The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions
"Pt. 2: Predestination and reprobation - Ch. 17: Solution of the problem from the sources of revelation"
279. The removal of obstacles: For many centuries the true solution, which is found implicitly in the sources of revelation, was obscured by the presence of erroneous interpretations of Romans 8-91 which seemed to explicitly contradict the true solution; but today, thanks to the merciful design of Divine Providence, these misinterpretations have been removed and most helpful declarations of the Magisterium on implicit texts have been given. Hence, we are in a position to see clearly what was once obscured.
Some excellent theologians have prepared the way. We shall sketch the thought of only the principal ones.
First of all, in some related matters, the doctrine of theologians has shifted. For the older Thomists, especially Bañez, Alvarez, Gonet, John of St. Thomas, and others, had taught that God offers sufficient grace for conversion only inasmuch as He provides general means, sufficient in themselves; but they said that God does not immediately provide sufficient grace to all men. Substantially the same notion could be found in even some theologians of the opposing camp. Thus, Suarez wrote:2 ". . . on God's part, sufficient helps are prepared for all. But that which happens in many cases, that such remedies, or the preaching of the faith does not reach them, is accidental, not caused by God, but foreseen and permitted. The permission is not unjust, for God does not owe the greater helps to anyone. In fact, as St. Augustine often says, since men were in original sin, this can be considered a just punishment in those who suffer it, even though by the mercy of God it was forgiven for others."
Today, on the contrary, we read these words of E. Hugon, OP:3 "To all infidels, even negative infidels, graces that are proximately or remotely sufficient for the time and place are given. Although many theologians once contradicted, this conclusion is today almost general."
280. F. Marín-Sola, OP, and F. Muñiz, OP: Many prominent Thomists today have denied some of the essential elements of the older Thomistic view. Outstanding among these are Marín-Sola and Muñiz. In regard to negative reprobation before consideration of demerits, Muñiz writes:4 "That negative reprobation before prevision of sins seems to us to be, from every point of view, incompatible with the universal salvific will of God. It is true that glory is an entirely gratuitous benefit, which God can grant to whom He wills and refuse to whom He wills, but it is no less true, that God most freely and liberally, has decided to grant that benefit of glory to all men, without exception. If anyone remains without obtaining it, that is not by fault of God, but by his own fault. How, then, could it be maintained that God-even before man has placed resistance to grace by sin-should not elect that one to glory, or should seek to exclude him from heaven?"
In regard to predestination, Marín-Sola explains his opinion in three propositions (out of ten propositions on the Thomistic system on divine movement).5 Proposition 4: "Predestination, not only to grace but also to glory, is completely gratuitous, and has as its cause, motive, or foundation or condition no merit or anything else on man's part: it has no more reason for being than the pure will of God. But merits are one thing, and a very different thing are demerits or sins. Without going at all counter to Thomistic principles, it can be maintained that both predestination and reprobation suppose the prevision of sins." Proposition 5: "The question whether predestination to glory is completely gratuitous- a question which every Thomist must answer affirmatively-is essentially distinct from the question of whether it is before or after predestination to grace or to merits. As long as one affirms that merits come not from a versatile grace or indifferent concursus, but from a grace that is intrinsically efficacious, it is a matter of small importance whether one says predestination to glory is before or after [prevision of] merits." Proposition 6: "Both the imperfect acts which precede justification, and which some call merits de congruo, and the salutary acts after justification, which are merits de condigno, can be considered under two aspects: (a) in themselves, abstracting from whether they are persevering to the end or not; (b) inasmuch as they are persevering to the end. . . . Now then: when the Thomists assert that predestination to glory precedes prevision of merits, it is sufficient to understand merits in the second sense, that is, merits inasmuch as they are persevering to the end. . . . " That is, it can be held that the decree of predestination is made before merits in asmuchas they are persevering, but after merits, abstracting from perseverance. A decree of predestination made thus is gratuitous, because the gift of perseverance is gratuitous, and because the merits are made through a grace that is intrinsically efficacious. Hence, because6 "grace, which is the root and font of merit, is a gratuitous gift of God, whatever good we do by grace is the fruit and effect of that same grace and is, thereby, gratuitous. If God predestines to glory through merits made with and through His grace, He does nothing other than predestine through merits which He Himself has mercifully and generously placed in us." So, a predestination made in this way is "after prevision of merits, but not out of prevision of merits; it is after prevision of merits, but out of the mercy and goodness of God." A grace that is frustrable, but intrinsically efficacious suffices for merits considered in themselves, but for persevering merits, an infrustrable grace is needed. Perseverance is given,7 "to him who with sufficient grace . . . does that little or much that he can do with it . . ."8
We note that Marín-Sola and Muñiz do not say flatly that predestination is decreed after prevision of merits, but rather, that it can be held within Thomism that it is so decreed. Marín-Sola himself explains the reason for speaking in this way:9 "To forestall an infinity of more or less subtle objections; and also to shorten the distance between Thomism and the middle systems, and principally because Thomists of the first rank have already pointed to it, we added that the above propositions [5-8]10 can be defended within Thomism." On the page immediately before, he had said that the propositions in question, "which probably are the ones that will be the more offensive to many Thomists, could have been omitted, since we do not consider them absolutely necessary for the purpose intended, that is, to clarify, simplify, and harmonize the Thomistic concepts on this subject, making all or the principal difficulties of the adversaries vanish, especially those in regard to liberty, sin, and reprobation."
281. It is regrettable that Marín-Sola did not speak more clearly. For he says in proposition 4 that "predestination . . . is completely gratuitous, and has as its cause, motive or foundation or condition no merit or anything else on man's part. . . . " He seems in these words to assert categorically that predestination comes before prevision of merits and excludes any kind of conditioning. Yet he adds in proposition 6 that, "When the Thomists assert that predestination to glory precedes prevision of merits, it is sufficient to understand merits . . . inasmuch as they are persevering to the end," so that predestination seems able to be put before merits inasmuch as they are persevering, but after merits "abstracting from whether they are persevering to the end or not."
