Question Twenty-Nine: The Grace of Christ
Is there created grace in Christ?
For Christ’s human nature to be united personally to the Word is habitual grace required?
Is the grace of Christ infinite?
Does the grace of headship belong to Christ in His human nature?
Is any habitual grace required in Christ for Him to be the head?
Could Christ merit?
Could Christ merit for others?
Could Christ merit in the first instant of His conception?
The question is about the grace of Christ,
and in the first article we ask:
Is there created grace in Christ?
[Parallel readings: III Sent., 13, 1, 1; In Joan., c. 3, lect. 6, §4 (P 10:357b-358a); S.T., III, 7. 1; Comp. theol., 1, 2 13 & 214.]
It seems that there is not, for
1. By created grace a man is said to be an adopted son of God. But according to the saints’ Christ was not an adopted son. He therefore did not have created grace.
2. Where there is a union of one thing with another through its essence, there is no need of union through a likeness. Thus for knowledge there is required a union of the knower with the thing known; and yet when things are in the soul through their essence, in order to be known they do not need to be in the soul through a likeness. But God is really united to the soul of Christ by His essence in the unity of the person. There is consequently no need of His being united to it through grace, that is, through a likeness.
3 We do not need grace for actions which we can perform by our natural powers. But Christ was able to attain glory by His natural powers; for He is the natural Son, and if the Son, then the heir also. Now since grace is imparted to minds for the purpose of attaining glory, it therefore seems that Christ had no need of created grace. 4 A subject can be understood without an accident. But if grace was in Christ, it was an accident. Christ can therefore be understood without grace; and when He is so understood, either eternal life is due Him or not. If it is, then grace will be added to no purpose. If not, since eternal life is due to adopted sons because they are sons, it seems that adoptive sonship is worth more than natural sonship. But that is untenable.
5. Whatever is good by its essence does not need participated goodness. But Christ is good by His essence, because He is true God. He therefore does not need grace, which is a. participated goodness.
6. Uncreated goodness surpasses the goodness of grace more than the light of the sun surpasses that of a candle. But since uncreated goodness was in Christ through the union, it therefore seems that He did not need grace.
7. The union of the divinity to Christ is either sufficient for Him or not. If it is not, the union in question will be imperfect; but if it is sufficient, the addition of grace would be superfluous. Now nothing superfluous is found in God’s works. Christ therefore did not have created grace.
8. One who knows something with a nobler kind of knowledge, such as that had through a demonstrative medium, does not need to know the same thing with a less noble kind of knowledge, as through a probable medium. But Christ was good with the noblest goodness, which is uncreated goodness. He therefore did not need to be good by a less noble sort of goodness, namely, created goodness.
9. An instrument does not need a habit for its operation, especially if the agent whose instrument it is has perfect power. But the humanity of Christ is a kind of “instrument of the divinity” which is united to it, as Damascene says. Since the divine power is most perfect, it seems that the humanity of Christ did not need grace.
10. It is not necessary for anything to be added to one who has the fullness of all goodness. But Christ’s soul had the fullness of all goodness because the Word, the treasure-house of all goodness, was united to it. It was therefore not necessary for the goodness of grace to be added to it.
11. That by which something is made better is nobler than the thing itself. But no creature is nobler than the soul united to the Word. Then Christ’s soul cannot be made better by any created grace; and so created grace would be useless in it.
12. The image of God in us is twofold, as is gathered from the Gloss in its comment upon the words of the Psalm (4:7): “The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us.” One is that of creation, which consists in the mind considered as one essence with three powers. The other is that of re-creation, viewed from the standpoint of the light of grace. Now either the image of grace is more like God than the image of Christ’s mind, or not. If it is more like God, then grace is a nobler creature than Christ’s soul. If it is not more like God, then by its means the mind of Christ would not come any closer to conformity with God—which is the purpose for which grace is infused into the mind. Grace would therefore be held to be in the soul of Christ in vain.
13. If effects are incompatible, they will have incompatible causes. just as the unifying and the breaking up of a field of vision, for instance, are mutually incompatible, so also are white and black. But natural sonship, whose principle is eternal birth, is incompatible with adoptive sonship, whose principle is the infusion of grace. Thei11nfused grace is also incompatible with eternal birth; and since eternal birth applies to Christ, it therefore seems that He did not have infused grace.
To the Contrary
1. It is written in John (1: 14): “We saw... [Him] full of grace and truth.” But in Christ there was created knowledge, to which truth refers. Then there was also created grace.
2. Merit requires grace. But Christ merited for Himself and us, as the saints Say. Christ therefore had created grace, for it is not attributable to the Creator to merit.
3. Christ was at the same time a wayfarer and a possessor. But the perfection of a wayfarer is created grace. Christ therefore had created grace.
4. No perfection found in other souls was missing from Christ’s, since it is the most perfect of all. But the souls of saints have not only the perfection of nature but also that of grace. Both kinds of perfection were therefore found in Christ.
5. The relation of grace’ to the wayfarer is the same as that of glory to the possessor. But in Christ, who was both wayfarer and possessor, there was created glory, because He enjoyed the divinity by a created act. Consequently there was created grace in Him.
It is necessary to hold that there was created grace in Christ. The reason for this necessity can be gathered from the two different kinds of union with God which a soul can have: one consequent upon existence within a single person, which belongs uniquely to the soul of Christ; and another consequent upon an operation, which is common to all who know and love God.
The first kind of union is not sufficient for beatitude without the second, because not even God Himself would be blessed if He did not know and love Himself; for He would not take pleasure in Himself, as is required for beatitude. For the soul of Christ to be blessed, then, it requires besides its personal union with the Word also a union through its operation, that it may see God by His essence and, seeing Him, rejoice. Now this surpasses the natural ability of any creature and is proper to God alone according to His own nature. Something must therefore be added to the nature of Christ’s soul by which it is ordained to the beatitude in question. We call this grace. It is therefore necessary to hold that there was created grace in Christ’s soul.
This shows the inanity of a certain opinion which affirmed that the higher part of Christ’s soul did not have habitual grace but was united immediately to the Word and from this union grace flowed into the lower powers. For if it refers to personal union, then not only the higher part of Christ’s soul but the whole soul is united to the Word. But if it refers to union by operation, then habitual grace is required for this kind of union, as has been said.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Attributes of such a kind as to belong to a person by reason of personality itself cannot be predicated of Christ if they are incompatible with the properties of an eternal person, which is the only kind of person in Him. An example would be the name creature. But things which belong to a person only by reason of his nature or a part of his nature can be predicated of Christ, even though they imply some incompatibility with an eternal person. This is because of the duality of natures. Examples would be to suffer, to die, and the like. Now sonship refers primarily to the person, whereas grace refers to the person only by reason of the mind, which is a part of the nature. Thus adoptive sonship by no means applies to Christ, though having grace does.
2. That argument is valid when union by essence and union by likeness are ordained to the same end. But that is not true, in the matter at hand. The real union of the divinity with Christ’s soul is ordained to personal unity, whereas the union by the likeness of grace is ordained to the enjoyment of beatitude.
3. Beatitude is natural to Christ according to His divine nature, but not according to His human nature. For this reason He has need of grace.
