The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions
"Pt. 3: The way in which grace is efficacious - Ch. 18: How does grace produce its effects"
307. The relation between this question and predestination: The solution to the problem of predestination that we found in revelation does not restrict us to just one possible theory on the way in which grace can be efficacious. It merely limits the field within which the answer must be found. But more than one theory on the efficacy of grace could find room within this field.
In seeking the solution on the problem of the efficacy of grace, we will have to work somewhat more by human reasonings, since revelation is not so clear on this matter as it is on predestination. Therefore, all solutions will, in certain parts of them, be less firm and certain than the solution on predestination. For the solution we found on predestination is contained formally implicitly in the revealed Father analogy, and is immediately deducible from many other revealed truths. Revelation and those things that are immediately deduced from revelation are always to be preferred to theories that are worked out to a large extent by human reasoning. We do not, of course, deny that human reason can find truth, but yet, as the history of philosophy and theology shows, reason can err. All philosophers of all centuries have fallen into at least some errors. The majority have fallen into great errors. Even Aristotle and St. Thomas himself made some mistakes. But revelation itself cannot err; and the more immediately a truth is deduced from revelation, the less the possibility of error.
308. The state of the question: All theologians admit that actual grace does not always produce the effect of a good work in man. So the principal problem is this: Why does it not always produce an effect? By whom-God or man-is the logically first decision made out of which the outcome becomes not only possible, but infallibly certain.
Quite a large number of the elements of the response are contained in revelation, as we have seen above.1 But we want to investigate the entire process as thoroughly as possible. We need to explore the nature of the graces that the theologians call sufficient and efficacious and the way they operate.
There are chiefly two older schools of thought, and several recent schools. All, or nearly all profess to follow St. Thomas. We shall review only the better known ones.2
309. Presentation of the system:
1) The older Thomists say that sufficient and efficacious grace differ intrinsically, that is, by the very natures of the two graces they are different. If only sufficient grace is given, no one will actually not resist; no one will ever do a good work. In fact, as Garrigou-Lagrange admits, if only sufficient grace is given, man will always sin, at least by a sin of omission. He had proposed and added a difficulty for himself in an objection, saying:3 "To fail or resist sufficient grace is not to consent to it, that is, to sin at least by a sin of omission. But, efficacious grace is required that a man may not fail [to cooperate with] sufficient grace, that is, that he may not resist. Therefore, a man sins because he is deprived of efficacious grace, that is, from the insufficiency of help." And he replies to this difficulty: "I concede the major; I concede the minor, but I deny that the conclusion follows, for the true conclusion is: 'therefore, that a man may not sin, but may consent to sufficient grace,' efficacious grace is required." The underlying reason is explained thus by John of St. Thomas:4 "The origin of sin . . . is . . . the weight of our defectibility, not sustained by the grace of God; just as the weight of heaviness in a stone is the cause of falling, when the sustaining power of a column is removed." Or:5 "For it is the same thing for [the will] to be weak and for it to be able to resist or to dissent; for that ability [to resist] arises from weakness. Therefore it is the same thing to say 'although [it is] weak' as to say 'although it can resist' . . . which surely [comes] from weakness."
2) Nevertheless, these Thomists say that through sufficient grace a man really can act well or has the ability to act well, even though it would be metaphysically inconceivable for him to really do a good act. John of St. Thomas explains this with lucidity:6 ". . . efficacious grace . . . is required as the application of the power to action, not as the power, or part of the power. . . ." Moreover, St. Thomas gives us a very helpful comparison:7 "Whatever applies the power of acting to acting is said to be the cause of that action: for an artisan applying the power of a natural thing to some action is said to be the cause of that action, just as a cook [is said to be] the cause of cooking which is [done] through fire." Therefore, just as the fire really does have the complete power or ability of cooking, similarly a man, with sufficient grace, really has the ability to act. However, just as the fire never can or will cook anything unless the fire is applied to the food, similarly a man even with sufficient grace never will act unless God applies the will of the man to act. If someone should object that then it cannot be correctly said that man can act, if he cannot apply himself to acting, even though he has the complete ability, John of St. Thomas replies:8 ". . . although it is not in our power to have it [the application or efficacious grace] on the part of the principle that gives it, which is God, yet, absolutely, it is in our power to have it, for a twofold reason. First by reason of the act itself for which such a grace is given: for we do have the power and the sufficiency for that sort of act, depending however on God, without whom we can do nothing; but, because the created ability in its own category can produce such an act it is said to have it in its control and power; and consequently also the application to it, which is efficacious grace, not inasmuch as it comes down from God, but inasmuch as it terminates in the act which that created ability simply can do. Secondly, it is said to have efficacious grace in its power, because through God it can have it . . . ." Garrigou-Lagrange moreover adds this:9 ". . . no one who has the use of reason is deprived of the efficacious grace required for salvation except for having, by his own fault, resisted a sufficient grace. . . ." However, John of St. Thomas adds that the reason for which God can and sometimes does deny efficacious grace can be even an inculpable inattention in man.10
3) It is clear therefore: If a man has only sufficient grace, he will sin. In fact, as John of St. Thomas explained, it would be metaphysically inconceivable for a man to do a good work with sufficient grace, since it is metaphysically impossible for a man to apply himself to the work. Hence he says:11 ". . . given the [divine] permission [to resist grace or to sin] it is infallible that the privation or defect of sin will follow. [This is true] with a negative infallibility: just as, given the [fact of the] suspension of [divine] influence, it is infallible that the annihilation of the creature will follow. . . ." If it were not metaphysically inconceivable for a man to do a good work with sufficient grace, God could not infallibly foresee what man would do, given such a grace. Therefore the fundamental decision whether a man is to sin or not, and at what time, and what sort of sin he is to commit, and in what circumstances-this is decided first by God alone: for man will infallibly fall of his own weight. Hence a group of good Thomists openly say:12 "Sufficient grace is certainly not of itself sufficient for salvation, because it cannot produce any acts by itself."
4) If efficacious grace is given, it would be metaphysically inconceivable for a man to resist: For God physically (not just morally) applies the will of the man to act. However, He does this in such a way that the man not only remains free, but also that the very freedom of his action comes from the divine motion.
It is evident that God can infallibly foresee through this sort of motion too.
Now in explaining the harmony between the infallibility of divine knowledge and human freedom, these Thomists employ the celebrated distinction between the sensus compositus and the sensus divisus [the combined sense and the separate sense]. John of St. Thomas explains this distinction as follows:13 ". . . the sensus compositus and the sensus divisus is understood, not as some think, in such a way that the sensus compositus refers to the situation when grace is given, while the sensus divisus refers to the situation when grace is taken away; but, even when grace is given, there is room for both senses, the sensus divisus and the sensus compositus, because grace has two references [or aspects]: one is that in which it looks to the act to be accomplished . . . the other is that in which it looks to the principle from which this grace descends, namely, the efficacious will of God. And including this reference, we have the sensus compositus; and as grace stands under this respect, it is not resisted, nor is it ever cast aside by the will, because God does not want it to cast it aside. . . ." He says, then, that in the sensus divisus, man can resist efficacious grace, but that in the sensus compositus, he cannot.
Opponents of this distinction commonly reply by saying that the distinction itself needs to have a distinction added to it: for, they say, a necessity [by sensus compositus] that is said to be present because of the relation to something that logically presupposes that the creature has already made a determination, does not destroy human liberty; but a necessity that is said to be present because of the relation to something that does not presuppose that the creature has made a determination, destroys human liberty. H. Lennerz, SJ, gives some examples:14 "In a sense combined with [i.e., taking into account the relation with] my own free choice, I am not able not to choose; or, in a sense combined with the fact that God knows it, I am not able not to choose: the first does not destroy liberty, but is its exercise; the second does not destroy it, because it supposes the free determination of the creature." And he concludes: "But a necessity in a sense combined with something that does not presuppose my own determination, and which is by nature previous to my determination, is an antecedent necessity, which destroys liberty." The opponents of the older Thomists add the claim that a physical motion from God destroys liberty, and they deny that the difficulty can be solved by saying that God confers the liberty itself by His very motion.
After many difficulties and replies to difficulties, the older Thomists finally, at the end, reply by appealing to the transcendence of the divine will. Hence D. Bañez says:15 "If someone does not understand how the use of the free will is free, and yet is a predefined effect of divine providence, he must [merely] believe." And he adds later:16 ". . . first of all, they should have believed that which they say they cannot understand. For we Catholics believe the mystery of the Trinity, even though we do not understand it."
5) Lest anyone try to say that, in this theory, God is the author of sin, John of St. Thomas explains.17 "God begins in man the physical motion of the entity of sin subordinating the inferior cause to Himself in that in which the inferior cause is effective, and not in that in which it is defective, and although a man [having only sufficient grace] can perform the act only defectively [because he cannot add the application needed for a good act], and although if God moves the man, it is inconceivable that the man will not be moved to act [because the divine motion is physical] nevertheless God does not move [the man] to sin . . . precisely because God moves [the man who does a bad action] to that which is physical and entitative in that action inasmuch as he moves physically, He prescinds from the malice. . . ."
310. Difficulties against the older Thomist system:
1) The Molinists say that liberty altogether perishes in this system. It is plain that there is no autonomous liberty18 in this system; but we do believe that there is secondary liberty in good acts in it, even though in bad acts, God becomes the author of sin, as we shall explain at once below. (We showed above19 that the salvific will has no place in this system). We believe that there is room for secondary liberty precisely because the divine will is transcendent.
2) God becomes the author of sin in this system: We say this not because of the above mentioned problems about the existence of liberty in this system, but for other reasons. For in this system, God does far more than merely to permit sin. In sin there are two elements, namely, the bad specification or determination, and the exercise of the act. All Catholic theologians agree that God is the author of the exercise of the act, that is, of the ontological good that is present in every action, whether it is morally good or bad. But in the system of the older Thomists, as we are about to show, God is also the first cause of the evil specification or determination, since, before any decision on the part of the man, God alone initiates the process as a result of which this man, e.g., Mark, is moved from a state of indetermination as to the sin, into a process as a result of which, by metaphysical necessity, in the full and adequate sense, the man cannot do other than commit that sin which God has determined, at the time determined by God, in the manner determined by God, and in the circumstances determined by God. All these things, as we are about to see, are determined by God alone, both logically and chronologically before any act on the part of the will of Mark.
But, to make the case clearer, we need to go through all the stages of the precise way in which these things happen:
b) In the execution of this decree of permission, God sends to Mark a sufficient grace. From this grace, the will of Mark really has the full ability to do a good act. There is nothing lacking to this ability in itself but the application is lacking. And without the application, nothing can be done.
Now Mark cannot apply himself any more than (to use the comparison given by St. Thomas) a fire can apply itself to food that is to be cooked. It is true, Mark is living, and the fire is inanimate, but Mark is unable to apply himself because he cannot cause himself to pass from potency to act.
Therefore, in one sense, Mark can do a good act, inasmuch as he has the full ability, considered in itself. But in another sense, in the complete and adequate sense, he cannot do a good act, since he lacks the application, and cannot give it to himself.
Can Mark obtain this application from God? He can do this in no way, unless God previously, independently of any dispositions of Mark, has decided to give it. This is clear from the following reasons:
2) The application is given to those who do not resist sufficient grace. Hence Garrigou-Lagrange says, as we have seen:20 ". . . no one who has the use of reason is deprived of the efficacious grace required for salvation except for having, by his own fault, resisted a sufficient grace." Yet it is still true, according to the same Garrigou-Lagrange:21 ". . . efficacious grace is required that a man may not fail [to cooperate with] sufficient grace, that is, that he may not resist." It is evident that again we have a vicious circle.
