The MOST Theological Collection: Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions

"Pt. 1: Research in the sources of revelation - Ch. 3: The purpose of creation"


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It is of great importance to have a perfectly clear understanding of God's purpose in creating. For if anyone acts for some purpose, he must choose means that are suitable to attain his purpose. So, if we know the purpose of creation, we shall gain much valuable information about what means God would or would not choose.

24. God created for Himself: This fact is obvious from many statements of Scripture, e.g., in Romans 11:36 we read: "For from him and through him and to him are all things." And similarly in the Epistle to the Hebrews 2:10: "For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist. . . ."

25. But God did not create for His own utility: Yet God did not create for His own advantage or as if He needed anything or hoped to gain anything. The book of Job says rightly:1 "Can a man be profitable to God? . . . Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself. Or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?" St. Paul spoke in the same vein to the Athenians on the Areopagus:2 "The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he gives to all men life and breath and everything."

26. The relation between God's glory and the good of men: Beginning early in the Old Testament we find a remarkable hint of a close bond between God's glory and the communication of His goodness to men in the many texts on the kabod Yahweh, the glory of God. As S. Lyonnet, SJ says:3 "The 'glory of God' in the Old Testament designates God Himself inasmuch as He is present to His people and communicating Himself to them. . . ." For example, in Exodus 40:34 we read: "Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord (kabod Yahweh) filled the tabernacle." The kabod Yahweh was a special visible manifestation of the glory and power of God which was at the same time the presence of God to communicate help to His people.

In the New Testament we find in many places a similar expression about the glory of God even in contexts where there is no longer any question of a special visible manifestation of the type found in the Old Testament. Thus Our Lord said to Martha at the tomb of Lazarus:4 ". . . if you would believe you would see the glory of God." In this passage, the words "glory of God" mean the manifestation of the power of God to communicate life to Lazarus. St. Paul speaks similarly in the Epistle to the Romans:5 ". . . Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father. . . ." And again:6 ". . . all have sinned and have need of the glory of God." He could have said: All need the communication of the grace of God, but he preferred to say: They need the glory of God, so that the glory or manifestation of God and the communication of good things to men seem, in these passages, inseparable and almost identical.

We notice, of course, that the expression "glory of God" in the passages just cited from both Testaments is not used in the sense most commonly carried by those words. Most usually they mean the praise given to God by intelligent creatures, or, as St. Thomas expresses it,7 "clear knowledge with praise." In the passages cited above, we have a created manifestation of God's power and goodness that leads or should lead to praise by creatures.

Furthermore, the passages cited do not show that the glory of God and the good of creatures are always inseparable. But they do provide a certain hint in that direction.

However, the inseparability of the two is clearly shown in one of the most fundamental revelations of the Gospels. For Christ again and again referred to God as our Father. Now every father, as such, wills glory for himself precisely through the good of his children-never through the ruin of his children. The glory of a good father as a father comes from the fact that his children turn out well.

The same revealed analogy enables us to see other facts about the relation between the glory of God and the good of men. For a human father wants his sons to honour him for two reasons: (1) Because the right objective order calls for that, i.e., out of love of righteousness and goodness. (2) So that it may be well with his children, for if they do not honor their father, by that very fact they are wicked, and so are indisposed to receive the benefits that the father wants to confer.

Similarly, our Father in heaven wants us to honor him: (1) Out of a love of righteousness and objective goodness: for the very nature of things requires that children should do this. (2) So that He may be able to give us His benefits, because, as St. Thomas explains:8 ". . . we show reverence and honor to God not for His advantage, but for our own, because, namely, in honoring and revering God, our soul is subjected to Him, and in this consists its perfection." St. Jerome speaks similarly:9 ". . . the Holy Spirit . . . is given to holy men that . . . they may be joined to God for the praise of His glory. Not that God needs the praise of anyone, but so that praising God may be beneficial to those who praise. . . ."

So we see an added confirmation of the fact that the glory of God and the good of men are inseparably bound together. We see also the generosity of God. For the reason why any good father, human or divine, gives love and benefits to his children is because he, the father, is good: not because the children are good. The children, then, cannot merit the fundamental,10 basic love of the father. But they can make themselves unworthy and indisposed, so as to be incapable of receiving the benefits which the father wants to give.