4. Should it be asserted that Christ’s soul did not have grace, then uncreated beatitude will belong to Christ inasmuch as He is the natural Son, but not the created beatitude which is due to adopted sons.
5. Christ is good by His essence in His divine nature but not in His human nature. It is with reference to the latter that He needs the participation of grace.
6. The light of the sun and of a candle are ordained to the same end, but not the union of the divinity to the soul of Christ by nature and that by grace. Thus there is no parallel.
7. The union of the divinity with Christ’s soul is sufficient for its purpose. It does not follow, however, that the union of grace is superfluous, because it is ordained to something else.
8. Both the nobler and the less noble knowledge are ordained to the same end, the cognition of a thing. But that is not the case in the question at issue. Hence the conclusion does not follow.
9. An instrument can be of either of two kinds: one inanimate, which is acted upon and does not act, such as an ax, and such an instrument does not need a habit; the other animate, as a slave, which acts and is acted upon, and this kind needs a habit. Christ’s humanity is the latter kind of instrument of the divinity.
10. The fullness of all goodness was, by reason of its personal union with the Word, united to Christ’s soul, not formally but personally. For this reason it needed to be informed by grace.
11. No creature is better, simply speaking, than the soul united personally to the Word; but if we speak in a qualified way, nothing prevents it. Color was nobler than His body in a certain respect, namely, as being its act. In the same way Christ’s grace is better than His soul inasmuch as it is its perfection.
12. Grace is more like God in a certain respect, inasmuch as it is related to Christ’s soul as act to potency. From this point of view Christ’s soul was conformed to God through grace. But in other respects His mind itself is more like God, that is, from the standpoint of natural properties, in which it imitates God.
13. This is to be answered in the same way as the first difficulty.
Q. 29: The Grace of Christ
In the second article we ask:
For christ’s human nature to be united personally to the word is habitual grace required?
[Parallel readings: III Sent., 2, 2, 2. sol. 1; 13, 39 1; Quodl. IX, (2), 2 ad 3; In Colos., c. 2, lect. 2.; S.T., III, 2, 10; 6, 6; Comp. theol., I, 214.]
It seems not, for
1. Before we can understand an accident inhering in a substance, we must understand the substance in the existence of a supposite. But by the union of the human nature with the Word the human nature is established in the existence of a supposite. Since grace is an accident, it seems that the union of the human nature with the Word must be understood before grace. Thus grace is not required for the union.
2. Human nature is capable of being assumed by the Word inasmuch as it is rational. And it does not get this from grace. Then it is not disposed for the union by grace.
3 The soul is infused into the body in order that in it the soul may be perfected with knowledge and virtues, as the Master makes clear. But Christ’s soul is united to the Word before it is to the body; otherwise it would follow that a supposite was assumed, for from the union of the soul with the body a supposite is constituted. The union of Christ’s soul with the Word must therefore be understood before we understand grace in it. Thus grace does not dispose for the union in question.
4. Between the nature and the sup no accident intervenes. But the human nature is united to the Word as to a supposite. Grace therefore does not intervene there as a disposing medium.
5. The human nature is united to the Word not only as regards the soul but also as regards the body. Now the body is not capable of receiving grace. Consequently for the union of human nature to the Word grace is not needed as an intervening disposition.
6. As Augustine says, in miraculous occurrences “the whole reason for the miracle is the power of the miracle-worker.” But the union of human nature to the divine is a miraculous occurrence above all others. It is therefore not necessary to posit a disposition on the part of the miracle, but the power of the miracle-worker suffices. Thus no intervening grace is required.
To the Contrary
1. Augustine says that whatever belongs to the Son of God by nature belongs to the Son of Man by grace. But it belongs to the Son of God by nature to be God. This also belongs to the Son of Man, then, by grace. But this belongs to Him through the union. Therefore grace is required for the union.
2. Union in person is more excellent than union through fruition. But grace is required for the latter union. Then so is it for the former.
The proposition that habitual grace is required for the union in question can be understood in two ways: (1) It is required as a principle causing the union. To hold that the union in Christ is brought about by grace in this sense smacks of the heresy of Nestorius, who held that the humanity is united to the Word in Christ in no other way than on the basis of a perfect likeness in grace. (2) It is required as a disposition. This in turn can be of two kinds: either necessary or suitable—necessary, as heat or rarity is a disposition necessary for the form of fire, because matter cannot be the proper matter for fire unless it is taken together with heat and rarity; or suitable, as beauty is a disposition suitable for marriage.
Some therefore say that habitual grace is a necessary disposition, as making human nature capable of being assumed. But that does not seem to be true. For grace is rather the end of that assumption than a disposition for it. Damascene says” that Christ assumed human nature in order to cure it. But that curing is accomplished through grace. Habitual grace in Christ is accordingly to be understood rather as an effect of the union than as a preparation for that union. This is indicated in the words of John (1: 14): “We saw him as it were the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” as if the fullness of grace belongs to Him by the very fact that He is the Only-begotten of the Father through the union.
Thus habitual grace is not to be understood as a disposition for the union except as suitable. In this sense habitual grace can be called the grace of union, though more fittingly and more in conformity with the meaning of the saints” the grace of union is understood as the very existence in the person of the Word, which is conferred upon the human nature without any previous merits; but for this, habitual grace is not required as it is for the fruition, which consists in an operation; for a habit is not a principle of being but of operating.
Answers to Difficulties
These are obvious from what has just been said.
Q. 29: The Grace of Christ
In the third article we ask:
Is the grace of Christ infinite?
[Parallel readings: I Sent., 17, 2 4 ad 3; 44, 2. 2 ad 3; III Sent., 13, 1, 2 sol. 2, In Joan., c. 3, lect. I, §4 (P 10:3;7b-358b); S.T., III, 7, 11; Comp. Theol., 1, 215.]
It seems that it is, for
1. Everything finite is measured. But the grace of Christ is not measured, because the Spirit has not been given to Christ by measure, as we read in John (3:34). The grace of Christ is therefore infinite.
2. For any finite thing whatsoever God can make a greater. But God could not have given Christ greater grace, as the Master says. Then the grace of Christ is infinite.
3. The answer was given that the grace of Christ is said to be finite, not because God could not give greater grace, but because the soul of Christ was not able to receive greater , for its entire capacity was filled with grace.—On the contrary, according to Augustine “the good of a creature consists in measure, species, and order; and where these three characteristics are great the good is great, and where they are small the good is small. Consequently, as a creature grows in goodness, the measure grows, and as a result the amount of its capacity is increased; for a thing’s measure depends upon its capacity, as Augustine says. Thus the more his grace is increased, the more the capacity in the soul of Christ is increased.
4. Anselm proves that God had to be incarnated because atonement for human nature could not be made except through infinite merit, which could not be that of a mere man. From this it is evident that the merit of Christ as man was infinite. But the cause of merit is grace. The grace of Christ was therefore infinite, because an infinite effect cannot proceed from a finite cause.
5. The charity of a wayfarer can increase to infinity, because however much a man advances in this life, he can always advance still further. Now if the grace of Christ were finite, the grace of some other man could increase to such an extent that it would be greater than Christ’s, and so that man would be better than Christ. But that is inadmissible.
