg 190] those gifts of God whereby they who are delivered are most certainly delivered [i.e. saved].”577 St. Thomas expresses himself more succinctly: “Predestination is the preparation of grace in the present, and of glory in the future.”578

2. The Dogma.—Complete predestination involves: (a) the first grace of vocation (gratia prima praeveniens), especially faith as the beginning, foundation, and root of justification; (b) a number of additional actual graces for the successful accomplishment of the process; (c) justification itself as the beginning of the state of grace; (d) the grace of final perseverance; (e) eternal happiness in Heaven.

The question arises; Do men really seek and find their eternal salvation with infallible certainty by passing through these successive stages—not merely in the foreknowledge of God (praescientia futurorum), but by virtue of an eternal decree (decretum praedestinationis)?

The Pelagians asserted that man works out his eternal salvation of his own free will, and that consequently God merely foreknows but does not fore-ordain who shall be saved. The Semipelagians held that the beginning of faith (initium fidei) and final perseverance (donum perseverantiae) [pg 191] are not pure graces but may be obtained by natural means, without special aid from above. Against these heretics the Catholic Church has always taught the eternal predestination of the elect as an article of faith.579

a) St. Paul says explicitly: “We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren. And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified.”580 Here we have all the elements of complete predestination: God's eternal foreknowledge (praescivit, προέγνω), an eternal decree of the divine will (praedestinavit, προώρισε), and the various stages of justification, beginning with vocation (vocavit, ἐκάλησε) up to justification proper (iustificavit, ἐδικαίωσε), and eternal beatitude (glorificavit, ἐδόξασεν).581

b) The Fathers of the fifth century undoubtedly taught the predestination of the elect as an article of faith. Thus St. Augustine says: [pg 192] “There never was a time when the Church of Christ did not hold this faith in predestination, which is now defended with fresh solicitude against the new heretics.”582 His faithful disciple St. Prosper writes: “No Catholic denies predestination by God.”583 And again: “It would be as impious to deny predestination as to oppose grace itself.”584

c) Several important theological corollaries follow from the dogma of predestination.

α) The first is the immutability of the divine decree of predestination. This immutability is based on God's infallible foreknowledge that certain individuals will die in the state of grace, and on His unchangeable will to reward them with eternal happiness.

St. Augustine says: “If any one of these [the predestined] perishes, God is mistaken; but none of them perish because God is not mistaken.”585

God's unerring foreknowledge is symbolized by the “Book of Life.”586 Christ Himself said to His Apostles: [pg 193] “Rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.”587 The “Book of Life” admits neither addition nor erasure. This does not, however, mean that a man is unable to change God's hypothetical decree of predestination with regard to himself into an absolute one. He can do this by prayer, good works, and faithful co-operation with grace.588 Whatever promotes our salvation is included in the infallible foreknowledge of God, and consequently also in the scope of predestination. In this sense, but in no other, can we accept the somewhat paradoxical maxim: “If you are not predestined, conduct yourself so that you may be predestined.” Sacred Scripture occasionally refers to another “Book of Life,” which contains the names of all the faithful, irrespective of their predestination. This “book,” of course, is capable of alterations. Cfr. Apoc. III, 5: “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.”589 Finally, there is the “Book of Reprobation,” which records the wicked deeds of men and by which the unrepentant sinners will be judged. This is the liber scriptus of the Dies Irae:

Liber scriptus proferetur.
In quo totum continetur.590

β) If the divine decree of predestination is immutable, the number of the elect must be definitively fixed. “The number [of those who are predestined to the kingdom of God] is so certain,” [pg 194] says St. Augustine, “that no one can either be added to or taken from them.”591 We must distinguish between the absolute and the relative number of the predestined.

God, being omniscient, knows not only the abstract number of the elect, but every individual predestined to Heaven. To us the number of the elect is wrapped in impenetrable mystery. St. Thomas justly observes: “Some say that as many men will be saved as angels fell; some, so many as there were angels left; others, in fine, so many as the number of angels who fell, added to that of all the angels created by God. It is, however, better to say that ‘God alone knows the number for whom is reserved eternal happiness,’ as the prayer for the living and the dead expresses it.”592 Whether God will round out the number of the elect by suddenly precipitating the end of the world or by a sort of “natural selection,” is an open question. To assume the latter could hardly be reconciled with the dogma of the universality of His saving will. St. Augustine seems to favor the former.593

As regards the relative number of the elect, some writers (e.g. Massillon) represent it as so infinitesimally [pg 195] small that it would almost drive a saint to despair,—“as if the Church had been established for the express purpose of populating hell.”594 Even St. Thomas held that relatively few are saved.595 But the arguments adduced in support of this contention are by no means convincing.596 Recently, the Jesuit Father Castelein597 impugned the rigorist theory with weighty arguments. He was sharply attacked by the Redemptorist Godts,598 who marshalled a great number of authorities in favor of the sterner view. The controversy cannot be decided either on Scriptural or traditional grounds. In our pessimistic age it is more grateful and consoling to assume that the majority of Christians, especially Catholics, will be saved.599 If we add to this number not a few Jews, Mohammedans, and heathens, it is probably safe to estimate the number of the elect as at least equal to that of the reprobates. Were it smaller, “it could be said to the shame and offense of the divine majesty and mercy, that the [future] kingdom of Satan is larger than the kingdom of Christ.”600

3. The Motive of Predestination.—The efficient cause of predestination is God; its instrumental [pg 196] cause, grace; its final cause, the divine glory; its primary meritorious cause, the merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. On these points all theologians are agreed. Not so as to the motive that induced God to predestine certain individuals to the exclusion of others. The question narrows itself down to this: What influence, if any, do the merits of a man exert on the eternal decree of predestination?—and may be formulated in three different ways.

a) What influence do the merits of a man exert on his predestination to the initial grace of vocation? Recalling the dogma of the absolute gratuity of grace, our answer must be: None. For whatever merits one may have acquired before he receives the initial grace of vocation, must be purely natural, and consequently worthless in the eyes of God for supernatural predestination. “To assume,” says St. Thomas, “that there is on our part some merit, the foreknowledge of which [on the part of God] would be the cause [motive] of our predestination, would be to assume that grace is given to us [as a reward] of our [natural] merits.”601

b) What influence do the merits of a man exert on his predestination to grace and glory? [pg 197] Catholic theologians are unanimous in holding that, since grace is absolutely gratuitous and inseparably connected with glory as its effect, the union of both can no more be based upon natural merit than the initial grace of vocation itself, which transmits the quality of gratuitousness to each and every one of the graces that follow in its wake, up to and including justification and eternal beatitude. Those among the Fathers who defended the gratuity of predestination against the Pelagians and Semipelagians, really aimed at safeguarding the gratuity of initial grace, in order not to be constrained to say with Pelagius that “the grace of God is given as a reward of merit.”602 “What compelled me in this work of mine [De Dono Perseverantiae] to defend more abundantly and clearly those passages of Scripture in which predestination is commended,” says St. Augustine, “if not the Pelagian assertion that God's grace is given according to our [natural] merits?”603 Obviously these Fathers did not have in view the praedestinatio ad gloriam tantum, as the champions of the praedestinatio ante praevisa merita mistakenly assert, but what they meant was that complete predestination [pg 198] which comprises grace and glory as one whole. Similarly, the early Schoolmen, when they speak of the “gratuity of predestination,” usually mean complete predestination.604 D'Argentré's researches show how necessary it is to draw sharp distinctions and carefully to establish the real state of the question before claiming the common teaching of the Scholastics in favor of any particular theory of predestination.

c) What influence do the supernatural merits of a man exert on his predestination to glory as such? Here the controversy begins. Predestination may be considered either as the cause of supernatural merit or as its effect. If it is considered as the cause, the problem takes this shape: Did God, by an absolute decree, and without any regard to their future supernatural merits, eternally predestine certain men to the glory of heaven, and only subsequently decide to give them the efficacious graces necessary to reach that end, particularly final perseverance? If, on the other hand, predestination be considered as an effect of supernatural merit, the question will be: Did God predestine certain men to the glory of Heaven by a merely hypothetical decree, making His will [pg 199] to save them dependent on His infallible foreknowledge of their supernatural merits? The lack of decisive Scriptural and Patristic texts on this subject has led to a division of Catholic opinion, some theologians favoring absolute predestination ante praevisa merita, others hypothetical predestination post praevisa merita. Without concealing our conviction that absolute predestination is untenable, we shall set forth both theories impartially and examine the arguments on which they rely.

4. Orthodox Predestinationism, or the Theory of Predestination ante Praevisa Merita.—Some theologians conceive the divine scheme of salvation in this wise: (a) In ordine intentionis, God, by an absolute decree, first predestines certain men to eternal salvation, and then, in consequence of this decree, decides to give them all the graces necessary to be saved; (b) in time, however, or in ordine executionis, He observes the reverse order, that is to say, He first bestows the pre-appointed graces and subsequently the glory of heaven as a reward of supernatural merit acquired by the aid of those graces.

This theory reverses the relation of grace and glory. While it correctly605 represents glory as the fruit and reward of supernatural merit in the order of execution, it wrongly represents it in the order of intention as [pg 200] the cause of supernatural merit, whereas it is merely an effect. This opinion is championed by most Thomists,606 some Augustinians,607 and a few Molinists.608 Their arguments may be sketched as follows:

a) In innumerable passages of Sacred Scripture predestination to eternal happiness is represented as a work of pure mercy, nay, even as an arbitrary act of God. Take, e.g., Matth. XXIV, 22 sqq.: “And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened.... For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.”609 Here, it is claimed, the elect are represented as so thoroughly confirmed in faith and in good works as to be proof against error.

This conclusion is unwarranted. The phrase “those days” manifestly refers either to the destruction of Jerusalem or to the end of the world. If it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, the “elect,” according to Biblical usage,610 are the faithful Christian inhabitants of the Holy City, for whose sake God promises to shorten the terrible siege. If it referred to the end of the world, electi would indeed stand for praedestinati, but the context would not [pg 201] forbid us to interpret their predestination hypothetically, as merely indicating the immutability of the divine decree, which is not denied by the opponents of the theory.

Another text quoted in favor of absolute predestination ante praevisa merita, is Acts XIII, 48: “As many as were ordained (praeordinati, τεταγμένοι) to life everlasting, believed.” Here, we are told, predestination to eternal life is given as the motive why many believed. But the text really says nothing at all about predestination. Τεταγμένοι is not synonymous with προτεταγμένοι or προωρισμένοι. The more probable explanation is the following: As many believed as were disposed to receive the faith. It is wellnigh impossible to assume that all who received the faith at that time were predestined, while those that refused to be converted were without exception reprobates. But even if praeordinati were synonymous with praedestinati, the text would merely say that certain predestined souls embraced the faith, without affording any clue as to the relation between conversion and predestination.

The ninth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans is the main reliance of the advocates of absolute predestinationism, though the passage is unfit to serve as a locus classicus because of its obscurity. Let us examine a few of the verses most frequently quoted. Rom. IX, 13: “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated,” is alleged to prove the absolute predestination of Jacob and the negative reprobation of Esau. But many theologians hold that Esau was saved, and, besides, the Apostle is not dealing with predestination to glory, but with Jacob's vocation to be the progenitor of the Messias. Esau, who was not an Israelite but an Idumaean, was simply passed over in this choice (odio habere [pg 202] minus diligere; cfr. Matth. X, 37). If the passage is interpreted typically, it should be done in harmony with the context, that is to say, as referring to the gratuity of grace, not to predestination.

The same may be said of Rom. IX, 16 and 18: “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.... He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth.”611

The strongest text alleged by the advocates of absolute predestination is Rom. IX, 20 sq.: “O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus? Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?” Here the Apostle really seems to have thought of predestination. But the simile must not be pressed, lest we arrive at the Calvinistic blasphemy that God positively predestined some men to heaven and others to hell. The tertium comparationis is not the act of the Divine Artificer, but the willingness of man to yield his will to God like clay in the hands of a potter.

Nor is it admissible to read into the Apostle's thought even a negative reprobation of certain men. For the primary intention of the Epistle to the Romans is to insist on the gratuity of man's vocation to Christianity and to reject the presumption that the Mosaic law and their bodily descent from Abraham gave the Jews preference over the heathens. The Epistle to the Romans has no bearing whatever on the speculative question whether or not the free vocation of grace is a necessary result of eternal predestination to glory.612

[pg 203]

b) Among the Fathers the only one to whom the advocates of absolute predestinationism can appeal with some show of justice is St. Augustine, who, with the possible exception of Prosper and Fulgentius, was the most rigorous among early ecclesiastical writers,—so rigorous, in fact, that Oswald does not hesitate to call him “the head and front of all rigorists in the Church.”613

However, this is saying too much. Augustine's genuine teaching is still in dispute among our ablest theologians. Some614 deny that he broke with the almost unanimous teaching of his predecessors, while others think that in the treatises De Dono Perseverantiae and De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, and in several of his letters, the Saint frankly taught absolute predestinationism. The latter group of writers is split into two classes. A number of Thomists and Cardinal Bellarmine not only assert that Augustine taught absolute predestination, but boldly adopt his supposed teaching. Petavius, Maldonatus, Cercià, Oswald, and others censure this view. Franzelin615 undoubtedly strikes the right note when he says: “If there were a manifest discrepancy between Augustine's [pg 204] teaching and that of the other Fathers, I should not hesitate to follow Pighius, Catharinus, Osorius, Camerarius, Maldonatus,616 Toletus,617 and Petavius618 in reverently departing from his doctrine, because in that case we should be dealing merely with a private opinion.”619 Under these circumstances the Patristic argument for the theory of absolute predestination evidently lacks convincingness.620

c) It was probably because they felt its weakness that some of the later champions of the theory attempted to prove absolute predestination ante praevisa merita by philosophical arguments. Gonet reasons as follows: “He who proceeds in an orderly way, wills the end before he wills the means necessary to attain it. But God proceeds in an orderly way. Therefore he wills the end before the means. Now, glory is an end, and merits are means to attain that end. Consequently, God wills glory before He wills merits, and a man's preëlection to glory cannot be based on foreknowledge of his merits.”621 This argument, [pg 205] if it proved anything, would prove the logical impossibility of conditional predestination. But it overshoots the mark and consequently proves nothing at all. Qui nimium probat, nihil probat.

Gonet moreover assumes what he sets out to prove, namely, that God voluntate antecedente decreed the glory of certain men to the exclusion of others. This petitio principii vitiates the entire polysyllogism. God's will to save is universal. He wills the eternal happiness of all men antecedenter, and the reprobation of some only consequenter; hence eternal predestination is not absolute, but hypothetical, that is, it depends on merit. That the divine scheme of grace can take a different course in ordine intentionis from that in ordine executionis is a mere fiction. If eternal salvation in the order of temporal execution is given only as a reward of merit, it must be a reward of merit also in the order of intention. In both cases predestination depends upon a future condition.

Perhaps the worst feature of the theory of absolute predestination is the fact that it involves the absolute reprobation of those not predestined to glory. “If it could be validly argued,” says Gutberlet, “that, since the end must be willed before the means, salvation must be decreed before the means to its attainment (i.e. merits), the argument would be applicable also to the damned. If God voluntate antecedente wills to lead only a few to salvation, and if this intention must precede every other, then He must likewise voluntate antecedente have in view the end of the reprobates, which is His own glorification through the manifestation of His justice and mercy. [pg 206] Hence He must also decree the means necessary to obtain this end, i.e. He must cause these unfortunate creatures to sin, in order that they may reach the end for which He has predestined them; in other words, He must pre-ordain them to sin and eternal damnation,”622 which is what Calvin teaches. The advocates of the theory naturally shrink from adopting such a blasphemous conclusion, and fall back upon the theory of negative reprobation, which, however, amounts practically to the same thing.623

5. The Theory of Hypothetical Predestination post Praevisa Merita.—Predestination, like God's will to save all men, is based on a hypothetical decree. Those only are predestined to eternal happiness who shall merit it as a reward. It is solely by reason of His infallible foreknowledge of these merits that God's hypothetical decree of predestination becomes absolute. Or, as Becanus puts it, “God first prepared the gifts of grace, and then elected to eternal life those whose good use of the gifts He foresaw.”624

This view, which strongly appeals to us for the reason that it sets aside the cruel theory of “negative reprobation,” was defended by such earlier Scholastics as Alexander of Hales and Albertus Magnus, and by many eminent later writers, e.g. Toletus, Lessius, Frassen, Stapleton, [pg 207] Tournely, and is held to-day by nearly all theologians outside the Thomist school. What gave it special authority in modern times was the recommendation of St. Francis de Sales, who, in a letter to Lessius (Aug. 26, 1618) described the theory of conditional predestination post praevisa merita as “more in harmony with the mercy and grace of God, truer and more attractive.”625 This view has a solid basis both in Scripture and Tradition.

a) Holy Scripture clearly teaches the universality of God's saving will. Now if God voluntate antecedente wills the eternal salvation of all men without exception,626 He cannot possibly intend that only some shall be saved.

It is further to be noted that the Bible makes not only the temporal realization but likewise the eternal promise of glory dependent on the performance of good works. St. Paul, whose Epistle to the Romans is cited as a locus classicus by the advocates of the theory,627 wrote towards the end of his life to Timothy: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day.”628 In writing these lines the Apostle no doubt had in mind the sentence of the Universal [pg 208] Judge: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,”629—which may with far greater reason be termed a “classical” text than the obscure ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. To prepare for men the kingdom of heaven from the foundation (i.e. beginning) of the world, is to predestine them to eternal happiness. Now, God has “prepared” the kingdom of heaven for men in view of their foreseen merits, that is to say, conditionally. The causal conjunction enim in the sentence following the one just quoted (Matth. XXVI, 25): Esurivi enim et dedistis mihi manducare, etc.,” refers to the entire preceding sentence, not only to the possidete in time, but also to the paratum in eternity. Consequently, the eternal decree of predestination itself, like its temporal execution, depends on good works or merit. This interpretation of Matth. XXV, 34-36 is confirmed by the sentence pronounced upon the reprobates, Matth. XXV, 41 sqq.: “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat, etc.” The “everlasting fire” is manifestly decreed from all eternity in the same sense in which it is inflicted in time, namely, propter et post praevisa merita. Billuart's contention630 that hell has been prepared solely for “the devil and his angels” is untenable, because in several other Scriptural passages631 the reprobates are expressly classed among the followers of Satan. If we add to this that our Divine Lord, in foretelling the last judgment, had naturally to formulate his prediction so as [pg 209] not only to show its absolute justice but likewise to intimate that, had they so willed, the damned might have had their place on the right hand of the Great Judge, we must admit that the theory of predestination post praevisa merita has a solid foundation in Scripture.632

b) The Greek Fathers unanimously favor hypothetical predestination, which fact has caused the theory to be commonly referred to as sententia Graecorum.”633

Thus St. Chrysostom interprets the judgment of the Son of Man as follows: “Possess ye the kingdom [of heaven] as your own by heredity, as a paternal heritage, as a gift long due to you; for it was prepared and arranged for you before you came into existence, because I knew beforehand that you would be what you are.”634 Theodoret says: “He did not simply predestine [men], but He predestined them because He foreknew [their merits].”635

The Latin Fathers before St. Augustine all without exception taught hypothetical predestination. St. Hilary says: “Many are called, but few are chosen.... Hence election is not a matter of indiscriminate choice, but a selection based on merit.”636 And St. Ambrose: [pg 210] “Therefore the Apostle says: ‘Whom he foreknew he also predestined’ (Rom. VIII, 29); for He did not predestine before He foreknew, but He predestined a reward to those whose merits He foresaw.”637

The question cannot, as Bellarmine contends,638 be decided on the sole authority of St. Augustine, because he is claimed by both parties to the controversy.639

On account of the existing differences of opinion it is impossible to establish the theory of hypothetical predestination on the basis of Scholastic teaching.640 The opinion of St. Thomas is in dispute;641 likewise that of St. Bonaventure. Scotus in his controversy with Henry of Ghent shows a disposition to favor absolute predestination, but leaves the question open. “Let every one,” he says,642 “choose whichever opinion suits him best, without prejudice to the divine liberty, which must be safeguarded against injustice, and to the other truths that are to be held in respect of God.”643

6. A Compromise Theory.—For the sake of completeness we will add a few words on a theory which takes middle ground between the two just [pg 211] reviewed, holding that, while the common run of humanity is predestined hypothetically, a few exceptionally favored Saints enjoy the privilege of absolute predestination.

Among the champions of this “eclectic” theory may be mentioned: Ockam,644 Gabriel Biel,645 Ysambert,646 and Ambrosius Catharinus.647 The Saints regarded by these writers as absolutely predestined to eternal glory are: the Blessed Virgin Mary, the prophets and Apostles, St. Joseph, St. Aloysius, and a few others, as well as all infants dying in the grace of Baptism. Billuart,648 Dominicus Soto, and certain other divines attack this theory on the ground that it makes the salvation of the great majority of the elect a matter of chance and thereby imperils the dogmatic teaching of the Church. This objection is unfounded. For though the “eclectic” theory has little or no support either in Revelation or in reason, it sufficiently safeguards the dogma of predestination by admitting that voluntate consequente none but the predestined can attain to eternal beatitude.

Only with regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary are we inclined to make an exception. It is probable that she was predestined to eternal glory ante praevisa merita, because, in the words of Lessius, the privileges she enjoyed “exceed all measure and must not be extended to any other human being.”649

[pg 212]

Article 4. The Reprobation Of The Damned

The reprobation of the damned is sometimes called praedestinatio ad gehennam, though, as we have remarked, the term “predestination” should properly be restricted to the blessed.

There can be no absolute and positive predestination to eternal punishment, and the pains of hell can be threatened only in view of mortal sin. Hence reprobation may be defined, in the words of Peter Lombard, as “God's foreknowledge of the wickedness of some creatures and the preparation of their damnation.”650

A distinction must, however, be made (at least in theory), between positive and negative reprobation. To teach positive reprobation would be heretical. Negative reprobation, on the other hand, is defended by all those Catholic theologians who advocate the theory of absolute predestination ante praevisa merita.651

1. Heretical Predestinarianism or the Theory of the Positive Reprobation of the Damned.—Heretical Predestinarianism was taught by Lucidus, Gottschalk, Wiclif, Hus, the younger Jansenius, and especially by Calvin. The latter asserted that the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the reprobate are the effects of an unconditional divine decree.652

[pg 213]

According to this abominable heresy, the sin of Adam and the spiritual ruin which it entailed upon his descendants are attributable solely to the will of God. God produces in the reprobate a “semblance of faith,” only to make them all the more deserving of damnation. In the beginning of the seventeenth century Arminius and a few other theologians of the Dutch Reformed Church, repelled by Calvin's decretum horribile, ascribed the positive reprobation of the damned to original sin (lapsus). These writers, called Infralapsarians or Postlapsarians, were opposed by the strict school of Calvinist divines under the leadership of Gomarus. The great Calvinist Synod of Dordrecht (1618-1619) condemned the principles of Arminius, and subsequently his adherents were driven from Holland.

The Catholic Church condemned Predestinarianism as early as 529 at the Second Council of Orange, which among other things declared: “We not only refuse to believe that some men are by divine power predestined to evil, but if there be any who hold such a wicked thing, we condemn them with utter detestation.”653

The Tridentine Council defined against Calvin: “If any one saith that the grace of justification is attained to only by those who are predestined unto life, but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being by [pg 214] divine power predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.”654

Calvinism, both supra- and infra-lapsarian, is easily refuted from Revelation and Tradition.

a) It runs counter to all those texts of the Bible which assert the universality of God's saving will,655 the bestowal of sufficient grace on all sinners,656 and the divine attribute of holiness.657

Calvin endeavored to prove his blasphemous doctrine chiefly from the ninth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans.658 His disciple Beza relied mainly on 1 Pet. II, 7 sq.: “But to them that believe not, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is made the head of the corner: and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of scandal, to them who stumble at the word, neither do believe, whereunto also they are set,”659 i.e., according to Beza, predestined not to believe.660 But this interpretation is obviously wrong. For we know from Is. VIII, 14661 and Matth. XXI, 44,662 that those who fall on this stone [pg 215] are ground to powder as a punishment for the sin of unbelief.663

b) The Fathers, especially those of the East, are unanimous in upholding the orthodox teaching of the Church. The only one whom adherents of Predestinarianism have dared to claim is St. Augustine.

Yet the “Doctor of Grace” expressly teaches: “God is good, God is just. He can deliver some without merits because He is good; but He cannot damn any one without demerits, because He is just.”664 St. Prosper re-echoes this teaching when he says of the reprobates: “Of their own will they went out; of their own will they fell; and because their fall was foreknown, they were not predestined. They would, however, be predestined if they were to return and persevere in holiness; hence God's predestination is for many the cause of perseverance, for none the cause of falling away.”665 St. Fulgentius expresses himself in similar language.666

2. The Theory of Negative Reprobation.—Negative reprobation is defined by its defenders as an eternal decree by which God excludes [pg 216] from Heaven those not absolutely predestined, in other words, determines not to save them.

a) Gonet explains the difference between negative and positive reprobation in Scholastic terminology as follows: ... quod haec [i.e. positiva] habet non solum terminum a quo, nempe exclusionem a gloria, sed etiam terminum ad quem, scil. poenam sive damni sive sensus; illa vero [i.e. negativa] solum habet terminum a quo, nempe exclusionem a gloria ut beneficio indebito, non vero terminum ad quem, quia ex vi exclusionis ut sic praecise et ut habet rationem purae negationis, non intelligitur reprobus esse damnandus aut ulli poenae sive damni sive sensus deputandus.667

The general principle laid down in this quotation is variously developed by Thomist theologians.

The rigorists (Alvarez, John a S. Thoma, Estius, Sylvius) assign as the motive of reprobation the sovereign will of God. God, they say, without taking into account possible sins and demerits, determined a priori to exclude from Heaven those who are not predestined. De Lemos, Gotti, Gonet, Gazzaniga, and others condemn this view as incompatible with the teaching of St. Thomas, and, appealing to St. Augustine's doctrine of the massa damnata, find the ultimate reason for the exclusion of the reprobates from heaven in original sin, in which God, without being unjust, could leave as many as He saw fit. Goudin, Graveson, Billuart, and others assume that the reprobates are not directly excluded from eternal glory but merely from “effective election” thereunto, God simply having decreed ante praevisa merita to leave them to their weakness.668

[pg 217]

While the Thomists found no difficulty in harmonizing this view with their theory of physical premotion, the few Molinists who espoused it were hard put in trying to square it with the scientia media.669 On the whole these Molinists endorse the third and mildest of the above-quoted opinions, which differs only theoretically from the rigoristic view described in the first place. Practically it makes no difference whether God directly excludes a man from heaven or refuses to give him the graces necessary to attain it.

Surveying all three of the theories under consideration we cannot but regard the first and third as heartless and cruel, because they attribute eternal reprobation to a positive decree that takes effect independently of sin; the second, (which ascribes reprobation to original sin), is open to the serious dogmatic objection that it contradicts the teaching of St. Paul and the Tridentine declaration that “there is no condemnation (nihil damnationis) in those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death.”670

b) Negative reprobation is rightly regarded as the logical counterpart of absolute predestination.671 If Almighty God, by an absolute decree, without regard to any possible merits, merely to reveal His divine attributes and to “embellish the universe,” had determined that only those could enter the “Heavenly Jerusalem” who were antecedently predestined thereto, it would inevitably follow that the unfortunate remainder of humanity [pg 218] by the very same decree were “passed over,” “omitted,” “overlooked,” “not elected,” or, as Gonet honestly admits, “excluded from Heaven,” which is the same thing as being negatively condemned to hell.

The logical distinction between positive and negative reprobation, therefore, consists mainly in this, that the former signifies absolute damnation to hell, the latter (equally absolute) non-election to Heaven. To protect the Catholic champions of negative reprobation against unjust aspersions, however, it is necessary to point out certain fundamental differences between their theory and the heresy of Calvin.

