A Manual of Catholic Theology, Based on Scheeben's Dogmatik
Joseph Wilhelm, D.D., PHD. And Thomas B. Scannell, D.D.
With a Preface By Cardinal Manning
Volume II --Book VI --GRACE
The subject of this Book is the salvation of mankind as remarks, worked out in each of its members by the saving grace of the Redeemer. The Sixth Session of the Council of Trent on justification, the dissertations of the Fathers on the grace by which we are justified, and the theological treatises on the grace of the Saviour, deal with the same subject-matter. In Book III we have said all that is necessary on the supernatural order and habitual grace; here we are concerned with the actual working of grace unto salvation. The first chapter treats of grace as the principle of regeneration; the second of the order and economy of justification and salvation in man; the third of the order and economy of grace in God's providence. Peter Lombard, 1. ii. dist. 26-29, with Comment, of St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, and Estius; St. Thomas, i, 2, qq. 109-114, with Comment of Sylvius, Gonet, Gotti, Billuart, Suarez, Vasquez, etc.; Kleutgen, Theol. der Vorzeit, vol. ii.; Satolli, De Gratia Christi; Einig, De Gratia.
Scheeben's great work, which we have hitherto mainly followed, was broken off in the middle of the treatise on Grace (book vi.).
CHAPTER I. Grace the Principle of Regeneration
Sect. 217. --Some General Notions.
I. THE primary object of the saving grace of Christ is to restore and to foster in man that life of holiness and justice which was lost through original sin, and thereby to enable him to secure his supernatural end, the beatific vision of God. Whatever was essential to holiness of life in Adam, must be restored to us by this saving grace of Christ, lest His Incarnation be in vain. From our fallen state we must be raised to a new, higher, and godlike life; our will, weakened and impaired in the fall, must be healed and strengthened, and receive back its supernatural rectitude. Unlike the human physician, whose skill consists in enabling the existing principle of life to accomplish its natural functions, Christ, the heavenly physician, infuses into the soul a new principle of a new life; He re- moves sin, heals the wounds inflicted by it, and renovates the interior that is, the spiritual man. "Even when we were dead, (God) hath quickened us together in Christ, by Whose grace you are saved, and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places through Christ Jesus " (Eph. ii. 5-7).
II. The renovation of the "interior man" is not the complete restoration of that state in which God created Adam, but only of a part, viz. supernatural sanctity. Even after the new birth in the "laver of regeneration free will remains bent towards the earth and weakened in its power for good. On this infirmity the grace of Christ acts like wholesome medicine on a convalescent; without restoring health altogether and at once, it prevents relapses and helps the invalid to go through his duties until he reaches hrs final goal. The power of Christ's grace is made perfect in this infirmity (2 Cor. vii. 9), inasmuch as greater power and efficiency are required to save the weak than the strong. This special power comes to the new-born man through his ingrafting on Christ as a member of His spiritual body, partaking of the life of the Head. The new life is given in the Sacrament of Baptism, the strengthening power is communicated, though in various ways, in Confirmation, Extreme Unction, and Holy Eucharist.
III. Scripture attributes to the Holy Ghost the diffusion or distribution of the graces merited by Christ (Rom. v. 5) The sending of the Holy Ghost was promised by Christ as a fruit of His saving work on earth. The third Person of the Trinity is the principle of our supernatural life, not separately, but conjointly with the Father and the Son, since all external works are common to the three Divine Persons ( §107). The distribution of grace is specially attributed to the Holy Ghost because He is the Breath of the Divine Love, which Love is the source of all God's gifts. Again, He is the "vivifying Spirit, proceeding from God," and thus represents a principle which can be communicated to creatures, and act in them as an immanent principle of higher life. He comes to man as a cloud of light (cf. I Cor. x. 2), and as a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting (John iv. 14); as the Spirit of Life in the mystical body of Christ, diffusing, from the Head, new life into each member. As the mother is the principle of the life of the child still growing in her womb --or, to use a better analogy, as the spiritual essence of the human soul influences the vital functions of the vegetative life in the body --so does the indwelling Holy Ghost influence man's spiritual life. As the spiritual essence of the soul supplies its energy to the principle of vegetative life, so the Holy Ghost supplies energy to the principle of man's sanctified life. viz. to his reason and free will.
IV. Dealing with the saving grace of Christ specifically as the source of the new moral life in man, we consider it chiefly as "actual grace;" differing from "habitual grace" as a passing act differs from an habitual" state. This treatment is commonly followed by modern theologians; the Fathers and the Schoolmen, on the contrary, do not emphasize the difference, and frequently speak of habitual and actual grace as of one whole. Controversial reasons account for this discrepancy, which readers of the older theologians should constantly bear in mind.
Sect. 218. --Actual Grace.
I. Actual and habitual grace are the two species of the genus "grace." Both are free gifts of God to man. But whereas habitual grace connotes an enduring state of the soul, actual grace connotes a passing act produced in it by the gratuitous operation of God. In this wider sense, all supernatural acts, the free acts of our will included, are gifts and acts of God, and may be styled actual graces. In a narrower sense, however, actual grace is a gratuitous Divine operation, entirely or partly different from habitual grace, by which God so influences the moral acts of the soul that they come into existence as His own gifts and operations. Actual grace enables and causes the will to perform salutary acts. Technically, it is defined as gratttitum principium proximum agendi, and donum per quod et in quo praestatur nobis ut agamus, that is, the Divine gift by which we are led to act. Habitual grace, indeed, enables us to perform salutary acts, but the actual impulse, the motive power that determines each particular act, is actual grace.
II. Since the introduction of the term "actual" grace to designate all graces other than habitual grace, it has become customary to use the older designations in the same sense. Thus the terms, "operating," "co-operating," "helping," "assisting," "moving," "awakening" graces, all directly and specifically imply certain Divine operations in the soul whereby God furthers its natural activity. Likewise "interior grace" is used for actual grace, as opposed to the external influence of God or other creatures, on the soul. This is a correct theological use of the term. We must, however, bear in mind that the Schoolmen, and especially the Fathers, did not always use these terms as co-extensive with what is now called "actual" grace. With them, oftener than not, the terms serve to describe the working and work of God in the soul as distinct from habitual grace. Thus to the gratia auxilians (helping grace) they ascribe the remission of sins and the regeneration of man, and not unfrequently they speak of it in the same terms as of sanctifying or habitual grace.
III. When the soul receives the touch of helping grace, it answers by moving itself towards the object for which it was bestowed. The reception of the "touch" is a vital act of the soul, which prepares and disposes it to further operation in the order of grace. Theologians say " grace excites (awakens) the act in the soul." These expressions imply (1) that the impression made by grace is a vital act cognition or affection of the soul; (2) that it disposes the soul to exert its own free activity in a given direction. In modern language the grace in question is a God-given vital energy, furthering acts of spiritual life.
IV. The first elements of the "energy" of actual grace are those acts of the intellect which apprehend the object, the motive, and the means of the good deed to be performed by the will. For every voluntary action depends on a judgment of the intellect as to its advisability. The knowledge of the principles, the terms and the consequence which lead to such conclusion, are the illumination of the mind (illustratio mentis), which is the first actual grace. Knowledge, however, only disposes to the good deed with- out administering the necessary energy. The "energetic" disposition is produced by God in the form of affections, feelings, motions of the will, which fecundate its freedom and lead it to act rightly. These sensations of the soul (motus, affectus, sensus cordis) are not originated by the free will; they are not free or voluntary acts, but instinctive workings of the mind or heart, leanings and inclinations preparing the free will for action. They are inspired or awakened (excitati) by God; they touch and impel the will before it determines on its free action, and are thus the true "actual, helping, disposing grace. Even when the will has acted under the impulse of an involuntary inclination, e.g. when it has consented to work out the salvation to which it feels attracted the inclination is, or may be, maintained by God to support and advance the free working of the will. In this case the former liberate sense becomes a deliberate act, without losing the character of actual grace.
V. The process by which God's grace works out the salutary act of the soul may fitly be compared with semen the process of generation. God is, as it were, the father, our soul the mother, of the fruit of life. God's fecundating grace enters the soul, stirs up its natural energy, is received and developed by that same energy, i.e. the free will, until the good deed is brought forth, the common product of grace and free will.
VI. Grace acts on the soul both negatively and positively. Its negative action consists in preventing the evil action of suggestions of the world, the flesh, and the devil from taking effect upon the mind. This gracious protection often implies the strengthening of the soul by positive Divine influence. Positively, grace acts in two ways: (1) it externally proposes to the soul objects the knowledge of which is apt to lead to salutary actions; (2) it internally supplies the necessary spiritual energy for performing such actions. The preaching of the Church, the words and deeds of good men, certain clear manifestations of God's providence, the suggestions of our Guardian Angels, are examples of the first manner; to which, since the sixteenth century, has been applied the technical term of motio moralis that is, motion by suggestion, advice, command, persuasion, or any other means in the power of mere creatures to induce a free will to act. The second, or energizing action, is termed motio physica. It is the tactus cordis, the touch of the heart of the creature by the Creator; it is the touch of the inmost spring of life by the indwelling Author of life. It belongs to God alone, and is as incomprehensible as the action of our mind on the body, which is analogous to it In i Cor. iii. 6, St. Paul compares the factors of spiritual life with those of the growth of a plant: "I have planted, Apollo watered; but God gave the increase." The planting and watering represent the external or moral motion; the life-power or vital energy of the plant is likened to the internal or physical motion.
VII. I. Both of these motions act on the mind in order physical motions to generate knowledge conducive to moral actions. The former, however, only brings the mind in contact with its object; whereas the latter confers the power by which the object is illumined, and actually seized upon by the mind.
2. The moral motion directly touches the intellect only, and acts on the will only through the intellect. The physical motion, on the contrary, embraces both faculties, giving warmth and energy to the affections of the will as well as light to the intellect.
3. The moral motion is more like an instantaneous impulse; it does not accompany the action which it deter- mines. But the physical motion acts continuously, conferring and upholding the working energy until the act is completed. The first "waters" the good deed; the second gives it life.
4. A last and most important difference between the two motions lies in the extent of their efficacy. God can supply the will with an unlimited amount of energy according to His own pleasure; He can thus enable it to perform acts of the highest moral worth; and, what is more, He can determine what each act shall be. I n other words: the moral motion has an uncertain effect; the physical motion has an infallible effect.
VIII. God has not only the power of moving the after the manner of created agents, i.e. from without; He also possesses, in an eminent way, that same power by which the will moves itself. Hence, when He, as the first cause, cooperates with the created free will, His co-operation is "a willing," more powerful than the soul's own. As the strong hand of the rider trains the wild horse to obey all its master's wishes, so the Divine hand, mightily and sweetly, trains the human will to find pleasure in doing His will.