As to the reason why a man always resists unless he has efficacious grace, these Thomists sometimes explain by saying that man's fall comes from human defectibility. Hence John of St. Thomas said, as we saw above:22 "For it is the same thing for [the will] to be weak and for it to be able to resist or to dissent: for that ability [to resist] arises from weakness." And similarly:23 ". . . the origin of sin is the weight of our defectibility, not sustained by the grace of God; just as the weight of heaviness in a stone is the cause of falling, when the sustaining power of a column is removed."
312. In regard to this explanation, we must comment that, according to general moral principles, weakness diminishes responsibility in proportion to the weakness. But if a man is so weak that he is no more able to stand than a stone can when the sustaining column is taken away, then we must ask: If the weakness is so great, how does man still have so much freedom that he not only can sin, but can sin mortally?
313. However, the most basic reason because of which these Thomists say that it is metaphysically inconceivable for a man not to resist is a metaphysical reason. For they hold, as Garrigou-Lagrange says, that:24 ". . . not to resist grace is already some good." Therefore, since, in their system, non-resistance is a positive good, it is necessary to say that man, by sufficient grace, has the ability of non-resisting but he does not have the application of the ability of non-resisting. So the same difficulty is still, or again, present. (Actually, the older Thomists have not found the distinction on the two kinds of non-resistance that we explained above,25 an essential distinction. If there were only one kind of non-resistance, the kind they speak of, they would be right in saving it is beyond man's unaided power).
314. John of St. Thomas tries to prove that man can get the application:26 ". . . absolutely, it is in our power to have it [the application, or efficacious grace], for a twofold reason. First . . . because the created ability in its own category can produce such an act. . . . Secondly . . . because through God it can have it. . . ."
But, the first reason he gives does not explain the case: For it is not enough that "the created ability in its own category can produce such an act." This means merely that man has the ability. But it does not explain at all how he can get also the application. He is no more capable of applying himself than a fire can apply itself to the food that is to be cooked, even though the fire too "in its own category can produce such an act," namely, the act of cooking. So, in spite of the first explanation, it still remains true that man, in the adequate, undistinguished sense, cannot apply himself.
The second reason given seems to contradict what John had said in the first part of the same passage. For in the first part of the passage he had said: ". . . although it is not in our power to have it [the application] on the part of the principle that gives it, which is God." But now he says: "through God it can have it."
And we must not forget, in spite of any assertions of John of St. Thomas, that we have already seen from his words and the words of Garrigou-Lagrange, that in this system man does not have it in his power to obtain the application either by prayer or by non-resistance. So the vicious circle remains.
And we must add this too: The same John says, as we saw above27, that God actually can, and sometimes does, refuse the application because of even an inculpable inattention on the part of man. Therefore, with no fault of man, that is denied without which man cannot remain inculpable.
315. All this is easy to understand when we recall that the Thomists insistently teach negative reprobation before foreseen demerits. They thereby implicitly teach that in no way can a man control whether or not he gets the application or efficacious grace. For, if he could control it, then even a man who had been negatively reprobated could, if he wished, have many efficacious graces and with these graces he would be most certainly saved-but that would wipe out negative reprobation. In other words, negative reprobation cannot be put into effect if man can control when and whether he gets efficacious grace.
We can easily see now why these Thomists insist28 that a man is totally incapable of "distinguishing himself"-in regard to doing evil or not doing evil, or in regard to being reprobated or not.
316. c) But we must return to Mark. God, knowing that Mark lacks the good specification in his will, since Mark cannot do other than resist good, because he lacks the application, yet moves Mark to an act that cannot have other than a bad specification, since Mark is metaphysically incapable of having a good specification. In other words, God moves Mark to sin. Then, as John of St. Thomas says:29 "Although a man [having only sufficient grace] can perform the act only defectively [because the application is lacking that would make a good act], and although if God moves the man, it is inconceivable that the man will not be moved to act [for the divine motion is physical], nevertheless God does not move [the man] to sin . . . precisely because God moves [the man who does a bad action] to that which is physical and entitative in that action. . . . He prescinds from the malice. . . ."
317. We can easily accept the premises of this statement: It is true that man cannot do other than perform the act defectively, i.e., so as to sin. And it is true that if God moves, the man cannot omit the action. But John says in vain that God can still prescind from the malice. For everything comes from God: both the bad specification and the exercise of the sinful act. For God moves the will of Mark, which before had been in an indeterminate state, out of that indifferent position as regards the sin into a process in which at no point can Mark do other than what he does, since God always withholds the application to good, and yet does not let Mark stay in his previous indeterminate state. Therefore the Thomists say rightly that Mark will infallibly sin as a matter of fact. This is true, but they ought to add that not only as a matter of fact will Mark infallibly fall: Mark is metaphysically incapable of doing otherwise, since at every point of the process he lacks the application, which he cannot give to himself, nor can he obtain it from God in any way; nor can he remain in a neutral state, as John of St. Thomas himself explains. Therefore, God becomes, in the full sense, the author of sin in this system.
318. But the authors of this school, perhaps because they see that after a "permission" of this sort, Mark can no longer not sin, often add that the permission is given according to the previous dispositions of the man.
To make the situation clearer, it will be helpful to distinguish between the various states in which the man can be, namely:
319. Nor could the difficulty be evaded by saying that perhaps God moves men to sin because of the inclination to sin that remains even in those who are justified. For the Council teaches that God does not desert unless He is deserted: But desertion is an action, while an inclination is not an action but an habitual disposition. Therefore, this inclination is not a sufficient reason for desertion. Furthermore, the same council also teaches that by baptism31 "everything is taken away that has the true and proper characteristic of sin," so that it is true to say that "in those who are reborn . . . God hates nothing." So, if God hates nothing in them, then, even though they have left an inclination to sin, that which God does not hate is not a rational cause for precipitating men into that which God does vehemently hate, namely, sin. Also, in the same passage, the same council also teaches that32 concupiscence "has been left [to provide material] for a struggle [and that] it cannot harm . . . those who do not consent." But if God, because of concupiscence to which man has not yet consented, were to initiate the process that infallibly moves a man into sin, then the words of the council would not be true. For the council teaches that concupiscence does not harm those who do not consent. If concupiscence, before a man consented to it, were a sufficient reason for God to so desert the man, then concupiscence would be really harmful indeed.
Therefore, at least in many cases [i.e., in the case of men just justified] God does not move men to sin because of their previous dispositions. So in these many cases the older Thomists' system does not hold. But, since the system is said to be founded on metaphysical necessity, if in so many cases the metaphysical necessity does not hold, the system cannot be metaphysically necessary. So it must collapse.
Nor could these Thomists escape the problem by saying that man is naturally defectible and so it is proper to permit him to fall at times.-Such a reason would be valid for a mere permission in a system in which a man can really "distinguish himself"33 in regard to sinning or not sinning, but it does not hold for a desertion such as the Thomists propose, which is, as we saw, far more than a mere permission. Furthermore, defectibility is merely a state or condition of man, not an action of man: and so, it is not the same as a desertion of God by man. But Trent says, as we have seen, that God "never deserts those who have once been justified, unless He is first deserted by them." Therefore, He does not desert merely because man is defectible.34
2) Men who have committed at least one mortal sin after justification, or men who have never received justification-But even then, a sufficient reason for the Thomistic desertion is lacking. For is there not enough evil in one mortal sin? It is not credible that Infinite Holiness, with no need whatsoever, merely because a man has committed one mortal sin, would want, by a "permission" of this sort, to move the man to a second sin. And, out of the second sin, He would have a reason for a third-and so on to infinity!
320. But it is important to notice this also: In this system of these Thomists, absolutely no reason can be assigned as to why God decrees to permit this particular sin in this particular case, rather than to permit a different sin, in a different case. For even if we were to concede (for the sake of argument solely) that the previous sin was a reason for a second sin, we still could not explain why the particular kind of sin would be chosen by Infinite Sanctity in the second case. For men do not always continue to commit precisely the same species of sins. An outstanding Thomist, J. H. Nicolas, O.P., though he differs from the views of Garrigou-Lagrange on some points, still admits:35 "That which remains impenetrable, since it depends solely on infinite liberty is the reason why such a particular sin is permitted rather than a different one. . . ." The reason why an explanation cannot be given is this: Man, in the older Thomistic system, is not really in control of his own acts, and cannot "distinguish himself"36 in regard to sinning or not sinning. The problem can be solved only if, as St. Thomas says, a rational creature is truly37 "the master of his own actions."
Hence it is that even Garrigou-Lagrange himself had to admit that his explanation of sin did not really explain everything, but left a mystery remaining:38 "This solution contains a clear obscure. . . . The obscurity . . . remains in the intimate manner in which God, in permitting sin, concurs in the ontological good in it, and perfectly prescinds from the malice. This intimate manner is hidden from us, and this is not strange, since it is a properly divine manner, which we know only analogically in this mirror here."
But St. Thomas, as we shall explain later in this chapter, can really solve the difficulty, since he fully admits that man is the master in control of his own actions, and that the beginning of the whole process of sin is in man, not in God.
321. If we do not take this attitude of St. Thomas, then a sad reflection is cast on Infinite Sanctity, because every single sin, in every age of this world, with all its foul circumstances and detestable malice-all these happen only according to the grand plan which has been determined by God alone, logically and chronologically before any human decision, so that it would be metaphysically inconceivable for powerless man to determine or act otherwise. For man in the older Thomistic system is totally incapable of "distinguishing himself."39 Hence, in this Thomistic system, the will of man, which had been in a neutral state in regard to a given sin, is moved infallibly into a process in which at no point does he have or can he obtain the application. And yet, although not only as a matter of fact man does not rise to a good act of will, but he is even metaphysically incapable of rising since he cannot give himself the application, still, God infallibly and physically moves that same man to the exercise of an act that cannot be other than a sin. Such a man is less capable of "distinguishing himself" than a man who is playing with a hand of stacked cards, stacked against him. He plays freely. He freely but infallibly loses the game.
322. 3) The system of the older Thomists contradicts various revealed truths: Already in the first part of this book we saw, more than once, that the system of the Thomists cannot harmonize with several revealed truths, especially,40 the universal salvific will.
323. 4) The system of the older Thomists contradicts many teachings of St. Thomas: We readily admit that the Thomists in their system do agree with St. Thomas on many points. However, there are other points of conflict:
b) The definition and distinction of sufficient and efficacious graces are not found at all in St. Thomas, as we have already shown.41
c) St. Thomas says:42 "The power of the divine incarnation is indeed sufficient for the salvation of all. The fact that some are not saved thereby comes from their indisposition, because they are unwilling to receive the fruit of the incarnation within themselves. . . . For freedom of will, by which he can adhere or not adhere to the incarnate God, was not to be taken away from man, lest the good of man be forced, and so rendered meritless and unpraiseworthy." As we have already43 shown, these words entirely exclude the system in which everything is ruled by infrustrable decrees.
d) The words of St. Thomas explaining why prayer for others sometimes does not have its effect cannot harmonize with the system of these Thomists, as we have already shown.44
324. e) St. Thomas also teaches:45 "Although He is almighty and supremely good, yet God permits some evils in the universe which He could prevent, lest, in taking them away, greater goods be taken away, or even, [lest] greater evils follow." Now if all things, even sins, in their least elements and circumstances were controlled by infrustrable decrees and infallible permissions, there would be no need of permitting lesser moral evils lest greater moral evils follow, since the limits of evil would always be fixed by these decrees. If God wanted lesser evils, it would be enough to modify His permission. He would not need to ward off greater evils by permitting lesser evils: He could prevent all. But if we say with St. Thomas, that man is really the master in control of his acts, then the words just quoted are easily explained. For God, by the very fact that He wants and makes man the master of his own actions, gives permission for many evils, which would be avoided if man were not the master of his own action. But a greater evil would follow if man were not the master of his actions, namely, there could be no free salvation and universal salvific will.46 However, although God gives a general permission of sinning in the fact of making man free and not moving man infrustrably in the course of ordinary providence, yet we can also speak of a more special permission, e.g., even when God could, without an infrustrable motion, move superiors of the external order to impede a certain sin, He could decide not to move them, but rather, to permit men to sin in that way lest they freely decide to sin in a worse way. Of course, the words of St. Thomas we have just cited apply also to physical evils.47
325. f) Very often, in practically all his major works, St. Thomas employs a comparison of the sun and plants to explain contingency. Now this comparison, as we shall see, does not easily fit with the system of these Thomists:
2) De veritate 2.14 ad 3: ". . . an effect follows [is in accord with] the necessity of the proximate cause . . . it is not, however, necessary that it follow the necessity of the first cause since the effect [of the first cause] can be impeded by the second cause if it is contingent; as is evident in the effects that are produced in things that can be generated and corrupted, by the movement of the heavenly bodies, through the mediation of inferior powers: for they are contingent effects because of the defectibility of the natural powers, even though the movement of the heavens is always of the same sort."