Calvin and the Jansenists openly deny the universality both of God's saving will and of the atonement; they refuse to admit the actual bestowal of sufficient grace upon those fore-ordained to eternal damnation; and claim that the human will loses its freedom under the predominance of efficacious grace or concupiscence. The Catholic defenders of negative reprobation indignantly reject the charge that their position logically leads to any such heretical implications.

c) The theory of negative reprobation can be sufficiently refuted by showing that it is incompatible with the universality of God's will to save all men. For if God willed absolutely and antecedently to “exclude some men from Heaven,” as Gonet asserts, or “not to elect them to eternal glory,” as Suarez contends, then it would be His absolute will that they perish.

[pg 219]

α) For one thus negatively reprobated it is metaphysically impossible to attain eternal salvation. To hold otherwise would be tantamount to assuming that an essentially absolute decree of God can be frustrated. This consideration led certain Thomists672 to describe the divine voluntas salvifica as rather an ineffectual velleitas.673 But this conflicts with the obvious teaching of Revelation.674 Suarez labors in vain to reconcile the sincerity of God's salvific will with the theory of negative reprobation. The two are absolutely irreconcilable. How could God sincerely will the salvation of all men if it were true, as Suarez says, that “it is not in man's power to work out his eternal salvation in case he falls under non-election, non-predestination, or, which amounts to the same thing, negative reprobation”?675

β) The cruel absurdity of the theory of negative reprobation becomes fully apparent when we consider the attitude it ascribes to God. Gonet writes: “Foreseeing that the whole human race would be depraved by original sin, God, in view of the merits of Christ who was to come, elected some men to glory and, in punishment of original sin and to show His justice towards them and His greater mercy towards the elect, permitted others to miss the attainment of beatitude, in other words, He positively willed that they should not attain it.... In virtue of this efficacious intention He devised appropriate means for the attainment of His purpose, and seeing that some would miss beatitude by simply being left [pg 220] in the state of original sin, and others by being permitted to fall into actual sins and to persevere therein, He formally decreed this permission, and finally ... by a command of His intellect ordained these means towards the attainment of the aforesaid end.”676 Translated into plain every-day language this can only mean that God tries with all His might to prevent the reprobate from attaining eternal salvation and sees to it that they die in the state of sin. Suarez is perfectly right in characterizing Gonet's teaching as “incompatible with sound doctrine.”677 But his own teaching is equally unsound and cruel. For he, too, is compelled to assert: “Predestination to glory is the motive for which efficacious or infallible means towards attaining that end are bestowed. Hence to refuse to predestine a man for glory is to deny him the means which are recognized as fit and certain to attain that end.”678

Holy Scripture fortunately speaks a different language. It describes God as a loving Father, who “wills not that any should perish, but that all should return to penance.”679

[pg 221]

γ) Practically it makes no difference whether a man is positively condemned to eternal damnation, as Calvin and the Jansenists assert, or negatively excluded from Heaven, as held by the orthodox theologians whom we have just quoted. The alleged distinction between positive and negative reprobation is “a distinction without a difference.” For an adult to be excluded from Heaven simply means that he is damned. There is no such thing as a middle state or a purely natural beatitude. Lessius justly says that to one reprobated by God it would be all the same whether his reprobation was positive or negative, because in either case he would be inevitably lost.680

Readings:—*Ruiz, De Praedestinatione et Reprobatione, Lyons 1628.—Ramirez, De Praedestinatione et Reprobatione, 2 vols., Alcalá 1702.—*Lessius, De Perfectionibus Moribusque Divinis, XIV, 2.—*Idem, De Praedestinatione et Reprobatione (Opusc., Vol. II, Paris 1878).—Tournely, De Deo, qu. 22 sqq.—Schrader, Commentarii, I-II, De Praedestinatione, Vienna 1865.—J. P. Baltzer, Des hl. Augustinus Lehre über Prädestination und Reprobation, Vienna 1871.—Mannens, De Voluntate Dei Salvifica et Praedestinatione, Louvain 1883.—O. Rottmanner, O. S. B., Der Augustinismus, München 1892.—O. Pfülf, S. J., Zur Prädestinationslehre des hl. Augustinus, in the Innsbruck Zeitschrift für kath. Theologie, 1893, pp. 483 sqq.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. I, St. Louis 1917, pp. 281, 378, 382 sqq.
[pg 222]

Chapter III. Grace In Its Relation To Free-Will

When we speak of the relation of grace to free-will, we mean efficacious grace; merely sufficient grace, as such, does not involve consent.

The Protestant reformers and the Jansenists denied the freedom of the human will under the influence of efficacious grace.

Catholic theologians have always staunchly upheld both the freedom of the will and the efficacy of grace, but they disagree in explaining the mutual relations between grace and free-will.

[pg 223]

Section 1. The Heresy of The Protestant Reformers And The Jansenists

1. The Heretical Errors of Luther, Calvin, and Jansenius Contrasted With the Orthodox Teaching of the Church.—Luther and Calvin asserted that the freedom of the will was irretrievably lost by original sin. Jansenius taught that the will is overcome by efficacious grace in exactly the same way as it is overpowered by concupiscence in the absence of grace. Against both these heresies the Church has always maintained that the will remains free under the influence of efficacious grace.

a) Luther taught681 that original sin has so completely annihilated man's free-will that he resembles a horse compelled to go in whatever direction it is driven (according as “God or the devil rides him”),682 and that the grace of Christ, far from restoring man's liberty, compels him to act with intestine necessity.

Calvin683 carried this teaching to its logical conclusions by asserting: (1) that the will of our first parents was [pg 224] free in Paradise, but lost its freedom by original sin; (2) that we cannot be delivered from the slavery of Satan except by the grace of Christ, which does not, however, restore liberty, but simply compels the will to do good; (3) that, though the will under the influence of grace is passive, and must needs follow the impulse to which it is subjected, yet its acts are vital and spontaneous.684

Against these heresies the Council of Trent maintained the existence of free-will both in the state of original sin685 and under the influence of efficacious grace: “If any one saith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, ... cannot refuse its consent if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive: let him be anathema.”686

b) Jansenius differed from Luther and Calvin mainly in drawing a sharper distinction between freedom from external constraint (libertas a coactione) and freedom from internal compulsion (libertas a necessitate), and maintaining that the will, when under the influence of grace, is exempt from external constraint, though not from interior compulsion, and that the libertas a coactione [pg 225] is entirely sufficient to gain merit or demerit in the fallen state.687

The Jansenist teaching on the subject of grace may be outlined as follows: (1) By original sin man lost the moral liberty which he had enjoyed in Paradise and became subject to a twofold delectation—delectatio coelestis victrix and delectatio terrena sive carnalis victrix. (2) These two delectations are continually contending for the mastery; the stronger always defeats the weaker, (3) and the will, unable to offer resistance, is alternately overpowered now by the one and then by the other.688 (4) In each case the delectatio coelestis is either stronger than the delectatio terrena, or it is weaker, or it is of equal strength. When it is stronger, the will is overcome by grace, which in that case becomes efficax or irresistibilis. When it is weaker, the will simply must sin, because the delectatio coelestis is too weak to overcome the delectatio terrena. The grace given to a man under such conditions is called by the Jansenists gratia parva sive sufficiens. When the two delectations are equally strong, the will finds itself unable to come to a definite decision.

This false teaching inspired the famous “five propositions” of Jansenius, to-wit: (1) Man is unable to keep some of God's commandments for want of grace; (2) In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace; (3) To merit or demerit in the state of fallen nature it is sufficient to be free from external constraint; (4) The Semipelagian heresy consisted in assuming [pg 226] the existence of a grace which man may either obey or resist; and (5) Christ did not die for all men, but solely for the predestined.

These propositions were condemned as heretical by Pope Innocent X in his dogmatic Bull Cum occasione,” of May 31, 1653. All five are implicitly contained in the second, viz.: In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace. “If it is true that fallen man never resists interior grace (second proposition), it follows that a just man who violates a commandment of God has not had the grace to observe it, that he therefore transgressed it through inability to fulfil it (first proposition). If, however, he has sinned and thus incurred demerit, it is clear that the liberty of indifference is not a requisite condition of demerit, and what is said of demerit is likewise true of its correlative, merit (third proposition). On the other hand, if grace is wanting to the just whenever they fall, it is wanting still more to sinners; it is therefore impossible to maintain that the death of Jesus Christ assured to every man the graces necessary for salvation (fifth proposition). As a further consequence, the Semipelagians were in error in admitting the universal distribution of a grace which may be resisted (fourth proposition).”689

[pg 227]

2. The Teaching of the Church Proved from Revelation.—Far from favoring the determinism of the Reformers and of Jansenius, the Bible and Tradition positively contradict the contention that free-will is overpowered by grace.

a) The operation of grace and the liberty of the will never appear in Sacred Scripture as mutually exclusive, but invariably as coöperating factors, though sometimes the one is emphasized, and sometimes the other, according to the purpose the sacred writer happens to have in view.

The Council of Trent expressly calls attention to this:690 “When it is said in the sacred writings, ‘Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you,’691 we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer: ‘Convert us, O God, to thee, and we shall be converted,’692 we confess that we are forestalled by the grace of God.”

St. Paul, it is true, asks: “Who resisteth his [God's] will?”693 But he also admonishes his favorite disciple Timothy: “Exercise thyself unto godliness.”694 St. Stephen testifies that the grace of the Holy Ghost does not compel the will. “You always resist the Holy Ghost,” he tells the Jews; “as your fathers did, so do you also.”695 Our Lord Himself teaches that grace exerts [pg 228] no interior compulsion but invites free coöperation: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”696 The exhortations, promises, and threats uttered in various portions of Holy Writ would be meaningless if it were true that grace destroys free-will.697

b) As regards Tradition, the Greek Fathers who wrote before St. Augustine defended the freedom of the will so energetically that they were subsequently accused of harboring Pelagian and Semipelagian errors.698 Calvin himself admits that with but one exception the Fathers are unanimously opposed to his teaching.699

The one exception noted is St. Augustine, to whom both Calvin and Jansenius appeal with great confidence. It should be noted, however, that the point which chiefly concerned St. Augustine in his controversies with the Pelagians and Semipelagians, was the necessity and gratuity of grace, not its relation to free-will. Where he incidentally touches upon the latter, he shows by the manner in which he formulates his sentences that he regards the relation of grace to free-will as a great mystery. But he does not try to solve this mystery in the manner in [pg 229] which Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot. He does not declare: Grace is everything, free-will is nothing. If the power of grace destroyed the freedom of the human will, their mutual relation would be no problem.700 Possibly St. Augustine in the heat of controversy now and then expressed himself in language open to misinterpretation, as when he said: “Therefore aid was brought to the infirmity of the human will, so that it might be unchangeably and invincibly influenced by divine grace.”701 But this and similar phrases admit of a perfectly orthodox interpretation. As the context shows, Augustine merely wished to assert the hegemony of grace in all things pertaining to salvation, and to emphasize the fact that free-will, strengthened by grace, is able to resist even the most grievous temptations.702 At no period of his life did the Saint deny the freedom of the will under the influence of grace. We will quote but two out of many available passages in proof of this statement. “To yield consent or to withhold it, whenever God calls, is the function of one's own will.”703 “For the freedom of the will is not destroyed because the will is aided; but it is aided precisely for the reason [pg 230] that it remains free.”704 St. Bernard of Clairvaux echoes this teaching when, in his own ingenious way, he summarizes the Catholic dogma as follows: “Take away free will and there will be nothing left to save; take away grace and there will be no means left of salvation.”705

Readings:—*Bellarmine, De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio (Opera Omnia, ed. Fèvre, Vols. V and VI, Paris 1873).—*Dechamps, S. J., De Haeresi Ianseniana, Paris 1645.—F. Wörter, Die christliche Lehre über das Verhältnis von Gnade und Freiheit bis auf Augustinus, Freiburg 1856.—*Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes. 39-48, Gulpen 1885.—S. Schiffini, De Gratia Divina, pp. 357 sqq., 377 sqq., Freiburg 1901.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp. 507 sqq.
[pg 231]

Section 2. Theological Systems Devised To Harmonize The Dogmas Of Grace And Free-Will

The relation of grace to free-will may be regarded from a twofold point of view. We may take grace as the primary factor and trace it in its action on the human will; or, starting from the latter, we may endeavor to ascertain how free-will is affected by grace.

The first-mentioned method has given birth to two closely related theological systems, Thomism and Augustinianism; the latter to Molinism and Congruism, which are almost identical in substance.

Besides these there is a fifth theory, which tries to reconcile the two extremes and may therefore be called eclectic.

That the human will is free, yet subject to the influence of grace, is an article of faith unhesitatingly accepted by all Catholic theologians. It is in trying to explain how grace and free-will coöperate, that the above-mentioned schools differ.

In approaching this extremely difficult and obscure problem we consider it our duty to warn the student against preconceived opinions and to remind him that the different systems which we are about to examine are all tolerated by the Church. To-day, when so many more [pg 232] important things are at stake and the faith is viciously assailed from without, the ancient controversy between Thomism and Molinism had better be left in abeyance.

Article 1. Thomism And Augustinianism

Thomism and Augustinianism both hinge on the concept of gratia efficax ab intrinseco s. per se, whereas Molinism and Congruism will not admit even the existence of such a grace.

1. The Thomistic Theory of Grace.—The true founder of the Thomistic system is not St. Thomas Aquinas, who is also claimed by the Molinists, but the learned Dominican theologian Bañez (1528-1604). His teaching may be summarized as follows:

a) God is the First Cause (causa prima) and Prime Mover (motor primus) of all things, and all created or secondary causes (causae secundae) derive their being and faculties, nay, their very acts from Him. If any creature could act independently of God, God would cease to be causa prima and motor primus.706

The influence of the First Cause is universal, that is to say, it produces all creatural acts without exception,—necessary and free, good and bad,—because no secondary cause has power to act unless it is set in motion by the motor primus.

In influencing His creatures, however, God adapts [pg 233] himself to the peculiar nature of each. The necessary causes He determines to act necessarily, the free causes, freely. All receive from Him their substance and their mode of action.707 The rational creature, therefore, though subject to His determining influence, acts with perfect freedom, just as if it were not moved.

b) In spite of free-will, however, the influence which God exerts on His rational creatures is irresistible because it proceeds from an absolute and omnipotent Being whose decrees brook no opposition. What God wills infallibly happens.708

Nevertheless, God is not the author of sin. He moves the sinner to perform an act; but He does not move Him to perform a sinful act. The malice of sin derives solely from the free will of man.709

c) Since the divine influence causally precedes all creatural acts, God's concurrence with creatural causes (concursus generalis) must be conceived as prevenient, not simultaneous. The Divine Omnipotence not only makes the action possible, but likewise effects it by moving the will from potentiality to actuality.710 Consequently, the causal influence which the Creator exerts upon His creatures is not a mere motio, but a praemotio,—and not [pg 234] merely moral, but physical (praemotio physica).711 It is by physical premotion that God's prevenient influence effects the free actions of His creatures, without regard to their assent.712 Free-will is predetermined by God before it determines itself.713

d) If we analyse God's physical predeterminations in so far as they are created entities, we find that they are nothing else than the effect and execution of His eternal decrees, embodied in the praedeterminatio physica. It is the temporal execution of the latter that is called praemotio physica. Hence we are justified in speaking, not only of a temporal praemotio, but of an eternal praedeterminatio, in fact the terms are often used synonymously.714

Viewed in its relation to rational creatures, this eternal predetermination is nothing but a temporal premotion of the free will to determine itself. Since God has from all eternity made absolute and conditional decrees, which possess the power of physical predetermination without regard to the free consent of His creatures, physical [pg 235] predetermination constitutes an infallible medium by which He can foreknow their future free actions, and hence there is no need of a scientia media. If God knows His own will, He must also know the free determinations included therein. To deny this would be to destroy the very foundation of His foreknowledge.715

This is merely the philosophical basis of the Thomistic system. Its champions carry the argument into the theological domain by reasoning as follows: What is true in the natural must be equally true in the supernatural sphere, as we know from reason and Revelation.716

e) To physical predetermination or premotion in the order of nature, there corresponds in the supernatural sphere the gratia efficax, which predetermines man to perform salutary acts in such wise that he acts freely but at the same time with metaphysical necessity (necessitate consequentiae, not consequentis). It would be a contradiction to say that efficacious grace given for the purpose of eliciting consent may co-exist with non-consent, i.e., may fail to elicit consent.717 The will freely assents to the divine impulse because it is effectively moved thereto by grace. Consequently, efficacious grace does not derive its efficacy from the consent of the will; it is efficacious of itself and intrinsically (gratia efficax ab intrinseco sive per se).718

[pg 236]

It follows that efficacious grace must be conceived as a praedeterminatio ad unum.719

f) If efficacious grace is intrinsically and of its very nature inseparably bound up with the consent of the will, it must differ essentially from merely sufficient grace (gratia mere sufficiens), which confers only the power to act (posse operari), not the act itself (actu operari). Efficacious grace, by its very definition, includes the free consent of the will, while merely sufficient grace lacks that consent, because with it, it would cease to be merely sufficient and would become efficacious.720

Here the question naturally arises: How, in this hypothesis, can sufficient grace be called truly sufficient? The Thomists answer this question in different ways. Gazzaniga says that sufficient grace confers the power to perform a good deed, but that something more is required for the deed itself.721 De Lemos ascribes the inefficacy of merely sufficient grace to a defect of the will.722 [pg 237] If the will did not resist, God would promptly add efficacious grace.723

Critical Estimate of the Thomistic Theory.—The Thomistic system undoubtedly has its merits. It is logical in its deductions, exalts divine grace as the prime factor in the business of salvation, and magnificently works out the concept of God as causa prima and motor primus both in the natural and the supernatural order.

But Thomism also has its weak points.

A. The Thomistic conception of efficacious grace is open to two serious theological difficulties.

(1) To draw an intrinsic and substantial distinction between efficacious and merely sufficient grace destroys the true notion of sufficient grace.

(2) The Thomistic theory of efficacious grace is incompatible with the dogma of free-will.

Though in theory the Thomists defend the sufficiency of grace and the freedom of the will as valiantly as their opponents, they fail in their attempts at squaring these dogmas with the fundamental principles of their system.

a) Sufficient grace, as conceived by the Thomists, is not truly sufficient to enable a man to perform a salutary act, because ex vi notionis it confers merely the power to act, postulating for [pg 238] the act itself a substantially new grace (gratia efficax). A grace which requires to be entitatively supplemented by another, in order to enable a man to perform a salutary act, is clearly not sufficient for the performance of that act. “To be truly sufficient for something” and “to require to be complemented by something else” are mutually exclusive notions, and hence “sufficient grace” as conceived by Thomists is in reality insufficient.

Many subtle explanations have been devised to obviate this difficulty. Billuart and nearly all the later Thomists say that if any one who has received sufficient grace (in the Thomistic sense of the term) is denied the gratia efficax, it must be attributed to a sinful resistance of the will.724 But this explanation is incompatible with the Thomistic teaching that together with the gratia sufficiens there co-exists in the soul of the sinner an irresistible and inevitable praemotio physica to the entity of sin, with which entity formal sin is inseparably bound up.725 If this be true, how can the will of man be held responsible so long as God denies him the gratia ab intrinseco efficax?

Speaking in the abstract, the will may assume one of three distinct attitudes toward sufficient grace. It may consent, it may resist, or it may remain neutral. It cannot consent except with the aid of a predetermining [pg 239] gratia efficax, to merit which is beyond its power. If it withstands, it eo ipso renders itself unworthy of the gratia efficax. If it takes a neutral attitude, (which may in itself be a sinful act), and awaits efficacious grace, of what use is sufficient grace?

To resist sufficient grace involves an abuse of liberty. Now, where does the right use of liberty come in? If coöperation with sufficient grace moves God to bestow the gratia per se efficax, as the Thomists contend, then the right use of liberty must lie somewhere between the gratia sufficiens and the gratia efficax per se. But there is absolutely no place for it in the Thomistic system. The right use of liberty for the purpose of obtaining efficacious grace is attributable either to grace or to unaided nature. To assert that it is the work of unaided nature would lead to Semipelagianism. To hold that it is owing to grace would be moving in a vicious circle, thus: “Because the will offers no resistance, it is efficaciously moved to perform a salutary act; that it offers no sinful resistance is owing to the fact that it is efficaciously moved to perform a salutary act.”726

It is impossible to devise any satisfactory solution of this difficulty which will not at the same time upset the very foundation on which the Thomistic system rests, viz.: Nulla secunda causa potest operari, nisi sit efficaciter determinata a prima [scil. per applicationem potentiae ad actum],” that is to say, no secondary cause can act unless it be efficaciously determined by the First Cause by an application of the latter to the former as of potency to act.

[pg 240]

b) The Thomistic gratia efficax, conceived as a praedeterminatio ad unum, inevitably destroys free-will.

α) It is important to state the question clearly: Not physical premotion as such,727 but the implied connotation of praevia determinatio ad unum, is incompatible with the dogma of free-will. The freedom of the will does not consist in the pure contingency of an act, or in a merely passive indifference, but in active indifference either to will or not to will, to will thus or otherwise. Consequently every physical predetermination, in so far as it is a determinatio ad unum, must necessarily be destructive of free-will. Self-determination and physical predetermination by an extraneous will are mutually exclusive. Now the Thomists hold that the gratia per se efficax operates in the manner of a supernatural praedeterminatio ad unum. If this were true, the will under the influence of efficacious grace would no longer be free.

To perceive the full force of this argument it is necessary to keep in mind the Thomistic definition of praemotio physica as actio Dei, quâ voluntatem humanam, priusquam se determinet, ita ad actum movet insuperabili virtute, ut voluntas nequeat omissionem sui actus cum illa praemotione coniungere.”728 That is to say: As the non-performance of an act by the will is owing simply and solely to the absence of the respective praemotio physica, so conversely, the performance of an act is conditioned simply and solely by the presence of a divine premotion; the will itself can neither obtain nor prevent [pg 241] such a premotion, because this would require a new premotion, which again depends entirely on the divine pleasure. If the will of man were thus inevitably predetermined by God, it could not in any sense of the term be called truly free.


β) The Thomists meet this argument with mere evasions. They make a distinction between necessitas consequentis (antecedens), which really necessitates, and necessitas consequentiae (subsequens), which does not. A free act, they say, necessarily proceeds from a physical premotion, but it is not on that account in itself necessary. But, we answer, a determinatio ad unum, which precedes a free act and is independent of the will, is more than a necessitas consequentiae—it is a necessitas consequentis destructive of free-will. The Thomists reply: Considered as a created entity, physical premotion may indeed be incompatible with free-will; not so if regarded as an act of God, who, being almighty, is able to predetermine the will without prejudice to its freedom.729 The obvious rejoinder is that an intrinsic contradiction cannot be solved by an appeal to the divine omnipotence, because even God Himself cannot do what is intrinsically impossible.730 He can no more change a determinatio ad unum into a libertas ad utrumque than He can create a square circle, because the two notions involve an intrinsic contradiction. Furthermore, if the Almighty wished intrinsically to compel a man to perform [pg 242] some definite act, would He not choose precisely that praemotio physica which, the Thomists claim, also produces free acts? Not so, replies Alvarez; “for the will remains free so long as the intellect represents to it an object as indifferent.”731 That is to say: Liberty remains as long as its root, i.e. an indifferent judgment, is present. But this new rejoinder, far from solving the riddle, simply begs the question. Liberty of choice resides formaliter in the will, not in the intellect, and consequently the will, as will, cannot be truly free unless it possesses within itself the unimpeded power to act or not to act. This indifferentia activa ad utrumlibet, as it is technically termed, is absolutely incompatible with the Thomistic praemotio ad unum. What would it avail the will to enjoy the indifferentia iudicii if it had to submit to compulsion from some other quarter?

γ) To escape from this quandary the Thomists resort to the famous distinction between the sensus compositus and the sensus divisus. The Molinists argue: Liberum arbitrium efficaciter praemotum a gratia non potest dissentire; ergo non est liberum. The Thomists reply: Distinguo:—non potest dissentire in sensu diviso, nego; non potest dissentire in sensu composito, concedo. They explain this distinction by certain well-known examples taken from dialectics. Thus Billuart says: Ut si dicas, sedens potest stare, significat in sensu composito, quod possit sedere simul et stare; ... in sensu diviso, quod sedens sub sessione retinet potentiam standi, non tamen componendi stationem cum sessione. Uno verbo: sensus compositus importat potentiam simultaneitatis, sensus divisus simultaneitatem [pg 243] potentiae.732 As one who sits cannot at the same time stand (sensus compositus), although he is free to rise (sensus divisus), so the consent of the will effected by efficacious grace, cannot become dissent (sensus compositus), though the will retains the power to dissent instead of consenting (sensus divisus), and this is sufficient to safeguard its freedom.

Is the distinction between sensus compositus and sensus divisus correctly applied here? Can the will, under the predetermining influence of the gratia efficax, change its consent into dissent at any time and as easily as a man who is sitting on a chair can rise and thereby demonstrate that his sitting was an absolutely free act? Alvarez733 describes the Thomistic potentia dissentiendi as a faculty which can never under any circumstances become active. But such a potentia is really no potentia at all. A man tied to a chair is not free to stand; his natural potentia standi is neutralized by external restraint. Similarly, the will, under the influence of the Thomistic gratia efficax, no longer enjoys the power to dissent, and the alleged potentia resistendi, by which the Thomists claim to save free-will, is a chimera.

δ) It is at this decisive point in the controversy that the Molinists triumphantly bring in the declaration of the Council of Trent that “man ... while he receives that inspiration [i.e. efficacious grace], ... is also able to reject it.” And again: “If any one saith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, does in no wise coöperate towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the [pg 244] grace of justification; that it cannot refuse its consent if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.”734 To adjust their system to this important dogmatic decision, the older Thomists claimed that the Tridentine Council had in mind merely the gratia sufficiens, to which the will can refuse its consent. But this interpretation is untenable. The Council plainly refers to that grace with which the will coöperates by giving its consent (cooperatur assentiendo) and which it can render inefficacious by withdrawing its consent, in other words, with the grace which disposes and prepares a sinner for justification, and under the influence of which, according to Luther and Calvin, the will remains inanimate and merely passive. This can only be the gratia efficax. Other Thomist theologians, not daring to contradict the obvious sense of the Tridentine decree, assert that the Council intentionally chose the term dissentire (sensus divisus) rather than resistere (sensus compositus), in order to indicate that under the predetermining influence of grace it is possible for the will to refuse its consent (posse dissentire) but not to offer resistance (posse resistere).735 This interpretation is no longer tenable since the Vatican Council has defined that “Faith, even [pg 245] when it does not work by charity, is in itself a gift of God, and the act of faith is a work appertaining to salvation, by which man yields voluntary obedience to God Himself, by assenting to and coöperating with His grace, which he is able to resist.”736 If efficacious grace can be successfully resisted, it can not possess that “irresistible” influence which the Thomists ascribe to it.737


B. The Thomistic system is open to two serious objections also from the philosophical point of view. One of these concerns the medium by which God foreknows the future free acts of His rational creatures; the other, His relation to sin.

a) In regard to the first-mentioned point we do not, of course, underestimate the immense difficulties involved in the problem of God's foreknowledge of the free acts of the future.


The Molinistic theory also has its difficulties, and they are so numerous and weighty that in our treatise on God738 we made no attempt to demonstrate the scientia media by stringent arguments, but merely accepted it as a working hypothesis which supplies some sort of [pg 246] scientific basis for the dogmas of divine omnipotence and free-will in both the natural and the supernatural order.

b) A more serious objection than the one just adverted to is that the Thomistic hypothesis involves the blasphemous inference that God predetermines men to sin.