6. The capacity of Christ’s soul is either finite or infinite. If it is infinite, and its entire capacity full, then He has infinite grace. If, on the other hand, it is finite, and for anything finite God can make something greater, then He can make a greater capacity than that had by Christ’s soul; and so He can make Christ better. But that seems to be absurd.
7. It was answered that God could make a greater capacity as far as He is concerned, but a creature would not be able to receive it.—On the contrary, the most excellent creature stands at an infinite distance from God. There are therefore an infinite number of intermediate degrees between God and the most excellent creature. Thus for any created goodness or capacity God can make a better.
8. Nothing finite has power over an infinite number of things. But the grace of Christ had such power, for it had power over the salvation of an infinite number of men and over the effacement of an infinite number of sins. The grace of Christ was therefore infinite.
To the Contrary
1. Nothing created is infinite; otherwise a creature would be equal to the Creator. But the grace of Christ was something created. Therefore it was finite.
2. It is written in Wisdom (11: 2 1): “Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight.” But nothing infinite has definite weight and measure. All things, therefore, which are made by God are finite; and so the grace of Christ is not infinite.
The occasion for the introduction of this question was the Passage in John (3:34): “For God doth not give the Spirit by measure.” We must therefore get an understanding of these words in order to get at the truth of the present question.
There may first of all come to mind an interpretation of those words in which the Spirit is said not to be given to Christ in measure, because the Holy Spirit, who is infinite, filled Christ by means of grace. But that interpretation is not in accord with the meaning of the text. For the words under discussion are introduced in order to distinguish between Christ and John [the Baptist] and all the saints, as the Gloss points out. In that interpretation Christ does not differ in this respect from creatures; for the Holy Spirit, who is the third person of the Trinity, both is infinite in Himself and dwells in each one of the saints.
For this reason another interpretation is set down in the Gloss: the words in question refer to eternal generation, in which the Father gave the Son an infinite nature, so that by “spirit” is understood the spiritual divine nature. The Gloss accordingly says: “That there should be a Son just as great as the Father, the Father begot a Son equal to Himself.” But this meaning does not agree with the words that follow; for the passage continues (John 3: 3 5): “The Father loveth the Son,” so that it is to be understood as if the love of the Father for the Son is the reason for the giving that is spoken of. Nor can it be said that love is the reason for the eternal generation, since personal love is rather from the generation. Essential love, of course, pertains to the will; but we do not grant that the Father begot the Son by will.
Still another interpretation is accordingly given in the Gloss: the statement refers to the union of the Word with the human nature. For the very Word of God, which is the divine wisdom, is communicated to each creature in some definite measure inasmuch as God has spread indications of His wisdom through all His works, according to the words of Sirach (1: 10): “And he poured her (wisdom) out upon all his works, and upon all flesh, according to his gift: and hath given her to them that love him.” But the Word Itself is united to the human nature in Christ fully, without measure, so that by “the spirit” which is not given “by measure” is understood the Word of God. Hence the Gloss explains: “As the Father begot the Word full and perfect, so It is united to human nature full and perfect.” But this interpretation also does not agree in all respects with the following words. For the gift of which the words under discussion speak was made to the Son, as is shown in the words which are added (John 3:3 5): “The Father loveth the Son: and He hath given all things into his hand.” Now by the union nothing has been given to the Son, but it has been given to a man to be the Son.
The words in question therefore seem to refer properly to habitual grace, in which the Holy Spirit is shown to have been given to the soul of Christ, the union by which that man was the Son of God being presupposed. Now this grace, absolutely speaking, was finite; but in a certain sense it was infinite.
To get a clear understanding of this matter we should bear in mind that finite and infinite are taken with reference to quantity, as the Philosopher makes clear. Now there are two kinds of quantity: dimensive, which is referred to extension; and virtual, which is referred to intensity; for the excellence (virtus) of a thing is its perfection, as the Philosopher teaches: “Anything is perfect when it attains its proper excellence”; and the virtual quantity of each form is considered according to the degree of its perfection. Both kinds of quantity are differentiated into many species. Under dimensive quantity are included length, width, and depth, and potentially number. Virtual quantity is distinguished into as many classes as there are natures and forms, whose degree of perfection constitutes all the measure of quantity that they have.
Now it sometimes happens that what is finite as regards one sort of quantity is infinite as regards another. This is easily seen if we take dimensive quantity in both cases, for we can conceive a surface which is finite in width but infinite in length. It is also clear if we take one dimensive quantity and another virtual; for if we conceive an infinite white body, its whiteness will not on this account be infinite in intensity, but only (indirectly) in extension; for something whiter might be found. The same is no less evident if both quantities are virtual; for in one and the same subject different virtual quantities can be taken into consideration on the basis of different formalities of the attributes predicated of this subject. Thus if a thing is called a being, virtual quantity is considered in it with regard to the perfection of existing; and if it is called sentient, this quantity is considered with regard to the perfection of sensing; and so on.
With regard to the formality of existing, then, only that can be infinite which includes all the perfection of existing—a perfection which is capable of being diversified in an infinite number of different modes. In this respect only God is infinite essentially, because His act of existing is not limited to any determined perfection but embraces every mode of perfection to which the formality of being can extend. For this reason He is essentially infinite. This kind of infinity cannot apply to any creature, for the act of existing of every creature is limited to the perfection of its own species. If, then, we conceive of a sentient soul which has in it whatever can contribute in the perfection of sensing in any way whatsoever, that soul will be finite essentially, because its act of being is limited to a particular perfection of existing, namely, sentience, which is surpassed by another perfection, intelligence. Yet it would be infinite as regards the formality of sentience, because its sentience would not be limited to any definite mode of sensing.
In like manner I say of the habitual grace of Christ that it is essentially finite because its act of being is limited to a particular species of being, that of grace; yet it is infinite in the line of grace. For, although a person’s perfection in point of grace can be considered to be of any one of an infinite number of modes, no one of them was wanting to Christ, but He had grace in all the fullness and perfection to which the formality of this species, grace, can extend.
This interpretation [of the words quoted at the beginning of this reply] the Gloss expressly sets down, saying: “God gives the spirit to men by measure, to the Son not by measure; but just as He begot His Son wholly from Himself, so to His incarnate Son He gave His spirit wholly, not in part, not by any subdivision, but universally and generally.” Augustine also says that Christ is the head, in which all the senses are located; but in the saints, to whom the spirit is given by measure, there is only, as it were, the sense of touch.
Thus it must be said that the grace of Christ was finite essentially, but it was infinite in the perfection of the specific formality of grace.
Answers to Difficulties
1. This answer is obvious from what has been said.
2. Because grace is finite essentially but infinite in the line of grace, God can make a better essence than that of grace, but nothing better in the genus of grace, since the grace of Christ includes everything to which the specific formality of grace can extend.
3. The capacity of a creature is predicated on the potency of reception which it has. Now the potency of a creature to receive is of two kinds. One is natural; and this can be entirely fulfilled, because it extends only to natural perfections. The other is obediential potency, inasmuch as it can receive something from God; and such a capacity cannot be filled, because whatever God does with a creature, it still remains in potency to receive from God. Now a measure which increases when goodness increases is determined by the amount of perfection received rather than by that of the capacity to receive.