3) Contra gentiles 1.67: "An effect cannot be necessary, whose cause is contingent. . . . There is both a proximate and a remote cause of the ultimate effect. If then the proximate cause is contingent, its effect must be contingent, even if the remote cause is necessary; just as plants do not necessarily fructify, even though the movement of the sun is necessary, since the intermediate causes are contingent."
4) Summa theologiae 1.14.13 ad 1: ". . . even though the supreme cause is necessary; yet its effect can be contingent, because of a contingent proximate cause: just as the germination of a plant is contingent because of the proximate cause, even though the movement of the sun, which is the first cause, is necessary."
326. Comments on the above-cited four texts on contingency: St. Thomas has two ways of explaining how there can be any contingent effects, in spite of the supreme efficacy of God: (a) By divine transcendence, (b) By the use of contingent proximate causes. Hence he says in the De veritate:49 "According as He has disposed that some things should occur in one way or another [i.e., necessarily or contingently], He provides for them causes in the manner He has planned; however, He could produce this mode in things even without those causes as intermediaries." So two things are clear: (1) God does not need the contingence of a secondary cause in order to produce a contingent effect: He can do this directly, since He is transcendent. (2) However, He does not (ordinarily) bring about contingency in the first way. For St. Thomas does not say that God does this, but instead says that "He could" do this.
327. But we need to notice especially the comparison that St. Thomas employs so often: the movement of the sun is without variation, always the same. So the decision as to when, and in what way the blooming of the plant should fail does not originate in the sun-for its action is always the same for all-but it originates entirely in the plant itself. So we seem to have at least an implication that the decision by which God permits sins is a general permission rather than an infallible permission given for each individual sin. For the movement that comes from God through grace is invariable at least inasmuch as there is no grace so intrinsically ineffective that it would be metaphysically inconceivable for a man to do good with it. In other words God acts like the sower in the Gospel parable: No sower deliberately sows a seed that he knows will accomplish no good. (Cf. also the words of St. Jerome and of St. Francis de Sales, cited below50 in this chapter: they also employ the comparison of the sun in the same sense). On the contrary, according to the system of the Thomists, the comparison should imply that the movement of the sun is not invariable so that certain plants would not fructify because the sun would send to them only ineffective rays.
g) Later in this chapter we will show in a positive way what is the real opinion of St. Thomas on this point, and we will see thereby that it is quite different from the opinion of the older Thomists.
327a. 5) It is clear that the teaching of the older Thomists differs little from that of Martin Luther. Luther gives his teaching in what he considered his most important theological work,51 The Bondage of the Will. The main points of his system are:
b) The inability of man to distinguish himself:53 "So man's will is like a beast standing between two riders. If God rides, it wills and goes where God wills . . . if Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan wills. Nor may it choose to which rider it will run, or which it will seek. . . ."
c) God is the cause of sin (though He does not Himself commit the sin):54 "Here you see that when God works in and by evil men, evil deeds result; yet God, though He does evil by means of evil men, cannot act evilly Himself, for He is good, and cannot do evil; but he uses evil instruments, which cannot escape the impulse and movement of His power. The fault which accounts for evil being done when God moves to action lies in these instruments, which God does not allow to be idle. . . . Hence it is that the ungodly man cannot but err and sin always, because under the impulse of Divine power he is not allowed to be idle, but wills, desires and acts according to his nature."
d) Those who are damned are undeserving:55 "You man be worried that it is hard to defend the mercy and equity of God in damning the undeserving, that is, ungodly persons, who, being born in ungodliness, can by no means avoid being ungodly, and staying so, and being damned, but are compelled by natural necessity to sin and perish."
III. The Molinistic systems
328. Presentation of the system: Even though the Molinists differ among themselves in many things, yet all Molinists agree that sufficient and efficacious grace differ only extrinsically, that is, not by their very nature; rather grace becomes efficacious or inefficacious by the consent or dissent of man.
According to Father Aquaviva, as we saw in chapter 15, Molina taught that efficacious grace was such even in actu primo. According to other Molinists (fewer in number), grace is efficacious only in actu secundo. We shall speak later56 of the Molinistic views on the good specification needed in performing a good act.
329. Difficulties against the Molinistic system:
1) We have already57 seen that the predefinition of graces in actu primo cannot be reconciled with any universal salvific will, not even with the minimum degree of it. We saw that predefinition in actu secundo does not in itself contradict some degree of the salvific will. However actually, as we saw,58 the Molinists who hold this view do not take into account the revealed force of the salvific will.
2) The Molinists would not deny that the absence of resistance59 is at least logically presupposed before positive consent, but they do not speak of this absence as the first critical condition on which all else depends. They admit that man cannot of himself, by his natural power, make a positive salutary consent, but they say that he can do so by the help of the grace that is offered him, i.e., that grace at once, when it comes, confers this power on him. In this way they avoid the error of the Semipelagians, who said that the beginning of the process of salvation could be carried out by merely natural powers. But the Molinists do not say this: In their view, grace makes the beginning by giving man the power of positive consent. Only after this comes the consent.
We concede that this explanation does not, at least not clearly, contradict the sources of revelation. However, it does not harmonize with them so fully and readily as does the explanation we saw briefly in chapter 7, and which we will see more fully in this chapter. For in Molinism, even though it is grace that gives the power to consent, and cooperates with man, the work of the man himself seems to be the chief thing in consent. But St. Paul says that:60 ". . . for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." These words at least seem to give a lesser role to man in the consent. Similarly, the Council of Orange says that61 "in every good work, we do not begin." Certainly, as we shall soon see, St. Thomas does not agree with the Molinists on this point.
3) Human freedom seems to be greatly reduced in Molinism, as we saw in chapter 15.62
4) As we saw in chapter 15,63 the first essential step in the process as described by Molinism is God's foreknowledge of futuribles, i.e. what Mark would do if placed in such an order in such circumstances, and with such a grace. Now although it is probable that St. Thomas did not deny that God knows these futuribles, actually, he says nothing about them at all. So we could hardly suppose that an element on which he is totally silent could be the first essential step in his explanation.
Later in this chapter we will show in a positive way what is the real opinion of St. Thomas on the efficacy of grace and we will see that it is quite different from Molinism.
330. Presentation of the system: The Augustinians hold a theory very similar to that of the older Thomists inasmuch as they say that sufficient and efficacious grace differ intrinsically by their very nature. But they have in common with Molinism the belief that the motion of grace is moral rather than physical: the theory of the victorious pleasure.
331. Difficulties against the Augustinian system:
1) As we shall see below,64 merely moral motion seems to fit less well with revelation.
2) It is not true that grace always moves by way of pleasure or delight. It can move in other ways too.
3) If this system is understood in such a way that there is a predefinition of graces in actu primo, as in Aquavivan Molinism, it cannot harmonize with even a minimum universal salvific will. As we saw in chapter 13,65 St. Augustine himself, whom the Augustinians wish to follow, actually did, in many passages, deny the universality of the salvific will, and held the theory of the massa damnata, which is incompatible with the universal salvific will.
332. Presentation of the system:
1) The syncretism of St. Alphonsus and the Sorbonne: This system holds that for easier works an extrinsically efficacious grace will be enough (the grace would be efficacious in actu secundo), but for the more difficult works there is need of an intrinsically efficacious grace. The efficacy comes, however, not from a physical but from a moral motion. This efficacious grace can always be obtained by prayer and an extrinsically efficacious grace is enough for prayer. To prove their system, these theologians make more use of the sources of revelation than of metaphysics.
2) More recent Syncretisms: There are several. An outstanding example is that of His Excellency, Archbishop P. Parente:66 "In a free act, we must distinguish the exercise, or the actuation of the faculty itself, and the specification, which [comes] from the intellect proposing a good object. The divine motion or grace efficiently and immediately determines the exercise of the act; but for the specification of the act [grace] can concur only mediately, namely, by moving the intellect and illumining it so that it may judge rightly about the objects to be desired." This system holds that sufficient grace is frustrable both intrinsically or psychologically, and extrinsically. It really does suffice for the easier works. However efficacious grace is "a more powerful movement, and so [it is] apt not only for actuating the will, but also for restraining the passions and for overcoming obstacles, so that the salutary act certainly follows. The efficacy is intrinsic to the grace itself, but [is] not violent. Rather, it acts in the line of exercise, strengthening the will. But in the line of specification, grace illumines the intellect so vividly that it presents the object to the will under the light of the Supreme Good, and closely connected with it. Then the will, whose adequate object is the Supreme Good, is spontaneously and infallibly borne along to the particular object, in which a certain characteristic of the Supreme Good shines forth."
333. Difficulties against the Syncretistic systems:
1) They seem subject to the same difficulties as Molinism in regard to the power of positive consent.67
2) There is no need to distinguish easier and more difficult works. Grace can equally accomplish all works.
3) As we shall see later68 in this chapter, St. Thomas seems to hold that the motion of grace is physical, and this view harmonizes most readily with revelation.
These authors are much to be praised in that they try to follow strict theological method, beginning with revelation and the Magisterium rather than with metaphysics. They deserve praise too for retaining a true universal salvific will, since even efficacious grace is within man's power inasmuch as he can always obtain it by prayer, for which sufficient grace really does suffice.
334. Presentation of the system: As we have already seen,69 these excellent theologians taught that every grace is intrinsically efficacious, and that it moves man physically, not just morally. Yet they still taught that not every grace is infrustrable, incapable of being impeded. In regard to an impedible movement they taught:70 "An impedible and frustrable motion does not mean a motion that always is impeded and frustrated, or a motion that never accomplishes anything; but [it means] a motion that . . . can be impeded even though as a matter of fact it is not impeded." They held that a man really can resist an impedible motion, but that if he does not, grace itself will move him further, to positive consent. However, as we saw above, they held that impedible movements do not suffice for perseverance: unimpedible motions are needed for that. But they held that perseverance is given to those who do that which they can with the previous graces.
335. Difficulties against this system: These theologians deserve great praise because in almost every respect they have faithfully followed the description St. Thomas gave (as we saw it in chapter 14) of the process of granting grace. However, as we saw in chapter 14, St. Thomas at least probably does not say that an infrustrable grace is needed for perseverance, since he puts that grace under the same general principle as other graces: he says it is given to those who do not resist. His words do not strictly exclude the view of these theologians but neither do they teach it: one would have to add a distinction that St. Thomas neither expresses nor implies. Also, they speak of sufficient and efficacious graces: St. Thomas, as we have seen,71 does not have such a distinction.
It is clear from revelation72 that the gift of perseverance (its internal element) is not infrustrable.
336. The chief principles: We saw already in chapter 7 many things from Scripture, the Fathers, and the Councils that should enter into the solution, namely:
1) Man by himself, without grace, cannot do any positive salutary good. He cannot even make the beginning of a salutary work.