α) Under a rigorous application of the Thomistic principles God would have to be acknowledged as the cause of sin. As the predetermination of the will to justification can take no other form than the gratia per se efficax, so sin, considered as an act, necessarily postulates the predetermining influence of the motor primus.739 Without this assumption it would be impossible in the Thomistic system to find in the absolute will of God an infallible medium by which He can foreknow future sins. Bañez says on this point: “God knows sin with an intuitive knowledge, because His will is the cause of the sinful act, as act, at the same time permitting free-will to concur in that act by failing to observe the law.”740 Though the Thomists refuse to admit that God Himself is the immediate author of sin, the conclusion is inevitable from their premises. And this for two reasons. First, because the alleged praemotio ad malum is as irresistible as the praemotio ad bonum; and secondly, because the material element of sin must be inseparable from its formal [pg 247] element; otherwise God would foreknow sin merely materialiter as an act but not formaliter as a sin. The teaching of the Church on this point was clearly defined by the Council of Trent: “If any one saith that it is not in man's power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissibly only, but properly and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema.”741

If the rational creature were compelled to perform a sinful act, as act, resistance would be impossible. And if it were true that the malice of an act practically cannot be separated from its physical entity, then in the Thomistic hypothesis God would be the author not only of the entitas but likewise of the malitia peccati. The devil tempts us only by moral means, i.e. by suggestion; are we to assume that God tempts us physically by inducing sin as an act and simultaneously withholding the praemotio ad bonum, thus making sin an inevitable fatality? This consideration may be supplemented by another. So-called “sins of malice” are comparatively rare. Most sins are committed for the sake of some pleasure or imaginary advantage. It is for this reason that moral theology in forbidding sin forbids its physical entity. How gladly would not those who are addicted to impurity, for instance, separate the malice from the entity of their sinful acts, in order to be enabled to indulge their passion without offending God!

β) Against the logic of this argument some Thomist theologians defend themselves by a simile. The soul of a lame man, they say, enables him indeed to move his disabled [pg 248] limb; however, the cause of limping is not the soul but a crooked shinbone. Father Pesch wittily disposes of such reasoning as follows: “The will of Adam before the fall was not a crooked shinbone, but it was absolutely straight, and became crooked through physical premotion.”742

Another and more plausible contention of the Thomist school is that Molinism, too, is compelled to ascribe sin somehow to God. “It is impossible for a man to sin unless God lends His coöperation. Do not, therefore, the Molinists also make God the author of sin?” Those who argue in this wise overlook the fact that there is a very large distinction between the concursus simultaneus of the Molinists and the praemotio physica of the Thomists. The praemotio physica predetermines the sinful act without regard to the circumstance whether or not the will is able to offer resistance. The concursus simultaneus, on the other hand, begins as a mere concursus oblatus, which is in itself indifferent and awaits as it were the free consent of the will before it coöperates with the sinner as concursus collatus in the performance of the sinful act.743 For this reason the distinction between actus and malitia has a well-defined place in the Molinistic system, whereas it is meaningless in that of the Thomists.744

2. Augustinianism.—This system, so called because its defenders pretend to base it on the [pg 249] authority of St. Augustine, has some points of similarity with Thomism but differs from the latter in more than one respect, especially in this that the Augustinians,745 though they speak with great deference of the gratia per se efficax, hold that the will is not physically but only morally predetermined in its free acts. Hence Augustinianism may fitly be described as the system of the praedeterminatio moralis. Its most eminent defender is Lawrence Berti, O. S. A. (1696-1766), who in a voluminous work De Theologicis Disciplinis746 so vigorously championed the Augustinian theory that Archbishop Jean d'Yse de Saléon, of Vienne,747 and other contemporary theologians combated his teaching as a revival of Jansenism. Pope Benedict XIV instituted an official investigation, which resulted in a decree permitting Augustinianism to be freely held and taught.

a) Whereas Thomism begins with the concept of causa prima and motor primus, Augustinianism is based on the notion of delectatio coelestis or caritas. Berti holds three principles in common with Jansenius: (1) Actual grace consists essentially in the infusion of celestial delectation. (2) This heavenly delectation (i.e. grace) causally precedes free-will in such wise that its relative intensity in every instance constitutes the law and standard of the will's disposition to do good.

[pg 250]

(3) Simultaneously with this celestial delectation, concupiscence (delectatio carnalis, concupiscentia) is doing its work in fallen man, and the two powers constantly contend for the mastery. So long as celestial delectation (i.e. grace) is weaker than, or equipollent with, concupiscence, the will inevitably fails to perform the salutary act to which it is invited by the former. It is only when the delectatio coelestis overcomes concupiscence (delectatio coelestis victrix) that free-will can perform the act inspired by grace. There is a fourth principle, and one, too, of fundamental importance, which brings out the essential difference between Augustinianism and Jansenism, viz.: the delectatio coelestis never overpowers the will but leaves it free to choose between good and evil.748

b) The relation between merely sufficient and efficacious grace in the Augustinian system, therefore, may be described as follows: Merely sufficient grace imparts to the will the posse but not the velle, or at best only such a weak velle that it requires the delectatio victrix (gratia efficax) to become effective. Efficacious grace (delectatio coelestis victrix), on the other hand, impels the will actually to perform the good deed. Hence there is between the two an essential and specific difference, and the efficacy of that grace which leads to the performance of salutary acts does not lie with free-will but depends on the delectatio coelestis, which must consequently be conceived as gratia efficax ab intrinseco sive per se.749

c) Nevertheless, the necessity of the gratia efficax ab [pg 251] intrinseco, according to the Augustinian theory, is not due to the subordination of the causa secunda to the causa prima, as the Thomists contend, but to a constitutional weakness of human nature, consisting in this that its evil impulses can be overcome solely by the delectatio coelestis victrix (gratia efficax, adiutorium quo. The case was different before the Fall, when the gratia versatilis (gratia sufficiens, adiutorium sine quo non) sufficed for the performance of salutary acts.750

d) However, the Augustinians insist against the Jansenists, that the delectatio coelestis (i.e. efficacious grace) does not intrinsically compel the will, but acts merely as a praemotio moralis, and that while the will obeys the inspiration of grace infallibly (infallibiliter) it does not do so necessarily (non necessario). With equal certainty, though not necessarily, the will, when equipped solely with sufficient grace, succumbs to concupiscence. The ultimate reason for the freedom of the will is to be found in the indifferentia iudicii.751 By way of exemplification the Augustinians cite the case of a well-bred man who, though physically free and able to do so, would never turn summersaults on a public thoroughfare or gouge out his own eyes.

[pg 252]

Critical Estimate of Augustinianism.—On account of its uncritical methods Augustinianism has found but few defenders and deserves notice only in so far as it claims to base its teaching on St. Augustine.

Like the Bible, the writings of that holy Doctor have been quoted in support of many contradictory systems.752 If the use of Augustinian terms guaranteed the possession of Augustinian ideas, Jansenius would have a strong claim to be considered a faithful disciple of St. Augustine. Yet how widely does not the “Augustinus Iprensis,” as he has been called, differ from the “Augustinus Hipponensis”! Augustinianism, too, utterly misconceives the terms which it employs. Space permits us to call attention to one or two points only.

a) In the first place Augustinianism labors under an absolutely false conception of sufficient grace.

How can that grace be sufficient for justification which is first described in glowing colors as parva et invalida and then in the same breath is declared to be insufficient except when reinforced by a gratia magna in the shape of delectatio victrix? What kind of “grace” can that be which in its very nature is so constituted that the will, under the prevailing influence of concupiscence, infallibly does the opposite of that to which it is supernaturally impelled? It is quite true that the distinction between gratia parva and gratia magna753 is found in St. Augustine. [pg 253] However, he understands by gratia parva not sufficient grace, but the grace of prayer (gratia remote sufficiens), and by gratia magna, not efficacious grace as such, but grace sufficient to perform a good act (gratia proxime sufficiens).754

b) Augustinianism is unable to reconcile its theory of a praemotio moralis with the dogma of free-will.

Under the Augustinian system the influence of efficacious grace can be conceived in but two ways. Either it is so strong that the will is physically unable to withhold its consent; or it is only strong enough that the consent of the will can be inferred with purely moral certainty. In the former alternative we have a prevenient necessity which determines the will ad unum and consequently destroys its freedom. In the latter, there can be no infallible foreknowledge of the future free acts of rational creatures on the part of God, because the Augustinians reject the scientia media of the Molinists and expressly admit that the same grace which proves effective in one man remains ineffective in another because of the condition of his heart.755

c) Finally, the three fundamental principles of the Augustinian system are false and have no warrant in the writings of St. Augustine.

It is not true that pleasure (delectatio) is the font and well-spring of all supernaturally good deeds. Such deeds may also be inspired by hatred, fear, sorrow, etc.756 With [pg 254] many men the fear of God or a sense of duty is as strong an incentive to do good as the sweet consciousness of treading the right path. St. Augustine did not regard “celestial delectation” as the essential mark of efficacious grace, nor concupiscence as the characteristic note of sin.757

The second and third principles of the Augustinian system are likewise false. If delectation is only one motive among many, its varying intensity cannot be the standard of our conduct; and still less can it be said that the will is morally compelled in each instance to obey the relatively stronger as against the weaker delectation; for any necessitation that does not depend on the free will excludes the libertas a coactione, but not that libertas a necessitate which constitutes the notion of liberty. There can be no freedom of the will unless the will is able to resist delectation at all times. Consequently, the fourth principle of the Augustinians, by which they pretend to uphold free-will, is also false.758

Readings:—The literature on the different systems of grace is enormous. We can mention only a few of the leading works.

On the Thomist side: *Bañez, O. P., Comment. in S. Theol. S. Thom., Salamanca 1584 sqq.—*Alvarez, O. P., De Auxiliis Gratiae et Humani Arbitrii Viribus, Rome 1610.—Idem, Responsionum Libri Quatuor, Louvain 1622.—Ledesma, O. P., De Divinae Gratiae Auxiliis, Salamanca 1611.—*Gonet, O. P., Clypeus Theologiae Thomisticae, 16 vols., Bordeaux 1659-69.—Contenson, O. P., Theologia Mentis et Cordis, Lyons 1673.—De Lemos, O. P., Panoplia Divinae Gratiae, 4 vols., Liège 1676.—Goudin, O. P., De Scientia et Voluntate Dei, new ed., Louvain 1874.—*Gotti, O. P., Theologia Scholastico-Dogmatica iuxta Mentem [pg 255] Divi Thomae, Venice 1750.—Gazzaniga, O. P., Theologia Dogmatica in Systema Redacta, 2 vols., Vienne 1776.—*Billuart, De Gratia, diss. 5 (ed. Lequette, t. III, pp. 123 sqq.).—Idem, Le Thomisme Triomphant, Paris 1725.—*Fr. G. Feldner, O. P., Die Lehre des hl. Thomas über die Willensfreiheit, Prague 1890.—Idem, in Commer's Jahrbuch für Philosophie und spekulative Theologie, 1894 sqq.—*Dummermuth, O. P., S. Thomas et Doctrina Praemotionis Physicae, Paris 1886.—I. A. Manser, Possibilitas Praemotionis Physicae Thomisticae, Fribourg (Switzerland) 1895.—Joh. Ude, Doctrina Capreoli de Influxu Dei in Actus Voluntatis Humanae, Graz 1905.—Del Prado, De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio, 3 vols., Fribourg (Switzerland) 1907.—P. Garrigou-Lagrange, S. Thomas et le Néomolinisme, Paris 1917.

On the Augustinian side: Card. Norisius, Vindiciae Augustinianae, Padua 1677.—*Berti, De Theologicis Disciplinis, 8 vols., Rome 1739 sqq.—Bellelli, Mens Augustini de Modo Reparationis Humanae Naturae, 2 vols., Rome 1773.—L. de Thomassin, Mémoires sur la Grâce, etc., Louvain 1668.

For a list of Molinistic and Congruistic authors see pp. 269 sq.

Article 2. Molinism And Congruism

The point in which these two systems meet, and in regard to which they differ from Thomism and Augustinianism, is the definition of efficacious grace as efficax ab extrinseco sive per accidens.

This conception was violently attacked by the Spanish Dominican Bañez and other divines. About 1594, the controversy between the followers of Bañez and the Molinists waxed so hot that Pope Clement VIII appointed a special commission to settle it. This was the famous Congregatio de Auxiliis, consisting of picked theologians from both the Dominican and the Jesuit orders. [pg 256] It debated the matter for nine full years without arriving at a decision. Finally Pope Paul V, at the suggestion of St. Francis de Sales, declared both systems to be orthodox and defensible, and strictly forbade the contending parties to denounce each other as heretical.759

While Thomism devoted its efforts mainly to the defense of grace, Molinism made it its chief business to champion the dogma of free-will.

1. Molinism.—Molinism takes its name from the Jesuit Luis de Molina, who published a famous treatise under the title Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Gratiae Donis at Lisbon, in 1588. His teaching may be outlined as follows:

a) In actu primo there is no intrinsic and ontological but merely an extrinsic and accidental distinction between efficacious and sufficient grace, based upon their respective effects. Sufficient grace becomes efficacious by the consent of the will; if the will resists, grace remains inefficacious (inefficax) and merely sufficient (gratia mere sufficiens). Consequently, one and the same grace may be efficacious in one case and inefficacious in another. It all depends on the will.760

[pg 257]

b) This theory involves no denial of the priority and superior dignity of grace in the work of salvation. The will, considered as a mere faculty, and in actu primo, is raised to the supernatural order by prevenient grace (gratia praeveniens), which imparts to it all the moral and physical power necessary to perform free salutary acts. Neither can the actus secundus be regarded as a product of the unaided will; it is the result of grace coöperating with free-will.761 Consequently, the will by giving its consent does not increase the power of grace, but it is grace which makes possible, prepares, and aids the will in performing free acts. To say that the influence of grace goes farther than this would be to assert that it acts independently of the will, and would thereby deny the freedom of the latter.762

c) The infallibility with which efficacious grace works its effects is to be explained not by God's absolute will, but by His infallible foreknowledge through the scientia media,—a Molinistic postulate which was first defined and scientifically demonstrated by Father Fonseca, S. J., the teacher of Suarez.763 God foreknows not only the absolutely free acts (futura) of His rational creatures [pg 258] by the scientia visionis, but likewise their hypothetically free acts (futuribilia) by means of the scientia media, and hence He infallibly knows from all eternity what attitude the free-will of man would assume in each case if grace were given him. Consequently, when God, in the light of this eternal foreknowledge, actually bestows a grace, this grace will prove efficacious or inefficacious according as He has foreknown whether the will will give or withhold its consent. Thus can the infallibility of efficacious grace be reconciled with the dogma of free-will without prejudice to such other dogmas as final perseverance and the predestination of the elect, because God by virtue of the scientia media has it absolutely in His power to give or withhold His graces in each individual case.764

Critical Estimate of Molinism.—Even the most determined opponents of Molinism admit that this system possesses three important advantages.

a) First, it gives a satisfactory account of the [pg 259] sufficiency of “merely sufficient grace,” which in its physical nature does not differ essentially from efficacious grace.

Second, Molinism safeguards free-will by denying that efficacious grace either physically or morally predetermines the will to one course of action.

Third, Molinism explains in a fairly satisfactory manner why efficacious grace is infallibly efficacious. God in virtue of the scientia media knows with metaphysical certainty from all eternity which graces in each individual case will prove efficacious through the free consent of the will and which will remain inefficacious, and is thereby enabled to bestow or withhold grace according to His absolute decrees.

b) The question may justly be raised, however, whether, in endeavoring to safeguard freewill, the Molinists do not undervalue grace, which is after all the primary and decisive factor in the work of salvation.

There is something incongruous in the notion that the efficacy or inefficacy of divine grace should depend on the arbitrary pleasure of a created will. If sufficient grace does not become efficacious except by the consent of the will, how can the resultant salutary act be said to be an effect of grace? St. Paul, St. Augustine, and the councils of the Church do not say: Deus facit, si volumus,” but they declare: Deus facit, ut faciamus,” Deus ipse dat ipsum velle et facere et perficere,” and so forth. What can this mean if not: Divine grace need not [pg 260] concern itself with external circumstances, occasions, humors, etc., but it takes hold of the sinner and actually converts him, without regard to anything except the decree of the Divine Will. On account of this and similar difficulties Cardinal Bellarmine, who was a champion and protector of P. Molina, seems to have rejected Molinism765 in favor of Congruism.766

c) The same reasons that induced Bellarmine to embrace Congruism probably led the Jesuit General Claudius Aquaviva, in 1613, to order all teachers of theology in the Society to lay greater emphasis on the Congruistic element in [pg 261] the notion of efficacious grace. This measure was quite in harmony with the principles defended by the Jesuit members of the Congregatio de Auxiliis before Clement VIII and Paul V. Aquaviva's order is of sufficient importance to deserve a place in the text of this volume: Nostri in posterum omnino doceant, inter eam gratiam quae effectum re ipsâ habet atque efficax dicitur, et eam quam sufficientem nominant, non tantum discrimen esse in actu secundo, quia ex usu liberi arbitrii etiam cooperantem gratiam habentis effectum sortiatur, altera non item; sed in ipso actu primo, quod positâ scientiâ conditionalium [scientiâ mediâ] ex efficaci Dei proposito atque intentione efficiendi certissime in nobis boni, de industria ipse ea media seligit atque eo modo et tempore confert, quo videt effectum, infallibiliter habitura, aliis usurus, si haec inefficacia praevidisset. Quare semper moraliter et in ratione beneficii plus aliquid in efficaci, quam in sufficienti gratia est, in actu primo contineri: atque hac ratione efficere Deum, ut re ipsâ faciamus, non tantum quia dat gratiam quâ facere possimus. Quod idem dicendum est de perseverantia, quae procul dubio donum est. This modified, or perhaps we had better say, more sharply determined form of Molinism is called Congruism.767

2. Congruism.—The system thus recommended [pg 262] by Aquaviva in its fundamental principles really originated with Molina himself. It was developed by the great Jesuit theologians Suarez, Vasquez, and Lessius, and became the official system of the Society of Jesus under Muzio Vitelleschi (d. 1645) and Piccolomini (d. 1651).

a) The distinction between gratia congrua and gratia incongrua is founded on the writings of St. Augustine, who speaks of the elect as congruenter vocati.”768 The Congruists maintain against the extreme Molinists that the efficacy of grace is not attributable solely to a free determination of the will, but, at least in part, to the fact that grace is bestowed under circumstances favorable to its operation, i.e. “congruous” in that sense. When the circumstances are comparatively adverse (incongrua), grace remains merely sufficient. A prudent father who knows how to govern his children without physical force will speak the right word to each at the proper time. Similarly God adapts His grace, if it is to prove efficacious, to the circumstances of each individual case, thereby attaining His purpose without fail. Thus the reckless youth on the city streets needs more powerful graces than the pious nun in her secluded convent cell, because he is exposed to stronger temptations and his [pg 263] environment is unfavorable to religious influences. Since grace is conferred with a wise regard to temperament, character, inclinations, prejudices, time and place, there exists between it and free-will a sort of intrinsic affinity, which in the hands of God becomes an infallible means of executing His decrees.769

b) The actual bestowal of congruous grace, considered in actu primo, is undoubtedly a special gift of God, and hence the gratia congrua possesses a higher value than the gratia incongrua sive inefficax. An entitatively weaker impulse of grace, if conferred under comparatively favorable conditions, is more precious than a stronger impulse which fails in its purpose by reason of unfavorable circumstances created by inclination, training, or environment. Little David accomplished more with a handful of pebbles in his scrip than had he been heavily armed.770

c) Congruism assigns a far more important rôle to grace than extreme Molinism. It makes the will depend on efficacious grace, not the efficacy of grace upon the will. Bellarmine illustrates this difference by the example [pg 264] of a sermon which, under an entirely equal distribution of internal grace, converts one sinner while it leaves another untouched.771

Critical Estimate of Congruism.—Among the different systems devised for the purpose of harmonizing the dogmas of grace and free-will, Congruism probably comes nearest the truth. It strikes a golden mean between the two extremes of Pelagianism and Semipelagianism on the one hand, and Calvinism and Jansenism on the other, and its principal theses can be supported by clear and unmistakable passages from the writings of St. Augustine.

a) Other points in its favor are the following: “Sufficient grace,” in the Congruist hypothesis, is truly sufficient so far as God is concerned, because its inefficaciousness is attributable solely to the human will. That free-will is properly safeguarded under the influence of efficacious grace (gratia congrua) is admitted even by theologians of the opposing schools. True, Congruism does not regard the will as an abstract notion, but as a factor closely interwoven with the concrete circumstances of daily life. As favorable circumstances (education, association, temperament) merely influence the will but do not compel it, so supernatural grace (gratia congrua s. efficax) may soften the will and occasionally [pg 265] even break down its resistance, but (rare cases excepted)772 will never compel it to do good. Congruism marks a distinct advance over extreme Molinism also in this, that it bases the difference between gratia efficax (congrua) and gratia inefficax not entirely on the will of man, but likewise on the will of God, whereby it is able to explain such formulas as Deus facit, ut faciamus,” Deus est, qui discernit,” etc., in a manner entirely compatible with the dogmatic teaching of the Church.773

The modus operandi of the gratia congrua (efficacious grace) is explained by Congruism, in common with Molinism, as follows: There is a threefold efficacy: the efficacy of power (efficacia virtutis), the efficacy of union (efficacia connexionis), and the efficacy of infallible success (efficacia infallibilitatis). Grace (both efficacious and sufficient) does not derive its efficacia virtutis from the free-will of man, nor from the knowledge of God (scientia media), but from itself. The efficacia connexionis (of union between act and grace) on the other hand, depends entirely on the free-will, since, according to the Council of Trent as well as that of the Vatican, efficacious grace does not operate irresistibly but can be “cast off.” The efficacia infallibilitatis [pg 266] springs from God's certain foreknowledge (scientia media), which cannot be deceived.774

b) Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to contend that Congruism solves all difficulties. The mystery surrounding both the unequal distribution of efficacious grace and the scientia media still remains. Moreover, the theory that God adjusts himself slavishly to all the circumstances of His creatures, can hardly be reconciled with His dignity and omnipotence. It would no doubt be far worthier of His majesty to seize upon the free will of man and compel it to perform the salutary act which He wishes it to perform. Whoever has studied the lives of saints and eminent converts knows that the sudden and seemingly unaccountable changes of heart which many of them have experienced can hardly be regarded as miracles in the strict sense, though on the other hand it seems certain that grace worked in them with little or no regard to the “congruity” of circumstances. Again, it is one of the highest and most sublime missions of grace not to be balked by unfavorable circumstances but to re-shape them by changing a man's temperament, dulling concupiscence, weakening the power of temptation, and so forth. In other words, grace does not depend on but controls and fashions the circumstances of the recipient.

After all is said, therefore, the relation of grace and free-will still remains an unsolved mystery.775

[pg 267]

3. Syncretism.—Seeing that each of the different systems which we so far reviewed contains grains of truth, some theologians776 have adopted the good points of all four and combined them into a fifth, called Syncretism.

These authors begin by assuming the existence of two quite distinct sorts of efficacious grace, the (Thomistic-Augustinian) gratia efficax ab intrinseco, and the (Molinistic-Congruistic) gratia efficax ab extrinseco. The former, they contend, is bestowed for the performance of more difficult good works, such as resisting grievous temptations, observing onerous precepts, exercising patience in severe tribulation, etc.; while the latter enables man to accomplish less difficult acts, such as short prayers, slight mortifications, etc. The connecting link between the two is prayer, which has been instituted for the purpose of enabling man to obtain that gratia efficax ab intrinseco which is necessary for the performance of the more difficult works of salvation. Sacred Scripture teaches that prayer originates in grace, that it is binding upon all men, and that it accomplishes its purpose infallibly.777

Critical Estimate of Syncretism.—The outstanding characteristic of Syncretism is its insistence on prayer as a highly important, not to say the most important, factor in the work of salvation.

a) In this the Syncretistic school is undoubtedly [pg 268] right. Sacred Scripture and Tradition both strongly emphasize the importance and necessity of prayer, so much so that one naturally expects to find prayer playing an essential and indispensable rôle in every complete and orthodox system of grace. “The present economy of grace is essentially and intrinsically an economy of prayer,” is a theological axiom which cannot be too strongly insisted upon. To have brought out this great truth forcibly and luminously is the merit of Syncretism.

b) We do not mean to intimate, however, that the Syncretistic theory has solved the problem of the relation between free-will and grace. On the contrary, by adopting two such heterogeneous concepts as gratia efficax ab intrinseco and gratia efficax ab extrinseco it has actually increased the difficulties found in the other systems. For now we are put before the dilemma:—the Thomistic gratia efficax either supposes free-will or it does not: if it does, there is no reason to limit this grace to the more difficult works of salvation; if it does not, then the gratia efficax can be of no assistance in the performance of more difficult works, because these too, to be meritorious, require the coöperation of free-will.

The Syncretists try to evade this dilemma by contending that prayer, as the connecting link, communicates its own liberty and meritoriousness to the salutary acts performed through its agency, in other words, that these acts are the effect of prayer (effectus orationis). But aside from the fact that prayer itself is quite often a difficult act, the more arduous works of salvation would [pg 269] in the Syncretist hypothesis be stripped of their meritoriousness and degraded to the level of a voluntarium in causa, which is an untenable assumption.778 Finally, there is something illogical and unsatisfactory in admitting on equal terms, as it were, two such incompatible notions as the Thomistic cognitio Dei in decretis praedeterminantibus and the Molinistic scientia media.

Thus in the end all attempts to harmonize the dogmas of grace and free-will fail to solve the mystery, and we are compelled to exclaim with St. Paul: “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways!”779

Readings:—Molinistic and Congruistic works of importance are: *Molina, S. J., Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Gratiae Donis, Lisbon 1588 (repr. Paris 1876).—Platel, S. J., Auctoritas contra Praedeterminationem Physicam pro Scientia Media, Douai 1669.—Henao, S. J., Scientia Media Historice Propugnata, Lyons 1655.—Idem, Scientia Media Theologice Defensa, Lyons 1674-6.—De Aranda, S. J., De Deo Sciente, Praedestinante et Auxiliante seu Schola Scientiae Mediae, Saragossa 1693.—*Suarez, S. J., De Concursu, Motione et Auxilio Dei, new ed., Paris 1856.—Idem, De Auxilio Efficaci, Paris ed., 1856, t. XI.—Idem, De Vera Intelligentia Auxilii Efficacis (Op. Posthum., t. X, Appendix).—*Lessius, S. J., De Gratia Efficaci (Opusc., t. II, Paris 1878).—Sardagna, S. J., Theologia Dogmatico-Polemica, Ratisbon 1771.—Wirceburgenses (Kilber, S. J.), De Gratia, new ed., Paris 1853.—Murray, De Gratia, Dublin 1877.—B. Jungmann, S. J., De Gratia, 6th ed., Ratisbon 1896.—Th. de Régnon, S. J., Bañez et Molina, Histoire, Doctrines, Critique, Métaphysique, Paris 1883.—Card. Mazzella, S. J., De Gratia Christi, 3rd ed., Rome 1882.—Palmieri, S. J., De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes. 49-58, Gulpen 1885.—*V. Frins, S. J., S. Thomae Doctrina de Cooperatione Dei cum Omni [pg 270] Natura Creata, Praesertim Libera, seu S. Thomas Praedeterminationis Physicae Adversarius, Paris 1890.—*Schiffini, S. J., De Gratia Divina, disp. 5, Freiburg 1901.—Card. Billot, S. J., De Gratia Christi et Libero Hominis Arbitrio, I, Rome 1908.—Limbourg, S. J. Selbstzeichnung der thomistischen Gnadenlehre, in the Innsbruck Zeitschrift für kath. Theologie, 1877.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp. 493 sqq.

Among the theologians who have tried to harmonize Thomism and Molinism we may mention, besides Ysambert and St. Alphonsus de' Liguori, *Tournely, De Gratia, Venice 1755.—Card. Jos. Pecci, Sentenza di S. Tommaso circa l'Influsso di Dio sulle Azioni delle Creature Ragionevoli e sulla Scienza Media, Rome 1885.—A. Adeodatus, J. Pecci's Schrift: Lehre des hl. Thomas über den Einfluss Gottes, etc., analysiert, Mainz 1888.—C. Krogh-Tonning, De Gratia Christi et de Libero Arbitrio S. Thomae Doctrina, Christiania 1898.—J. Herrmann, C. SS. R., De Divina Gratia, Rome 1904.