4. Form is the principle of act; but in so far as it has existence in act, it is not possible for an action infinite in intensity to proceed from a form whose essence is finite. Hence even the merit of Christ was not infinite in the intensity of the act, for He loved and knew finitely. But it had a certain infinity from the circumstance of the person, who was of infinite dignity; for the greater the one who humbles himself, the more praiseworthy his humility is found to be.
5. Even though the charity or grace of a wayfarer can increase to infinity, it can never arrive at equality with the grace of Christ. That something finite can by a continuous increase attain to any finite degree however great, is true if the same sort of quantity is referred to in both of the finite factors (for example, if we compare a line to a line or whiteness to whiteness), but not if different sorts of quantity are referred to. This is evident in dimensive quantity; for no matter how much a line is increased in length, it will never reach the width of a surface.
The same likewise appears in virtual or intensive quantity; for no matter how much the knowledge of one who knows God by a likeness may advance, it can never equal the knowledge of a possessor, who sees God through His essence. Similarly the charity of a wayfarer cannot equal the charity of a possessor; for a person is,differently affected toward things which are present and toward those which are absent. In like manner also, however much the grace of a man who possesses grace in the line of a particular participation may increase, it can never equal the grace of Christ, which is full in every respect.
6. The capacity of Christ’s soul is finite, and God can make a greater capacity and a better creature than the soul of Christ if the latter is separated in thought from the Word. Yet it does not follow that He could make Christ better, because Christ has His goodness from another, that is, from union with the Word, from which point of view His goodness cannot be conceived to be greater.
7. The answer to this is clear from what has just been said.
8. From the circumstance of the person Christ’s soul has power over an infinite number of things; and that is also the source from which His merit has infinity, as was said above.
Q. 29: The Grace of Christ
In the fourth article we ask:
Does the grace of headship belong to Christ in his human nature?
[Parallel readings: III Sent., 13, 2, 1; a. 2 sol. 1; In I Cor., c. 11, lect. 1 (P 13:234b-235b); In Ephes., c. 1, lect. 8; In Coloss., c. 1, lect. 5; S.T., III, 8, 1 & 4; Comp. Theol., I, 214.]
It seems that it does not, for
1. It is characteristic of the head to have an influence upon the members. But Christ in His human nature does not have an influence upon men, that is, not a spiritual influence, because such an influence relates especially to the soul. For, as is brought out in the comment in the Gloss on John 5:2, taken from Augustine, souls are vitalized by the Word of God; bodies, by the Word made flesh. Therefore Christ in His human nature is not the head of the Church.
2. It was said in answer that Christ has an influence upon souls efficiently in His divine nature and dispositively in His human nature. On the contrary, the ministers of the Church, as dispensers of the sacraments, dispose men for spiritual life; for a sacrament is a dispositive cause of grace. But the ministers of the Church are not called the head of the Church. Then neither is Christ as a dispositive cause to be called the head of the Church.
3. The Church would have existed even if man had not sinned, but the Word of God would not have assumed human nature, as is said in a comment in the Gloss upon the words of the first Epistle to Timothy (1: 15): “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” But the Church cannot be without a head. Christ is therefore not the head of the Church in His human nature.
4 It was said that, had man not sinned, Christ would have been the head of the Church inasmuch as He is the Word of God, whereas after that sin He is the head inasmuch as He is the Word made flesh.—On the contrary, for the full reparation of mankind it is required that man should not be indebted for his salvation to anyone to whom he was not previously indebted. For this reason, as Anselm says, reparation could not be made by an angel. But if Christ had been the head of the Church before only as the Word, man would not have been indebted to any creature for his salvation, whereas after his sin he is indebted to Christ in His human nature if Christ is the head in this nature. It would therefore seem that full reparation of mankind has not been effected. But that is inadmissible.
5. The good angels and men belong to one Church. But there is one head of the one Church. Since Christ is not the head of the good angels, who have never sinned and are, moreover, not like Him in nature, it therefore seems that He is not the head of men either in His human nature.
6. The head is a member of the body. Christ, however, is not a member of the Church, so it seems, because to be a member implies partiality and therefore imperfection. Christ is therefore not the head of the Church.
7. According to the Philosopher, “the heart is the source of sensation, motion, and life.” Now if Christ deserves any name by reason of a spiritual influence, it is rather heart than head, particularly since the head undergoes the influence of the heart, whereas Christ does not undergo that of any member of the Church.
8. The Church is the congregation of the faithful. But Christ did not have faith. Then if Christ is the head of the Church, He will not be like the members. But that is contrary to the notion of a head.
9. The head does not come after the members. But many of the members of the Church came before Christ. Consequently Christ is not the head of the Church.
10. The answer was given that, although Christ did not then exist in the real order of things, He did exist in the faith of the fathers.—On the contrary, as head of the Church Christ imparts grace to its members. Now if it fulfills the notion of a head that Christ existed in the faith of believers, it accordingly seems that the supply of grace in the Old Testament was equal to that in the New. But that is false.
11. What does not exist cannot act. But when Christ existed only in the faith of the fathers, He did not have existence in Himself in His human nature. He could therefore not exercise influence, and so could not be the head.
12. Every proposition whose subject is a conceptual being and the predicate is a real being is false; for example, if one were to say that a genus or species runs. But as existing in faith Christ is designated as a conceptual being. Since to be head or to exercise influence implies a real being, it therefore seems that the proposition “As existing in faith Christ is the head of the Church” is false.
13. There is one head of one body. But Christ is the head of the Church in His divinity. Then He is not the head in His humanity.
14. A head does not have a head. But God is Christ’s head (1 Corinthians 11:3). Christ is therefore not the head of the Church.
15. It belongs to the notion of a head to have all the senses that there are in the body, as Augustine points out. But there are some spiritual senses in the Church that are not in Christ, namely, faith and hope. Christ is therefore not the head of the Church.
16. On the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians (1: 2 2): “He hath... made him head...” the Gloss comments: “Things are subjected to Him as their head, from whom they originate.” Now men and angels do not originate from Christ in His human nature but in His divine nature. Consequently Christ is the head of the Church not in His human but in His divine nature.
17. Augustine says that to enlighten souls is an act proper to God alone. It is therefore not proper to Christ in His human nature. Consequently Christ in His human nature is not the head of the Church.
To the Contrary
1. To the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians (1:22): “He hath... made him head over all the church,” the Gloss adds: “in His humanity.”
2. The union of the head with the body is based upon a conformity in nature. Now Christ’s conformity to the Church is not in His divine nature but in His human nature. Therefore Christ in His human nature is the head of the Church.
The term head as applied to spiritual beings is taken in a transferred sense from the head of a physical body. To see in what sense Christ is the head of the Church we must accordingly consider the relationship of a head to the members of a body.