2) Yet man can, by his own power, decide when and whether he will do evil. For he can fail by his own power. And he can resist grace.73 It is clear especially from the Council of Trent that man can actually and effectively resist the ordinary graces of the internal economy.74
3) Man can also, in the sense explained75 in chapter 7, omit resistance to grace, even if he is a sinner (at least if he is not hardened).
4) The councils distinguish, as we have seen, between the beginning of good work, and the further course of the same work. For as the Council of Orange teaches, it is not we who make the beginning: grace does that alone, and we do nothing. But in making the positive consent, as Trent teaches, we truly, actively cooperate.
5) God can, when He so wills, move the hearts of men infrustrably, so as to forestall or even cancel out resistance. But to do this belongs to extraordinary providence.
337. Deductions from the principles:
1) The critical condition: We must ask where is the first, most fundamental and critical condition on which the outcome depends, if God offers grace? We saw above76 that the Molinists put it in the positive consent itself. But it is possible to find a better answer, which will escape the difficulties under which Molinism lies. For the critical condition should meet the following requirements: (a) It should come before any other condition, (b) it should be able to control or condition the whole outcome so that, given this condition, everything else follows infallibly. (c) It should not be a salutary work in itself.-But, there is such a condition: the absence of resistance in the first part of the process of the grant of grace (as described in chapter 7).77 For this condition (a) comes before any other condition, before man does anything, (b) it can and does control the outcome, because, once it is had, God, who works in us both the will and the accomplishment, certainly will work the positive consent (otherwise, He would not have given grace, if He did not will to do so). And most certainly God will work that consent if we do not resist. (c) It is not a salutary work in itself, simply because it is not an act, but the mere absence of a bad act, as we saw above.78 It is an ontological zero: man does nothing.
2) Passivity: However, when Scripture says that God works in us both the will and the performance, it certainly does not mean to say that we are merely passive, like inanimate things. We are certain of this fact from the interpretation of the Council of Trent, as we saw above.79 And yet, we must hold, from the teaching of the Council of Orange that80 ". . . in every good work, we do not begin." So we must make a distinction between the beginning of a good work and the further course of the process up to and including the consent.
338. 3) General schema: All the above mentioned elements can be easily arranged as follows:
b) However, even after these things have been done the man can resist if he wishes. But he is also capable of omitting resistance, of merely doing nothing (without a positive decision to do nothing). This omission of resistance is the first fundamental, basic critical condition since, as we said above, when it is had, God will work the will (the positive consent) in us.
c) If man does not resist, God works in him both the will and the accomplishment, but in such a way that the man himself, in making the positive consent, really and actively cooperates with grace. For even though he can do nothing without grace, yet with grace he can do anything. Our ability and our contribution in making the consent come partly from our permanent faculties that God gave us in advance and conserved in being, partly from the very power of the grace that is then moving us.
339. We are obviously far from Pelagianism and Semipelagianism in this explanation, for in the fullest sense we say that we can do nothing positive and salutary without grace and that it is not we who make the beginning. Grace comes first. Then there is room still for resistance or the absence thereof. Finally, if we do not resist, God Himself moves us to consent, in such a way however, that we truly and actively cooperate with grace. Therefore we can say in the full sense with St. Augustine:81 "He works, then, without us, so that we may will, but when we do will, and will in such a way as to act, He cooperates with us. . . ."
A. General Principles
340. Positive salutary good: In regard to first justification St. Thomas teaches, with the Council of Orange, that God does not need to wait for82 the consent of our will: instead, this consent is the effect of grace:83 ". . . when we are being justified, we consent to the justice of God by the movement of our free will. However, that movement is not the cause of grace, but the effect of grace . . ."
It is not only in the first justification that we are not able to make a positive salutary consent by ourselves: the same is true of other graces. St. Thomas says: "There is in us a twofold act. First, the interior act of the will. In that act, our will is moved, and God is the mover. . . . And so inasmuch as God moves the human soul to this act [grace] is called operating grace. The other act is the exterior act: since this act is commanded by the will . . . it follows that an operation is attributed to the will towards this act. And because even in this act God helps us . . . in respect to this act [grace] is called cooperating grace.84 Hence . . . St. Augustine says:85 'He operates so that we may will: but when we will, He cooperates with us so that we accomplish.'"
We notice the distinction St. Thomas makes between the interior and the exterior act. We must admit that he does not speak with all desirable clarity. For at first sight, his words might be taken to mean that we do nothing even in the positive consent, so that it would be only in the execution after the consent that we would do anything. Of course, St. Thomas cannot mean this, for then he would say that we would be altogether passive in the consent itself, like an inanimate thing. But this would contradict the definition of the Council of Trent:86 "If anyone says that the free will of man . . . does not cooperate at all in assenting to God who arouses and calls . . . and that he could not dissent if he wishes but that like a sort of lifeless thing he does nothing at all and is purely passive, let him be anathema."
So it is clear that St. Thomas does not mean that we do nothing at all in producing the positive consent itself.
But it is likewise clear that the "interior act" of the will (in regard to which St. Thomas says that in it "our will is moved and God is the mover") is not lacking in any decision. For it is not only in the first justification that there is such an interior act of the will. Nor is it true only of the first justification that at the start our will is merely moved while God alone is the mover, since the Council of Orange teaches that "in every good work, we do not begin." We gather the same conclusion from the words that St. Thomas cites from St. Augustine: "He operates so that we may will: but when we will, He cooperates with us so that we accomplish." For in every decision, it is not we who make the beginning: grace begins. But after that, "when we will", i.e., in the very act of making the positive consent, we are not "like a sort of lifeless thing." Rather, the operation is attributed, in part, to the human will and grace cooperates.
Therefore, even though St. Thomas, in speaking of operating grace, did not have in mind solely the first part of the process (for in some instances the entire process, even after the absence of resistance, is carried on by operating grace), yet, in the reception of every grace there is a first stage of which it is true to say that our will is moved; and God alone is the mover: for in every good work, it is not we who begin, but grace. Further, in every instance in which our will makes a positive consent, there is also a second stage in which we are no longer passive but we too work and grace works with us.
It is plain that this teaching of St. Thomas is the same as that of the Councils of Orange and Trent.87 For Orange teaches that "in every good work, we do not begin." And Trent adds that we are "not like a sort of lifeless thing [that] does nothing at all." So, Orange teaches that in the first stage we do nothing, i.e., do not move ourselves: we do not make the beginning. But Trent adds that in the second stage we really cooperate in making the positive consent. It is clear too that after grace makes the beginning,88 we are still able to resist or to merely do nothing to omit resistance.
341. The negative conditions: St. Thomas explicitly teaches that we can resist and omit resistance and he holds that this resistance or its omission is the condition according to which every grace is either received or rejected:89 ". . . although a man, by the movement of his free will, can neither merit nor obtain divine grace, yet he can impede himself from receiving it. . . . And since this is in the power of free will [namely] to impede or not to impede the reception of divine grace, not undeservingly is he charged with a fault who sets up an impediment to grace. For God, so far as He is concerned, is ready to give grace to all, 'for He wills all men to be saved. . . .' but they only are deprived of grace who set up an impediment to grace in themselves; just as, when the sun illumines the world, he is charged with a fault who closes his eyes, if any evil comes of it, although he cannot see unless he first has the light of the sun."
The context of this passage shows, as we saw in chapter 14,90 that St. Thomas is speaking about all graces, including the grace of first justification (in regard to which he says simply that our consent is the effect of grace), and the grace of final perseverance. And in regard to all he says that we are able to impede or not impede grace.
Hence Cajetan says well that even in the first stage, when our will is moved by God alone and does not move itself at all,91 ". . . [our will] is free because it can dissent from such a volition." And similarly, P. Lumbreras, OP, says:92 ". . . when the presentation [of the good object] has been made by the intellect, the will can dissent or resist. Since it is moved freely, the will is said to consent; it [the will] elicits the act of free will, to which however, it does not move itself but is merely moved [by grace]." Hence St. Thomas himself says that in the infusion of virtue, we do not act, but yet we consent:93 ". . . infused virtue is caused in us by God, without our acting, but not, however, without our consenting. . . ." For, even though our will does not move itself, yet, it really does condition the whole outcome inasmuch as it does not resist when it really could resist.
It becomes clear at what point the resistance or non-resistance occurs of which St. Thomas speaks.94 As Father Lumbreras says: ". . . when the presentation [of the good object] has been made by the intellect, the will can dissent or resist." That is, at first, grace shows something to our mind as good. Before grace does this, we could not speak of resistance to this grace, since there is not yet anything to resist. At once, before any deliberation on our part, there follows an effect in the will, for as soon as our mind sees some good, our will cannot fail to have at least an indeliberate movement of initial complacency. Grace itself moves the will to this. Hence St. Augustine says of the first stage: "He [God alone] operates so that we may will."
So, when we have perceived that grace, without us, has caused our mind to see good, and our will to have an initial indeliberate complacency, we can still resist, or not resist. If we resist, then, according to St. Thomas, grace does not complete its work, and the positive consent does not follow. But if we merely do nothing (do not resist), grace is accepted or received, in the full sense, for then the positive consent takes place. Grace moves us to this positive consent in such a way that we are simultaneously being moved by grace and moving ourselves by the power received from grace.
B. General conspectus of St. Thomas's solution
342. The first logical moment: Both by a movement of the natural order and by grace in the supernatural order, God begins to move a man towards good. As the Council of Orange says: ". . . in every good work, we do not begin." Grace proposes to this man, by way of his intellect, a specified95 good and moves his intellect to a simple apprehension of the good so as to produce also in his will an indeliberate initial complacency in that good. In this logical moment, the human will really elicits a good act, (or, if one prefers, God elicits the act from that will), but the will does not move itself: it is moved by God alone. The will does not yet have the power of positive consent. But it can impede or not impede this grace. If it impedes, the movement of the grace terminates (unless it is an extraordinary, infrustrable grace96) and goes no farther.
But if man merely does not resist, does nothing: the movement of grace continues in the second logical moment.
343. The second logical moment: The divine movement, both in the natural and in the supernatural order, continues, since the condition of non-resistance is present. As a result of this movement, the man becomes active: he is both moved and moving himself by divine power, so that his intellect deliberates and makes the practical judgment and his will positively chooses the good.
Is it one and the same grace that acts in both the first and the second moments? We see no reason for supposing two graces.97 However, to do so would have no consequential effect on our explanation.
C. Detailed study of the various elements of the solution
344. Resistance: We have already seen from our study of the sources of revelation in chapter 7 that man can really resist grace (and omit resistance, in the sense explained previously).98 But revelation does not tell us precisely how resistance can be explained. We must, then, proceed by speculative means.
Since the good apprehended by the intellect is not the beatific vision, but is something less (and it may not be entirely good, for even though moral goodness may be present, pleasurable or useful goodness may be lacking), it is possible for the will not to will this moral good at this time.99 So, while the will is still in the first logical moment, during which it does not move itself, but is moved only by grace, while the will is in act (the act of complacency), it can freely cease from or drop out of this act. In resistance, first of all the will ceases from this act of complacency; then, the will orders the intellect to cease to attend to the moral goodness.
We said that the first thing that takes place is the cessation from act on the part of the will: (1) Because the intellect cannot freely cease to attend, since it is not a free faculty. Nor could it, as it were, mechanically fail, running out of energy: for it is moved to the apprehension of good by grace; (2) Because it is necessary to suppose that at least the principal part or initiating factor in the decisive condition, according to which God will or will not move the man to the exercise of the sinful act, must be in the will. Otherwise, sin would be altogether or at least largely error or inadvertence, and so the fault would be more in God than in man.