The history of the great controversy between Thomism and Molinism can be studied in H. Serry, O. P., Historia Congregationum de Auxiliis Divinae Gratiae, Louvain 1700 and Antwerp 1709.—Livinus de Meyer, S. J., Historia Controversiarum de Divinae Gratiae Auxiliis, Antwerp 1705.—*Schneemann, S. J., Entstehung der thomistisch-molinistischen Controverse, Freiburg 1879.—*Idem, Weitere Entwicklung der thomistisch-molinistischen Controverse, Freiburg 1880.—*Idem, Controversiarum de Divinae Gratiae Liberique Arbitrii Concordia Initia et Progressus, Freiburg 1881.

[pg 271]

Part II. Sanctifying Grace

The grace of justification, commonly called sanctifying grace, is related to actual grace as an end to its means. Actual grace introduces the state of sanctifying grace or preserves and augments it where it already exists.

This fact makes it advisable to consider the genesis of sanctifying grace before studying its nature and effects.

We shall therefore treat in three chapters: (1) of the Process of Justification (iustificatio in fieri); (2) of the State of Justification (iustificatio in esse), and (3) of the Fruits of Justification (iustificatio in facto esse), or the Merit of Good Works.

[pg 272]

Chapter I. The Genesis Of Sanctifying Grace, Or The Process Of Justification

The justification of an adult human being does not take place suddenly, but runs through certain well-defined stages, which in their totality are called the process of justification.

Being a “regeneration in God,” justification bears a striking resemblance to the development of the fœtus in the maternal womb. Like physical birth, spiritual regeneration is preceded by travailing, i.e. fear and painful contrition.

The dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church on justification is formally defined by the Tridentine Council, whose decrees780 contain a masterly analysis of this most interesting of psychological processes. The holy Synod puts faith at the beginning. “Faith,” it says, “is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and the root of all justification.”781 The nature of faith and the part it plays in justification were the chief points [pg 273] in dispute between the Church and the so-called Reformers. Luther and his followers denatured the traditional Catholic teaching by basing justification solely on faith, which they falsely defined as mere confidence or trust in the mercy of God.

[pg 274]

Section 1. The Necessity Of Faith For Justification

1. The Lutheran Heresy vs. the Teaching of the Church.—The Protestant Reformers, notably Luther and Calvin, did not deny that justification is wrought by faith, but they defined justifying faith in a manner altogether foreign to the mind of the Church.

a) They distinguished three kinds of faith: (1) belief in the existence of God and the historical fact that Christ has come on earth, suffered, and ascended (fides historica); (2) the sort of trust which is required for exercising the gift of miracles (fides miraculorum); and (3) faith in the divine promises with regard to the remission of sin (fides promissionum). The last-mentioned species of faith they subdivided into general and particular. Fides generalis is that by which we believe that the righteousness of Christ “covers” (but does not wipe out) our sins. Fides specialis or fiduciary faith (fiducia) is that by which a man applies to himself the righteousness of the Redeemer, firmly trusting that his sins are for Christ's sake not imputed to him. Thus the Reformers erroneously transferred the seat of justifying faith from the intellect to the will and completely subverted the Catholic notion of faith as an intellectual assent to revealed truth.

b) To this fundamental error the Fathers of [pg 275] Trent opposed the orthodox doctrine that (adults) “are disposed unto justice when, excited and assisted by divine grace, receiving faith by hearing, they are freely moved towards God, believing those things to be true which God has revealed and promised, ...”782 and they solemnly anathematized those who assert “that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sin for Christ's sake, or that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified.”783

Hence it is de fide that the faith whereby man is justified, is not a confident persuasion of being esteemed righteous in the sight of God, but a dogmatic or theoretical belief in the truths of Divine Revelation.

2. Refutation of the Lutheran Doctrine of Fiduciary Faith.—Whenever Sacred Scripture and Tradition speak of justifying faith, they mean a dogmatic belief in the truths of Revelation,—that faith which the Protestants call fides historica.

a) Christ Himself solemnly commanded His [pg 276] Apostles and their successors to preach the Gospel to all nations, and before baptizing them to convert them to a firm belief in certain specified truths which no man may reject except at the peril of his eternal salvation.

α) Mark XVI, 15 sq.: “Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel784 to every creature: He that believeth [i.e. in the Gospel] and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” Agreeable to this injunction St. John declares it to be the object of his Gospel “that you may believe that785 Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in his name.”786 The Gospel is written “that we may believe.” What must we believe? That “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” This is a revealed truth by firmly believing which we shall be saved. When the treasurer of Queen Candace begged to be baptized, Philip the deacon said to him: “If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest.” The eunuch replied: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” whereupon Philip baptized him.787

β) St. Paul in his Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians eloquently insists on the necessity of faith, not a mere fides fiducialis, but a believing acceptance of Divine Revelation. Cfr. Rom. X, 9 sq.: “For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart we believe unto justice, but [pg 277] with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”788 We must confess with the mouth and believe with the heart. External profession and internal faith go together and have for their common object a certain truth open to our knowledge, viz.: the resurrection of Christ,—a dogma in which the whole teaching of the atonement lies imbedded.

The character of justifying faith is still more plainly evident from Heb. XI, 6: “Without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God [he that is to be justified], must believe that He is [the existence of God], and is a rewarder to them that seek Him.”789 The Apostle here clearly asserts both the necessity of justifying faith and the minimum of doctrine to be explicitly “believed,” viz.: the existence of God and eternal retribution.790

γ) The Lutherans appeal chiefly to Matth. IX, 2, Luke XVII, 19, Rom. IV, 5, and Heb. XI, 1. But not a single one of these texts represents fiduciary faith as the instrumental cause of justification. The word πίστις occurs no less than eighty times in the Synoptic Gospels and in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, but there are [pg 278] only six passages in which it could possibly be construed as synonymous with fiducia, and in none of these is the interpretation entirely certain. Not once does the New Testament employ πίστις in the sense of “fiduciary faith,” i.e. a confident persuasion of one's own righteousness.791

b) Tradition is in such perfect agreement with Scripture on this point that the Reformers did not venture to deny that their doctrine ran counter to the time-honored teaching of the Church. The Fathers unanimously insist on the necessity of dogmatic faith as a requisite of justification.

α) St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, who is regarded as “the best theologian of his time” (468-533),792 in his golden booklet De Fide seu de Regula Verae Fidei ad Petrum, says: “I rejoice that you take care to preserve the true faith without which conversion is useless, nay, impossible. Apostolic authority tells us that we cannot please God without faith. For faith is the foundation of all good [works]; it is the beginning of human salvation, and without it no one can obtain a place among the children of God, because without it no one can obtain the grace of justification in this world or possess eternal life in the next.”793 St. Fulgentius was a faithful [pg 279] disciple of St. Augustine, and the whole trend of his treatise shows that by vera fides he understands not the Lutheran fiducia propriae iustificationis, but Catholic belief in revealed truth.794

β) This teaching is corroborated by the ancient practice of instructing the catechumens in the truths of revelation and requiring them to make a public profession of faith before Baptism. It was because they believed and professed the true faith that the early Christians, who knew nothing of the Lutheran fides fiducialis, were called “faithful” (fideles, πιστοί), to distinguish them from false believers or heretics (haeretici, αἱρητικοὶ, from αἱρεῖσθαι to choose), who denied some portion or other of the orthodox creed.

c) In analyzing the notions of fides and necessitas theologians distinguish between fides explicita and fides implicita, and between necessitas medii and necessitas praecepti.

Fides explicita is an express and fully developed belief in the truths of revelation; fides implicita, a virtual belief in whatever may be contained in a dogma explicitly professed. I make an act of implicit faith when I say, for instance: “I believe whatever the Church teaches,” or: “I heartily accept whatever God has revealed.”

The necessitas medii is based on the objective relation of means to an end, and consequently binds all men, [pg 280] even the ignorant and those who are in error without their own fault. Such, for example, is the necessity of the eye for seeing, of wings for flying, of grace for performing salutary acts, of the lumen gloriae for the beatific vision. The necessitas praecepti, on the other hand, is founded entirely on the will of God, who positively commands or forbids under pain of grievous sin, but is willing to condone non-compliance with his precepts when it is owing to guiltless ignorance. This applies to all positive divine precepts, e.g. the law of fasting and abstinence. It is to be noted that the necessitas medii always involves the necessitas praecepti, because God must needs will and impose upon us by positive precept whatever is objectively necessary as a means of salvation.

α) The first question that arises with regard to this twofold faith and necessity is: Are sinners preparing for justification, and the faithful in general, obliged by necessity of precept to believe explicitly all revealed truths? The answer is, No; because this is practically impossible, and God does not demand the impossible.

Generally speaking, it is sufficient to have an explicit knowledge of, and give one's firm assent to, the more important dogmas and moral precepts—the twelve articles of the Apostles' Creed, the Commandments of God and the Church, the Sacraments (as needed), and the Our Father. All other revealed truths need be held only fide implicitâ.795 More is of course demanded of educated [pg 281] persons and those who are in duty bound to instruct others, such as priests and teachers.796

β) A more important and more difficult question is this: Are there any dogmas, and if so how many, which must be believed by all men fide explicitâ and necessitate medii? St. Paul says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God, must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him.”797

With but few exceptions,798 Catholic theologians maintain that the Apostle in this passage means theological faith, based upon supernatural motives. This interpretation is borne out by the context, by such parallel texts as John III, 11 sqq., 32 sqq., 2 Tim. I, 12, 1 John V, 9 sq., and by the decisions of several councils.799 There can be no reasonable doubt that all men, to be justified and saved, must have an explicit belief in at least two dogmas, viz.: the existence of God and eternal retribution. Pope Innocent XI condemned the Jansenist proposition that explicit belief in divine retribution is not necessary for salvation.800

[pg 282]

Are there any other dogmas which must be explicitly believed necessitate medii? The only dogmas which might come in question are: the Trinity, the Incarnation, the immortality of the soul, and the necessity of grace. The last-mentioned two may be omitted from the list, because St. Paul does not mention them,801 and for the additional reason that belief in immortality is included in the dogma of eternal retribution, while the necessity of grace is inseparably bound up with the dogma of Divine Providence, which in its turn is but a particular aspect of eternal retribution.802 Hence the only two dogmas in regard to which the question at the beginning of this paragraph can reasonably be asked, are the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation.

Theologians are divided in the matter. Some maintain that no human being can or could ever be saved without explicit belief in both the Trinity and the Incarnation. Others803 hold that this necessitas medii did not exist under the Old Covenant. A third school804 avers that no such necessity can be proved either for the Old or the New Dispensation.

The first of these three opinions is excessively rigorous and intrinsically improbable. The Jews had no clearly revealed knowledge of the Trinity and the Incarnation, and consequently were under no obligation to believe them. As the divinely constituted guardians of the Messianic prophecies, they were bound to believe in the Redeemer, [pg 283] though only necessitate praecepti. The gentiles were dispensed even from this.

The second opinion, which limits the necessitas medii to the New Testament, lacks solid proof. The Scripture texts cited in its support merely prove the efficaciousness of belief in Christ,805 or the duty of embracing that belief on the strength of the Apostolic preaching,806 or, finally, the impossibility of redemption except through the mediation of Jesus;807—all truths which in themselves have nothing to do with the question under discussion.

The third and most probable opinion is that even under the New Covenant, explicit faith in Christ, and a fortiori in the Divine Trinity, cannot be regarded as an indispensable medium of justification and salvation, (1) because St. Paul does not mention these two dogmas in the decisive passage, Heb. XI, 6; and (2) because a supernatural act of justifying love and contrition may be inspired by belief in the existence of God and divine retribution; and (3) because this latter belief implicitly, by way of desire (fides in voto), includes belief in Christ and the Trinity.808 Nevertheless it must be held that an adult who desires to be received into the Church and is baptized in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, is bound to believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation by more than a mere necessitas praecepti, namely, by what is technically called necessitas medii per accidens, a necessity from which God dispenses only in exceptional cases, [pg 284] when it is either physically or morally impossible to elicit an act of explicit faith.809 It is for this reason that the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office decided, February 28, 1703, that missionaries are bound to explain to all adult converts who have the use of reason, even though they be near death, those mysteries of the faith which are necessary for salvation necessitate medii, especially the Trinity and the Incarnation.810

[pg 285]

Section 2. The Necessity Of Other Preparatory Acts Besides Faith

1. Heretical Errors and the Teaching of the Church.—Martin Luther, to quiet his conscience, evolved the notion that faith alone justifies and that the Catholic doctrine of the necessity of good works is pharisaical and derogatory to the merits of Jesus Christ. This teaching was incorporated into the symbolic books of the Lutherans811 and adopted by Calvin.812 It has been called one of the two basic errors of Protestantism. The Tridentine Council solemnly condemns it as follows: “If anyone saith that by faith alone the impious is justified, in such wise as to mean that nothing else is required to coöperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own [pg 286] will; let him be anathema.”813 Other acts that dispose or prepare the soul for justification, according to the same Council, are: the fear of divine justice; hope in God's mercy; charity, which is the font of all righteousness; detestation of sin, and penitence.814

2. Refutation of the Sola Fides Theory.—The Lutheran theory involves an open rupture with the traditional teaching of the Church and is positively unscriptural. Luther himself felt this, as appears from his interpolation of the word “alone” in Rom. III, 28 and his rejection of the entire canonical Epistle of St. James.815

a) The teaching of the Bible in regard to the rôle played by good works in the process of justification may be summarized as follows:

(1) A man may believe all that the Church teaches and yet be lost for want of good works or because he has not the love of God; consequently, faith alone does not justify or insure eternal salvation. Our Divine Saviour Himself declares: “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in [pg 287] heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”816 St. James says: “Do you not see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?”817 And St. Paul: “If I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”818

(2) Besides faith, justification requires certain other preparatory or dispositive acts. There is, for example, the fear of divine justice. Cfr. Ecclus. I, 28: “He that is without fear cannot be justified.”819 Also, hope in God's mercy. Cfr. Rom. VIII, 24: “For we are saved by hope.”820 Again, charity. Cfr. Luke VII, 47: “Many sins are forgiven her because she hath loved much.”821 Furthermore, contrition or penitence. Cfr. Luke XIII, 3: “Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.”822 Finally, good works in general. Cfr. St. James II, 17: “So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.”823 No one who ponders these and similar [pg 288] texts can maintain, as Calvin and Melanchthon did, that the good works mentioned merely accompany justification, for they are unmistakably described as causes which dispose and prepare the sinner for it.

(3) It is not faith alone that justifies, but faith informed and actuated by charity. Cfr. Gal. V, 6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by charity.”824 The Greek text shows that the word operatur in the Vulgate must be taken passively, so that a more correct translation would be: “... but faith effected or formed by charity.” But even if ἐνεργουμένη were used as a deponent (ἐνεργεῖσθαι=agere, operari) the meaning would be substantially the same, i.e. a dead faith, without charity, avails nothing. Cfr. St. James II, 26: “For even as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”825

In Rom. III, 28: “For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law,”826 Luther deliberately inserted the word “alone.” The context shows that this is a falsification. The Apostle contrasts justifying faith, not with those preparatory acts of salvation which spring from it, but with the sterile “works of [pg 289] the law” (i.e. the Old Testament), which, as such, possessed no more power to justify than the good works of the heathen. Keeping this contrast in mind, it would not be incorrect to say, and St. Paul might well have said, that “supernatural faith alone (i.e. only) justifies, while the works of the law do not.” But if faith be taken in contradistinction to the other acts operative in the process of justification, such as fear, hope, contrition, love,—and this is the sense in which Luther takes it,—then it is false and contrary to the mind of St. Paul to say: “Faith alone justifies, nothing else is required.” For in this sense faith is merely the beginning, the foundation, the root of justification and cannot justify the sinner until it has absorbed the other preparatory acts required by Holy Scripture and transformed them into perfect love. This fact was already pointed out by St. Augustine. “Unintelligent persons,” he says, “with regard to the Apostle's statement: ‘We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law,’ have thought him to mean that faith is sufficient for a man, even if he leads a bad life and has no good deeds to allege. It is impossible that such a character should be deemed ‘a vessel of election’ by the Apostle, who, after declaring that ‘in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision,’ adds the important remark: ‘but faith that worketh by charity.’ It is such faith which separates the faithful children of God from unclean devils,—for even these ‘believe and tremble,’ as the Apostle James says, but they do no good works. Therefore they possess not the faith by which the just man lives,—the faith which operates through love in such wise that God recompenses it according to its works with eternal life.”827

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There is another sense in which faith alone may be said to justify, viz.: if the term be taken to include all those things which God has ordained for our salvation, that is to say, the sum-total of “revelation” or “the true religion” as opposed to “heresy.” The term πίστις (fides) is sometimes employed in this sense by the Fathers, but never in Sacred Scripture.828

b) There is a unanimous and unbroken tradition in favor of the Catholic doctrine. St. Polycarp writes in his Epistle to the Philippians: “... the faith (πίστις) given you, which is the mother of us all when hope (ἐλπίς) follows and love (ἀγάπη) goes before.”829 St. Augustine teaches that while faith is per se separable from hope and love, it is ineffective without them. “Man begins with faith, but the demons, too, believe and tremble; to faith, therefore, must be added hope, and to hope, love.”830 And again: “Without love, faith can indeed exist, but it availeth nothing.”831 St. Gregory the Great, paraphrasing St. James, says: “Perhaps some one will say to himself: I have believed, I shall be saved. He speaks truly if he sustains faith by works. For that is true faith which does not contradict by deeds what it asserts in words.”832

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c) This teaching is in perfect conformity with reason.

α) No supernatural enlightenment is needed to perceive the intrinsic propriety of a moral preparation for justification. Not only must the sinner learn to know God as His supernatural end and the source of all righteousness, but he must also be persuaded that it is his duty, with the help of sufficient grace, to direct his will towards this final end.

Every tendency or movement presupposes a terminus a quo, from which it starts, and a terminus ad quem, to which it tends. The movement of the will in the process of justification, besides faith, demands a voluntary withdrawal from sin (contrition, good resolutions) and an approach to righteousness (hope, love, desire).833

This argument would have made no impression on Luther, since he bluntly denied free-will in the moral order and regarded human nature as so radically depraved by original sin as to be incapable of coöperating with divine grace. In fact he compared man to a “log, stick or stone.” This view was shared by Amsdorf, Flacius, [pg 292] and others, whereas Osiander and Butzer admitted that “inherent righteousness” is at least a partial factor in justification. Melanchthon, in an endeavor to reconcile the contradictions of this discordant system, unwittingly gave rise to the so-called Synergist dispute. When Pfeffinger834 undertook the defence of free-will, many Lutheran theologians, especially of the University of Jena, boldly attacked the log-stick-and-stone theory835 and tried to force their adversaries to admit that man is able to coöperate with grace. The “Half-Melanchthonians,” as they were called, succeeded in smuggling Synergism into the “Book of Torgau;”836 but before the “Formulary of Concord” was finally printed in the monastery of Bergen, near Magdeburg (A. D. 1577), the strict Lutherans had eliminated that article as heterodox and substituted for it the log-stick-and-stone theory as it appears in the official symbols of the Lutheran Church. In the Syncretist dispute, and through the efforts of the Pietists, this harsh teaching was afterwards moderated. But what probably contributed most to the crumbling of the system was the rapid growth of Socinianism and Rationalism among the Lutherans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. To-day, with the exception of a small band of “orthodox” Lutherans in Saxony and the United States, Protestants no longer hold the log-stick-and-stone theory. The school of Luther proclaimed it as the distinguishing tenet of Protestantism, as “the criterion of a standing or falling church,”837—and by this criterion the Lutheran Church has indeed fallen. Common sense has led modern Protestants to admit that [pg 293] contrition and penance are quite as necessary for justification as faith, an opinion which, in the words of Dorner,838 “comes dangerously near the Catholic system.” In Scandinavia, according to Dr. Krogh-Tonning,839 the Lutheran Church has experienced a “quiet reformation” and now unconsciously defends the Catholic doctrine of justification.840

β) As the sufficiency of the Bible without Tradition is the formal principle of “orthodox” Protestantism, so justification by faith alone may be said to be its material principle. The absurdity of the Lutheran position is evident from the fact that these two principles are mutually destructive. So far from teaching justification by faith alone, the Bible inculcates the exact contrary, while its sufficiency as the source of faith could be proved from its own pages, if at all, only by a vicious circle.841 Thus the whole Protestant system is based on contradiction.

The sola fides theory is open to serious objection also from the ethical point of view. It cannot be put into practice without grave danger. “Sin lustily,” writes Luther, “but be yet more lusty in faith.”842 The first [pg 294] part at least of this injunction was promptly obeyed by his followers, and the rapid deterioration of morals which followed was but a natural sequel of the sola fides theory. If faith alone were sufficient for justification, it would make no difference what kind of life a man led, for unbelief, i.e. the loss of fiduciary faith, would be the only sin. No wonder this ethical antinomism of the Lutheran system, so radically opposed to the teaching of St. James, was rejected by Hugo Grotius, George Buller, and other honest Protestants.

Another weighty objection against the Lutheran theory of justification is that it disregards the law of causation. According to Luther a man is justified by the firm belief and trust that his sins are forgiven. This “belief” is either true or false. If it is false, I can have no certainty with regard to my salvation, but am deceiving myself. If true, it presupposes that which it is to effect, in other words, it puts the cause before the effect. An orthodox Lutheran theologian of the old school would probably retort: My sins are actually forgiven by virtue of the atonement, because all men without exception are redeemed through the merits of Jesus Christ. If this be true, then why not be consistent and say: All men are justified because all are redeemed, consequently there is no need of faith and sacraments, and keeping the commandments is a matter of indifference! It is at this point that the incompatibility of Luther's teaching with the Bible and sound ethics becomes most glaringly apparent. True, Luther himself at times emphasized the necessity of good works; but this merely proves that he had lucid intervals when his honest nature rebelled against the inconsistency of his teaching.843

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3. Explanation of the Catholic Doctrine.—The Council of Trent assigned to faith its proper place in the process of justification,844 and gave a luminous and profound analysis of the process itself.845 Scholastic theology, in elaborating the teaching of Scripture and Tradition, drew a distinction between fides formata, which truly justifies, and fides informis, which falls short of justification.

a) As regards the intrinsic relation of (dogmatic) faith to other preparatory acts in the process of justification, the Tridentine Council declares: “Faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and the root of all justification.”846 Supernatural faith, therefore, is the beginning of salvation, and not, as Harnack makes Luther say, “at once the beginning, the middle, and the end,” because no man can be converted unless he has believingly embraced God as his final goal. This faith is preceded by certain preliminary conditions, of which the first is an illumination of the intellect and a strengthening of the will, which results in the affectus credulitatis (initia fidei). For justifying faith does not flash forth suddenly, like a deus ex machina, but requires time for its development, as the history of many conversions proves.847

Faith is called the “foundation” of justification because it not only marks its beginning, but constitutes the basis upon which all subsequent stages of the process rest. [pg 296] To exclude the mistaken notion that the process of justification is a series of mechanical and disconnected acts, the Council calls faith the “root” of justification, from which the other preparatory acts spring organically, as the trunk of a tree from its root.

The psychological description of the whole process given by the Tridentine Fathers, which even Harnack admits to be “a masterly piece of work,” runs as follows: “Now they [adults] are disposed unto justice when, excited and assisted by divine grace, conceiving faith by hearing, they are freely moved towards God, believing those things to be true which God has revealed and promised,—and this especially, that God justifies the impious by His grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; and when, understanding themselves to be sinners, they, by turning themselves from the fear of divine justice, whereby they are profitably agitated, to consider the mercy of God, are raised unto hope, confiding that God will be propitious to them for Christ's sake; and they begin to love Him as the fountain of all justice, and are therefore moved against sins by a certain hatred and detestation, to wit: by that penitence which must be performed before Baptism; lastly, when they purpose to receive Baptism, to begin a new life, and to keep the commandments of God....”848 The four [pg 297] ordinary stages in the process of justification, therefore, are: (1) From faith to fear of divine justice; (2) from fear to hope; (3) from hope to initial love;849 (4) from initial love to contrition and a firm purpose of amendment.850 If contrition is dictated and transfused by perfect love,851 and the sinner has an explicit or at least implicit desire for the Sacrament,852 justification takes place at once. If, on the other hand, the sinner's sorrow is imperfect (attritio), he attains justification only by actual reception of the Sacrament (Baptism or Penance).853

b) Does conversion always follow this conciliary schema? No. The Council did not mean to define that these acts must follow one another in strict sequence or that they are one and all absolutely indispensable for justification. It is certain, however, that the process invariably begins with faith and ends with contrition accompanied by a firm purpose of amendment. In exceptional cases (e.g. the Prodigal Son, Mary Magdalen) perfect charity seems immediately to follow faith, and may then be said virtually to include the intermediate stages of fear, hope, and contrition. Yet this is not the usual way. Ordinarily faith elicits fear, which in turn produces two kinds of hope—hope of forgiveness (spes veniae) and hope in God (spes theologica), which marks the beginning of charity (amor concupiscentiae). Contrition is always a conditio sine qua non, because there can be no forgiveness of sin without sorrow for it.854 It [pg 298] is for this reason that, according to St. Thomas, explicit contrition for mortal sins is necessary for justification even when there is perfect charity, and the sufficiency of the so-called poenitentia virtualis is limited to venial offenses and such grievous sins as cannot be remembered.855 Fear, while not absolutely indispensable, is seldom absent. Holy Scripture tells us that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” and it is natural for the sinner seeking forgiveness to detest his sins out of fear of divine justice before he attains to the motive of perfect charity.856

c) Certain utterances of Scripture and the Fathers with regard to the possibility of a “dead” faith857 have led theologians to distinguish between fides informis and fides formata. Fides informis is a dead faith, devoid of charity, and without justifying power. The only faith that can justify a man is that which is animated by charity and productive of good works.858 This is the fides formata of the Schoolmen, which includes all the preparatory acts enumerated by the Tridentine Council, from fear to perfect charity. These acts, however, though united in the fides formata, retain their respective independence, and can disappear singly, one after another, as they came. Zwingli's assertion that faith, hope, and charity are identical, or at least inseparable, has been expressly condemned [pg 299] by the Tridentine Council: “If any one saith that, grace being lost through sin, faith also is always lost with it; or that the faith which remains, though it be no live faith, is not a true faith; or that he who has faith without charity is not a Christian; let him be anathema.”859

Readings:—Besides the respective chapters in the various text-books, the student may consult: *A. Vega, De Iustificatione Doctrina Universa Libris XV Absolute Tradita, Venice 1548 (reprinted at Cologne, 1572).—*Bellarmine, De Iustificatione Impii, 1. V (ed. Fèvre, Vol. VI, pp. 149 sqq. Paris 1873).—*Suarez, De Gratia, 1. VI sqq.—Becanus, Theol. Scholast., De Gratia Habituali, Rouen 1658.—L. Nussbaum, Die Lehre der kath. Kirche über die Rechtfertigung, München 1837.—C. von Schätzler, Neue Untersuchungen über das Dogma von der Gnade und das Wesen des christl. Glaubens, Mainz 1867.—Oswald, Die Lehre von der Heiligung, § 5, 3rd ed., Paderborn 1885.—B. Bartmann, St. Paulus und St. Jakobus und die Rechtfertigung, Freiburg 1897.—L. Galey, La Foi et les Oeuvres, Montauban 1902.—W. Liese, Der heilsnotwendige Glaube, sein Begriff und Inhalt, Freiburg 1902.—Card. Newman, Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification, 8th impression, London 1900.—Hugh Pope, O. P., art. Faith in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. V.—J. Mausbach, Catholic Moral Teaching and its Antagonists (tr. by A. M. Buchanan), pp. 150 sqq., New York 1914.—L. Labauche, S. S., God and Man, pp. 203 sqq., N. Y. 1916.

On the teaching of the Reformers cfr. *Möhler, Symbolik, § 18 sqq., 11th ed., Mainz 1890 (English tr. by James Burton Robertson, pp. 82 sqq., 5th ed., London 1906); Ad. Harnack, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, Vol. III, 4th ed., Freiburg 1910; Denifle-Weiss, O. P., Luther und Luthertum in der ersten Entwicklung, Vol. II, Mainz 1909; H. Grisar, S. J., Luther, Vol. I, Freiburg 1911 (English tr., Vols. I and II, London 1913).