27. The teaching of Vatican Council I on the generosity of God: The first Vatican council defined that11 "the world was made to the glory of God." To understand the precise sense intended by the council, we need to examine the acts of the council.

First, it is clear that the council did not want to define more than was necessary. For we read in the Report of the Committee on Faith:12 ". . . in drawing up these canons, the Committee employed great diligence and care, first, so as not to say more than was necessary to say. . . ."

In line with this desire to limit its sense, the council distinguishes between two kinds of purpose, the purpose of the maker and the purpose inherent in the nature of the thing made. In technical language, these two are respectively, the finis operantis and the finis operis. The finis operantis is the goal which the maker freely selects and intends to accomplish; the finis operis is the end to which the very nature of the thing made directs it. (The difference will become clearer below from the concrete application to the purpose of creation.) Now we read in the annotations to the first schema:13 ". . . the finis operis is meant when, in the schema, it is said that the world was created to the glory of God." The same distinction is explicitly confirmed in the words of His Excellency, Bishop Vincent Gasser, president of the Committee on Faith14 ". . . the purpose of the created thing, and not [the purpose] of the creator, is meant when it is said in the canon, '. . . that the world was created to the glory of God. . . .'"

So we gather that the council did not intend to teach that God created for the purpose of acquiring glory (the finis operantis). For external glory, howsoever great, is a finite thing. No finite thing can really move God. But God did make a creature that was such that by its very nature it ought to give glory to God (finis operis) even though God Himself would gain nothing thereby.

28. It was important to make this distinction, because the council was refuting the error of George Hermes, who said that the Catholic Church teaches that God wanted to acquire external glory for Himself by creating. Hence we read in the Report of the Committee on Faith:15 "The second paragraph of this chapter is written . . . also against those who calumniate the Catholic Church on account of her teaching in which she says that the world was created to the glory of God, as if, namely, [the Church] represented God as eager for His own utility and His own advantage, as if, namely, the Church denied that the finis operantis was His own goodness, namely, that He might impart His goodness to creatures."

The second paragraph referred to above reads as follows:16 "This only true God . . . created creatures . . . not to increase His own happiness, nor to acquire, but to manifest His perfection through the goods which He imparts to creatures. . . ."

29. So, from the words of the council it is clear that God did not create to acquire anything for Himself. For "the finis operantis was His own goodness, namely, that He might impart His goodness to creatures." This does not mean, however, that the communication of goodness moved God to create, for this communication of goodness is a finite thing, and no finite thing can move God. Rather, the goodness of God moved Him to communicate His goodness.

30. The teaching of the council on the relation between manifestation and communication: It is important to note the connection in the divine plan between the manifestation of God's perfections, and the communication of goodness to creatures. For the council said that God created, "to manifest His perfection through the goods which He imparts to creatures. . . ." Hence it is clear that God intends to manifest His perfection not in some other way, but precisely "through the goods which He imparts to creatures. . . ."

The same conclusion is obvious from another passage just cited from the council which said that "the finis operantis was His own goodness, namely, that He might impart His goodness to creatures."

Hence Bishop Gasser, president of the Committee on Faith, explained as follows why the Committee had rejected a certain emendation that had been proposed:17 "In this emendation it is proposed to add 'to communicate' after 'to manifest' in line 21; but the Committee did not approve this emendation, and the reason was that in the following words, 'through the goods which He imparts to creatures,' the same thought is contained as the author of this emendation proposed."

If we were trying to determine by the nature of things, or by metaphysical procedures, precisely in what way God intended to manifest His perfections, it would be at least difficult if not impossible to determine that way. But the way intended by God can be known with certitude through revelation, and the Magisterium of the Church, as we have seen, has taught us that, by free decision of God, the manifestation of the perfections of God and the communication of good things to creatures are inseparably bound together, since God wills that the manifestation take place through the communication.

The same teaching at least seems to be presupposed in the following words of Pius XII:18 "In doing all these things, [Christ] looks solely to the glory of the heavenly Father and to the ever growing adornment of men with sanctity." For the Pope seems to say that the glory of the Father and the good of men are so bound together in the works of Christ that they can be spoken of as the one, even the sole purpose [of those works].