In the explanation we have proposed, there is error or inadvertence involved in the act of sinning, but the first error is contained and implied in the very cessation of the will from act, and is inseparable from that cessation. After that, the error is increased by the inconsideration to which the will commands the intellect. These defects come before the positive evil movement of the will by which the sin is completed. So, in this way, sin does presuppose error or inadvertence.
In commanding the intellect to cease attention to the moral goodness, the will does need a divine movement (since that command involves ontological good). But the will does not need a divine movement in ceasing from or dropping out of act. To cease from act is not to pass from potency to act (which would require a divine movement) but is the opposite: a falling away from act. Now since God moves the will from within, as the author of nature, without violence, the complacency is really elicited by the will as its own complacency: so the will can merely discontinue that which is its own, without the need of a divine movement towards ceasing. Nor is there any need to work against a force coming from without: the will merely ceases its own complacency, its own motion. No divine motion is required to cease a motion.
St. Augustine, then, says well:100 "Let . . . no one seek for the efficient cause of evil will; for [the cause] is not efficient but deficient; for that is not efficiency but deficiency." And St. Thomas, alluding to this passage of St. Augustine, says:101 ". . . Augustine says that the will is the cause of sin inasmuch as it is deficient; but he compares that defect to silence or darkness, since that defect is solely negation." Now man has a negation within his power without the help of God. Hence, as we have seen, in the Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas explicitly teaches that,102 "this is in the power of free will [namely] to impede or not to impede the reception of divine grace . . ." Hence St. Thomas also says:103 ". . . the first cause of the lack of grace is from us. . . .", that is, in resistance to grace. Still earlier, in his commentary on the Sentences, St. Thomas had explained the same point more fully:104 "Now this lacking of grace comes about as a result of two things: both because [the man] himself does not will to receive [it], and because God does not infuse it into him, or does not will to infuse it into him. But the sequence of these two is such that the second does not happen except on condition that the first has happened. . . . It is clear, then that the absolutely first cause of this lack [of grace] is on the part of the man who lacks the grace; but on the part of God there is no cause of this lack, except on condition of that which is the cause on the part of man." So human resistance comes in absolutely the first place.
345. By resistance we take away from the good specification. As John of St. Thomas explains:105 ". . . a privation is specified by the form from which it takes away." Or, in a passage of St. Thomas himself, we read:106 "For when something is in the due disposition for receiving the movement of the first mover, a perfect action follows according to the intention of the first mover; but if it is not in the due disposition and aptitude to receive the movement of the first mover, an imperfect action follows; and then, what action there is, is attributed to the first mover, as its cause; but what defect there is, is not attributed to the first mover. . . . Whatever deordination or deformity is there does not have God as its cause, but solely free will."
The good specification begins to be taken away when the will ceases from complacency. For the divine movement that had been given to the will was already in itself specified to a particular good.107 Then, as we said above, the will commands the intellect to cease to attend to the moral goodness (in this command it needs divine movement for the exercise of the command). In this way the goodness is removed from the specification, and a defective specification remains. This being done, God moves the man to the completion of the sinful act.
346. The absence of resistance: As we have already seen,108 there are two kinds of non-resistance. One type is a positive decision, a complete act, done with the formal intention of abstaining from resistance or from sin. This first kind is a positive salutary good act, and, as such, requires the movement of grace.
But we are speaking of the absence of resistance in another sense, of a non-resistance that is not a decision, nor an act of the will, but the mere absence of a bad decision in the first part of the process of conferring a grace: man merely does nothing, an ontological zero. This is a mere negative condition, and is in our own power.
347. The matter will be clearer from a more detailed description of the entire process. We could depict it this way: In the first logical moment, God begins to move a man by grace. Even before the man deliberates, grace comes, and causes him to perceive some good in his intellect, and to have an initial complacency in the good in his will. Grace makes this beginning alone, as we said, before man does anything or deliberates. However, we do not say that man does not perceive the good. Grace itself does cause the intellect to perceive the good and causes the will to feel an initial complacency in it. Since these effects began and continue by the power of grace, it is not required that the man do anything in order that they may continue. So they continue by the power of the grace until the man either resists or (if he does not resist) until grace moves further, even to positive consent in the second logical moment (in which man actively cooperates, by power received from grace). It cannot happen that these effects would leave before man would resist, for grace is not withdrawn unless the man does resist. (Nor could we suppose that the grace itself would remain, but its effects would cease-for then man would perceive nothing to resist, since he does not perceive the grace directly, but only the effects of grace. So if he did not perceive anything to resist, he would surely not resist. And if he did not resist, grace would continue and move him to consent).
So these effects in the intellect and the will continue by the power of grace. Something from us109 would be required in order to interrupt these effects, for if nothing happens against them, they continue by the power of grace. But nothing is required from man in order that they may continue, neither a new advertence, nor a decision-since they continue by the power of grace. St. Thomas says well:110 ". . . [something] can be voluntary without any act; sometimes without an exterior act [but] with an interior act, as when one wills not to act; sometimes however without even an interior act, as when one does not will."
It is not necessary that these effects in the intellect and will remain for a long time. Everything can be done in an instant. For immediately after grace causes us to see the good and to have a complacency in it, we can resist, or can do nothing. If we do nothing (do not resist), the grace continues, moving us to the positive consent. It is true, though, that there is sometimes a long struggle. For grace does not always give us at once the power of a full victory, but may give us first the power for various acts and decisions against a temptation (e.g., the power to pray or to distract ourselves from the temptation), and may only later give us the full victory. And even after an explicit decision against the temptation, the temptation can come back, so that a new decision may be needed. But in carrying out each of these, there will be the process we have described, in which the omission of resistance in the first stage is the critical condition. We may feel difficulty because we do not conquer fully at once and because in doing these things we really cooperate (after the omission of resistance in the first stage of each decision).
348. It is evident that if a man omits resistance in the sense just described he does not perform a morally good act, nor does he act well: he simply does not act. A positive decision to abstain from resistance would be a morally good act. But no decision at all is neither good nor bad. It has no moral goodness by reason of its object: nothing is done. Nor by reason of the end: for the will proposes no end or goal for itself: it merely does nothing.
349. But let us add a speculation: Even if there were a positive decision made not to do anything against grace, this decision would probably not be morally good if it came in the first part of the process which we have described. To see this, we must consider the matter very strictly and carefully. First, for the exercise of the act of this decision, a divine motion would be required. But even in a bad decision this is required, and it is always provided. We must ask next: Would a divine motion be needed for the specification of the act? Probably not, since such a specification would be neither good nor bad. For a moral act is determined by its object, end, and circumstances. We can, of course, omit mention of circumstances in a general discussion. The object would be by nature neutral: man would neither choose good (grace) nor would he choose evil by rejecting grace. The end would be similarly neutral: the man would still not will good nor would he will evil. For there would not be a formal intention such as: "I will to abstain from sin." The formality would be solely: "I do not wish to do anything now." In other words, the decision would not be made under the formality of moral good, but solely under the formality of pleasurable good: it would please him to do nothing. Or it might come out of mere inertia.
But the objection may be made that if there is a real decision of the will, then, since all concrete acts must be either good or evil, if the act is not evil, it is by that fact good. We reply to this objection: St. Thomas himself gives us the principles that lead to the conclusion that no concrete act can be indifferent.111 But let us notice the reason he gives. It is this: Man is obliged to order his acts positively towards his ultimate end. If man does not do this, by that very fact he turns aside from the end. But, in our case, the man has not yet received the positive power of ordering his act toward his ultimate end, since he is still in the first logical moment of the action, and the act is not yet complete. If the act were complete, it would have to be either good or evil. But in the first moment, there is still no complete act nor does the obligation of directing the act to the ultimate end bind yet, precisely because the power of directing the act to the ultimate end has not yet been given.
St. Thomas makes a similar comment on a rather similar case:112 ". . . the non-use of the rule of reason and divine law is presupposed in the will before an inordinate choice. It is not necessary to seek for any cause of this non-use of the afore-mentioned rule; for the very freedom of the will, by which it can act or not act, suffices for this. And the very non-attention to such a rule, considered in itself, is neither culpable nor punishable evil." But certainly, St. Thomas would not say that the non-use of the rule of reason is good.
350. The good specification: Both theologians and philosophers dispute whether man can or cannot produce the good specification, even in the natural order. The older Thomists say that the will in itself is indeterminate. They say that in producing the good specification, there is a passage from potency to act: man does not suffice of himself to bring this passage about. Hence it is required, they say, that God premove the will of man by a specified movement. The Molinists reply that113 ". . . the indifference of the will is active and eminent, containing eminently the perfection of its act . . ." Both sides cite various texts of St. Thomas for their view.
We hold that the specification is already contained in the grace itself. (We are speaking of the simplest kind of case, and of a case in which there is no choice made between several alternatives. We do not, of course, deny that God can make use of secondary causes in this process. At the end of this section we shall speak of the choice between several alternatives). We find reasons for our view both in the sources of revelation and in St. Thomas:
1) In the sources of revelation: No good decision of will is made unless it is preceded by a good thought. Now this good thought contains at least some good specification. For even in a general resolution such as "I want to do better," there is some good specification. Furthermore, most usually a more precisely specified thought comes, at least before the outward act follows.
Now according to St. Paul:114 "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our sufficiency is from God." And again, the Council of Orange taught:115 "If anyone asserts that we, by the good vigour of nature, are able to think anything that pertains to the salvation of eternal life as is expedient . . . without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit . . . he is deceived by a heretical spirit . . ." Now the very goodness of a good thought lies precisely in the good specification. Without it, the thought would not be good. If then we, by our own power, were able to produce this good specification, we could produce the goodness of a good thought.
But especially, if we have correctly interpreted the words of the councils, then, as we saw above,116 in the first stage of the process, before we do anything-for we do not make the beginning-God without us produces in our mind a simple apprehension of good and an indeliberate complacency in the will in the same good. But this simple apprehension of good is the same as the good thought or the beginning of the good thought, in which there is already at least some good specification. God works this good specification in us without us, inasmuch as He inspires us with this thought and inasmuch as He begins to move our will towards the same good, producing the indeliberate complacency in our will in the same specified good
2) In the teaching of St. Thomas: The conclusion is still clearer in the writings of St. Thomas. For, as we saw above, St. Thomas holds that in the first stage,117 "our soul is moved but does not move itself, since only God moves it." This, as we have seen, applies to both the intellect and the will, for at that point we have not yet moved ourselves at all. So it is plain that St. Thomas holds that God alone, without us, works this good thought, in which is contained the good specification. And he holds that God alone moves our will to the initial indeliberate complacency in this specified good.
This conclusion is strongly confirmed by many other passages of St. Thomas. We shall see many of these below118 and will consider and explain also some texts that at first sight seem to teach the opposite.119
Whenever a man makes a choice between several alternatives: God could send him, even in the first logical moment, several specified graces; so that the intellect would see several goods, and the will would have initial complacency in each. Man could then resist all, or all but one.
Or, both in such a case of choice among several alternatives, and in a case in which man comes by a process of discursive reasoning to consider one alternative, grace could move the reason of man to deliberate, and by deliberation to come to see one or more specified goods. Grace would cause the will to have an initial complacency in the one or more goods. Then the man could resist all or all but one (if several are seen).
Of course, God can, and often does, make use of secondary causes in making our mind see a good.
351. What is the source of the efficacy of grace: In our explanation, grace is intrinsically efficacious. For in it a man cannot and does not make grace to be efficacious, even though he can make it ineffective, by his resistance. For it is one thing to have the power of producing positive good; another thing to have the power of doing evil or of doing nothing against grace by non-resistance. So we can say in the fullest sense with St. Augustine:120 "He works, then, without us, so that we may will, but when we do will, and will in such a way as to act, He cooperates with us. . . ." And we can say wholeheartedly with St. Paul:121 ". . . for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
The fact that a decision is good comes from God, since in the first decisive, critical moment (i.e., in the non-resistance, after which all else flows infallibly, since God then physically moves the will to the positive consent)122 man's contribution is a mere negative, doing nothing, an ontological zero. But in negatives there is no good-neither ontological nor moral good.