Now it is difficult to see how proposition 6 even could be defended if proposition 4 is true. For if it can be flatly asserted that predestination is entirely without any condition (proposition 4) then predestination cannot also be after merits in any sense whatsoever. For even though he says (proposition 5) that "it is a matter of small importance" whether predestination be placed before or after merits, yet there is a real difference: the two are formally different. Marín-Sola says it does not make much difference because merits infallibly follow in virtue of an intrinsically efficacious grace if man does not resist. But it still remains true: Predestination can be after prevision of merits only if merits are a condition, for words "before" and "after" can be used in reference to divine decrees only in the sense of a logical sequence. In a logical sequence, one thing comes before and another after only if the one thing is a cause or a condition of the other thing Therefore, if merits are a condition, then predestination is after prevision of merits. But if they are not a condition (as proposition 4 says) then predestination is not after prevision of merits. Only one of the two propositions (4 or 6) can be true: both cannot be true. So, if predestination really is before prevision of merits, then it is not at all permissible to have recourse to a theory of predestination after prevision of merits in order "to clarify, simplify and harmonize the Thomistic concepts on this subject, making all or the principal difficulties of the adversaries vanish."
We can only conclude that Marín-Sola speaks thus because he is uncertain of the precise place of predestination. For if he were certain that it comes before merits, then there would be no reason to defend predestination after merits: it would not be permissible to do so. And for sure, he would have preferred not to defend predestination after merits, since he knew it so greatly displeased so many Thomists, so that as a result he felt it necessary to explain with great care in what way his view differed from Molinism. If he could have flatly asserted, and with certitude, that predestination comes before merits, he could have much more easily defended himself against charges of Molinism.
The same incertitude appears also in some of the expressions employed by Marín-Sola and Muñiz when they make outlines of their views on predestination. Thus, in an outline made by Marín-Sola, we read that, in the first logical moment, God wills that all men be saved, and that He wills to give sufficient graces. In the second moment, He sees with the knowledge of vision,11 "in those decrees . . . the actual defects or impediments placed or not placed by each man to those graces. In our fallen nature we can actually omit placing an impediment to those graces in the short and easy stretches; but we all will actually place them, without a special grace, in the long and difficult stretch which extends from the call to justification, and more, from it to death." Hence, in the third moment, there is a special providence "predestining most freely to glory whomsoever God wishes, and giving, as a result, for that purpose, grace that is efficacious and persevering to the end; and reprobating, similarly, whomsoever God wills, in merely not giving (in negative reprobation) the special and persevering grace. . . . Both the will to save and the will to reprobate are completely gratuitous or most free, so that His liberty has no other limit than that which God, most freely however, and out of mere mercy, has imposed on Himself in promising us, through the merits of the passion of His Divine Son, to save or not to reprobate everyone who, with His grace, does what he can and prays for what he cannot."12
Now this description does not indicate precisely whether predestination is decreed before or after prevision of merits. It simply says that God predestines "everyone who, with His grace, does what he can and prays for what he cannot."
1) This description could stand for predestination before prevision of merits. For in saying that everyone is predestined who with grace "does what he can," Marín-Sola seems to mean essentially: he who does not place impediments is predestined. For near the end of the same article he writes:13 "God . . . never denies that infallibly efficacious and persevering grace to him who with sufficient grace does that something which he is able to do and does that praying that he is able to do; that is, he does not place those impediments which he is actually able not to place. . . . " But this description of the process of conferring grace is substantially the same as that of St. Thomas, which we saw in chapter 14 (except that Marín-Sola says that the grace of perseverance must be an infrustrable grace-a thing that St. Thomas does not say, and which does not agree with revelation,14 according to which the internal grace of perseverance is not infrustrable, even though the total effect is certain since, if it be needed, God will add a special providence governing the time of death so that death may not catch the predestined one in the state of sin). Being virtually the same as the description of St. Thomas, it could accord with predestination before prevision of merits-though, as we saw in chapter 14,15 it could also go with predestination after prevision of merits.
2) The possibility that the description implies predestination after prevision of merits is heightened by the fact that when a man "with . . . grace, does what he can," he actually gains merit. If predestination were decreed after only one grace, then it would be easy to say that the mere absence of an impediment would be the condition for predestination. But, as we explained above,16 when one realizes that predestination is not decreed after the outcome of one grace, but after the whole series, in which the grant of at least some later graces depends on the outcome of earlier graces, then it is difficult to see how God could do other than foresee merits before predestining, since in the series, merits will actually be present after at least one grace to which no impediment was placed. As we shall see below,17 this difficulty can be solved. But if one employs a speculative procedure (as Marín-Sola does) it is possible to show at most only that predestination could be before prevision of merits. It is only by the revealed analogy of the Father that it can be shown that predestination certainly is before prevision of merits. Marín-Sola probably felt this difficulty. If he knew even the speculative part of the solution, he at least gave no indication thereof. And certainly, he did not employ the Father analogy which is, as we said, the only means of certainly proving that predestination is before and not after prevision of merits. Since then Marín-Sola was not certain, he quite properly wrote as he did. Further, if he had thought his description of the process of the grant of grace really excluded predestination after prevision of merits, then he would not and could not have defended predestination after prevision of merits as even a probable opinion.
Muñiz too, who followed Marín-Sola, speaks with similar indecision when he gives his schema of predestination.18
We must conclude, then, that Marín-Sola and Muñiz certainly hold reprobation after prevision of demerits, but they at least seem to be uncertain whether predestination comes before or after prevision of merits. They did very well in rejecting reprobation before prevision of merits. They are to be praised for so faithfully following St. Thomas in the description of the process of conferring grace. However, they should not have made perseverance an infrustrable grace in regard to its internal element.19 It would have been better if they had begun with revelation, instead of working almost exclusively by speculation, for then they might have found that predestination is certainly before prevision of merits and, at the same time, they could have found the means of easily solving all objections without the need of recourse to predestination after prevision of merits. They could not exclude this latter because they had correctly solved all speculative objections against it, but yet had not found the revealed solution which is the only means of excluding predestination after prevision of merits, as we shall see below.20
We wish that in his schema Marín-Sola had not said that God "similarly" reprobates "whomsoever [He] wills" after saying that God predestines "most freely . . . whomsoever [He] wishes." In themselves these words at least seem to accord poorly with the salvific will. Marín-Sola actually does not deny the salvific will. It would have been better therefore to avoid such potentially misleading expressions. Actually, although Marín-Sola and Muñiz saw that the salvific will is sincere and universal, they did not come to see its true vehemence, which can be known only by revelation.21
282. Philippe de la Trinité, OCD: One of the most outstanding theologians of our day, Father Philippe de la Trinité, arrived at the principal conclusions of the true solution. We can present his thought more briefly, since he expressed it clearly, without obscurity. In the article "Notre liberté devant Dieu," he wrote:22 ". . . our merits are absolutely incapable of being the first cause of our predestination. . . . on the other hand, the demerits incurred in refusing graces are really the first cause of damnation. . . ." He does not fully explain the way these truths harmonize, but says:23 "Let us hold both ends of the chain. The mystery remains. . . ." In regard to the efficacy of grace and human conditioning he says:24 "There are not two graces specifically distinct from one another, efficacious and sufficient graces. Grace is not a priori efficacious or sufficient independently of my resistance, but it is made efficacious or not in view of my resistance. . . ." However: "I by no means make grace efficacious, although I can make it ineffective. . . ." "Grace is intrinsically efficacious since it draws its efficacy solely from the divine omnipotence and not from the consent of our will which is totally the fruit of grace. . . ." And: "Inasmuch as not to consent is to resist, it is solely from me; inasmuch as not to resist is to consent, it is first of all from God, for it is entirely a gift of God."25
283. Dom Mark Pontifex, OSB: This excellent theologian, in a recent book, Freedom and Providence, teaches, on the basis of metaphysical analysis, that everything positive in our actions is due to God, but that negatives or deficiencies have their first origin in us.26
Charles Cardinal Journet: The true solution is also implied by one of our most brilliant theologians in his treatment of the divine call.27
284. The analogy itself: The principal way in which Christ revealed to us the nature of God was in the name which He uses on almost every page of the Gospels: God is our Father.