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Chapter II. The State Of Justification

Though the term “justification” may be extended to the preparatory acts that lead up to the state of justice, strictly speaking it signifies only that decisive moment in which the sinner is cleansed from mortal sin by an infusion of sanctifying grace. Hence a careful distinction must be made between justification as an act (actus iustificationis) and justification as an habitual state (habitus iustificationis s. status gratiae sanctificantis). The transient act introduces a permanent state, just as the Sacrament of Holy Orders constitutes a man in the sacerdotal state or priesthood.

Both as an act and as a state justification possesses three distinct properties; it is uncertain, unequal, and capable of being lost.

This gives us the basis for a division of the present Chapter into three Sections: (1) On the Nature of Justification, (2) On Justifying, i.e. Sanctifying Grace, and (3) On the Properties of that Grace.

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Section 1. The Nature Of Justification

Justification in the active sense (iustificatio, δικαίωσις) is defined by the Tridentine Council as “a translation from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour.”860

Justification, therefore, has both a negative and a positive element. The positive element is interior sanctification through the merits of Jesus Christ. The negative element consists in the forgiveness of sin. Though these elements are objectively inseparable, the forgiveness of sin being practically an effect of interior sanctification, yet we must treat them separately in order to be able to refute more effectively the Lutheran heresy that sin is not wiped out but merely “covered,” and that justification consists in an external “imputation” of the righteousness of Christ.

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Article 1. The Negative Element Of Justification

1. The Heresy of the Protestant Reformers and the Teaching of the Church.—Luther held that human nature was radically depraved by original sin861 and that justification consists in this, that sin (original and mortal) is no longer “imputed” to the sinner; that is to say, it is not blotted out but merely “covered” by the merits of Christ.

a) Forgiveness of sins, therefore, according to Luther, consists simply in their being no longer imputed.862 This heresy was incorporated in the Formula of Concord and other symbolical books of the Lutheran Church,863 and subsequently adopted by Calvin.864

b) The Catholic Church has always maintained that justification is a renewal of the soul by which [pg 303] a man's sins are blotted out and he becomes truly just. This applies first of all to original sin. “If,” says the Council of Trent, “anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in Baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted, or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only raised or not imputed, let him be anathema.”865 What it here defines in regard to original sin, the Council elsewhere reaffirms in respect of mortal sin.866

2. Refutation of the Lutheran Theory.—The theory thus solemnly condemned by the Tridentine Fathers is unscriptural and opposed to Catholic Tradition.

a) The teaching of the Bible on this point may be reduced to four distinct heads.

(1) The remission of sin granted in the process of justification is a real annihilation of guilt; that is to say, the sins remitted cease to exist in the moral (though not, of course, in the historical) order. Cfr. Ps. L, 3: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity.”867 Is. XLIII, 25: “I am [pg 304] he that blot out thy iniquities.”868 After God has blotted out a sin, it no longer exists. Cfr. Is. XLIV, 22: “I have blotted out thy iniquities as a cloud, and thy sins as a mist.”869 Acts III, 19: “Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”870 Elsewhere God is said to “take away” sin. Cfr. 2 Kings XII, 13: “The Lord also hath taken away thy sin.”871 1 Paral. XXI, 8: “I beseech thee, take away the iniquity of thy servant.”872 When He takes away sin, it is really and truly blotted out. Cfr. Mich. VII, 18 sq.: “Who is a God like to thee, who takest away iniquity?... He will put away our iniquities, and he will cast all our sins into the bottom of the sea.”873 Ps. X, 15: “His sin shall be sought, and shall not be found.”874 Ps. CII, 12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us.”875 Consequently, when our Divine Saviour said of Mary Magdalen: “Many sins are forgiven her,”876 He meant that her sins were completely blotted out and taken away.

(2) Justification washes the soul from iniquity and purifies the heart. Cfr. Ps. L, 4: “Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”877 Is. I, 16: “Wash yourselves, be clean.”878 After one's sins are [pg 305] washed away, the heart is clean and pure. Cfr. Ez. XXXVI, 25 sq.: “And I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, ... and I will give you a new heart.”879 1 Cor. VI, 11: “And such [fornicators, etc.] some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified.”880 Spotless purity takes the place of the impurity that previously defiled the soul of the sinner. Cfr. Ps. L, 9: “Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.”881 Is. I, 18: “If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.”882 No trace of sin remains in the soul after it has been washed in the Precious Blood of Christ. Apoc. I, 5: “... Jesus Christ, ... hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”883 1 John I, 7: “... the blood of Jesus Christ ... cleanseth us from all sin.”884

(3) Justification is an awakening of the sinner from death to life, a transition from darkness to light. Cfr. 1 John III, 14: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren; he that loveth not, abideth in death.”885 Col. II, 13: “And you, when [pg 306] you were dead in your sins, ... he hath quickened together with him, forgiving you all offences.”886 Eph. V, 8: “For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord.”887

(4) Baptism, in particular, completely removes all guilt. Cfr. Acts XXII, 16: “Rise up, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins.”888 Hence, though concupiscence remains, the soul has no longer in it anything damnable, i.e. any trace of original or mortal sin. Cfr. Rom. VIII, 1: “There is now therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.”889

It requires no special acuteness to perceive that this Biblical teaching is irreconcilably opposed to the Protestant theory of non-imputation. If, as the Lutherans allege, God merely declared the believer just, justification would not blot out or take away sin, nor could it be truthfully said that light and life take the place of death and darkness; something deserving of condemnation would still remain in those that are in Christ Jesus.890

There are a few Scriptural texts that seem to favor the Lutheran view, but they must be interpreted in conformity with the general teaching of the Bible as outlined [pg 307] above. Among these texts is Ps. XXXI, 1 sq.: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”891 The parallelism apparent in this verse allows us to conclude that “covered” is used in the sense of “remitted” and that “he to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin” is identical with the man “in whose spirit there is no guile.” The text manifestly refers to a real forgiveness of sins, for any sin that God “covers” and ceases to “impute,” must be blotted out and swept away, because “all things are naked and open to the eyes” of the omniscient Creator.892

Another favorite text of the Lutheran theologians is Rom. VII, 17: “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”893 This passage clearly refers to concupiscence, which remains in the sinner after justification, but, according to Rom. VIII, 1 and James I, 14 sq., is not truly and properly sin but merely called “sin”894 by metonymy, “because,” in the words of the Tridentine Council, “it is of sin and inclines to sin.”895

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b) The Fathers of the Church, both Greek and Latin, unanimously teach that justification effects the forgiveness of sins.

St. Justin Martyr says: “By doing penance, all who desire it can obtain mercy from God, and Scripture calls them blessed in saying: ‘Blessed is he to whom God hath not imputed sin,’ which means that he receives forgiveness of his sins from God, not as you, deceiving yourselves, and others like you aver, that God does not impute [their] sin to them, though they are [still] sinners.”896 Clement of Alexandria likens Baptism to “a bath in which sins are washed off.”897 St. Gregory Nazianzen says: “It is called Baptism [βαπτισμός, from βάπτειν, to immerse] because the sin is buried in water, ... and a bath (λουτρόν), because it washes off.”898 St. Augustine indignantly opposes the erroneous opinion of the Pelagians that Baptism does not take away sins but merely “trims them off.” “Who but an unbeliever,” he exclaims, “can affirm this against the Pelagians? We say, therefore, that Baptism gives remission of all sins and takes away crimes, not merely trims them off (radere) in such wise that the roots of all sins may be preserved in an evil flesh, as of hair trimmed on the head, when the sins cut down may grow again.”899 Pope St. Gregory the Great seems almost to have foreseen the heresy of the Protestant Reformers, for he says: “But if there are any who say that in Baptism sins are forgiven [pg 309] as to outward appearance only, what can be more un-Catholic than such preaching?... He who says that sins are not completely forgiven in Baptism might as well say that the Egyptians did not perish in the Red Sea. But if he admits that the Egyptians actually died [in the Red Sea], let him also admit that of necessity sins completely die in Baptism.”900

c) The theological argument may be briefly formulated as follows: We can imagine but two reasons why God should not truly forgive us our sins in the process of justification: inability and unwillingness. To say that He is unable to forgive us our sins would be to assert that the remission of sin involves a metaphysical impossibility. This no Protestant will admit, because all believe that “nothing defiled shall enter into heaven.”901 To assert that God is unwilling to forgive our sins would be to contradict the plain teaching of Scripture, as set forth above. Consequently there is no reason whatever for assuming that God does not truly forgive us our sins in the process of justification. Furthermore, it would be incompatible with His veracity and holiness to assume that He merely declares the sinner to be “free from sin,” without actually cleansing his soul. It would be a contradiction to assert that a man whom the truthful and all-holy God has declared free from sin, remains steeped in iniquity. Cfr. Prov. XVII, 15: “He that justifieth the [pg 310] wicked [i.e. absolves him from his sins], and he that condemneth the just, both are abominable before God.”

According to Revelation the justification of the sinner is not a mere change, with a privation for its terminus a quo902 and an indifferent form for its terminus ad quem, but involves a movement from extreme to extreme, and hence the genesis of the one extreme must coincide with the destruction of the other. Sin, being in contrary opposition to righteousness, must depart when righteousness enters the soul.903


Article 2. The Positive Element Of Justification

1. Heretical Errors and the Church.—Calvin held that justification consists essentially and exclusively in the remission of sins.904 The other “Reformers” maintained that there must also be a positive element in the process, but differed in determining its nature.

a) The ambiguous language employed by Luther and Melanchthon gave rise to many different opinions, which agreed only in one point, that is, in holding, contrary to Catholic teaching, that the positive element of justification is not inward sanctification or inherent righteousness (i.e. sanctifying grace). Probably the view most common among the supporters of the Augsburg Confession was that the sinner, by a “fiduciary apprehension” of God's mercy, as proclaimed [pg 311] in the Gospel, “apprehends” the extrinsic justice of Christ, and with it covers his sins, which are thereupon no longer “imputed” to him. In other words, he is outwardly accounted and declared righteous in the sight of God, though inwardly he remains a sinner. With the exception of sola fides there was probably no shibboleth in the sixteenth century so persistently dinned into the ears of Catholics and Protestants alike as iustitia Christi extra nos.” It is found in the Apologia written in defence of the Augsburg Confession905 and recurs in the Formula of Concord.906 According to the “orthodox” Lutheran view, therefore, justification on its positive side is a purely forensic and outward imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which the sinner seizes with the arm of faith and puts on like a cloak to hide the wounds of his soul.907

b) Against this dismal heresy the Tridentine Council solemnly declared that “Justification ... is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and of the gifts,”908 and anathematized all those [pg 312] who say that “men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost and is inherent in them, or even that the grace whereby we are justified is only the favor of God.”909

In thus defining the doctrine of the Church, the Council did not, however, mean to deny that the sinner is in a true sense “justified by the justice of Christ,”—in so far namely, as our Lord has merited for us the grace of justification. He merely wished to emphasize the fact that a sinner is not formaliter justified by the imputation of Christ's justice. For the sake of greater clearness the various “causes” of justification are enumerated as follows: “Of this justification the causes are these: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting; while the efficient cause is a merciful God, who washes and sanctifies gratuitously; ... but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who ... merited justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the Cross; ... the instrumental cause is the Sacrament of Baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified; lastly, the sole formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed are renewed [pg 313] in the spirit of our mind, and are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just.”910

So important did the distinction between the causa meritoria and the causa formalis of justification appear to the Fathers of Trent, that they made it the subject of a separate canon, to wit: “If anyone saith that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.”911 Justification in the Catholic sense, therefore, is not a mere outward imputation of the justice of Christ, but a true inward renewal and sanctification wrought by a grace intrinsically inhering in the soul. This grace theologians call the “grace of justification.”

2. Refutation of the Lutheran Theory of Imputation.—Nothing is so foreign to both the spirit and the letter of Holy Scripture as the idea that justification merely covers a man's sins with a cloak of justice and leaves him unsanctified within.

Justification is described in the Bible not only as a remission of sins,912 but likewise as the beginning [pg 314] of a new life,913 a renewal of the spirit,914 a new creation,915 a regeneration,916 a supernatural likeness of God,917 etc. All these similes point to a permanent state of sanctity in the soul of the just.

α) The Lutheran theory of imputation can be most effectively refuted by an analysis of the Scriptural term “regeneration” (regeneratio, ἀναγέννησις, παλιγγενεσία). “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost,” says our Divine Lord, “he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”918 This spiritual rebirth wipes out sin and inwardly sanctifies the soul. The regenerate sinner receives a new and godlike nature. That this nature can be conceived in no other way than as a state of sanctity and justice appears clearly from Tit. III, 5 sqq.: “Not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost, whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour: that, being justified by His grace, we may be heirs, according to the hope of life everlasting.”919 Both text and context show that the Apostle is here speaking of the justification of adult sinners in Baptism, which he describes as a “laver of regeneration and renovation” [pg 315] resulting in an “outpouring of the Holy Ghost.” These phrases plainly denote a positive quality of the soul as well as a permanent interior grace. Regeneration consists in the remission of sin through Baptism, and also, more particularly, in man being made like God, i.e. becoming a child of God,920 while “renovation” means “putting off the old man”921 and “putting on the new.”922 The “outpouring of the Holy Ghost” effected by Baptism is not, of course, an outpouring of the Hypostasis of the Third Person of the Trinity, but of created grace, which re-forms the sinner and makes him just.923 This justifying grace must not be conceived as an actual grace, much less as a series of actual graces, for it is not given us merely as an aid in the performance of some particular act, but as a new nature. Regeneration and renovation denote a state of being, as we can plainly see in the case of baptized infants. It is for this reason that the Apostle speaks of it as a lasting state;—that which theologians call the status gratiae sanctificantis.924

Closely akin to the notion of “regeneration” is that of “re-creation.” Justification renews the sinner inwardly and makes of him, so to speak, a new creature, which has sloughed off sin and become just and holy in the sight of God. Cfr. 2 Cor. V, 17: “If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new.”925 This is all the more true since re-creation effects an “incorporation of man [pg 316] with Christ,” and is closely connected with “regeneration of God.” Cfr. James I, 18: “For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creature.”926 A comparison with Gal. VI, 15 and Gal. V, 6 fully establishes it as a Biblical truth that in the process of justification the sinner, through faith informed by charity, is changed into a new creature. “For in Christ Jesus,” says St. Paul, “neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”927 And again: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity.”928 In both these texts the Jewish rite of circumcision is rejected as useless and contrasted with justification, which by means of the fides formata gives birth to a “new creature.” This is incompatible with the Protestant notion that a man is justified by being declared righteous in the sight of God, though he remains inwardly unchanged.929

β) The Lutherans vainly appeal to the fact that Holy Scripture employs the word “justify”930 for the purpose of declaring a man to be just in a purely forensic sense, as in Is. V, 23: “Who justify the wicked for gifts.” This proves nothing against the Catholic doctrine, which is based entirely [pg 317] on texts that exclude the judicial meaning of the term and plainly refer to inward sanctification.931

The word “justification” also occurs in two other meanings in the Bible. Ps. CXVIII, 8 and 26 it stands in the plural for the “law”: “I will keep thy justifications;”932 and “Teach me thy justifications.”933 Apoc. XXII, 11 and in a few other passages it signifies “growth” in interior holiness, which theologians call iustificatio secunda.934

The Lutherans are equally unfortunate in maintaining that St. Paul countenances their theory when he speaks of “putting on Christ.” Cfr. Gal. III, 27: “For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.”935 The Apostle in employing this simile does not mean to say that justification consists in putting on an outward cloak of grace to cover sins which inwardly endure, but precisely the contrary, viz.: that the sinner by being justified is inwardly cleansed from sin and becomes a new creature and a child of God. This interpretation is supported by various parallel texts936 and by the staple of St. Paul's teaching.

Another passage which the Lutherans cite in their favor is 1 Cor. I, 30: “... who [Christ Jesus] of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption.”937 Christ is made unto us justice [pg 318] and sanctification, in what sense? Manifestly in the same sense in which He is made unto us wisdom of God, that is to say, in so far as He imparts to us wisdom, which thereupon becomes our own, but not in the sense that the wisdom of Christ is outwardly imputed to us. Note that St. Paul in this and many other passages of his Epistles merely wishes to emphasize the gratuity of the Redemption and of grace to the exclusion of all natural merit on the part of man.938

b) As regards the teaching of the Fathers, the “Reformers” themselves admitted that it was against them.939

We read in the Epistle of Barnabas, which was probably composed about A. D. 100:940 “Since then He made us new by the remission of sins, he made us another type, that we should have the soul of children, as though He were creating us afresh.”

The reason why St. Paul calls Baptism the “laver of regeneration” rather than the laver of forgiveness, is explained by St. John Chrysostom941 as follows: “Because it [Baptism] not only remits our sins and wipes out our misdeeds, but accomplishes all this in such a way as if we [pg 319] were born anew;942 for it entirely re-creates and re-forms us.”943

St. Ambrose regards innocence as the positive element of justification: “After this [i.e. Baptism] you received a white robe, to indicate that you stripped off the vesture of sin and put on the chaste garments of innocence.”944

Harnack claims that St. Augustine first stemmed the current dogmatic tradition and reshaped it by going back to St. Paul. Bellarmine945 refuted this audacious assertion long before it was rehashed by the German rationalist. The Council of Trent was so thoroughly imbued with the teaching of Augustine that its decrees and canons on justification read as though they were lifted bodily from his writings. The great “Doctor of Grace” flatly contradicts the Protestant theory of imputation in such utterances as these: “He [St. Paul] does not say, ‘the righteousness of man,’ ... but ‘the righteousness of God,’—meaning not that whereby He is Himself righteous, but that with which He endows man when He justifies the ungodly.... The righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ, that is, by the faith wherewith one believes in Christ. For here is not meant the faith with which Christ Himself believes, just as there was not meant the righteousness whereby God is Himself righteous. Both no doubt are ours; but yet they are called [in one case] God's, and [in the other] Christ's, because it is by their bounty that these [pg 320] gifts are bestowed upon man.”946 Again: “When righteousness is given to us, it is not called our own righteousness, but God's, because it becomes ours only so that we have it from God.”947 Again: “The grace of God is called the righteousness of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, not that by which the Lord is just, but that by which He justifies those whom from unrighteous He makes righteous.”948 Again: “The love of God is said to be shed abroad in our hearts, not because He loves us, but because He makes us lovers of Himself; just as the righteousness of God is used in the sense of our being made righteous by His gift.”949 According to St. Augustine, therefore, justification culminates in a true sanctification of the soul. “When he [St. Paul] says: ‘We are transformed into the same image,’ he assuredly means to speak of the image of God; and by calling it ‘the same,’ he means that very image which we see in the glass,... and that we pass from a form that is obscure to a form that is bright,... and this [human] nature, being the most excellent among things created, is changed from a form that is defaced into a form that is beautiful, when it is justified by its Creator from ungodliness.”950

[pg 321]

The Augustinian passages which we have quoted (and they are not by any means all that could be quoted) enumerate the distinguishing marks of sanctifying grace in so far as it is the formal cause of justification.951

c) The argument from Revelation can be reinforced by certain philosophical considerations which show the absurdity of the imputation theory from the standpoint of common sense.

A man outwardly justified but inwardly a sinner would be a moral monster, and Almighty God would be guilty of an intrinsic contradiction were He to regard and treat such a one as just. This contradiction is not removed but rather intensified by the Lutheran appeal to the extraneous justice of Christ.952

The incongruity of the Lutheran doctrine of justification becomes fully apparent from the consequences which it involves, to wit: (1) all Christians without distinction would possess exactly the same degree of sanctity and justice; (2) justification once obtained by fiduciary faith could not be lost except by the sin of unbelief; and (3) children would not be justified by Baptism because they are not sufficiently advanced in the use of reason to enable them to “apprehend” the external righteousness of Christ. The first of these inferences [pg 322] runs counter to common sense and experience. The second, which Luther clothed in the shameful exhortation, Pecca fortiter et crede fortius et nihil nocebunt centum homicidia et mille stupra,”953 is repugnant to the teaching of Scripture and destructive of morality.954 The third consistently led to the rejection of infant baptism by the Anabaptists, the Mennonites, and other Protestant sects.

3. Sanctifying Grace the Sole Formal Cause of Justification.—In declaring that “inherent grace” is the “sole formal cause of justification,” the Council of Trent955 defined it as an article of faith that sanctifying grace of itself is able to produce all the formal effects of justification, e.g. forgiveness of sins, the sanctification of the sinner, his adoption by God, etc.,956 and consequently requires no supplementary or contributory causes. In other words, justification is wholly and fully accomplished by the infusion of sanctifying grace.

a) It appears from the discussions preceding its sixth session that the Tridentine Council not only meant to condemn the heretical contention of Butzer that “inherent grace” must be supplemented by the “imputed justice of Christ” as the really essential factor of justification,957 but also wished to reject the view of divers contemporary Catholic theologians958 that “intrinsic righteousness” [pg 323] is inadequate to effect justification without a special favor Dei externus.959 In this the Fathers of the Council were on Scriptural ground. The principal effects of justification,—forgiveness of sins and internal sanctification,—are both produced by sanctifying grace. Sacred Scripture is perfectly clear on this point. It represents sin as opposed to grace in the same way in which darkness is opposed to light,960 life to death,961 the new man to the old.962 The one necessarily excludes the other. Sanctifying grace and sin cannot co-exist in the same subject.

Internal sanctification may be defined as a permanent, vital union with God, by which the soul becomes righteous and holy in His sight and obtains a claim to Heaven. That this is also a function of sanctifying grace appears from those Scriptural texts which treat of the positive element of justification.963 With this doctrine Tradition is in perfect accord, and consequently the Fathers of Trent were right in teaching as they did, in fact they could not have taught otherwise.964

b) While all Catholic theologians admit the incompatibility of grace and sin in the same subject, they differ as to the kind and degree of opposition existing between the two. Some hold that this opposition is purely moral, others that it is physical, again others that it is metaphysical.

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α) Nominalists965 and Scotists966 before the Tridentine decision maintained that the distinction between sanctifying grace and (original or mortal) sin is based on a free decree of the Almighty, and therefore purely moral. God, they held, by a favor externus superadditus, externally supplies what sanctifying grace internally lacks, just as a government's stamp raises the value of a coin beyond the intrinsic worth of the bullion. Followed to its legitimate conclusions, this shallow theory means that sanctifying grace is of itself insufficient to wipe out sin, and that, but for the superadded divine favor, grace and sin might co-exist in the soul. This is tantamount to saying that justification requires a twofold formal cause, viz.: sanctifying grace and a favor Dei superadditus,—which runs counter to the teaching of Trent. Henno tries to escape this objection by explaining that the favor Dei acceptans appertains not to the formal but merely to the efficient cause of justification. But this contention is manifestly untenable. Sanctifying grace is either able to wipe out sin, or it is unable: if it is unable to produce this effect, the favor Dei acceptans must be part of the causa formalis of justification, and then, in Henno's hypothesis, we should have a duplex causa formalis, which contradicts the Tridentine decree. If, on the other hand, sanctifying grace is able to wipe out sin without any favor superadditus, then the Scotistic theory has no raison d'être.

β) From what we have said it follows that there must be at least a physical contrariety between grace and sin. The difference between physical and metaphysical opposition may be illustrated by the example of fire and water. These two elements are incompatible by a [pg 325] law of nature. But as there is no metaphysical contradiction between them, Almighty God could conceivably bring them together. It is this physical kind of opposition that Suarez and a few of his followers assume to exist between grace and sin. Absolutely speaking, they say, there is no intrinsic contradiction in the assumption that God could preserve the physical entity of sanctifying grace in a soul guilty of mortal sin.967 In so far as this school admits the existence of an internal opposition, which actually prevents original or mortal sin from ever co-existing in the soul with justifying grace, its teaching may be said to be acceptable to all Catholic theologians. The Scotistic view, on account of its incompatibility with the teaching of the Tridentine Council, is no longer held.

It may be questioned, however, whether Suarez goes far enough in this matter, and whether the opposition between grace and sin could really be overcome by a miracle. The simultaneous co-existence of grace and sin seems to involve an absolute, i.e. metaphysical, contradiction.

γ) This is what the Thomists maintain with the majority of Jesuit theologians.968 As some subtle objections have been raised against this view, it cannot be accepted as theologically certain; but it undoubtedly corresponds better than its opposite to the spirit and letter of Scripture. The Bible, as we have already pointed out, likens the opposition existing between grace and sin to that between life and death,969 justice and injustice, [pg 326] Christ and Belial, God and an idol.970 But these are contradictories, ergo.971 The same conclusion can be reached by arguing from the character of sanctifying grace as a participatio divinae naturae.972 If grace is a participation in the divine nature, it must be opposed to sin in the same way in which God Himself is opposed to it. Now God as the All-Holy One is metaphysically opposed to sin; consequently, the same kind of opposition must exist between sanctifying grace and sin.

It is alleged against this teaching that between habitual grace and habitual sin there is merely a disparate opposition, i.e. that of a physical to a moral form, the concepts of which are not mutually exclusive. But sanctifying grace is more than a physical ornament of the soul; it is an ethical form which has for its essential function to render the soul holy and righteous in the sight of God.973

Readings:—St. Thomas, Summa Theol., 1a 2ae, qu. 113, and the commentators, especially Billuart, De Gratia, diss. 7, art. 1 sqq.; *Bellarmine, De Iustificatione, l. II (Opera Omnia, ed. Fèvre, Vol. VI, pp. 208 sqq., Paris 1873).

Besides the current text-books cfr. *Jos. Wieser, S. Pauli Apostoli Doctrina de Iustificatione, Trent 1874; H. Th. Simar, Die Theologie des hl. Paulus, 2nd ed., §33 sqq. Freiburg 1883.

On the Protestant notion of justification cfr. Möhler, Symbolik, [pg 327] §10 sqq., Mainz 1890 (Robertson's translation, pp. 82 sqq., 5th ed., London 1906); Realenzyklopädie für prot. Theologie, Vol. XVI, 3rd ed., pp. 482 sqq., Leipzig 1905 (summarized in English in the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. VI, pp. 275 sqq., New York 1910); Card. Newman, Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification, 8th impression, London 1900; J. Mausbach, Catholic Moral Teaching and its Antagonists, New York 1914, pp. 150 sqq.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp. 246 sqq., 464 sq., 470 sqq.

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Section 2. Justifying Or Sanctifying Grace

Sanctifying grace is defined by Deharbe as “an unmerited, supernatural gift, imparted to the soul by the Holy Ghost, by which we are made just, children of God, and heirs of Heaven.” As it makes sinners just, sanctifying grace is also called justifying, though this appellation can not be applied to the sanctification of our first parents in Paradise or to that of the angels and the sinless soul of Christ. Justification, as we have shown, consists in the infusion of sanctifying grace, and hence it is important that we obtain a correct idea of the latter. We will therefore consider (1) The Nature of Sanctifying Grace, (2) Its Effects in the Soul, and (3) Its Supernatural Concomitants.