Sect. 219. --Heresies concerning Grace The corresponding dogmas.
I. I. Against the Manichaeans the Church had upheld the principle that sin, inasmuch as it implies guilt, is avoidable. Starting from this, Pelagius and his disciples taught (1) that the notion of sin excludes every necessity which is not a consequence of former sins, and even this necessity was only admitted in a limited sense (St. Augustine, Contra Julianum, op. imp. vi. 19); (2) that the notion of our free will implies the power of avoiding every infraction of the moral law, and the power of fulfilling the moral law perfectly in its entirety. The power of avoiding all evil and doing all good being inherent in man's nature, the children of Adam are born as perfect as their first parent; hence there is no original sin, and consequently no need of redemption. The Church had taught, against the Manichaeans, that there is but one source of both good and evil deeds, viz. our free will, which is of itself indifferent to good or evil, but becomes the principle of good and meritorious actions when energized with Divine grace. The power for good, which the Church attributed to grace, Pelagius attributed to nature. As St. Augustine pointed out, in the Pelagian system God was no more the author of good than of evil, and was as much the author of evil as of good. Internal grace, habitual or actual, found no place in Pelagianism. In fact, the influence of internal grace on free will was declared impossible, as being contrary to the very essence of the latter. Nothing but external action, such as the devil may have in his power, was allowed to God !
Jansenius indicates four stages in the evolution of Pelagianism: (1) Pure heathenism, when no mention is made of grace; (2) semi-heathenism, when nature is called grace; (3) Judaism, when the positive law and doctrine are added as graces; (4) semi-Christianity, when the teaching and example of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the adoption obtained through Baptism, are brought forward as auxiliary graces. From first to last, however, its fundamental tenet is the natural and essential power of free will to do good or evil independently of any help or interference.
Hence, if man's free will is the only principle of good actions, man is able to merit, of himself, whatever reward or favour or grace is promised by God to such actions, e.g. eternal life, the "good will" of the Author of life, the forgiveness of sins, the aid of revealed doctrine and precepts. An exception was made for the regnum calorum, the kingdom of heaven (distinguished from "life eternal"), which was a special reward for the dignity of children of God conferred in baptism. That dignity was considered as a grace completing the meritorious action of the will.
Again, all the aids (= graces) which free will requires or receives in order better to avoid evil and do good, are granted by God on the initiative taken by man: as God punishes evil, so He rewards good, viz. according to every man's personal merit or demerit. There is no favour, no election, no predestination. In short, the creature is emancipated from the Creator in all things moral.
2. Between the years 412 and 418 several African synods examined and condemned the new doctrines of against Pelagius and his disciples. Their decrees were submitted to and approved by the reigning ropes, and consequently they contain the authoritative teaching of the Church. From the various canons we gather the following points:
(a) Through original sin human nature loses its original freedom and power to lead a righteous life (bene et recte vivendi), in the sense of not being able to fulfil the whole moral law. The new birth, new life, and infusion of charity by the Holy Ghost in Baptism are necessary to restore to man his original power of doing good. This power, however, is not an empty possibility like that claimed by Pelagius; it is a new power, a new and nobler faculty to bring forth new and salutary works.
(b) The new-born man still retains his natural weakness, and is subject to internal and external temptations. Hence he constantly requires the assistance of actual Divine grace not to be led into temptation and sin.
(c) Sanctifying grace obtained in baptism, and the actual graces freely bestowed by God or obtained by prayer, as a matter of fact do not enable man to fulfil the law with the perfection possible in the original state. Hence he always remains subject to a sort of necessity of falling into sins or imperfections.
(d) The decrees asserted the necessity of grace for leading a life of righteousness; in other words, the necessity of charity in order to perform acts meritorious of eternal life. They were silent as to the "preparatory acts" of faith and prayer, and thus afforded a pretext for new controversies and the new heresy of Semi-Pelagianism.
(e) Grace was explained as the vivifying and energizing working of the Holy Ghost on the soul, especially on the will, giving man a kind of participation in the Divine nature, and conforming the human will to the Divine, and thus constantly directing it to will and accomplish what is pleasing to God.
(f) Grace is an essential element of the power of performing salutary actions. It gives our will the perfect freedom of the children of God, inasmuch as this freedom consists in the power of doing good. The Pelagian freedom claims the power for evil as well as for good; the true freedom of God and of His children is for good only.
II. 1. Taking a middle course between the Pelagians, who ascribed the whole work of salvation to the powers of human nature, and the Predestinarians, who ascribed it entirely to God alone, the Semi-Pelagians held that the initial or preparatory acts were in the power of man unaided by grace; and further, that these acts merited the subsequent Divine graces. They thus denied the complete gratuity of grace. In the words, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts xvi. 31), they saw a kind of covenant between God and man: " Give Me thy faith, and My salvation shall be thy reward." The faith required was, however, nothing but a pious willingness to believe, a simple beginning of faith; it was the act of the soul weakened by sin calling in the Divine Physician. Catholic
2. St. Augustine and his disciple Prosper took arms against this new error. It was condemned in Indiculus Capitulorum, ascribed of old to Pope Celestine I; the popes Qelasius and Hormisdas; and lastly, by the Second Council of Orange. The canons of this council set forth the doctrine of the Church as follows: Grace is not given simply because we ask for it --it is really the cause of our asking for it; in order to free us from sin, God does not expect an act of our will, but the desire to be freed is wrought in us by the infusion of the Holy Ghost; the beginning of faith, the pious willingness to believe, is not in us naturally, but is itself a gift of grace; to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost are also due the initial acts of believing, willing, desiring, striving, seeking, asking; by the mere forces of nature nothing positively leading up to eternal life can be thought of or chosen without the illumination of the Holy Spirit; not only a few, but all require Divine mercy to come to the grace of baptism (canons 3-8). Scriptural See also 142, 143. The Scripture proofs are clear. "Who distinguisheth thee? or what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" (i Cor. iv. 7). Faith is expressly set down as a gift of grace. "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" (Eph. ii. 8). "This is the work of God that you believe in Him Whom He hath sent" (John vi. 29).
III. I. The starting-point of the Reformers' doctrine on grace is the erroneous principle that original sin destroyed man's free will. According to Luther, free will was altogether destroyed; according to Calvin, it was so thoroughly vitiated that it is utterly incapable of any spiritual act or aspiration, or of receiving any spiritual impressions; original sin is an evil principle in the soul which infects every thought and action of man, and makes them to be sinful and unfit to contribute either to the justification of the sinner or the sanctification of the just. Hence Calvin taught: "God does not move the will in the manner handed down and believed for many centuries, viz. so that it remains with us to either follow or resist the motion " (Inst. ii. 3). And Scharpius: "We say (in opposition to Bellarmine and the Council of Trent) that after the fall God moves and bends the will of man with such efficacy that when He wills man's conversion, man must needs follow the Divine will, not indeed compulsorily, but spontaneously " (Scharpius, De Lib. Arb., ii. 3). Luther writes: "Free will (liberum arbitrium) is a fiction ... for no one has it in his power to think anything good or evil, but all things, as Wyclif's article condemned at Constance rightly teaches, come to pass by absolute necessity. . . There is no doubt that it was by the teaching of Satan that the name of free will was introduced into the Church" (Assert., art. 36). Again, Man stands as a beast of burden between God and the devil: if God rides it, it goes whither God wills; if Satan rides it, it goes whither Satan wishes it to go. Nor is it in man's power to choose his rider; the riders, on the contrary, fight for his possession " (De Servo Arbitrio). This doctrine of the original Reformers was afterwards, like so many others, modified, and by degrees completely abandoned. At the present day the orthodox Lutheran teaching differs little, if at all, from the Catholic doctrine.
Working on a will without freedom and totally depraved, grace produces its own fruit without any co-operation on the part of man: it is likened unto a good tree planted in a bad soil. Side by side with it, depraved nature brings forth its own evil fruit. Man is thus half sinner, half saint, unable to fulfil the law and to please God even when regenerated through grace. The new life is not justice, but only a striving after justice. No difference is made between the two stages of spiritual life, viz. the preparatory stages of faith, and the perfect life of charity; none between venial and mortal sin, or between simple mortal sin and total falling away from God. Man is made responsible for his acts although he is unable to choose. This repulsive doctrine was early abandoned by the followers of Luther; disciples of Calvin, however, seem to uphold it to this very day.
2. The canons appended to the Sixth Session of the Council of Council of Trent frequently reproduce (for condemnation) against the heresies of the Reformers in their own wording. The few we translate here serve the double purpose of throwing a clearer light upon the reformed teaching, and of setting forth the Catholic dogma in its most authentic formulas.
"If any one saith that man's free will, moved and awakened (excitatum) by God, does in no manner (nihil) co-operate when it assents to God, Who excites and calls it, thereby disposing and preparing itself to receive the grace of justification; and (if any one say) that it cannot dissent if it wished, but that, as some inanimate thing, it does nothing whatever and only remains passive, let him be anathema " (can. 4).
"If any one saith that, after the sin of Adam, man's free will was lost and extinguished, let him be anathema"
"If any one saith that all works done before justification, in whatever way they may be done, are truly sins, or deserve the hatred of God; or that, the more vehemently one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins, let him be anathema " (can. 7).
"If any one saith that the commandments of God are impossible to be observed by man, even when justified and constituted in grace, let him be anathema" (can. 18).
"If any one saith that man, once justified, can sin no more nor lose grace . . .; or, on the contrary, that he can during his whole life avoid all sins, even venial ones, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds of the blessed Virgin, let him be anathema" (can. 23).
"If any one saith that the just, in every good work, sins at least venially, or, what is more intolerable, mortally, and therefore deserves eternal punishment; and that, if he is not damned, it is only because God does not impute to him these works unto damnation, let him be anathema " (can. 25).
" If any one saith that, when grace is lost through sin, faith also is always lost with it; or that the faith which remains is not a true faith, although it be not living; or that he who has faith without charity is not a Christian, let him be anathema " (can. 28).
" If any one saith that the justified man sins when, for the sake of an eternal reward he performs good works let him be anathema (can. 31).
IV. The errors of the Reformers were partly reproduced by some Catholic theologians unwilling to break with the Church. Baius (Michael Bay, of Louvain) admitted free will in man, and taught that grace enabled him to perform good and meritorious works. But in many other points he followed the Reformers. We subjoin some of the seventy-nine propositions extracted from his writings and condemned by Pius V. (Bulla, Ex omnibus afflictionibus, Oct. I, 1567), by Gregory XIII. (1579), and by Urban VIII. (1641).
25. "All the works of infidels are sins, and all the virtues of philosophers are vices."
27. " Free will (liberum arbitriuiri), without the help of God's grace, has only power for sin."
