The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions
"Appendix I: The order of the universe"
508. The problem of two series of texts: St. Thomas wrote about the order of the universe in many passages. These texts seem to fall chiefly into two series:
In the first series: He appears to hold this concept of the universe: God wanted to produce a great image of Himself. Since no creature alone could express the infinite and simple perfection of God, it was necessary1 to create many and varied creatures, and to have all grades of goodness in them. An individual man is as it were part of an immense mechanism. That which God cares for is not the individual man, but the whole order.
In the second series: We seem to find a different concept: The greatest perfection in created things is found in the eternal salvation of men. For men are directly sought in the universe: all other things are for the sake of them. In the beatitude of man, the universe attains the greatest likeness of God, since man, by his intellect, is capable of becoming all things. So all perfections are contained in this perfection.
Here are the chief examples of each series:
509. 1) First series: "That which is the greatest good in the things that are caused [by God] is the good of the order of the universe. . . . So the good of the order of things . . . is that which is chiefly willed and caused by God."2 "After the divine goodness . . . the principal good existing in things themselves is the perfection of the universe, which would not exist, if all grades of being were not found in things."3 ". . . He wants man to be for this reason: so that there may be a completion of the universe. . . ."4 "It remains [to conclude], then, that the good of the universe is the reason why God wills each particular good in the universe."5 ". . . the good of the order of the universe is more noble than any part of the universe, since the individual parts are ordered to the good of the order that is in the whole as to [their] end, as is evident from the Philosopher in Metaphysics XII."6 ". . . the perfection of the universe requires that there be inequality in things, so that all grades of goodness may be filled."7 ". . . God . . . does that which is better in the whole, but not that which is better in each part, except in order towards the whole. . . . Now the whole itself . . . is better and more perfect, if there are in it certain things that can fall away from good, which at times do fall away, since God does not impede this . . . many goods would be removed if God permitted no evil to be. For the life of the lion . . . would not be conserved if the ass were not killed; nor would the justice of the avenger and the patience of the sufferer be praised if there were no iniquity."8 ". . . any part is found to be for the sake of the whole to which it belongs. Therefore that which God cares for most greatly in created things is the order of the universe."9
510. 2) Second series: "In created things nothing can be greater than the salvation of a rational creature, which consists in the fruition of the divine goodness itself . . ."10 "If some whole is not the ultimate end, but is ordered to a further end, the ultimate end of a part is not the whole itself, but something else. . . . Hence the good of the universe is not the ultimate end of man, but God Himself [is the ultimate end of man]."11 "In the good of the universe there is contained as a principle the rational nature, which is capable of beatitude, to which all other creatures are ordered; and in this respect it is proper both to God and to us to love the good of the universe most greatly, in charity."12 ". . . individual creatures are for the perfection of the whole universe. But further, the whole universe, with its individual parts, is ordered to God as to the end, in as much as in them, through a certain imitation, the divine goodness is represented . . . although rational creatures above this have God in a special way as their end, whom they can attain in their operation, knowing and loving."13 "Only an intellectual creature attains to the very ultimate end of the universe, in its operation, namely, in knowing and loving God; but the other creatures cannot attain to the ultimate end except through some sort of participation in this similitude itself."14 "And this is also the most perfect way of attaining the divine likeness, namely, that we know Him in that way in which He knows Himself. . . ."15 "The intellectual creature is most greatly assimilated to God from the fact that it is intellectual: for it has this likeness more than other creatures, and this includes all other [likenesses]."16 "There is providence even for individual men for their own sake."17 "the good of the universe is greater than the particular good of one, if both be understood in the same class. But the good of one grace is greater than the good of nature of the whole universe."18
511. The apparent clash between the two series is quite great. For on the one hand it is said: "That which is the greatest good in the things that are caused [by God] is the good of the order of the universe." But on the other hand we read equally: "In created things nothing can be greater than the salvation of a rational creature." Again, on the one side: ". . . He wants man to be for this reason, so that there may be a completion of the universe," and, "the good of the universe is the reason why God wills each particular good in the universe." But on the other side we read: ". . . the good of the universe is not the ultimate end of man, but God Himself [is]," and "There is providence even for individual men for their own sake."
How can we account for such a discrepancy? There are chiefly two factors: (1) St. Thomas wrote under the influence of different sources, and did not make a synthesis of his teaching on this matter, (2) He had several distinctions in mind. We shall consider each of these items separately.