The head is found to stand in a twofold relationship of distinction and conformity to the other members. There is distinction in three respects: (1) in point of dignity, because the head fully possesses all the senses, but the other members do not; (2) in point of government, because the head governs and regulates all the other members in their acts by means of both the external and the internal senses, which have their seat in the head; (3) in point of causality, for the head causes sensation and motion in all the members, and hence physicians say that the nerves Aid everything pertaining to the apprehensive and motive powers of animals originate in the head. The conformity of the head to the members is also found to be threefold: (1) in nature, for the head and the rest of the members are parts of one nature; (2) in order, for there is a union of order between the head and the members inasmuch as the members are of service to each other, as is pointed out in the first Epistle to the Corinthians(12:25); (3) in continuity, for the head is continuous with the other members in a physical body. In accordance with these points of conformity and distinction the term head is attributed metaphorically to different beings in different ways.
There are some things among which there is conformity in nature. To one of these the term head is attributed only by reason of its eminence or dignity. Thus the lion is said to be the head of the animal kingdom, or a certain city is called the head of the realm because of its dignity. Isaiah (7:8), for instance, says: “The head of Syria is Damascus.” Certain other things have mutual conformity in a union of order, being ordained to one end. Among these the term head is attributed by reason of government, which is concerned with the relation to an end. Thus princes are called the heads of the people. For example, it is written in Amos (6:1): “Ye great men, heads of the people...” But where there is continuity, head is predicated by reason of influence, as a spring is called the head of a river.
In these three different ways Christ in His human nature is called the head of the Church. He is of specifically the same nature as other men; and so the name head belongs to Him by reason of His dignity, on the grounds that grace is found more abundantly in Him. In the Church we also find a unity of order, since the members of the Church are of service to each other and are ordained to God; and in this respect Christ is called the head of the Church as its ruler. We also find in the Church a certain continuity by reason of the Holy Spirit, who, being one and numerically the same, fills and unites the whole Church. Christ in His human nature is accordingly called the head by reason of His influence.
In causing spiritual sensation and motion a thing can be understood to be operative in two ways: (1) As a principal agent. In this way it belongs to God alone to pour grace into the members of the Church. (2) Instrumentally. In this way the humanity of Christ also is the cause of that in-pouring. For as Damascene says, just as iron burns because of the fire joined to it, the actions of Christ’s humanity were salutary” because of the divinity united to it, of which the humanity was like an instrument. This seems to be enough for the notion of a head. For even the head of a physical body does not exercise its influence upon the members except by reason of its latent power.
In the second and third respects in which something is called a head Christ in His human nature can be called the head of the angels, and He can be called the head of both angels and men in His divine nature; but not in the first respect, unless we take the community involved to be based on their generic nature, seeing that man and the angels have in common the rationality of their nature; and in addition a community of analogy, seeing that, as Basil points OUt, the Son has in common with all creatures the reception of His nature from the Father, by reason of which He is called “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15).
If, then, we are to speak properly, the whole Christ in both of His natures together is the head of the whole Church in the three respects mentioned. And the Apostle proves that Christ is the head of the Church in these three respects, saying (Colossians 1:18-20): “He is the head of the body, the church— who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy” (referring to government): “because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell” (referring to dignity): “and through him to reconcile all things” (referring to influence).
Answers to Difficulties
1. Vitalizing both souls and bodies is attributed to the divinity of the Word as the principal agent and to the humanity as an instrument. The life of souls, however, is attributed to the divinity of the Word and the life of bodies to the humanity by a kind of appropriation in order to bring out the conformity between the head and the members, in the same way in which the passion is called the cause of the forgiveness of sin, and the resurrection, the cause of justification.
2. The other ministers of the Church neither dispose men for spiritual life nor contribute to it by their own power but do so by the power of another, whereas Christ does this by His own power. This is why Christ could bring about the effects of the sacraments by Himself, for the whole efficacy of the sacraments was in Him as its origin; but the other ministers of the Church cannot do so. Hence they cannot be called the head unless perhaps by reason of governing, in the same sense as any prince is called a head.
3. If we assume the opinion that Christ would not have become incarnate if man had not sinned, then before the sin Christ would have been the head of the Church in His divine nature alone, but since the sin He must be the head of the Church in His human nature as well. For by sin human nature has been wounded and immersed in sensible things so that it is no longer sufficiently suited to the invisible government of the Word. For this reason medicine had to be applied to the wound through Christ’s humanity, through which He made atonement. He also had to assume a visible nature in order that man might be recalled to invisible things through a visible exercise of government.
4. Christ’s human nature takes on a certain infinity in dignity by being united to the divine nature personally. As a result it is not insulting to man to be indebted for his salvation to Christ in His human nature, because the human nature works by the power of the divine, as has been said. Thus we venerate Christ in both His natures with the same veneration, that of latria.
5. Christ is the head of the angels not only in His divine nature but also in His human nature, because even in His human nature He enlightens them, as Dionysius teaches.”Thus He is said in the Epistle to the Colossians (1:16) to be the head of all principalities and powers. Yet Christ’s humanity is related differently to angels than to men in two respects: (1) as to His conformity in nature, being in the same species as men but not as the angels; (2) as to the end of the Incarnation, which was carried out principally for the sake of man’s liberation from sin; and so Christ’s humanity is ordained to the influence which He exercises upon men as the end intended, whereas His influence upon the angels is not the end of the Incarnation but a consequence of the Incarnation.
6. Christ is expressly said by the Apostle (1 Corinthians 12:27) to be a member of the Church: “You are the body of Christ and members of member.” Now He is called a member by reason of His distinction from the other members of the Church, but He is distinguished from the other members by reason of His perfection (because grace is in Christ in its fullness, but not in any one of the others), just as the head of a physical body is distinguished from the other members. Hence there is no need of attributing any imperfection to Christ.
7. The heart is a hidden member, but the head is apparent. By the heart, accordingly, the divinity of Christ or the Holy Spirit can be meant; but by the head, Christ Himself in His visible nature, which is under the influence of the nature of the invisible divinity.
8. Christ had perfect knowledge of the things about which others have faith. Thus as regards knowledge He is conformed to the others as the perfect to the imperfect. That is the sort of conformity that is conceived between the head and the members.
9. Christ as man is the mediator between God and men, as is said in the first Epistle to Timothy (2:5). Now God is said to justify us in two ways: principally by His own action inasmuch as He is the efficient cause of our salvation, and also by our operation inasmuch as He is the end known and loved by us. In the same way, then, Christ as man is said to justify us in two ways: (1) By His own action, inasmuch as He merited and atoned for us. In this respect He could not be called the head of the Church before the Incarnation. (2) By our operation in His regard, in the sense that we are said to be justified by faith in Him. In this respect He could be the head of the Church in His humanity even before the Incarnation. In both ways, moreover, He is the head of the Church in His divinity, both before and after the Incarnation.
10. Because the merit of Christ was not yet actual, nor was there atonement before the Incarnation, there was not the same fullness of grace as there was afterwards.
11. Christ has a claim to the title of head not only by His own action, but also by our action in His regard. The argument therefore proves nothing.
12. The predicates “to be the head” or “to exercise influence” in the sense of “through our operation in His regard, inasmuch as we believe in Him” are not real beings but only conceptual. Hence the conclusion does not follow.
13. “The one Christ is God and man.” Consequently, from the fact that Christ is the head of the Church in His humanity and in His divinity it cannot be concluded that the Church has two heads.
