Question Twenty-Four: Free Choice
Is man endowed with free choice?
Is there free choice in brutes?
Is there free choice in God?
Is free choice a power or not?
Is free choice one power or several?
Is free choice the will or a power other than the will?
Can there be any creature which has its free choice naturally confirmed in good?
Can the free choice of a creature be confirmed in good by a gift of grace?
Can the free choice of man in this present life be confirmed in good?
Can the free choice of any creature be obstinate or unalterably hardened in evil?
Can the free choice of man in this present life be obstinate in evil?
Can free choice in the state of mortal sin avoid mortal sin without grace?
Can a person in the state of grace avoid mortal sin?
Is free choice capable of good without grace?
Can man without grace prepare himself to have grace?
The question is about free choice,
and in the first article we ask:
Is man endowed with free choice?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 22, 6; II Sent., 25, a. 2; S.T., I 59, 3; 83, 1; I-II, 13, 6; De malo, 6; In I Perih., 14, nn. 23 & 24.]
It seems that he is not, for
1. It is written in Jeremiah (10:23): “The way of man is not his: neither is it in a man to walk and to direct his steps.” But a man is said to be endowed with free choice inasmuch as he is the master of his own actions. Man is therefore not endowed with free choice.
2. The answer was given that the statement of the prophet refers to meritorious acts, which are not in man’s natural power.—On the contrary, regarding things that are not in our power we do not have free choice. If, then, merits are not in our power, we do not have free choice as to meriting; and so meritorious acts will not proceed from free choice.
3. According to the Philosopher, “that is free which is for its own sake.” But the human mind has a cause of its own motion other than itself, namely, God. On the words of the Epistle to the Romans (1:24): “Wherefore, God gave them up...” the Gloss comments: “It is evident that God works in the minds of men to turn their wills to whatever He wishes.” The human mind therefore is not endowed with free choice.
4. It was answered that the human mind is as the principal cause of its own act and God is as the remote cause, and that this does not prevent the freedom of the mind.—On the contrary, the more a cause influences the effect, the more it stands as the principal cause. But the first cause influences the effect more than the second, as is said in The Causes.Hence the first cause is more the principal cause than the second; and thus our mind is not the principal cause of its own act, but God is.
5. Every mover that is moved, moves as an instrument, as is clear from the Commentator. But an instrument is not free in its action, since it does not act except inasmuch as it is used. Since, then, the human mind operates only when moved by God, it does not seem to be endowed with free choice.
6. Free choice is said to be a capability of the will and reason by which good is chosen with the help of grace or evil is chosen without it. But there are many who do not have grace. Hence they cannot freely choose good; and so they do not have free choice regarding good things.
7. Slavery is opposed to freedom. But in man there is found the slavery of sin, because “whoever committeth sin is the servant of sin,” as is said in John (8: 34). In man, then, there is no freedom of choice.
8. Anselm says that if we had the power of sinning and not sinning, we should not need grace. But the power of sinning and not sinning is free choice. Then, since we need grace, we do not have free choice.
9. Each thing is named from the best, as is gathered from the Philosopher. But as applied to human actions “the best” means meritorious acts. Therefore, since man does not have free choice as to these, because “without me you can do nothing,” as is said in John (15:5) with reference to meritorious acts, it seems that man should not be said to be endowed with free choice.
10. Augustine says that, because man did not wish to abstain from sin when he could have, he has had inflicted upon him the inability to do so when he wishes. It is therefore not in man’s power to sin and not to sin; and so it seems that he is not the master of his own actions and is not endowed with free choice.
11. Bernard distinguishes a threefold freedom: of choice, of counsel, and of liking. He says that freedom of choice is that by which we decide “what we are permitted to do”; freedom of counsel, that by which we decide “what it is expedient to do”; and freedom of liking, that by which we decide “what it pleases us to do.” But human discernment is wounded by ignorance. It therefore seems that freedom of choice, which consists in discernment, has not remained in man after his sin.
12. Man does not have freedom concerning those things in regard to which he is under necessity. But in regard to sins man is under necessity, because, according to Augustine,) since original sin it has been necessary for man to sin—mortally before reparation and at least venially after reparation. Regarding sin, therefore, man does not have free choice.
13 Whatever God foreknows must necessarily come about, since God’s foreknowledge cannot be in error. But God foreknows all human acts. They therefore come about of necessity, and so man is not endowed with free choice in his action.
14. The nearer a mobile being is to the prime mover, the more uniform it is in its motion. This is apparent in the heavenly bodies, whose motions are always the same. Now, since every creature is moved by God, for “He moves corporeal creatures in time and space, and spiritual creatures in time,” as Augustine says, a rational creature is the mobile being nearest to God, the prime mover of all. It therefore has a motion most uniform; and its capacity accordingly does not extend to many different things so that it can by that fact be said to have free choice.
15. According to the Philosopher,” it belongs to the excellence of the highest heaven that it attain its end in a single motion. But the rational soul is more excellent than that heaven, since, according to Augustine, spirit ranks higher than body. The human soul therefore has a single motion, and so it does not seem to be endowed with free choice.
16. It befitted the divine wisdom to place the most sublime creature in the best conditions. But that which immovably adheres to the most excellent being has been placed in the best conditions. It has therefore befitted God to make rational nature, which is the most sublime among creatures, such that it adheres to Him immovably. But if that nature were endowed with free choice, it would not have such immovable adherence, so it seems. It was therefore fitting that rational nature be made without free choice.
17. The philosophers define free choice as a free judgment of reason. The judgment of reason, however, can be constrained by the force of a demonstration. But what is constrained is not free. Man is therefore not endowed with free choice.
18. The reason why the intellect or reason can be constrained is that there is some truth which has no admixture or appearance of falsity. On this account the intellect cannot escape assenting to it. But there is likewise found a good which has no admixture of evil either in fact or in appearance. Now since good is the object of the will as truth is that of the intellect, it therefore seems that the will is constrained just like the intellect. Thus man does not have freedom either as to his will or as to his reason; and so he does not have free choice as a capability of will and reason.
19. According to the Philosopher, “each person judges of the end in accordance with his own character.” But it is not in our power to be one kind of person rather than another, since a man’s particular temperament is had from birth and, as some maintain, depends upon the arrangement of the stars. It is therefore not in our power to approve this or that end. But every judgment about a course of action is based upon the end. We are therefore not endowed with free choice.
20. Free choice is opposed to necessity. But in certain respects the will of man is under necessity, for he necessarily wills happiness. He therefore does not have freedom in regard to all things, and so is not endowed with free choice in regard to all.
To the Contrary
l. Sirach (15:14) says: “God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel”; and the Gloss comments: “That is, in the power of his free choice.”
2. There is found in reality one agent which acts out of nothing and not from necessity. That is God. And there is found another agent which acts out of something and from necessity, namely, natural agents. But according to the Philosopher, when extremes are given in reality, it follows that means are given. But between the above two extremes there can be only two different means, and it is impossible for one of these to exist: namely, an agent acting out of nothing and of necessity; for only God acts out of nothing, and He does not act from necessity but from will. There is left, therefore, only a being which acts out of something and not from necessity. This is a rational nature, which acts upon pre-existing matter and not from necessity but from free choice.
3. Free choice is a capability of will and reason. But reason and will arc found in man. So too, then, is free choice.
4. According to the Philosopher, “counsel is taken only in regard to the things that arc in our power.” But men take counsel about their own actions. Men are therefore masters of their own actions, and are accordingly endowed with free choice.
5. Commands and prohibitions should be imposed only upon one who can do or not do; otherwise they would be imposed in vain. But prohibitions and commands are divinely imposed upon man. It is therefore in man’s power to do or not to do; and so he is endowed with free choice.
6. No one should be punished or rewarded for something which it is not in his power to do or not to do. But man is justly punished and rewarded by God for his deeds. Therefore man can do and not do; and so he is endowed with free choice.
7. A cause must be assigned for everything which happens. But we cannot assign as the cause of human actions God Himself immediately, because the things which are immediately from God cannot be anything but good; and human actions are sometimes good, sometimes bad. It further cannot be said that the cause of human actions is necessity, because there proceed from necessity things which are always the same; but we do not see this verified in human actions. It likewise cannot be said that fate or the arrangement of the stars is the cause of these actions, because human actions would have to come about from necessity, just as their cause is necessary. Nor can nature be their cause, as is shown by the variety of human actions; for nature is determined to one course of action and cannot fail in it except in a minority of cases. Nor can fortune or chance be the cause of human actions, because fortune and chance are the cause of things that happen rarely and without being intended, as is said in the Physics; but this is not verified in human actions. Nothing is left, then, but that the man who is doing the acting is himself the principle of his own acts, and consequently has free choice.
Without any doubt it must be affirmed that man is endowed with free choice. The faith obliges us to this, since without free choice there cannot be merit and demerit, or just punishment and reward. Clear indications, from which it appears that man freely chooses one thing and refuses another, also lead us to this. Evident reasoning also forces us to this conclusion. Tracing out by its means the origin of free choice for the purposes of our investigation, we shall proceed as follows.
Among things which are moved or which act in any way, this differcnce is found. Some have within themselves the principle of their motion or operation; and some have it outside themselves, as is the case with those which are moved violently, “in which the principle is outside and the being subjected to the violence contributes nothing,” as the Philosopher teaches.We cannot hold free choice to be in the latter inasmuch as they are not the cause of their own motion, whereas a free being is “that which is for its own sake,” as the Philosopher teaches.
Among the things whose principle of motion is within themselves some are such as to move themselves, as animals; but there are some which do not move themselves even though they do have within themselves some principle of their motion, as heavy and light things. These do not move themselves because they cannot be distinguished into two parts, of which one does the moving and the other is moved. This double principle is verified in animals. Their motion is consequent upon a principle within them, their form. Because they have this from the being which generated them, they are said to be moved essentially by their genitor and accidentally by that which removes an obstacle, according to the Philosopher.These are moved by means of themselves but not by themselves. Hence free choice is not found in these either, because they are not their own cause of acting and moving but are set to acting or moving by something which they have received from another.
Among those beings which are moved by themselves, the motions of some come from a rational judgment; those of others, from a natural judgment. Men act and are moved by a rational judgment, for they ~deliberate about what is to be done. But all brutes act and are moved by a natural judgment. This is evident from the fact that all brutes of the same species work in the same way, as all swallows build their nests alike. It is also evident from the fact that they have judgment in regard to some definite action, but not in regard to all. Thus bees have skill at making nothing but honeycombs; and the same is true of other animals.
It is accordingly apparent to anyone who considers the matter aright that judgment about what is to be done is attributed to brute animals in the same way as motion and action are attributed to inanimate natural bodies. Just as heavy and light bodies do not move themselves so as to be by that fact the cause of their own motion, so too brutes do not judge about their own judgment but follow the judgment implanted in them by God. Thus they are not the cause of their own decision nor do they have freedom of choice. But man, judging about his course of action by the power of reason, can also judge about his own decision inasmuch as he knows the meaning of an end and of a means to an end, and the relationship of the one with reference to the other. Thus he is his own cause not only in moving but also in judging. He is therefore endowed with free choice—that is to say, with a free judgment about acting or not acting.
Answers to Difficulties
1. In man’s activity two elements are to be found: (1) the choice of a course of action; and this is always in a man’s power; and (2) the carrying out or execution of the course of action; and this is not always within a man’s power; but under guidance of divine providence the project is sometimes brought to completion, sometimes not. Thus a man is not said to be free in his actions but free in his choice, which is a judgment about what is to be done. This is what the name free choice refers to.—Or we can distinguish concerning meritorious deeds, as has been done in the objections. The first answer, however, is that of Gregory of Nyssa.
2. A meritorious deed does not differ from an unmeritorious deed by reason of what is done but by reason of how it is done; for there is nothing which one man does meritoriously and from charity which another cannot do or even will without merit. The fact, then, that a man cannot perform meritorious deeds without grace in no way detracts from the freedom of his choice, because a man is said to have free choice in so far as he can do this or that, not in so far as he can do it in this way or in that; for even according to the philosophers one who does not yet have the habit of a virtue does not have it in his power to act in the same way as a virtuous man acts except in the sense that he can acquire the habit of the virtue.
Although man cannot by his free choice acquire the grace which makes works meritorious, he nevertheless can prepare himself to have grace, which will not be denied him by God if he does what is within his power. Thus it is not altogether outside the power of free choice to perform meritorious works, although the power of free choice does not of itself suffice for this, inasmuch as the manner of operating which is required for merit exceeds the capabilities of nature. The mode which is in works arising from the political virtues, however, does not. But no one would say that man does not have free choice merely because he cannot will or choose in the manner in which God or an angel can.
3. God works in each agent, and in accord with that agent’s manner of acting, just as the first cause operates in the operation of a secondary cause, since the secondary cause cannot become active except by the power of the first cause. By the fact, then, that God is a cause working in the hearts of men, human minds are not kept from being the cause of their own motions themselves. Hence the note of freedom is not taken away.
4. The first cause is called the principal cause, absolutely speaking, because it has the greater influence upon the effect. But the secondary cause is called the principal cause in a certain respect, inasmuch as the effect is more conformed to it.
5. An instrument is spoken of in two ways: (1) Properly—when something is so moved by another that there is not conferred upon it by the mover any principle of such a motion, as a saw is moved by the carpenter. Such an instrument is wholly without freedom. (2) More commonly whatever moves something and is moved by another is called an instrument, whether there is in it the principle of its own motion or not. In this sense it is not necessary for the notion of freedom to be wholly excluded from that of an instrument, because something can be moved by another and still move itself. This is the case with the human mind.
6. One who does not have grace can choose good, but not meritoriously. This, however, does not detract from the freedom of choice, as has been said.
7. The slavery of sin does not imply force, but either inclination, inasmuch as a preceding sin in some way leads to following ones, or a deficiency in natural virtue, which is unable to free itself from the stain of sin once it has subjected itself to it. Thus there always remains in man the freedom from force by which he naturally has free choice.
8. In the words quoted Anselm is speaking as an objector. He himself shows later on that the need of grace does not contradict free choice.
9. The power of free choice extends to the very work which is meritorious, although not without God, without whose power nothing in the world can act. But the mode by which a work becomes meritorious exceeds the capabilities of nature, as has been said.
10. On this matter there are two opinions. Some say that a man in the state of mortal sin cannot long avoid sinning mortally, but he can avoid this or that particular mortal sin, as all say in common conceming venial sins. Thus this necessity does not seem to take away the freedom of choice. There is another opinion holding that a man in the state of mortal sin can avoid all mortal sin but cannot avoid being in the state of sin, because he cannot rise from sin by himself as he can fall into sin by himself. According to this opinion the freedom of choice is more easily upheld. We shall inquire about this below when the scope of free choice is treated.
11. Our will is brought to bear upon an end or upon a means to an end. And the end may be honorable, useful, or pleasurable in accordance with the threefold division of good into the honorable, the useful, and the pleasurable. In regard to an honorable end Bernard lays down freedom of choice. In regard to a useful good, which is a means, he lays down freedom of counsel. In regard to a pleasurable good he lays down freedom of liking. Now, although our discernment is diminished by ignorance, it is still not altogether taken away. Thus the freedom of choice is indeed weakened by sin but is not wholly lost.
12. According to one opinion3l after a sin and before reparation man necessarily sins in the sense of having sin but not in that of using sin. Thus sinning is spoken of in two ways, like seeing, as the Philosopher explains. Or, according to another opinion, man necessarily sins by some sin, though he is under no necessity in regard to any particular sin.
13. From God’s foreknowledge it cannot be concluded that acts are necessary with absolute necessity, which is called the necessity of the consequent, but merely by a conditioned necessity, which is called the necessity of consequence, as Boethius makes clear.
14. Being moved is spoken of in two ways: (1) Properly, as the Philosopher defines motion, saying that it is “the act of a being in potency in so far as it is such.” In this sense it is true that the nearer a mobile being is to the prime mover, the greater the uniformity of motion which is found in it, because the nearer it is to the prime mover, the more perfect it is and the more in act and less in potency, and therefore the fewer the motions by which it is movable. (2) Broadly, as applied to any operation, such as to understand or to sense. Taking motion in this sense, the Philosopher says” that motion is “the act of what is perfect,” because everything acts in so far as it is in act. Thus understood, the statement in question is in some sense true and—in some sense is not.
If the uniformity of the motion is considered from the point of view of its effects, the statement is false, because the more powerful and perfect an operator is, the more effects its power extends to. But if it is considered from the point of view of the manner of acting, the statement is true; for the more perfect an operator is, the more it preserves the same manner in acting, since it departs less from its nature and disposition, and the manner of acting follows these.
Now rational minds are not called mobile in the first sense of motion, because such motion belongs only to bodies; but rather in the second. It is in this sense that Plato affirmed that the prime mover moves itself inasmuch as it wills and understands itself, as the Commentator points out. It is accordingly not necessary that rational minds be determined to any particular effects. They rather have efficacy in regard to many; and it is by reason of this that freedom belongs to them.
15. It is not always necessary that a thing which can attain its end with fewer motions or operations be nobler, because sometimes one thing attains a more perfect end with many operations than another can attain with a single operation, as the Philosopher says. In this way rational minds are found to be more perfect than the highest heaven, which has only one motion, because they attain a more perfect end, although they do it with many operations.