512. St. Thomas' sources: Chiefly two sources underlie his statements. He was influenced by the teaching of Aristotle, especially in Metaphysics XII, and by Christian teaching on the finality of man. (In addition, in some passages he was replying to various errors: in reading such passages it is always necessary to keep in mind the nature of the errors he was refuting. We shall take up these passages separately in the replies to objections).
1) The influence of Aristotle: This influence is very evident, e.g., in CG 1.70 he cites the very passage of Aristotle: ". . . the good of the order of the universe is more noble than any part of the universe, since the individual parts are ordered to the good of the order that is in the whole, as to [their] end, as is evident from the Philosopher in Metaphysics XII." In general, most texts of the first series were written under Aristotelian influence. Now Aristotle was completely ignorant of Christian finality. Further, he not only did not know, but even explicitly denied the possibility of love between God and men, saying19 that if one is very remote, as God is, the possibility of friendship ceases.
However, since the Aristotelian expressions do not precisely deny the true end of man, but merely pass it by, St. Thomas was able to use such forms of expression in some passages, and to explain his meaning more fully in other passages. As we shall soon see, he did this. Further, as we shall also see, even in Aristotle himself he found a very useful point for reconciling the above mentioned texts with Christian finality.20
2) The influence of the general Christian doctrine on the finality of man: In the second series we find many texts written under this influence. We shall see later how to reconcile them with the first series. But first, we need to see some very important distinctions that often underlie the words of St. Thomas, and sometimes are made explicit.
513. St. Thomas' distinctions:
1) The class of good: St. Thomas explains this first distinction as follows:21 ". . . the good of the universe is greater than the particular good of one, if both be understood in the same class. But the good of one grace is greater than the good of nature of the whole universe."
In what class does the order of the universe belong? In some texts, St. Thomas seems to consider it as a "good of nature." E.g., he speaks of the perfection of the order, which,22 "consists in the essential parts of the universe and the various species." In the same sense he also says:23 "The universe, supposing [that] these things [are its components], cannot be better, because of the most fitting order attributed to these things by God, in which the good of the universe consists. If one of these were better, the proportion of the order would be corrupted, just as if one string were made too long, the melody of the cithara would be corrupted." Similarly:24 "The arrangement of natural beings is the best it can be. And we see this in each individual, that each is of the best arrangement in its own nature. Hence all the more we must judge this of the whole universe."
Of course, it is evident that the universe contains not only perfections of the physical kind, but also moral perfections, which represents the various aspects of the perfection of God Himself. St. Thomas does not deny this: he merely prescinds from this fact, in the texts just cited, and in many others in which he describes the perfection which "consists in the essential parts of the universe and the various species."
From this we gather an important point: We must always note in what way and sense St. Thomas is speaking, lest someone wish to apply to moral matters and to salvation, passages in which St. Thomas is prescinding from them.
514. 2) The first and the ultimate perfections: St. Thomas also distinguishes between25 "the first perfection of the universe, which consists in the essential parts of the universe and the various species," and "the ultimate . . . perfection, which will [come] from the consummation of the order of the blessed." So in some texts he is speaking about the first perfection; but in others, he is speaking of the ultimate perfection.
Therefore, in referring to this first perfection, St. Thomas can say, without denying Christian finality that God29 ". . . wants man to be for this reason: so that there may be a completion of the universe," and also30 ". . . the good of the order of the universe is more noble than any part of the universe, since the individual parts are ordered to the good of the order that is in the whole, as to [their] end, as is evident from the Philosopher in Metaphysics XII."
b) The ultimate perfection is of both a physical and a moral kind:31 "The ultimate perfection, which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the Saints, which will be at the consummation of the world. But the first perfection, which is in the integrity of the universe, was in the first institution of things."
Therefore, although he had said that God wanted man "so that there may be a completion of the universe", as if he were a mere part of a giant mechanism, and although he had said that "the individual parts [not excluding man] are ordered to the good of the order that is in the whole," nevertheless, making the distinction between the first perfection and the ultimate perfection, he can say, referring to the ultimate perfection:32 "individual creatures are for the perfection of the whole universe [in the first perfection]. But further, the whole universe, with its individual parts, is ordered to God as to the end in as much as in them, through a certain imitation, the divine goodness is represented . . . although rational creatures above this have God in a special way as their end whom they can attain in their operation, knowing and loving." For:33 "Only an intellectual creature attains to the very ultimate end of the universe, in its operation, namely, in knowing and loving God." And even:34 "This is the most perfect way of attaining the divine likeness, namely, that we know Him in that way in which He knows Himself. . . ." Therefore:35 "This [likeness] includes all other [likenesses] ."