The way was prepared for this revelation in the Old Testament. For, as we saw in chapter 4, through the old covenant of Sinai, God, out of the most intense love, willed to bind Himself to do good to His people, so that there existed between Him and them the relation expressed by the Hebrew word hesed. That is, God bound Himself to act as the next of kin, as a blood relative of the people of Israel. He willed also to be called the redeemer of the people whom He delivered from the slavery of Egypt and acquired as a people for Himself. "Redeemer" in Hebrew is go'el. Now the principal and usual meaning of this word is:28 ". . . that next of kin to whom the Mosaic law gave the right or enjoined the duty of redeeming his kinsmen and protecting them in all their rights." He acted this way out of the love of a Father, as He said through Hosea:29 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son," so that Isaiah lyrically exclaims:30 "For thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; thou, O Lord, art our Father."
But under the new covenant,31 in which the true go'el, Christ, liberated us from the slavery of sin and acquired us as a people, God not only acts as though He were the next of kin, but, in the literal sense he becomes, by an added title, our Father, since the Son of this Father is our blood brother.
We have then, from direct revelation, an analogy from which we can learn much about God. It is to be regretted that so many theologians say little about this analogy-perhaps out of fear that someone might want to say: If God is our Father, surely he will damn no one. But that, of course, would be obviously false. However actually, if the analogy is rightly understood, it not only does not lead to such an error, but instead, the very existence of an eternal hell can be proved from it, as we shall soon see. We need then to investigate the chief truths contained in this analogy.
285. In the ordinary human family, with which a comparison is made, the father loves and cares for all the children. He wants all to turn out well. But why does the father love and care for the children? It was not required that they do something so that he would begin to love them: He began to love them before the children could do anything. Nor is it required that the children do something, e.g., various chores around their home,32 so that the father may continue to love and care for them. For the love of the father continues by its own force, out of his goodness. Something grave would be required to interrupt his love (or its effects) but nothing is required from the children in order that it may continue in its course. However, even though the children neither can nor must merit that the love of the father should begin, nor need they do anything so that his love may continue (for it continues by its own force), still, they can merit to be deprived of this love and care. For they can really merit punishment if they are bad. And, if they are gravely and persistently bad, they can even merit that the father should, though sadly, disinherit them.
Similarly God, our Father, loves and cares for all His children. He wants all to turn out well, i.e., to be saved. But why does He love them? It was not required that we do anything so that He might begin to love us-He began to love us before we existed; or rather, if He had not done this, we would not have existed at all. Nor is it required that we do something so that He may continue33 to love us, precisely because His love moves by its own power, out of His spontaneous unmerited goodness. However, we can merit punishment. And, if we are gravely and persistently bad,34 we can merit to be cast out of the house of our Father forever. This disinheritance is the pain of loss, which is the principal pain of hell.
So, those who are gravely and persistently bad, will be expelled from the house of their Father, that is, they are reprobated after and because of their demerits. But all others-God continues loving and caring for them, and giving all that is needed for salvation, including predestination itself, not because these children are good, nor because they have merited it, but simply because the Father from the outset, of his own spontaneous unmerited goodness, wanted to do this. For He wanted from the outset to save all and so He also willed to predestine them. He who wills the end, wills the means. But there is no salvation without predestination. Therefore, in willing to save all, He also willed to predestine all. It is not required that the children place any condition in order that God may predestine them, because the will of the Father was from the outset freely so disposed that He wanted to give everything needed for salvation, including predestination. Since this love and will of the Father moves by its own force, by force of His own goodness, nothing is required from man in order that it may continue, even though something serious would be required from man to interrupt35 this will so that it would not continue but would instead reprobate and cast them out of the number of His children.
286. Predestination is before, not after, prevision of merits: It is clear from this revealed Father analogy that predestination is neither because of nor after consideration of merits. Predestination would be because of merits, if merits were required to move the Father: but nothing is required to move Him; in fact, nothing could move Him. Predestination would be after, though not because of, prevision of merits if merits were a condition which the Father would freely will to consider, and predestine after finding it. But, as we have seen, nothing at all is required from man, i.e., it is not required that a man place any condition so that the love and care of the Father may begin and may continue, and may, in its course, predestine. The reason is that His love and care start and continue out of His own goodness. As we saw, a grave condition would be required to interrupt His love (or, more exactly, the effects of His love); but precisely because His love is spontaneous, self-moving, nothing is required from man that it may continue.
287. But we must still raise a question: Even though, by the nature of His love, it is not required that His children place any condition so that the love and care of the Father may continue, still, it is possible that the Father for some reason, e.g., out of love of good order, might want to add something, as it were by positive decree, that is, to decree that merits must be the formal condition. (We could not, of course, suppose that He would be so disposed as to refuse predestination to a son who did not resist, but still did not have merits-if these two things were separable. Certainly, the vehement force of His self-moving love would not leave room for that. Our question is solely about the possibility of adding a formal condition out of a positive decision of God).
The answer is that such a possibility is excluded by the revealed Father analogy.