16. Although a creature would be better if it adhered unchangeably to God, nevertheless that one also is good which can adhere to God or not adhere. And so a universe in which both sorts of creatures are found is better than if only one or the other were found. And this is the answer of Augustine.—Or it can be said, following Gregory of Nyssa and Damascene, that it is impossible for any creature to be capable of adhering to God with an unchangeable will by its own nature, because, being from nothing, it is changeable. If however, any creature adheres unchangeably to God, it is not on this account deprived of free choice, because it can do or not do many things while adhering to God.
17. The judgment to which freedom is attributed is a judgment of choice, not a judgment by which a man pronounces upon conclusions in speculative sciences. For choice is a sort of decision about what has been previously deliberated.
18. Not only is there something true which is necessarily accepted by the intellect because of its freedom from any admixture of falsity, as the first principles of demonstration; but there is also a good which is necessarily desired by the will because of its freedom from any admixture of evil, namely, happiness itself. Yet it does not follow that the will is constrained by that object, because constraint implies something contrary to one’s will, which is the inclination of the one willing. Constraint does not imply anything contrary to the intellect, however, because intellect does not mean an inclination of the one understanding.
From the necessity of that good, moreover, there is not introduced into the will any necessity in regard to other objects, as from the necessity of the first principles there is introduced into the intellect a necessity of assenting to conclusions. This is because to that first object of will other objects do not either really or apparently have a necessary relationship which would make it impossible to have the first object of will without those others; whereas demonstrative conclusions have a necessary relationship to the principles from which they are demonstrated such that, if the conclusions did not turn out to be true, the principles would necessarily not be true.
19. Neither from the heavenly bodies nor from anything else do men acquire from birth immediately in the intellective soul any disposition by which they are inclined with necessity to choose any particular end; except that there is in them from their very nature a necessary appetite for their last end, happiness. But this does not prevent the freedom of choice, since different ways to attain that end remain open to choice. The reason for this is that the heavenly bodies do not have any immediate influence upon the rational soul.
There is acquired from birth, however, in the body of the child a certain disposition both from the power of the heavenly bodies and from inferior causes, which are the semen and the matter of the one conceived; and by it the soul is in some sense made prone to choose something inasmuch as the choice of the rational soul is inclined by the passions, which are in the sense appetite, a bodily power dependent upon the dispositions of the body. But no necessity in choosing is thereby introduced into it, since it is within the power of the rational soul to admit or to repress the passions which arise. Later on, however, a man is made to be of a certain sort by a habit—either an acquired habit, of which we are the cause, or an infused habit, which is not given without our consent even though we are not the cause of it. From this habit it results that the man efficaciously tends to an end consonant with that habit. And yet that habit does not introduce any necessity or take away the freedom of choice.
20. Since choice is a judgment about what is to be done or follows such a judgment, there can be choice only about what falls under our judgment. But in matters of action our judgment is drawn from the end, just as our judgment about conclusions is drawn from principles. We do not, however, judge about first principles, examining them, but naturally assent to them and examine all other things in their light. In the same way, then, when there is question of the objects of appetite, we do not judge about the last end by any judgment involving discussion and examination, but we naturally approve of it. Concerning it there is, accordingly, no choice, but there is will. We have in its regard, therefore, a free will, since according to Augustine 43 the necessity of natural inclination is not repugnant to freedom; but not a free judgment, properly speaking, since it does not fall under choice.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the second article we ask:
Is there free choice in brutes?
[Parallel readings: De Ver., 23, 1 c; II Sent., 25, 1, 1 ad 7; C.G., II, 48; S.T., I, 59, 3 c; 83, 1 c; I-II, 13, 2.]
It seems that there is, for
1. We are said to have free choice in so far as our acts are voluntary. But according to the Philosopher “children and brutes share in the voluntary.” Then there is free choice in brutes.
2. According to the Philosopher, in everything which moves itself there is the ability to be moved and not be moved. But brutes move themselves. There is in them, therefore, the ability to be moved and not be moved. But we are said to be endowed with free choice from the fact that there is in us the ability to do something, as is clear from Gregory of Nyssa and from Damascene. There is, therefore, free choice in brutes.
3. Free choice implies two things, judgment and freedom, both of which are to be found in brutes. They have some judgment about what is to be done, as appears from the fact that they go after one thing and run from another. They have freedom, since they can be moved or not. Hence there is in them free choice.
4. When a cause is placed, the effect is placed. But Damascene gives as the cause of free choice the fact that our soul begins with a change; because it is from nothing, it is changeable, and stands in potency to many different things. But the soul of a brute also begins with a change. Hence in it also there is free choice.
5. That is said to be free which is not obliged to anything. But the soul of a brute is not obliged to either of two opposites, because its power is not determined to one course of action, like the power of natural things, which always act in the same way. The soul of a brute thercforc has free choice.
6. Punishment is not due to anyone unless he has free choice. But in the Old Law punishment is found to be inflicted upon brutes, as appears in Exodus 19:13 in the case of the beast touching the mountain, in Exodus 21:2. in the case of the goring ox, and in Leviticus 20:16 in the case of the beast of burden with which a woman has intercourse. Brutes therefore seem to have free choice.
7. As the saints point out, it is a sign that man has free choice that he is instigated to good and withdrawn from evil by commands. But we see brutes enticed by favors, moved by precepts, or made afraid by threats to do something or to let it alone. Brutes therefore have free choice.
8. A divine command is given only to someone that has free choice. But a divine command is given to brutes. In Jonas (4:7) according to one version it is said: “God commanded a worm... and it struck the ivy.” Brutes therefore have free choice.
To the Contrary
1. Man is seen to be made to the image of God from the fact that he has free choice, as Damascene” and Bernard9 both say. But brutes are not made to the image of God. Therefore they are not endowed with free choice.
2. Whatever is endowed with free choice acts and is not merely acted upon. But “brutes do not act but are acted upon,” as Damascene says. Brutes therefore do not have free choice.
Brutes are by no means endowed with free choice. In explanation of this it should be noted that, since three elements concur in our activity: knowledge, appetite, and the activity itself, the whole formal character of freedom depends upon the manner of knowing. For appetite follows knowledge, since there is appetite only for a good which is proposed to it by a cognitive power. If appetite sometimes seems not to follow knowledge, this is because the appetite and the knowledge are not judged from the same point of view. Appetite is concerned with a particular object of operation, whereas the judgment of reason is sometimes concerned with something universal, and this is at times contrary to our appetite. But a judgment about this particular object of operation here and now can never be contrary to our appetite. A man who wishes to fornicate, for instance, although lie knows in general that fornication is evil, nevertheless judges this present act of fornication to be good for him and chooses it under the aspect of good. As Dionysius says,” no one acts intending evil.
Unless there is something to prevent it, a motion or operation follows the appetite. Thus, if the judgment of the cognitive faculty is not in a person’s power but is determined for him extrinsically, neither will his appetite be in his power; and consequently neither will his motion or operation be in his power absolutely. Now judgment is in the power of the one judging in so far as he can judge about his own judgment; for we can pass judgment upon the things which are in our power. But to judge about one’s own judgment belongs only to reason, which reflects upon its own act and knows the relationships of the things about which it judges and of those by which it judges. Hence the whole root of freedom is located in reason. Consequently, a being is related to free choice in the same way as it is related to reason.
Reason is found fully and perfectly only in man. Only in him, therefore, is free choice in its full sense found.
Brutes have a certain semblance of reason inasmuch as they share in a certain natural prudence, and in this respect a lower nature ‘in some way attains to the property of a higher. This semblance consists in the well-regulated judgment which they have about certain things. But they have this judgment from a natural estimate, not from any deliberation, since they are ignorant of the basis of their judgment. On this account such a judgment does not extend to all things like that of reason, but only to certain determined objects.
In like fashion there is in them a certain semblance of free choice inasmuch as they.can, according to their judgment, do or not do one and the same thing. As a result there is in them a sort of conditional freedom. For they can act if they judge that they should or not act if they do not so judge. But because their judgment is determined to a single course of action, their appetite and activity also are consequently determined to a single course. Hence “they are moved by things seen,” as Augustine teaches; and as Damascene says, they are driven by passions, because they naturally judge as they do about a particular thing seen or a particular passion. They are accordingly under the necessity of being moved to flight or pursuit by the sight of a particular thing or by a passion which is aroused. A sheep, for example, is under the necessity of fearing and fleeing at the sight of a wolf, and a dog under the influence of the passion of anger has to bark and pursue, intent upon hurting. But man is not necessarily moved by the things which he meets or by the passions which arise, because he can admit or repress them. Consequently, man has free choice, but brutes do not.
Answers to Difficulties
1. “Something voluntary” is held by the Philosopher to be in brutes, not in the sense of coming from will but in that of being opposed to what is violent. Thus the voluntary is said to be in brutes and in children because they act of their accord but not by the exercise of free choice.
2. The motive power of brutes considered in itself is not any more inclined to one of two opposites than to the other. In this sense they are said to be able to be moved or not. But the judgment by which the motive power is applied to one or the other of the opposites is determined; and so they do not have free choice.
3. Although there is in brutes a certain indifference in their actions, still there cannot properly be said to be in them freedom of action, that is, of acting or of not acting. This is so both because their actions, being carried out by the body, can be forced or prevented (which is true not only of brutes but also of men, so that not even man is said to be free in his action); and also because, although there is in brutes an indifference to acting or not acting if the action is considered in itself, nevertheless, if the relation of the action to the judgment from which it gets its determination is considered, a certain restriction passes over even to the actions themselves, so that there cannot be found in them the character of freedom in an absolute sense. Yet, even granted that there were in brutes some freedom and some judgment, it would still not follow that they have freedom of judgment, since their judgment is naturally determined to a single pronouncement.
4. Damascene assigns beginning from a change or being from nothing, not as the cause of the freedom of choice, but as the cause of the possibility of our free choice deflecting to evil. Not only Damascene but also Gregory” and Augustine” assign reason as the cause of free choice.
5. Although the motive power in brutes is not determined to one type of action, their judgment about what is to be done is so determined, as has been said.
6. Since brutes are made for the service of man, disposition is made of them according to the advantage of men, for whose sake they were made. By the divine law brutes are therefore punished, not because they have sinned themselves, but because the men who own them are punished by their punishment or frightened by the sharpness of their pains or instructed by the meaning of the mystery.
7. Both men and brutes are induced by favors and restrained by chastisements, or by commands and prohibitions, but in different ways. It is within the power of men when the same things are similarly represented, whether they be commands or prohibitions, favors or chastisements, to choose or refuse them by a judgment of reason. In brutes, however, there is a natural judgment so determined that whatever is proposed or met in one way is accepted or rejected in the same way. It happens, though, that from the memory of past favors or chastisements brutes apprehend something as friendly and to be pursued or hoped for, and something else as hostile and to be fled or feared. Thus after a beating they are induced by the passion of fear which arises from it to obey the wish of their instructor. Nor is it necessary that such things take place in brutes on account of freedom of choice, but on account of the indifference of their actions.
8. According to Augustine the divine command given to brutes “is not to be thought to have occurred in such a way that a voice expressing a command came to them from the clouds in certain words that rational souls, hearing them, are wont to understand and obey. For the beasts of the field and the birds have not received the ability to do such a thing. They obey God in their own way, however, and not by the choice of a rational will; but just as God moves all things in their own appointed times without being moved in time Himself, so too brutes are moved in time to carry out His commands.”
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the third article we ask:
Is there free choice in God?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 25, 1, 1; C.G., I, 88; S.T., I, 19, 10; De malo, 16, 5 c.]
It seems that there is not, for
1. Free choice is a capability of will and reason. But reason is not attributable to God, since it designates discursive knowledge, whereas God knows all things in a simple intuition. Free choice, then, is not attributable to God.
2. Free choice is the capacity by which good and evil are chosen, as Augustine makes clear.” But in God there is no capacity for choosing evil. Hence there is no free choice in God.
3. Free choice is a potency capable of opposite acts. But God is not capable of opposites,.since He is immutable and cannot turn to evil. There is therefore no free choice in God.
4. The act of free choice is to choose, as is clear from the definition given. But choice is not proper to God, since it depends upon a deliberation, which is proper to one who doubts and inquires. Hence there is no free choice in God.
To the Contrary
1. Anselm says that if the ability to sin were a part of free choice, God and the angels would not have free choice, but that that is most absurd. It is therefore fitting to say that God has free choice.
2. Commenting on the words of the first Epistle to the Corinthians (12: 11): “But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as He will,” the Gloss adds: “according to the free choice of His will.” The Holy Spirit therefore has free choice, and by the same token, also the Father and the Son.
Free choice is to be found in God, but it is found in Him in a different way than in angels and in men. That there is free choice in God is apparent from the fact that He has for His will an end which He naturally wills, His own goodness; and all other things He wills as ordained to this end. These latter, absolutely speaking, He does not will necessarily, as has been shown in the preceding question, because His goodness has no need of the things which are ordained to it, and the manifestation of that goodness can suitably take place in a number of different ways. There remains for Him, then, a judgment free to will this or that, just as there is in us. On this account it must be said that free choice is found in God, and likewise in the angels; for they too do not of necessity will whatever they will. What they will they will by means of a free judgment, just as we.
Free choice is found in us and in the angels, however, in a different way than in God. When what is prior changes, what is posterior must also change. The capacity of free choice presupposes two things: a nature and a cognitive power.
Nature is of a different sort in God than in men and in angels. The divine nature is uncreated and is its own act of being and its own goodness. Consequently there cannot be in it any deficiency either in existence or in goodness. But human and angelic nature is created, taking its origin from nothing. Hence, viewed in itself, it is capable of deficiency. For this reason God’s free choice is by no means able to be turned to evil, whereas the free will of men and angels, considered in its natural endowments, is capable of turning to evil.
Knowing also is found to be a different sort in man than in God and in the angels. Man has a process of knowing which is obscured and gets its view of the truth by means of a discourse. From this source comes his hesitation and difficulty in making decisions and in judging; for “the thoughts of... men are fearful, and our counsels are uncertain” (Wisdom 9:14). But in God, and also in angels in their own way, there is a simple view of the truth without any discourse or inquiry. There consequently does not occur in them any hesitation or difficulty in deciding or judging. And so God and the angels have a ready choice on the part of their free will, whereas man experiences difficulty in choosing because of his uncertainty and doubt. It is evident, then, that the free choice of an angel occupies a middle ground between that of God and that of man, having something in common with each of the two.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Reason is sometimes taken broadly for any immaterial cognition; and in this sense reason is found in God. Dionysius accordingly places reason among the divine names. It is also taken properly, as meaning a power which knows with discourse. In this sense reason is not found in God, or the angels, but only in men. It can be said then, that reason is used in the definition of free choice in the first sense. But if it is taken in the second sense, then free choice is defined after the manner in which it is found in men.
2. The ability to choose evil is not essential to free choice. It is a consequence of free choice as found in a nature which is created and capable of failing.
3. The divine will is capable of opposites, not in the sense that it first wills something and afterwards does not (which would be repugnant to its immutability), nor in the sense that it can will good and evil (for that would put defectibility in God), but rather in the sense that it can will or not will this particular thing.
4. The fact that choice follows a deliberation, which involves inquiry, is accidcntal to choice, occurring because it is found in a rational nature, which gets its view of the truth through a reasoning has a simple acceptance o t e trut , choice is found without any previous inquiry. It is thus that choice is in God.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the fourth article we ask:
Is free choice a power or not?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 24, 1, 1; S.T., I, 83, 2.]
It seems that it is not, for
1. According to Augustine, free choice is a capability of will and reason. But a capability is spoken of as the ability to do easily. Since the ease of a power comes from a habit, because according to Augustine, a habit is that by which a person acts easily, it seems that free choice is a habit.
2. Some operations are moral and some are natural. But the capability of moral operations is a habit, not a power, as is clear of the moral virtues. Hence free choice, which implies a facility for natural operations, is a habit, not a power.
3. According to the Philosopher, if nature were to make a ship it would make it the same as art makes one. Natural facility, then, is of the same character as the facility which comes from art. But the facility which comes from art is a habit acquired from acts, as is evident in the moral virtues. As a consequence we say that whatever is done by reason is produced by art. Then the capability or natural facility which is free choice will also be a habit.
4. According to the Philosopher it is by habits that we act in a given way, but by powers that we simply act. But free choice designates not only that by which we act, but also that by which we act in a given way—freely. Free choice therefore designates a habit.
5. The answer was given that, when we say that a habit is that by which we act in a given way, we must understand rightly or wrongly.—On the contrary, whatever is essential to habit is common to all habits. But acting rightly or wrongly is not common to all habits; for speculative habits, as it seems, do not have any reference to acting rightly or wrongly. Acting rightly or wrongly is therefore not essential to habit.
6. Anything taken away by sin cannot be a power, but is a habit. Now free choice is taken away by sin, because, as Augustine says, “by using his free choice badly man has destroyed both it and himself.” Free choice is therefore a habit and not a power.