515. 3) Extensive and diffusive, or intensive and collective likeness: St. Thomas also adds another distinction:36 "The universe is more perfect in goodness than an intellectual creature extensively and diffusively. But intensively and collectively, the likeness of divine perfection is found more in an intellectual creature, which is capable of the supreme good." Elsewhere, St. Thomas himself explains this distinction:37 "A thing can be said to be greater in two ways. In one way, intensively, e.g., whiteness is greater which is more intense. . . . In the other way, something is greater extensively, e.g., whiteness is said to be greater which is over a greater area."
516. Synthesis: With the help of these distinctions, it is not difficult to construct a synthesis in such a way that all texts of both series will find fitting places. But before going ahead, we need to recall that the order of the universe comes under the purpose of creation, that is, the order of the universe is a representation of the perfections of God, which is ordered to the glory of God. Now38 ". . . glory is nothing but clear knowledge, with praise. . . ." But there will be no praise unless the representation is intelligible, so that there may be clear knowledge. Further, the representation needs to be intelligible precisely in that way in which it will be most apt to be understood by those who are to praise.
517. Therefore, in the first perfection of the universe, in order that the representation might be intelligible to men39 ". . . [God] produced many and diverse creatures, because [the perfections of God] could not be sufficiently represented through one creature." So, to effectively teach men about God, there was need of an extensive and diffusive representation, for at the time of the first perfection, men can know God only40 "through a mirror in an obscure manner," as St. Paul says. That is, they do not yet directly see God as He is in Himself, but instead, learn of His varied perfections through many varied creatures.
In learning about God, men are not only able to glorify Him more, but they also become more like to Him, for as we have seen,41 God has decreed that His glory and the good of man be inseparable. This process in turn prepares the way for a greater glorification of God and a greater likeness to God in men in the ultimate perfection in which42 "the intellectual creature is most greatly assimilated to God" in the likeness which43 "includes all other [likenesses]", from which will come greater external glory of God.
In the first perfection that intensive likeness which44 "is found more in an intellectual creature, which is capable of the supreme good" is not yet full and perfect. Therefore, this likeness is to be perfected and supplied in the ultimate perfection.
518. The ultimate perfection of the universe45 "which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the Saints, which will be at the consummation of the world." As we have said, in this ultimate perfection, the deficiency in the intensive and collective representation which is not yet perfect in the first perfection of the universe, will be made up. It will be made up or supplied in the following way.
In the ultimate perfection, there will again be present a manifestation of all the perfections of God, and again, it will be present in such a way that the creatures that are to praise may understand in the best way. In the first perfection of the universe, the extensive and diffusive representation was strictly necessary, since then creatures understood God only through the mirror of creatures. But in the ultimate perfection, there will be a twofold manifestation, namely: an uncreated manifestation, and a created likeness.
There will be an uncreated manifestation, for the blessed will no longer see through the mirror of creatures, but will see God directly as He is, without any created image. Really, no image or created representation would be adequate to perfectly manifest and represent God. But in the beatific vision as St. Thomas says, since46 "by whatsoever other form our intellect would be informed, it could not be led by [that form] into [adequate knowledge of] the divine essence . . . the divine essence will be related to the intellect as form to matter!"47 In other words, the divine essence itself will perform the function of the image, since no image could suffice. It is obvious that a more perfect manifestation could not be conceived.
519. But there is also another respect in which this uncreated manifestation is most perfect. For in this vision not only are all the perfections of God seen, but they are seen precisely in the way in which they are in God. This is true not only in as much as they are seen without the use of any created image as intermediary, but because the very unity of the divine perfections is most perfectly shown. For, within the divine essence, there is no real distinction between the various perfections, but only some logical distinctions. So the perfections that seem to us almost opposed are really so united that there is no real distinction between them. Mercy and justice seem to us especially opposed, but in beatitude, God manifests and exercises simultaneously, in one and the same act, both mercy and justice: mercy, in as much as mercy is the foundation of the whole process of creation, redemption, and grant of grace; justice, in as much as God has freely decreed that men should merit (in the order of execution) their beatitude, so that the beatitude itself is a48 "crown of justice." Hence, in beatitude, all perfections are manifested in the most perfect way, because they are manifested not only in their specific nature, but even according to the very mode in which they are in God.