1) A good human father, who has strong love, at least actually does not make any work or merit on the part of his children a formal requirement for his love and care, as long as they are little. Actually, for such a father, it is enough if the children do not place a negative condition that calls for punishment. Now, God, our Father, is the best of all Fathers, and has most vehement love (measured by the passion and the infinite objective titles for each individual), and we are always small children in His sight, for no matter how old we are we depend much more on Him than do small children in a human family: we can do nothing, even in the natural order, without the constant support of the power of our Father. Therefore, since God has revealed that He acts like a good Father to us, He has implicitly revealed that He does not add any such positive condition.
2) Furthermore, a human father simply would not be permitted to omit loving and caring for his small children precisely and formally because of the absence of a positive condition which he would demand from his child. The obligation of the father is imposed by the very nature of things from the very fact that he is a father. This obligation binds the father even though no positive condition is placed by the child. Only a gravely bad condition placed by the child will liberate the father from his obligation. It is true, a human father can order his children to do things to help in the home, and the children can merit punishment by disobedience. However, if a punishment is given, it is given formally because of disobedience, not formally because of a lack of a positive condition, i.e., the penalty of disinheritance and expulsion (if things reach such an extreme) is warranted precisely because of the evil condition of disobedience-not by the lack of a positive condition of earning the love and care of the father. Therefore God, from the fact that He acts as a Father to us, has implicitly revealed that He too acts in the way in which human fathers not only actually act but are bound to act. (If God wishes merits to be present for the sake of good order, this is sufficiently provided for in the order of execution, as we shall see below).36
Therefore it is revealed in the Father analogy that predestination is not after but before prevision of merits.
288. If we were following strictly speculative procedure, instead of working by exegesis of revelation, we would find it necessary at this point to explain how God can so arrange things that predestination will not be after prevision of merits. Three difficulties would present themselves:
1) It could seem that to omit resistance to grace is the same as not to sin. But a decision not to sin is a meritorious act.
2) It could seem impossible to put predestination before prevision of merits if reprobation is put after prevision of demerits, since he who is not reprobated is predestined, and vice versa.
3) The problem of the placing of predestination after a series of graces, of which we have already spoken37 would present itself.
We said these problems would have to be solved if we were following a speculative procedure, since in such a procedure, it is not possible to see the fact that a process takes place unless one is simultaneously able to see how it can take place. But when we proceed by the exegesis of revelation the situation is different: there we can and do learn from revelation the fact that many things are true, without being also told how they can be true. Hence, the explanations of the above mentioned problems are part of the essence of the solution, if one works speculatively. But if one proceeds by exegesis of revelation, they are only objections to be solved, not parts of the essence of the solution. Now an objection against a revealed truth cannot shake that truth, even if the objection remains unanswered. Otherwise, a man who encounters an objection to his faith would be logically required to suspend his faith until he could find the answer.
So, by revelation we know the fact that God does not predestine after, but before, prevision of merits, even though we have not yet seen the how. For the revealed analogy shows, as we have seen, that merits are not a condition precisely because nothing at all is needed from man in order that the Father's love may start and may continue, since it started and continues by its own force, that is, by the spontaneous unmerited goodness of the Father. Something grave from man would be required to interrupt the effects of that love; nothing from him is needed that it may continue. The same analogy shows that God has not, as it were, by positive decree added merits as a condition.
Actually, we have already seen in chapter 738 the solution to the first of these problems, and shall see it more fully below in chapter 18.39 We will see the answer to the second problem in the next section of this chapter. The third problem will be solved among the objections to this chapter.40
289. Reconciliation of predestination before prevision of merits with reprobation after prevision of demerits: The way of reconciling these is clear from the Father analogy itself. We could present it in three logical moments:
1) Out of mere goodness and generosity, of His own accord, before any merit of creatures, the Father wills, most sincerely and vehemently, to love and care for all His children, and to give all that is needed for salvation, including predestination itself (without which there is no salvation): the universal salvific will.
2) He foresees certain ones gravely and persistently41 resisting grace. With regrets, He decrees to expel these from His inheritance: reprobation after and because of grave and persistent resistance to grace.
3 ) All others-He continues to love and care for them, and, in the execution and course of this love and care, He positively predestines as soon as He sees that there is not present a condition which would require their rejection. As we have said, it is not required that man place any condition in order that he be predestined for this decree is given out of the continuing love of God that moves by its own power and requires nothing else to stimulate it. A condition is required that God may reject; no condition is required in order that His love may continue: predestination before prevision of merits.
We could also, if we preferred, express the same things in a different way, namely:
1) The universal salvific will: as above.
2) In the continuation and execution of this love and care, the Father positively predestines all those whom He does not foresee as placing a condition (grave and persistent resistance) which would require their rejection. It is not required that they place any condition at all in order to be predestined, since this is done out of the continuing love of the Father which moves by His spontaneous unmerited goodness and does not require any stimulus or condition.
3) Those whom He foresees resisting gravely and persistently, He decrees to reject and cast out of the number of His children.
The second arrangement is preferred by some since in it predestination is put in a logical moment before reprobation. But actually, even if reprobation be placed in the second moment, predestination is always the preferred thing and the primary thing, for it is a mere continuation and execution of the will that is present already in the first logical moment.
Others prefer the first arrangement, because it brings out better the fact that there is no condition that man must place in order to be predestined.
290. Predestination is gratuitous: This is obviously true in either arrangement, for even before God considers human merits, He predestines, and because the sole and total cause of predestination is the goodness and love of the Father which moves spontaneously without stimulus, merit, or condition. The absence of grave and persistent resistance in man is the mere absence of a cause that would call for reprobation: it is an ontological zero.42
291. Conditions in predestination and reprobation: We have said that no condition needs to be placed by man in order that he may be predestined. For God reprobates all who resist grace gravely and persistently, but He predestines all others, not because they did something, but because He has always wanted to do so. In the predestined, at the logical moment in which election is made,43 God does not see any condition that has been placed by them. He merely sees that they have not placed any bad condition: an ontological zero. He sees the absence of grave and persistent resistance. Now, as we have seen,44 this absence of resistance is not a positive decision made by our will but the mere absence of an evil decision in the first logical moment after grace begins to move us. In that moment, the human will does not move itself. So in that moment, there is nothing in the human will that the man has placed there: only the effects of the motion of grace, which come from God alone, are present. So God sees the predestined man placing no condition, doing nothing. Therefore, as we have seen, the condition in man is a nothing, an ontological zero. It is only in the logical order, within the divine mind and will, that it would be possible to speak of a condition inasmuch as this proposition is formed by the divine mind itself:45 "I see no resistance or decision made by this man." And in the divine will: "I have always wanted to predestine this man: I will do it unless I see in him grave and persistent resistance."