7. The answer was given that the statement of Augustine is to be understood of the freedom of grace, which comes from a habit.—On the contrary, according to Augustine “no one uses badly” the habit of grace. Therefore the freedom of choice, which a person uses badly cannot be understood to be the freedom of grace.
8. Bernard says that free choice is “a habit of the spirit which is free in its own regard.”Thus the conclusion is the same as before.
9. It is easier to undertake an act of knowing than of doing. But there has been given to the cognitive power a natural habit, the understanding of principles, which is at the summit of knowledge. Hence there has also been given to the operative or motive power a natural habit. Since in matters of motion free choice seems to hold the highest place, it seems to be a habit or else a power perfected by a habit.
10. A power is narrowed down only by a habit. But will and reason are narrowed down in free choice; for the will is concerned with both possibles and impossibles, while free choice is concerned only with possibles. In the same way reason is concerned both with the things that are in our power and with those that are not, whereas free choice is concerned only with those that are in our power. Free choice therefore designates a habit.
11. Just as a power designates something added to an essence, a capability designates something added to a power. But what is added to a power is a habit. Then, since free choice is a capability, it seems to be a habit.
12. Augustine says that free choice is “a motion of the vital and rational soul.” But “motion” refers to an act. Free choice is therefore an act and not a power.
13. According to Boethius “judgment is the act of one judging.” But a choice or decision is the same as a judgment. Then a choice or decision is also an act. But the addition of free does not take it out of the genus of act, because acts too are called free if they are in the power of the agent. Free choice, then, is an act and not a power.
14. According to Augustine,” whatever goes beyond its subject is in something essentially, not accidentally. From this he proves that love and knowledge are in the mind essentially, because the mind loves and knows not only itself but also other things. Now free choice extends hcyond its subject, because the soul acts by free choice upon things which are outside itself. Free choice is therefore in the soul essentially. Thus it is not a power, since powers are added to the essence.
15. No power brings itself into act. But free choice brings itself into act when it wishes. Hence free choice is not a power.
To the Contrary
1. According to the Philosopher “there are three things in the soul: power, habit, and passion.” Now free choice is not a passion, since it is in the higher part of the soul, whereas passions and passible qualities are found only in the sensitive part. Similarly it is not a habit, since it is the subject of grace (for according to Augustine, its relation to grace is that of a horse to its rider), whereas a habit cannot be the subject of anything else. We are therefore left with the conclusion that free choice is a power.
2. There seems to be this difference between a power and a habit, that a power which is open to opposites is determined to one of them by a habit. But free choice designates something which is open to opposites and by no means determined to one of them. Free choice is therefore a power and not a habit.
3. Bernard says: “Take away free choice and there is nothing which will be saved.” But what is saved is the soul or a power of the soul. Free choice, then, not being the soul, because it belongs only to the higher part of it, must, by elimination, be a power.
4. The Master says: “That power of a rational soul by which it can will good or evil, distinguishing between the two, is called free choice.” And so free choice is a power.
5. Anselm says that free choice is “the power of preserving the uprightness of the will for its own sake.” Thus the conclusion is the same as before.
If the term is taken literally, free choice designates an act. But by usage it has been transferred to mean the principle of the act. When we say that a man has free choice, we do not mean that he is actually judging freely, but that he has within himself that by which he can judge freely. Consequently, if the act of judging freely should contain anything which goes beyond the capacity of a power, then it will designate a habit or a power perfected by some habit. To get angry with moderation, for instance, implies something which goes beyond the capacity of the irascible power; for the irascible power cannot moderate the passion of anger by itself unless it is perfected by a habit by means of which there is impressed upon it the moderation of reason. If, however, to judge freely should not imply anything that exceeds the capacity of the power, free choice will not designate anything but a power without any further addition, just as to get angry does not go beyond the capacity of the irascible power, and for this reason its proper principle is a power and not a habit.
Now it is clear that to judge, if nothing is added, does not go beyond the capacity of a power, because it is the act of a power, reason, by its own nature, without requiring the addition of any habit. Similarly, what is added in the adverb freely does not exceed the scope of the power, for something is said to be done freely inasmuch as it is in the power of the one doing it. But the fact that something is under our control is in us as the consequence of an operative power, not of a habit. That power is the will.
Free choice accordingly does not designate a habit but the power of will or reason—one as subordinated to the other. Thus the act of choosing proceeds from one of them in subordination to the other in accordance with what the Philosopher says: choice is an appetite on the part of the intellective power or an understanding on the part of the appetitive.
It is clear too from what has been said why some were led to hold that free choice is a habit. For some” have held this on account of the addition which free choice makes to will and reason, the subordination of the one to the other. But this cannot have the character of a habit if the term is taken in the proper sense, for a habit is a quality by which a power is inclined to act. Others, considering the facility with which we judge freely, have said that free choice is a power modified by a habit. But, as has already been said, to judge freely does not go beyond the nature of a power.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Something is said to be easy in two senses: (1) because of the removal of a hindrance, and(2) because of the reception of help. The ease which belongs to a habit is had by the reception of help, for a habit inclines a power to act. But free choice does not designate an ease of this kind, because of itself it is not inclined to one thing rather than to another; but it does designate an ease which is had by the removal of a hindrance, because free choice is not hindered from performing its own operation by anything which forces it. Augustine accordingly calls free choice a capability, not a facility, because a capability seems to imply that something is in the power of the one having the capability.
2-3. This same is to be said of these difficulties, which also argue from the facility of a habit.
4. Regarding acts two senses of the term way can be taken into account, one which belongs to the essence of a habit, as when something is done rightly or wrongly, and another which belongs to the essence of a power, as it belongs to the intellect from the very nature of that power to know immaterially. The way implied in the phrase to judge freely does not pertain to a habit which is added, but to the very nature of the power, as has been said.
5. [The answer to this is not given.]
6. Man has not entirely destroyed his [power of] free choice by using it badly, but just in a certain respect, because after sinning he cannot be without sin as he could before he sinned.
7. Even though no one can use grace badly, nevertheless a person can use his free choice badly even when it has the freedom of grace, in the sense that we are said to use badly something which is the principle of bad use, such as a power or a habit. Moreover, if we should be said to use something badly as the object of the use, in this sense even virtues and grace are subject to bad use, as appears in those who get proud of their virtues.
8. Bernard is taking habit loosely for any facility whatsoever.
9. There are two reasons why a power needs a habit: (1) because the operation which is to be evoked by the power is beyond the ability of the power, though it is not beyond the ability of the whole of human nature; and (2) because it is beyond the ability of the whole of nature. In this second way all of the powers of the soul, whether affective or intellective, need habits by which meritorious acts are elicited, because they are not capable of such acts unless habits of grace are added to them.
In the first way the intellect has need of a habit because it cannot understand anything unless it is assimilated to it by an intelligible species. The intellect must accordingly have added to it intelligible species by which it is brought into act. An ordering of species, however, produces a habit.
For the same reason the lower appetitive powers, that is, the irascible and the concupiscible, need habits by which the moral virtues are completed. That their acts should be moderate does not exceed human nature, but it does exceed the scope of the powers mentioned. It is accordingly necessary that what belongs to a higher power, reason, be impressed upon them; and the very imprint of reason in the lower powers formally completes the moral virtues.
The higher affective power, however, does not need any habit in this way, because it naturally tends to a good connatural to it as to its proper object. Consequently, in order that it will good, nothing is required except that good be shown to it by the cognitive power. For this reason the philosophers did not put in the will any habit, either natural or acquired; but in order to give direction in operative matters they put prudence in reason, and temperance and courage and the other moral virtues in the irascible and the concupiscible powers. But according to the theologians the habit of charity is put into the will for the sake of meritorious acts.
10. That narrowing down of reason and will does not take place by any habit that is added, but by the subordination of one power to the other.
11. The capability which is had by the inclination of a habit adds to the power something which is of another nature, a habit. But the capability which is had through the removal of coercion adds to the power a positive determination which nevertheless belongs to the very nature of the power, just as a differentia which is added to a genus belong to the nature of the species.
12. Augustine defines [the power of] free choice by its proper act, because powers come to be known by their acts. Hence the predication in that case is not essential but causal.
13. Though in the strict meaning of the term free choice designates an act, nevertheless by usage it has been transferred to mean the principle of the act.
14. Knowledge and love can be referred to the mind in its two distinct aspects: (1) As loving and knowing. In this sense they do not exceed the mind, nor do they become unlike other accidents. (2) As loved and known. In this sense they exceed the mind, because the mind loves and knows not only itself but other things as well; and they also become unlike other accidents. For the other accidents in that regard in which they are referred to their subject are not referred to anything outside it. By acting they are referred to something outside; by inhering, to the subject. Love and knowledge, however, under a single aspcct are referred to their subject and to things outside, though there is an aspect under which they are referred to the subject alone, In this sense it is therefore not necessary that they be essentials of the mind, except in so far as the mind is known and loved through its own essence.
15. [The answer to this is not given.]
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the fifth article we ask:
Is free choice one power or several?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 24, 1, 2; S.T., I, 83, 3 & 4.]
It seems that it is several powers, for
1. As Augustine says, free choice is a capability of will and reason. But reason and will are distinct powers. Free will then pertains to distinct powers.
2. Powers are known by their acts. But acts of several different powers are ascribed to free choice; for, as Damascene says, “these things occur in us: to be moved or not, to attack or not, to desire or not, and the like, which unquestionably belong to several different powers. Free choice is therefore several powers.
3. Boethius says that free choice is in “divine substances” (that is, angels) inasmuch as there is in them “a penetrating judgment and an uncorrupted will.” But penetration of judgment belongs to reason. Free choice therefore includes will and reason, and thus it is several powers.
4. The answer was given that it is one power having the virtuality of two.—On the contrary, in the lower part of the soul are found an affective and a cognitive power just as they are in the higher. But in the lower part there is no power which has in itself the virtuality of the cognitive and the affective powers. Then neither is there any in the higher part.
5. Boethius says that “the extreme form of slavery is had when human minds, given over to vices.... grow dark with the cloud of ignorance and are put in a turmoil with pernicious affections.” But the slavery of which there is question is opposed to free choice. Hence free choice includes reason and the affections, and so the conclusion is the same as before.
To the Contrary
Man is called a microcosm inasmuch as there is found in him a resemblance to the macrocosm. But in the macrocosm two extreme natures are not found without an intermediate one. Then neither in man are two extreme powers found without one that is intermediate. We find in men, however, one power which always tends to good, synderesis, and another practically the opposite of this, which always inclines to evil, sensuality. Hence there is also found a power which is open to good and evil, and this is free choice. Thus it seems that free choice is one power.
Two considerations have led some to hold that free choice is several powers:
(1) They saw that by free choice we have control over the acts of all the powers. They accordingly affirmed that free choice is a sort of universal whole with respect to all the powers. But this cannot be, because, were it so, there would be required in us many powers of free choice on account of the multiplicity of powers; for many men are many animals. Nor are we forced to hold this by the reason mentioned, for all the acts of the different powers are referred to free choice only through the intermediary of one act, to choose. We are moved by free choice inasmuch as by our free choice we choose to be moved; and the same is true of other acts. It is therefore not shown by this that free choice is several powers, but rather that it is one power which moves different powers by its own efficacy.
(2) Some were moved to affirm a plurality of powers in free choice by the fact that they saw concur in the act of free choice the functions of different powers: judgment, which belongs to reason, and appetite, which belongs to will. They accordingly said that free choice includes several powers as an integral whole contains its parts. Now this cannot be true. Since the act which is attributed to free choice is a single specific act, to choose, it cannot proceed immediately from two distinct powers; but it proceeds from one immediately and from the other mediately, inasmuch as the characteristic of the prior power is communicated to the posterior. It remains, then, that free choice is a single power.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Augustine says that free choice is a capability of will and reason because man is ordaincd to the act of free choice through both powers, though not immediately.
2. Free choice is not referred to the acts of different powers except through the intermediary of its own single act, as has been said.
3. Boethius attributes to free choice the characteristics of different powers inasmuch as through different powers man is ordained to the act of free choice, as has been said.
4 In the irrational part of the soul there is found on the part of the cognitive power only simple apprehension and not any comparing or ordering, as is found in the rational apprehensive power. Consequently, in the sensitive part appetite is brought to bear upon its object absolutely, without having in the appetitive power any order derived from the apprehensive. In the sensitive part, therefore, there is no power which embraces in some sort both the apprehensiv e and the appetitive, as there is in the rational part.
5. This is to be answered in the same way as the fourth difficulty.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the sixth article we ask:
Is free choice the will or a power other than the will?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 24,10; S.T., I, 83,4; I-II, 13, 1; III, 18, 3 & 4.]
It seems that it is another power, for
1. Whatever is predicated of something essentially should not be put in its definition obliquely, as animal is not put obliquely in the definition of man. But reason and will are placed in the definition of free choice obliquely, for it is said to be “a capability of will and reason.” Free choice is therefore not reason or will but a power other than either.
2. The differences of powers are known from the differences of acts. But to choose, which is the act of free choice, is other than to will, which is the act of the will, as the Philosopher makes clear. Hence free choice is a power other than the will.
3. In the term free choice, choice is expressed in the abstract and freedom in the concrete. Now choice or decision belongs to reason; freedom, to the will. What belongs to reason, then, pertains to free choice essentially; but what belongs to the will pertains to it denominatively and accidentally. Thus free choice seems to be reason rather than will.
4. According to Damascene and Gregory of Nyssa we are free in our choice because we are rational. But we are rational because we have reason. Because we have reason, then, we are free in our choice; and so it seems that free choice is reason.
5. In accordance with the order among habits there is also an order among powers. But the act of faith, which is a habit of reason, is informed by charity, which is a habit of the will. An act of reason is accordingly informed by the will, and not the other way about. Thus, if the act of free choice belongs to one of two powers, the will and reason, to one as eliciting and to the other as informing, it seems that it belongs to reason as eliciting it. And so free choice is essentially reason, and therefore a power other than the will.
To the Contrary
1. Damascene says: “Free choice is nothing but the will.”
2. The Philosopher says6 that choosing is appetence for what has been previously deliberated. But choosing is the act of free choice. Free choice is therefore the appetitive power. But it is not the lower appetite, which is divided into the irascible and the concupiscible; for then brutes would have free choice. It is therefore the higher appetite, and according to the Philosopher this is the will.
Some say that free choice is a third power distinct from will and reason, because they see that the act of free choice, which is to choose, is different both from that of the will by itself and from that of reason. The act of reason consists in mere knowledge. The act of the will is concerned with a good which is an end. But free choice deals with a good which is a means to an end. just as a good which is a means to an end lies outside the nature of an end, and appetite is outside of knowledge, they say that in a natural order will proceeds from reason, and from these two a third power, free choice, proceeds.
But this cannot consistently stand. The object and that which constitutes the formality under which the object is attained belong to the same power, as color and light belong to sight. Now the whole formality of the appetibility of a means as such is the end. It is consequently impossible that it should belong to distinct powers to tend to the end and to tend to the means. Nor can this difference, that the end is sought absolutely and the means relatively, bring about a distinction of appetitive powers; for the reference of one thing to another is not in appetite of itself but because of something else, namely, reason, whose function it is to refer and compare. This can therefore not be a specific difference constituting a distinct species of appetite.
Whether to choose is an act of reason or of will, however, the Philosopher seems to leave in doubt in the sixth book of the Ethics; but he supposes that it is somehow a function of the two, saying that choice is either an understanding on the part of the appetitive power or an appetite on the part of the intellective. That it is an act of appetite, however, he says in the third book, defining choice as a desire of what has been previously deliberated.
That this is true its very object makes clear. For, just as the pleasurable and the honorable good, which have the formality of an end, are the object of the appetitive power, so too is the useful good, to which choice properly applies.
It is clear also from the name. For free choice, as has been said,” is the power by which man can freely judge. Now whatever is said to be the principle of performing an act in a determined way need not be the principle of that act taken without qualification, but it is designated chiefly as the principle of that particular manner of acting. Grammar, for example, when called the science of correct speech, is not taken to be the principle of speech in an unqualified sense, because man can speak even without grammar; but it is taken as the principle of correctness in speech. In the same way the power by which we freely judge is not taken to be that by which we judge without further qualification, for that is the function of reason; but it is taken as the power which accounts for our freedom in judging, and this belongs to the will.
Free choice is therefore the will. The term does not designate the will absolutely, however, but with reference to one of its acts, to choose.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Free choice does not refer to the will absolutely but in subordination to reason. To signify this, will and reason are put in the definition of free choice obliquely.
2. Although choosing is a different act from willing, that difference cannot bring about a distinction of powers.
3. Though judgment is a function of reason, the freedom of judging belongs immediately to the will.
4 We are called rational not merely from the power of reason, but from the rational soul, of which the will also is a power. In this sense we are said to have free choice inasmuch as we are rational. If rational were taken from the power of reason, however, the passages cited in authority would mean that reason is the primary source of free choice but not the immediate principle of choosing.
5. The will in some sense moves reason by commanding its act; andd reason moves the will by proposing to it its object, which is the end. Thus it is that either power can in some way be informed by the other.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the seventh article we ask:
Can there be any creature which has its free choice naturally confirmed in good?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 5, 1,1; 23, 1, 1; C.G., III, 100-10; In Job, c. 4, lect. 3. (P 14: 20b); S.T., 63, 1; 95, 1 ad 3; De malo, 16, 2.]