14. We do not say in exactly the same sense that God is the head of Christ and that Christ is the head of the Church. The difficulty is therefore arguing from an equivocation.
15. Whatever perfection there is in faith and hope belongs to Christ in its entirety. Only the imperfection which they contain is denied in His regard.
16. Although in one respect Christ is the head in His divinity, the possibility of His being the head in His humanity in another respect is not thereby removed; for we draw our spiritual origin from Christ in His humanity, as is written in John (1:16): “Of His fullness we have all received.”
17. It is proper to God alone to enlighten souls principally and effectively. It is not in this sense that Christ in His humanity has a spiritual influence upon us, but in another, as has been said.
Q. 29: The Grace of Christ
In the fifth article we ask:
Is any habitual grace required in Christ for him to be the head?
[Parallel readings: III Sent., 13, 3, 2 sol. 1 & 2; In Joan., c. 1, lect. 8, §3 (P 10:308ab); S.T., III, 8, 5.]
It seems that it is not, for
1. The Apostle in writing to the Colossians (1: 19) places the headship in Christ “because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell,” as appears in the passage quoted above. But all the fullness of the divinity dwells in Christ from the union. Besides the union, then, no grace is required for Him to be the head.
2. Christ is the head of the Church in so far as He works for our salvation. But, as Damascene says, the action of His humanity conferred salvation upon us inasmuch as the humanity was in a way “the instrument of the divinity.” Now since an instrument does not require any habit but moves only when moved by the principal agent, it seems that Christ did not require habitual grace in order to be the head.
3. The action of one man can contribute to the salvation of another in two ways: (1) Inasmuch as he acts as an individual person. Then grace is required in order that his action may be meritorious for himself or for another. (2) As a person representing the community. This applies to the ministers of the Church, who work for the salvation of others by administering the sacraments and pouring forth prayers to God in the name of the Church. No grace is needed for this but only a power or state, for such actions are performed not only by good but also by wicked men. Now Christ as head of the Church is considered as a person representing the community, and all the ministers of the Church are His vicars. He therefore had no need of habitual grace in order to be the head.
4. Christ wis the head of the Church because His merit was infinite. Thus He was able to exercise an influence upon all the members of the Church and wipe out their sins. But He did not get the infinity of His merit from habitual grace, which was finite. Christ was therefore not the head by reason of any habitual grace.
5. Christ is the head of the Church inasmuch as He is the “mediator of God and man” (1 Timothy 2:5). But He is the mediator of God and man inasmuch as He is intermediate between God and men, having divinity with God and humanity with men. Now this comes from the union. Consequently the union alone without habitual grace is enough for the headship.
6. One subject has one life. But grace is the life of the soul. In one soul there is therefore one grace; and so in Christ besides the grace which is His as an individual person there is not required any other habitual grace by which He is the head.
7. Christ is the head because He influences the members of the Church. But no matter how much grace He had, He could not influence them unless He were God and man. Consequently no habitual grace by which He is the head is required, but He has this position from the union alone.
To the Contrary
1. There are the words of John (1:16): “Of His fullness we all have received: and grace for grace.” Thus He had some grace by which He in turn poured out grace upon us.
2. The head of the Mystical Body has some resemblance to the head of a physical body. But for the perfection of a physical body it is required that the power of sensation be in the head most fully in order that it can communicate sensation to the members. In Christ too, then, for Him to be the head the fullness of grace is required.
3. Dionysius says that those who have the office of enlightening, perfecting, and cleansing others first have light, cleanness, and perfection themselves. But as head of the Church Christ cleanses, enlightens, and perfects. In order to be the head, therefore, He must have the fullness of grace, by which He is pure, full of light, and perfect.
As Damascene says, the humanity of Christ in some sense “was the instrument of the divinity”; and for this reason His actions could be salutary for us. Inasmuch as it was the instrument of the divinity, then, it had to have a special connection with the divinity.
The closer a substance stands to the goodness of God, the more fully it participates in His goodness, as Dionysius makes clear. Consequently the humanity of Christ also, because it is connected with the divinity more closely than the others and in a more special way, has participated in the divine goodness through the gift of grace in a more excellent way.
As a result there was a fitness in this humanity not only to have grace but also to communicate it to other beings, as the most shining bodies transmit the light of the sun to others. And because in some sense Christ communicates the effects of grace to all rational creatures, this is why He is in some sense the source of all grace in His humanity, just as God is the source of all being. Then, as all the perfection of being is united in God, in Christ the fullness of all grace and virtue is found, and because of it He not only is capable of the work of grace Himself but can bring others to grace. For this reason He has the headship.
In a physical head there is not only the power of sensing, in order that it may sense by sight, hearing, and touch and such senses; but this power is in it in such a way that it is the root from which sensation flows into all the other members. In Christ, accordingly, one and the same habitual grace is called the grace of union as befitting a nature united to the divinity, and the grace of headship as the means by which grace is communicated to others for their salvation, and also the grace of an individual person as perfecting Him for meritorious works.
Answers to Difficulties
1. In Christ two different kinds of fullness are referred to: one, of the divinity, according to which Christ is fully God; and the other, of grace, according to which He is said to be full of grace and truth. It is of this latter fullness that the Apostle speaks in Colossians 1:18-20, and of the former in Colossians 2:9. The second is derived from the first and by it the grace of headship is formally constituted.
2. An inanimate instrument such as an ax does not need a habit; but an animate instrument such as a servant does. The human nature in Christ is such an instrument.
3. A minister of the Church does not act in the sacraments by his own power but by the power of another, that is, Christ. The minister accordingly does not need personal grace but only the authority of orders, by which he is constituted the vicar of Christ. But Christ wrought our salvation by His own power. The fullness of grace was therefore necessary in Him.
4. Although Christ’s merit has a certain infinity from the dignity of the person, it gets its meritoriousness from habitual grace, without which there cannot be any merit.
5. Christ is the mediator between God and men even in His human nature, in so far as He has passibility together with men, and justice together with God. But His justice is in Him by means of grace. For this reason besides the union there is required habitual grace in Christ in order that He may be the mediator and the head.
6. One and the same habitual grace is from different points of view the grace of the head, the grace of an individual person, and the grace of union, as was explained above.
7. Although both natures are required in Christ for Him to be the head, from the union of the divine nature with the human there results in the human nature a certain fullness of grace, which issues in an overflow from Christ the head into others.
Q. 29: The Grace of Christ
In the sixth article we ask:
Could Christ merit?
[Parallel readings: III Sent., 18, a. 2; a. 4 sol. 1-3; a. 5; S.T., III, 19, 3; Comp. theol., I, 231.]
It seems that He could not, for
1. All merit proceeds from free choice, which is undetermined with regard to many things. But in Christ free choice is determined to good. He therefore could not merit.
2. The relation of the one meriting to the reward is the same as that of a recipient to the thing received, because a person merits in order to receive what he merits. But “the recipient must be devoid of the thing received,” as is made clear in The Soul. Then one who merits must be without reward. But that cannot be said of Christ, since He was a true possessor. It therefore seems that Christ could not merit.
3. Whatever is due to someone does not have to be merited. But because Christ was a possessor, impassibility of mind and body was due Him. He therefore did not merit these.