520. It is obvious how far this manifestation surpasses every representation made in a diffusive and extensive way. For a diffusive and extensive representation is made through creatures: this manifestation is made without any created image, because the divine essence itself takes the place of an image. A diffusive and extensive representation is inaccurate in that it shows the perfections as if they were not only really distinct, but even in regard to some, as if they were almost opposites; but this manifestation through the beatific vision shows all perfections precisely according to the way in which they really are in God.
521. There is also the most perfect created representation, since the blessed creature itself becomes so like to God that a greater created likeness of the divine perfections is inconceivable. As St. John the Apostle says:49 "We shall be like to him, for we shall see him just as he is." St. Thomas explains this well:50 ". . . in De anima III it is said that the soul is in a certain way all things, because it is born to know all things. And in this way it is possible that in one thing, the perfection of the whole universe should exist." That is:51 ". . . each and every intellectual substance is in a certain way all things, in as much as it can comprehend all being in its intellect. . . ." Now in the vision of God, it really does take in all things, for all things are contained in that vision. Hence52 ". . . this [likeness] includes all other [likenesses]," because53 "in one thing [the blessed soul] the perfection of the whole universe . . . exist[s]." Now these things are true in regard to the likeness by way of the intellect. The situation is similar in regard to the will. For everyone who loves, becomes like the one he loves. Therefore, since the blessed man is joined in most intimate love to the Supreme Good, in this way he becomes also most like to the Supreme Good.
Therefore in both ways, both in regard to the intellect and in regard to the will, the greatest and most perfect created representation of the Supreme Good will be the blessed one. We can recall too, that inasmuch as his very blessedness is an effect of both mercy and justice simultaneously, he most perfectly represents these attributes as they are in God, instead of representing them as if they were not only really distinct but opposed (as happens in an extensive and diffusive representation). Further, this representation through the blessed soul is such as to be most intelligible to those who will praise God, namely, the other blessed.
St. Thomas is quite right, then, in saying:54 ". . . as far as its most noble participations are concerned, the likeness of the divine goodness results in the universe only by reason of its most noble parts, which are intellectual natures: neither, in itself, can that be said of the whole . . . which does not belong to it by reason of all [its] parts . . . and so the universe cannot be called the image of God, but the intellectual nature [can]." For:55 "Only an intellectual creature attains to the very ultimate end of the universe, in its operation, namely, in knowing and loving God; but the other creatures cannot attain to the ultimate end except through some sort of participation in this similitude. . . ."
522. At the same time, the extensive and diffusive representation that was had in the first perfection56 "which is in the integrity of the universe" by which57 "at its beginning the universe was perfect in regard to the species,"-this extensive and diffusive representation will be present in the ultimate perfection, in a better way. For in the ultimate perfection, the whole world will be cleansed and liberated,58 "because creation itself also will be delivered from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God."
Further, there will be an extensive and diffusive representation in the very order of the blessed. For, even though the condition according to which God decides to reprobate or save is found in individuals, yet all the blessed are saved not precisely as independent individuals, but as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, who attain salvation in as much as they belong to that Head and are conformed to Him. And, just as in other bodies, there will be a diversity, in two respects:
1) According to the varied function that each has fulfilled in the external economy, while he was on the way to beatitude, e.g., the glory of apostles will be different from that of doctors, and from that of martyrs, and from that of confessors, etc.
2) According to diversities in the internal economy:
b) In the kinds of virtues that each cultivated more specially. For even though all Saints must have all virtues, yet, some have specialized, as it were, in certain virtues, e.g. St. Francis of Assisi specially loved poverty, St. Thomas, sacred knowledge, St. Francis de Sales, mildness, etc.
523. The "necessity" of reprobates for the order of the universe: Some Thomists say that it is necessary that God should desert some, so that He may have some to punish, so that He may manifest vindicative justice. Above, in chapters 3 and 5,59 we showed from revelation and from the teaching of St. Thomas that God does not reprobate for the sake of the order of the universe. These proofs are entirely valid in themselves, and suffice abundantly without the need of further explanations. However, it will still be worthwhile to show how the same conclusion follows also from our synthesis of the texts of St. Thomas.