It seems that there can, for
1. A spiritual nature is nobler than a corporeal one. But there is a corporeal nature for which it would be out of keeping to have any disorder in its motion. That is the nature of a heavenly body. With all the more reason, then, can there be a created spiritual nature capable of free choice in whose motions there naturally cannot be any disorder. But this means that it is impeccable or confirmed in good.
2. The answer was given that it belongs to the nobility of a spiritual creature that it be able to merit, but that this would be impossible unless it could sin or not.—On the contrary, the ability to ment is within the competence of a spiritual creature by reason of its having the mastery of its own acts. But if it were not able to do anything but good, it would nonetheless still have the mastery of its own acts; for it could do something good or not do it without falling into evil, or it could at least choose between something good and something better. The ability to sin is therefore not required for meriting.
3. Free choice, by which with the help of grace we merit, is an active power. But it is not of the nature of an active power that it fail. A spiritual creature can therefore have the power to merit even if it is naturally impeccable.
4. Anselm says: “The power of sinning is neither freedom nor a part of freedom.” But freedom is the reason why man is capable of meriting. Then, even if the power of sinning is taken away, there will still remain to man the power of meriting.
5. Gregory of Nyssa and Damascene assign as the reason why a creature is changeable in its free choice the fact that it is from nothing. But it is more closely a consequence of being a creature that it can fall into nothingness than that it can do evil. Now there are found creatures which are by nature incorruptible, such as the soul and heavcnly bodies. Even more surely, then, can there be found a spiritual creature which is by nature impeccable.
6. What God does in one thing He can do in others. But He grants to spiritual creatures by their very nature to tend so invariably to a certain good, happiness, that they can by no means tend to the contrary. He could in the same way, then, grant to some creature that it should naturally tend to all good so that it could by no means incline to evil.
7.Since God is supremely good, He communicates Himself in the highest degree. He consequently communicates to creatures everything of which creatures are capable. But creatures are capable of the perfection which is confirmation in good or impeccability. This is evident because it is granted to some creatures by grace. Consequently there is also some creature which is naturally impeccable and confirmed in good.
8. Substance is the principle of a power, and a power is the principle of operation. But there is a creature which is naturally invariable in substance. There can therefore be some creature naturally invariable in its operation so as to be naturally impeccable.
9. Attributes of creatures consequent upon their efficient principle belong to them more essentially than those consequent upon their material principle, because the effect takes on a likeness of its efficient cause but stands opposed to its material cause. Opposites are from opposites, as white from black. But confirmation in good comes to some creatures from God, their efficient principle. Much more, then, should confirmation in good be said to be natural to them than the ability to sin, which belongs to them as being made out of nothing.
10. Civic happiness is unvarying. But man can attain to civic happiness by natural means. He can therefore naturally have invariability in good.
11. Whatever is in a being from nature is unvarying. But man naturally tends to good. Hence he does it invariably.
To the Contrary
1. Damascene says that the reason why a rational creature can turn to evil in its choice is that it is from nothing. But there cannot be any creature which is not from nothing. Hence there cannot be any creature whose free choice is naturally confirmed in good.
2. The characteristics of a higher nature cannot belong to a lower nature unless it is changed into the higher. Thus it is impossible for water to be naturally hot unless it is changed into the nature of fire or air. But to have a goodness incapable of failure is the characteristic of the divine nature. It is therefore impossible that this should naturally belong to any other nature unless it is changed into the divine nature. But that, of course, is impossible.
3. Free choice is not found in any creatures except angels and men. But both man and the angels have sinned. The free choice of no creature, therefore, is naturally confirmed in good.
4. No rational creature is kept from attaining happiness except by reason of sin. If any rational creature were naturally impeccable, therefore, it could attain to happiness by purely natural means without grace. But that seems to smack of the Pelagian heresy.
There is not and cannot be any creature whose free choice is natu rally confirmed in good so that the inability to sin belong to it by its purely natural endowments. The reason is this. A failure in an action is caused by a failure in the principles of the action. Consequently, if there is something in which the principles of action cannot fail in themselves nor be hindered by something extrinsic, its action cannot possibly fail. This is seen in the motions of the heavenly bodies. But it is possible for a failure to occur in the actions of those things in which the principles of acting can fail or be hindered. This is seen in beings subject to generation and corruption, which undergo failure in their active principles by reason of their changeableness and have defective actions as a result. For this reason in the operations of nature something amiss frequently happens, of which the births of monsters are examples. For something amiss, whether it be spoken of in natural or artificial or voluntary matters, is nothing but a defect or disorder in the agent’s proper action when something is done otherwise than as it should be, as is explained in the Physics.
A rational nature endowed with free choice, however, is different in its action from every other agent nature. Every other nature is ordained to some particular good, and its actions are determined in regard to that good. But a rational nature is ordained to good without further qualification. Good, taken absolutely, is the object of the will, just as truth, taken absolutely, is the object of the intellect. That is why the will reaches to the universal principle of good itself, to which no other appetite can attain. And for this reason a rational creature does not have determined actions but is in a state of indifference in regard to innumerable actions. Now, since every action proceeds from the agent with a certain similarity to the agent, as hot things heat, any agent which is ordained in its action to some particular good must have the formality of that good naturally and invariably within itself if its action is to be naturally indefectible. If a body, for instance, naturally has an unvarying heat, it heats invariably.
A rational nature, accordingly, which is directed to good, taken absolutely, through many different actions, cannot have actions naturally incapable of going astray from good unless it have in it naturally and invariably the formality of the universal and perfect good.
That can be had, however, only in the divine nature. For God alone is pure act, admitting no admixture of any potentiality, and thus is pure and absolute goodness. But any creature is a particular good, since it has in its very nature the admixture of potentiality, which belongs to it because it is made out of nothing. And hence it is that among rational natures only God has a free choice naturally impeccable and confirmed in good, whereas it is impossible for this natural impeccability to be in a creature because of its being made out of nothing, as Damascene and Gregory of Nyssa say. From this, too, is the particular good in which the nature of evil is founded, as Dionysins says.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Corporeal creatures are directed to some particular good through definite actions, as has been said. Consequently, in order that error and sin be naturally absent from their actions, it is sufficient for them to be fixed by their own nature in some particular good. But this is not sufficient in the case of spiritual natures ordained to good taken absolutely, as has been said.
2. There is no contradiction between being naturally impeccable and having the mastery over one’s own actions, since both are verified in God. But there is a contradiction between natural impeccability and the possession of the mastery over one’s own actions by a created nature, which is a particular good; for no creature which has determined actions directed to a particular good has the mastery of its own acts.
3. Although it is not of the nature of an active power that it fail, it is of the nature of an active power which does not have within itself the sufficient and unvarying principles of its own action that it be able to fail.
4. Though the ability to sin is not a part of free choice, yet it results from freedom of choice in a created nature.
5. A creature gets an act of existence which is determined, particular, and from another. Consequently, a creature can have a stable and unvarying existence even though there is not found in it the formality of the absolute and perfect good, but by its actions it can be directed to good taken absolutely. Hence there is no parallel.
6. Every rational mind naturally desires happiness in an undetcrmined and general way, and in this regard it cannot fail. But the motion of the will of a creature is not determined in particular to seek happiness in this or that. And so a person can sin even in seeking happiness if he seeks it where he should not, as one who seeks it in sensuous pleasures. The same is also true in regard to all goods, for nothing is desired except under the aspect of good, as Dionysius says. This is so because the tendency to good is naturally in the mind, but not to this or that good. Hence it can fall into sin in this matter.
7. A creature is capable of impeccability, but not so as to have it naturally. Hence the conclusion does not follow.
8. The principle of a correct operation proceeding from free choice is not merely the substance and the faculty or power, but there is also needed the due application of the will to certain things which are extrinsic, such as the end, and other things of the sort. Consequently, even when there is no defect in the substance of the soul or in the nature of free choice, a failure in its action can follow. From the natural invariability of the substance, then, natural impeccability cannot be concluded.
9. God is the cause of creatures not only in their natural endowments but also in everything additional. It is accordingly not necessary that whatever creatures have from God should be natural to them, but only what God has endowed them with in instituting their nature. But confirmation in good is not something of this sort.
10. Since civic happiness is not happiness without qualification, it does not have invariability without qualification; but it is called unvarying bccause it is not easily changed. Yet even if civic happiness were simply unvarying, it would not follow on this account that free choice would be naturally confirmed in good. For we are not speaking of something natural in the sense that it can be acquired by the principles of nature, as political virtues can be called natural, but in the sense that it follows from the necessity of the principles of nature.
11. Although man naturally tends to good in general, he does not so tend to a specific good, as has been said. It is for this reason that sin and failure occur.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the eighth article we ask:
Can the free choice of a creature be confirmed in good by a gift of grace?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 7, 1, 1; 23, 1, 1; III Sent., 3, 1, 2, sol. 2 & 3; IV Sent., 6, 1, 1 sol. 2; S.T., I, 62, 8; 100, 2; Expos. super salut. angel.]
It seems that it cannot, for
1. Grace, coming to a nature, does not destroy but perfects it. Since it is a natural characteristic of the free choice of a creature that it can be turned to evil, it therefore seems that it cannot be removed from it by grace.
2. It is within the power of free choice to use grace or not to use it, for free choice is not forced by grace. But if free choice does not use a grace imparted to it, it falls into evil. Consequently no grace that comes to it can confirm free choice in good.
3. Free choice has the mastery of its own acts. But the use of grace is an act of free choice. It is therefore within the power of free choice to use it or not to use it, and so it cannot be confirmed by grace.
4. The possibility of turning to evil is in the free choice of a creature because it is from nothing, as Damascene says. But no grace can remove from a creature its origin from nothing. Then no grace can confirm our free choice in good.
5. Bernard says that free choice is “the most powerful thing” under God, that it gets no increase from grace and justice, and that it suffers no loss from a fault. But confirmation in good when added to free choice increases it, because according to Augustine “in things of great mass to be larger is to be better.” Hence free choice cannot be confirmed in good by grace.
6. As is said in The Causes, whatever is in a subject is in it after the manner of that subject. But free choice is by its nature capable off change to good or evil. A grace that comes to it is therefore received into it in such a way that it can be turned to good or evil; and so it cannot confirm it in good.
7. Whatever God adds to a creature He could also, as it seems, confer upon it from the beginning of its creation. Consequently, if He could confirm free choice by a grace added to it, He could also confirm it by something implanted in the spiritual creature in the very constitution of the nature; and so it would be naturally confirmed in good. But this is impossible, as has been said. Then neither can it be confirmed through grace.
To the Contrary
1. The saints who are in their heavenly home are confirmed in good so as not to be able to sin any more; otherwise they would not be secure in their happiness and so would not be happy. But this confirmation is not in them by nature, as has been said. It is therefore by grace; and so free choice can be confirmed by a gift of grace.
2. The human body is by nature corruptible, just as man’s free choice is by nature capable of turning to evil. But the human body is made incorruptible by a gift of grace; for it is written in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (15: 5 3): “For this corruptible must put on incorruption.” Free choice can therefore be confirmed in good by grace.
Origen was in error concerning this question. He held that the free choice of a creature could in no way be confirmed in good, not even in the blessed, except in Christ because of the union to the Word. As a result of this error, moreover, he was forced to affirm that the happiness of the saints and even of the angels is not everlasting but is at some time to come to an end; and from this it follows that theirs is not true happiness, since changelessness and security are essential t.oo happiness. Consequently because of its inadmissible consequences Ongen’s position is to be entirely rejected; and we must say without cavil that free choice can be confirmed in good by grace.
This is evident from the following consideration. The free choice of a creature cannot be naturally confirmed in good, because it does not have in its nature the note of perfect and absolute good but only of a certain particular good. By grace, however, free choice is united to this perfect and absolute good, that is, God. If the union should be perfect, so that free choice would have God Himself as the whole cause of its acting, it could not turn to evil. That does happen in some cases, and especially in that of the blessed.
The reason is this. The will naturally tends to good as its object. That it sometimes tends to evil happens only because the evil is presented to it under the aspect of a good. But evil is involuntary, as Dionysius says. Consequently there cannot be any sin in the motion of the will so that it tends to evil unless there previously exists some deficiency in the apprehensive power, as a result of which something evil is presented as good. This deficiency in reason can come about in two ways: either from reason itself, or from something extrinsic to it.
It can come about from reason itself because the knowledge of good in general, both of the good which is the end and of that which is a means, is had by it naturally and invariably and without error, but not of good in particular. In regard to the latter it can err so that it judges something which is not the end to be the end, or something which is not useful to the end to be useful. For this reason too the will naturally desires the good which is the end, namely, happiness in general, and likewise the good which is a means to the end (for everyone naturally desires his own profit); but the sin on the part of the will occurs in desiring this or that particular end or in choosing this or that means.
Reason proves deficient because of something extrinsic to it when the lower powers are drawn to something intensely and the act of reason is consequently interrupted so that it does not propose to the will its judgment about the good clearly and firmly. For example, someone with a proper regard for the necessity of observing chastity may desire something contrary to chastity through a lust for what is pleasurable, because the judgment of reason is in some sense fettered by concupiscence, as the Philosopher says.
Both of those types of deficiency will be entirely removed from the blessed by their union to God. For, seeing the divine essence, they will recognize that God Himself is the end to be loved above all else. They will know too in particular all the things which either unite a person with Him or separate one from Him, knowing God not only iii Himself but also as the reason for which other things are to be desired. And from the clarity of this knowledge their minds will be strengthened to such an extent that no motion will be able to arise in the lower powers except according to the rule of reason. Consequently, just as we now invariably desire good in general, the minds of the blessed invariably desire in particular the good which they ought. Furthermore, over and above this natural inclination of the will they will have perfect charity binding them entirely to God. Sin will therefore be unable to occur in them in any way; and so they will be confirmed by grace.
Answers to Difficulties
1. It is due to the deficiency of a created nature that it can turn to evil; and grace removes this deficiency by perfecting the nature, confirming it in good, just as light which comes to the air takes away the darkness which it naturally has without light.
2. It is within the power of free choice not to make use of a habit, yet even the non-use of a habit can be proposed to it under the aspect of good. But this cannot happen in the blessed regarding grace, as has been said.
3. The answer to this is clear from what has just been said.
4. Because free choice is from nothing, it is consonant with it not to be naturally confirmed in good; nor can natural confirmation in good through grace be granted to it through grace. It is not, however, consonant with free choice as being from nothing to be incapable of confirmation in good in any way, just as it is not in air from its own nature to be altogether incapable of being illuminated, but merely to be not by nature actually luminous.
5. Bernard is speaking of free choice with reference to freedom from force, which does not admit of increase or lessening.
6. Concerning anything received into a subject we can consider its existence and its formal character. In regard to its existence it is in its subject after the manner of the subject, but it nevertheless draws the subject to its own formal character. Thus heat that is received into water has existence in the water after the manner of the water, being in the water as an accident in a subject; yet it draws the water from its natural state to one in which it is hot and takes on the character of heat. Similarly, light affects the air, though not against the nature of air. In the same way grace too in regard to its existence is in free choice after its manner as an accident in a subject; yet it draws free choice to the formal character of its own invariability, joining it to God.
7. The perfect good, God, can be united to the human mind by grace but not by nature. Consequently free choice can be confirmed in good by grace but not by nature.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the ninth article we ask:
Can the free choice of man in this present life be confirmed in good?
[Parallel readings: In Job, c. 4, lect. 3 (P 14: 21a); S.T., III, 27,4; 5 ad2; Comp. theol., I, 224.]
It seems that it cannot, for
1. In appetitive matters the principle is the end, as the Philosopher says, just as in speculative matters axioms are the principle. But in speculative matters the intellect is not confirmed in truth when it takes on the certitude of science unless it makes the reduction to the first axioms. Then neither can free choice be confirmed in good except after it shall have come to the last end. But this is not attained in this pre sent life. Consequently in this present life free choice cannot be confirmed in good.
2. Human nature is not more highly endowed than angelic nature. But the confirination of their free choice was not granted to the angels before the state of glory. Then neither should it be granted to men.
3. A mover comes to rest only in the end. But free choice does not come to its end so long as it is in this present life. Then neither does its variability, by which it can be directed to good and evil, come to rest here.
4. As long as something is imperfect it can fail. But men’s imperfection is not taken away from them so long as they are in this present life, as is said in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (13:12) “We see now through a glass in a dark manner.” Then, as long as man is in this present life he can fail through sin.
5. As long as a person is in the state of meriting, that which increases his merit should not be taken away from him. But the ability to sin is advantageous for merit. For this reason it is said in praise of a just man in Sirach (3 1: 10): “He that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed; and could do evil things, and hath not done them.” Hence, as long as a man is in this present life in w1iich he can merit, his free choice should not be confirmed in good.
6. The failing of the body is corruption, just as that of free choice is sin. But the body of man does not become incorruptible in this present life. Then neither can man’s free choice be confirmed in good in this life.
To the Contrary
l. The Blessed Virgin was confirmed in good in this life; for, as Augustine says, “when there is question of sin,” no mention should be made of her.