4. Merit does not have to do with events that occur necessarily as if by a natural sequence, because merit concerns that which is voluntarily given by another in return for something as its recompense. But the glory of the body comes from the glory of the soul by a certain natural sequence, as is seen from Augustine. Since Christ was blessed in His soul, enjoying as He did the possession of the divinity, it seems that He could not merit the glory of the body.
5. The saints who are now in glory have glory of soul and not of body, just as Christ had before His passion. But the saints do not now merit the glory of the body. Then neither did Christ.
6. The same thing cannot be the principle and the term of merit, and so the same thing cannot be the reward and the principle of meriting. But the charity which was found in Christ was a part of His reward, because it belonged to the perfection of His beatitude, since by its means He had enjoyment. It could therefore not be the principle of meriting. But all merit is from charity. Consequently there could not have been any merit in Christ.
7. Do away with what goes before, and you do away with what comes after. But before all else merit refers to the blessedness of the soul, which Christ did not merit, because He had it from the instant of His conception. Then neither could He have merited anything else.
To the Contrary
1. On the words of the Psalm (15: 1): “Preserve me, O Lord,” the Gloss comments: “Behold the reward”; and on the words “for I have put my trust in thee” the comment is: “behold the merit.” Christ therefore merited.
2. Whoever is given any recompense in proportion to his deed, merits. But because of the humility of His passion Christ was given the recompense of exaltation, as is shown in the Epistle to the Philippians (2:9): “For which cause, God also hath exalted him...” Therefore Christ merited.
3. Merit is the act of a wayfarer just as enjoyment is that of a possessor. But as a possessor Christ had enjoyment. Then He also merited as a wayfarer.
Christ merited before His passion when He was both a wayfarer and a possessor. This is shown as follows. There are two requisites for merit: the state of one who merits and the ability to merit. For the state of one who merits, the lack of that which is said to be merited is required, though some say that a person can merit what he already has. Thus they say of the angels that they merited their blessedness, which they received simultaneously with grace, by the subsequent actions performed with regard to us.
But this does not seem to be true for two reasons: (1) Because it is contrary to Augustine’s argument, by which he proves against the Pelagians that grace cannot fall under merit because before grace there are no deserts except evil, since before receiving grace man is a sinner and not grace but punishment is what sinners deserve. For if the opinion in question is admitted] it could be said that one merits grace by the deeds which he does after receiving grace. (2) Because it is against the nature of merit; for merit is the cause of reward, not as a final cause (for in this sense the reward is rather the cause of the merit), but rather by reduction to efficient causality, inasmuch as merit makes a man worthy of a reward and in this way disposes him for it. Now anything that is a cause in the line of efficiency can by no means be posterior in time to that of which it is the cause. It is impossible, then, for a person to merit what he already has. If in human affairs someone serves his master in return for a favor received, this is more of the nature of thanksgiving than of merit.
The ability to merit is required both on the part of nature and on that of grace. It is required on the part of nature because no one can merit by his own act unless he has dominion over his act. If he has that dominion he can, as it were, give his act as a price for the reward. Now a man has dominion over his own acts through the power of free choice. The natural ability of free choice is therefore required for meriting. On the part of grace it is required because the reward of blessedness exceeds the capabilities of human nature, and so man is not able to merit it by his unaided natural powers. Grace by which he is enabled to merit is accordingly required.
Now all these conditions for merit were fulfilled in Christ. He was lacking in some of the factors required for perfect blessedness: impassibility of soul and glory of body. By reason of this lack He was a wayfarer. There was in Him, moreover, the ability of nature by reason of His created will, and the ability of grace because of the fullness of grace. He was therefore able to merit.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Although in the line of moral conduct the soul of Christ was determined to one course of action, that is, good, it nevertheless was not determined to one in an unqualified sense; for it could perform this or that particular act or not perform it. He therefore retained the freedom which is required for meriting.
2. He did not merit blessedness of soul, by reason of which He was a possessor, but only the blessedness of body and impassibility of soul. These were lacking to Him.
3. Christ did not merit anything not due Him in such a way that it became due, as men merit in their first meritorious act. Nor again did He merit in such a way that what was due Him should become more due, as occurs in those whose grace increases. But He merited in such a way that what was due Him in one way—by reason of grace—should become due Him in another way—by reason of merit.
4. The glory of the body results from the glory of the soul when the soul is glorified in every respect, both in its relation to God and in its relation to the body. It was not in this way that the soul of Christ was glorified, but only in its relation to God. Inasmuch as it was the form of the body, it was passible.
5. The souls of the saints in their heavenly home are entirely out of the state of wayfarers because they are already blessed both by enjoyment and by impassibility. The soul of Christ was not. There is therefore no parallel.
6. As far as charity itself is concerned, it is always a source of merit; but sometimes it is not in fact a source of merit because of the one who has it, since he is out of the state of meriting. This is seen in the saints in heaven. Christ, however, was not out of the state of meriting, because He was a wayfarer. By the same charity, accordingly, He both enjoyed and merited, as also by the same will. Yet the same thing was not both the source of merit and the reward, because He did not merit glory of soul, to which charity is relevant, but glory of body, as has been said.
7. That argument would prove something if it resulted from any defect on Christ’s part that He could not merit glory of soul. From what has already been said” it is clear that that is false.
Q. 29: The Grace of Christ
In the seventh article we ask:
Could Christ merit for others?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 26, 6 ans. to contr. 4; II Sent., 20, 2, 3 ad 3; III Sent., 18, a. 6 sol. 1; S.T., I-II, 114, 6; III, 19, 4; 48, 1; a. 6 ad 3; Comp. theol., I, 231 & 239.]
It seems that He could not, for
1. Christ merited only inasmuch as He was a man. But other men cannot merit for others condignly. Then neither could Christ.
2. Praise as well as merit depends upon an act of virtue. Now no one is praised for the act of someone else but only for his own. Then neither is the act of someone else imputed to anyone for his merit. Christ’s acts are accordingly not meritorious for others.
3. Because He holds the primacy in the Church, Christ is the Church’s head, as is made clear in the Epistle to the Colossians (1:18). But other prelates who have the primacy in the Church cannot merit for their subjects. Then neither could Christ do so.
4. In itself Christ’s merit is related in the same way to all men. If, then, Christ merited salvation for anyone, He merited it for all. But the merit of Christ cannot be frustrated. All therefore obtain salvation. But that obviously is false.
5. Christ is the head not only of men but also of angels. But He did not merit for the angels. Then neither did He do so for men.
6. If Christ could merit for others, then any one of His acts was meritorious for us—and that means for our salvation. His passion was accordingly not necessary for our salvation.
7. Where one means will get results it is superfluous to use two. But the grace which is given to man is sufficient for man to merit eternal life for himself. It would therefore be superfluous for Christ to have merited it for us.
8. Christ merited for us either sufficiently or insufficiently. If sufficiently, then our merit is not required for our salvation. If insufficiently, then His grace was insufficient. But both of these alternatives are inadmissible. Christ therefore did not merit for us.
9. Something necessary for glory is lacking to Christ’s members now as it was before His passion. Since He does not merit for us now, neither did He then.