291a. From this we can draw a corollary for the spiritual life. We imagine for each person a ledger in which are written the values of his good acts. On the credit page I write the number for what I have contributed to my good acts. It is a metaphysical zero. So St. Paul writes to the Corinthians:46 "What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?" So my self-esteem goes to zero, seeing that I contribute only a zero. On the debit page I write the number for my sins. Seeing these, my self-esteem sinks belows zero. But on a secondary level, I know that I am wonderful-an adopted child of God, with a share in the divine nature. So I am simultaneously worse than worthless and marvelous.
292. Resistance must be grave and persistent, for reprobation: It is quite obvious that resistance must be grave. For the salvific will would be very feeble if it were to reprobate for anything less. But we know it is most vehement.
It is obvious that it must be persistent at least in the sense that it must last to the end of the actual life of the man who is reprobated: If a man does not resist grace at the end, he will be saved. And, as we have seen, God said through the prophet Ezechiel, without qualification:47 "As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live."
But we need to investigate the matter more precisely. As we saw in chapter 4, Christ in His passion established infinite objective titles to grace and forgiveness for men. He established these titles for each individual man, as Pope Pius XII explained48 ". . . and His voluntary holocaust is the supreme gift that He imparted to each individual man, according to the terse statement of the Apostles: 'He loved me, and gave Himself up for me.'" These titles are valid both for graces and for pardon since the work of Christ has an infinite value also in the category of satisfaction, and because the infusion of grace remits sins. Therefore, since God has established infinite titles for pardon and for grace for each individual, He has bound Himself to offer pardon without restriction to each individual. The fact that He established infinite titles for each man proves that His salvific will intends to set no limits49 (within ordinary providence: for the extraordinary cannot become ordinary): limits are set only by men, in making themselves incurable.50 So the restriction must be found on man's side51 in his persistent refusal of graces. This persistent refusal produces physical or moral incurability.52 (We have already answered the problem arising from the infinity of one mortal sin).53
The conclusion that persistent resistance is needed is confirmed by the fact that the Father has given Mary to all of us as a Spiritual Mother and Dispensatrix of all graces. All graces are actually dispensed as it pleases the Heart of the best of Mothers.54 Now, a special characteristic of maternal love is its persistence, even in the face of offences. This Heart of Mary is completely in accord with the Heart of her Son, and with the Father. Therefore, in this way it is revealed that the love of God is also persistent in our regard. To overcome the effects of a persistent love, persistent resistance is needed.
Our conclusion is confirmed also in another way: If the Father were to reprobate for less than persistent resistance then the disciple would be above the Master. For the disciple is ordered to forgive seventy times seven times, i.e., always. It is for these reasons that the Church always teaches that God is ever ready to take back sinners, after howsoever great a number of howsoever great sins. Even in the Old Testament this attitude appeared in the words of God which we cited from Ezechiel, since God said, with no restriction as to number of magnitude of sins, that He wills not the death of the sinner, but his conversion.
We conclude that reprobation is decreed only after prevision of grave and persistent resistance.
293. It is to be noted that we said reprobation is decreed after prevision of grave and persistent resistance. For it is quite possible, even likely, that God sometimes sends death to a man after one, or a few, mortal sins that have actually been committed, if He foresees that the same man will resist gravely and persistently to the end of his life. To send an early death to such a man is an act of mercy, preventing the man from falling into a worse damnation. Certainly, justice is not violated because in itself, even one mortal sin deserves damnation. Nor does God violate in this way the obligation by which He bound Himself with the infinite titles of the redemption since He did not bind Himself to act not only in vain55 (by offering so many opportunities to a man who certainly will not use them) but even to the harm of the recipient (for that man would abuse them to his greater damnation). Another reason for an earlier death in some cases might be to prevent the eternal ruin of others through the sins of the man who is given an earlier death.
Thus, as we have already shown,56 the warning of Christ to watch is not made void by our position on the need of persistent resistance.
294. Salvation through extraordinary means: We must add, however: Even some of those who resist gravely and persistently are saved. We have already seen57 that St. Thomas teaches that some are saved and converted even if they resist. This can be true even if they resist persistently, even if they become hardened. Now to convert a man in spite of his resistance by forestalling or cancelling out his resistance an extraordinary grace is required.58 God can grant such graces, and certainly does grant them to some men, under conditions which He has freely set. Probably, at least in some cases, He works as follows: If other men will to fill up those things that are lacking to the sufferings of Christ for His Body (as St. Paul said and did), then there will be special objective titles for other men. Men who resist gravely and persistently lack even the minimum conformity to Christ which is needed to share in the claims He established, so as to be saved.59 But other men can compensate and supply for their deficiency. If they do, the Father with joy assigns these titles, through the communication within the Mystical Body, to men who are deficient in themselves. But we must notice an implication in this proposed system, namely, that the compensation will probably have to be truly great in order to provide an objective title for extraordinary graces-for such graces are needed to convert men in spite of their resistance. Hence it is clear how it happens that great saints can obtain the conversion of the most hardened sinners, while ordinary men, who do rather little, do not always obtain such conversions.60
295. Solution through the revelation on the salvific will: Since this will is sincere and most vehement, it follows that no one is reprobated except after consideration of personal demerits. For if God were to desert61 a man without such demerits, He could not simultaneously say that He willed to save that same man. Hence, reprobation must be after and because of prevision of demerits. The demerits must be truly grave and persistent to overcome the effects of a salvific will so powerful that it willed to establish infinite titles for each man.62 But it is also clear from the revelation on the salvific will that God has that sort of disposition that we learned through the Father analogy, namely, that it was not required that man do anything so that God might begin to will his salvation. Nor is it required that man place any condition so that this will of God may continue, precisely because that will is spontaneous and moves by the goodness of God. Since God wills man's salvation, and since salvation cannot be had without predestination, therefore that will includes predestination (he who wills the end wills the means) and will continue even to the point of predestining, without the need of a condition being placed by man. A condition would be needed to interrupt the effects of this will; but no condition is required for this will to continue, since it continues by its own power, out of His spontaneous goodness.