352. Sufficient and efficacious grace: From what we have already said it is obvious that there are not two graces specifically different from one another, of which one, either extrinsically or intrinsically, would infallibly produce no good act, while the other always would produce a good act. Every grace is efficacious in itself, and the entire efficacy comes from the grace. We can see now why St. Thomas himself, although in the Prima Secundae he gives so many divisions and subdivisions of grace, never divides grace into sufficient and efficacious. For as far as their nature is concerned, in the ordinary providence of the internal economy, sufficient and efficacious graces are absolutely the same.123
This conclusion fits excellently with so many things that we said in the first part of this book about the love of God. For how could one explain why God, who so vehemently loves men, and gives to all124 "a rich abundance of divine graces," out of the infinite titles established for each individual, would deliberately and purposely want to give a man an inefficacious grace as such? Well did Our Lord in the Gospel compare our Father with a sower of seed: for no sower knowingly and purposely sows ineffective seed.
In regard to the names "sufficient" and "efficacious"-if one wants to employ them, he can certainly do so within our system, provided that he means by them no more than a grace that actually, in a concrete case, does or does not produce a good work, and provided that he does not say that efficacious graces are chosen by God as such in actu primo. But it is really better to imitate the example of St. Thomas, and abstain entirely from the use of these two terms.
353. Physical premotion: In our explanation, there is a true physical motion, not just a moral motion.
1) This at least seems to be contained in the words of St. Paul ". . . for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." The words "at work" would seem to fit poorly with a merely moral movement.
2) It is perfectly clear that St. Thomas holds that the movement is physical. For, as we have seen, he says of the first stage that in it125 "our soul is moved but does not move itself, since only God moves it." Now if the will does not move itself, and God alone moves it, it is plain that a physical movement is required. For in a moral movement, the will at least to some extent would move itself, under the attraction of the good proposed to it. Similarly, St. Thomas says of the second stage that in it126 "our soul is both moved and moves itself." Now the word "is moved" certainly has the same sense in this second citation from the same sentence of the same body of the same article. Therefore, if in the first stage God moves physically, as we have seen, then it is clear that in the second stage God not only gives us the power of moving ourselves, but also, at the same time, physically moves us. (We shall see more, confirmatory texts of St. Thomas below).127
But the motion we hold can also be called a premotion inasmuch as the beginning of the divine motion (a motion already specified in itself)128 precedes our consent, and the whole process is begun by God in the stage in which the man does not move himself. For as the Council of Orange teaches:129 "In every good work, we do not begin."
However, since St. Thomas himself does not use the term "physical premotion" but simply speaks of the motion from God, we are content to follow his example.
We notice too that in our explanation, there is no problem about reconciling a physical motion with human freedom, not only because the power of God is altogether transcendent, but also because God, within ordinary providence,130 permits man to resist or not resist even in sensu composito131 if man so wishes. For the physical movement from God in the first stage stops short, temporarily, after producing the simple apprehension of good in the man's intellect, and the initial complacency in his will. And the physical movement that produces the positive consent is given only on and after the condition of non-resistance.
D. Infrustrable grace, and vehement frustrable graces
354. The existence of infrustrable grace: We hold that God can, when He so wishes move the will of man physically and infrustrably in such a way as to forestall or even cancel out the resistance of that man, without taking away secondary132 freedom. We say this because of the transcendence of God. We saw above133 the reasons from revelation.
There are many passages in St. Thomas that make it clear that he holds this view, e.g.,134 "in the supposition that God moves a [human] will to something, it is impossible to simultaneously suppose that the will would not be moved to it." In fact, St. Thomas holds that the transcendence of God is such that He can produce a contingent effect infallibly, and do so even without the use of secondary, intermediate, contingent causes:135 "According as He has disposed that some things should occur in one way or another [i.e., necessarily or contingently] He provides for them causes in the manner He has planned; however, He could produce this mode in things even without those causes as intermediaries."
355. The divine use of infrustrable grace: As we saw in chapter 7,136 God does not move men infrustrably within ordinary providence.
356. The explanation of infrustrable grace: If by an infrustrable grace we mean one that is such that from the very intrinsic nature of the grace itself it is impossible that it would not have the intended effect (in contrast to a grace that is infallible only inasmuch as God foresees and plans that it will produce that effect), then the sole sufficient explanation of such a grace will be this: The transcendent power of God can so move a man that, within the process, described above,137 a man will freely but infallibly not resist and yet will retain secondary freedom.
357. Vehement frustrable graces: It is plain that God could very often move men so that they actually would not resist, if He were to employ truly vehement movements, even though the movements would not be strictly infrustrable. For just as men are freely moved by the sex drive, but nevertheless, find the greatest difficulty in resisting, even with the help of the fear of hell and the promise of eternal reward, similarly, if God were to send a very vehement movement in a matter that is permissible, so that no prohibition would stand in the way, few if any humans would resist.
So we must ask how it happens that God does not often use such movements.
In speaking of infrustrable graces, we said that God would contradict Himself if He were to regularly move men in this way, for He would then act regularly against or beyond the natural condition of the nature that He had created, instead of respecting it.138
But there are also other ways in which God could contradict Himself and not respect the natural condition of the nature He had already decreed to make.139 To make the situation clear, we need to make some preliminary considerations on certain conditions of human nature.
It is in accord with human nature that material and bodily things can be perceived more easily, clearly, and vehemently than spiritual things, precisely because the bodily things are the natural objects of our senses and are present to those senses. The body readily feels the objects that are naturally suited to its appetites. The movement of the human will towards these objects tends not to exceed in vehemence a certain proportion to the force of these perceptions. But spiritual goods, on the other hand, are not perceived by any sense. It is true, moral goods are perceived by our intellect by mere reason even in the natural order. But the perception is not so vehement, since they are perceived only by way of reason, and the perception receives no intensification from direct sensory perception of the moral goodness. The motion of the will naturally tends not to exceed in vehemence a certain proportion to the strength of this rational perception.
Now man's receptivity to movements of grace is affected by bodily conditions, since the body and the spirit are so united that they form one individual, one person, in whom whatever takes place on one side is tied, as it were, to a sort of resonance on the other side. For example, even though the soul has a spiritual intellect, yet, there will be no thought in this spiritual intellect if the bodily brain is damaged severely by disease or in any other way. Even the very virtue of faith has a somatic resonance. This is evident from a theoretical consideration of the relation we have just described. It also appears strikingly in a case described by Father T. V. Moore, the noted Carthusian Psychiatrist. A certain patient, who suffered from manic-depressive insanity, seemed to himself, in the depressive phase, to be losing his faith. Dr. Moore explained it as follows:140 "Throughout all his depressions there remains a steady blind faith that is unaffected. It is the resonance of faith that disappears because God allows it to cease." So, the insanity was not really able to destroy the virtue of faith that the man previously had, though it was able to impede the activity of faith. In a similar vein, St. Thomas explains how it is that God sometimes sends to a man some special foreknowledge that He might not have sent otherwise, on the occasion provided by apt somatic conditions that are present either in sleep or in sickness:141 "[The human mind in such a state] is helped by some superior spirit, created or uncreated, good or evil . . . for [the mind] is weighed down by the weight of the body, and, while it applies itself to things of sense, it is less capable of higher things; and so, when it is withdrawn from the senses either by sleep or by sickness, or in some other way, it becomes thereby more apt for receiving the impression of a higher spirit."
Therefore, since, as we have seen, moral and spiritual goods are not normally and naturally perceived with great vehemence, nor is the will vehemently carried towards them since the vehemence of the will's motion normally does not exceed the vehemence of the perception in the mind, it is clear that if God were to vehemently move a man to a spiritual object, He would not be respecting the natural condition of the man. So, motions of grace that are vehement (in comparison to the condition of the receiver) are by their very nature extraordinary.
Of course, to understand this conclusion properly, we must note that the somatic receptivity varies from person to person, and varies much within a given person. It varies especially as a man grows in the spiritual life. Spiritual progress is and must be, in general, gradual since human nature does not take great leaps in the development of its receptivity and other characteristics. So a man can gradually become better disposed both in his soul and in his somatic resonance. Hence the vehemence of the motions that would be extraordinary, as not respecting his natural condition, will vary. A movement that would be quite fitting and which would harmonize with natural somatic resonance in a great saint who is in the highest part of the unitive way would be quite different, much greater than that which would be suitable for a man in the lower parts of the purgative way.
There is also possible a deterioration in the somatic resonance, when a man becomes gradually hardened. For by his repeated sins, the man affects not only the state of his soul, but also his somatic resonance. If he continues in repeated sins, he can so change, for the worse, his conditions of soul and his somatic resonance that he will be almost entirely incapable of perceiving an ordinary grace.142 Then he will perish, unless an extraordinary grace comes. But, it is evident that a man cannot fall into such a state without a grave cause, namely, his own repeated grave faults. (Grave illness at the end of life might also sufficiently alter his state of resonance so that he could then perceive even an ordinary grace).
We notice especially that somatic resonance can change more rapidly at times of great trials or great sickness, since these upset the entire somatic complexion. Perhaps this is, at least in part, the explanation underlying the words of Christ Himself to St. Paul:143 ". . . power is made perfect in weakness."
E. Confirmations from other passages of St. Thomas
358. Practically all schools of theologians think they can find passages of St. Thomas to support their position. But it is not hard to see that some theologians prefer some texts, and seldom if ever cite certain other texts, while still others prefer others, and seldom if ever cite those preferred by the other theologians
There are two principal series of passages in St. Thomas. The older Thomists cite mostly the first series; the Molinists, the second. In our explanation, we can without difficulty embrace all texts of both series.
359. First series of texts: in this series, St. Thomas stresses the action and power of God:
1) De potentia 3.7.c.: "God is the cause of every action in as much as any agent is the instrument of the divine power at work. . . . Thus, then, God is the cause of any action inasmuch as He gives the power of acting and inasmuch as He conserves it, and inasmuch as He applies it to the action, and inasmuch as every other power acts by His power. And when we add to the aforesaid the fact that God is His own power, and that He is within each thing, not as a part of its essence, but as holding the thing in being, it follows that He works immediately in every [creature] that works, not excluding the operation of the [created] will and nature."
Comments: Our explanation readily admits that God gives us our faculties and conserves them. It also teaches that God applies them to action, and explains how He works immediately, without excluding the operation of the created will and nature. For in the first logical moment, man has only the ability of impeding or not impeding. He is moved by grace, but does not yet move himself, nor does he yet have the power of making a positive acceptance of the divine grace that has begun to move him. But in the second logical moment, on condition that the man has previously merely done nothing against the grace, God works in him the consent, and does so physically, in such a way, however that he gives to the man also the power of moving himself so that he is not144 "like a sort of lifeless thing," that "does nothing at all and is purely passive."
2) Contra gentiles 3.88-89: "Only . . . God can move the will as an agent and without violence. Hence it is written:145 'Like a stream is the king's heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever he wills, he directs it,' and 146'it is God who in his good pleasure works in you both the will and the performance.' But some, not understanding how God can cause the movement of the will in us without prejudice to the freedom of the will, have tried to explain these texts badly: namely, in such a way as to say that God causes in us the will and the performance inasmuch as he causes in us the power of willing, but not in such a way that He causes us to will this or that. . . . This is, obviously, in opposition to the texts of Sacred Scripture. For it says:147 'O Lord . . . it is you who have accomplished all we have done.' Hence, we have from God not only the power of willing, but also the operation [of that power]."
Comments: It is evident that in this text St. Thomas teaches the same as in the passage from De potentia cited above. It is equally evident that we teach the same.