524. But first it is good to recall that these Thomists are using the word "necessary" only in the sense of an hypothetical necessity. They do not deny this. That is, they mean that reprobates are required in the hypothesis that God wills to manifest justice; and they suppose that it cannot be fully manifested unless God shows that He is just by inflicting eternal punishment. But actually, even if we suppose that God wills to manifest Himself fully, not all forms of manifestation will be necessary. For as St. Thomas says:60 "Since the divine goodness is infinite, there is an infinite [variety and number of] ways of participating in it. . . . So, if, from the very fact that He wills His own goodness, He had to will [every different creature] that [could] participate in it, He would have to will an infinite [number and variety] of creatures, participating in His goodness in an infinite [variety] of ways. This is obviously false." Therefore, not all forms of representation are necessary: if they were, we would have to say that the institution of the supernatural order would be necessary, so that God could manifest Himself directly. So these Thomists need to prove not only that a special manifestation of vindicative justice is necessary but also that it must be had through eternal reprobation, and further, through reprobation before foreseen demerits. But they have not proved these things.
525. To return to the question, we need to inquire what God will prefer: (1) That representation of justice which can be had from the damnation of a certain man, e.g., of Mark, who is totally incapable of "distinguishing himself" in regard to reprobation; and, along with this, the clear knowledge with praise that would come from other creatures because of such a reprobation; or (2) The representation of justice as it is in itself that would be had in Mark if he is saved (for then he would be like to God in the likeness which "includes all other [likenesses]", a likeness which represents justice as it really is within the divine essence, instead of representing it as if it were opposed to mercy) and, along with this representation, the praises of other rational creatures because of this, and the praises of Mark himself.
526. To decide this question, we need to compare three things: the manifestation itself, the clear knowledge coming from it, and the resultant praises, which would come from the reprobation of Mark, with the same three things as they would come from the salvation of Mark.
These three are called the glory of God, or, more accurately, the created representation is called objective glory, and the clear knowledge with praise is called formal glory. The objective glory is ordered to the formal glory, so much so that St. Thomas himself preferred to say simply, as we have seen, that "glory is nothing but clear knowledge with praise."
For the sake of clarity, we shall consider each of the three separately.
527. 1) The created representation itself:
a) From the reprobation of Mark: There would be a diffusive and extensive representation of vindicative justice. This representation truly shows the vindicative justice of God (this is true outside the system of the older Thomists. For within their system, as we have already shown,61 God Himself would be the author of sin). But it shows justice as if it were not only really distinct from mercy, but as if it were practically opposed to mercy. Inasmuch as it does this, the representation is imperfect, almost distorted, because within the divine essence, justice and mercy are not really distinct, nor are they opposite.62 But we must not forget that Mark is not alone: For the older Thomists, in general, hold that God reprobates the greater part of the human race. Therefore, the representation will be still more imperfect, because it will make it seem that vindicative justice is a greater virtue in God than mercy, while actually, mercy is the greatest virtue in Him. As St. Thomas says:63 "In itself indeed, mercy is the greatest. . . . Hence it is said that to have mercy is proper to God; and in this His omnipotence is said to be most greatly manifested."
b) From the salvation of Mark: There would be a twofold manifestation of divine justice, namely, the uncreated manifestation, in the beatific vision, in which the divine essence itself is manifested and justice itself is shown as it is in that essence, without any created image as intermediary; and the created manifestation in Mark himself is that ultimate perfection in which64 "the intellectual creature is most greatly assimilated to God" in that likeness which65 "includes all other [likenesses]," because66 "in one thing [the blessed soul] the perfection of the whole universe [can] exist," to such an extent that it is true to say that67 "the universe cannot be called the image of God, but the intellectual nature [can]." For the ultimate perfection of the universe,68 "which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the Saints." In this created likeness, mercy and justice are represented not as though they were opposite or really distinct, but precisely as they really are in God, because, as we have said above,69 Mark himself is an example of the fusion of mercy and justice, because his salvation is an exercise of mercy and justice, simultaneously, in one and the same act.