28. " It is a Pelagian error to say that free will has the power to avoid any sin."
35. "Every action of the sinner or the slave of sin is a sin."
46. "A sinful act is not necessarily a voluntary act (Ad rationem peccati non pertinet voluntarium)"
67. " Man sins, even unto damnation, in actions which he performs by necessity."
70. "Man in the state of mortal sin and under the penalty of eternal damnation, may have true charity; and even perfect charity is consistent with the guilt (reatus) of eternal damnation."
74. " Concupiscence in the regenerated, who fall back into mortal sin, and in whom it dominates, is a sin, as also are other bad habits."
V. Jansenius went a step beyond Baius, by trying to introduce Calvin's errors in a more refined form. We must limit ourselves to giving the famous five propositions taken from the Augustinus of Jansenius, and condemned by Innocent X (1653), Alexander VII (1656), and Clement XI (1705). Supra, p. 190.
I. "Some of God's precepts are impossible to the just, who wish and strive (to keep them), considering the powers (vires) they actually have; the grace by which they may be made possible is also wanting."
2. "In the state of fallen nature one never resists interior grace."
3. "In order to merit or demerit in the state of fallen nature, freedom from necessity (liberty to choose) is not required in man, but freedom from external compulsion (coactio) is sufficient."
4. "The Semi-Pelagians admitted the necessity of a prevenient (praevenientis) interior grace for each act, even for the beginning of faith; they were heretics because they pretended this grace to be such that the human will could either resist or obey it."
5. " It is Semi-Pelagian to say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men without exception (omnino omnibus)"
VI. Jansenius had published his doctrines in a strictly scientific form; Quesnel brought them before the public in the attractive garb of popular writings, occasionally reverting to the harsher errors of Baius, which Jansenius had tried to soften down in his system. One hundred and one propositions taken from Quesnel's works were condemned by Clement XI in the Bull Unigenitus (1713).
VII. The last manifestation of Jansenism censured by the Church was the pseudo-synod of Pistoia. Eighty-one propositions of the Synod were condemned by Pope Pius VI in the Bull Auctorem fidei (1794).
Sect. 220. --Necessity of Actual Grace
I. The sphere in which grace works is the spiritual life of man, whose leading faculties are the intellect and the will. The existence of these powers is a fact testified to by our consciousness, but the determination of their limits is among the difficult problems of philosophy. Can we know anything with certainty? Can we know anything beyond what our senses teach us? Is not even this knowledge an illusion? Is the moral law, or the existence of God, within the grasp of our unaided faculties? These and similar questions have been met by sceptics, agnostics, ontologists, traditionalists, idealists, and others, with contending systems ranging from universal doubt to universal belief. Is our will really free, or are we the playthings of unknown sub-conscious motives which determine our actions, leaving us under the impression that we act from choice? What impels us so often to act against our better knowledge? The teaching of the Church on these points may be expressed in the two following propositions:
(1) The human intellect is endowed with the physical power to know the truths of the natural order; (2) the free will of man is endowed with the physical power of performing actions morally good, although in the state of fallen nature this power is not sufficient to overcome always and in all things all the difficulties which beset its exercise.
1. That the human mind is able to grasp some truths and to know them with certainty, is an axiom which cannot be demonstrated without begging the question. It must be admitted as a primary and fundamental fact in all teaching. But if the mind is able to know some truths, it is able to know all the truths of the same order, provided they be properly brought to its notice. A knowledge of God, the Author of nature and of the moral law, is within the reach of our natural powers (see Wisd. iii. 5; Rom. i 19 sq.; ii. 14, etc.; vol. i. p. 158 sqq.).
2. The physical power of willing and performing good actions in the natural order is also self-evident. We know what is good and what is evil; we instinctively incline to what is, or appears good to us, and likewise decline from evil; lastly, we command the means to give effect to our inclinations. Thus we know, without the aid of revelation, that the Author of nature is worthy of praise, thanksgiving and love; we feel in our innermost being, that is, in our conscience, an impulse to give God His due, and in word and action to praise, thank, and love Him. Such is the teaching of St. Paul (Rom. ii. 14): "When the Gentiles who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these, having not the law, are a law to themselves . . . their conscience bearing witness to them," etc. (cf. Matt. v. 46 ). God even rewards such actions of the Gentiles (see Exod. i. 21; Ezech. xxix. 18). It must, however, be acknowledged that in its exercise the power doing the right thing is beset with countless difficulties. In the original fall, our will suffered more than our intellect. St. Paul only confirms every one's own experience when he says (Rom. vii. 23), "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." And (ibid. 25), "I myself with the mind serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
II. Having sufficiently vindicated the powers of man in the sphere of nature, we ought now to consider what these powers are capable of in the sphere of supernature. This task, however, has been performed in our treatise on the Supernatural (§143), to which we beg the reader to refer. See also the definitions of the Church against Pelagianism, in 219.
The necessity of grace for the performance of salutary acts, either before or after justification, is physical, absolute, and unconditional. It is necessary to man while yet in the state of nature, to elevate him to the plane of supernature. It is necessary to the sinner, in order to cancel the guilt of mortal sin, to reconvert his mind and will to God, and to obtain the remission of eternal punishment. It is also necessary to the just in order to perform salutary acts. For although the just is endowed with habitual grace, he remains subject to the general law that no creature can act without the concurrence of God. Hence, when the habit passes into acts, God concurs according to the nature of the habit, viz. supernaturally, or by giving actual grace. Besides, there is a special necessity arising from the weakened condition of human nature, even in the children of adoption. They, too, must pray, "Lead us not into temptation," for "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak" (Matt. xxvi. 41).
Sect. 221. --Final Perseverance.
I. Final perseverance in grace implies two factors: one internal, viz. the conservation of grace; and the other external, viz. death overtaking the individual when he is in the state of grace (Matt x. 22; Apoc. ii. 10). Such preservation of grace until the moment of death is a special privilege or gift of God, distinct from the Divine concurrence in either the natural or supernatural order, and likewise distinct from the sum total of common graces connected with the state of justice given to all the just. Yet it is not an actual or habitual grace more efficacious than the rest, but a special care of Divine Providence so disposing matters that death shall overtake the just when he is in the state of sanctifying grace. This happy result is attained in various ways: life may be shortened to prevent a fall into mortal sin, or lengthened to afford time for repentance; temptations may be removed, or additional help conferred to overcome them.
II. The Church, in the Second Council of Orange, defined against the Semi-Pelagians the necessity of a special Divine assistance for final perseverance. "The reborn and the sanctified (sancti), in order to come to a good end, and to persevere in goodness, have need always to implore the help of God" (can. 3). The Council of Trent (sess. vi. can. 22) anathematizes any one who says that "the justified is able, without a special help of God, to persevere in the justice received; or that, with such help, he is not able to persevere." Reason supports the teaching of the Councils. The will of man is unsteady, and constantly wavers between good and evil. The infused habits of virtue, though they add strength to the will, do not limit its inclinations to good alone. In order, therefore, to secure constancy in goodness, a special Divine assistance is necessary. Hence also Scripture admonishes us to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. ii. 12); "to watch and pray, lest we fall into temptation," for "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us" (2 Cor. iv. 7). But we may be "confident that He who hath begun a good work in us will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. i. 6). And He will also fix the right time of our death: "He pleased God and was beloved, and living among sinners he was translated. He was taken away, lest wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul" (Wisd. iv. 10-15). See Vol. I., pp. 219, 372.
Sect. 222. --Grace and Man's Liability to Venial Sin.
I Another point in connection with the life of grace remains to be elucidated. The Pelagians maintained that a perfect, sinless life was possible by the mere powers of our nature. They considered the "perfection of justice" to consist in impeccancy or siniessness and freedom from concupiscence. That doctrine was assailed by St. Augustine, and condemned by the Second Council of Milevis, and again by the Council of Trent. "If any one saith that man, being once justified, is able to avoid all sins, even venial, during all his life, without a special Divine privilege such as the Church holds was granted to the Blessed Virgin, let him be anathema" (sess. vi. can. 23).
II. The sins which even the just cannot always avoid, are not those known as mortal, or destructive of the life of grace. They are the slight aberrations of the will from the strait and narrow path of perfection, sufficient to incline the mind for a moment towards the creature, but insufficient to turn it away from the love of God and one's neighbour, e.g. idle words, vain thoughts, and such-like. Some sins, of themselves mortal, become venial on account of the want of deliberation; for no sin, however grave materially, can be mortal if committed with imperfect knowledge or will. The words "all sins" in the above definition refer to all sins taken collectively. Taken separately, there is no venial sin that cannot be avoided. Again, the impossibility of avoiding all venial sins collectively, is not physical, but moral; in other words, the avoidance is of such difficulty that, knowing the ways (mores) of man, we feel sure that man will fail if left to himself.
1. All sins, mortal and venial, may only be avoided privilege of by a special privilege," distinct from the forces of nature to which Pelagius attributed such power; distinct from habitual grace, which does not make the just impeccable; distinct from the usual supply of habitual grace and from the grace of perseverance, both of which are compatible with venial sin. What is "special" about this privilege is that it constitutes an exception to the general rule: no man leads a perfectly sinless life.
2. The reason for the moral impossibility of a life entirely free from sin is to be found in the weakness of our nature and in the multitude of occasions of sin which surround us. It certainly passes the power of our mind to be so constantly on the watch against these occasions, as never to be caught unawares. And besides, we cannot help a certain feeling that the result to be obtained by such strained watchfulness is not commensurate with the labour it involves. Venial sins do not entail the loss of habitual grace or eternal punishment, and they are easily forgiven. Einig, De Gratia, thes. 10.
CHAPTER II. Justification.
In the present chapter we shall endeavour to show how grace, the principle of new life, takes possession of the General soul of man, and transfers him from the slavery of sin into the kingdom of the adopted sons of God. "Justification" is the term applied to this process by the Council of Trent and by theologians. Its etymological meaning is "making just," that is, putting man in the right with God and with himself, or re-establishing the order originally established between God and man. Of this primitive order sanctifying grace was the foundation and the life- spring. Hence the question of "How man is justified" resolves itself into this: "How is sanctifying grace conferred upon man?" If the reader has mastered Book III., Part II., and especially §149, he can solve that question for himself. We have only to add the teaching of the Church (a) on the preparation for justification; (b) on its essential character, as opposed to the innovations of the Reformers; (c) on some of its effects; and (d) on the meritoriousness of the works of the justified. The Sixth Session of the Council of Trent is our guide throughout.
Sect. 223. --Acts Preparatory to Justification.