3) Contra gentiles 3.92: "Always . . . does man choose this thing, according as God works in his will."
Comments: In this text St. Thomas speaks of the infallible efficacy of the divine will. But it is obvious that he does not intend to deny that which he says in the same book of the same work:148 ". . . this is in the power of free will [namely] to impede or not to impede the reception of divine grace. . . . " So the meaning is clear: In ordinary providence, God does not move the will as far as consent except on condition of human non-resistance. However, as often as God actually does move the will-whether He does it with or without (in extraordinary providence) the condition of absence of resistance-the will is infallibly moved, so that the man always chooses that to which God moves his will.
4) Quodlibet XII, q.4: ". . . [the providence of God] by which all things are predetermined. . . ."
Comments: All things are predetermined, but not in such a way that God never permits man149 "to impede or not to impede the reception of divine grace," but they are predetermined in the sense in which St. Thomas says in the Summa 1.19.6.c.: ". . . it is impossible for the divine will not to obtain its effect. Hence, that which seems to recede from the divine will according to one order, falls back into it according to another order: just as a sinner, who, so far as in him lies, recedes from the divine will by sinning, falls into the order of the divine will when he is punished by His justice." So we sum up: All things are predetermined; some things after prevision of resistance or non-resistance (within ordinary providence); some (in extraordinary providence) even without this prevision, or without respect to this prevision.
5) Summa theologiae I-II.10.4. ad 3: ". . . in the supposition that God moves a [human] will to something, it is impossible to simultaneously suppose that the will would not be moved to it."
Comments: These words are to be understood in the same sense as the passage from CG. 3.92 cited above.
6) Summa theologiae I-II.112.3.c.: "If God who moves so intends that the man whose heart He is moving, should obtain grace, man infallibly obtains it. . . ."
Comments: Again, the sense is the same as that of CG. 3.92 above.
7) Summa theologiae I-II.9.1.c.: ". . . a thing needs to be moved by another to the extent that it is in potency to many things. . . ."
Comments: St. Thomas says this in explaining that it is the intellect that moves the will in the process of specifying an act. But the intellect itself is not sufficient of itself for a good salutary thought: its sufficiency is from God, as St. Paul says. For the intellect itself is also in potency to many things. Secondary causes can present specified objects to the intellect, but the process cannot go on in an infinite chain: so finally we must come to the First Cause, that is, to God. Similarly, St. Thomas says in another place:150 ". . . it [the will] moves itself inasmuch as from the fact that it wills the end, it reduces itself to willing the things that are means to that end. But this presupposes deliberation. . . . the chain cannot go on to infinity. Hence it is necessary to say that the will makes its first movement under the influence of some exterior mover . . ."
360. Second series of texts: In this series, St. Thomas stresses human ability:
1) 2 Sentences d.25, q.1 a.1, ad 3: ". . . the determination of the action and the end is placed in the power of free will; hence it retains its dominion over its act, though not in the same way as does the first agent."
2) 2 Sentences d.39, q.1, a.1: ". . . for the power of the will itself, so far as it is concerned, is indifferent in regard to many things; but the fact that it goes forth to this determined act or that, comes not from someone else who determines it, but from the will itself."
3) De potentia 3.7 ad 13: ". . . the first cause does not so act in the will as to determine it necessarily to one alternative, as it determines nature; and so the determination of the act is left in the power of the reason and will."
4) De potentia 1.4 ad 3: ". . . even though the first cause has the greatest influence on the effect, yet, its influence is determined and specified by the proximate cause."
5) De veritate 22.4.c: "The closer any nature is to God, the more express the likeness of divine dignity that is found in it. Now this pertains to the divine dignity, that it moves all things, and inclines and directs [them, while] it itself is moved or inclined or directed by no other. Hence, the nearer any nature is to God, the less it is inclined by another, and the more it is made to incline itself. . . . The rational nature, which is the closest to God . . . has in its power the very inclination so that it is not necessary for it to be inclined to a desirable thing that it perceives, but it is able to be inclined or not to be inclined; and so the very inclination is not determined for it by another, but by itself."
6) Summa theologiae. Prologue of I-II: "Since, as St. John Damascene writes, man is said to be made to the image of God, inasmuch as 'image' means 'an intellectual being, with free will, and in its own power' . . . it remains for us to treat of His 'image,' that is, of man, according as he himself is the principle of his own works, as having free will, and power over his own works."
7) Summa theologiae I-II-1.1.c.: ". . . [man] is the master of his own acts."
Comments: The words of St. Thomas in the texts cited above are very forceful. Over and over again he says that man can really determine what he will or will not do. He does not say this only in a relative sense, so that all a man could do would be to freely act out the part written in advance for him by God. Even in relation to God St. Thomas says, "even though the first cause has the greatest influence . . . its influence is determined and specified by the proximate cause." For man is truly "the master of his own acts" and is "in [his] own power," in the image of God. But in our explanation, all these things are most fully true, for within ordinary providence, man has not only secondary liberty, but autonomous liberty since he is truly able to condition and thereby control the whole outcome by his resistance or non-resistance. Man can do this even in sensu composito with all ordinary graces. Nor is the power of man limited to merely deciding to exercise an act or not to exercise it, for he can also, as we explained, choose between several alternatives.
We conclude that our explanation can, without any difficulty, embrace every text of St. Thomas, in the fullest sense of each text. The interpretation of the older Thomists can explain the first series very well, but does not so easily accord with the second series. The explanation of the Molinists explains the second series well but scarcely, if at all, will fit with the first series.
361. We already saw, in general, what the Fathers and the Magisterium of the Church teach in this respect. It is obvious that the explanation that we took from St. Thomas fits very easily with everything in revelation. In fact, it is to a large extent drawn from revelation. But it is good to add the following:
A. The Fathers of the Church
362. St. Augustine: We can say in the fullest sense with St. Augustine:151 "It is certain that we will when we will, but He brings it about that we will good. . . ." And again:152 "What then is the merit of a man before receiving grace, in accordance with which he receives grace, since it is only grace that makes every good merit of ours, and since when God crowns our merits, He crowns nothing other than His own gifts?" And even:153 "He works, then, without us, so that we may will, but when we do will, and will in such a way as to act, He cooperates with us. . . ."
363. St. Jerome: We can also see with St. Jerome:154 ". . . the heat of the sun is one, and according to the kind of thing that lies beneath it, it liquifies some, hardens others, loosens some, constricts others. For wax is melted, but mud is hardened: and yet, the nature of the heat [that each receives] is the same. So it is with the goodness and clemency of God. . . . " For all the heat (efficacy) comes from the sun (from God). Nevertheless, the effect of the heat varies according to the kind of beings that lie beneath. For man is truly the master of his own acts. (Cf. the similar comparison given by St. John of the Cross).155
B. The Doctors of the Church
364. St. Francis de Sales: He teaches the following:156 "Several travellers, about noon on a certain summer day, reclined to sleep in the shade of a tree . . . the sun, coming over them, sent its powerful light to their eyes . . . and by its heat, . . . forced them to wake up. . . . Some of them, on waking up, gladly went their way to home; but others not only did not get up, but turning their back to the sun, and putting their hat over their eyes, spent the day in sleeping until, caught by night, and yet still wanting to return home, they wandered there in a forest, exposed to wolves, boars, and other wild animals. . . . But now see, Theotimus, what I mean. All men are travellers in this mortal life. Almost all of us have voluntarily fallen asleep in iniquity, and God, the Sun of justice sends over all, truly sufficiently, or rather, abundantly, the rays of inspirations . . . How does it happen that these attractions attract so few? . . . Those who have slept in the sleep of sin . . . have no reason . . . to complain except against themselves, who have despised, or rather, fought back against the light."157
365. St. Robert Bellarmine:158 "Another way of reconciling human liberty with divine cooperation, and perhaps even a more probable way, is according to the opinion of St. Thomas, who teaches that the divine cooperation concurs in such a way with the secondary causes, even free causes, that it not only has given and conserves their faculties, but that it also moves them and applies them to the work. . . . We must recognize that the influence or power of God, by which the will is moved and applied to the work, is received in the secondary causes according to their disposition (as the same St. Thomas teaches in question 3 of De malo, article 2). . . . Now that mode or condition in the will according to which the movement of God is received in it is nothing other than a certain negative determination that precedes both the divine influence and the elicited act of the will. Namely, the fact that the will permits itself to be moved by the object presented to it by reason, or does not permit [itself to be moved]. This determination is called negative, because it does not consist in a positive act, but in the negation of an act . . . in question 3 of De malo, article 2, the same St. Thomas says that a certain disposition in man is required for receiving the divine influence and that according to that influence, a good or bad act is produced. Now no positive disposition can be required before the divine influence, since nothing positive can be done without God. So solely a negative disposition is a prerequisite. And so it happens that the will is truly free, and determines itself, even though God moves it and applies it to the work. . . . And so St. Thomas in I-II. question 10, article 4 ad 3 concludes that, in the supposition that the divine movement is given, it is impossible that the will not be moved but that, absolutely, it is not impossible. Namely, because the will cannot dispose itself by the negative determination for receiving the divine movement."
C. Modern Theologians
366. Father Philippe de la Trinité, OCD: Several modern theologians, working independently of each other, have come to practically identical conclusions. Among them is the outstanding theologian Father Philippe de la Trinite, who in the article we cited above,159 wrote:160 "Grace is not a priori efficacious or sufficient, independently of my resistance, but it is made efficacious or not in view of my resistance, with God remaining always the master of the situation. . . . I by no means make grace efficacious, although I can make it ineffective." And again:161 "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, in any hypothesis. Grace really suffices and so is efficacious when we do not resist or when God surmounts our will to resist by a more abundant grace. . . . " He also cites the words of Jacques Maritain expressing much the same thought.162
367. Dom Mark Pontifex, OSB: Still another excellent theologian came independently to substantially the same conclusions in his book, Freedom and Providence.163 He says that a human choice is always one between a greater and a lesser good (inasmuch as even in a bad choice a man chooses a true, though disordered good). Everything that is positive is from God; but everything that is defective, is from man himself.164
Jacques Maritain: Maritain approaches the problem as a philosopher rather than as a theologian, but his implications in theology are plain, and he himself points them out. The broad lines of his solution are identical to ours, even though there is a considerable difference in some respects.167 He finds the point of entry for evil in non-consideration168 of the moral rule.169
369. 1) All the efficacy of every grace is intrinsic to it, for we give no efficacy at all to it, even though we can, by resistances block the efficacy of all frustrable graces.
2) Frustrable graces belong to ordinary providence; infrustrable graces belong to extraordinary providence.
3) Infrustrable grace takes away autonomous liberty, but leaves secondary liberty.
4) The motion of every grace is physical, not only moral, but autonomous liberty is retained under frustrable graces since, within ordinary providence, the physical movement does not move a man as far as positive consent without the condition of non-resistance in the first part of the process of the granting of a grace, immediately after grace has produced the simple apprehension of good in the intellect and the initial complacency in the will. This type of non-resistance is such that man does not move his own will, but rather, does nothing: it is an ontological zero. As such, it is in our power. There is another type of non-resistance that comes at the end of the process, in which a positive act of the will is made, with the formality of not resisting grace, or of not doing evil. This second type of non-resistance requires the movement of grace.
5) Grace is not versatile so as to give a general power which man turns to a specific use. Grace is in itself specified to one effect (when there is question only of a decision between doing or not doing one thing). When there is a choice between several things, God either sends several specified graces, so that man can resist all or all but one, or else, the grace itself causes a man to come, by deliberation, to see various specified goods. After they are seen, grace produces an initial complacency in the will of the man. This done, the man resists or does not resist.