2. The Apostles too were confirmed in good by the coming of the Holy Spirit, as is seen from what is said in the Psalms (74:4): “I have made its pillars firm,” which the Gloss applies to the Apostles.
A person can be confirmed in good in two ways: (1) Absolutely, so that he has within himself a principle of his firmness sufficient to make him unable to sin at all. It is in this sense that the blessed aaree confirmed in good in the way explained above. (2) Some are said to be confirmed in good because there is given to them some gift of grace by which they are so inclined to good that they cannot easily be drawn away from it; but they are not thereby so drawn away from evil that apart from the protection of divine providence they are unable to sin at all. It is like the immortality of Adam, who is held to have been immurtal, not because he was entirely protected by some intrinsic principle from every external lethal agent, like a wound from a sword, etc., but because divine providence preserved him from such things. It is in this way that some in the present life are confirmed in good, and not in the first way.
This is shown as follows. A person cannot be made altogether impeccable unless every source of sin is removed. Now the source of sin is found either in an error of reason, which is led astray in a particular case concerning the end (good) and the means to it, which he naturally desires in general; or in the obstruction of the judgment of reason by some passion of the lower powers. Although it could be granted to someone in this life through the gift of wisdom and of counsel that his reason should in no way err regarding the end (good) and regarding the means in particular, yet to have the judgment of reason unobstructable surpasses the state of this present life for two reasons: primarily and principally because it is impossible for reason in this life here below to be always in the act of correct contemplation so that the reason for everything we do is God; secondly, because the lower powers do not happen to be so subject to reason in this life that the act of reason is in no wise obstructed by them, except in the case of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who was at the same time on the way to God and in possession of Him.
By the grace proper to this life, however, a man can be so attached to good that he cannot sin except with great difficulty because his lower powers are held in check by the infused virtues, his will is more firmly inclined to God, and his reason is made perfect in the contemplation of the divine truth with a continuousness that comes from the fervor of love and withdraws the man from sin. But everything that is lacking for confirmation in good is supplied by the watchfulness of divine providence over those who are said to be confirmed. As a consequence, whenever the occasion for sin presents itself, their mind is divinely inspired to resist.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Affection attains the end not only when it perfectly possesses the end but also in some sense when it intensely desires it. It is in this way that a person in the present life can in a sense be confirmed in good.
2. The gift of grace does not follow the order of nature with necessity. Consequently, although human nature is not nobler than that of an angel, there has nevertheless been conferred upon a human being a grace greater than upon any angel, namely, upon the Blessed Virgin and upon Christ as man. Now confirmation was fitting for the Blessed Virgin because she was the mother of divine wisdom, into which nothing defiled comes, as is said in the Book of Wisdom (7:25). It was similarly fitting for the Apostles because they served as the foundation and groundwork of the whole ecclesiastical edifice and for that reason had to be firm.
3. The answer is the same as that given for the first difficulty.
4. From that line of argument it can be concluded that there is no one in this present life wholly confirmed, just as there is no one wholly perfect. In some sense, however, a person can be said to be confirmed, just as he can be said in some sense to be perfect.
5. The ability to sin does not contribute to merit, but only to the manifestation of merit, inasmuch as it shows that a good work is voluntary. It is put among the praises of the just man because praise is the manifestation of virtue.
6. The corruption of the body does contribute to merit in a material way, in so far as a person suffers it with patience. For this reason it is not taken away by grace from a man in the state of meriting.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
The answers to these are clear from what has been said.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the tenth article we ask:
Can the free choice of any creature be obstinate or unalterably hardened in evil?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 7, 1, 2; S.T., I, 64, 2; De malo, 16, 5; cf. parallels to art. 11.]
It seems that it cannot, for
1. Sin is “contrary to nature,” as Augustine says. But according too the Philosopher2 nothing contrary to nature is permanent. Hence sin cannot remain permanently in free choice.
2. A spiritual nature is stronger than a corporeal one. But if there is introduced into a corporeal nature an accident which is beyond its nature, it returns1b what is in keeping with its nature unless the accident introduced is preserved by some cause acting continually. If water is heated, for example, it returns to its natural coolness unless there is something constantly keeping it hot. Then a spiritual nature having free will, if it should happen to fall into sin, will likewise not remain permanently subject to sin, but will eventually return to the state of justice unless some cause is assigned to preserve the evil in it constantly. But it seems that no such cause is to be assigned.
3. It was said in answer that the cause introducing and preserving sin is internal and external. The internal cause is the will itself. The external is the object of the will, which attracts it to sin.—On the contrary, the thing which is outside the soul is good. Now a good cannot be the cause of evil except accidentally. The thing existing outside the soul is therefore only accidentally the cause of sin. But every accidental cause is reduced to an essential cause. Something must therefore be assigned which is the cause of sin essentially. But that cannot be anything but the will. Now when the will inclines to anything, it retains the ability still to tend to the opposite, since the object of its inclination does not take away from it its nature, by which it can be directed to opposites. Then neither the will nor anything else can be the cause making free choice invariably and more or less necessarily adhere to sin.
4. According to the Philosopher, there are two kinds of necessary being: one has its necessity of itself; the other has it from something else. That sin should be in free choice cannot be necessary with a necessity of itself, because to be necessary in this way is proper to God alone, as even Avicenna says. Nor again is it necessary with a necessity from something else, because everything necessary in this way is reduced to what is necessary of itself. God, however, cannot be the cause of sin. It can therefore in no way be necessary for free choice to remain in sin; and so the free choice of no creature adheres immovably to sin.
5. Augustine seems to distinguish two kinds of necessity: one, called the necessity of constraint, takes away freedom, removing something from our power; the other, which is the necessity of natural inclination, does not take away freedom. Now it is not necessary that sin be in free choice by the latter necessity, since sin is not natural but rather against nature; nor again by the former, because then the freedom of choice would be removed. It is therefore in no way necessary; and so the same must be concluded as before.
6. Anselm says that free choice is “the power of preserving the rectitude of the will for its own sake.” Then if there is any free choice which cannot have rectitude of will, it will lose the character of its own nature. But that is impossible.
7. Free choice is not susceptible of degrees. But a free choice which is incapable of good is less than one which is capable of it. Consequently there is no free choice which is incapable of good.
8. Voluntary motion is related to voluntary rest as natural motion to natural rest. But according to the Philosopher,.if the motion is natural, then the rest in which it terminates is also natural. So too, if the motion is voluntary. Then the rest by which one persists in a sin committed is also voluntary, and therefore not necessary.
9. The will stands to good and evil in the same relation as the intel1cct to the true and the false. But the intellect never so clings to the false that it cannot be brought back to the knowledge of what is true. Then the will never so clings to evil that it cannot be brought back to a love of good.
10. According to Anselm “the ability to sin is not freedom nor a part of freedom.” The essential act of free choice is therefore the ability to do good. Consequently, if the free choice of any creature were unable to do good, it would be useless, since nothing is of any avail if it is deprived of its proper act; for “each thing exists for the sake of its operation,” as the Philosopher says.
11. Free choice is incapable of anything but good or evil. Consequently, if the ability to sin is not freedom nor a part of freedom, it remains that the whole of freedom consists in the ability to do good; and so a creature which could not do good would not have any freedom. Free choice can accordingly not be so confirmed in evil that it cannot do any good at all.
12. According to Hugh of St. Victor, a change in accidentals does not change any of the essentials of a thing. But the ability to do good is essential to free choice, as has been proved. Since sin comes to free choice accidentally, this power cannot be so changed as to be rendered incapable of good.
13. Natural endowments are wounded by sin, as is commonly said; but they are not entirely taken away. But the capability of good is natural to free choice. Hence this power is never so hardened in evil by sin that it is impotent regarding good.
14. If sin causes in free choice obstinacy in evil, it does this either by subtracting something from natural endowments or by adding something to them. Now it does not do it by subtracting, because even in the demons natural gifts remain intact, as Dionysius says. Neither is it done by adding, because what is added, being an accident, must be in the recipient in the manner of the recipient. Thus, since free choice can be directed to either of two alternatives, it is not thereby made to cling immovably to evil. Free choice can therefore in no way be entirely confirmed in evil.
15. Bernard says: “It is impossible for the will not to obey itself.” But sin and a good act are committed by willing. It is therefore impossible that free choice should not be able to will good if it wished. But whatever a person can do if he wishes is not impossible. It is therefore not impossible for anyone having the free choice of will to do good.
16. Charity is stronger than the cupidity which attracts us to sin, because “charity loves the law of God more than cupidity loves thousands in gold and silver,” as the Gloss says” in comment upon the words of the Psalm (118:72): “The law of thy mouth is good to me, above thousands of silver and gold.” But the demons and even men have fallen from charity into sin. So much the more, then, can they return from sin to an attachment to good. Thus the conclusion is the same as before.
17. The goodness and rectitude of the will are opposed to its obstinacy. But the demons and the damned have a good and correct will, because they desire what is good and the best: “to be, to live, and to understand,” as Dionysius says. They therefore do not have a free choice obstinate in evil.
18. Anselm traces out the common nature of free choice in God, in the angels, and in men. But God’s free choice cannot become obstinate in evil. Then neither can it in angels and in men.
To the Contrary
1. The misery of the damned is opposed to the happiness of the blessed. But it is a property of the happiness of the blessed that they have a free choice so strengthened in good that they can by no means turn aside to evil. It is therefore also a property of the misery of the damned that they are so confirmed in evil that they are by no means capable of good.
2. Augustine expressly says the same thing.
3. There is no means of return from sin to good other than by repentance. But repentance does not take place in a bad angel. He is therefore unalterably confirmed in evil.—Proof of the minor: Repentance does not seem to take place in one who sins from malice. But an angel has sinned from malice, because, having an intellect like God’s, when he considers anything he at the same time beholds everything which pertains to that thing; and so he cannot sin except with certain knowledge. Repentance therefore does not take place in him.
4. In the words of Damascene, “the fall is the same for the angels as death for men.”But after death men are incapable of repentance. Then so too are the angels after the fall.—Proof of the minor: Augustine says that, because there will be no room for conversion after this life for those who depart without grace, no prayers are to be offered for them. Thus it is evident that after death men are not capable of repentance.
On this question we find that Origen has erred. He held that after a long, course of time the way would lie open for both demons and damned men to return to justice; and he was led to affirm this because of the freedom of choice. Now this opinion has been disliked by all Catholics, as Augustine says, not because they begrudged the demons and damned men their salvation, because it would seem necessary to say with equal reason that the justice and glory of the blessed angels and men is at some time to come to an end. For a verse in Matthew (25:46) makes clear at the same time that the glory of the blessed and the misery of the damned will be everlasting: “And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.” And Origen seems to have been of this opinion also. It must therefore be simply granted that the free choice of the demons is so hardened in evil that it cannot return to right willing.
The basis for this conclusion is to be sought in the cause of deliverance from sin. Now two things concur in this deliverance: divine grace working as the principal agent, and the human will cooperating with grace; for according to Augustine “He who created you without you, will not justify you without you.” The cause of obduracy in evil is therefore to be found partly in God and partly in free choice. It is to be found in God, not as causing or preserving evil, but as not bestowing grace. And indeed His justice demands this, for it is just that those who have not been willing to will rightly when they could, should be brought to such a pass of misery that they are altogether unable to will rightly. On the part of free choice, however, the cause of the possibility or impossibility of turning away from sin is to be found in the things by means of which man falls into sin. Now, since there is naturally in any creature the desire for good, no one is led to commit a sin except by some appearance of good. Though a fornicator, for instance, knows in general that fornication is evil, nevertheless when he consents to fornication he judges that fornication is good for him to commit at the time.
In this judgment three influences are to be taken into account. The first is the surge of passion, such as concupiscence or anger, by which the judgment of reason is hindered from actually judging in particular what it habitually holds in general, but is moved rather to follow the inclination of passion so that it consents to that to which passion is tending as good in itself. The second is the inclination of habit, which is a sort of nature for the one having it. The Philosopher says, for instance, that custom is a second nature; and Tully says that virtue accords with reason after the manner of a nature, and in the same way a habit of vice inclines one as a sort of nature to what agrees with it. The result is that to the one who has the habit of lust whatever fits in with lust as being of the same nature seems good. This is the Philosopher’s meaning when he says that “each person judges of the end in accordance with his own character.” The third is a false judgment of reason in regard to a particular object of choice. It comes either from one of the two influences mentioned above, the surge of passion or the penchant of habit, or else from a universal ignorance, as when one is of the erroneous opinion that fornication is not a sin.
Against the first of these influences free choice has a remedy whereby it can abandon sin. He in whom the surge of passion occurs has a right judgment of the end, and the end is equivalently a principle in matters of operation, as the Philosopher says.By means of the true judgment which he has of the principle, a man can do away with any errors that he may have fallen into regarding his conclusions. In the same way by being rightly disposed regarding the end, he can do away with every surge of passion. The Philosopher accordingly says that an incontinent man who sins because of passion is capable of repentance and remedy.
Against the penchant of habit there is likewise a remedy. No habit corrupts all the powers of the soul. Consequently, when one power is corrupted by a habit, a man is led by any rectitude that remains in the other powers to ponder and to take action against that habit. If, for example, someone has his concupiscible power corrupted by the habit of lust, he is urged by the irascible power to attempt something hard, and its exercise will take away the softness of lust. Thus the Philosopher says: “A wicked person who is brought to better practices will advance and become better.”
Against the third influence too there is a remedy. What a man assents to he assents to in a rational manner, by way of inquiry and comparison. Consequently, when reason errs in one respect, from whatever source the error may have come, it can be removed by contrary reasonings. This is why a man can abandon sin.
In an angel, however, sin cannot be from passion, because, as the Philosopher says, passion is only in the sensitive part of the soul, which an angel does not have. In the sin of an angel, therefore, only two influences concur: a habitual inclination to the sin and a false judgment of the cognitive power about a particular object of choice. Now, since angels do not have a multiplicity of appetitive powers as men have, when their appetite tends to something, it inclines to it altogether, so that it does not have any inclination drawing it to the contrary. And because they do not have reason but intelligence, whatever they judge, they accept in the manner of understanding. But whatever is accepted in the manner of understanding is accepted irreversibly, as when one accepts the proposition that every whole is greater than its part. As a consequence angels cannot put aside a judgmenf which they have once accepted, whether it be true or false.
It is therefore clear from what has been said that the cause of the confirmation of the demons in evil depends upon three factors, to which all of the reasons assigned by the doctors can be reduced. The first and principal one is the divine justice. There has accordingly been assigned as the cause of the obstinacy of the demons that, because they have not fallen through the instrumentality of anyone else, they should not rise through the instrumentality of anyone else~and any other such reason based upon congruity with divine justice. The second factor is the indivisibility of the appetitive power. In this connection some say that, because an angel is simple, it turns entirely to whatever it turns to. This must not be understood of the simplicity of its essence, but of a simplicity excluding the distinction of different powers of the same genus. The third is intellectual knowledge. This is the cause assigned by some who say that the angels have sinned irremediably because they have sinned against an intellect like God’s.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Something is said to be natural in two ways: (1) A sufficient principle exists from which it follows necessarily unless something interferes. In this sense it is natural for the element earth to move downward. And this is the Philosopher’s meaning when he says that nothing which is against nature is permanent. (2) Something is called natural for a thing— because it has a natural inclination to it, although it does not have within itself a sufficient principle from which it necessarily follows. In this sense it is said to be natural for a woman to conceive a son though she cannot do so without receiving the male see. Now nothing prevents what is contrary to nature in this sense from being permanent, as that a particular woman should remain permanently without issue. But it is in this second sense that it is natural for free choice to tend to good, and also to sin against nature. The argument therefore proves nothing.
Or the answer may be given that, although sin is against nature for a rational mind as it was established, yet inasmuch as it has already adhered to sin, sin has become in some sense natural for it, as Augustine says. The Philosopher also says that, when a man passes from virtue to vice, he becomes in a way another man because he takes on, as it were, another nature.
2. The situation is different for a corporeal nature and for a spiritual nature. A corporeal nature is determinately of a single genus. Consequently nothing else can be made natural to it without entirely corrupting its nature. Thus heat cannot be made natural to water unless the species of water is destroyed. And because its heat is not natural, when the obstacle is removed, the water returns to its own nature. But a spiritual nature is created undetermined and capable of becoming all things in its secondary act of being. Thus it is said in The Soul, “The soul is in some sense all things.” By adhering to something it is made one with it, as the intellect in some sense becomes the intelligible object by understanding it, and the will becomes the object of appetite by loving it. And so, although the inclination of the will is naturally directed to one determined object, the contrary can be made natural to it by love to such an extent that it does not return to its original disposition unless some cause brings this about. In this way sin is made as it were natural to the one who clings to sin. Hence nothing prevents free choice from remaining permanently in sin.
3. The essential cause of sin is the will, and by it sin is preserved. Although in the beginning the will was equally determinable to sin or to good, after it submitted to sin, sin became in a sense natural to it. As a consequence, as far as depends upon itself it remains unalterably in it.