! The early Reformers denied the necessity of any disposition on the part of the adult to fit him for the reception of habitual grace. To them the enslaved will is but a lifeless instrument in the hands of God. Faith they require, not as a disposing or preparing act, but as the instrument, or the hand, by which man seizes upon justification. Luther even went so far as to assert the sinfulness of acts intended by man to fit him for the reception of grace. He, as well as Calvin, held that such acts interfered with the essential gratuity of God's gifts. Against these errors the Council of Trent defined that "they who through sin were turned away from God, through His awakening (excitantem) and helping grace, are disposed to turn themselves to their own justification by freely assenting to and co-operating with that same grace" (sess. vi. chap. 5). "If any one saith that the impious is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that he (the impious, or sinner) need in no way be prepared and disposed by the action (motu) of his own will, let him be anathema" (ibid., can. 9).
II. Free will is the chief faculty to be influenced in the process of justification. But God, acting with or upon His creatures either in the natural or the supernatural order, always acts in harmony with the laws of their nature. A Divine action out of harmony with these laws could only be useless or hurtful. Hence, when God draws unto Him the free will of man, He draws it by its own free motions (§§148, 149).
1. Whenever Scripture holds out justification to man, it requires of him some personal acts as a preparation: "But if the wicked do penance for all his sins . . . and keep all My commandments, and do justice and judgment, living he shall live and shall not die" (Ezech. xviii. 21). "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" (Apoc. iii. 20). "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark xvi. 16), etc.
2. The tradition of the Church on this point is summed up in the words of St. Augustine: "He Who made thee without thee, does not justify thee without thee" (Serm. 15. 13, De Verb. Apost.).
III. Infants are justified by simple "information" of the soul: grace reaches them, in harmony with their undeveloped nature, without their co-operation, by the virtue of Baptism. The same is true of the insane, who have never had the use of their free will. Such as have lost their freedom profit by the sacraments only if, before the loss, they desired to receive them.
The rule that God acts on free will without diminishing its freedom affords a criterion for testing His influence on persons in the state of ecstasy or hypnotic trance. Whenever the liberty of the subject is suspended, the finger of God is not there.
Sect. 224. --Faith as a disposition for Justification.
I. The Reformers, distinguishing between (1) historical faith by which we believe the truths revealed in Scripture, (2) faith by which miracles are wrought, and (3) faith in God's promises by which we "believe that He remits our individual sins," affirm that this last is the true justifying faith. A firm confidence or trust that our sins are forgiven, would be a better name for it than faith. Further, they say that this faith alone, unassisted and unaccompanied by any other act of the soul, is sufficient to justify man.
II. The Catholic doctrine is contained in sess. vi. chap. 6, cans. 12 and 9 of the Council of Trent:" They (adults) are prepared (or disposed) to (receive) justice when, awakened by Divine grace, and conceiving faith by hearing (ex auditu), they are freely moved (moventur) towards God, believing the truth of what He has revealed and promised, --and chiefly that the sinner is justified by the grace of God, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; and when, being conscious of their sins, they turn from the fear of the Divine justice which profitably agitates them to the consideration of God's mercy, and thus are raised to hope, trusting that God, for Christ's sake, will be propitious to them; and they begin to love Him as the source of all justice, and are moved (moventur) against sin with a certain hatred and detestation that is, with that penance which is required before baptism; lastly, when they resolve to receive baptism, to begin a new life and to keep the Divine commands." "If any one saith that justifying faith is nothing but confidence (fiducia) in the Divine mercy remitting sins for Christ's sake, or that by this confidence alone we are justified, let him be anathema" (can. 12; can. 9 is given above, 223).
III. The conversion of the sinner consists in turning why faith his mind and heart away from sin unto God. Now, it is impossible to turn the mind to God if God's existence is not known, and it is impossible to turn the heart to God if He is not known as good. In the supernatural order this two-fold knowledge comes by faith. Hence the Apostle 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 " (Heb. xi. 6).
1. The "saving faith," which Luther invented to make salvation easy, is as unknown to Scripture as it was to the Church before the Reformation. Not one of the texts quoted for it implies a faith equivalent to a trust that one's sins are forgiven. When Christ says to some, "Thy faith hath made thee whole " (Matt. ix. 22; Luke xvii. 19, and xviii. 42), He evidently alludes to faith in His healing power. In the case of the woman with an issue of blood (Matt. ix. 22), Christ Himself makes a distinction between the faith which the woman already possessed and the confidence to which He exhorts her. Of the two blind men (Matt. ix. 28-30), He expressly requires faith in His power: "Do you believe that I can do this to you?" The faith which was "reputed unto justice to Abraham" (Rom. iv. 3), is that by which " against hope he believed in hope, that he might be made the father of many nations, according to that which was said to him: So shall thy seed be" (Rom. iv. 18).
2. The faith which Scripture connects with our salvation is expressed by the Greek word (Greek), which chiefly and generally means "assent of the mind," although occasionally it may also imply "trust of the heart," or confidence (fiducia). It implies "assent of the mind" wherever the act of faith is further explained by the verbs "to believe," "to assent," "to know," used with it (cf. Heb. xi. 3; in Greek) "by faith we understand"); when the faith is founded upon past benefactions (John iv 53. and ix. 38); when the object of the faith is such that it cannot be also the object of trust (e.g. Matt. ix. 28; John vi. 70; I Cor. ii. 18); lastly, when Scripture expressly describes justifying faith as an assent of the mind to revealed truth. "Preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark xvi. 15, 16). "God so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him . . . may have life everlasting" (John iii. 15; see also John xx. 31; Rom. i. 1 6, and x. 8 sq.; Acts viii. 35).
The nature of justifying faith and its necessity are professedly expounded by St. Paul in the classical text (Heb. xi. 1-6). We have dealt with this text in §38 (" Nature of Theological Faith "), and in §49 we have said all that is needful on the "Necessity of Faith." We invite the student to read these two sections here.
3. The proofs from Scripture brought forth by Protestants to support their doctrine "most wholesome and very full of comfort " (Art. XL, Church of England), that we are justified by faith alone, may be divided into two classes of texts: (a) texts affirming that we are justified by faith (Rom. v. I; i. 17; Gal. iii. n; Heb. x. 38; Acts xv. 9); (b) texts which apparently exclude the necessity of works distinct from faith (Rom. iii. 28; Eph. ii. 8; Acts x. 43; xiii. 39). The famous verse (Rom. iii. 28), "We account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law," was strengthened by Luther through the addition of the word "alone" after "faith." He justified the change in his characteristic way: "Doctor Martin Luther will have it so, and says, 'Papist and ass are the same thing: hoc volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas.'" In the same off-hand way he removed the "straw epistle" of St. James from the canon of Scripture. Such tactics are alone sufficient to discredit the system they are meant to uphold. The Council of Trent (sess. vi. chap. 8) gives the "sense of the Church" on the above texts as follows: "When the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and gratuitously, his words must be understood in the sense which the Catholic Church always held and expressed, viz. We are said to be justified by faith because faith is the beginning and the foundation of man's salvation, and the root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God, and to come to the society of His sons; we are said to be justified gratuitously, because nothing which precedes justification, be it faith or works, merits the grace of justification."
IV. Where many partial causes combine to produce an effect, this effect is often spoken of as the result of one or other of them, no mention being made of the rest. This usage is a necessary consequence of the narrowness of our knowledge. We do not know all; we do not think of all we know; we cannot or will not express all we think. The sentences we utter represent our thoughts, as it were, in shreds; the listener must put them together to arrive at a full knowledge of our meaning. This rule is universal. Hence, when Scripture tells us that faith is necessary to salvation, we must not conclude that nothing else is necessary.
1. The dispositions which, besides faith, are set forth by the Council of Trent as either necessary or helpful to justification, are mentioned in various parts of Scripture: the Fear of the Lord (Eccl. i. 27 sq.); Love (John iii. 14; Luke vii. 47); Penance and its external acts (Acts ii. 38; Joel ii. 12); Almsgiving (Job xii. 9); the Sacrament of Baptism (Tit. iii. 5).
2. " Come, ye blessed of My Father...for I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat, etc. . . .Depart from Me, ye cursed, ...for I was hungry, and you gave Me not to eat (Matt xxv. 34 sqq.). "By works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James ii. 24). "Faith without works is dead" (ibid. ii. 26). "God will render to every man according to his works...for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom. ii. 6-13). "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity " (Gal. v. 6).
Questions of supernatural facts are to be settled by the dictates of authority. Scripture and tradition reveal them to us. But Luther vilifies tradition; he corrupts and curtails Scripture, and arrogantly proclaims that the only foundation for his teaching is his own words. Against such an antagonist, logic is of no avail. The Fathers and the Schoolmen, starting from the idea that justification is a change from bad to good, and an elevation from the natural to the supernatural order, argued that the process required two sets of free acts: the one summed up in detestation of sin, the other in putting on the new man. But Luther meets them with a twofold denial: sin is not remitted, but only covered; the "new man" is Christ imputing His own justice to the still sinful man! With such an opponent, controversy on the basis of theological science is impossible. Moreover, it is not necessary. For as the leading Protestant theologian of our time, Al. Ritschl, says of the German Lutherans: "Hardly anywhere, even in the most orthodox sermon (bekenntnistreu = faithful to the confession of faith), do we find a complete agreement with the proposition of the Formula Concordiae (A.D. 1577). that salvation is dependent on faith alone " (Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, v. iii. p. 463).
Sect. 225. --What Justification is.
Our treatise on the supernatural order and grace (Book III. Part II.) deals fully with the transforming, elevating, and deifying effect of grace on the justified soul. The sublime depth of the old doctrine of the Church stands in singular contrast to the shallow innovations of the pre- tended Reformers. The old excels the new as much as the adopted Son of God, the heir of the kingdom and partaker of the Divine nature, excels the prodigal who "is accounted righteous before God; God, overlooking man's sins and crediting him with the merits of Christ." We have not the heart, nor do we think it worth our while, to follow the maze of Protestant variations on the intrinsic character of justification. Osiander (1552) enumerates twenty divergent systems current in his time. We give the Catholic dogma as formulated at Trent. The reader must turn to Book III. Part II. for the speculative theology bearing on the subject.
The seventh chapter of the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent is headed: "What the Justification of the Sinner [impii=. lit. 'a man not in due relation to God '] is, and what are its causes [viz. the several agents which influence its coming into existence]."
"Upon this disposition and preparation follows justification, which is not merely the remission of sin, but, moreover, the sanctification and renovation of the interior man by his voluntary acceptance of graces and gifts; whence the unjust is made just, the enemy a friend, that he may be heir according to hope of life everlasting (Tit. iii. 7).
"The final cause of this justification is the glory of God Final and of Christ, and life everlasting.
"The efficient cause is the merciful God, Who gratuitously washes us and sanctifies us, signing and anointing us with the Holy Spirit of promise (i Cor. vi. 1 1; Tit. iii. 5; Eph. i. 13), Who is the pledge of our inheritance.