6) Sufficient and efficacious grace-if one wishes to use such a distinction at all-differ in ordinary providence only inasmuch as a good effect follows as a matter of fact from the one and not from the other. There is no intrinsic difference. Nor do they differ by reason of a divine predefinition in actu primo. To avoid errors, it is better not to use such a distinction of graces.
370. Objection 1: Not to impede is the same as to initiate. But, a man cannot of himself initiate a good act, since the Council of Orange teaches:170 ". . . in every good work, we do not begin. . ." and again: "If anyone contends that God waits for our will . . . he resists the Holy Spirit." So it is not in the power of man to non-impede, nor does God wait for this.
Answer: It is not true that not to impede is the same as to initiate. In the actual process of granting of grace, the divine motion comes first, both logically and chronologically, and it produces a simple apprehension of good in the intellect and an initial complacency in the will before the recipient moves himself at all. After this the man can resist or omit resistance in the sense described.171 Nor do we say that God waits for our will, i.e., the movement of our will. We say that God waits for nothing in our will: for the absence of resistance in the sense we speak of172 is ontologically nothing: it is merely doing nothing against grace in the first phase of the process. The council said nothing about this. We say, therefore, merely that God does not will to continue the process in us if we resist.
371. Objection 2: In this explanation, God becomes passive, and is determined by man.
Answer: The objection was solved at the end of chapter 7.173
372. Objection 3: In the concrete, non-resistance is the same as consent, and leads to the same effect.
Answer: The objection was solved at the end of chapter 17.174
373. Objection 4: St. Thomas says that non-resistance is not in the power of man.
Answer: The objection was solved at the end of chapter 7.175
374. Objection 5: The will can act only under the appearance of good. So non-resistance is good, and if it is good, it is not in the power of man unless God moves him to it.
Answer: Non-resistance in the sense we intend176 is not an act. It is ontologically nothing. Furthermore, not everything that is done under the appearance of good is good. Even a sinful decision is taken under the appearance of good.
375. Objection 6: In the concrete, every action must be morally good or evil. Therefore, if non-resistance is not evil, it must be good. If it is good, it is not in man's own power.
Answer: The principle cited holds for concrete, complete acts. But non-resistance is not an act, but the absence of an act.177 It is an ontological zero. Nor could it be said that it is equivalent to the omission of evil and so is positively good. For the omission of evil is morally good only when there is a positive decision or act of the will to omit it. But in non-resistance in the sense we intend,178 the man does not move his will. Non-resistance is the mere absence of a decision, it is a mere metaphysical part of a process that will terminate in an act.
Furthermore, the principle about the non-indifference of concrete act is founded, as we explained above179 on the obligation of directing one's acts to the ultimate end. But in the first logical moment of an act, man does not yet have the power of positively ordering his act to the ultimate end: this power is given him only after the condition of non-resistance. Therefore, if he does not yet have the power, the obligation does not yet bind. And if the obligation does not yet bind, the fundamental reason for saying that all concrete acts must be good or evil is not yet present.
Furthermore, as we have often seen, St. Thomas himself says, in CG. 3.159, that non-resistance is in the power of the human will.
376. Objection 7: An act produced under operating grace is meritorious. But in such an act, the will does not move itself, but merely does not impede. Therefore, non-resistance is meritorious; and if it is meritorious, it is not in human power.
Answer: In an act done under operating grace, the human will is truly moved, but is moved by God alone, and it does not move itself. However, since the will really does elicit a good act, and has grace, the act is meritorious. We grant all this. However, precisely where does the merit and moral goodness lie? The merit and goodness are formally in the good movement of the will. There is no formal goodness or merit in the non-resistance itself, because in this sense,180 it does not include any act at all. In fact, the non-resistance is not precisely a good condition, but the absence of a bad condition. So, if merit and goodness are present they are not found in the non-resistance itself. They follow after it. So in itself, non-resistance is not meritorious, nor does it contain any good, ontological or moral. So the objection is invalid.
Perhaps it will be helpful to consider an explanation that St. Thomas makes in a matter that is not entirely dissimilar. For he teaches that not to attend to the rule of morality is, in itself, neither good nor evil:181 ". . . the non-use of the rule of reason and divine law is presupposed in the will before an inordinate choice. It is not necessary to seek for any cause of this non-use of the afore-mentioned rule; for the very freedom of the will, by which it can act or not act, suffices for this. And the very non-attention to such a rule considered in itself, is neither culpable nor punishable evil." But it is equally clear that this non-use is not morally good. Therefore it is neither morally good nor evil in itself, even though to act with such a non-use is evil. Similarly, in itself, non-resistance is neither good nor evil, even though to act after such non-resistance is meritorious.
Continuation of objection: But in a concrete case, non-resistance is in order to a good act. For this reason it is good.
Reply: We must distinguish: Non-resistance can be said to be in order to a good act only inasmuch as a good act actually follows. But the will does not direct it to a good act: for the will does nothing at all, it does not act. Now morality is determined by the object, end, and circumstances. We can, of course, ignore circumstances in a general discussion. Now the object is neither good nor evil: it is merely a nothing. There is no end or goal, for the will merely does not act. A positive decision of abstaining from evil, made under the formality of abstaining from evil would be morally good. But no decision is neither good nor evil: non-resistance in the first part of the process is just that, no decision, no act of the will.
Similarly, in the case St. Thomas speaks of in the passage just cited, the very non-use of the rule is, in the same way, in order to an evil act. Yet St. Thomas says that that non-use is not evil: he says only that to act with such a non-use is evil. Similarly, non-resistance is in itself neither good nor evil, even though to act after it is good. But the reason why to act after it is good is not found in the non-resistance, but in the good specification which grace brought.
377. Objection 8: Both by original and by personal sin, man is inclined towards evil. Therefore he cannot omit resistance.
Answer: To say that man is inclined towards evil is not the same as to say that he is incapable of doing anything but evil (by resisting grace). Further, in non-resistance man is sustained by grace itself. For, as we have shown,182 grace itself begins the process, producing in the intellect a simple apprehension of good, and in the will, an initial complacency. These effects continue by the power of grace: nothing is required from the man in order that they may continue, but something definite183 from him would be required to interrupt them. So the very action of grace itself sustains the non-resistance.184 It is enough to avoid persistent resistance in order to be predestined.
378. Objection 9: St. Paul says:185 "For who can resist his will?" A will of God that man could resist would be imperfect. But there is no imperfection in God.
Answer: St. Paul does not deny that God can, if He wishes, permit man to resist. Every man who sins does this. Nor is such a will an imperfection in God. It would be an imperfection if a man could resist even if God did not want to permit the resistance, but there is no imperfection if God wills to permit man to resist. The Thomists say that man actually resists all sufficient graces.
Furthermore, in resisting, only the evil, the non-being, is from man. The exercise of the act is from God.
379. Objection 10: There cannot be two wills in God about one object: for then the distinction would be in God, not in the object.
Answer: The objection implies a denial of the reality of the antecedent will in God, and so, a denial of the reality of the universal salvific will, which pertains to the antecedent will. St. Thomas, however, with theologians in general, teaches that there is a true antecedent will even though Bañez, and some of his followers, in speaking of the salvific will, say that "much more probably" that will in God is not sincere.186
Certainly, as we saw in chapter 5, revelation does show that the salvific will is sincere.
But there really is a distinction in two aspects of the same object. For God can sincerely will that this particular man, even in these concrete circumstances, should perform this good act, and yet He can also will to permit the same man to impede grace if the man so wills. Under one aspect of the object, i.e., if the object is considered merely in itself, prescinding from the resistance of the man, God can sincerely want this action to take place: He really wills this good. Yet, under another aspect, namely, when the fact is added that this man here and now resists, God can be willing to permit this man not to perform the good act. For God wills men to have autonomous freedom,187 and so permits men to resist ordinary graces if they wish.
380. Objection 11: An impedible motion could not exist in the creature: it would do nothing.
Answer: As we saw above,188 an impedible motion always does do two things, namely, it produces in the intellect a simple apprehension of good, and, in the will, an initial complacency.
381. Objection 12: An impedible movement would have to be indifferent.
Answer: It is indifferent only in the sense that man is permitted to resist if he wishes. But in the sense that really matters, it is not indifferent. For the impedible grace does have in it the good specification.189
Continuation of objection: Then if the man resists, he imposes a new specification. But he cannot do that.
Reply: In resisting, man takes away goodness or part of the goodness of the specification that is already present in the grace, as John of St. Thomas says in the passage cited above.190 The evil specification as such is a deficiency. To be deficient is in human power. The movement for the exercise of this evil specification comes from God.
382. Objection 13: Freedom can really coexist with an unimpedible motion, as is evident from the case of Christ and Mary. So there is no need to suppose the existence of impedible movements to save freedom.
Answer: Secondary liberty191 can coexist with an unimpedible movement, but not autonomous liberty. We have proved above that a sincere universal salvific will cannot coexist with a system in which man cannot "distinguish himself" because everything is controlled by inimpedible movements so that the man has no autonomous freedom to distinguish himself as regards reprobation.192
383. Objection 14: St. Thomas says:193 ". . . man cannot prepare himself to receive the light of grace except through the gratuitous help of God who moves interiorly." Therefore man is incapable of non-resistance.
Answer: Non-resistance, in the sense in which we intend it194 does not come before grace, but is had after grace has already produced its initial effects in the intellect and the will of man. And non-resistance itself is sustained by grace.195 Therefore it is not a preparation before grace.
We concede, of course, that every positive preparation before grace comes must be made by grace, but no one would deny that there can be a sort of negative preparation before grace comes, i.e., no one would say that before grace comes, a man is incapable of not having in him all evil dispositions that would be indispositions to all graces. For if a man can lack even one evil disposition without grace, then he is negatively disposed in regard to at least one grace that can come. But, since not all men are altogether perverse in every respect, they are negatively disposed towards at least some graces.
384. Objection 15: St. Thomas says:196 "God . . . by His own judgment, does not send the light of grace into those in whom He finds an obstacle. Hence the cause of the lack of grace is not only he who places an obstacle to grace, but also God, who by His own judgement does not give grace." So the reason for the denial of grace is not solely the resistance of man, but merely that God does not want to give grace to some, by His own judgment.
Answer: It is necessary to study the context. In the body of the same article, St. Thomas compares the action of God to the illumination by the sun. He makes a distinction: ". . . the sun in illuminating acts by necessity of nature; but God acts voluntarily. . . . The sun . . . if it finds . . . any impediment in some body, leaves it dark. . . . But yet the cause of that darkness is in no way the sun, for the sun does not act by its own judgement in not sending light." And he continues: "But God . . . by His own judgement, does not send the light of grace into those in whom He finds an obstacle."
So all that St. Thomas says is that God does not act in a necessary, unfree manner, like the sun, but that He acts freely. St. Thomas does not say that God ever deprives a man of grace where He finds no obstacle, for St. Thomas holds that God does want to grant grace wherever He finds no obstacle:197 ". . . they only are deprived of grace who set up an impediment to grace in them."198
The same explanation holds for another passage of St. Thomas:199 ". . . the merit of Christ, as far as its sufficiency is concerned, is the same towards all, but not as far as efficacy is concerned. This happens partly as a result of free will, partly from divine choice, by which to some the effect of the merits of Christ is mercifully conferred but from some it is withheld by just judgment." We note too that he says that grace is withheld "by just judgment"-which presupposes human demerits, for there can be no just judgment without a consideration of demerits. These demerits must be personal demerits, unless one should wish to suppose that in this passage St. Thomas is writing under the influence of the massa damnata theory from the erroneous interpretation of Romans 9. But then the passage would need correction, for when the foundation, the erroneous interpretation, collapses, the superstructure collapses too.200
Much light on this passage is shed by the words from St. Thomas's commentary on 1 Sent, cited above.201
See also the objections and answers at the end of chapter 7.