The older Thomists want to say that the representation through reprobation is imperfect only in one respect, and that it is necessary to have an extensive and diffusive70 representation so that the representation may be perfect. But even though the representation by reprobation would be imperfect only in one respect, the representation that is imperfect in no respect is better: it manifests mercy and justice in the manner in which they really are in God, in that likeness which "includes all other [likenesses]." For justice in itself is really the virtue by which there is present a disposition to render to each his own. If it is manifested that God is just, and that He renders to each his own, by that very fact it is manifested that He is disposed to render penalty if anyone earns penalty. But justice in itself would still be most fully justice and could be fully known, even if no one sinned, so that there would never be an exercise of punishment. Furthermore, if the glory of God absolutely required to be able to exercise a penalty, then sin itself would be necessary, for it would be a condition sine qua non for manifesting or for exercising justice, so that the glory of God would depend on sin! And-even though one would say that God merely permits sin-nevertheless, in desiring such glory absolutely, before the decision of a creature to sin, God would not be able not to desire the sin itself implicitly, in as much as such glory would be entirely impossible without sin. (For it is one thing to rejoice in a good effect that happens to come through an evil, after the evil has come in a way quite independent of him who rejoices-quite a different thing to desire this good effect in advance when it is impossible to have it unless sin precedes. He who desires the end, must implicitly desire the means. Nor could the difficulty be avoided by saying that sin is not strictly a means to glory: at least it would be a prerequisite conditio sine qua non. Nor could God, as it were, say: "Men are going to sin anyway: so I will permit sin for my glory"-Because in the older Thomists' system, it is not true that men would sin "anyway."-it is only through an infallible permission from God that they will sin. In fact, God would have to have the same attitude as the ridiculous person in the comic opera, "The Mikado," in which Koko, who is the Lord High Executioner, most fervently hopes that someone will commit a capital crime so that he, Koko, can show his skill in beheading men.
528. 2) The clear knowledge: We must distinguish between the knowledge that could be had in this life, and that which will be in the future life.
Out of those who do not have Sacred Scripture, some also know that God punishes in the future life, but others do not know of future retribution. Some see that God sometimes punishes visibly in this life. For all of these, the outcome will be the same as for those who do have Sacred Scripture. The actual execution of eternal punishment would not be perceived anyway, and so would not make their knowledge of His justice clearer.
b) In the future life:
1) The reprobates themselves: They have a clear knowledge of vindicative justice, but they hardly know the other virtues of God, for they know Him only in a distorted way. They hate Him.
2) The blessed: They have clear knowledge of all the virtues of God. They have this both from the uncreated manifestation (the beatific vision) and from the likeness or created representation that shines forth in each and every one of the blessed, for as we have seen, they themselves are that representation or likeness which "includes all other [likenesses]." Would their knowledge of God's justice be less if they did not see that some men had actually, in spite of the graces and threats of God, come to eternal punishment? Not at all. For the knowledge that they have of God both from the vision of the divine essence and from the created likeness in the blessed is so clear that no created image-especially, not the imperfect image provided by the damned-could make it clearer.
529. 3) The praise of God:
a) In this life: Because the knowledge of God's justice would not be clearer in this life from the execution of the punishment than from the threats, it is evident that the praise of God would not be greater from the execution of the punishment than from the threats. Therefore, even if no one actually were reprobated, the glory and praise of God given by men in this life would not be less.
b) In the future life:
1) The reprobates: Not only do they not praise God more because there are reprobates: they do not praise Him at all. Instead, in most bitter and distorted hatred they loathe Him, and for endless ages they will always curse Him in the same way.
2) The blessed: They do not praise God more because there actually are reprobates than they would otherwise praise Him. For, on the one hand, the blessed praise God as much as they are able to praise; on the other hand, the exterior act of a virtue is not more praiseworthy than the disposition or internal intention, since the exterior act does not increase the merit or demerit that flows from the interior decision of the will. So the blessed would not have reason to praise God more from seeing the exterior act of vindicative justice than from merely seeing His disposition to exercise that act if needed.
530. Conclusion on the "necessity" of reprobates: We have considered the effect of the actual existence of reprobates in regard to the created representation, in regard to clear knowledge, and in regard to the praise of God. We have seen that the created representation of God's perfections does not become better through an imperfect image provided by the existence of reprobates, nor does the knowledge become clearer. But the praise of God is diminished, since the reprobates themselves not only do not praise God, but in bitter hatred curse Him, and always will curse Him.
So reprobates are not required for the glory of God-rather, the formal glory of God is diminished by their existence. And, if the older Thomists are right in saying that more are reprobated than saved (we do not agree with them in that), very much would be taken away from the formal glory of God by the reprobates.