"The meritorious cause is the Beloved Only-begotten Meritorious Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith He loved us, by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross merited justification for us, and atoned for us to His Father (Rom. v. 10; Eph. ii. 4).
"The instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, instrumental which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified.
"Lastly, the only formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He is Himself just, but that by which He maketh us just, by which, being enriched by Him, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and are not only reputed just, but are so in name and in fact, receiving in ourselves, every one according to his measure, the justice which the Holy Ghost divideth to every one according as He will (i Cor. xii. 11), and according to every one's disposition and co-operation. For although no one can be just unless the merits of the passion of Christ be communicated to him, yet this (communication) takes place in the justification of the sinner when, by the merit of the said most holy passion, the charity of God is diffused by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of those who are justified, and is inherent (inhaeret) in them. Whence in the act of justification, with the remission of his sins man receives all at once, through Christ, on Whom he is ingrafted, the infused gifts of faith, hope, and charity. For faith without hope and charity neither unites man perfectly with Christ, nor makes him a living member of His body. . . ."
Sect. 226. --Some Effects of Justification.
I. Justification elevates man to the dignity of adopted ado a ptfve to son of God, and confers upon him a personal nobility and worth which ennoble all his subsequent acts (read 145, vol. i. p. 468).
II. Sin, being an aversion from God, is absolutely in compatible with that participation in the Divine Life of Love and Holiness to which the justified are admitted. All, therefore, grant that justification remits sin. But Protestants reduce the remission to non-imputation; the sinner, according to most of them, is credited with the merits of Christ, and his sins are thus covered in some way, and no longer imputed to him; he is "accounted righteous," or justified only in a legal sense, viz. the Judge considers him righteous without really making him so. The Catholic doctrine is that sin is completely blotted out as to all its effects. Of course, the sinful act cannot be undone; but the stain of guilt and the liability to eternal punishment disappear when grace is infused.
1. The notion that God does not impute a sin which really exists, is a contradiction in terms. We cannot conceive the all-knowing, all-holy, and all-just Being as ignoring or overlooking the rebellious position taken up against Him by a creature; as favouring with His friendship a soul turned away from Him; as allowing moral disorder to exist in the heirs of His kingdom. Whatever guilt there is in man lies bare before the eye of God, and must be dealt with by either His justice or His mercy. And even Divine mercy cannot forgive the punishment without first destroying the guilt, of which the liability to punishment is but a consequence.
2. As Bellarmine remarks (De Justif., ii. 7), Scripture uses all the terms which it is possible to think of in order to express a true remission of sin. Sins are said to be taken away (2 Kings xii. 1 3; and I Paral. xxi. 8); blotted out (Isa. xliii. 25; Acts iii. 19); exhausted (Heb. ix. 28); removed from us as far as the east is from the west (Ps. cii. 12); to be put away and be cast into the bottom of the sea (Mich. vii. 19). Where sin is considered as a stain or an impurity, it is said to be cleansed, washed, made whiter than snow (Ps. 1. 9; Isa. i. 16-18; Jen xxxiii. 8; Ezech. xxxvi. 25; I Cor. vi. n). Where sin is spoken of as a wound or a sore, it is said to be bound up and healed (Isa. xxx. 26). If sin is mentioned as the death of the soul, justification from it is treated as a resurrection, a new birth, a gift of new life (John iii. 5; Rom. vi. 4 sq.).
3. "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 " (Ps. xxxi. I, 2; quoted Rom. iv. 7). On the surface, the words of this text are an exact statement of the Protestant theory. But, according to a common rule of interpretation, it must be read in harmony with the other texts bearing on the same subject, and with the "mind of the Church." The Psalm quoted is David's thanksgiving for having had his sin " taken away " from him (2 Kings xii. 13); it is a poetical effusion of the heart, and not a scientific statement of the process of justification. Of a stain blotted out by the power of God, the poet may well say that it is " covered," and it is " not imputed." In fact, the parallelism of the first verse requires that the second half should have the same sense as the first. But in the first hemistich sins are spoken of as "forgiven" (Greek, Hebrew, Latin: ablata), therefore in the second hemistich the word "covered" (Hebrew, Greek, "to hide,") has the same sense. Lastly, what is "covered" from the eyes of God does not exist (see above, I.).
III. Grace and mortal sin are opposed as a quality and its privation, e.g. as light and darkness, heat and cold, motion and rest. Hence they cannot coexist in the soul. Again, the remission of sin or the removal of the privation is effected by the very appearance of grace. Thus darkness ceases to be when light appears. Venial sin, however, may coexist with grace, because it is not an aversion from God as our last end, but only an inordinate attachment to the creature (cf. 147, ii. 4, and iii.).
Sect. 227. --Meritoriousness of the Good Works of the Justified
In the kingdom of God on earth the children of God lead that supernatural life which is to terminate in the Beatific Vision. The same Divine Spirit worketh in all, but to every one He divideth His gifts according to His will and to the measure of their receptivity. With Him the justified freely co-operate, and thus works are performed meritorious of eternal life. We have now to inquire into the nature of merit, and to prove the existence of meritorious works.
I. An act is said to be "worthy of praise or of blame" when it comes of free will; "right or wrong when viewed in connection with its object; "meritorious or demeritorious" in connection with the reward which it deserves. Hence the notion of merit implies a quality of the work by virtue of which some retribution is connected with it; and a meritorious work may be defined as "a work done in the service of another person, and entitled to a retribution of some kind." If the quality of the work done claims a reward as a matter of strict justice, its merit is termed de condigno; if it only claims a reward as a matter of liberality or fittingness, its merit is de congruo. The soldier who has fought well in battle merits his pay de condigno, and a decoration de congruo.
1. In order to be meritorious, an act must be (a) free, (b) good, (c) supernatural.
(a) We constantly and necessarily associate the notion of meritoriousness with that of freedom: no man is deemed worthy of reward or punishment for acts which he does not perform "knowingly and willingly," i.e. freely. For only free acts are properly human or man's own, and these only can he hold out for reward or have imputed to him for punishment.
(b) That only "good actions" can be meritorious is self-evident. To be good, an act must have a good object and a good subject-matter, and must not be vitiated by bad circumstances, according to the axiom: Bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocvnque defectu, To make a good action bad, adverse circumstances must change either its object or its subject-matter; if they are merely concomitant, as e.g., involuntary distractions in prayer, the action remains good, though in a less degree.
(c) Works which aim at a supernatural retribution must belong to the supernatural order; that is, they must be vital acts of the life of grace (cf. §143).
2. To be able to perform meritorious works, a person must be (a) in the "wayfaring state" (status viae) that is, here on earth; and (b) to merit de condigno he must be in the state of grace.
(a) The present, or wayfaring state, is a state of imperfect participation in the Divine Life. "While we are in the body we are absent from the Lord," (Greek scripture, 2 Cor. v. 6); whereas in the final state (status termini) the participation perfectly fills the measure of happiness of which each saint is capable. Hence, in the final state merit has no object, and therefore no existence. But to the present state, longing and working for more perfections are natural. The wayfaring state ends with life on earth. Such is the now universal sense of the Church, founded upon Scripture (Ecclus. xiv. 17; xi., iii.; and John ix. 4).
(b) A claim in strict justice requires a due proportion between act and reward, and therefore in the agent, as well as in the act, a supernatural dignity is required. The propositions in which Baius denies this were condemned by the Holy See (propp. 12, 13, 17, 18). "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me" (John xv. 4). But we abide in Christ by grace. St. Paul argues (Rom. viii. 1 6, 17), "We are the sons of God, and if sons, heirs also," thus resting our claim to eternal life on our adoptive sonship, or grace.
3. God must be willing to accept the work as meritorious.
Even from other men we cannot in strict justice claim a reward for services done, unless they have expressly or by implication agreed to remunerate them. So Christ's saving work owes its sufficiency to God's acceptation (§206, ii.).
We cannot benefit God by our service, for our very existence, with all its modes and modifications, is His gift. "We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do " (Luke xvii. 10). In the matter of merit, God is bound to us by His own promises and decrees, which He keeps as faithfully as the laws which He has made for the natural order of the universe.
II. The notion of the total depravity of human nature after the Fall, led the Reformers into many errors concerning good works. With the negation of free will in man Luther removed an essential element of meritorious works; he was driven to ascribe to God alone all the good done in us, and to God working through or with us all our evil deeds. His more moderate followers allow some freedom to the will after the reception of grace. Again, if nature is totally depraved, if the motives and promptings of concupiscence are sins, and if it is impossible to fulfil the law of charity, it follows that no work good in itself can proceed from man that there is in him no righteousness, and much less any merit before God.
The Reformers' startling innovations were condemned by the Council of Trent If any one say "that the Divine commands are impossible of observance, even to man justified and established in grace (can. 18); that in the Gospel nothing is commanded except faith; that all the rest is indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free; or that the ten commandments do not bind Christians (can. 19); that Christ Jesus was given by God to man as a Redeemer to be trusted, and not also as a Legislator to be obeyed (can. 21); that the justice once received is not preserved, and also increased before God through good works, but that the said good works are only signs of justification obtained, and not causes of its increase (can. 24); that in every good work the just man sins at least venially, or what is more intolerable, mortally, and therefore deserves eternal punishment, and that for this only he is not damned, because God does not impute his sins to damnation (can. 25); that the just, in return for the good works they may have done in God, ought not to expect or to hope for an eternal retribution from God, through His mercy and the merits of Christ, if living well and keeping the Divine commands they persevere to the end (can. 21); that the just sins when he does good in view of an eternal reward (can. 31); that the good works of the justified are the gifts of God in such a way that they are not also the good merits of the just, or that the just by the good works he does through the grace of God and the merits of Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit an increase of grace, life everlasting, and, if he die in grace, the possession of life everlasting, and an increase of glory (can. 32), let him be anathema!"
These various definitions may be brought under three heads: Good works are (i) possible; (2) necessary; (3) meritorious of increased grace and of life everlasting.
1. We need not tarry to prove the possibility of good works in the justified. All the conditions required to make a human action good and meritorious before God are present in works done by grace. Besides, God, Who does not command the impossible, commands good works, as will be fully shown below.