Article 1. The Nature Of Sanctifying Grace

1. Sanctifying Grace a Permanent Quality of the Soul.—Having no intuitive knowledge of sanctifying grace, we are obliged, in order [pg 329] to obtain an idea of its true nature, to study its effects, as made known to us by Revelation. Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church do, however, enable us to form certain well-defined conclusions, of which the most important is that sanctifying grace must be conceived as a permanent quality (qualitas permanens) of the soul. If it is a permanent quality, sanctifying grace cannot be identical with actual grace or with “uncreated grace,” i.e. the Person of the Holy Ghost.

a) In conformity with such Biblical expressions as “the new life,” “renovation of the spirit,” “regeneration,” “divine sonship,” etc., the Council of Trent defines justifying grace as a supernatural something “infused” into and “inherent” in the soul. Both ideas denote a permanent state, not a mere transient act or the result of such acts. “The charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein.”974 “That justice which is called ours, because we are justified from its being inherent in us, that same is (the justice of God) because it is infused into us by God, through the merit of Christ.”975 “If any one saith that men are justified ... to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost and is inherent in them,... let him be anathema.”976 Hence Justification is defined by [pg 330] the Fathers of Trent as “a translation ... to the state of grace and adoption of the sons of God.”977

Before the Tridentine Council a number of theologians held that sanctifying grace consists in some particular actual grace or in a consecutive series of actual graces. This view is incompatible with the definition just quoted; in fact Suarez, Bellarmine, Ripalda, and others regard it as positively heretical or at least intolerably rash. During the preliminary debates at Trent some of the Fathers asked for an express declaration of the Council to the effect that justification is wrought by the instrumentality of an infused habit; but their request was set aside on the ground that the nature of justifying grace as a stable habit is sufficiently indicated by the word inhaeret.”978

That sanctifying grace is a permanent state of the soul may also be inferred from the Catholic teaching that the grace which Baptism imparts to children does not differ essentially from that which it imparts to adults. True, this teaching was not always regarded as certain;979 but [pg 331] at the Ecumenical Council of Vienne, A. D. 1311, Pope Clement V declared it to be “the more probable opinion,”980 and it was rendered absolutely certain by the Tridentine decision that infant Baptism results not only in the remission of sins, but likewise in an infusion of sanctifying grace. This being so, there can be no essential difference between the justification of children and that of adults. Now it cannot be actual grace which renders children righteous in the sight of God, for they are unable to avail themselves of actual grace on account of the undeveloped state of their intellect. The grace that Baptism imparts to them is consequently a gratia inhaerens et informans, that is, a permanent state of grace; and it must be the same in adults.981

Peter Lombard982 identified sanctifying grace with the gratia increata, i.e. the Person of the Holy Ghost. This notion was combatted by St. Thomas983 and implicitly rejected by the Tridentine Council when it declared that sanctifying grace inheres in the soul and may be increased by good works.984 To say that the Holy Ghost is poured forth in the hearts of men, or that He may be [pg 332] increased by good works, would evidently savor of Pantheism. The Holy Ghost pours forth sanctifying grace and is consequently not the formal but the efficient cause of justification.985

b) The gratia inhaerens permanens is not a mere relation or denominatio extrinseca, but a positive entity productive of real effects,986 and must consequently be conceived either as a substance or as an accident. We have shown that it is not identical with the uncreated substance of the Holy Ghost. Neither can it be a created substance. The idea of an intrinsically supernatural created substance involves a contradiction.987 Moreover, sanctifying grace in its nature and purpose is not an entity independently co-existing with the soul but something physically inherent in it. Now, a thing which has its existence by inhering in some other thing is in philosophic parlance an “accident.” St. Thomas expressly teaches that, “since it transcends human nature, grace cannot be a substance nor a substantial form, but is an accidental form of the soul itself.”988 Agreeable to this conception is the further Thomistic teaching that sanctifying grace is not directly created by God, but drawn (educta) from the potentia obedientialis of the soul.989 Not even the Scotists, though they held grace to be created out of nothing990 claimed that it was a new substance.

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An accident that inheres in a substance permanently and physically is called a quality (qualitas, ποιότης). Consequently, sanctifying grace must be defined as a supernatural quality of the soul. This is the express teaching of the Roman Catechism: “Grace ... is a divine quality inherent in the soul, and, as it were, a certain splendor and light that effaces all the stains of our souls and renders the souls themselves brighter and more beautiful.”991

2. Sanctifying Grace an Infused Habit.—Sanctifying grace may more specifically, though with a lesser degree of certainty, be described as a habit (habitus). Being entitatively supernatural, this habit must be infused or “drawn out” by the Holy Ghost.

a) Aristotle992 distinguishes four different sets of qualities: (1) habit and disposition; (2) power and incapacity; (3) passio (the power of causing sensations) and patibilis qualitas (result of the modification of sense); (4) figure and circumscribing form (of extended bodies). As sanctifying grace manifestly cannot come under one of the three last-mentioned heads, it must be either a habit or a disposition. Habit denotes a permanent and comparatively stable quality, by which a substance, considered as to its nature or operation, is well or ill adapted to its natural end.993 As a permanently inhering quality, sanctifying [pg 334] grace must be a habit. Hence its other name, “habitual grace.” The Scholastics draw a distinction between entitative and operative habits. An operative habit (habitus operativus) gives not only the power (potentia) to act, but also a certain facility, and may be either good, bad, or indifferent. An entitative habit (habitus entitativus) is an inherent quality by which a substance is rendered permanently good or bad, e.g. beauty, ugliness, health, disease.

Philosophy knows only operative habits. But sanctifying grace affects the very substance of the soul. Hence the supplementary theological category of entitative habits. “Grace,” says St. Thomas, “belongs to the first species of quality, though it cannot properly be called a habit, because it is not immediately ordained to action, but to a kind of spiritual being, which it produces in the soul.”994 There is another reason why grace cannot be called a habit in the philosophical sense of the term:—it supplies no acquired facility to act. This consideration led Suarez to abstain altogether from the use of the term “habit” in connection with grace,995 and induced Cardinal Bellarmine to describe sanctifying grace as a qualitas per modum habitus,996 by which phrase he wished to indicate that it imparts a supernatural perfection of being rather [pg 335] than a facility to act. To obviate these and similar subtleties the Council of Trent defined sanctifying grace simply as a permanent quality.

Nevertheless scientific theology employs the term habitus because it has no other philosophical category ready to hand. This defect in the Aristotelian system is somewhat surprising in view of the fact that besides the supernatural, there are distinctly natural qualities which “belong to the first species,” though they impart no facility to act but merely a disposition to certain modes of being, e.g. beauty, health, etc.

There is also a positive reason which justifies the definition of sanctifying grace as a habit. It is that grace imparts to the soul, if not the facility, at least the power to perform supernaturally meritorious acts, so that it is really more than a habitus entitativus, namely, a habitus (at least remotely) operativus.997

b) The Scholastic distinction between native and acquired habits does not apply in the supernatural domain, because the supernatural by its very definition can never be either a part or an acquisition of mere nature.998 It follows from this that supernatural habits, both entitative and operative, can be imparted to the human soul in no other way than by infusion (or excitation) from above. Hence the name habitus infusus. When the Holy Ghost infuses sanctifying grace, the habitus entitativus imparts to the soul a supernatural principle of being, while the habitus operativus confers upon it a supernatural power, which by faithful coöperation with (actual) grace may be [pg 336] developed into a facility to perform salutary acts. Hence, if we adopt the division of habits into entitative and operative, sanctifying grace must be defined first as an entitative habit (habitus entitativus), because it forms the groundwork of permanent righteousness, sanctity, divine sonship, etc.; and, secondly, as an infused habit, because it is not born in the soul and cannot be acquired by practice. This view is in accord with Sacred Scripture, which describes the grace of justification as a divine seed abiding in man,999 a treasure carried in earthen vessels,1000 a regeneration by which the soul becomes the abode of God1001 and a temple of the Holy Ghost.1002

3. The Controversy Regarding the Alleged Identity of Sanctifying Grace and Charity.—As justifying grace and theological love (charity) are both infused habits, the question arises as to their objective identity. The answer will depend on the solution of the problem, just treated, whether sanctifying grace is primarily an entitative or an operative habit. Of theological love we know that it is essentially an operative habit, being one, and indeed the chief [pg 337] of the “three theological virtues.” What we have said in the preceding paragraph will enable the reader to perceive, at the outset, that there is a real distinction between grace and charity, and that consequently the two can not be identical.

a) Nevertheless there is an imposing school of theologians who maintain the identity of grace with charity. They are Scotus1003 and his followers,1004 Cardinal Bellarmine,1005 Molina, Lessius, Salmeron, Vasquez, Sardagna, Tournely, and others. Their principal argument is that Holy Scripture ascribes active justification indiscriminately to theological love and sanctifying grace, and that some of the Fathers follow this example. Here are a few of the Scriptural texts quoted in favor of this opinion. Luke VII, 47: “Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much.”1006 1 Pet. IV, 8: “Charity covereth a multitude of sins.”1007 1 John IV, 7: “Every one that loveth is born of God.”1008 St. Augustine seems to identify the two habits in such passages as the following: “Inchoate love, therefore, is inchoate righteousness; ... great love is great righteousness; [pg 338] perfect love is perfect righteousness.”1009 According to the Tridentine Council, “the justification of the impious” takes place when “the charity of God is poured forth ... in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein.”1010 It is argued that, if charity and grace produce the same effects, they must be identical as causes, and there can be at most a virtual distinction between them. This argument is strengthened by the observation that sanctifying grace and theological love constitute the supernatural life of the soul and the loss of either entails spiritual death.

These arguments prove that grace and charity are inseparable, but nothing more. All the Scriptural and Patristic passages cited can be explained without recourse to the hypothesis that they are identical. Charity is not superfluous alongside of sanctifying grace, because the primary object of grace is to impart supernatural being, whereas charity confers a special faculty which enables the intellect and the will to elicit supernatural salutary acts.

b) The majority of Catholic theologians1011 hold with St. Thomas1012 and his school that grace and charity, while inseparable, are really distinct, sanctifying grace as a habitus entitativus imparting [pg 339] to the soul a supernatural being, whereas charity, being purely a habitus operativus, confers a supernatural power.

Let us put the matter somewhat differently. Grace inheres in the substance of the soul, while charity has its seat in one of its several faculties. Inhering in the very substance of the soul, grace, by a physical or moral power, produces the three theological virtues—faith, hope, and love. “As the soul's powers, which are the wellsprings of its acts, flow from its essence,” says the Angelic Doctor, “so the theological virtues flow from grace into the faculties of the soul and move them to act.”1013 And St. Augustine: “Grace precedes charity.”1014

This is a more plausible view than the one we have examined a little farther up, and it can claim the authority of Scripture, which, though it occasionally identifies the effects of grace and charity, always clearly distinguishes the underlying habits. Cfr. 2 Cor. XIII, 13: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the charity of God.”1015 1 Tim. I 14: “The grace of our Lord hath abounded exceedingly with faith and love.”1016 Furthermore, “regeneration” and “new-creation” in Biblical usage affect not only the faculties of the soul, but its [pg 340] substance. Finally, many councils consistently distinguish between gratia and caritas (dona, virtutes)—a distinction which has almost the force of a proof that grace and charity are not the same thing.1017 These councils cannot have had in mind a purely virtual distinction, because theological love presupposes sanctifying grace in exactly the same manner as a faculty presupposes a substance or nature in which it exists. The Roman Catechism expressly designates the theological virtues as “concomitants of grace.”1018

The question nevertheless remains an open one, as neither party can fully establish its claim, and the Church has never rendered an official decision either one way or the other.1019

4. Sanctifying Grace a Participation of the Soul in the Divine Nature.—The highest and at the same time the most profound conception of sanctifying grace is that it is a real, though of course only accidental and analogical, participation of the soul in the nature of God. That sanctifying grace makes us “partakers of [pg 341] the divine nature” is of faith, but the manner in which it effects this participation admits of different explanations.

a) The fact itself can be proved from Sacred Scripture. Cfr. 2 Pet. I, 4: “By whom [Christ] He [the Father] hath given us great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature.”1020 To this text may be added all those which affirm the regeneration of the soul in God, because regeneration, being a new birth, must needs impart to the regenerate the nature of his spiritual progenitor. Cfr. John I, 13: “Who are born, not of blood, ... but of God.”1021 John III, 5: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”1022 St. James I, 18: “For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth.”1023 1 John III, 9: “Whosoever is born of God, committeth no sin.”1024

The Fathers of the Church again and again extol the deification (deificatio, θείωσις) of man effected by sanctifying grace and compare the union of the soul with God to the commingling of water with wine, the penetration of iron by fire, etc. St. Athanasius1025 begins his [pg 342] Christological teaching with the declaration: “He was not, therefore, first man and then God, but first God and then man, in order that He might rather deify us.”1026 St. Augustine describes the process of deification as follows: “He justifies who is just of Himself, not from another; and He deifies who is God of Himself, not by participation in another. But He who justifies also deifies, because He makes [men] sons of God through justification.... We have been made sons of God and gods; but this is a grace of the adopting [God], not the nature of the progenitor. The Son of God alone is God; ... the others who are made gods are made gods by His grace; they are not born of His substance, so as to become that which He is, but in order that they may come to Him by favor and become co-heirs with Christ.”1027 The idea underlying this passage has found its way into the liturgy of the Mass,1028 and Ripalda is justified in declaring that it cannot be denied without rashness.1029

b) In trying to explain in what manner grace enables us to partake of the divine nature, it [pg 343] is well to keep in view the absolutely supernatural character of sanctifying grace and the impossibility of any deification of the creature in the strict sense of the term. The truth lies between these two extremes.

A few medieval mystics1030 and modern Quietists1031 were guilty of exaggeration when they taught that grace transforms the human soul into the substance of the Godhead, thus completely merging the creature in its Creator. This contention1032 leads to Pantheism. How can the soul be merged in the Creator, since it continues to be subject to concupiscence? “We have therefore,” says St. Augustine, “even now begun to be like Him, as we have the first-fruits of the Spirit; but yet even now we are unlike Him, by reason of the old nature which leaves its remains in us. In as far, then, as we are like Him, in so far are we, by the regenerating Spirit, sons of God; but in as far as we are unlike Him, in so far are we the children of the flesh and of this world.”1033

On the other hand it would be underestimating the power of grace to say that it effects a merely external and moral participation of the soul in the divine nature, similar to that by which those who embraced the faith of [pg 344] Abraham were called “children of Abraham,” and those who commit heinous crimes are called “sons of the devil.” According to the Fathers1034 and theologians, to “partake of the divine nature” means to become internally and physically like God and to receive from Him truly divine gifts, i.e. such as are proper to God alone and absolutely transcend the order of nature.1035 Being self-existing, absolutely independent, and infinite, God cannot, of course, be regarded as the formal cause of created sanctity; yet the strictly supernatural gifts which He confers on His creatures, especially the beatific vision and sanctifying grace, can be conceived only per modum causae formalis (not informantis), because through them God gives Himself to the creature in such an intimate way that the creature is raised up to and transfigured by Him.1036 Consequently, the so-called deificatio of the soul by grace is not a real deification, but an assimilation of the creature to God.1037

c) Which one of God's numerous attributes forms the basis of the supernatural communication made to the soul in the bestowal of grace, is a question on which theologians differ widely. The so-called incommunicable attributes, (self-existence, immensity, eternity, etc.), of course, [pg 345] cannot be imparted to the creature except by way of a hypostatic union.1038

Gonet1039 misses the point at issue, therefore, when He declares the essential characteristic of deification to be the communication to the creature of the divine attributes of self-existence and infinity. Self-existence is absolutely incommunicable.1040 Somewhat more plausible, though hardly acceptable, is Ripalda's opinion that deification formally consists in the participation of the creature in the holiness of the Creator, particularly in the supernatural vital communion of the soul with God in faith, hope, and charity, thus making sanctifying grace the radix totius honestatis moralis.1041 While it is perfectly true that the supernatural life of the soul is a life in and through God, and that the very concept of sanctifying grace involves a peculiar and special relation of the soul to God, the Biblical term κοινωνία θείας φύσεως points to a still deeper principle of the sanctifying vita deiformis. This principle, as some of the Fathers intimate, and St. Thomas expressly teaches,1042 is the absolute intellectuality of God. Hence the object of sanctifying grace is to impart to the soul in a supernatural manner such a degree of intellectuality as is necessary to perceive the absolute Spirit—here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and in the life beyond by the lumen gloriae.1043 This view is to a [pg 346] certain extent confirmed by Sacred Scripture, which describes the regeneration of the sinner as a birth of spirit from spirit.1044 It is also held by some of the Fathers, who attribute to sanctifying grace both a deifying and a spiritualizing power. Thus St. Basil1045 says: “The spirit-bearing souls, illuminated by the Holy Ghost, themselves become spiritual1046 and radiate grace to others. Hence ... to become like unto God,1047 is the highest of all goals: to become God.”1048 Finally, since the Holy Ghost, as the highest exponent of the spirituality of the divine nature, by His personal indwelling crowns and consummates both the regeneration of the soul and its assimilation to God, there is a strong theological probability in favor of Suarez's view. Of course the process does not attain its climax until the creature is finally admitted to the beatific vision in Heaven. Cfr. 1 John III, 2: “We are now the sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is.”1049

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Article 2. The Effects Of Sanctifying Grace

We shall better understand the nature of sanctifying grace by studying what are known as its “formal effects.” As the causa efficiens of a thing is commonly farther removed from our mental grasp than its effects, we are ordinarily more familiar with the latter than with the former. For this reason the glories of divine grace can be best explained to children and to the faithful in general by describing the effects it produces in the soul.1050

1. Sanctity.—The first among the formal effects of sanctifying grace (an effect connoted by its very name) is sanctity. Eph. IV, 24: “Put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.”1051 The Tridentine Council explicitly mentions sanctity as an effect of sanctifying grace: “Justification ... is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and of the gifts whereby man from unjust becomes [pg 348] just.”1052 It follows that the two elements of active justification, viz.: remission of sin and sanctification, are also constitutive elements of habitual or sanctifying grace. For it is precisely by the infusion of sanctifying grace that sin is wiped out and sanctity established in its place.1053

a) By sanctifying grace the justified man becomes a living member (membrum vivum) of the mystical body of Christ. His sins, it is true, did not forfeit membership in the Church, so long as he preserved the faith, but by sinning he became a dead member who can regain life only by returning to the state of grace. Grace is the life of the soul, sin its death. Hence the evil of mortal sin can be most effectively illustrated by contrast with the glory of divine grace, and vice versa. Cfr. Gal. II, 20: “And I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me.”1054

b) He who hates mortal sin and faithfully obeys the will of God, enjoys peace of heart,1055 whereas the sinner is incessantly harassed by qualms of conscience. The faithful Christian rejoices in serving His Master and combats the flesh, the world, and the devil with a fortitude that not infrequently rises to heroic proportions, as the example of many holy men and women proves.

c) Sanctifying grace entails a particular providence, inasmuch as, by means of it, God grants man His special [pg 349] assistance towards preserving the state of grace, without, of course, interfering with free-will. Cfr. Is. XLIX, 16: “Behold, I have graven thee in my hands.”1056 Rom. VIII, 28: “... to them that love God, all things work together unto good.”1057 Mediately, God also proves his special love for the just man by shielding him from bodily and spiritual danger.

2. Supernatural Beauty.—Though we can quote no formal ecclesiastical definition to prove that sanctifying grace beautifies the soul, the fact is sufficiently certain from Revelation. If, as is quite generally held by Catholic exegetes, the Spouse of the Canticle typifies the human soul endowed with sanctifying grace, all the passages describing the beauty of that Spouse must be applicable to the souls of those whom Christ embraces with His tender love. The Fathers of the Church frequently extol the supernatural beauty of the soul in the state of grace. Ambrose calls it “a splendid painting made by God Himself;” Chrysostom compares it to “a statue of gold;” Cyril, to “a divine seal;” Basil, to “a shining light,” and so forth. St. Thomas says: “Divine grace beautifies [the soul] like light,”1058 and the Roman Catechism declares: “Grace ... is a certain splendor and light that effaces all the stains of our souls and renders the [pg 350] souls themselves brighter and more beautiful.”1059

In defining beauty as “the representation of an idea in a sensual form,” modern aesthetics has eliminated the spiritual element and in consequence is unable to appreciate the spiritual beauty of God and of the soul. Being composed of body and soul, man is naturally most impressed by beauty when it appears in a material guise. But this does not prove that there is no spiritual beauty, or that true beauty abides solely in matter. Some present-day writers strongly emphasize the need of realism as against an idealism which, they claim, is not truly human because it exalts the spiritual at the expense of the material. In its last conclusions this perverted realism harks back to the sophistry of Protagoras who held that “man is the measure of all things.”1060 Idealism, on the other hand, is based on the true Platonic doctrine that God is the measure of all things.1061 St. Augustine defines beauty as “unity in variety,” which is a correct definition, because it is adaptable to both the spiritual and the material order.1062 Applying this definition we find that the soul is not only naturally beautiful by the substantial unity and simplicity which shines forth in the variety of its faculties and powers, but also supernaturally by virtue of sanctifying grace, which transfuses nature into a new unity with the supernatural,—at the same time producing a variety of theological and moral virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and thus [pg 351] creating a true work of art. Moreover, by enabling man to participate in the Divine Nature,1063 grace produces in the soul a physical reflection of the uncreated beauty of God, a likeness of the creature with its Creator, which far transcends the natural likeness imprinted by creation. True, only God and the Elect in Heaven perceive and enjoy this celestial beauty; but we terrestrial pilgrims can, as it were, sense it from afar and indulge the hope that we may one day be privileged to contemplate and enjoy the divine beauty that envelops the souls endowed with grace.

The beauty produced by sanctifying grace must be conceived not merely as a reflection of the absolute nature of God, who is the pattern-exemplar of all beauty, but more specifically as an image of the Trinity impressed upon the soul. St. Paul teaches that the soul is transformed into an image of the Divine Logos, to whom, as the holy Fathers tell us, beauty is appropriated in an especial manner.1064 Cfr. Rom. VIII, 29: “Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son.”1065 Gal. IV, 19: “My little children, of whom I am in labor again, until Christ be formed in you.”1066 In virtue of the adoptive sonship effected by grace,1067 the soul becomes a true “temple of the Holy Ghost.”1068

3. The Friendship of God.—Closely connected with the beauty which sanctifying grace [pg 352] confers, is the supernatural friendship it establishes between God and the soul. True beauty elicits love and benevolence. By nature man is merely a servant of God; in fact, since the fall, he is His enemy. Sanctifying grace transforms this hostile relation into genuine friendship. By grace, says the Council of Trent, “man of unjust becomes just, and of an enemy a friend.”1069 And again: “Having been thus justified and made the friends and domestics of God.”1070 God loves the just man as His intimate friend and enables and impels him, by means of habitual grace and habitual charity, to reciprocate that love with all his heart. Here we have the two constituent elements of friendship. The Bible frequently speaks of friendship existing between God and the just. Cfr. Wisd. VII, 14: “They [the just] become the friends of God.”1071 John XV, 14 sq.: “I will not now call you servants, ... but I have called you friends.”1072 This friendship is sometimes compared to a mystic marriage. Cfr. Matth. IX, 15: “And Jesus said to them: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?”1073 Apoc. XIX, 7: [pg 353] “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath prepared herself.”1074

a) Friendship (φιλία), according to Aristotle,1075 is “the conscious love of benevolence of two persons for each other.” Hence, to constitute friendship, there must be (1) two or more distinct persons; (2) pure love of benevolence (amor benevolentiae, not concupiscentiae), because only unselfish love can truly unite hearts; (3) mutual consciousness of affection, because without a consciousness of the existing relation on both sides there would be merely one-sided benevolence, not friendship. It follows that true friendship is based on virtue and that a relation not based on virtue can be called friendship in a qualified or metaphorical sense only (amicitia utilis, delectabilis).

From what we have said it is easy to deduce the essential characteristics of true friendship. They are: (1) benevolence; (2) love consciously entertained by both parties; (3) a mutual exchange of goods or community of life; (4) equality of rank or station. The first condition is based on the fact that a true friend will not seek his own interest, but that of his friend. It is to be noted, however, that one's joy at the presence or prosperity of a friend must not be inspired by selfishness or sensual desire, for in that case there would be no true friendship.1076 The second condition is based on the necessity of friendship [pg 354] being mutual love, for friendship is not a one-sided affection, nor does it spend itself in mutual admiration. The third condition is necessary for the reason that love, if it is to be more than “Platonic,” must result in acts of benevolence and good will.1077 Of the fourth condition St. Jerome says: “Friendship finds men equal or makes them equal.”1078

b) All these conditions are found in the friendship with which Almighty God deigns to honor those who are in the state of sanctifying grace.

(1) That God loves the just man with a love of pure benevolence and eagerly seeks his companionship, is proved by the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Holy Eucharist. Cfr. Prov. VIII, 31: “And my delight [is] to be with the children of men.”1079

(2) The just man is enabled to return God's love by the habit of theological charity, which is inseparably bound up with and spontaneously flows from sanctifying grace.1080 God's consciousness of this mutual love is, of course, based on certain knowledge, whereas man can have merely a probable conjecture. This, however, suffices to establish a true friendship, as the example of human friends shows.1081

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(3) There is also community of life and property between God and man when the latter is in the state of sanctifying grace; for not only is he indebted to God for his very nature and all natural favors which he enjoys, but likewise and especially for the supernatural blessings bestowed upon him.1082 On his own part, it is true, he cannot give his Benefactor anything in return which that Benefactor does not already possess; but the just man is ever eager to further God's external glorification, agreeable to the first petition of the Our Father: “Hallowed by Thy name.”1083 God has furthermore given him a kind of substitute for operative charity in the love of his neighbor, which has precisely the same formal object as the love of God. Cfr. 1 John III, 17: “He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?”1084

(4) There can be no real equality between God and the human soul, but God in His infinite goodness, elevating the soul to a higher plane and allowing it to participate in His own nature,1085 makes possible an amicitia excellentiae s. eminentiae, which is sufficient to constitute a true relation of friendship. Without this elevation of the soul by grace there could be no friendship between God and man.1086

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4. Adoptive Sonship.—The formal effects of sanctifying grace culminate in the elevation of man to the rank of an adopted child of God (filius Dei adoptivus), with a claim to the paternal inheritance, i.e. the beatific vision in Heaven. This truth is so clearly stated in Scripture and Tradition that its denial would be heretical. The Tridentine Council summarily describes justification as “the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God,”1087 The teaching of Holy Scripture can be gathered from such texts as the following. Rom. VIII, 15 sqq.: “... 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; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ.”1088 1 John III, 1 sq.: “Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God.... Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God.”1089 Gal. IV, 5: “... that we might receive the adoption of sons.”1090 That the just become the adopted [pg 357] sons of God follows likewise as a corollary from the doctrine of regeneration so frequently taught by Scripture. This regeneration is not a procession of the soul from the divine essence, but a kind of accidental and analogical procreation substantially identical with adoption (filiatio adoptiva, υἱοθεσία). Cfr. John I, 12 sq.: “... He gave them power to be made the sons of God, ... who are born ... of God.”1091

a) St. Thomas defines adoption as “the gratuitous acceptance of a child of other parents to be the same as one's own child and heir.”1092 Adoption implies (1) that the adopted child be a stranger to the adopting father; (2) that it have no legal claim to adoption; (3) that it give its consent to being adopted; (4) that it be received by the adopting father with parental love and affection. All these elements are present, in a far higher and more perfect form, in the adoption of a soul by God.

(1) The rational creature, as such, is not a “son” but merely a “servant of God,”1093 and, if he be in the state of mortal sin, His enemy.

(2) That adoption is a gratuitous favor on the part of the Almighty, follows from the fact that the adopted creature is His enemy and that grace is a free supernatural gift, to which no creature has a natural claim. Adoption furthermore implies the right of inheritance.1094 [pg 358] The heritage of the children of God is a purely spiritual possession which can be enjoyed simultaneously by many, and consequently excels every natural heritage. Men, as a rule, do not distribute their property during life, while, after their death, it is usually divided up among several heirs.1095

(3) Whereas adoption among men owes its existence to the desire of offspring on the part of childless parents, the adoption of the soul by God springs from pure benevolence and unselfish love, and for this reason presupposes (in the case of adults) the free consent of the adopted. No one can become an adopted son of God against his will.1096

(4) Whereas human adoption supposes substantial equality between father and child, and therefore at best amounts to no more than a legal acceptance, adoption by God elevates the soul to a higher level by allowing it to participate in the Divine Nature, and consequently is a true (even though merely an accidental and analogical) regeneration in God.

b) From what we have said it follows—and this is a truth of considerable speculative importance—that there are essential points of difference as well as of resemblance between Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, and the justified sinner adopted by the Heavenly Father.

α) The difference between the “natural Son of God” and an “adopted son” is exactly like that between God and creature. The Logos-Son, engendered by eternal generation from the divine substance, is the true natural Son of the Father, the Second Person of the Divine Trinity, and Himself God.1097 The just man, on the [pg 359] other hand, is a child of God merely by the possession of sanctifying grace,1098 which can be lost by mortal sin and consequently is founded upon a free relation that may be terminated by man as freely as it was entered into between himself and God.