31. It is quite obvious therefore that God never intends to acquire external glory by the ruin of men, by deserting19 men, so that He could have glory in the manifestation of vindictive justice by punishing men. For God, as the council teaches, created to manifest His goodness not by the deprivation of good, but by the communication of good to creatures.20

32. Communication to individuals: Some theologians say that even though God did not create in order to acquire anything for Himself, yet He wanted to produce a certain external effect because such an effect is the best. Now this effect, they say, is the whole order of the universe, which is the best, because it manifests all the perfections of God. God moreover, according to these theologians, is not directly concerned with individuals, but with the whole. And He wants, they say, to make manifestation and communication inseparable in regard to the whole, but not in regard to individuals. Hence, in their theory, God wants to desert certain men, so that they sin, so that He may have someone to punish, so as to be able to manifest vindictive justice, communicating such justice in this way. In fact, these theologians hold that God deserts more men than He saves.

Now we do not deny that there is an order of the universe, and that it is truly good (below in this chapter, and in the appendix, we shall treat it at length). But it is one thing to say that the order of the universe is good, and quite another thing to say that it is necessary-for those theologians use that word-to desert men so that they are damned for the "beauty" of such an order.

Most certainly, no trace of such an opinion can be found in the teaching of the first Vatican council. Neither can we find in the words of the council any remote trace of the distinction which these theologians propose, namely, that manifestation and communication are inseparable in regard to the whole universe, but not in regard to individual men, so that in many men-or rather in most men, according to them-manifestation is not only not inseparable from communication to men, but is actually opposed to it, and is inseparable from deprivation. If these theologians were right, the council should not have said simply, as it did, that God created to manifest His perfection through the good things He imparts to creatures-the council should have said that He created to manifest His perfection through the goods He imparts to the whole by depriving most men of eternal good.

More specifically, we can prove from Scripture and the Magisterium that God does not have such an attitude of will (an additional specially powerful proof will be given below in chapter 5):21

1) Our Lord Himself in the Gospel revealed that God cares for individuals:22 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? . . . So, it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." Now if in the beginning, when He decided upon the purpose of creation, God had intended to desert23 some for the order of the universe, then He could not sincerely say later that He wanted to seek individual sinners lest they perish. Nor is the force of the argument weakened by saying that Christ spoke of the sheepfold which is the Church. Because both among those who are members of the Church in the full sense, and among those who are not, there are both reprobates and elect. If Christ, as God, had previously decided to desert the reprobate members so that they would perish, He could not later say sincerely that He was seeking the very same ones so that they would not perish. And most certainly, nowhere in revelation do we read that God deserts many sheep, so that they perish, so that He can show Himself just in punishing them-especially when the objectors say, as we have seen, that God deserts most men, in a weakness so extreme that it is metaphysically inconceivable24 that they would not perish!

2) God has revealed to us that He is our Father. Now the glory of any good father, as a father, lies in the well-being of his children-never in their ruin. And what kind of glory would a father have who would want to punish forever those who perished out of such weakness that it would be metaphysically inconceivable for them to act otherwise! What kind of glory would a father have who would do this not to just a few, but to most of his children! What kind of representation of the perfections of God would result from a world with so many, such atrocious sins in so many men! And who would say that in this way there would be produced the best representation of the perfections of God, so that God by primary preference would want this image rather than the salvation of many men. In the days of Noah, almost all men were wicked. If the distinction between good and bad men depended solely, in the first instance, on the determination of God providing for the good of the universe (for according to these theologians, a man cannot "distinguish himself"25)-how could we explain why God had to make so atrocious an image?-For the objectors say, as we have seen, that it was necessary to reprobate for the sake of the order of the universe.