2. Motion, exercise, or action is of the very essence of life. Rest means death, and unsuitable motion means disease. The supernatural life, on earth as well as in heaven, must be as active as the natural, under pain of extinction. Evolution or gradual progress is equally essential to life: the life-sap of the tree evolves into leaves, flowers, and fruit; the soul of man gradually builds up his body, and developes by successive stages all his faculties. I n like manner the justified man expands the life received in baptism into faith, hope, charity, and the moral virtues into the works of spiritual and corporal mercies. Without these works faith is dead, man is an unprofitable servant who buries the talent entrusted to him, and at last is cast into exterior darkness with the curse of the Judge upon him: " Depart from Me into everlasting fire ... for I was hungry, and you gave Me not to eat. . . . (Matt. xxv. passim; cf. Matt. vii. 21; xix. 17; Apoc. ii. 4, 5; I Cor. ix. 24, 26, 27; Rom. ii. 6, 8, 9, etc.). These texts tell us in plain terms that though we may have faith in Jesus Christ, and continually have the Lord Jesus in our mouth, there is no salvation, no kingdom of heaven for us unless we do the will of God, and keep the works of Christ unto the end (Apoc. iii. 5); unless we bring forth worthy fruits of penance; unless we strive in good earnest, like men running or fighting for the prize; and thus, like St. Paul, chastise our bodies and bring them into subjection. For it is only the doers of the law that are justified; and on the day of Judgment Christ will assign no other reason for the condemnation of the reprobate than that they have neglected good works.
3. The meritoriousness of good works is a consequence of their necessity. Life naturally produces vital acts; these naturally add to the perfection of life. Make your intellect, your will, your memory, or your hand do "good work," and the good work done will add power to these faculties. In the same way the supernatural work of the soul is its own reward in the form of increased supernatural life. For the elevation of our nature to higher life does not alter the laws of its working: it only ennobles them. Faith, hope, and charity are but ennobled know- ledge, trust, and love; whether they move on the natural or on the supernatural plane, they gather momentum in moving. There is only one difference if difference it is: in the natural order the momentum or increase of vital force arises from the essence of things fixed by God from the beginning; in the supernatural order the merit arises from the co-operation of the human with the Divine will. This, however, rather discriminates the two orders than the law of their working. We are, then, entitled to conclude that the practice of the life of grace naturally tends to the increase of grace, and ultimately to the crowning grace, which is the participation in the Divine Life through the Beatific Vision. Does this natural tendency establish a claim in strict justice, is it merit de condigno? Yes, because God owes to Himself the preservation of an order founded upon His gracious promises, even more than the preservation of the natural order founded upon His creatorial decrees.
"Godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (i Tim. iv. 8). "For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us as above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory " (2 Cor. iv. 17). "Sell what you possess and give alms; make to yourself bags which grow not old, a treasure in heaven which faileth not" (Luke xii. 33; cf. xiv. 9; and xiv. 13, 14). "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Apoc. ii. 10; cf. ibid. iii. 5 and 21). Labour the more that by good works you may make sure your calling and election" (2 Pet i. 10). "Therefore let us consider one another to provoke to charity and good works. For patience is necessary for you, that, doing the will of God, you may receive the promise: for He is faithful that hath promised" (Heb. x. 23, 24, 36). "And God is not unjust that He should forget your work" (Heb. iv. 10).
III. The above-cited passages, and a hundred more quite as explicit, are met with the objections: (1) that eternal life is our inheritance; (2) that it is a grace or free gift; (3) that when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants (Luke xvii. 10); and (4) that the merit of good works is derogatory to the merit of Christ.
1. Eternal life is indeed the inheritance of the Adopted Sons, but it is also their reward. We enter into it not by the right of natural filiation, but by the right and on the terms of our adoption. These terms, or conditions, are contained in the same title-deed which also contains the deed of our adoption: "You shall receive the reward of inheritance (in Greek text). Serve ye the Lord Jesus Christ " (Col. iii. 24).
2. Eternal life is a grace and the crown of all graces. Therefore it is the "natural term," that is, the term "according to the nature of things," of the life of grace on earth. As the exercise of our natural powers works out and merits temporal happiness, so the exercise of our supernatural powers works out and merits eternal beatitude. "When God crowns our merits, He but crowns His own gifts" (St. Augustine, Ep. t cxciv. 19). In short, the fact that eternal life is a grace, only proves that grace is necessary to merit it, but not that it cannot be merited at all.
3. Those who quote Luke xvii. 7, against the Catholic doctrine, forget that Christ promises to do the very thing which the master in the parable does not do: " Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when He cometh, shall find watching. Amen, I say to you: He will gird Himself and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister unto them " (Luke xii. 37).
4. There is something comical, perhaps tragical, in the way the Reformers stand up for the merits of Christ, as if these were endangered or interfered with by our doctrine on the merit of good works and the intercession of the saints. We hold fast that Christ is the vine of which we are the branches: is it derogatory to the vine if the branch bears good and valuable fruit? Not only do we highly value the merits of Christ, but we also recognize in them the property of overflowing into us, and of elevating us to the dignity of adoptive sons. We do not insist upon the necessity of good works as if Christ's merits were insufficient to save us. On the contrary, we consider His merits so excellent and so efficacious, that they merited for us both eternal life and the power of working up to it from the first moment of our justification (cf. Einig, De Gratia, Pars. III).
CHAPTER III. Order and Economy of Grace in God's Providence.
Sect. 228. --The Distribution of Actual Grace.
I. The unknown author of the book De Vocatione Gentium, who lived in the fifth century, and was called by Pope Gelasius "an approved teacher of the Church," puts the question as to the distribution of grace as follows: "As it cannot be denied that God wishes all men to be saved, we inquire why the will of the Almighty is not carried out If we say it is the fault of man's free will, we seem to exclude grace; for if grace is given according to merit, it is no longer a gift, but a debt. Hence we ask again: Why is this gift, without which nobody can be saved, not given to all by Him Who wishes to save all? "
The same author solves the problem, as far as it can be solved, by distinguishing between God's general benevolence and His special mercy. "It pleased God to give His special mercy to many, and to deprive nobody of His general benevolence." In other words, the solution is to be sought in the inscrutable decrees of God, which lie far beyond human ken, and can only be known darkly by Divine revelation. This "mystery of predestination" neither Augustine nor any other theologian has ever penetrated. The deposit of revelation enlightens us on the following points:
I. The infinite goodness of God and His revealed word (i Tim. ii. j-6) leave us no doubt that "God will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth . . . through Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a redemption for all." If, then, salvation is impossible without grace, God, Who wills the end, does provide the means, viz. sufficient grace to each and all for the salvation of their souls.
2. Grace barely sufficient for men is not sufficient for abundant God's benevolence. Hence we are assured by the Apostle (Rom. v. 15) that, "not as the offence (the sin of Adam bringing death to all), so also is the gift. For, if by the offence of one many died, much more the grace of God, and the gift, by the grace of one man, Christ Jesus, has abounded unto many" (= all who sinned in Adam) (cf. John iii. 1 6).
3. "God is the Saviour of all men, especially of the receive the faithful" (i Tim. iv. 10). Some die young that they may receive the same graces as the Jews (Matt. xi. 21). It can hardly be doubted that people are lost whose sins are not equal to those of Mary Magdalen or the Penitent Thief.
II. Luther, Calvin, and Jansenius held that even the just are unable to keep the whole law of God, which amounts to saying that God withholds His grace from them. The Council of Trent meets this doctrine with an anathema against any who say " that the Divine precepts cannot be observed even by man justified and endowed with grace" (sess. vi. can. 1 8). And, indeed, what would become of God's wish to see all men saved, if He withheld the means of salvation even from His adopted sons? and of His justice, if He punished the helpless transgressor of an impossible law? and of His sanctity, if by withholding sufficient grace He led man into sin? No; "God does not forsake those once justified by His grace, unless they first forsake Him" (sess. vi. chap.11). He does not allow them to be tempted beyond their power: "God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it" (i Cor. x. 15). In fact, His yoke is light (Matt. xi. 30), and "His commandments are not heavy, for whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world " (i John v. 3, 4).
But if the sinner's mind is obscured and his heart hardened so as to offer obstinate resistance to the operation of grace, does God still give him a chance of conversion? Calvin goes so far as to say that God Himself hardens those whom He wishes to damn, and entirely deprives them of grace. Catholics call Calvin's doctrine blasphemous. The majority of Catholic theologians hold, with good reason, that as long as the sinner lives, be he ever so obstinate, the helping hand of God is stretched out to him, if not constantly, at least at certain times. This doctrine is based upon the Council of Trent, sess. xiv. chap. I: "Because God, rich in mercy, knoweth our frame (figmentum nostrum), He hath given the remedy of life also to those who afterwards (i.e. after baptism) have given themselves up to the servitude of sin, and to the power of the devil." The Council only sums up the teaching of Scripture: "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" (Wisd. xi. 24-27). "O how good and how sweet is Thy Spirit, O Lord, in all things! And therefore Thou chastisest them that err, little by little; and admonishest them, and speakest to them concerning the things wherein they offend, that leaving their wickedness they may believe in Thee, O Lord!" (Wisd. xii. I, 2; Ezech. xviii. 23; xxxiii. 31; Luke v. 32; 2 Pet. 3, 9). All these texts and many more breathe a tenderness of Divine mercy which seems to increase with the wickedness of the sinner. Christ came to save, not the just, but sinners; to leave the ninety-nine and go after the sheep that is lost; and none is too obstinate for His loving-kindness.
III. Infidels, to whom the faith was never preached, are not left without sufficient grace to secure the salvation cent grace. of their souls. Luther does not hesitate to sentence all infidels Gentiles, Turks, and Jews to eternal hell-fire; and Jansenius is not much more lenient. But the Catholic Church condemned their doctrines. Thus Alexander VIII condemned the proposition: "Pagans, Jews, heretics, and others of this kind, receive no influence what- ever from Christ; hence their will is entirely bare and unarmed, and entirely without sufficient grace " (see also the propositions 26, 27, and 29, condemned by Clement XI.). Pius IX. sums up the teaching of the Church on this point in his Encyclical of August 10, 1863, to the Italian bishops: "It is known to us and to you that they who labour under invincible ignorance of our holy religion, and yet diligently keep the natural law and its precepts written by God in the hearts of all, and are ready to obey God and to lead an honest and righteous life, are enabled by the power of Divine light and grace to obtain eternal life. For God, who plainly beholds, examines and knows the minds and hearts, the thoughts and habits of all, in His sovereign goodness and clemency will not allow that any one suffer eternal punishment who is without the guilt of a wilful sin." The teaching of the Popes is not less in accordance with Scripture than with reason. Christ is the Light of the world that enlightens "all men," and God wills that "all men come into the knowledge of truth" (i Tim. ii. 4). See §45.
The ways by which grace reaches the soul of the infidel are known to God alone. St. Thomas (De Veritate, q. 14, a.11, ad. 1) is certain that the untutored savage, who follows the dictates of his conscience, receives from God, either by an internal revelation or an external messenger, the faith necessary to his salvation. As we live in the supernatural order, we may well hold with Ripalda that every effort to do good proceeding from human nature is accompanied and assisted by some supernatural grace, and thus works for salvation.
Sect. 229. --On Predestination (after St. Thomas, I p. q- 23).