Intimately related to this distinction is another:—Christ is the Son of the Father alone, the just man is an adopted child of the whole Trinity.1099 This fact does not, however, prevent us from “appropriating” adoptive sonship to each of the three Divine Persons according to His peculiar hypostatic character:—the Father as its author, the Son as its pattern, and the Holy Ghost as its conveyor.1100 Now, if Christ, as the true Son of God, is the efficient cause (causa efficiens) of that adoptive sonship of which, as God, He is also the pattern-exemplar (causa exemplaris), it follows that He cannot be an adopted son of God. Christus est incapax adoptionis,” as Suarez puts it.1101 To say that He is both the natural and an adopted Son of God would be heretical.1102 Consequently, sanctifying grace, in Him, did not exercise one of the functions it invariably exercises in the souls of men, i.e. it did not make Him an adopted son of God.

β) It is to be noted, however, that the unique position enjoyed by our Lord gives rise, not only to essential distinctions but also to an equal number of analogies between the Only-begotten Son of God and His adopted [pg 360] sons. The first and most fundamental of these analogies is the attribution of the common appellation “son of God” both to Christ and to the just. Though Christ is the only true Son of God, the Heavenly Father has nevertheless charitably “bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be, the sons of God.”1103 According to John I, 13, Christ “gave power to be made the sons of God” to them “who are born ... of God.” Hence divine sonship formally consists in an impression of the hypostatic likeness of the Only-begotten Son of God, by which the soul in a mysterious manner becomes an image of the Trinity, and especially of the Only-begotten Son of God, who is the archetype and pattern-exemplar of adoptive sonship. This hypostatic propriety and exemplariness was the reason why the Second Person of the Trinity became man.1104 That the soul of the justified is transformed into “an image of the Son of God” is expressly taught by the Greek Fathers. Thus St. Cyril of Alexandria says: “Christ is truly formed in us, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost impresses on us a certain divine likeness by means of sanctity and justice.... But if any one is formed in Christ, he is formed into a child of God.”1105

These considerations also explain the points of resemblance between the adoptive sonship of God and the Holy Eucharist. Being our Father by adoption, God is bound to provide us with food worthy of a divine progenitor. The food He gives us (the Holy Eucharist) corresponds to our dignity as His children, sustains us in this sublime relation, and at the same time constitutes the pledge of a glorious resurrection and an eternal beatitude.

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c) Is the adoptive sonship of the children of God constituted entirely by sanctifying grace, or does it require for its full development the personal indwelling in the soul of the Holy Ghost?1106 This subtle question formed the subject of an interesting controversy between Joseph Scheeben and Theodore Granderath, S. J. Father Granderath claimed on the authority of the Tridentine Council that divine sonship is an inseparable function of sanctifying grace, and through that grace alone, without the inhabitatio Spiritus Sancti, constitutes the unica causa formalis of justification. Against this theory Dr. Scheeben maintained with great acumen and, we think, successfully, that sanctifying grace of itself alone, without the aid of any other factor, not only completely justifies the sinner but raises him to the rank of an adopted son of God, though there is nothing to prevent us from holding that the indwelling of the Holy Ghost forms the climax of the process, and develops and perfects the already existing filiatio adoptiva.1107

Petavius had contended1108 that the just men of the Old Testament, though in the state of sanctifying grace, were not adopted children of God, because the filiatio adoptiva is an exclusive privilege of those living under the Christian Dispensation. This theory became untenable when the Tridentine Council defined sanctity and adoptive sonship as inseparable formal effects of sanctifying grace. There can no longer be any doubt, therefore, that the patriarchs, together with sanctifying grace also enjoyed [pg 362] the privilege of adoptive sonship, though, as Suarez observes,1109 adoptive sonship under the Old Covenant depended both as to origin and value upon the adoptive sonship of the New Testament, and therefore was inferior to it in both respects.1110

Readings:—Scheeben, Lehrbuch der Dogmatik, Vol. II, § 168 sqq., Freiburg 1878.—J. Kirschkamp, Gnade und Glorie in ihrem inneren Zusammenhang, Würzburg 1878.—P. Hagg, Die Reichtümer der göttlichen Gnade und die Schwere ihres Verlustes, Ratisbon 1889.—Card. Katschthaler, De Gratia Sanctificante, 3rd ed., Salzburg 1886.—P. Einig, De Gratia Divina, Part II, Treves 1896.—Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, pp. 575 sqq., Mainz 1897.—Scheeben, Die Herrlichkeiten der göttlichen Gnade, 8th ed., by A. M. Weiss, O. P., Freiburg 1908 (English translation, The Glories of Divine Grace, 3rd ed., New York s. a.).—Th. Bourges, O. P., L'Ordre Surnaturel et le Devoir Chrétien, Paris 1901.—*B. Terrien, La Grâce et la Gloire ou la Filiation Adoptive des Enfants de Dieu Etudiée dans sa Réalité, ses Principes, son Perfectionnement et son Couronnement Final, 2 vols., Paris 1897.—*P. Villada, De Effectibus Formalibus Gratiae Habitualis, Valladolid 1899.—L. Hubert, De Gratia Sanctificante, Paris 1902.

Article 3. The Supernatural Concomitants Of Sanctifying Grace

Besides producing the effects described in the preceding Article, sanctifying grace also confers certain supernatural privileges, which, though not [pg 363] of the essence of grace, are, in the present economy at least, inseparably connected with it and may therefore be regarded as its regular concomitants.

The existence of these privileges is established by the fact that certain councils (e.g. those of Vienne and Trent), couple “grace and gifts” in their official definitions.1111 The doctrine is clearly stated by the Roman Catechism as follows: “To this [sanctifying grace] is added a most noble accompaniment of all virtues, which are divinely infused into the soul together with grace.”1112

We will treat of the supernatural concomitants of sanctifying grace in four theses.

Thesis I: The three divine virtues of faith, hope, and charity are infused into the soul simultaneously with sanctifying grace.

Some theologians (notably Suarez, Ripalda, and De Lugo) declare this thesis to be de fide, while others (Dom. Soto, Melchior Cano, and Vasquez) hold it merely as certain. Under the circumstances it will be safest to take middle ground by characterizing it as fidei proxima.

Proof. The Council of Trent teaches: “Man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the [pg 364] remission of sins, all these [gifts] infused at once—faith, hope, and charity.”1113

a) That theological charity, as a habit, is infused together with sanctifying grace can be convincingly demonstrated from Holy Scripture. Cfr. Rom. V, 5: “... the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.”1114 In connection with charity, Holy Scripture frequently mentions faith. Cfr. 1 Cor. XIII, 2: “And if I should have ... all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”1115 All three of the theological virtues are expressly enumerated in 1 Cor. XIII, 13: “And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.”1116 Unlike certain other texts, the one last quoted leaves no doubt that faith, [pg 365] hope, and charity are to be conceived as dona inhaerentia, i.e. habits or qualities inherent in the soul. This interpretation is approved by the Fathers and Scholastics.

b) St. Thomas proves the necessity of the three theological virtues for salvation as follows: “In order that we be properly moved towards our end [God], that end must be both known and desired. Desire of an end includes two things: first, hope of attaining it, because no prudent man will aspire to that which he cannot attain; and secondly, love, because nothing is desired that is not loved. And hence there are three theological virtues,—faith, by which we know God; hope, by which we trust to obtain Him; and charity, by which we love Him.”1117

When are the three theological virtues infused into the soul? This is an open question so far as faith and hope are concerned. Of charity we know that it is always infused with habitual grace. Suarez contends that, when the soul is properly disposed, faith and hope are infused before justification proper, that is to say, in the process leading up to it. St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure, on the other hand, hold that faith and hope, like charity, are infused at the moment when justification actually takes place in the soul. This last-mentioned opinion is favored by the Tridentine Council.1118

Mortal sin first destroys sanctifying grace together with the habit of charity that is inseparable from it. Faith [pg 366] and hope may continue to exist in the soul, and if hope, too, departs, faith may remain alone. But the loss of faith invariably entails the destruction of hope and charity.

Thesis II: Together with sanctifying grace there are also infused the supernatural moral virtues.

This proposition may be characterized as sententia communior et probabilior. Though denied by some theologians, it can claim a high degree of probability.1119

Proof. The infused moral virtues (virtutes morales infusae) differ from the theological virtues in that they have for their immediate formal object, not God Himself, but the creature in its relation to the moral law.

The moral virtues may be reduced to four, viz.: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. These are called the “cardinal” virtues; first, because they perfect the principal faculties of the soul; secondly, because all the other virtues may be scientifically deduced from them.1120 In the supernatural order the infusion of the cardinal virtues and of the other virtues subordinate to them has for its object the government of intellect and will in their relation towards created things and the guidance of these faculties to their supernatural end.

a) The existence of supernaturally infused [pg 367] moral virtues is intimated in Wis. VIII, 7: “And if a man love justice: her labors have great virtues; for she teacheth temperance, and prudence, and justice, and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life.”1121 The teacher of the three cardinal virtues here mentioned is “Divine Wisdom,” i.e. God Himself, and we may assume that He inculcates them by the same method which He employs in infusing the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity.

Another relevant text is Ezechiel XI, 19 sq.: “... and I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my commandments, and keep my judgments.”1122 Here Yahweh promises to give the just men of the New Covenant a “heart of flesh” as opposed to the “stony heart” of the Jews. The meaning evidently is that a disposition to do good will be a characteristic of the New Testament Christians in contradistinction to the hardhearted [pg 368] Old Testament Jews. He who has a “heart of flesh” will walk in God's commandments and keep His judgments. Hence “heart” signifies the sum-total of all those habits which impel and enable a man to lead a good life. Since it is God Himself who gives the “heart of flesh,” i.e. the moral virtues, it follows that they are supernaturally infused.1123

b) Some of the Fathers ascribe the moral virtues directly to divine infusion.

Thus St. Augustine observes that the cardinal virtues “are given to us through the grace of God.”1124 And St. Gregory the Great says that the Holy Ghost does “not desert the hearts of those who are perfect in faith, hope, and charity, and in those other goods without which no man can attain to the heavenly fatherland.”1125 St. Thomas shows the theological reason for this by pointing to the parallel that exists between nature and the supernatural. “Effects,” he says, “must always be proportionate to their causes and principles. Now all virtues, intellectual and moral, which we acquire by our acts, proceed from certain natural principles preëxisting in us.... In lieu of these natural principles God confers on us the theological virtues, by which we are directed to a supernatural end.... Hence there must correspond to these theological virtues, proportionally, other habits caused in us by God, and which bear the same relation to [pg 369] the theological virtues that the moral and intellectual virtues bear to the natural principles of virtue.”1126

Thesis III: The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are also infused with sanctifying grace.

This proposition may be qualified as probabilis.”

Proof. The Church's teaching with regard to the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost is based on Isaias XI, 2 sq.: “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord.” Four of these supernatural gifts (wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge) perfect the intellect in matters pertaining to salvation, while the remaining three (fortitude, godliness, and the fear of the Lord) direct the will to its supernatural end. Are these seven gifts, (or some of them), really distinct from the infused moral virtues? Are they habits or habitual dispositions, or merely transient impulses or inspirations? What are their mutual relations and how can they be divided off from one another? These and similar questions are in dispute among theologians. The prevailing opinion is that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are infused habitual dispositions, [pg 370] realiter distinct from the theological and moral virtues, by which the soul is endowed with a supernatural capacity for receiving the inspirations of the Holy Ghost and a supernatural readiness to obey His impulses in all important matters pertaining to salvation.1127

That the gifts of the Holy Ghost are infused into the soul simultaneously with sanctifying grace, can be demonstrated as follows: Christ, as the mystical head, is the pattern of justification for the members of His spiritual body, who are united to Him by sanctifying grace.1128 Now the Holy Ghost dwelled in Christ with all His gifts as permanent habits.1129 Consequently, these gifts are imparted by infusion to those who receive the grace of justification. This is manifestly the belief of the Church, for she prays in the Veni Sancte Spiritus:

Shed upon thy faithful fold,
By unbounded hope controlled,
Thy seven gifts.1130

Thesis IV: The process of justification reaches its climax in the personal indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul of the just.

This thesis embodies what is technically called a propositio certa.

[pg 371]

Proof. There are two ways in which God may dwell in the soul, either by virtue of His created grace (inhabitatio per dona accidentalia, ἐνοίκησις κατ᾽ ἐνέργειαν) or by virtue of His uncreated substance (inhabitatio substantialis sive personalis, ἐνοίκησις κατ᾽ οὐσίαν). The personal indwelling of the Holy Ghost, therefore, may consist in a twofold grace: gratia creata and gratia increata, of which the former is the groundwork and necessary condition of the latter, while the latter may be described as the climax and consummation of the former.1131 The indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just is taught by Holy Scripture and attested by the Fathers.

a) Holy Scripture draws a clear-cut distinction between the accidental and the substantial indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

α) Our Lord Himself, in addition to the charismata, promised His Apostles the Holy Ghost in Person. John XIV, 16 sq.: “... the Father ... shall give you another Paraclete, that he [pg 372] may abide with you for ever, ... but you shall know him, because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you.”1132 This promise was made to all the faithful. Cfr. Rom. V, 5: “... the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.”1133 Hence the Holy Ghost abides in the just and sets up His throne in their souls. Cfr. Rom. VIII, 11: “And if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”1134 By His indwelling our souls become temples of God. 1 Cor. III, 16 sq.: “Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?... For the temple of God is holy, which you are.”1135 1 Cor. VI, 19: “Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own?”1136

[pg 373]

β) Agreeable to this teaching of Scripture the Fathers, especially those of the East, assert the substantial indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just.

The fact that no one but God can dwell substantially and personally in a creature was cited by the Greek Fathers in their controversies with the Pneumatomachians to prove the divinity of the Holy Ghost. St. Athanasius writes to Serapion:1137 “If we by receiving the Holy Ghost are allowed to participate in the Divine Nature, no one but a fool will assert that the Holy Ghost is not of divine but of human nature. For all those in whom He abides become deified1138 for no other reason. But if He constitutes them gods, there can be no doubt that His nature is divine.” St. Basil comments as follows on Ps. LXXXI, 6 (Ego dixi, dii estis): “But the Spirit that causes the gods to be gods, must be divine, and from God, ... and God.”1139 St. Cyril of Alexandria1140 glowingly describes the soul inhabited by the Holy Ghost as inlaid with gold, transfused by fire, filled with the sweet odor of balsam, and so forth.

The Latin Fathers, with one exception, are less definite on this point. St. Augustine says that the Holy Ghost “is given as a gift of God in such a way that He Himself also gives Himself as being God,”1141 and that “the grace of God is a gift of God, but the greatest gift is the Holy Spirit Himself, who therefore is called a grace.”1142 Again: “... the Holy Spirit is the gift of [pg 374] God, the gift being Himself indeed equal to the giver, and therefore the Holy Ghost also is God, not inferior to the Father and the Son.”1143

b) While theologians are unanimous in accepting the doctrine of the personal indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the just as clearly contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, they differ in explaining the manner in which He dwells in the soul.

α) The great majority hold that the Holy Ghost can not dwell in the soul, as the human soul dwells in the body, per modum informationis, nor yet by a hypostatic union, as godhead and manhood dwell together in the Person of Christ; and that consequently His indwelling is objectively an indwelling of the whole Trinity, which is appropriated to the Third Person merely because the Holy Ghost is “hypostatic holiness” or “personal love.” This view is based on what is called “the fundamental law of the Trinity,” viz.: “In God all things are one except where there is opposition of relation.”1144 Sacred Scripture speaks of the personal indwelling of the Father and the Son as well as of the Holy Ghost. Cfr. John XIV, 23: “If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and will make our abode with him.”1145 St. Athanasius [pg 375] concludes from these words that “the energia of the Trinity is one.... Indeed when the Lord says: I and the Father will come, the Spirit also comes, to dwell in us in precisely the same manner in which the Son dwells in us.”1146 And St. Augustine teaches: “Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is properly the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,—that love by which the whole Trinity dwells in us.”1147 Accordingly, the personal indwelling of the Holy Ghost consists in the state of grace as bearing a special relation to the Third Person of the Trinity; the “higher nature” which sanctifying grace imparts to the soul is not an absolute but a relative form (σχέσις), by which the soul is mysteriously united with the Three Divine Persons and, by appropriation, with the Holy Ghost, thereby becoming a throne and temple of God. It is in this sense that the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul is called the climax of justification.1148

β) Other eminent theologians (Petavius, Passaglia, Schrader, Scheeben, Hurter, et al.) regard the explanation just given as unsatisfactory. They contend that the Fathers, especially those of the East, conceived the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just, not as an indwelling (ἐνοίκησις) of the Trinity, appropriated to the Holy Ghost, but as a union (ἕνωσις) of the Holy Ghost Himself with the soul.1149 This union, they say, is [pg 376] neither physical nor hypostatic, but an altogether unique and inexplicable relation by which the soul is morally, accidentally, and actively united to the person of the Holy Ghost.1150

γ) Unfortunately this exalted and mystic theory cannot be squared with the theological principles underlying the Catholic teaching on the Trinity, especially that portion of it which concerns the appropriations and missions of the three Divine Persons.1151 It is true that sanctifying grace culminates in a communication of the Divine Nature, and that this θείωσις is effected by imprinting upon the soul an image of the divine processes of generation and spiration,—the first by adoptive filiation, the second by an indwelling of the Holy Ghost.1152 In fact all the Trinitarian relations are reflected in the justification of the sinner. Thus regeneration corresponds to the generation of the Logos by the Father; adoptive sonship and the accompanying participation of the soul in the Divine Nature corresponds to our Lord's natural sonship and his consubstantiality with the Father; the indwelling of the Holy Ghost and His union with the soul, on the other hand, corresponds to the divine process of Spiration, inasmuch as it is preëminently a supernatural union of love and effects a sort of mutual inexistence or perichoresis of the soul in the Holy Ghost or the three Divine Persons respectively.1153 Since, however, this union of the [pg 377] soul with the substance of the three Divine Persons in general, and the Holy Ghost in particular, is not a substantial and physical but only an accidental and moral union, the regeneration of the sinner must be conceived as generation in a metaphorical sense only, divine sonship as adoptive sonship, the deification of man as a weak imitation of the divine homoousia, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul as a shadowy analogue of the Divine Perichoresis.1154

Readings:—Deharbe, Die vollkommene Liebe Gottes nach dem hl. Thomas von Aquin, Ratisbon 1856.—Marchant, Die theologischen Tugenden, Ratisbon 1864.—Mazzella, De Virtutibus Infusis, 4th ed., Rome 1894.—G. Lahousse, S. J., De Virtutibus Theologicis, Louvain 1890.—S. Schiffini, S. J., Tractatus de Virtutibus Infusis, Freiburg 1904.—J. Kirschkamp, Der Geist des Katholizismus in der Lehre vom Glauben und von der Liebe, Paderborn 1894.—C. Weiss, S. Thomae Aquinatis de Septem Donis Spiritus Sancti Doctrina Proposita et Explicata, Vienna 1895.

On the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just see A. Scholz, De Inhabitatione Spiritus Sancti, Würzburg 1856.—*Franzelin, De Deo Trino, pp. 625 sqq., Rome 1881.—Oberdörffer, De Inhabitatione Spiritus Sancti in Animabus Iustorum, Tournai 1890.—* B. Froget, O. P., De l'Inhabitation du S. Esprit dans les Âmes Justes d'après la Doctrine de S. Thomas d'Aquin, Paris 1901.—De Bellevue, L'Oeuvre du S. Esprit ou la Sanctification des Âmes, Paris 1901.

On the historic development of the dogma see Schwane, Dogmengeschichte, 2nd ed., Vol. II, § 56-75, Freiburg 1895.

[pg 378]

Section 3. The Properties Of Sanctifying Grace

By a property (proprium, ἴδιον) we understand a quality which, though not part of the essence of a thing, necessarily flows from that essence by some sort of causation and is consequently found in all individuals of the same species.1155 A property, as such, is opposed to an accident (accidens, συμβεβηκός), which is neither part of, nor necessarily attached to, the essence, but may or may not be present in the individual. Thus the ability to laugh is a property of human nature, whereas the color of the skin is an accident.

How do the properties of grace differ from its formal effects, and from its supernatural concomitants? The formal effects of grace, as we have seen, are the elements constituting its nature, the properties are determinations necessarily flowing from that nature, while the supernatural concomitants are free gifts superadded by God.

According to the Protestant theory, justification is absolutely certain, equal in all men, and incapable of being lost. The Catholic Church, on the contrary, teaches that justification [pg 379] is (1) uncertain, (2) unequal, and (3) amissible. We will explain this teaching in three theses.

Thesis I: No man knows with certainty of faith whether he is justified or not.

This proposition is de fide.

Proof. The Tridentine Council rejected the “fiduciary faith”1156 of Luther as “an empty heretical confidence,”1157 and in three distinct canons denied the properties attributed to faith by the early Protestant dogmaticians.1158

a) Holy Scripture again and again warns us that we can never be sure of our salvation. St. Paul, though himself “a vessel of election,” freely admits: “I am not conscious to myself of any thing, yet I am not hereby justified; but he that judgeth me is the Lord,”1159 and declares: “I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.”1160 He exhorts the faithful to work out their salvation “with fear and trembling.”1161

[pg 380]

b) The Fathers also teach the uncertainty of justification in the individual, and attribute it to the fact that, while we know that God pardons penitent sinners, no man can be entirely certain that he has complied with all the conditions necessary for justification.

“Our fate,” says St. Chrysostom, “is uncertain for a number of reasons, one of which is that many of our own works are hidden from us.”1162 St. Jerome, commenting on Eccles. IX, 1 sq.,1163 observes: “In the future they will know all, and all things are manifest to them, that is to say, the knowledge of this matter will precede them when they depart this life, because then the judgment will be pronounced, while now we are still battling, and it is now uncertain whether those who bear adversities, bear them for the love of God, like Job, or because they hate Him, as do many sinners.”1164 Pope St. Gregory the Great said to a noble matron who asked him whether she could be sure of her salvation: “You ask me something which is both useless and difficult [to answer]; difficult, because I am unworthy to receive a revelation; useless, because it is better that you be uncertain with regard to your sins, lest in your last hour you should be unable to repent.”1165

[pg 381]

c) We now proceed to the theological explanation of the dogma embodied in our thesis.

α) The purpose of this dogma is not, as Harnack1166 thinks, “partly to assuage and partly to excite the restlessness that still remains, by means of the sacraments, indulgences, liturgical worship and ecclesiastical encouragement of mystical and monkish practices,” but to prevent undue security and careless assurance. What the Church condemns, in accordance with Sacred Scripture and Tradition, is the certitudo fidei, that vain confidence which leads men to feel certain that they are in the state of grace (inanis fiducia), not the certitudo spei, i.e. humble trust in God's abundant mercy. “As no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments,” says the Tridentine Council, “even so each one, when he regards himself and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.”1167

One needs but to apply to theology the epistemological principles and criteria furnished by philosophy to perceive that the Catholic dogma is as reasonable as the Protestant theory is absurd. The Protestant syllogism: “I know with a certainty of faith that the penitent sinner who does his share, is justified through the grace of Christ; [pg 382] now, I, who am a penitent sinner, know with a certainty of faith that I have done my share; therefore, I know with a certainty of faith that I am justified,” may be formally correct, but the minor premise embodies a material error, because no man knows with a certainty of faith that he has done his share, unless it be specially revealed to him by God. No matter how sure I may feel of my own goodness, I have no certainty of faith, such as that which Mary Magdalen had, or that which was vouchsafed to the penitent thief on the cross, that I am justified. It is one of the approved rules of syllogistic reasoning that “the conclusion must follow the weaker premiss.”1168 Hence, in the above syllogism the certainty cannot be of faith, but human and moral only. We do not mean to deny that God may grant to this or that individual a certainty of faith with regard to his justification; in fact theologians expressly teach that in such a rare and exceptional case the privileged person would be obliged to believe in his own justification, fide divinâ.1169

β) Can any one, without a special revelation, be theologically certain that he is justified? Theological certainty (certitudo theologica) is the result of a syllogism which embodies an article of faith in one of its premises and an obvious truth of reason in the other. Ambrosius Catharinus1170 stands alone among Catholic theologians in holding that there are rare cases in which men do have a theological certainty as to their justification without a private revelation. All other writers deny the [pg 383] possibility: (1) because Scripture and Tradition do not countenance the proposition; (2) because there are no criteria available for such certainty outside of private revelation, and (3) because the Tridentine Council censured the assertion “that they who are truly justified must needs, without any doubt whatever, settle within themselves that they are justified.”1171

γ) For precisely the same reasons no man can be metaphysically certain of his own justification. Hence there remains only moral certainty. Moral certainty admits of varying degrees. The highest degree of moral certainty concerning justification can be had in the case of baptized infants, though, of course, we can never be metaphysically certain even in regard to them, because there is always room for doubt as to the intention of the minister and the validity of the matter and form employed in the administration of the sacrament. In the case of adults, certainty regarding justification varies in proportion to the measure in which it can be ascertained whether one has complied with all the requirements demanded by God. However, certainty may be so great as to exclude all reasonable doubt. St. Paul says: “I am sure that neither death nor life ... shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”1172 And St. Augustine: “What do we know? We know that we have passed from death to life. Whence do we know this? Because we love our brethren. Let no one ask another. Let each question his own heart; if he there finds fraternal charity, let him be sure that he has passed from death to life.”1173 This teaching [pg 384] has led theologians to set up certain criteria by which the faithful may be relieved of unreasonable anxiety and obtain some sort of assurance as to the condition of their souls. Such criteria are: a taste for things spiritual; contempt of earthly pleasures; zeal and perseverance in doing good; love of prayer and pious meditation; patience in suffering and adversity; a fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; frequent reception of the sacraments, etc.1174

Thesis II: Sanctifying grace admits of degrees and therefore can be increased by good works.

Both propositions contained in this thesis are de fide.

Proof. The Protestant contention that the grace of justification is shared in an equal measure by all the justified, was a logical deduction from Luther's false principle that men are justified by faith alone through the external justice of Christ. If this were true, good works would be superfluous, and all Christians would enjoy an equal measure of grace. Luther formally asserted this in his sermon on the nativity of the Blessed Virgin: “All we who are Christians are equally great and holy with the Mother of God.”1175 [pg 385] The Catholic Church rejects this teaching. She holds that justification is an intrinsic process by which the justice and holiness of Christ becomes our own through sanctifying grace, and that consequently sanctifying grace may be present in the soul in a greater or less degree, according to the liberality of God and the disposition of the individual Christian, and those who are in the state of grace may augment it by good works. The Council of Trent formally defines these truths when it says: “[We receive] justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one's proper disposition and coöperation.”1176 And: “[The justified], faith coöperating with good works, increase in that justice which they have received through the grace of Christ, and are still further justified....”1177 The second and more important of these truths is re-iterated and emphasized in the canons of Session VI: “If anyone saith that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification [pg 386] obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof: let him be anathema.”1178

a) The Tridentine Fathers base their teaching on a number of Scriptural texts which either expressly declare or presuppose that grace is capable of being increased in the soul after justification.

Thus we read in Prov. IV, 18: “The path of the just, as a shining light, goeth forwards and increaseth even to perfect day.”1179 Ecclus. XVIII, 22: “Let nothing hinder thee from praying always, and be not afraid to be justified even to death: for the reward of God continueth for ever.”1180 2 Pet. III, 18: “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”1181 2 Cor. IX, 10: “[God] will increase the growth of the fruits of your justice.”1182 Eph. IV, 7: “But to every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the giving of Christ.”1183 Apoc. XXII, 11 sq.: “He that is just, let him be justified still; and he that is holy, let him be sanctified still. Behold, I come [pg 387] quickly, and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works.”1184

Such texts could easily be multiplied.

b) Tradition found definite utterance as early as the fourth century.