3) St. Paul wrote, speaking of the redemption, that Christ26 "loved me, and gave himself for me." Now this was not just a special privilege for St. Paul, that Christ died for him as if it were for him alone. For Pius XII authentically interprets this text saying:27 "And actually, our divine Redeemer was nailed to the cross more by love than by the violence of the executioners; and His voluntary holocaust is the supreme gift that He imparted to each individual man, according to the terse statement of the Apostle: 'He loved me, and gave Himself up for me.'" Pope John XXIII reaffirmed the same teaching in a radio message given on December 23, 1959:28 "The Son of God was made man, and His redemption looks not just to the collectivity, but also to each individual man. 'He loved me, and gave Himself for me.' Thus spoke St. Paul to the Galatians. And if God has loved man to such a point, it means that man belongs to Him and that the human person must absolutely be respected."

4) In the same sense, Pius XII had written even earlier:29 "In a natural body, the principle of unity unites the parts in such a way that the individual parts are completely lacking an individual subsistence; on the other hand, in the Mystical Body, the force of mutual union . . . joins the members in such a way to one another that the individual members enjoy completely their own personality. In addition, if we consider the mutual relationship of the whole and the individual members, in any living physical body, all the individual members are destined solely to the good of the whole; while any social association of men whatsoever, if we consider its ultimate end of usefulness, is finally directed to the advancement of all and of each individual member since they are persons." We recall that in the Mystical Body there are both elect and reprobate members. Yet, the whole Mystical Body is directed "to the advancement of all and of each individual member." Clearly, the Holy Father left no room for a notion that many men, members of this Body, are deserted for the "beauty" of the whole.

33. Furthermore, even if it were really necessary to manifest justice by punishing, it would not be necessary for God to desert men so as to have some to punish. For even if (as is actually the case, as we shall see later30) God really gives to each individual a rich abundance of grace, and graces that are in every sense truly abundant, so that men can really "distinguish themselves"31 in regard to doing or not doing good, and in regard to whether or not they are to be reprobated even then, there still will be many reprobates who will be such solely through their own absolutely free decision.

34. The "necessity" of desertion: It is well to add a few words on the "necessity" of desertion of which the objectors speak. As they themselves readily admit, they are not referring to an absolute necessity, but only to a hypothetical necessity. That is, they say that God wills to manifest Himself fully, and that to do so fully, He must have creatures to punish, to display vindictive justice: in this hypothesis-not absolutely-they say that desertion before consideration of demerits is necessary.

Actually, even if we suppose that God wills to manifest Himself fully, it does not follow that all forms of manifestation are necessary. For, as St. Thomas says:32 "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." So not every form of participation in the divine goodness has to exist: if it did, we would have to say that the very institution of the supernatural order was necessary, so that God could manifest Himself directly. So the older Thomists need to prove not only that the manifestation of vindictive justice is necessary, but they must prove that it must be done by reprobation, and further, by reprobation before consideration of demerits. They surely have not proved this. And even if it were true that reprobates were required, most certainly, as we have seen, it would not follow that God would necessarily have to desert any creature, because without desertion there can be reprobates.

35. Actually, the theologians who hold that opinion about desertion for the good of the universe arrived at their view through defective methods:

1) They try to determine by metaphysical arguments that which God has freely decided to do. But, as St. Thomas teaches:33 "Those things . . . that depend solely on the will of God . . . cannot be known to us except in so far as they are handed down in Sacred Scripture. . . ." God has freely chosen to manifest Himself through communication of good things to men. He could have chosen other means of manifestation. Yet, these theologians try to deduce by metaphysical means the way in which God wills to manifest Himself, and they teach a manner of manifestation which is different-and, in part, contrary-to the way which God has revealed that He has actually chosen. We have already given an answer to these theologians from the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church. Later34 we shall answer them by metaphysical arguments. But even if we could not solve their objections by metaphysics, still, no arguments, metaphysical or other, can stand against the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church.

2) The objectors have also been led to their view by an erroneous interpretation of Romans 8:28-9:24. But this interpretation, as we have seen,35 is now rightly abandoned, as false and lacking in foundation, by all good exegetes of all schools. When the foundation collapses, the superstructure must likewise fall.