However, the revelation of the salvific will does not give us the means of excluding the possibility of which we spoke above,63 namely, that God might, by mere positive decree, will to make merits a condition. Hence we cannot prove by the revelation on the salvific will that predestination does not come after prevision of merits, even though it is truly probable that merits are not a condition, since the sort of will He has revealed is a self-moving spontaneous will that moves of its own force without the need of any condition from man.
296. Confirmation of the solution from the revealed doctrine on the purpose of creation: As we saw in chapter 3, the revealed doctrine on the purpose of creation excludes reprobation before consideration of demerits. But this same doctrine also shows that God began to will the salvation of men spontaneously, without man's having done anything. This same purpose of His will continues in its course, since, as we saw in chapter 3, God bound together His glory and the salvation of men so that they are inseparable. Since this attitude and purpose of God continues of itself, no condition from man is needed so that it may continue, even though a grave condition from man would be needed in order that God might will not to save him.
However, the revelation on the purpose of creation does not give us any certain means of excluding the possibility we spoke of:64 that God might, as it were by positive decree wish to make merits a condition.
297. Partial confirmation from Romans 6:23: St. Paul wrote to the Romans:65 ". . . the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." In this text, St. Paul is not speaking about predestination, but he seems to be speaking of the most basic conditions for salvation. We note an important distinction in his words. Death, or damnation, is called "wages," that is, something that man really can merit. Eternal life, however, is not called "wages" but a "gift." This does not prove that predestination is before consideration of merits, but it does fit well with it. Similarly, the text suggests that reprobation is after consideration of demerits.
298. Even though not only in this chapter, but in the entire investigation, we are trying to follow theological method very strictly, yet, particularly since many theologians are fond of a philosophical approach, it will be not inopportune to say a few things on the subject with the help of pure philosophy, abstracting from revelation.
St. Thomas expresses the situation this way:66 "Now the principal reason why one should hope in Him is this, that we belong to Him as an effect to a cause. But nothing works in vain: it works for some certain end. Therefore it pertains to each agent to so produce an effect that it may not lack the things by which it can reach its end. . . . Now man was made by God like an artisan's product by an artisan . . . and so, just as an earthenware vessel, if it had intelligence, could have hope in the potter that he would dispose it well, so also man should have hope in God that he will be well governed by Him. . . . But this confidence that man has in God should be most certain. For it is said67 that no agent fails in the right disposition of his work except out of some defect of his. But in God there can be no defect, not ignorance . . . nor inability . . . nor, again, a deficiency in good will. . . . And therefore the hope by which one trusts in God does not confound the one who hopes."
Therefore reprobation should be after consideration of demerits because the reason why the effect fails to reach the end cannot be in God the "artisan." It is clear also that predestination must be gratuitous, since the artisan owes nothing to his product, even though He owes it to Himself not to make it in vain. But the reasoning does not prove that predestination is not after consideration of merits.
Scholion on predestination after foreseen merits.
299. Several objections based on speculative grounds are commonly raised against predestination after prevision of merits. Strictly speaking, it is not necessary for us to answer them, since we are not defending predestination after foreseen merits. In general, we do think that Marin-Sola and Muñiz have solved them well, even though we do not agree with them in saying that perseverance always requires an infrustrable grace.68 But the reason why we reject predestination after foreseen merits is not found in speculative objections, since all of them can be solved well. Nor is it found in the fact that St. Augustine rejected predestination after foreseen merits: for a single Father is not enough to prove a point. The morally unanimous consent of all the Fathers, speaking as witnesses of revelation, is needed. Further, St. Augustine arrived at his position out of an erroneous interpretation of Sacred Scripture.69 Even though his conclusion is true, the foundation he thought he had in revelation is invalid.
Nor do we reject predestination after foreseen merits as contrary to the teachings of St. Thomas. For we think that all passages of St. Thomas (except those in which he is clearly speaking with Romans 8-9 as his starting point) at least can be interpreted in accord with predestination after foreseen merits. His passages need not mean more than the fact that predestination is gratuitous. But, as we have seen,70 predestination can be after foreseen merits, and still be gratuitous. However, we think it probable that St. Thomas did favour predestination before foreseen merits.
Similarly, the many texts of Scripture and the councils that are often cited to prove that predestination is before foreseen merits are not conclusive, even though they seem to favour the view. We think that it is solely by the revealed Father analogy that it can be really proved that predestination is before foreseen merits.
We note that Marín-Sola and Muñiz go beyond the Molinistic view in this matter. For the Molinists say only that predestination to glory taken separately is after foreseen merits; but Marín-Sola and Muñiz say that predestination in the full sense, in the order of intention, either is or can be after foreseen merits. We think their view cannot be disproved except by the Father analogy.
1) The revealed Father analogy not only contains the principles needed for the solution, but it also, implicitly, contains the solution itself. For from this analogy it is clear that reprobation is after and because of foreseen demerits: but that predestination is before foreseen merits, in such a way that the cause of predestination is the spontaneous unmerited goodness of the Father, who predestines as often as the effects of His goodness are not impeded by a human condition, namely, grave and persistent resistance. Inasmuch as the absence of resistance in the first logical moment is an ontological zero, there is no condition in the predestined man. The point at which the decree of predestination is made is before foreseen merits, but after the foreseen absence of grave and persistent resistance. The resistance that brings on reprobation must be, in accordance with the will of God, grave, and persistent not only inasmuch as it must reach to the end of a man's life, but also inasmuch as reprobation is not decreed except after so many and such great sins that a man becomes physically or morally incurable.71 This does not mean that God cannot or will not ever send death after one or a few mortal sins, to a man who is foreseen as going to be incurable: He may do this out of mercy towards the man who is reprobated and/or towards others who would be harmed by the reprobate. It is certain, moreover, that some who resist much and are even hardened are saved by extraordinary graces. Probably, at least to some extent, God decides to save a hardened man on condition that other men fill up the deficiency in objective titles needed for him.
2) From the revelation on the salvific will and from that on the purpose of creation, it is clear that reprobation is after foreseen demerits, and also, it is clear from the salvific will that the resistance must be persistent in the senses explained in conclusion 1. It is probable, on the basis of these two loci in revelation, that predestination is before foreseen merits.
3) Even from philosophy it can be shown (following St. Thomas) that reprobation is after foreseen demerits, and that predestination is gratuitous.
