Guide Nature and Grace: Selections from the Summa Theologica

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  1. Nature and Grace: Selections from the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas
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To learn more about Copies Direct watch this short online video. Need Help? How do I find a book? Can I borrow this item? In this connection the thoughts of the unity, infinity , unchangeability, and goodness of the highest being are deduced. As God rules in the world, the "plan of the order of things" preexists in him; in other words, his providence and the exercise of it in his government are what condition as cause everything which comes to pass in the world.

Hence follows predestination : from eternity some are destined to eternal life, while as concerns others "he permits some to fall short of that end".

Nature and Grace: Selections from the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas

Reprobation , however, is more than mere foreknowledge; it is the "will of permitting anyone to fall into sin and incur the penalty of condemnation for sin". The effect of predestination is grace. Since God is the first cause of everything, he is the cause of even the free acts of men through predestination. Determinism is deeply grounded in the system of St.

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Thomas; things with their source of becoming in God are ordered from eternity as means for the realization of his end in himself. On moral grounds, St. Thomas advocates freedom energetically; but, with his premises, he can have in mind only the psychological form of self-motivation. Nothing in the world is accidental or free, although it may appear so in reference to the proximate cause. From this point of view, miracles become necessary in themselves and are to be considered merely as inexplicable to man.

From the point of view of the first cause, all is unchangeable, although from the limited point of view of the secondary cause, miracles may be spoken of. In his doctrine of the Trinity , Aquinas starts from the Augustinian system. Since God has only the functions of thinking and willing, only two processiones can be asserted from the Father; but these establish definite relations of the persons of the Trinity, one to another.

The relations must be conceived as real and not as merely ideal; for, as with creatures relations arise through certain accidents, since in God there is no accident but all is substance, it follows that "the relation really existing in God is the same as the essence according to the thing". From another side, however, the relations as real must be really distinguished one from another. Therefore, three persons are to be affirmed in God. Man stands opposite to God; he consists of soul and body.

Summa Theologica: A Layman's Perspective Part 1, Question 1, Articles 1-5

The "intellectual soul" consists of intellect and will. Furthermore, the soul is the absolutely indivisible form of man; it is immaterial substance, but not one and the same in all men as the Averroists assumed. The soul's power of knowing has two sides: a passive the intellectus possibilis and an active the intellectus agens.

It is the capacity to form concepts and to abstract the mind's images species from the objects perceived by sense; but since what the intellect abstracts from individual things is universal, the mind knows the universal primarily and directly and knows the singular only indirectly by virtue of a certain reflexio compare Scholasticism. As certain principles are immanent in the mind for its speculative activity, so also a "special disposition of works" — or the synderesis rudiment of conscience — is inborn in the "practical reason", affording the idea of the moral law of nature so important in medieval ethics.

Part II of the Summa is divided into two parts. The first part comprises quaestiones , and the second part comprises The two parts of the second part are usually presented as containing several "treatises". The contents are as follows:. The first part of the Summa is summed up in the premise that God governs the world as the "universal first cause ".

God sways the intellect; he gives the power to know and impresses the species intelligibiles on the mind, and he sways the will in that he holds the good before it as aim, creating the virtus volendi. Here the Areopagitic ideas of the graduated effects of created things play their part in St.

Thomas's thought.

The second part of the Summa two parts, Prima Secundae and Secunda Secundae follows this complex of ideas. Its theme is man's striving for the highest end, which is the blessedness of the visio beata.

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Here, St. Thomas develops his system of ethics, which has its root in Aristotle. In a chain of acts of will, man strives for the highest end. They are free acts, insofar as man has in himself the knowledge of their end and therein the principle of action. In that the will wills the end, it wills also the appropriate means, chooses freely and completes the consensus.

Whether the act is good or evil depends on the end. The "human reason" pronounces judgment concerning the character of the end; it is, therefore, the law for action. Human acts, however, are meritorious insofar as they promote the purpose of God and his honor. By repeating a good action, man acquires a moral habit or a quality that enables him to do the good gladly and easily.

This is true, however, only of the intellectual and moral virtues which St. Thomas treats after the manner of Aristotle ; the theological virtues are imparted by God to man as a "disposition", from which the acts here proceed; while they strengthen, they do not form it. The "disposition" of evil is the opposite alternative. An act becomes evil through deviation from the reason and from divine moral law. Therefore, sin involves two factors: its substance or matter is lust; in form, however, it is deviation from the divine law.

Sin has its origin in the will, which decides against reason for a "changeable good".


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Since, however, the will also moves the other powers of man, sin has its seat in these too. By choosing such a lower good as its end, the will is misled by self-love, so that this works as cause in every sin. God is not the cause of sin since, on the contrary, he draws all things to himself; but from another side, God is the cause of all things, so he is efficacious also in sin as actio but not as ens.

The devil is not directly the cause of sin, but he incites the imagination and the sensuous impulse of man as men or things may also do. Sin is original sin. Adam's first sin passes through himself to all the succeeding race; because he is the head of the human race and "by virtue of procreation human nature is transmitted and along with nature its infection. The thought is involved here by the fact that St. Thomas, like other scholastics, believed in creationism; he therefore taught that souls are created by God. Two things, according to St.

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Thomas, constituted man's righteousness in paradise — the justitia originalis , or the harmony of all man's powers before they were blighted by desire, and the possession of the gratis gratum faciens the continuous, indwelling power of good. Both are lost through original sin, which, in form, is the "loss of original righteousness.

The course of thought here is as follows: when the first man transgressed the order of his nature appointed by nature and grace, he and with him the human race lost this order.

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This negative state is the essence of original sin. From it follow an impairment and perversion of human nature in which thenceforth lower aims rule, contrary to nature, and release the lower element in man.

Since sin is contrary to the divine order, it is guilt and subject to punishment. Guilt and punishment correspond to each other; and since the "apostasy from the invariable good which is infinite," fulfilled by man, is unending, it merits everlasting punishment. God works even in sinners to draw them to the end by "instructing through the law and aiding by grace. The divine law consists of an old and a new. Insofar as the old divine law contains the moral law of nature, it is universally valid; what there is in it, however, beyond this is valid only for the Jews.

The new law is "primarily grace itself" and so a "law given within"; "a gift superadded to nature by grace," but not a "written law. It contains, however, an "ordering" of external and internal conduct and so regarded is, as a matter of course, identical with both the old law and the law of nature. The consilia show how one may attain the end "better and more expediently" by full renunciation of worldly goods.

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Since man is sinner and creature, he needs grace to reach the final end. The "first cause" alone is able to reclaim him to the "final end. Grace is, on one side, "the free act of God", and, on the other side, the effect of this act, the gratia infusa or gratia creata, a habitus infusus that is instilled into the "essence of the soul," "a certain gift of disposition, something supernatural proceeding from God into man.

Justification by grace comprises four elements: "the infusion of grace, the influencing of free will toward God through faith, the influencing of free will respecting sin, and the remission of sins. A creative act of God enters, which, however, executes itself as a spiritual motive in a psychological form corresponding to the nature of man. Semipelagian tendencies are far removed from St. In that man is created anew, he believes and loves, and now, sin is forgiven.

Then begins good conduct; grace is the "beginning of meritorious works.