36. The teaching of St. Thomas on the purpose of creation: In view of the principle that the Church constantly grows throughout the centuries, in her understanding and penetration of the original deposit of revelation, it is to be expected that, in general, the farther back in time a Father or Doctor of the Church lived, the less of explicit and express clarity of evolution we can expect to find in his works on given points. Yet, because of the really extraordinary lights that St. Thomas received, we find in him, on many points, light so clear and full as others reached only many centuries later. This is the case in the matter of the purpose of creation, for on this point, St. Thomas attained almost the same clarity as the first Vatican council.

First of all, St. Thomas explicitly teaches that God did not create to acquire anything for Himself:36 ". . . it is not proper to the First Agent, who is solely active [and not passive or receptive] to act for the acquisition of any goal; but He intends solely to communicate His perfection.

The Angelic Doctor gives the metaphysical reason why God does not act to acquire anything:37 "God . . . who is the First Agent of all things, does not so act as to acquire anything by His action, but so as to freely give something by His action, because He is not in potency so as to acquire anything, but only in perfect act, from which He can give freely. Created things therefore are not ordered to God as to an end for which something is to be acquired but that by Him they may, in their own way, attain to Him, for He Himself is [their] end."

St. Thomas adds that the act of communicating good to creatures (which is a finite thing) does not move God to act. Rather, the divine goodness itself moves Him:38 ". . . the communication of goodness is not the ultimate purpose, but the divine goodness itself, out of love of which God wishes to communicate it; for He does not act on account of His goodness as if wishing to get what He does not have, but as wishing to communicate what He does have: for He acts not out of seeking a goal [for Himself] but out of love of the goal."

37. Therefore, God acts out of the purest generosity:39 ". . . He does not wish to communicate His goodness to anyone so that He may gain anything thereby, but because to communicate is proper to Him, as to the source of goodness. Now to give, not because of any advantage expected from the giving, but because of the very goodness and fittingness of giving, is an act of generosity, as is evident from [the words of] the philosopher, in Ethics IV. God, therefore, is generous in the highest degree; and, as Avicenna says, only He can be called generous in the fullest sense; for everyone else who acts acquires some good from his action. . . ."

Although external glory does not give any advantage to God, yet God does will His eternal glory, for two reasons: 1) Because the very nature of things and objective goodness requires that honor be given to God and 2) Because He wills good to us. Hence St. Thomas says:40 ". . . we show reverence and honor to God not for His sake, who in Himself is full of glory, to which nothing can be added by a creature, but for our sake, namely, because in honoring and revering God, our soul is subjected to Him, and in this consists its perfection." And again:41 ". . . God seeks His glory not for His own sake, but for our sake." Cajetan, in his commentary on this passage of St. Thomas, says: ". . . the word 'for' is not understood to stand for the final cause: for God wills His glory and everything for Himself as the end of all things that are or could be created. But the 'for' indicates the one who receives the advantage. For we are the ones for whose advantage God seeks His glory." Now if God seeks even His own glory for our sake, that is, for our advantage, then, the glory of God and the good of man are bound together. In this sense St. Thomas also said:42 "He brought things into existence to communicate His goodness to creatures and to manifest it through them." So Garrigou-Lagrange is right in concluding:43 "God cannot will His external glory without willing thereby our good, and likewise, we cannot will our true happiness without seeking to glorify God."

Therefore, St. Thomas (even though he does not speak quite so clearly as the first Vatican council) does hold the same as that council, namely, that God wills to manifest Himself through the communication of good to creatures. As we shall see below from other passages,44 St. Thomas holds this even as to communication to individuals, so that he implicitly rejects the opinion that God deserts men for the order of the universe.

38. Conclusion: From the first Vatican council and from St. Thomas and his commentators, we conclude that God chose to manifest Himself through communication rather than in some other way. He has bound together His glory and the good of men. So He cannot desert45 men to promote His glory, because in this way the glory of God and the good of men would be opposed instead of joined. These conclusions apply also in regard to communication to individuals.

Note on the Teaching of St. Thomas on the Order of the Universe

39. The theologians who hold the desertion theory often say, as we have seen, that the greatest created good is the order of the universe, and add that God deserts many men-in fact, most men-for the good of the universe, so that He can manifest justice.

We have already refuted their theory in the body of this chapter, showing that their theory cannot coexist with Sacred Scripture, nor with the teachings of the Popes, nor with the teaching of the first Vatican council. We also gave a brief reply to their proposals from the teaching of St. Thomas on the purpose of creation.