4. The necessity of remaining in sin is reduced to God as its cause in two senses: (1) from the point of view of His justice, as has been said, inasmuch as He does not confer healing grace; (2) inasmuch as He established such a nature, which was also capable of sinning and had from the condition of its own nature the necessity of remaining in sin after having submitted to it.
5. Since sin has been made in some sense natural to the rational mind, the necessity in question will not be one of force but one of a quasi-natural inclination.
6. The power of preserving the rectitude of one’s will when one has it is in everyone having free choice, as Anselm says. But the demons and other damned cannot preserve it since they do not have it.
7. Free choice is not susceptible of degrees in’so far as it is said to be free from force. But when freedom from sin and from misery is taken into account, it is said to be freer in one state than in another.
8. An effect of nature is always natural. For this reason the motion and action of nature always terminate in a natural rest. But the action and motion of the will can terminate in a natural effect and natural rest inasmuch as the will and art help nature. A motion can accordingly be voluntary while at the same time the effect or the rest consequent upon it is natural and has a natural necessity. Thus from a voluntary blow death follows as natural and necessary.
9. If the intellect of an angel accepts some false judgment, it is unable to set it aside for the reason given above. The argument is therefore based upon a false supposition.
10. Even though something is deprived of its proximate end, it is not as a consequence altogether useless, because it still retains its ordination to its ultimate end. Accordingly, even though free choice is deprived of the good operation to which it is naturally destined, it is still not without purpose, because this very fact turns to the glory of God, who is its ultimate end, inasmuch as His justice is thereby manifested.
11. A sin is not committed through free choice except by the choosing of an apparent good. In any sinful action there accordingly remains some good, and in this respect freedom is preserved. If the aspect of good were taken away, the act of free choice, choosing, would cease.
12. The ability to do good is not essential to free choice as belonging to its primary existence, but rather as belonging to its secondary existence. But Hugh is speaking of essentials with reference to primary existence.
13. That argument is speaking of the natural in the sense of that which belongs to the constitution of a nature, not in the sense of that to which the nature is ordained. But it is in the latter sense that it is natural to be able to do good.
14. The sin which comes to free choice does not take away any of its essentials, because in that case the species of free choice would not remain. But something is added by sin—the coupling of free choice with a perverse end; and this becomes in a sense natural to it. It thereby has necessity, like the other things which are natural to free choice.
15. In some sense the will always obeys itself, so that, however a man wills what he wills, he wills that he will it. But in another sense it does not always obey itself, inasmuch as a person does not perfectly and efficaciously will what he wishes that he perfectly and efficaciously willed, as Augustine explains.Nor does it follow that, if the will of the demons obeys itself, it is for that reason not confirmed in evil, because it cannot possibly will that it efficaciously will good. Hence, even if the conditional proposition were true, it would not follow that the apodosis is possible, since the protasis is impossible.
16. In itself charity is more powerful than sin if the two are compared as had under the same conditions; that is, if for both of them we take the free choice either of one who has reached his final state or of one who is still on the way. One in the final state of wickedness, however, is more firmly established in evil than one going along in the way of charity is established in charity. Now the demons either never had charity, as some hold; or, if they ever had it, they never had it except as being on the way. Damned men, however, could not similarly have fallen except from the grace proper to wayfarers.
17. That argument proceeds on the supposition of the goodness and rectitude of the nature itself, not the goodness and rectitude of free choice. The appetite by which demons desire good and the best is an inclination of their very nature, not one by the election of free choice. Such a rectitude is consequently not opposed to the obstinacy of free choice.
18. Anselm is searching for that element in the nature of free choice which is common to God, to angels, and to men on the basis of a very broad analogy. It is therefore not necessary that likeness be found from the standpoint of all the special conditions.
24: Free Choice
In the eleventh article we ask:
Can the free choice of man in this present life be obstinate in evil?
[Parallel readings: I Sent., 40, 4, 2; In Matt., c. 13, lect. 2, §1 (P 10: 124b- 125a, 127ab); S.T., III, 162; In II Cor., c. 4, lect. 2 (P 13:318a); S.T., I-II, 79, 3; In Joan., c. 12, lect. 7, §3 (P 10: 520a); In Rom., c. 9, lect. 3 (end) (P 13:98ab).]
It seems that it can, for
1. Whatever is inflicted because of the deserts of fallen nature is present in all before the reparation of fallen nature. But the sin of fallen nature is deserving of obstinacy, as the Gloss says in commenting upon the Epistle to the Romans (9:18). Hence every man before reparation in this present life is obstinate.
2. A sin against the Holy Spirit in all its species can be found in a person in this life. But obstinacy is a species of sin against the Holy Spirit, as is taught in the Sentences.Consequently a person in this present life can be obstinate.
3. No one in the state of sin can return to good unless there remainss in him some inclination to good. But whoever falls into mortal sin lacks all inclination to good; for a person sins mortally through an inordinate love; but according to Augustine3 in spirits love is like weight in bodies. A heavy body is so inclined in one direction, as a stone downward, that it retains no contrary inclination—e.g., upward. Then neither does a sinner retain any inclination to good. Whoever sins mortally is accordingly obstinate in evil.
4. No one withdraws from the evil of guilt except by repentance. But according to the Philosopher one who sins through malice is incapable of repentance, because he is corrupted in regard to the principle in matters of choice, namely, the end. Consequently, since it happens that a person in this present life may sin from malice, it seems that it is possible for man in this life to be obstinate in evil.
5. It was said in answer that, although such a person is incapable of repentance by his own powers, he can nevertheless be brought back to repentance by the gift of divine grace.—On the contrary, when something is impossible from the viewpoint of lower causes even though it could be done by a divine operation, we say that simply speaking it is impossible; for example, that a blind man should see or a dead person rise. If, then, someone is not capable of repentance by his own powers, he should simply be said to be obstinate in evil, even though he could be brought to repentance by the divine power.
6. Every sickness that works against its cure seems to be incurable, as the physicians say. But a sin against the Holy Spirit works against its cure, divine grace, by which a person is freed from sin. A person in this present life can therefore have an incurable spiritual sickness, and can accordingly be obstinate in evil.
7.In support of this seems to be the fact that a sin against the Holy Spirit is called unforgivable (Matthew 12: 3 1). But that is a sin which some people in this life commit.
8. Augustine and Gregory assign as the reason why the saints will not pray for the damned in the day of judgment that the damned cannot return to the state of justice. But there are some in the present life for whom we are not to pray, as is written in the first Epistle of St. John (5: 16): “There is a sin unto death: for that I say not that any man ask”; and in Jeremiah (7: 16): “Therefore do not thou pray for this people There are therefore some in this present life so obstinate that they cannot return to the state of justice.
9. It belongs to the misery of the damned to be confirmed in evil, just as it belongs to the glory of the saints to be confirmed in good. But a person in this present life can be confirmed in good, as was shown above. With equal reason, then, it seems that a person in this life can be obstinate in evil.
10. Augustine speaks to the effect that the angels are endowed with greater capabilities than man. But after sinning the angels could not return to justice. Then neither can man; and so man in this life can be obstinate.
To the Contrary
1. Concerning the Epistle to the Romans (2:4-5) Augustine says, and is quoted in the Gloss: “That impenitence or impenitent heart cannot be judged as long as a person is living in this flesh; for we are not to despair of anyone so long as the patience of God leads him to repentance.” And so it seems that no one in this present life is obstinate in evil.
2. It is written in the Psalm (67:23): “I shall turn to the depth of the sea,” i.e., to those who are the most desperate. And so those who seem to be the most desperate in this life are sometimes converted to God and God to them.
3. On the words of the Psalm (147:6): “He sendeth his crystal... the Gloss comments: “Crystal means the obstinate, by whom He feeds others; that is, He makes them such that they feed others with the word of God.” And so the same is to be concluded as before.
4. A sickness can be incurable either because of the nature of the sickness or because of the lack of skill of the physician or because of the indisposition of the patient. But the spiritual sickness of a man in this life, sin, is not incurable from the nature of the sickness; for he has not arrived at the term of malice. Nor again is it incurable because of the lack of skill of the physician, because God has the knowledge and ability to cure. Nor again is it incurable because of the indisposition of the man, because he can rise by another’s means just as he has fallen by another’s means. Man in this present life can therefore by no means be confirmed in evil.
Obstinacy implies a certain firmness in sin by reason of which a person cannot turn from sin. Now the inability to turn from sin can be understood in two senses:
In the first sense the person’s own powers are not sufficient to free him entirely from sin. It is in this sense that anyone who falls into mortal sin is said to be unable to return to justice. But from this sort of firmness in sin a person is not properly called obstinate.
In the second sense he has a firmness in sin such that he cannot even cooperate in rising from sin. But this inability can be of two kinds: (1) It is such that he is unable to cooperate at all. This is the perfect obstinacy by which the demons are obstinate. For their minds are so hardened in evil that every motion of their free choice is ‘inordinate and sinful. They can accordingly in no way prepare themselves to have the grace by which sin is remitted. (2) It is such that the person is not able easily to cooperate in his deliverance from sin. This is the imperfect obstinacy by which a person can be obstinate in this present life, as long as he has a will so hardened in sin that there do not arise in him any except weak motions to good. Nevertheless, because some arise, the way is open by their means to prepare for grace.
The reason why no one can be so obstinate in evil in this life that he is unable to cooperate in his liberation is clear from what has been said.For passion is dissipated and repressed; habit does not wholly corrupt the soul; and reason does not cling so stubbornly to what is false that it cannot be led away from it by a contrary argument. But after this present life the separated soul will not understand by receiving anything from the senses, nor will it engage in the act of the sense appetitive powers. The separated soul is thus conformed to the angels in the manner of understanding and in the indivisibility of its appetite, which were seen to be the causes of the perfect obstinacy in the sinful angels. Hence there will be obstinacy in the separated soul for the same reason. In the resurrection, moreover, the body will follow the condition of the soul; and so the soul will not return to its present state, in which it must necessarily receive something from the body, though it will use bodily instruments. Consequently, even then the same reason for obstinacy will remain.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The sin of fallen nature is said to be deserving of obstinacy inasmuch as the same sin is deserving of everlasting damnation. For by the deserts of the first sin the whole human nature became subject to damnation, except that some should be snatched from it by the grace of the Redeemer. But this does not mean that a man is obstinate immediately from his birth, nor that he is damned with final damnation.
2. That argument is speaking of imperfect obstinacy, by which a person is not absolutely confirmed in evil. Such an obstinacy is a species of sin against the Holy Spirit.
3. Augustine compares love to weight because both incline. It is not necessary, however, that there be likeness in all respects. It consequently does not follow that one who loves something has no inclination to the contrary, except perhaps in the case of perfect love, such as the love of the saints in heaven.
4. One who sins from malice is said to be incapable of repentance, not because he cannot repent at all, but because he cannot easily repent. He does not perfectly repent upon the urging of reason alone, because this urging proceeds from a principle, the end, regarding which the sinner is corrupted. He can, however, be led to repent by gradually growing accustomed to the contrary. He can be led to this customary attitude both by reason of the manner of judging, because he comes to a judgment rationally and more or less by comparison, and also because his whole appetitive power does not tend to a single objective. From this familiarity he will get a correct conception of the principle, that is, the appetible end. The Philosopher accordingly says: “Neither in speculative matters nor in operative can reasoning teach principles; but virtue, whether natural or acquired by habit, is the reason why we have a correct opinion about the principle.”
5. When a lower nature is able to dispose things for some operation or in any way cooperate in it, that operation is not called simply impossible even though it cannot be achieved except by divine action. We do not say, for instance, that it is simply impossible for the offspring in the womb of the mother to be animated by a rational soul. In the same way, although deliverance from sin takes place by the divine action, nevertheless, because free choice also cooperates in this, it is not said to be simply impossible.
6. Although one who sins against the Holy Spirit works against the grace of the Holy Spirit because of the inclination of sin, yet, because he is not wholly corrupted by this sin, there remains some motion, though weak, by which he can cooperate in some way with grace; for he does not always actually resist grace.
7. A sin against the Holy Spirit is not called unforgivable in the sense that it cannot be forgiven in this life, but because it cannot easily be forgiven. The reason for this difficulty is that the sin in question goes directly contrary to grace, by which sin is remitted.—Or it is called unforgivable because, being committed out of malice, it does not have in itself the cause of its forgiveness, as does a sin committed out of weakness or ignorance.
8. We are not forbidden to pray for sinners, however great, in this life. But in the words of the Apostle which were quoted, the meaning is that it is not the business of anyone and everyone to pray for those hardened in sin but of a perfect man.—Or the Apostle is speaking of a sin unto death, that is, which continues all the way up to death. In the words of the prophet, however, the people in question are shown to have been in the just judgment of God unworthy of obtaining mercy, but not to have been altogether obstinate in evil.
9. Confirmation in good is brought about by a divine gift. Consequently, nothing prevents its being granted to some people in this life as a special privilege even though they are not confirmed in good in the same way as the blessed in heaven, as was said above. But this cannot be said of confirmation in evil.
10. From the very fact that the angels were endowed with greater capabilities it follows that immediately after their first choice they were obstinate in sin, as is clear from what has been said..It is not Augustine’s intention, however, to prove that man is obstinate in sin, but that he lacks the power to rise from sin by himself.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the twelfth article we ask:
Can free choice in the state of mortal sin avoid mortal sin without grace?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 22, 5 ad 7; 24, 1 ad 10 & 12; II Sent., 20, 2, 3 ad 5; 24,1,4 ad 2; 28, a. 2; S.T., III, 160; In I Cor., c. 12, lect. 1 (P 13:251b-252a); In Hebr., c. 10, lect. 3 (P 13:751a); S.T., I-II, 63, ad 2; 74,3 ad 2; 109, 8; De malo, 3, 1 ad 9.]
It seems that it cannot, for
1. In the Epistle to the Romans (7:15) it is said: “For I do not that good which I will; but the evil which I hate, that I do.” This is said in the person of the damned, as the Gloss says in commenting on this passage. Hence a man without grace cannot avoid sin.
2. Actual mortal sin is more serious than original sin. But a person in original sin, if he is an adult, cannot avoid sinning mortally without grace; for in that case he would avoid damnation to the pain of sense, which actual mortal sin merits. Since in the case of adults there is no mean between that damnation and the glory of eternal life, it would accordingly follow that he could obtain eternal life without grace. But that is the Pelagian heresy. Even less, then, can a person in the state of mortal sin avoid mortal sin unless he receives grace.
3. On the words of the Epistle to the Romans (7:20): “Now if I do that which I will not...” the Gloss quotes the comment of Augustine: “This is a description of man living under the Law and prior to grace. For man is bound by his sins as long as he tries to live justly by his own strength without the help of liberating grace, which frees the free choice so that it trusts in its liberator and so does not sin against the Law.” But to sin against the Law is to sin mortally. It therefore seems that a man without grace cannot avoid mortal sin.
4. Augustine says that evil has the same relation to the soul as crookedness has to the lower leg, and that the act of sin is like limping. Now limping cannot be avoided by one having a crooked leg unless the leg is first made straight. Neither can mortal sin be avoided, then, by one who is in sin unless he first be freed from sin by grace.
5. Gregory says: “A sin which is not wiped out by repentance soon by its weight pulls the person into another.” But sin is wiped out only by grace. Without grace, then, a sinner cannot avoid sin.
16. According to Augustine, fear and anger are passions and sins. But man cannot avoid passions by his free choice. Then neither can he refrain from sinning.
7.What is necessary cannot be avoided. But some sins are necessary, as is clear from the words of the Psalm (24:17): “Deliver me from my necessities.” Consequently man cannot avoid sin by his free choice.
8. Augustine says: “When flesh lusts against the spirit there is some sin.” But it is not within the power of free choice to have flesh not lust against the spirit. Hence the power of free choice does not extend to the avoidance of sin.
9. The possibility of dying is a consequence of the possibility of sinning, for in the state of innocence man could die only in the sense that he could sin. Then the necessity of dying also is a consequence of the necessity of sinning. But in the present state man cannot keep from dying. Then neither can he keep from sinning.
10. According to Augustine” in the state of innocence man could remain upright because he had an uncontaminated nature free from all stain of sin. But that incontamination is not in a sinner destitute of grace. He consequently cannot stand up, but after sinning is under the necessity of falling.
11. To the victor a crown is due, as is evident from the Apocalypse (3: 11). But if anyone avoids sin when he is tempted, he conquers sin and the devil, as appears from the Epistle of St. James (4:7): “Resist the devil, and he will fly from you.” If, then, a person can avoid sin without grace, he will be able to merit a crown without grace. But that is heretical.
12. Augustine says: “When cupidity compels, the will cannot resist.” But cupidity leads to sin. Hence the human will without grace cannot avoid sin.
13. One who has a habit necessarily acts according to the habit. But a person in sin has the habit of sin. It therefore seems that he cannot avoid sinning.
14. According to Augustine, free choice is that by which we choose good with the assistance of grace and evil with its lack. It therefore seems that one who lacks grace always chooses evil by his free choice.
15. Whoever can avoid sin can conquer the world, for no one conquers the world in any other way than by ceasing to sin. But no one can conquer the world except by grace, because “this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith,” as is said in the first Epistle of St. John (5:4). Consequently a person without grace cannot avoid sin.