But, even if someone would still wish to say that the created representation is better as a result of the actual punishment of the reprobate, certainly the increase in formal glory would be a better thing and of greater weight than a small improvement of a mere image. For the image is ordered to the formal glory, so much so that St. Thomas says simply:71 "glory is nothing but clear knowledge with praise." Hence we should not greatly prize an added image that would detract from formal glory. And, most certainty, a representation which does not make knowledge clearer, but which instead makes praise and formal glory less can hardly be called NECESSARY. Furthermore, as we have seen,72 If God in an absolute way, before prevision of sin, desired glory that could not be had except through sin as a conditio sine qua non, He would implicitly desire sin.
We must add this: Really, what kind of glory would God receive if He were to reprobate men who were totally incapable of "distinguishing themselves" in regard to reprobation, and in regard to doing or not doing evil? The praise for such justice would not be great! And if we add that in the system of the older Thomists, God would be truly the author of sin73- then God would receive no praise at all.
However, if someone still does not concede that the glory of God does not require reprobates, at least let him believe the many words of St. Thomas himself that we have cited not only in this appendix but in chapter 3, especially:74 "There are certain evils such that if they did not exist, the universe would be more perfect . . . as is chiefly the case in moral faults," and similarly:75 "In created things, nothing can be greater than the salvation of a rational creature," so that we must say76 "the universe cannot be called the image of God, but the intellectual nature [can]" in that likeness which77 "Includes all other [likenesses]."
Finally, it is not permitted not to believe divine revelation. As we saw in chapters 3 and 5,78 it entirely excludes reprobation on account of the order of the universe.
531. Objection 1: St. Thomas says:79 "There is . . . diversity and inequality in created things, not from chance, nor from diversity of matter, nor because any causes or merits intervene, but properly from the divine intention which wants to give to the creature such perfection as it is possible for it to have." He says explicitly that differences do not come from secondary causes or merits. Therefore, even in moral things, all differences are predetermined by God, without consideration of what creatures do.
Answer: The solution is very easy. In this passage, St. Thomas is giving a summary of his conclusions from the previous chapters, 39-44. In chapters 39-44 he is writing against some ancient errors. He teaches: Physical differences do not come from chance (chapter 39), nor from differences in the matter itself (chapter 40), nor from the acts of secondary causes (chapters 41-43), nor from merits and demerits according to the theory of Origen who said that all souls were once equal but that by sins in a previous life they merited to have various forms, in this life, so that some are angels, others are men, etc. Thus the context shows he is not speaking of moral differences in this life, but of physical differences coming from moral or other causes in a previous life.80
532. Objection 2: St. Thomas explicitly says:81 "Now it is necessary that the divine goodness . . . be represented in a manifold way in things . . . various grades of things are needed. . . . God wishes, then, to represent His goodness by way of mercy, by sparing, in some men, whom He predestines; but by way of justice in others, by punishing. And this is the reason why God chooses some, and reprobates others." Therefore, it is necessary that there be reprobates.
Answer: We have already given the answer in chapter 14.82 These words can be interpreted in three ways.
533. Objection 3: St. Thomas also says:83 "Now the whole itself . . . is better and more perfect, if there are in it certain things that can fall away from good, which at times do fall away, since God does not impede this, both because 'it pertains to providence not to destroy, but to conserve nature' . . . but the nature of things is such that the things that can fail sometimes do fail; and because as Augustine says . . . 'God is so powerful that He can even bring good out of evils.' Hence many goods would be removed if God permitted no evil to be. For the life of the lion . . . would not be conserved if the ass were not killed; nor would the justice of the avenger and the patience of the sufferer be praised if there were no iniquity." Therefore, it is necessary to have reprobates.
Answer: In interpreting these words, it is necessary to employ several distinctions. Fortunately, St. Thomas himself supplies them all, in another passage in which he treats the same subject:84 ". . . in regard to all evils in general, it is true that if [none of them] were permitted to be, the universe would be more imperfect, because there would not exist those natures that are such that they can fail-and if these were taken away, the universe would be more imperfect, for not all degrees of goodness would be present. But there are some evils that are such that if they did not exist, the universe would be more imperfect, namely, those evils upon which follow a greater perfection than the perfection that is taken away, such as [is the case with] the corruption of elements, which is followed by mixture and the nobler forms of mixed elements. However there are certain evils such that if they did not exist, the universe would be more perfect namely, those evils by which greater perfections are taken away than are acquired in another, as is chiefly the case in moral faults, which take from one grace and glory, and give to another the good of [seeming better by] comparison, or some characteristic of perfection [such that] even without it, the ultimate perfection could be had; just as one can come to eternal life without the act of patience in persecutions. Wherefore if no man had sinned, the whole human race would be better; because even though directly the salvation of one is occasioned by the fault of another, nevertheless, he could attain salvation without the fault [of the other]. Yet, neither the one nor the other [class of] evils, of themselves, make for the perfection of the universe: because they are not causes of perfections, but occasions."