I. Predestination is Divine Providence (cf. §116), leading rational creatures to their supernatural end, the Beatific Vision. Things in general attain their natural end by the working of the power that is proper to each of them; but man has not in him power sufficient to attain to the vision of God. He is made to reach his destination by a special assistance from his Maker. The way and manner of this special assistance pre-exist in the Divine mind, and constitute predestination. Predestination, then, is not a quality or an accident of the creature, but an idea of the Eternal mind, like Providence. It is carried into effect, in time, by the vocation and glorification of the predestinated. "... And whom He predestinated (Greek), them He also called. And whom He called, them He also justified. And whom He justified, them He also glorified " (Rom. viii. 30).
II. Not all rational creatures attain the supernatural end to which they are called. It is in the nature of Providence to allow defects and shortcomings in particular parts of the universe, so as to make them conducive to the perfection, and subservient to the final object, of the whole. When God allows individuals to fall away from Him,
He is said to " reprobate " them. Reprobation, therefore, implies, on the part of the Divine Providence, the will first, to allow some to fall into sin; and secondly, to restore the disturbed order by adequate punishment of the sinner.
III. The two aspects of Providence called predestination Differences and reprobation differ greatly in their way of influencing man. Predestination is the cause both of eternal glory and of the graces which lead to it. Reprobation is not the cause of sin, but this latter causes the sinner to be abandoned by God, and to be eternally punished. The cause of sin is man's imperfect free will (cf. 1 14, ii.).
IV. "He chose us in Him (=s God in Christ) before the Are the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in His sight in charity. Who hath predestinated God? us unto the adoption of children . . ." (Eph. i. 4, 5). Here, and in other places, Scripture speaks of choice (election) and of predestination as synonymous. As a matter of fact, all the predestinated are elected, and specially beloved by God, for predestination follows upon election, and election upon love. The act by which God wills the eternal salvation of some is an act of love, for it confers the greatest good upon the creature. It is also an act of election, or choice, because whilst given to some it is withheld from others. To our finite minds it appears as an act of most gratuitous benevolence (dilectio) choosing some rational creatures, in preference to others, to be made partakers of eternal salvation.
V. This eternal act of the Divine will has no cause but the Divine goodness. But if no cause can be assigned to it in itself, a cause or causes may be assigned to its effects, inasmuch as God wills one effect to be the cause of another. Taking the effects separately grace, good works, beatific vision we may say that the volition of the beatific vision causes the volition of good works and grace; and that grace and good works are the meritorious cause of the beatific vision. But if we take the effects of predestination as one whole, they cannot have any cause in ourselves, for whatever in man makes for salvation is itself an effect of his predestination. The whole process has its reason in the Divine will, from which it receives its first impulse and its final completion.
VI. The above doctrine is laid down with great clearness and stress by St. Paul. Having stated that predestination is not "of works, but of Him that calleth," he raises an objection: "What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? "And he answers, "God forbid!" and restates the same doctrine and rebukes the objector in these terms: "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?" (Rom. ix. 12-20). Now, in the Divine goodness itself may be found a reason for the predestination of some and the reprobation of others. God made all things that they should be some expression of His goodness. But a Divine attribute, one and simple in itself, can only be represented by multiple and inadequate expressions: created things do not attain the Divine simplicity. And hence, in the universe there must be creatures of high and of low degree, and to this end God permits some evil in order that much good may come of it. In mankind, from this point of view. God willed that His goodness should be expressed as mercy and pardon in the predestinated, and as justice in the reprobate. This is the reason given by the Apostle: " God, willing to show His wrath (= vindictive justice) and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, that He might show the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He hath prepared unto glory" (Rom. ix. 22, 23; cf. 2 Tim. ii. 20). No reason, however, other than the simple Divine will, can be given for the election of the vessels of mercy and the rejection of the vessels of wrath. Nor does this imply an injustice on the part of God. If He was bound to give the same grace to all, grace would not be a free gift. Being a free gift, God distributes it freely, as did the householder of the parable: "Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last, even as to thee" (Matt. xx. 14).
VII. A large number of Jesuit theologians, known as Congruists, hold, like the Thomists, an absolute predestination to glory, irrespective of merits foreseen. God gives to the predestinate the same grace as to the reprobate; but to the former in circumstances under which He foresees they will accept it, to the latter in those under which He foresees they will not do so. Such was the opinion of Suarez (after his return to Spain), of Bellarmine, Antoine, and many others. Another large number of Jesuits, e.g. Toletus, Maldonatus, Lessius, Vasquez, Valentia, and Suarez (while he taught at Rome), admit that predestination to grace, but deny that predestination to glory, is irrespective of merit foreseen. God decrees, they say, to give grace to all, and predestinates those who, as He foresees, will correspond to it, the rest being reprobate (Cath. Dict., art. "Predestination"). The mind of St. Thomas on this subject is expressed in the passage we are analyzing in this section. "Some have said that the merits consequent upon the effect of predestination are the reason of predestination, meaning that God gives grace, and decrees to give it, to such as He foresees will make good use of it after the manner of a king who gives a horse to the soldier of whom he knows that he will use it well. But these (theologians) seem to have made a distinction between what comes of grace and what comes of free will, as if the same (act) could not proceed from both grace and free will. It is, however, manifest that whatever is owing to grace is an effect of predestination, and cannot be its reason (or cause). If something of ours be the reason of predestination, this something must not be an effect of the same. But there is no distinction between the work of free will and that of predestination, any more than between the work of the second (created) cause and the first. For Divine Providence produces effects through the operation of second causes. Hence whatever is done through free will is done through predestination" (i q. 23, a. 5 c.; cf. 88).
VIII. Predestination infallibly attains its object, viz. the eternal salvation of the predestinated, yet not so as to deprive them of their free will. It is but a department of Divine Providence which rules the world of spirit and matter with an infallible hand, working freely in the free, and on unbending lines in the unfree: always according to the nature of each cause (cf. §88).
IX. Can Predestination be furthered by the prayers prayer of the just? Some have thought that prayers and good works are useless to the predestinate as well as to the reprobate, on account of the infallibility of the Divine decree. But God in the Scriptures constantly exhorts us to prayer and good works. On the other hand, the opinion has been advanced that sacrifices and prayers have the power to change the Divine purpose. Against this, too, we have the authority of Scripture: "The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance" (Rom. xi. 29); "the triumpher in Israel will not spare, and will not be moved to repentance: for He is not a man that He should repent" (i Kings xv. 29). Two things must be distinguished in predestination: the Divine decree, and its effects. The Divine decree is not influenced by the prayers of the saints. But its effects, viz. the distribution of grace, good works, eternal glory, are so influenced, because Providence works with and through created causes to which prayers and good works belong. Although many gifts are received that have not been prayed for, yet others are not given except in answer to prayers. Hence we read: "Ask, and it shall be given unto you" (Matt. vii. 7); "Brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election" (2 Pet. i. 10); and St. Augustine rightly says, "If Stephen had not prayed, the Church would not have Paul."
Sect. 230. --Systems on the Efficacy of Actual Grace.
Free will and grace are, according to Catholic doctrine, the two factors which co-operate in the production of every salutary act. The beginning is made by grace, which enlightens the mind and moves the will. Under its continued influence the will is endowed with supernatural freedom, and freely gives its consent to the Divine inspiration. The adequate principle of salutary acts is, therefore, neither grace alone nor the will alone, but the will super- naturalized by and freely co-operating with grace. "Whenever we perform salutary works, God works in us and with us in order that we may work (Quoties bona agimus, Deus in nobis atque nobiscum, ut operemur, operatur) " (Council of Orange, ii. c. 9). St. Bonaventure says, "The will is so moved by God that it is also moved by itself, and hence every meritorious work is attributed to grace and to free will" (in 2 Dist. 26, q. 6). Such is the dogma. The Church has left it to the wit of theologians to explain how the human will, moved by grace, retains its freedom, and how grace attains its object, the will remaining free.
I. The various theories may ultimately be reduced to Theological two: (1) those which take the efficacy of grace as their starting-point and main principle, and then go on to explain how the will is still free; and (2) those which start with free will, and then explain the efficacy of grace. The former appeal chiefly to the authority of St. Paul; the latter to such passages as Matt. xi. 20; xxv. 34, etc.
I. In the controversies on grace an important part is played by the distinction of grace into "sufficient" and "efficacious." If the effect of grace is considered, it is clear that the good act is not always performed. Hence the distinction: grace which is followed by the act, is called efficacious; grace which is not so followed, is called sufficient. How it comes to pass that the act is or is not performed in other words, whether there is an intrinsic difference between efficacious grace and sufficient grace, and, if so, what is the difference is the great question. Those who insist on our freedom of choice will naturally tend to attribute the performance or non-performance of the action to the determination of our will, and will thus be inclined to deny any intrinsic difference. The other party, who insist on the internal (or ex sese) efficacy of grace, will maintain that there is an intrinsic difference, to which the result (performance or non-performance) is ultimately due. These will find it hard to explain how a grace can be called sufficient without producing any result; whereas the former will have their difficulty in showing wherein the efficacy of grace consists. If the grace is sufficient, why has it no effect? If the grace is efficacious, how can the result be free? The Reformers and Jansenists, who denied man's power to resist grace, left no room for graces merely sufficient. That these exist is but a corollary of the Catholic doctrine, that all men receive sufficient grace to be saved, but retain their freedom under the influence of grace: as often as they commit sin, the proffered grace remains inefficacious, or merely sufficient.
2. Another point which Catholic theologians admit, is the power of grace to attain its object with certainty. certainty. Whatever activity is displayed by second causes, especially in the supernatural order, is directed by Divine decrees, and supported by Divine co-operation (concursus). No creature can frustrate the will of God. If He wills that a salutary act shall follow upon a given grace, He so disposes the free will that the act infallibly follows. The connection between grace and the act exists both in the order of things and in the order of knowledge: viz. the act follows infallibly, and God knows, from all eternity, that it will follow. Yet the Divine foreknowledge does not prevent the liberty of the act, any more than does the after-knowledge which exists in our memories. The free act is the subject-matter of memory as well as of prevision; its nature is affected by neither (§§ 80, 88).
II. St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Bossuet, and the whole Thomistic school, say that God "moves the will to act according to its own nature, that is, freely." With this single principle St. Thomas meets and solves all objections. God willed that there should be free agents, filling their own place in the universal order of things, and contributing to the perfection of the whole. That free agents exist, is a fact of our consciousness; that their freedom and its exercise are dependent entirely dependent on God, is an elementary theological truth; that we are unable to understand how the First Cause moves the free agent without prejudice to its freedom, is to be expected from minds as imperfect as ours. Our knowledge of "force" is very limited. We know but obscurely how created causes produce their effects, e.g. how the mind moves the body. The way in which the First Cause moves second causes lies beyond the sphere of human knowledge.