16. The commandment to love God is affirmative and accordingly so obliges to its observance as place and time demand, that if it is not observed one sins mortally. But the commandment of charity cannot be observed without grace, because “the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts; by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us,” as is said in the Epistle to the Romans (5:5). Without grace, then, a man cannot help sinning mortally.
17. According to Augustine” the precept of mercy to oneself is included in the precept of mercy to one’s neighbor. But a person sins mortally unless he is merciful to his neighbor in a necessity involving bodily death. All the more, then, does he sin mortally unless he has mercy upon himself when he is in sin, by repenting of his sin. And so, unless his sin is wiped out by repentance, a man cannot avoid sinning.
18. The contempt of God is related to sin in the same way as the love of God is to virtue. But every virtuous man must necessarily love God. Then every sinner must contemn God and thus sin.
19. According to the Philosopher, like acts come from like habits. If a man is in sin, then, it seems that he must necessarily produce like acts, that is, acts of sin.
20. Since form is the principle of operation, whatever lacks form lacks the operation proper to that form. But to turn away from evil is the work of justice. Then, since one who is in sin lacks justice, it seems that he cannot turn away from evil.
21. The Master says: “After sin and before the reparation of grace free choice is pressed and conquered by concupiscence and has a weakness for evil. But it does not have grace for good. It can accordingly sin even so as to merit damnation.” And so without grace a person cannot avoid mortal sin.
22. Should it be answered that he is unable not to sin in the sense of not having sin, but he is able not to sin in the sense of not using sinon the contrary, even the Pelagians conceded this, and yet their opinion is censured by Augustine, who says: “The Pelagians say that the grace of God which is given through faith in Jesus Christ, which is neither the law nor nature, exerts its influence only in the remission of sins, not in the avoidance of future sins or in overcoming resistance. But if this were true, in the Lord’s Prayer after saying ‘Forgive us our trespasses’ we should surely not add ‘and lead us not into temptation.’ The former phrase we say in order that sins be forgiven, but the latter, that they be warded off or overcome. We should by no means ask this of our Father who is in heaven if we were able to bring it about by the effort of the human will.”
It therefore seems that the supposed answer is invalid.
23. Augustine says: “The light of truth deservedly abandons the transgressor of the law, and when he is abandoned by it he becomes blind; and it is furthermore necessary for him to stumble and, falling, to be kicked about, and after he has been kicked about, not to rise.” Hence the sinner who is destitute of grace must necessarily sin.
To the Contrary
1. Jerome says: “We say that man is always able to sin or not to sin, so that we always profess that we have free choice.” To say that a man in the state of sin cannot avoid sin is therefore to deny free choice. But this is heretical.
2. If there is a defect in an agent which has it in its power to use or not use that defect, it is not necessary for the agent to fail in its action. If a lower leg which is crooked, for instance, could avoid the use of that crookedness in walking, it could avoid limping. But free choice subject to sin can make use of sin or not, because making use of sin is an act of free choice, which is master of its own action. Consequently, however much it is in sin, it is able not to sin.
3. In the Psalm (118:95) it is written: “The wicked have waited for me to destroy me”; and the Gloss comments: “That is, they have waited for my consent.” A person is therefore not led to commit sin without consenting. But consent is in the power of free choice. A person is therefore able by his free choice not to sin.
4. Because the devil is unable not to sin, he is said to have sinned irremediably. But man has sinned remediably, as is commonly said. He is therefore able not to sin.
5. The passage from one extreme to the other is not made except by going through the mean. But before sin man has the power of not sinning. Therefore after sin he is not led immediately to the other extreme, so as to be unable not to sin.
6. The free choice of a sinner can sin. But it sins only by choosing, since choosing is the act of free choice, just as sight operates only by seeing. But since choosing is the desire of what has been previously deliberated, as the Philosopher says,” it follows deliberation or counsel, which is concerned only with the things which are within our power, as he also says. Therefore to avoid or to commit sin is in the power of a man in the state of sin.
71. According to Augustine, no one sins in doing something which he cannot avoid, because it would then be necessary. If, then, a person in the state of sin could not avoid sin, he would not sin in committing a sin. But that is absurd.
8. Free choice is equally free from constraint before and after sinning. But the necessity of sinning seems to be one of constraint inasmuch as, even if we are unwilling, that necessity is in us. After sin a man therefore does not have the necessity of sinning.
9. All necessity is either that of constraint or that of natural inclination. But the necessity of sinning is not one of natural inclination; for then our nature would be evil, since it would incline us to evil. Consequently, if there were any necessity for sinning in the sinner, he would be constrained to sin.
10. What is necessary is not voluntary. If, then, it is necessary for one who is in sin to sin, sin is not voluntary. But that is false.
11. If a sinner must necessarily sin, this necessity attaches to him only by reason of sin. He can, however, withdraw from sin; otherwise sinners would not be commanded: “Depart, depart, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing,” as is written in Isaiah (5 2: 11).
Opposite heresies have arisen regarding this question. Some, judging of the nature of the human mind after the manner of corporeal natures, have been of the opinion that man does from necessity everything to which they saw there was an inclination of the human mind. For the human mind has two contrary inclinations. One, from the instinct of reason, is to good. Noting this, Jovinian said that man cannot sin. The other inclination is in the human mind from the lower powers, especially as corrupted by original sin. By this the mind is inclined to choose the things which are pleasurable to the carnal senses. Noting this inclination, the Manicheans said that man necessarily sins and cannot in any way avoid sin. Thus both, though by opposite paths, fell into the same inadmissible position, denying free choice; for man does not have free choice if he is driven with necessity to either good or evil. That it is inadmissible is proved by experience, by the doctrines of the philosophers, and by arguments from Scripture, as appears to some extent from what has been said above.
On the other hand there arose Pelagius, who, wishing to defend free choice, opposed divine grace and said that man is able to avoid sin without the grace of God. This error very evidently contradicts the teaching of the gospels, and has therefore been condemned by the Church.
Now the Catholic faith takes a middle course, so saving free choice as not to exclude the necessity of grace.
For the clarification of this point it should be noted that, since free choice is a power established under reason and over the executive and motive power, something is found to be outside the power of free choice for either of two reasons: (1) It exceeds the efficacy of the motive and executive power, which works at the command of free choice. For example, to fly does not fall within the free choice of a man, because it exceeds the power of man’s motive faculty. (2) The act of reason does not extend to it. For since the act of free choice is choosing, which depends upon counsel, that is, the deliberation of reason, free choice cannot extend to anything that escapes the deliberation of reason. Such, for example, would be actions which occur without premeditation.
The avoidance or commission of sin does not exceed the power of free choice for the first reason, because, though the accomplishment of a sin by an external act is carried out by the execution of the motive power, nevertheless the sin is completed in the will by mere consent before the execution of the deed. Consequently free choice is not kept from a sin or its avoidance by the failure of the motive power, even though it is sometimes kept from its execution. This would be the case, for example, when someone wishes to kill or fornicate or steal and cannot.
A sin or its avoidance can exceed the power of free choice for thee second reason, however, inasmuch as a particular sin occurs suddenly and more or less by surprise, thus escaping the election of free choice, even though by directing its attention or efforts to it free choice could commit the sin or avoid it.
Now something can happen in us more or less by surprise in two ways: (1) From a fit of passion. For the movement of anger or concupiscence sometimes anticipates the deliberation of reason. Tending to something illicit by reason of the corruption of our nature, this movement constitutes a venial sin. In the state of corrupt nature it is accordingly not within the: power of free choice to avoid all sins of this sort, because they escape its act, although it can prevent any particular one of those movements if it makes the effort against it. But it is not possible for man continuously to make the contrary effort to avoid movements of this kind on account of the various occupations of the human mind and the rest required for it. This comes about from the fact that the lower powers are not wholly subject to reason as they were in the state of innocence. It was then easy for man to avoid each and every one of these sins by his free choice, because no movement could arise in the lower powers except at the dictate of reason. In his present state, however, man is not, commonly speaking, restored by grace to this harmonious condition; but we look forward to it in the state of glory. In this state of misery, then, even after reparation by grace man cannot avoid all venial sins. This is, however, in no respect prejudicial to the freedom of choice.
(2) Something happens in us more or less by surprise by reason of the inclination of habit; for, as the Philosopher says: “It is more indicative of a brave man to remain fearless and unperturbed in sudden terrors than in those seen coming.” The less an action is from preparedness, the more it is from habit; for a person chooses things seen coming, that is, known ahead of time, by reason and thought even without a habit, but sudden things according to habit. Now this is not to be taken as meaning that an action according to the habit of a virtue can be altogether without deliberation, since a virtue is a habit of choice, but that one having the habit already has the end determined in his choice. Consequently, whenever anything agreeable to that end presents itself, it is immediately chosen unless the choice is blocked by a greater and more attentive deliberation.
A man who is in the state of mortal sin, however, habitually clings to sin. He may not always have the habit of a vice, because from one act of lust, for instance, the habit of lust is not formed; but the will of one sinning has abandoned the unchangeable good and clung to a changeable good as its end, and the force and bent of this clinging remains in it up to the time that it again clings to the unchangeable good as its end. As a consequence, when something to be done which is conformable to the previous choice presents itself to a man so disposed, he straightway goes out to it in a choice unless he holds himself in check by much deliberation. And yet by the fact that he chooses it straightway in this fashion he is not excused from mortal sin, which requires some deliberation, because that deliberation suffices for a mortal sin in which what is chosen is judged to be a mortal sin and against God.
Such a deliberation, however, does not suffice to restrain one who is in the state of mortal sin. For no one is held back from doing anything to which he is inclined except in so far as it is proposed to him as evil; but one who has already repudiated the unchangeable good for a change4ble good no longer considers it an evil to be turned away from the unchangeable good, and mortal sin essentially consists in being so turned away. He is consequently not restrained from sinning by adverting that something is a mortal sin. What is further needed is to go ahead in the consideration until one arrives at something that one cannot fail to judge evil, such as unhappiness or something of the sort. The consequence is that, before as much deliberation as a man so disposed requires to avoid mortal sin, consent to a mortal sin is given.
Given the adherence of free choice to a mortal sin or to an illicit end, it is not in the power of free choice to avoid all mortal sins, though it can avoid any particular one if it resists. For, even though it has avoided this one or that by employing as much deliberation as is required, it is still unable to keep consent to a mortal sin from sometimes stealing up on a person before so much deliberation when he is not ready to deliberate, since it is impossible, because of the many cares with which the human mind is occupied, for a man always or for a long time to remain in such great watchfulness as is required for this. Furthermore, he is removed from this disposition only by grace, by which alone the human mind is made to adhere by charity to the unchangeable good as its end.
It is therefore clear from what we have said that we do not take away free choice, since we say that free choice can avoid or committ any sin taken singly; nor again do we take away the necessity of grace, since we say that man (even one having grace, as long as that grace has not been made perfect in the state of glory), because of the corruption of human nature called “fuel of sin,” cannot avoid all venial sins though he can avoid each one. Since we say, moreover, that a man in the state of mortal sin and deprived of grace cannot avoid all mortal sins unless grace should come to his aid (though he can avoid each one singly) because of the habitual adherence of his will to an inordinate end (referred to by Augustine under the figure of the crookedness of a lower leg which brings on the necessity of limping)—in this way are verified the opinions of the doctors which appear quite different on this question.
Some of them say that without habitual ingratiatory grace man can avoid mortal sin, though not without the divine help by which divine providence guides man to do good and avoid evil. This is true when the person has been willing to make an effort against sin; and as a result of it any single mortal sin can be avoided. Others say that without grace man cannot remain long without sinning mortally. This is true in the respect that man cannot be habitually disposed to sin for a long time without having unexpectedly presented to him a need for action. When that occurs, because of the inclination of the bad habit he slips into consent to a mortal sin, since it is not possible for a man long to be sufficiently attentive to the need of taking pains to avoid mortal sin.
Now because the conclusion to the arguments for either side is to a certain extent true and to a certain extent false, answers to both sets of arguments must be given.
Answers to Difficulties
1. That statement of the Apostle, according to different explanations, can be understood either of mortal sin and the evil of mortal sin if we take Paul to be speaking in the person of a sinner, or of the evil of venial sin as regards the first movements if we take him to be speaking in his own person or in that of other just men. But in either interpretation it must be understood that, though there is a natural will to avoid all evil, a sinner without grace cannot succeed in avoiding all mortal sins, even though he can avoid each one singly; and so he cannot without grace fulfill his natural will. And the same is true of a just man in regard to venial sins.
2. It is not possible for an adult without grace to be only in original sin, because as soon as he has attained the use of free choice, if he has prepared himself for grace, he will have grace; otherwise his very negligence will be imputed to him as a mortal sin. The argument given, moreover, seems to suppose the very difficulty which it adduces. If it is possible for an adult to be in original sin and no other, should he happen to die at that instant, he will be midway between the blessed and those who are being punished with the pain of sensewhich is the difficulty which the argument itself adduces. In order that no force may be attributed to this argument, it should be observed that there is in original sin a habitual aversion from the unchangeable good, since the man having original sin does not have his heart joined to God by charity; and consequently, as far as the habitual aversion goes, the same is to be said of one in original sin and of one in mortal sin, though in mortal sin there is added to this an habitual conversion to an undue end. Furthermore, it does not follow that if someone should escape damnation by his free choice, he can for that reason by the strength of his free choice attain glory; for that is something more. And the rejoinder about man in the state of innocence is obvious.
3. Man without grace is bound by sin so that he acts contrary to the law, because, even though he can avoid this or that sin by a contrary effort, he still cannot avoid all sins, for the reason already given.
4. Augustine’s example about the crookedness of the leg is not parallel in some respects, because it is not within the power of the leg to make use of crookedness or not, and so every movement of the crooked leg must be a limp. But free choice can make use of its crookedness or not; and so it is not necessary for it to sin in every one of its acts, but it can sometimes avoid sin. But the example is parallel in this, that it is not possible to avoid all sins, as has been said.
5. Although a sin not wiped out by repentance leads to another sin by giving an inclination, it is not necessary for free choice always to obey that inclination, but in an individual act it can make efforts against it.
6. Fear and anger, as passions, are not mortal sins but venial; for they are first movements.
7. Sins are said to be necessary inasmuch as not all can be avoided, though each singly can.
8. When flesh lusts against the spirit it is a vice, but one of venial sin.
9. The necessity of sinning either venially or mortally accompanies the necessity of dying except in the privileged persons, Christ and the Blessed Virgin; but the necessity of sinning mortally does not, as is clear of those having grace.
10. [The answer to this is lacking].
11. A crown is given to one who entirely conquers the devil and sin. But a man who avoids one sin while continuing in another, being a slave, is not a victor except perhaps in a certain respect. He therefore does not deserve a crown.
12.Cupidity cannot be understood absolutely to compel free choice, which is always free from force. But it is called compelling because of the vehemence of the inclination, which can still be resisted, though only with difficulty.
13. Free choice can make use of a habit or not. It is accordingly not necessary for a person always to act according to a habit, but he can sometimes also act contrary to it, though with difficulty. While the habit lasts, however, the person cannot by any chance remain long without acting according to the habit.
14 When grace is lacking, free choice can of itself choose evil. It is not, however, necessary that without ingratiatory grace it always choose evil.
15. It does not follow that by avoiding sin a person conquers the world, unless he is altogether free from sin, as was said above.
16. A commandment is observed in two ways: (1) Its observance merits glory. In this sense no one can observe the commandment in question or any other without grace. (2) Its observance averts punishment. In this sense it can be observed without ingratiatory grace. It is observed in the first way when the substance of the act is fulfilled along with the appointed manner, which is supplied by charity. In this sense the commandment to love is not so much a commandment as the end of the commandment and the form of other commandments. It is observed in the second way when only the substance of the act is fulfilled. This undoubtedly happens even in one who does not have the habit of charity. For according to the Philosopher” even an unjust man can do something just.
17. That argument is not to the point. Granted that a man would commit a new sin in not having mercy upon himself by preparing himself for repentance, he is still able to avoid this sin, since he can prepare himself. Nor does a sinner necessarily commit a new sin whenever he does not have mercy upon himself by repenting, but only when for some special reason he is obliged to this.
18. A man of virtue is able not to love God actually but to act in a contrary fashion, as appears when he sins.
19. Although habits always produce acts like themselves, the one who has a habit can still enter upon an act contrary to the habit, because he does not always have to make use of the habit.
20. A man who lacks justice can perform an imperfect act of justice, which is to do something just—and this by reason of the principles of natural law implanted in reason. But he cannot perform an act of perfect justice, which is to do something just in a just manner. An unjust person can accordingly sometimes turn aside from evil.
21. The statement of the Master is not to be understood as meaning that it is necessary for a man in the state of mortal sin to succumb to every temptation, but that, unless he is freed from sin by grace, he will fall into some mortal sin at some time.
22. It is necessary for us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer not only that past sins be forgiven but also that we be freed from future sins, because, unless a man is freed by grace, he must necessarily sometimes fall into sin in the manner mentioned, though he can avoid this or that sin by striving against it.