301. Objection 1: At least in practice, the absence of resistance and consent are the same.
Answer: There are two senses in which we can speak of absence of resistance, as we have seen.72 In one sense, it necessarily includes a positive decision of will, made under the formality of abstaining from evil: this act is morally good and, if done under grace, is salutary and meritorious. But we are speaking of another sense, in which a man's will is moved but he himself does not move it at all, in the first part of the process, before grace moves to a positive consent: see the fuller treatment in chapters 7 and 18.73
302. Objection 2: Is it not inevitable that God will foresee merits before predestining? If predestination were decreed after one absence of resistance to one grace, it could be decreed before foreseeing merits. But actually, it is decreed after many absences of resistances in a series in which at least some further graces depend on the outcome of previous graces. In foreseeing such a series, the merits, which will infallibly be present after each absence of resistance, will not be able not to be foreseen. Therefore predestination must be placed after foreseen merits.
Answer: First of all, to avoid any possible confusion, we must recall that we are speaking solely about a logical order or sequence, for it is only in a logical sequence that we can speak of "before" or "after" in divine decrees (whether God predestines before or after considering merits). Now in a logical order, the sequence of one thing before or after another depends on the fact that one thing is a prerequisite for the other either as a cause or as a condition. Of course, merits could not be a cause of a divine decree. But neither are they a condition. For what is a condition for a gift depends solely on the positive will of the one who gives something on a condition. But, as we saw above from the Father analogy, according to the will of God, who gives predestination, merits are not a condition. Therefore, since in the logical order they are not prerequisites or conditions, logically they are not parts of the series at all, since they have no function in the series: neither as causes, nor as conditions. Therefore, predestination is not logically after foreseen merits.
303. Objection 3: No human will can, of itself, abstain from resistance throughout a whole lifetime. Therefore, God gives merits without any condition to whomsoever He wills. And predestination and reprobation are absolute, as the Thomists say.
Answer: Before coming to the direct answer, we must note that an unconditioned reprobation contradicts revelation, as we have shown many times. Therefore, even if we had no reply, we would still have to reject such a reprobation. We do concede, of course, that predestination is before foreseen merits, but not in the way in which the Thomists hold.
But, to come to the direct answer: Our explanation does not require that a human will be able of itself to abstain from resistance to grace for a lifetime:
1) We have already seen that resistance must be persistent or there will be no reprobation. But it does not follow from human weakness that men must resist persistently. As we have seen,74 St. Thomas teaches that even a man in the state of sin will be incapable of omitting resistance only if left to himself for a long time. Therefore, even a sinner will not be incapable of stopping short of persistent resistance, unless he has become hardened by his own fault.
We do not say, however, that a man can, of himself, with no added help, persevere in omitting resistance even to the end of life. For it is one thing to say that a man can omit persistent resistance; another thing to say that he can omit all resistance, so as to persevere in good to the end. For a man to omit resistance even to the end, an added gift is needed, which is called the gift of perseverance. (Similarly, in saying that a man can omit persistent resistance, we do not say that he can omit all resistance for long without a special help. The inability to omit all resistance for a long time means that without a special help he will resist at least sometime: but to resist at least sometime over a long period is not the same as to resist persistently).
As we saw in chapter 8, there is more than one way to explain the action and nature of the gift of perseverance. Nor do all men require precisely the same helps. But whatever way it be explained, it will be still true that this gift is given to those who do not resist persistently, since, as we saw in this chapter, God does not reprobate, but instead predestines, all who do not resist persistently. But if He predestines, He gives the gift of perseverance in the execution of predestination.
To make the matter clearer, let us recall what we said above about the nature of the gift of perseverance so as to see how it all fits in with what we have said about persistent resistance.
If a man, with this special interior help, actually perseveres to the end, it is obvious that nothing more is needed for him.
b) In some men, besides this internal element, there will be a need of a special government of the time of death, since even though by this internal element they really can overcome the quasi-cumulative difficulty of not resisting, and even though some actually do so; yet, some actually still resist grace at least in one temptation and fall. If death were to come to them while they were in such a state, they would perish. Therefore, for these, the gift of final perseverance will need to add also a special government of the time of death. But this cluster of gifts is given to all who do not resist persistently:75 for those who do not resist persistently are predestined.76 (In regard to those who do not persevere for the long periods even though they are offered the needed interior element, it is obvious that if they do not resist persistently, they will be converted by the graces that God always offers in rich abundance. And, they will also be predestined if they do not resist persistently: therefore, God will also provide that death will not find them in the interval in which they are in sin).
c) From the fact that we said that the gift of perseverance is a special gift, it does not follow that it is extraordinary: otherwise, it would follow that no one could be saved without extraordinary means. Nor does it follow that it must regularly be an infrustrable grace. For we showed in chapter 8 that the grace of perseverance is not regularly an infrustrable grace.77 However, as we explained above78 if someone, in spite of these proofs, should still insist on holding that perseverance must be an infrustrable grace, we could comment: Such a view (if the words of St. Paul and of the Council of Trent did not stand in the way) could be harmonized with our explanation, which we gave above,79 in regard to human freedom. But we would then have to say that God grants an infrustrable grace of perseverance to all who do not persistently resist the preceding graces.
2) But there is an important additional observation about the difficulty of omitting resistance. For it would be one thing to abstain from sin or from resistance to grace by a positive decision of will, made without grace; it is quite another thing to omit resistance in the sense we intend,80 in which non-resistance is not a positive decision in which a man moves his will, nor a complete act, but is a mere absence of an action against the grace in the first part of the process of giving a grace: it is an ontological zero. As we explained in 82, grace itself sustains our non-resistance, for grace begins the process, moving our intellect to the simple apprehension of good, and our will to an initial complacency in the good. It does this with no cooperation from us, before we do anything. These effects in our intellect and will continue by virtue of the grace itself. Nothing from us is required in order that they may continue: not a movement of our will by ourselves, nor an additional advertence. But to interrupt these effects, something81 would be required.
What we have said does not prove, however, that an additional help is not required to persevere. It is required, as we said, precisely because of the quasi-cumulative difficulty of non-resistance which will eventually appear. But, just as the usual graces sustain the non-resistance to themselves, so this added internal help sustains non-resistance to itself, so that a more special resistance would be required to counter it. For, as we said above this internal element is of a special nature, and is different from usual graces (either as to kind, or as to force): hence, the quasi-cumulative difficulty of non-resistance is not present in regard to it.