St. Thomas, or at least the Thomistic school, explains physical the infallible efficacy of grace by " physical premotion." The Rev. J. Berthier, O.P. of Fribourg University, thus describes this process in the natural order: "Physical premotion is a Divine action, virtually transient, by which God as First Cause confers in each individual case on the second causes, already endowed by Him with the power of acting, the actual performing free or necessary, according to the proper nature of each agent of what He has decreed."1 (1. Actio divina virtualiter transiens, qua Deus tanquam causa prima causis secundis potentia agendi prius ab eo instructis, ipsummet actu agere vel libere vel necessario pro modo singulis proprio, ea que ipse decrevit, hie et nunc confert."
Dr. Manser, Berthier's pupil and disciple, expands this definition as follows: "An action virtually transient;" that is, different from the eternal premotion immanent in and identical with the Divine essence. "On second causes already endowed by Him with the power of acting; " these words discriminate premotion from other Divine actions virtually transient, viz. creation and conservation. "By which God confers the actual performing;" these words give the ratio formalis (the essence) of premotion. For the giving the actual performing of an act implies an immediate motion of the will, by virtue of which the will from non-acting becomes acting, passes from the mere power to act into actual exercise of the act. Again, this immediate Divine motion and application of the will to its proper exercise implies that the motion precedes the act as its cause. Hence it is called " previous " motion, or premotion. And as the Divine motion is an active motion, working as an efficient cause, it is "physical," and plainly different from moral (or persuasive) motion. All this is contained in the words of the definition, "by which God as First Cause confers on the second causes." The clause "... performing what He has decreed . . . in each individual case" points out the infallibility of the effect, both as to the exercise of the will and as to its specific object; that is, the will acts and does exactly what God moves it to do. Lastly, the terms "free or necessary according to the nature of each agent," differentiate two species of premotion, the one given to free, the other to necessary, agents (cf. Possibilitas Praemotionis Physicae Thomisticae, etc., by J. A. Manser, Friburgi Helvetiorum, 1895).
The idea of the First Cause working out His decrees Thomistic unfailingly, yet in harmony with the nature of each created agent, possesses a sublime grandeur which has commended it to the best intellects, obvious difficulties notwithstanding. Among these, the safeguarding of man's freedom of will appears as the greatest to those theologians who make the dogma of human liberty the starting-point of their speculations. The Thomists, however, have a ready answer if answer it be: God moves man to act freely, according to his free nature. To this the reply is: Premotion, as described, is destructive of free will. For, as St. Thomas himself lays down (C. Gentes, iii. 68): "The control which the will has over its acts, and by which it has the power of willing or not willing, excludes the determination (or limitation) of its power to one act or object." It is the very essence of a free will to be left free to choose; whosoever or whatsoever inclines it to one object or act without choice of another, destroys its freedom. Wherefore, if the will be moved according to its nature, it must be moved without physical predetermination to one thing. To this the Thomists' rejoinder is the subtle distinction between freedom of will in sensu composito and in sensu diviso. Once the will has acted and chosen its object, its liberty ceases as to the present act and its object; for these are facts which cannot be undone. E.g. I will write, and do write. Now, it is evident that if I actually will, and actually write, I cannot at the same time (in sensu composito) be actually not willing and not writing. As, however, the particular act and its object do not absorb the whole activity of the will or satisfy all its aspirations, the will remains free to turn itself upon other objects, or free in sensu diviso. Technically, "The free agent, in the act which is proper to it, limits (or determines) itself to one thing (act and object) in the composite sense, but it preserves its free power as regards other acts and objects in the divided sense." The opponents, however, urge that "liberty in the divided sense" is a useless abstraction, since the actual exercise of liberty, according to the Thomists, always implies premotion, and hence implies the "composite sense" in which freedom of choice ceases. This thrust is parried by the Thomistic axiom, " God can and does move the human will according to its free nature; " that is, God moves the will to act, yet so that the created will, under the Divine motion, determines itself to act. Thus the rights of the First Cause as well as those of the free agent are safe: God is the determinant cause and the total cause of all that has positive being in the act; and the created will, although moved by God, is, after its limited manner, viz. under God, likewise the total cause and the master of its operation. It may be well to quote here St. Thomas's idea of free will: " We say that free will (liberum arbitrium) is the cause of its own motion, because man by free will moves himself to act; but it is not essential (necessarium) to freedom that it be the first cause of the free act, any more than in order to be the cause of something else it is essential to be its first cause. God, then, is the First Cause moving both natural and voluntary causes. And as by moving the natural causes He does not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He does not prevent them being voluntary; on the He makes them voluntary; for He works in each cause according to its nature (proprietatem) (Summa, I, q. 83, a. I, ad. 3).
III. The theologians who claim that they follow closely in the footsteps of St. Augustine, chief among these being Laurentius Berti, propose the following system for conciliating the efficacy of grace with free will. Grace, they say, chiefly consists in "delectation." Free will performs no good action if not inclined and determined to act by "victorious" grace (gratia victrix). They only admit such a "sufficient grace" as gives the power but not the actual will, or at most a will so weak and imperfect that it is unable to overcome the flesh and its concupiscence. Now they deem grace "victorious," and hence efficacious, not on account of the co-operation of free will or of suitable circumstances, but of itself and intrinsically. The necessity of a grace of itself efficacious is derived, not as in the Thomistic system, from the subordination of the creature to God, but from the weakness of the human will induced by the Fall. Free will is safeguarded, in their opinion, because man always retains the power of refusing consent his judgment remaining indifferent although, in fact, he never exercises that power. Thus a man has the power of taking his own life, yet as long as he is of sound mind he does not exercise that power. In this point the Augustinian system closely resembles Jansenism. Thomassin adopted the above views with but a slight modification. What the Augustinians attribute to a single grace, he attributes to an aggregate of graces, "of which," he says, "each taken apart may be frustrated, but which, taken together, wear out the resistance of even the most obstinate, and by their number, co-operation, and untiring attacks, bring about consent."
It is an unwarranted assumption that the nature of all grace is delectation, delight, or pleasure. Fear is as potent a factor in human acts as pleasure. Nor are we always prompted to do what promises the greatest pleasure; in fact, the practice of most virtues consists in renouncing the more attractive pleasures of the world for motives of fear or love. But, what is more to the point, the system leaves unsolved the very question at issue. For either the victorious delectation acts on the will morally (by way of persuasion), leaving it physically free to resist, or it acts physically, determining the act and action of the will; in the first case the efficacy of grace is not explained; in the second, free will is abolished. The modification introduced by Thomassin labours under exactly the same difficulty.
IV. They who derive the efficacy of grace from the consent of the will, have received the name of Molinists (from Ludovicus Molina, S.J.). These teach that the will is moved by God physically both in the order of nature and of grace; that without this Divine help the will cannot act; that whatever reality is in the act is attributable to God; and that all things happen as God foreknows and decrees. But they do not admit a Divine concursus or grace so efficacious as to be irresistible and infallibly connected with the act. On the contrary, they hold that grace may retain all its intrinsic efficacy, and yet remain without effect for the want of free assent on the part of man. The Molinists further assert that grace has a true intrinsic and physical efficacy, as it is the physical principle of the act. They concede that the motive of grace is "previous" to the act, inasmuch as it is identical with the Divine substance creating the will, decreeing to co-operate with it, and awakening those indeliberate motions of intellect and will which induce us freely to will good deeds. But all this only constitutes an efficacy of power: the effect, i.e. the actual connection of grace and good work is established by the free consent of the will prepared and assisted by grace. The infallibility of the connection is secured by the scientia media, or the knowledge of things that would exist under given conditions; in the present case, the knowledge that man will freely consent if such and such a grace is held out to him. Congruism and Molinism do not differ, at least in the main lines. In both systems grace is apportioned to man in such wise as to be truly sufficient to obtain its effect, and is given under those circumstances jn which God foreknows that man will consent
Molinism owes its origin to the difficulty of defending free will in the Thomistic system. It is an ingenious fn fpport of hypothesis for the conciliation of efficacious grace and free will. But its supporters claim almost theological certitude for it. They quote Matt. xi. 20 ("Woe to thee, Corozain . . ."), and a long array of similar texts, to prove that in the deposit of faith grace is represented as ineffectual without the consent of man. Then the Council of Trent (sess. vi. c. 5) sets forth with unmistakable clearness that man is able to resist and to reject the grace of God; hence the legitimate conclusion that the efficacy of grace is dependent on man's free co-operation. This being so, we have only to find out how grace may infallibly obtain the consent of free will. Scripture and councils fail to help us here. But theological speculation suggests an easy solution. God knows what each man will do under given circumstances. When, therefore, He wishes a grace to have an infallible effect, He offers it to man at the right moment, i.e. when He knows that man will consent.
Critique of The weak point of the system is that it seems to make God dependent on the creature. It lacks the majesty of the Thomistic conception, in which indeed " the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord; whithersoever He will, He shall turn it"(Prov. xxi. i); and His wisdom " reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly " (Wisd. viii. i). Bossuet criticizes the system in the following words: "A single question put to the authors of this system will show its weak point. Presupposing that God sees what man will do at a certain time and in a certain state, we ask: Does He see it in His decree and because He has so ordained it, or does He see it in the object itself considered outside God and independently of His decree? If you admit the latter alternative, you suppose future things under certain conditions before God has ordained them; and you also suppose that God sees them apart from His eternal decrees which is an impossibility If you say that the things are to happen under such conditions because God has so decreed, you leave the difficulty intact; you still have to explain how, what God has decreed is done freely. Moreover, conditional knowledge (the scientia media) can only be attributed to God by that figure of speech which attributes to Him what really belongs to man alone; and all exact science reduces conditional propositions to absolute ones " (Traité du Libre Arbitre, ch. vi.).
V. Between the years 1598 and 1607, under Popes Clement VIII and Paul V, were held the famous Congregationes de Auxiliis Gratia, in which representative theologians of the two contending parties were invited to propose and defend their views. No positive conclusion was arrived at. The papal decree, which closed the acrimonious controversy without deciding it, forbad the opposing parties to inflict "censures" upon one another. Hence a Catholic is free to adopt either Thomism, or Molinism, or Augustinianism, provided he condemns none of the other systems as heretical, dangerous, rash, offensive to pious ears, and the like. "Grace is grace, despite of all controversy."1 (1 Measure for Measure, act i. sc. 2.)
The history of the Congregation de Auxiliis was written, on the Dominican side, by Hyacinthus Serry, O.P., under the name of Augustinus Le Blanc (A.D. 1699); and later, on behalf of the Molinists, by Livinus de Meyer, S.J., under the name of Theodorus Eleutherius.