23. It is necessary for a man abandoned by the light of grace to fall at some time; but it is not necessary for him to succumb to every temptation.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
1. It would be prejudicial to the freedom of choice if we could not avoid sin by making an effort to the contrary. It is not, however, prejudicial to this freedom if a man cannot succeed in being constantly careful to resist sin. But when a man is not careful about this, he is drawn by his habitual inclination to what agrees with the habit.
2. Because free choice has the mastery over its own act, it can, when it takes the trouble, not make use of its own defect. But since it is impossible for it always to take the trouble, the consequence is that it sometimes fails in its act.
3. Mortal sin is not committed without the consent of free choice. But consent follows the habitual inclination unless a great deal of deliberation is exercised beforehand, as has been said.
4. A man is said to have fallen remediably because he can find a remedy in the help of grace even though the power of his free choice is not sufficient for this.
5. To be unable to sin and to be unable not to sin are contraries, but to be able to sin and not sin falls between them. The supposition of the argument is therefore false.
6. Choosing and deliberating are concerned only with what is in our power; but, as is said in the Ethics, “what we do through friends we somehow do through ourselves.” Free choice can accordingly have choice and deliberation not only about the matters for which its own power suffices but also about those for which it needs divine help.
7. A person in the state of mortal sin can avoid all mortal sins by the help of grace. He can also avoid them singly by his own natural power, though not all. It therefore does not follow that in committing a sin he does not sin.
8. The necessity of sinning does not impose any constraint upon free choice. For even though a man cannot by himself free himself from that necessity, he can nevertheless to some extent resist that to which he is said to be necessitated, inasmuch as he can avoid individual sins, though not all.
9. Sin becomes in some sense natural to the sinner, for a habit works in the one who has it like a sort of nature. The necessity which is had from a habit, then, is reduced to a natural inclination.
10. According to Augustine, something can be necessary and still voluntary. The will, for instance, necessarily abhors misery; and it does so because of a natural inclination. It is to such a natural inclination that the inclination of a habit is likened.
11. A man in the state of sin can by no means free himself from a sin which he has already committed except by the help of grace; for, since sin consists fin’ aversion, he is not freed from it unless his mind clings to God by charity, which does not come from free choice but is poured into the hearts of the saints by the Holy Spirit, as is said in the Epistle to the Romans (5:5).
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the thirteenth article we ask:
Can a person in the state of grace avoid mortal sin?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 24, 14; 27, 5 ad 3; II Sent., 29, expos. text.; S.T., I-II, 109, 9; In Psalm. 31:7 (P 14:258b).]
It seems not, for
1. No one has to ask of God what he can do by himself. But however much grace a person has, he must ask of God that he be freed from future sins. In the second Epistle to the Corinthians (13:7) the Apostle, addressing the faithful and the saints, accordingly says: “Now we pray God, that you may do no evil.” Hence even those having grace cannot avoid sin.
2. Even those having grace must say the Lord’s Prayer. Now in that prayer the petition is made that man may persevere without sin, according to the interpretation of Cyprian, as Augustine reports. A person having grace therefore cannot of himself avoid mortal sin.
3. Perseverance is a gift of the Holy Spirit. But it is not within the power even of a person having grace to have the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Since abstaining from mortal sin up to the end of one’s life belongs to perseverance, it therefore seems that even a person having grace cannot avoid mortal sin.
4. The defect of sin is related to the existence deriving from grace as nothingness is reloted to natural existence. But a creature, which has obtained natural existence from God, cannot keep itself in natural existence without falling into nothingness unless it is conserved by the hand of its Creator. Consequently, a person who has obtained grace likewise cannot of himself keep from falling into mortal sin.
To the Contrary
1. In the second Epistle to the Corinthians (12:9) it is written: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Now it would not suffice if mortal sin could not be avoided by its means. A man can therefore avoid mortal sin by means of grace.
2. This is seen from the words of the Master: “After reparation before a man is confirmed in good he is pressed by concupiscence, but lie is not conquered. He has, to be sure, weakness in regard to evil, but grace in regard to good. As a result he is able to sin because of his freedom and weakness, and he is able not to sin mortally because,of his freedom and helping grace.”
It is one thing to say that someone can abstain from sin and another to say that he can persevere until the end of his life in abstaining from sin. When it is said that someone can abstain from sin, emphasis is placed only upon the negation, as meaning that someone is able not to sin. And, when there is question of mortal sin, anyone in the state of grace is able to do this, because there is no habitual inclination to sin in one who has grace. Rather there is in him a habitual inclination to avoid sin. As soon as anything is presented to him under the aspect of mortal sin, therefore, because of his habitual inclination he refuses it consent, unless he makes an effort to the contrary, following his concupiscence. But there is no necessity of following it, even though he cannot avoid having some movement of concupiscence arise entirely preceding the act of free choice. Because, then, he cannot help having such movements, he is not able to avoid all venial sins. But because in him no movement of free choice precedes full deliberation, drawing him to sin as by the inclination of a habit, he is therefore able to avoid all mortal sins.
But when it is said that he can persevere in abstaining from sin up to the end of his life, the emphasis is placed upon something affirmative, meaning that a person places himself in a state such that sin cannot be in him; for in no other way could a man make himself persevere by the act of hie free choice than by making himself impeccable. This, however, does not fall within the power of free choice, because the motive and executive power does not extend to this. Consequently, a man cannot be the cause of his own perseverance, but is under the necessity of begging for perseverance from God.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The Apostle prayed that they do no evil in view of the fact that they could not succeed in persevering in abstinence from evil except with divine help.
2. The same is to be said in answer to this.
3. Perseverance is spoken of in two senses: (1) Sometimes it is a special virtue; and so it is a habit whose act is to have the determination to persevere unshakably. In this sense everyone who has grace has perseverance, even though he is in fact not going to persevere until the end. (2) Perseverance is taken as a particular circumstance of virtue designating the permanence of virtue up to the end of life. In this sense perseverance is not in the power of one who has grace.
4. When we speak of nature we do not exclude the things by which nature is kept in existence. In the same way, when we speak of grace we do not exclude the operation of God conserving grace in existence. Without God’s operation a person is not able to continue either in natural existence or in the existence deriving from grace.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the fourteenth article we ask:
Is free choice capable of good without grace?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 28, a. 1; and as in art. 13, especially S.T., I-II, 109, 9.]
It seems that it is, for
1. A commandment is not given about something impossible. Jerome says in this respect: “Cursed is he who says that God has commanded man to do anything impossible.” But man is commanded to do good. Man is therefore able to do good by his free choice.
2. No one should be reprimanded if he does not do what he is not able to do. But a man is justly reprimanded if he omits doing good. Hence man is able by his free choice to do good.
3. Man is able by his free choice to avoid sin to some extent, at least as regards a single act. But it is good to avoid sin. Man can therefore do something good by his free choice.
4. Everything is more capable of what is natural to it than of what is against its nature. But free choice is naturally ordained to good, and sin is against its nature. It is therefore more capable of good than of evil. But it is capable of evil by itself. Much more, then, is it capable of good.
5. A creature retains a likeness to the Creator by reason of the vestige, and much more by reason of the image. But the Creator can do good by Himself. Then so too can a creature, especially free choice, which pertains to the image.
6. According to the Philosopher, it is by the same causes that virtue is destroyed and engendered. But by free choice virtue can be destroyed, because mortal sin, which a man can commit of his free choice, destroys virtue. By his free choice, then, man is capable of engendering the good which is virtue.
7. In the first Epistle of St. John (5:3) it is said: “His commandments are not heavy.” But what is not heavy man can do by his free choice. Man can therefore of his free choice fulfill the commandments, and that is good above all.
8. According to Anselm free choice “is the power of preserving the rectitude of the will for its own sake. But the rectitude of the will is preserved only by doing good. A person can therefore do good by his free choice.
9. Grace is stronger than sin. But grace does not so bind free choice that man cannot commit sin. Then neither does sin so bind free choice that a man in the state of sin cannot do good without grace.
To the Contrary
1. In the Epistle to the Romans (7:18) we read: “For to will, is present with me; but to accomplish that which is good, I find not.” Man therefore cannot do good by his free choice.
2. Man can do good only by an external or an internal act. But free choice does not suffice for either; for, as is said in the Epistle to the Romans (9: 16): “It is not of him that willeth”; i.e., to will, which refers to the internal act, [is not in his power]; “nor of him that runneth”; i.e., to run., which refers to the external act; “but of God that sheweth mercy.”Free choice without grace can therefore in no way do good.
3. Commenting on the words of the Epistle to the Romans (7:15): “The evil which I hate, that I do,” the Gloss says: “Man wills good naturally, to be sure; but this will always is without effect unless God’s grace has strengthened his act of willing.” Without grace, then, man cannot accomplish any good.
4. The thought of good precedes the doing of good, as the Philosopher makes clear. But man cannot think anything good by himself; for it is said in the second Epistle to the Corinthians (3:5): “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves.” Hence man cannot do good by himself.
Nothing acts outside the limits of its own species. But everything can act according to the requirements of its species, since nothing is deprived of its proper activity.
Now there are two kinds of good, one which is proportioned to human nature, and another which is beyond the ability of human nature. If we are speaking of acts, these two kinds of good do not differ in the substance of the act but in the manner of acting. Take, for instance, the act of giving alms. It is a good proportioned to human powers in so far as a man is moved to it by a certain natural love or kindness; but it is beyond the ability of human nature in so far as a man is led to it by charity, which unites man’s heart to God.
It is apparent that without grace free choice is incapable of the kind of good which is above human nature; and—because it is by this kind of good that man merits eternal life—it is apparent that man cannot merit without grace. The kind of good which is proportioned to human nature, however, man can accomplish by his free choice. Augustine accordingly says that man can cultivate fields, build houses, and do a number of other things by his free choice without actual grace.
Although man can perform good actions of this kind without ingratiatory grace, he cannot perform them without God, since nothing can enter upon its natural operation except by the divine power, because a secondary cause acts only by the power of the first cause, as is said in The Causes. This is true of both natural and voluntary agents. Yet it is verified in a different way in either case.
In natural beings God is the cause of their natural operation inasmuch as He gives and conserves the intrinsic principle of their natural operation, and from that principle a determined operation flows of necessity. In the element earth, for example, He conserves its heaviness, which is the principle of its motion downward. But man’s will is not determined to any particular operation but remains indifferent in regard to many. It is thus in some sense in potency unless it is moved by an activating principle, which is either something presented to it from the outside, such as an apprehended good, or something which works within it interiorly, as God Himself. Augustine explains this, showing that God works in the hearts of men in many ways. All external motions, moreover, are also governed by divine providence, according as God judges that someone is to be aroused to good by stich and such particular actions. Should we wish, accordingly, to call the grace of God, not a habitual gift, but the very mercy of God by which He interiorly moves the mind and arranges external conditions for man’s salvation, in this sense also man cannot do any good without God’s grace. But commonly speaking, we use the name of grace for a habitual gift which justifies. It is accordingly clear that each set of reasons comes to a conclusion in some sense false. Consequently answers must be given to both.
Answers to Difficulties
1. What God commands is not impossible for man to observe; for the substance of the act can be observed by his free choice; and the prescribed manner—by which the act is raised above the ability of nature, that is, in so far as it is done from charity, can be observed by a gift of grace, though not by man’s free choice alone.
2. A man who does not fulfill the commandments is rightly reprimanded, because it is by reason of his negligence that he does not have the grace by which he can observe the commandments even as to the manner (since he could, even without grace, observe them as to their substance).
3. By performing an act that is good generically man avoids sin, though he does not merit a reward. Consequently, even though man can avoid a particular sin by his free choice, it still does not follow that he is capable of any meritorious good by his free choice alone.
4. By his free choice man is capable of a good which is natural to him; but a meritorious good is above his nature, as has been said.
5. Although in a creature there is a likeness to the Creator, it is not perfect. Such a likeness is exclusively proper to the Son. It is therefore not necessary that whatever is found in God be found in a creature.
6. The Philosopher is speaking of political virtue, which is acquired by acts; not of infused virtue, which is the only principle of a meritorious act.
7. As Augustine says, the commandments of God are understood to be easy for love but hard for fear. It accordingly does not follow that they can be fulfilled perfectly by anyone but a person having charity. Though a person without charity could fulfill a particular one as to its substance and with difficulty, he could not fulfill all, just as he could not avoid all sins.
8. Though free choice can keep the rectitude which it has, it cannot keep it when it does not have it.
9. Free choice does not need to be bound for it to be incapable of meritorious good, since this is beyond its nature, just as a man is incapable of flying even if he is not bound.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
The answers to these are clear, because they are either arguing on the basis of meritorious good, or they show that man can do no good without the operation of God.
Q. 24: Free Choice
In the fifteenth article we ask:
Can man without grace prepare himself to have grace?
[Parallel readings: II Sent., 5, 2, 1; 28, a. 4; IV Sent., I7, 1, 2 sol. 2; C.G., III, 149; In Hebr., c. 12, lect. 3 (P 13:778a); Quodl. I, (4), 7; S.T., I, 62, 2; I-II, 109, 6; In Joan., c. 1, lect. 6 (P 10:302b-303a).]
It seems that he can, for
1. It is useless to exhort a man to something which he is unable to do. But man is exhorted to prepare himself for grace (Zacharias 1: 3): “Turn yet to me... : and I will turn to you.” Man without grace can therefore prepare himself for grace.
2. This is seen from the words of the Apocalypse (3:20): “If any man shall... open to me the door, I will come in to him.” It appears, then, that it is man’s business to open his heart to God—which means to prepare himself for grace.
3. According to Anselml the reason why a person does not have grace is not that God does not give it, but that man does not accept it. But this would not be true if man were not able without grace to prepare himself to have grace. Man can therefore by his free choice prepare for grace.
4. It is written in Isaiah (1:19): “If you be willing, and will hearken to me, you shall eat the good things of the land.” It accordingly depends upon man’s will to approach God and be filled with grace.
To the Contrary
1. It is written (John 6:44): “No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him.”
2. It is said in the Psalm (47:3): “Send forth thy light and thy truth: they have conducted me...”
3. In praying we ask of God to convert us to Himself, as is shown in the Psalm (84:5): “Convert us, O God our saviour...” But it would not be necessary for man to ask this if he could by his free choice prepare himself for grace. It therefore seems that without grace man cannot do so.
Some say that man cannot prepare himself to have grace except through a gratuitous grace. But this does not seem to be true if by a gratuitous grace they mean some habitual gift of grace; and this for two reasons:
(1) Because the whole reason for speaking of the preparation necessary for grace is to point out some sort of reason on our part why ingratiatory grace is given to some and not to others. Now if there cannot even be this preparation for grace without some habitual grace, either that grace is given to all or it is not. If it is given to all, it does not seem to be any different from a natural gift; for there is no respect in which all men are found to agree except in what is natural; but even natural gifts can be called graces inasmuch as they are given to man by God without any previous merits on man’s part. If they are not given to all, however, we shall have to return to the preparation again and for the same reason posit some other grace, and so on to infinity. And so it is better to stop at the first stage.
(2) Because to prepare oneself for grace is just another way of saying: to do what one is capable of—as it is commonly said that, if a man does what he is capable of, God gives him grace. But a man is said to be capable of that which is within his power. If, then, a man is not able by his free choice to prepare himself for grace, to do what one is capable of will not mean to prepare oneself for grace.
If, on the other hand, those who hold this opinion mean by gratuitous grace the divine providence by which a man is mercifully directed to good, then it is true that without grace man cannot prepare himself to have ingratiatory grace. And this is evident for two reasons:
(1) Because it is impossible for a man to begin to will something originally unless there is something to move him. It is as the Philosopher explains when he says that the movements of animals after rest must be preceded by other movements by which the soul is aroused to action. Thus, when a man begins to prepare himself for grace by turning his will to God for the first time, he must be brought to this by some external occasions, such as an external admonition or a bodily sickness or something of the sort, or else by some interior instinct, as God works in the hearts of men, or even in both ways together. All of this, however, is taken care of for man by divine providence; and so it comes about by divine mercy that man prepares himself for grace.
(2) Because not any movement whatsoever of the will is a sufficient preparation for grace, just as not any sorrow whatsoever suffices for the forgiveness of sins, but it must occur in a definite manner. And this cannot be known by man, since even the gift of grace surpasses human knowledge. The manner of preparation for a form cannot be known unless the form itself is known. But whenever a definite manner of acting which is unknown to the agent is required for doing something, he needs someone to govern and direct him.
It is accordingly evident that free choice cannot prepare itself for grace unless it is divinely directed to this end. And because of the two reasons given, God is supplicated in two different ways in the Scriptures to work this preparation for grace in us: (1) By asking that He convert us, turning us from the state in which we were to Himself, as when it is written (Psalm 84:5): “Convert us, 0 God, our salvation.” This is because of the first reason. (2) By asking that he direct us, as when it is written (Psalm 24:5): “Direct me in thy truth.” This is because of the second reason.
Answers to Difficulties
1. We are told to turn to God because we can do this, but not without divine help. We accordingly beg of Him (Lamentations 5:21): “Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted.”
2. We can open our hearts to God, but not without His help. For this reason we beg of Him (2 Machabees 1:4): “May he open your heart...”
3-4. The same is to be said in answer to these; for man can neither prepare nor will unless God brings this about in him, as has been said.