But it is possible to show in many other ways also that such a desertion theory is not Thomistic. In the appendix of this book, the question will be examined in great detail, and all the principal texts of St. Thomas will be analyzed. Yet, it is worthwhile at this point to present briefly some of the principal considerations from St. Thomas:

1) St. Thomas explicitly rejects the desertion theory inasmuch as he teaches that, in such a way, the universe itself would be less perfect:46 ". . . 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-if these were taken away, the universe would be more imperfect, for not all degrees of goodness would be present . . . 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."

2) Likewise, the Angelic Doctor explicitly contradicts the view that the order of the universe is a greater good than salvation:47 "In created things, nothing can be greater than the salvation of a rational creature." Even the glory of God is a created thing.

3) Again, St. Thomas denies that reprobates are needed for the order of the universe, because he teaches that many degrees of goodness can be had from the good, and, speaking of the state of innocence of our first parents, he says:48 ". . . the cause of difference [of degrees of goodness in the state of innocence] could have come from the side of God-not that He would punish some and reward others but that He would exalt some more, others less, so that the beauty of order would shine the more in men." Now if the order of the universe by its very nature required that there be reprobates, it would have required them also during the time of the state of innocence. But, as we have seen, St. Thomas explicitly says they were not required at that time.

4) If the order of the universe really required reprobates, then there would be a conflict between the universal good and the particular good. But, St. Thomas says this does not exist:49 "It is only in particular goods in which 'the corruption of the one is the generation of the other' that the evil of one can be the good for another. Nothing is taken away from the universal good by any particular good. . . ."

5) St. Thomas also says:50 "he has no need of wicked man." But if the order of the universe really required reprobates, then wicked men really would be necessary, and God Himself, in order to fulfill this order, would depend not just on man, but on the very sins of men. Now in the moral principles about the indirect voluntary, it is required that the good effect should not be obtained through an evil means: otherwise, in willing the end, one will necessarily will also the evil means without which the end cannot be obtained. Similarly, if God from the very outset, before foreseeing the free decision of a man to commit sin, would will absolutely and unconditionally the glory of manifesting vindictive justice in punishing sin, He would do more than merely permit sin. For this absolute desire of such a glory which could not be had without the conditio sine qua non of sin necessarily, by its very nature, entails the implicit desire that sin be committed. For it is one thing to rejoice over a good effect that flows from an evil effect after the evil has come about quite independently of the one who rejoices, and quite another thing to desire in advance a good effect which is impossible to have in any other way unless through sin. Even though the sin is only a conditio sine qua non and not strictly a means yet the effect cannot be desired in advance without having also an implicit desire for that conditio sine qua non.

Furthermore, as we shall see later,51 in the theory of the older Thomists, God actually is the chief author of sin. So there would be no manifestation of justice, but rather of injustice, if God would punish that of which He would be the chief author.

Actually, on the contrary, St. Thomas teaches that:52 ". . . in no way does God will the evil of moral fault, which deprives [a man] of the proper order towards the divine good." If God wills it in no way, He does not even will it indirectly as a condition for the manifestation of vindictive justice. For:53 "The evil of punishment is contrary to the order of one part of the universe to another part . . . but the evil of moral fault is contrary to the order of the whole universe towards the ultimate end because a will in which there is the evil of moral fault is thereby directed away from the order [which leads] to the very ultimate end of the universe." Hence, even though Divine Providence can bring good out of evil, yet:54 "man . . . should not rejoice over evils because good things are occasioned through them, through the action of Divine Providence; because [those evils] were not the cause of good, but rather impediments to good." This helps explain why St. Thomas said, as we saw above, that sins are55 "evils such that if they did not exist, the universe would be more perfect" for by them "greater perfections are taken away than are acquired in another" so that without them "the ultimate perfection could be had." But if sins were a necessary prerequisite to the manifestation of justice, they should not be called "impediments," but rather, either means or at least, a conditio sine qua non.

6) Actually, St. Thomas explains why there are reprobates, not through the order of the universe, but in another way. He does this in many places, as we shall see later.56 For the present, we might read just one passage:57 "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 [he does not say: because of the order of the universe], 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."