304. Objection 4: That which can fail, will sometime fail.82 Therefore, every man will fail sometimes. God properly permits man to fail, precisely because man is of a defectible nature. But God is not bound to restore the one who fails, but rather, He leaves some, so as to show His justice in punishing.
Answer: It is true that God permits sin: He gives a general permission by giving man autonomous freedom and, accordingly, by moving infrustrably only in extraordinary providence.83 Furthermore, even the internal element of the gift of perseverance is frustrable.84 But, it is one thing to grant permission to sin in these ways-quite a different thing so to desert men that it would be metaphysically inconceivable for them not to sin, as the older Thomists hold. We have already85 shown that the system of the older Thomists cannot fit with revelation. In fact we have already seen briefly86, and will see more fully later87 that in the system of these Thomists, God is the author of sin.
It is true also that defectible man, if left to himself for a long time, without grace, will fail and fall into sin, and that he cannot persevere without a special help. But God, according to the infinite titles that He established for each individual,88 provides a rich abundance of graces for each individual, with which he can not only avoid individual sins, but can also persevere.89 This is true in the fullest sense, in sensu composito, and not only in the sense intended by the older Thomists: actually, with these frustrable graces many men do actually avoid sin and persevere.90
In regard to reprobation: From the defectibility of man it does not follow that he must sin even persistently. But, as we have seen,91 only those who sin persistently are reprobated.
It is true, God is not bound in the nature of things to give such great and so many graces to men. But even so, He does love that much, and so has freely decreed to do this. In fact, He has bound Himself to do so, by infinite titles92 made in favour of each individual.93
305. Objection 5: Both in the Old and in the New Testaments, God wanted to make a covenant with His people. Now the covenant was made in a sort of bilateral form, so that a positive condition was demanded from man. Furthermore, in the description He gave of the Last Judgments Christ showed that rewards and penalties are given according to merits. Therefore, predestination must be after foreseen merits.
Answer: In regard to the covenant, we must ask to what order the covenant conditions belong, that is, do they belong to the order of intention, or to the order of execution?94 We must ask the question separately about reprobation, and separately about predestination. To solve the question, we need to recall the principle that we saw above,95 namely, we saw that the fundamental or ultimate reason or explanation of a question about salvation must be found in the order of intention and not solely in the order of execution, since the order of execution presupposes decisions made in the order of intention. Hence an ultimate and fundamental explanation could not be found solely in the order of execution.
Therefore, a reason that is not a consideration on the most fundamental level will not apply to the order of intention but to the order of execution.
What then about the evil condition, by which a man fails to observe the covenant? This condition is demerits, or resistance to grace. But, as we have often seen, resistance to grace or demerits are the ultimate explanation of why men are reprobated. Therefore, this condition does belong to the order of intention. What of the positive, good condition required in the covenant for God's favours after justification? Is this condition the ultimate reason for predestination? By no means. The ultimate reason is the spontaneous goodness of the Father. Nor does the Father, as we have seen, require any positive condition from man for predestination by positive decree. Therefore, positive conditions are not a consideration on the most fundamental level in the decision to predestine. Hence they belong to the order of execution. There they are reasons that make proper the grant of grace, in the way explained above.96
So the positive condition asked in the covenant is required only for the order of execution, although the condition for reprobation comes even in the order of intention. Since the positive condition of the covenant is not in the order of intention, therefore it remains true that predestination is before consideration of merits, as we have proved above.97
Nor is it impossible for the positive conditions to apply only to the order of execution while the conditions for reprobation apply even in the order of intention. The very analogy of the Father shows how these two facts are reconciled. In that analogy, the ultimate explanation of reprobation is the bad condition placed by man. But no positive condition enters into the explanation of predestination: only the goodness of the Father accounts for predestination.
Hence the reply to the problem about merits at the Last Judgment is also clear. Merits then are merely reasons that make proper the grant of reward, reasons which will be really present by that time. The Last Judgment is the terminus, the completion of the process of salvation: predestination is at the start of that process. Although merits are not considered at the start-they are not present then-yet they will be present and will be fittingly considered at the end of the process.
306. Objection 6: The solution given in this chapter is too anthropomorphic. God does not necessarily act as man acts.
1) Christ Himself taught us about God and about the way in which God acts through such analogies, for He Himself gave us the Father analogy to teach us about Him. Furthermore, as we saw in chapter 6, the Heart of Christ is a fully human Heart, and yet is fully in accord with the Heart of the Father. Christ is the Word, the perfect revelation of the Father. And in the parables of Christ, we are taught that God has the very same disposition we learned of in the Father analogy. As Pius XII wrote:98 ". . . in the parables of mercy . . . the very Heart of God is manifested." Most certainly, it is safer and better to learn of the nature and will of God from what Christ revealed to us, than to try to penetrate the counsels of God by merely human, metaphysical attempts.
2) The solution we gave does not depend solely on the Father analogy, even though this analogy does both contain and prove our solution. Actually, the Father analogy is needed only for two things (for everything else can be had by other means, as we have seen in this chapter): (a) To suggest where to look in order to find the way of reconciling predestination before foreseen merits with reprobation after foreseen demerits. Once we have found the means, we see its validity as obvious even without further need of the Father analogy. (b) To prove that predestination is before, not after, foreseen merits. Everything else is clear and can be proved from other parts of revelation, i.e., as we have shown many times in the first part of this book, many parts of revelation exclude reprobation before foreseen demerits. From this it follows that predestination cannot be before foreseen merits in the way in which the Thomists propose.
So we do not depend entirely on the Father analogy. No one can say it is illegitimate merely to take a suggestion of where to look, from this analogy. And many theologians will concede to us that predestination is at least in some sense before foreseen merits.
But it is good to add this: John of St. Thomas once reproached the Molinist Lessius on a charge of anthropomorphism, saying:99 "Why should we, most limited and wretched men, want to measure that immense sea of the judgments of God with our narrow and most uncertain providence: as if God would do better to act as we think He should act?" John of St. Thomas could say this because Lessius was appearing to argue from what he thought God should or would do, and did not seem to accept the conclusion that seemed to come from Romans 8-9. But today, now that we know that the interpretation of Romans 8-9 is quite different from what John of St. Thomas thought, we can say to those theologians who think they can work out the whole problem by metaphysics: "Why should we, most limited and wretched men, want to measure that immense sea of the judgments of God with our narrow and precarious metaphysical reasoning? We should accept the things that God Himself has taught us in revelation about His own decisions, and not try to deduce all from mere human reason."