When Jovinian attempted to revive the Stoic theory of the absolute equality of all virtues and vices, he met with strenuous opposition on the part of St. Jerome, who wrote a special treatise Contra Iovinianum, in which he said: “Each of us receives grace according to the measure of the grace of Christ (Eph. IV, 7); not as if the measure of Christ were unequal, but so much of His grace is infused into us as we are capable of receiving.”1185 St. Augustine teaches that the just are as unequal as the sinners. “The saints are clad with justice (Job XXIX, 14), some more, some less; and no one on this earth lives without sin, some more, some less: but the best is he who has least.”1186 But, we are told, life as such is not capable of being increased; how then can there be an increase of spiritual life? St. Thomas answers this objection as follows: “The natural life pertains to the substance of man, and therefore can be neither augmented nor diminished; but in the life of grace man participates accidentaliter, and consequently he can possess it in a larger or smaller degree.”1187

[pg 388]

c) From what we have said it is easy to understand the distinction which theologians make between justification as gratia prima and justification as gratia secunda. The latter is merely another term for an increase of grace after justification.

α) Such an increase may be effected either ex opere operantis, that is, by good works, or ex opere operato, through the sacraments, and is called justification (iustificatio, δικαίωσις) partly because Sacred Scripture refers to it by that name1188 and partly because “to become just” (iustum fieri) and “to become more just” (iustiorem fieri) both imply true sanctification.

In this connection the question may be raised whether sanctifying grace is diminished by venial sin. Venial sin does not destroy the state of grace and consequently cannot augment or diminish grace. To assume that it could, would lead to the absurd conclusion that a definite number of venial sins might eventually grow into a mortal sin, or that repeated venial sins gradually diminish grace until finally it disappears. The first-mentioned assumption is impossible because venial differs generically from mortal sin, and a transition from the one to the other would be a μετάβασις εἰς ἄλλο γένος. The second assumption would entail the heretical inference that the state of [pg 389] grace can be lost without mortal sin.1189 No doubt venial sin influences the state of grace unfavorably; but this evil influence must be conceived as indirect—by committing venial sins man weakens his will-power, and temptation eventually grows so strong as to make mortal sin inevitable. “He that contemneth small things, shall fall little by little.”1190

β) If we inquire how sanctifying grace increases in the soul, we find that the process must be conceived as a growing intensity analogous to that of light and heat in the physical order.

Gratia prima, as we have seen in a previous chapter, is a supernatural physical quality.1191 Hence its increase, i.e. gratia secunda, must be an increase of physical quality. Such an increase is called in Scholastic parlance intensio.1192 In what does this process consist? Certain Thomists1193 describe it as a maior radicatio in subiecto, while the majority of theologians hold that it is simply an additio gradus ad gradum. This latter explanation is probably the correct one. Sanctifying grace is either capable of gradual increase, or it is not. If it is, there is no reason why God should deny such an increase under certain conditions. If it is not, Luther would have been right in contending that a newly baptized infant enjoys the same measure of holiness as the Blessed Virgin Mary [pg 390] or the human soul of our Divine Lord. It is impossible to imagine how grace could produce a quantitatively higher holiness by simply striking its roots deeper into the soul.1194

γ) A question of greater practical importance is this: Is the increase of sanctifying grace accompanied by a corresponding increase of the infused virtues, and vice versa.

Every increase or decrease of sanctifying grace must eo ipso entail a corresponding increase or decrease, respectively, of theological charity. Charity is either identical with grace or it is not.1195 If it is, an increase of the one implies an increase of the other; if it is not, the one cannot increase without an increase of the other, because they are inseparable and related to each other as nature to faculty, or root to blossom. Moreover, the degree of heavenly glory enjoyed by a soul will be commensurate with the measure of charity which it possessed at death. Now grace and glory bear a proportional relation to each other. Consequently, grace is augmented as charity increases, and vice versa. The same argument applies to the infused moral virtues.

The case is different, however, with the theological virtues of faith and hope. These may continue to exist in the soul after charity has departed, and hence are not inseparable from sanctifying grace and charity, nor from the moral virtues. This consideration led Suarez to infer that, as the theological virtues of faith and hope may be infused into the soul independently of charity and before [pg 391] justification, they must be susceptible of increase in the course of justification without regard to the existing state of grace and charity.1196 This is true of the sinner. In the justified, as Suarez himself admits, an increase of grace (or charity) probably always entails an increase of faith and hope,1197—a proposition which finds strong support in the decree of Trent which says: “This increase of justification Holy Church begs, when she prays: ‘Give unto us, O Lord, increase of faith, hope, and charity.’ ”1198

δ) A final question forces itself upon the enquiring mind, viz.: Is sanctifying grace capable of an indefinite increase, or is there a limit beyond which it cannot grow? In trying to find an answer to this question we must draw a careful distinction between the absolute and the ordinary power of God.

There is no intrinsic contradiction in the assumption that grace can be indefinitely augmented. True, it can never become actually infinite, as this would involve an absurdity.1199 But if we regard the power of God as He sees fit to exercise it in the present economy (potentia Dei ordinata), we find that it is limited by two sublime ideals of holiness to which neither man nor angel can attain, viz.: the overflowing measure of sanctifying grace in the human soul of our Lord Jesus Christ1200 and the “fulness of grace” granted to His Mother.1201 Though [pg 392] these ideals are beyond our reach, we must not be discouraged, but try to approach them as nearly as possible.1202

Thesis III: Sanctifying grace is lost by mortal sin.

This thesis also embodies an article of faith.

Proof. Calvin asserted that neither justification nor faith can be lost by those who are predestined to salvation, and that the unpredestined are never truly justified. Luther held that justifying grace is lost solely through the sin of infidelity. Against the former the Council of Trent declared: “If anyone saith that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; ... let him be anathema.”1203 Against the latter the same council defined: “If anyone saith that there is no mortal sin but that of infidelity, or that grace once received is not lost by any other sin, however grievous and enormous, save by that of infidelity, let him be anathema.”1204 At the same time, however, the Holy Synod expressly declared that venial sin does not destroy the state [pg 393] of grace: “For although during this mortal life, men, how holy and just soever, at times fall into at least light and daily sins, which are also called venial, they do not therefore cease to be just.”1205

a) This teaching is so obviously in accord with Sacred Scripture that we confine ourselves to quoting three or four passages. Ezechiel says that sanctifying grace may be irretrievably lost: “If the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity according to all the abominations which the wicked man useth to work, shall he live? All his justices which he hath done shall not be remembered; in the prevarication, by which he hath prevaricated, and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them he shall die.”1206 Our Lord Himself admonishes His Apostles: “Watch ye and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.”1207 St. Paul not only warns the faithful in general terms: “He that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall;”1208 but expressly designates certain mortal sins as a bar to Heaven: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, [pg 394] nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God.”1209

b) The teaching of Tradition was brought out clearly in the fight against Jovinian.

That wily heretic claimed the authority of St. John for the assertion that the grace of Baptism can never be lost. The Johannean passage in question reads: “Whosoever is born of God, committeth no sin: for His seed abideth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”1210 St. Jerome in his reply paraphrases the passage as follows: “Therefore I tell you, my little children, whosoever is born of God, committeth no sin, in order that you may not sin and that you may know that you will remain sons of God so long as you refrain from sin.”1211 St. Augustine teaches: “If a man, being regenerate and justified, relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say: ‘I have not received,’ because of his own free choice of evil he has lost the grace of God that he has received.”1212 And St. Gregory the Great:

[pg 395]

“As he who falls away from the faith is an apostate, so he who returns to an evil deed is regarded by Almighty God as an apostate, even though he may seem to retain the faith; for the one without the other can be of no use, because faith availeth nought without [good] works, nor [good] works without faith.”1213 The penitential discipline of the primitive Church furnishes additional proofs for the doctrine under consideration. If grace could be lost in no other way than by unbelief, the Sacrament of Penance would be useless.1214

c) In connection with this subject theologians are wont to discuss the question whether or not the forfeiture of sanctifying grace involves the loss of its supernatural concomitants.

Theological love or charity is substantially identical with sanctifying grace, or at least inseparable from it, and hence both are gained and lost together. This is an article of faith. To lose sanctifying grace, therefore, is to lose theological love. On the other hand, it is equally de fide that theological faith (habitus fidei) is not destroyed by mortal sin;1215 it can be lost only by the sin of unbelief.1216 The same is true, mutatis mutandis, of theological [pg 396] hope. True, the Church has not definitely declared her mind with regard to hope, but it may be set down as her teaching that hope is not lost with grace and charity but survives like faith.1217 The two contrary opposites of hope are desperation and presumption, concerning which theologians commonly hold that the former destroys hope, while the latter probably does not. But even if hope and charity are lost, faith may remain in the soul like a solitary root, from which, under more favorable conditions, new life is apt to spring. As regards the infused moral virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost (and, a fortiori, His personal indwelling in the soul),1218 it is the unanimous teaching that these disappear with sanctifying grace and charity, even though faith and hope survive. The reason is that these virtues and gifts are merely supernatural adjuncts of sanctifying grace and cannot persist without it. Accessorium sequitur principale.1219

[pg 397]

Chapter III. The Fruits Of Justification, Or The Merit Of Good Works

The principal fruit of justification, according to the Tridentine Council,1220 is the meritoriousness of all good works performed in the state of sanctifying grace.

Merit (meritum), as we have explained in the first part of this treatise,1221 is that property of a good work which entitles the doer to a reward (praemium, merces).

Ethics and theology distinguish two kinds of merit: (1) condign merit or merit in the strict sense of the term (meritum adaequatum sive de condigno), and (2) congruous merit or quasi-merit (meritum inadaequatum sive de congruo). Condign merit supposes an equality between service and return. It is measured by commutative justice and confers a strict claim to a reward. Congruous merit, owing to its inadequacy and the lack of strict proportion between service and recompense, confers no such claim except on grounds of equity.1222

[pg 398]

In this treatise we are concerned with merit only in the theological sense of the term, i.e. supernatural merit. We shall consider (1) its Existence,1223 (2) its Requisites,1224 and (3) its Objects.1225

[pg 399]

Section 1. The Existence Of Merit

1. Heretical Errors and the Teaching of the Church.—a) The medieval Beguins and Beghards held that man is able to attain such a perfect state of holiness here below as no longer to require an increase of grace or good works.1226 Luther, holding that justification consists in the covering up of sin and the external imputation of the justice of Christ, consistently though falsely asserted that “the just man sins in every good work,”1227 that “a good work, no matter how well performed, is a venial sin,”1228 and that “every work of the just deserves damnation and is mortally sinful, if it be considered as it really is in the judgment of God.”1229 Calvin rejected good works as “impurities and defilements,”1230 which God covers with the cloak of the merits of Jesus Christ and which He sometimes rewards with temporal blessings but never [pg 400] with eternal life. Modern Protestantism has given up or at least attenuated these harsh doctrines.1231

b) The Church had defined her teaching on this point centuries before the time of the “Reformers.” Thus the Second Council of Orange declared as early as 529: “Good works, when performed, deserve a reward; but grace, which is a free gift, precedes good works and is a necessary condition of them.”1232 The Fourth Lateran Council reiterated this doctrine: “Not only virgins and those who practice continence, but the married also, who please God by having the right faith and performing good works, deserve to obtain eternal happiness.”1233 The Tridentine Council goes into the matter at length in the sixteenth Chapter of its Sixth Session, where we read inter alia: “And for this reason life eternal is to be proposed to those working well unto the end and hoping in God, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Jesus Christ, and as a reward which is according to the promise of God Himself to be faithfully rendered to their good works and merits.”1234

[pg 401]

The same Council formally condemned the Lutheran position as heretical: “If anyone saith that in every good work the just man sins at least venially, or, which is more intolerable still, mortally, and consequently deserves eternal punishments; and that for this cause only he is not damned that God does not impute those works unto salvation; let him be anathema.”1235 The positive teaching of the Church may be gathered from the following condemnation: “If anyone saith that the just ought not, for their good works done in God, to expect and hope for eternal recompense from God through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if so be that they persevere to the end in well-doing and in keeping the commandments; let him be anathema.”1236 The existence of merit in the true and proper sense of the term is specially emphasized as follows: “If anyone saith that ... the justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace...; let him be anathema.”1237 The quietistic errors of Michael de Molinos [pg 402] were condemned by Pope Innocent XI, Nov. 20, 1687.1238

2. The Meritoriousness of Good Works Demonstrated from Scripture and Tradition.—Both Holy Scripture and Tradition employ opus bonum and meritum as reciprocal or correlative terms.

a) In the Old Testament the good deeds of the just are often declared to be meritorious in the sight of God. Cfr. Wisd. V, 16: “But the just shall live for evermore, and their reward is with the Lord.”1239 Ecclus. XVIII, 22: “Be not afraid to be justified even to death, for the reward of God continueth for ever.”1240 The New Testament teaching culminates in the “eight beatitudes,” each of which is accompanied by a special reward. After enumerating them all, with the promises attached to each, our Divine Saviour significantly adds: “Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.”1241

St. Paul, who so strongly insists on the absolute gratuitousness of Christian grace, nevertheless acknowledges the existence of merits to which a reward is due from God. Cfr. Rom. II, 6 sq.: “[God] will render to every man according to his works, to them indeed who according [pg 403] to patience in good work, seek glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life.”1242 2 Tim. IV, 7 sq.: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day, and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming.”1243 1 Cor. III, 8: “Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor.”1244 Col. III, 23 sq.: “Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that you shall receive of the Lord the reward of inheritance.”1245 The most eloquent exponent of the necessity of good works is St. James, who also insists on their meritoriousness: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.”1246 In the Apocalypse Jesus says: “Be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee the crown of life.”1247

b) The teaching of the Fathers is an effective commentary on the Scriptural doctrine just expounded, [pg 404] as may be seen from their homilies reproduced in the Roman Breviary.

St. Ignatius of Antioch says: “Suffer me to be eaten by the beasts, through whom I can attain to God.”1248 St. Irenæus: “Precious should be to us the crown which we gain in battle, ... and the more we obtain it by combat, the more precious it is.”1249 St. Ambrose: “Is it not evident that the reward and punishment of merits endure after death?”1250 St. Augustine: “Eternal life contains the whole reward in the promise of which we rejoice; nor can the reward precede desert, nor be given to a man before he is worthy of it. What can be more unjust than this, and what is more just than God? We should not then demand the reward before we deserve to get it.”1251 And again: “As death is given, so to speak, to reward the merit of sin, so eternal life is given to reward the merit of justice, ... and hence it is also called reward in many Scriptural passages.”1252

c) Theologically the meritoriousness of good works is based on the providence of God. There must be some sort of sanction to enforce the divine laws,—not only the natural law (lex naturae), [pg 405] but, a fortiori, the “law of grace” (lex gratiae), as the supernatural order is so much more important than the natural.

α) By the good works which he performs in the state of sanctifying grace, and with the aid of actual graces (in gratia et ex gratia), man acquires a twofold merit,—he helps to execute the divine plan of governance in regard to his fellow-creatures and assists in furthering the external glory of God, which is the ultimate purpose of creation. For this he is entitled to a double reward, just as the sinner is deserving of a double punishment for the injury he does to his fellowmen and the dishonor he reflects upon his Creator.1253

It is objected against this argument that our supernatural merits, being finite, are in no proportion to the possession and enjoyment of an Infinite Good. This objection vanishes in the light of the following considerations: (1) Sanctifying grace is a kind of deificatio, which raises man above himself to a quasi-divine dignity that colors all his actions.1254 (2) The ability of the justified to perform supernaturally good works is based entirely upon the infinite merits of Jesus Christ.1255 (3) The Infinite Good is possessed by the creature, not in an infinite but in a merely finite manner. Hence there is a due proportion between good works and merit.1256

[pg 406]

One difficulty still remains, viz.: By what title do infants who die in the state of baptismal innocence attain to eternal beatitude, which they have been unable to merit? We answer: The just man has two distinct claims to Heaven, one as a child of God,1257 and another as a laborer in His vineyard. Baptized infants who have not yet arrived at the use of reason, possess only the first claim, while adult Christians who lead a good life enjoy also the titulus mercedis and consequently are entitled to a richer reward. Both claims ultimately rest on the merits of Jesus Christ.1258

β) What we have said is sufficient to disprove the groundless assertion that the Catholic doctrine concerning the meritoriousness of good works derogates from the merits of Christ and fosters “self-righteousness.” Would it not be far more derogatory to the honor of our Saviour to assume that He failed to obtain for those for whom He suffered and died, a limited capacity for gaining merits? Does it in any way impair the dignity of God as the causa prima to assume that He communicates to His creatures a limited causality, by which they are enabled to act as true causae secundae, instead of being mere causae occasionales, as the Occasionalists assert?1259 As regards the other charge, no true Catholic is guilty of “self-righteousness” because he regards his good works [pg 407] as “fruits of justification,” owing purely to grace. The “self-righteousness” of which Luther speaks is incompatible with the virtue of humility. The faithful Christian, according to St. Paul, may safely rejoice over his merits, because the uncertainty of justification and the consciousness that his good works are but limited at best, are a sufficient protection against self-righteousness and presumption.1260

3. Explanation of the Catholic Doctrine.—Though the Tridentine Council merely defined in general terms that all good works performed in the state of sanctifying grace are meritorious,1261 it is theologically certain that the merit due to good works is the merit of condignity.

a) According to Pallavicini1262 the Fathers of Trent without exception were convinced that the merit inherent in good works is a meritum de condigno, based upon divine justice, and they purposely employed the term vere to exclude that quasi-merit which in the technical terminology of the Schools is called meritum de congruo.1263 They refrained from expressly employing the term meritum de condigno, because meritum verum is a plain and adequate term, and for this additional reason that they wished to avoid certain theological controversies [pg 408] regarding the nature of the meritum de condigno and its requisites.1264

b) We need not enter into these controversies to understand that condign merit supposes an equality between service and reward. The proposition can be proved from Sacred Scripture by an indirect argument. The meritum de condigno is based on a strict claim of justice, not on mere equity. Now the Bible leaves no doubt that God meant to make himself a debtor to man in strict justice. Cfr. Heb. VI, 10: “For God is not unjust, that he should forget your work.”1265 2 Tim. IV, 8: “... there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming.”1266 James I, 12: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.”1267 That there must be a condignitas between service and reward is clearly apparent from such texts as these:—Wis. III, 5: “... God hath tried them and found them worthy of himself.”1268 2 Thess. I, 4 sq.: “... in all your persecutions and tribulations, which you endure, for an example [as a token] of the just judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which also you suffer.”1269 Apoc. III, 4: “... they shall walk with me in white, because they are worthy.”1270 Not merely as their benefactor but as the just judge, Christ will say [pg 409] to the elect on judgment day: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat....”1271 Justly therefore is sanctifying grace, as the principium dignificativum operum, called the “seed of God,”1272 because it contains a celestial reward even as an acorn contains the oak. True, St. Thomas, to whom we are indebted for this simile,1273 in another part of the Summa1274 defends the theological axiom: Deus punit circa condignum et remunerat ultra condignum,” but he does not mean to deny the equality between service and reward, but merely to exalt the generosity that prompts God to bestow upon creatures what is due to them more bountifully than they deserve. Cfr. Luke VI, 38: “Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom.”1275

[pg 410]

Section 2. The Requisites Of Merit

As we are dealing with the “fruits of justification,” it becomes necessary to ascertain the requisites or conditions of true merit. There are seven such; four have reference to the meritorious work itself, two to the agent who performs it, and one to God who gives the reward.

1. Requisites of Merit on the Part of the Meritorious Work.—A work, to be meritorious, must be morally good, free, performed with the assistance of actual grace, and inspired by a supernatural motive.

a) As every evil deed implies demerit and is deserving of punishment, so the notion of merit supposes a morally good work (opus honestum).

Cfr. Eph. VI, 8: “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man shall do, the same shall he receive from the Lord.”1276 2 Cor. V, 10: “We must all be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.”1277 There are no morally indifferent works in individuo, i.e. practically; and if there were, they could be neither meritorious nor [pg 411] demeritorious, but would become meritorious in proportion as they are made morally good by means of a “good intention.” It would be absolutely wrong to ascribe merit only to the more perfect works of supererogation (opera supererogatoria), such as the vow of perpetual chastity, excluding all works of mere obligation, such as the faithful observance of the commandments. Being morally good, the works of obligation are also meritorious, because goodness and meritoriousness are correlative terms.1278 Whether the mere omission of an evil act is in itself meritorious, is doubtful.1279 But most theologians are agreed in holding that the external work, as such, adds no merit to the internal act, except in so far as it reacts on the will and sustains and intensifies its operation. This and similar questions properly belong to moral theology.

b) The second requisite of merit is moral liberty (libertas indifferens ad actum), that is to say, freedom from both external and internal compulsion. This has been dogmatically defined against Jansenius.1280

That there can be no merit without liberty is clearly inculcated by Sacred Scripture. Cfr. 1 Cor. IX, 17: “For if I do this willingly, I have a reward.”1281 Matth. XIX, 17: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”1282 [pg 412] “Where there is compulsion,” says St. Jerome, “there is neither a crown nor damnation.”1283 The morality of an act depends entirely on its being an actus humanus. Now no act is truly “human” unless it be freely performed. Consequently, freedom of choice is an indispensable condition of moral goodness and therefore also of merit.

What kind of liberty is necessary to enable the will to acquire merit? Theologians answer by saying that it is libertas contradictionis sive exercitii. If I do a good deed which I am free to do or not to do, I perform a morally good and therefore meritorious work. As regards the libertas specificationis, (that freedom by which a person may act thus or otherwise, e.g. give alms to one applicant in preference to another, or mortify himself in this or that particular manner), there can be no doubt that, whatever the choice made, the action is always good and meritorious. However, theologians have excogitated a hypothetical case in which an action may be physically free without being meritorious. It is when one is compelled to do a certain thing and is free only in so far as he is able to choose between two actions exactly equal in moral worth. This would be the case, for instance, if he had to pay a debt of ten dollars and were left free to pay it either in [pg 413] coin or in currency. The more common opinion is that in a case of this kind there would be a lack of that liberty which is necessary to render an act morally good and therefore meritorious.1284

c) The third requisite of merit is actual grace. Its necessity is evident from the fact that, to be meritorious, an act must be supernatural and consequently cannot be performed without the aid of prevenient and coöperating grace.1285

d) Merit further requires a supernatural motive, for the reason that every good work must be supernatural, both as regards object and circumstances (ex obiecto et circumstantiis), and the end for which it is performed (ex fine). In determining the necessary qualities of this motive, however, theologians differ widely.

α) A considerable number, mostly of the Thomist persuasion, demand the motive of theological charity, and consequently regard the state of charity (caritas habitualis sive status caritatis et gratiae) as essential for the meritoriousness of all good works performed in the state of grace, even if they are performed from some other, truly supernatural though inferior motive, such as obedience, the fear of God, etc. This rigorous school is constrained to raise the question whether every single good work, to be supernaturally meritorious, must proceed from an act of divine charity (toties quoties), or [pg 414] whether the virtual influence of one act is sufficient to endow a series of subsequent acts with meritoriousness. Only a few Thomist theologians1286 defend the first-mentioned theory. The majority1287 hold that the influxus virtualis caritatis is sufficient. This view is vigorously defended by Cardinal Bellarmine, who says: “It is not enough to make a general good intention at the beginning of a year, or month, or day, by which all future actions are referred to God; but it is necessary to refer each particular act to God before it is performed.”1288 The advocates of this theory base their opinion on certain Scriptural and Patristic texts, and especially on St. Thomas, whose teaching they misunderstand.1289

The dogmatic question whether good works can be meritorious without being inspired by supernatural charity, has nothing to do with the moral problem whether there is an obligation to make an act of charity from time to time, except in so far as habitual charity,—i.e. the state of charity, which is always required for merit, nay even for the preservation of sanctifying grace,—cannot be permanently sustained unless renewed from time to time and effectuated by a fresh act of that virtue.1290 St. [pg 415] Alphonsus teaches that every man is obliged to make an act of charity at least once a month, but he is contradicted by other eminent moralists. In practice it is well to insist on frequent acts of charity because such acts not only confirm and preserve the state of grace, but render our good works incomparably more meritorious in the sight of God. Hence, too, the importance of making a “good intention” every morning before beginning the day's work.1291

β) There is a second group of very eminent theologians, including Suarez,1292 Vasquez,1293 De Lugo, and Ballerini, who hold that, to be meritorious, the good works of a just man, who has habitual charity, need only conform to the divine law, no special motive being required. These writers base their teaching on the Tridentine decree which says: “For this is that crown of justice which the Apostle declared was, after his fight and course, laid up for him, to be rendered to him by the Just Judge, and not only to him, but also to all that love His coming. For, whereas Jesus Christ Himself continually infuses His virtue into the said justified,—as the head into the members and the vine into the branches,—and this virtue always precedes, and accompanies, and follows their good works, which without it could not in any wise be pleasing and meritorious before God (can. 2), we must believe that nothing further is wanting to the justified to prevent their being accounted to have, by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life, and to have truly merited eternal life, [pg 416] to be obtained also in its [due] time, if so be, however, that they depart in grace.”1294 This teaching is in harmony with Scripture. The Bible nowhere requires an act of charity to make good works meritorious for Heaven. In the “eight beatitudes”1295 our Lord Himself promises eternal glory for works which are not all works of charity, nor even dictated by charity, either formal or virtual. When He was asked: “Master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?”1296 he did not answer with Bellarmine: “Steep all thy works in the motive of charity,” but declared: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”1297 And when requested to specify, He simply cited the ordinary precepts of the Decalogue.1298 We also know that at the Last Judgment He will receive the elect into the “kingdom of His Father” solely in consideration of the works of mercy they have done.1299

Theological reasoning lends its support to this view. If good works performed without the motive of charity were not supernaturally meritorious, this would be attributable to one of three causes. Either the just would [pg 417] sin by doing good; or good works performed without charity would not be deserving of eternal beatitude; or, finally, there would be no strict equality between service and reward. All three of these suppositions are untenable. The first would lead to Bajanism or Jansenism.1300 The second and third overlook the fact that the requisite proportion (condignitas) between service and reward is furnished by sanctifying grace or habitual charity, which, as deificatio, adoptive sonship, and union with the Holy Ghost, actually supplies that for which the motivum caritatis is demanded.

We might ask the advocates of the more rigorous opinion, whence the act of charity which they demand for every meritorious work, derives its peculiar proportionality or condignitas with the beatific vision. Surely not from itself, because as an act it is merely primus inter pares, without in any essential respect excelling other motives. There is no alternative but to attribute it to that quasi-divine dignity which is imparted to the just man and his works by sanctifying grace.

For these reasons present-day theology regards the second theory as sufficiently well established and the faithful are largely guided by it in practice.1301

2. Requisites of Merit on the Part of the Agent who Merits.—The agent who merits must be a wayfarer and in the state of sanctifying grace.

a) The wayfaring state (status viae) is merely another name for life on earth. Death as the [pg 418] natural, though not essentially necessary limit of life, closes the time of meriting. Nothing is more clearly taught in Holy Scripture than that we must sow in this world if we desire to reap in the next.1302

b) The second requisite is the state of sanctifying grace. Only the just can be “sons of God” and “heirs of heaven.”1303 Cfr. John XV, 4: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me.”1304 Rom. VIII, 17: “And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ.”1305

Does the degree of sanctifying grace existing in the soul exert a decisive influence on the amount of merit due to the good works performed? This question can be easily solved on the theological principle that the supernatural dignity of the soul increases in proportion to its growth in sanctifying grace. Vasquez holds that, other things being equal, one who is holier gains no greater merit by performing a given work than one who is less [pg 419] holy.1306 All other theologians1307 hold with St. Thomas1308 that the meritoriousness of a good deed is larger in proportion to the godlike dignity of the agent, which in turn is measured by the degree of sanctifying grace in the soul. This explains why God, in consideration of the greater holiness of some saints who are especially dear to Him, often deigns through their intercession to grant favors which He refuses to others.1309

3. The Requisites of Merit on the Part of God.—Merit requires but one thing on the part of God, viz.: that He accept the good work in actu secundo as deserving of reward. Since, however, theologians are not agreed on this point, we are dealing merely with a more or less well-founded opinion.

Though the good works of the just derive a special intrinsic value from the godlike dignity of adoptive sonship, and, consequently, in actu primo, are truly meritorious prior to and apart from their acceptance by God, yet human service and divine remuneration are separated by such a wide gulf that, in order to make a good deed meritorious in actu secundo, the divine acceptance and p