7) Even if we were to concede-for the sake of argument only-that the order of the universe really required reprobates, we would still add:

a) It still would not be proved that God would reprobate anyone before considering demerits. For, as we have said above, even if (as is actually the case) God gives men a really abundant supply of grace (and not only graces such that it would be metaphysically inconceivable that a man would really do good with them)58 there will still be reprobates. For some will still, in full freedom, resist even abundant graces, and so will perish.

b) The order of the universe would not show precisely which individuals should be the ones to be reprobated. How then would God pick them out? If He picked them after consideration of demerits, the desertion theory would be shown false. But if He picked them before consideration of demerits, He would have no reason for deserting this man rather than that man, for the order of the universe, as we have said, does not indicate which ones should be deserted. Nor do the desertion theologians suggest what rational basis God could have. Therefore, God would have to act without reason, blindly. In speaking of original sin as a possible motive of negative reprobation, Garrigou-Lagrange said:59 "Since original sin is the same in all the predestined and in the reprobate, it cannot be the cause, in the reprobate, for the permission of sins that will not be remitted."

We can argue in precisely the same way about the order of the universe: "Since the order of the universe has the same relation to all individuals, it cannot be the cause, in the reprobate, for the permission of sins that will not be remitted."

Nor could one say that God in His love of good order would provide reasons by His power. For the same difficulty would still remain: How, other than blindly, would He determine for whom to provide reasons or not?

c) If the order of the universe did require reprobates, it would not require a large number. For, according to the desertion theory, the order of the universe must represent the perfections of God. But among these, according to St. Thomas, mercy is the greatest:60 "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. . . ." So, the greatest perfection should have the greatest manifestation: therefore, according to the order of the universe, the majority should be saved. But, St. Thomas thinks the majority are lost.61 It is obvious, therefore, that the order of the universe cannot be, in the mind of St. Thomas, the cause that determines reprobation.

St. Thomas has also another helpful statement on the divine mercy:62 ". . . mercy is most greatly to be attributed to God: however, this is so in regard to the effect, not in regard to an emotion. . . . Someone is said to be merciful . . . because he is affected and saddened by the misery of another as if it were his own misery. As a result, it follows that he works to remove the misery of the other as if it were his own misery: and this is the effect of mercy." Now no one is willing to be miserable so that a more beautiful representation may be had, but rather, he struggles to remove such misery. But, according to St. Thomas, God also works to remove the misery of men as if it were His own misery. Therefore He does not reprobate men for the "beauty" of a monstrous image.

Similarly, St. Thomas also says:63 "The order of the universe seems to require that that which is more noble in things, should exceed the less noble in quantity or number. . . . Therefore it is proper that the more noble . . . be multiplied as much as possible." It is plain then, that the very order of the universe requires that the elect be more numerous than the reprobates "as much as possible." So the reason for the reprobation of the majority (for St. Thomas, as we have seen, does believe the majority are reprobated) cannot be found in that same order of the universe.