So St. Thomas explicitly says that without sins-and therefore without reprobates-not only individuals would be better, but "the universe would be more perfect."
Why then does God still will to permit sins? Because He considers not only the perfections that one acquires on the occasion of another's sin, for "God is so powerful that He can even bring good out of evils," but also because He considers the good coming from the very existence of created freedom, which makes sins possible. God could impede all sins only by always using infrustrable graces. But that would be to withdraw autonomous freedom which, as we have shown, is natural to man.85 God will not do that, for, as St. Thomas says in the passage cited in the objection: "it pertains to providence not to destroy but to conserve nature." Also, infrustrable graces are, as we have shown,86 extraordinary by nature: it would be contrary to good order and contrary to Wisdom to make the extraordinary ordinary. Hence St. Thomas says elsewhere:87 "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 be rendered meritless and unpraiseworthy."
So, it is true that "the whole itself . . . is better and more perfect, if there are in it certain things that can fall away from good"-that is, irrational creatures that are material and therefore are defectible (lack of them would remove many degrees of goodness); and rational creatures that are free, and can fail precisely because they are free. For the universe would be much more imperfect if it did not include rational free creatures.88 On the occasion of sins-which God in no way wills, not even as occasions of virtue-certain virtues are exercised: There would be no occasion for the exercise of patience, if there were no iniquity.
534. Objection 4: St. Thomas explicitly teaches the necessity of reprobates, in these words:89 "Another way [in which God is said to hate] is from the fact that God wills some greater good which would not exist without the privation of a lesser good. And so He is said to hate though this is rather to love. For thus, in as much as He wills the good of justice or of the order of the universe which cannot be without the punishment or the corruption of some, he is said to hate those whose punishment He wills, or [whose] corruption He wills. . . ."
Answer: St. Thomas is merely saying that which we saw above in the reply to the third objection. He mentions two things that God can will, namely, the good of justice and the good of the order of the universe. We need to notice that two means correspond, respectively to these two things. The two means are: punishment, and corruption. That is: The good of justice can require that God punish, if someone actually sins. But he does not say that it is required that God should desert some so as to have some to punish. And the good of the order of the universe requires that there be corruptible beings: if they did not exist, many grades of ontological good would be missing, and the first perfection of the universe which90 "consists in the essential parts of the universe and the various species," would be impossible. So it does not follow from this text that St. Thomas thinks God deserts some so as to be able to punish. Furthermore, if St. Thomas did mean this, he would contradict the many other passages that we have seen from him. And, as we have seen,91 such a desire would necessarily include an implicit desire of sin itself.92
535. Objection 5: God does all things for His own glory. Therefore, He permits sins for His glory, so as to have glory from vindicative justice.
Answer: The first and most fundamental permission to sin is not decreed directly and in itself, but merely follows inevitably from the gift of autonomous freedom.93 That is, God made man for His glory. The decision to make man necessarily entailed and implied the gift of autonomous liberty, because without it, a man would not be a man. Once this freedom is given, man has permission to sin, and he can even resist grace, unless God should send an infrustrable grace. But God would contradict Himself if He sent infrustrable graces regularly, as we have seen.94 For an infrustrable grace is by nature extraordinary.
There is also another, secondary way in which God can be said to permit sin: If he does not impede sin through other creatures, especially, through men in authority. But even in this way, God often will not be able to impede sin within good order, i.e., without contradicting Himself. This occurs either because the men who could impede do not will to do so (unless, of course, God moves them infrustrably, which is extraordinary); or because these men cannot impede. But even when God can, within good order, impede sin through other men, He sometimes decrees not to impede. He does this not to gain glory by punishing, but lest a graver sin be committed.95
Therefore, the permission to sin is not given to gain glory through the manifestation of justice in punishing. If it were, then, as we have already shown,96 God would necessarily implicitly desire sin itself.