1 Jb 22:2-3.
2 Acts 17:24-25. Cf. the words of St. Augustine (De Civitate Dei 19.23.5. PL 41.654-655): "‘He who sacrifices to the gods and not to the Lord alone shall be uprooted,’ not that He needs anything from anyone, but because it is beneficial for us that we be His. For to Him it is chanted in the sacred letters of the Hebrews: ‘I said to the Lord: You are my God, for you do not need my good things.’"
3 S. Lyonnet, SJ, "Notes au commentaire du Pere Huby," p. 574: Joseph Huby, SJ, Saint Paul, Epitre aux Romains, Traduction et Commentaire, Verbum Salutis X, Beauchesne, Paris, 1957, note 1 on p. 152.
4 Jn 11:40.
5 Rom 6:4.
6 Rom 3:23. This quote is taken from the Rheims-Douay translation of the Latin Vulgate. The RSV would be: ". . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Also cf. S. Lyonnet, SJ, De peccato et redemptione, Romae, 1960, II, p. 108.
7 ST I-II 23.c. Cf. § 526.
8 ST II-II 81.7.c.
9 In Eph 1, v. 14, Lib. 1, cap. 1. PL 26.487-88.
10 Of course, they can merit additions.
11 DS 3025 (DB 1805). Cf. the outstanding articles: Philip J. Donnelly, SJ, "St. Thomas and the Ultimate Purpose of Creation" in: Theological Studies II (1941) pp. 53-83: and "The Vatican Council and the End of Creation," ibid., IV (1943) pp. 3-33.
12 Collectio Lacensis VII. 84 (Acta et Decreta Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani cum permultis aliis documentis ad concilium eiusque historiam spectantibus—auctoribus Presbyteris, SJ, de Domo B.V.M. ad Laoum, Friburgi Brisgoviae, 1892.)
13 Ibid., VI.540.
14 Ibid., VIII.116.
15 Ibid., VI.86 (emphasis mine).
16 DS 3002 (DB 1783). (Emphasis mine).
17 Collectio Lacensis VII.111.
18 Mediator Dei. AAS 39.527 (emphasis mine).
19 In the sense explained in § 7. Cf. footnote 41 on chapter 1 and §§ 51, 118-119, 309-322.
20 We do not deny that external glory can come through the manifestation of vindicative justice after men have sinned. But it is one thing if glory comes and is intended after it is seen that men are going to sin anyway of their own accord (presupposing sins which God in no sense whatsoever intends: cf. ST I 19.9). But it is quite another thing if God intended to desert men precisely so that He could have some to punish, so as to have glory through the manifestation of vindicative justice. For in this second way, God would intend to attain a good end through morally evil means: sins. Now among the moral rules for the double effect (indirect voluntary), it is required that the good effect that is desired must not come through a morally evil means. Otherwise, in desiring the good effect, a person would necessarily desire the sin also, for he who wills the end, wills the means. Nor would the difficulty be removed by saying that God merely permits but does not intend sins. For if He permitted them precisely so that He could have some one to punish, He would necessarily intend the sins themselves (even though indirectly) as means, or at least, as indispensable conditions for the attainment of the end He would desire. For a fuller explanation see §§ 310-322, 527.
21 A further, especially conclusive, proof will be given below in § 55.2.
22 Lk 15:4 and Mt 18:14.
23 Cf. § 51.
24 Cf. below, §§ 309-322.
25 Cf. § 6.8.
26 Gal 2:20.
27 Haurietis aquas. AAS 48.333.
28 Eccoci a Natale. AAS 52.28 (emphasis mine).
29 Mystici Corporis. AAS 35.221-22 (emphasis mine).
30 Cf. § 55.2.
31 Cf. § 6.4.
32 CG 1.81.
33 ST III.1.3.c.
34 Cf. § 39 and §§ 508-535.
35 In chapter 1.
36 ST I.44.4.c.
37 CG 3.18.
38 De potentia 3.15 ad 14.
39 CG 1.93.
40 ST II-II 81.7.c.
41 ST II-II 132.1 ad 1.
42 ST I 47.1.c.
43 Dieu, son existence et sa nature, Beauchesne, Paris 1923, 4th ed. p. 469, § 52B.
44 § 39.
45 Cf. §§ 7 and 51, and note 41 on chapter 1.
46 1 Sent d. 46, q.1, a.3, ad 6.
47 CG 4.55.
48 ST I 96.3 ad 3.
49 CG 1.89.
50 CG 3.162 (citing Sir 15:12).
51 Cf. §§ 310-322.
52 ST I 19.9.c.
53 De potentia 6.1 ad 8.
54 4 Sent d.17, q.2, a.4, q.1, ad 4.
55 Cf. note 46 above.
56 Cf. chapter 14.
57 CG 4.55. Cf. the explanation of this passage, in § 121.
58 Cf. § 7.
59 De Deo uno, Desclee de Brouwer, Lutetiae Parisiorum, 1938, p. 551.
60 ST II-II 30.4.c. Cf. the opening prayer of the Mass for the 26th week in ordinary time: "O God, who show your omnipotence most greatly by sparing and having mercy. . . ."
61 ST I 23.7 ad 3.
62 ST I 21.3.c.
63 CG 2.92.