10. Had Christ merited for us, our condition would have been changed by His merit. But the condition of man seems to be the same after Christ as it was before. Just as the devil could tempt but not force man before, so too now. As punishment was due to sinners, so too now. As meritorious works were required in the just, so too now. Christ therefore did not merit for us.
11. In the Psalms (61:13) it is written: “Thou wilt render to every man according to his works.” But this would not be so if the merits of Christ were imputed to us. Christ therefore did not merit for us.
12. Reward is meted out in proportion to the root of merit. Now if Christ merited for us, the reward of glory will be given to each one of us in proportion to the quantity of Christ’s grace. But that clearly is false.
13. That which is given on the basis of merit is paid rather than gratuitously given. If, then, Christ merited justification for us, it seems that we are not gratuitously justified by God. Then grace will not be grace. Christ therefore did not merit anything for us.
To the Contrary
1. That Christ atoned for us is expressly said in the first Epistle of St. John (7:2): “He is the propitiation for our sins.” But there cannot be atonement without merit. Christ therefore merited for us.
2. The head in a physical body works not only for itself but also for all the members. Now Christ is the head of His body, the Church. His activity was therefore meritorious for His members.
3. Christ and the Church are in a sense one person. On the basis of that unity He speaks in the name of the Church in the words of the Psalm (21:1): “ God, my God, look upon me,” as the Gloss brings out. Consequently Christ could likewise by reason of that same unity merit in the name of others.
A human action informed by grace has value for obtaining eternal life in two ways that correspond to the two respects in which man falls short of winning glory.
The first respect is the lack of dignity of the person. One who does not have charity, for example, is neither suited nor worthy to have eternal life. In this respect a human action is of value for winning eternal life to the extent that by it a certain dignity and aptness for winning glory is acquired. As an act of sin leads to a certain deformity of the soul, a meritorious act leads to the soul’s adornment and dignity. From this there arises merit that is called condign.
The other respect in which man falls short of winning glory is the interposition of an obstacle, with the result that a man who otherwise is worthy does not win glory. This is the debt of some penalty. A man who is justified, for example, is indebted to pay some temporal penalty. In this respect a human action is related to glory much like the price paid to free a man from a penalty due. Under this aspect the human action has the character of atonement.
In both of these respects Christ’s actions were more efficacious than those of other men. By the actions of other men only the one acting is made suited for the reception of glory, because one man cannot exercise a spiritual influence upon another. As a consequence one cannot merit grace or eternal life for another condignly. But Christ in His humanity could exercise spiritual influence upon other men. His actions could accordingly cause in others suitableness for the winning of glory. He could therefore merit condignly for others, just as He could exercise influence upon others, inasmuch as His humanity was “the instrument of His divinity,” as Damascene teaches.
In the second respect also we can discover greater efficacy in Christ than in other men. Although one man can atone for another provided that the former is in the state of grace, he cannot atone for the whole nature, because the act of one mere man is not equal in value to the good of the whole nature. But the action of Christ, being that of God and man, had a dignity that made it worth as much as the good of the whole nature, and so could atone for that nature.
Answers to Difficulties
1. As man Christ is of greater dignity than other men. It is accordingly not necessary to ascribe to other men whatever belonged to Christ as man.
2. An act of virtue is praiseworthy in its relation to the agent, and so one man cannot be praised for the act of another. But it gets its meritoriousness from its relation to the end, for which a person can be made suited by the influence of Christ. Christ could therefore merit for us.
3. Christ holds the primacy in the Church by His own power, but other prelates hold it inasmuch as they represent the person and take the place of Christ. Christ could therefore merit for the faithful as for His own members, but other prelates cannot do so.
4. Christ’s merit bears the same relation to all men in point of sufficiency, not in point of efficacy. This happens partly from men’s free choice, partly from divine election, through which the effect of Christ’s merits is mercifully bestowed upon some but by a just judgment is withdrawn from others.
5. just as it belongs to a wayfarer to merit, so no one can merit except for a wayfarer, because the one for whom anyone merits must be lacking in some point that falls within the scope of merit. Now angels are not wayfarers with reference to the essential reward, and so Christ did no1, merit for them in this respect. But they are in some sense wayfarers with reference to the accidental reward in so far as they minister to us. In this respect, then, Christ’s merit is of value to them as well. It is accordingly said in the Epistle to the Ephesians (1:10) that through Him are re-established all things that are in heaven and on earth.
6. Although every one of Christ’s acts was meritorious for us, yet to give satisfaction for the debt of human nature, which was made liable to death by the divine sentence, as is seen in Genesis (2:17), He had to undergo death in the place of all.
7. The grace which is given to someone personally is sufficient for the needs of that person himself but not for paying the debt of the whole nature. This is evident in the case of the ancient patriarchs, who, though having grace, were unable because of the debt of the nature to arrive at glory. The merit and satisfaction of Christ was accordingly needed to remove that debt. Furthermore, personal grace was never given to anyone after the sin of the first man except through faith, either explicit or implicit, in the Mediator.
8. The merit of Christ is operative with sufficient efficacy as a universal cause of the salvation of men, but this cause must be applied to each by means of the sacraments and of informed faith, which works through love. Thus something else. besides Christ’s merit is needed for our salvation, though the merit of Christ is the cause of that other factor as well.
9. [The answer to this difficulty is missing.]
10. After the passion of Christ the condition of mankind has been much changed, because, with the debt of human nature paid, men can fly unrestrained to their heavenly home. Moreover, the eternal punishment due for personal sins is remitted by means of faith in the passion of Christ; and the temporal punishment is reduced by the power of the keys, in which the passi6n of Christ is operative. Furthermore, the demons are kept in check by the power of Christ’s passion so that they cannot tempt us so violently, and many helps are given to the faithful for resisting temptation. Finally, as a result of Christ’s passion grace with which to merit is given in the sacraments.
11. Christ and His members are one mystical person. Consequently the works of the head are in some sense the works of the members. Thus, when something is given us on account of Christ’s works, that is not opposed to the statement of the Psalms (61:13): “Thou wilt render to every man according to his works.” And yet Christ’s merits are of profit to us in such a way that through the sacraments they cause in us grace by which we are bestirred to meritorious works.
12. Christ’s merit is related to our reward as a first and remote cause. Our reward is therefore not commensurate to Christ’s merit but to that merit which is its proximate cause, which derives from the act of the one given the reward.
13. The very fact that any one of us obtains the benefit of Christ’s merit is itself gratuitously conferred upon us by God. Consequently grace is not thereby deprived of its essence.
Q. 29: The Grace of Christ
In the eighth article we ask:
Could Christ merit in the first instant of his conception?
[Parallel readings: III Sent., 18, a. 3; S.T., III, 34, 3.]
It seems that He could not, for
1. Deliberation is required for merit. But deliberation takes time. Therefore in the first instant of its creation the soul of Christ could not merit.
2. Not only merit but also demerit depends upon an act of free choice. But the angels could not sin in the first instant of their creation, because they would in that case have been evil at the very instant of their creation. But that is false. Then neither could the soul of Christ merit at the first instant of its creation.
3. Whenever there are two movements of which one is subordinated to the other, it is impossible for both to come to an end at the same instant. But the creation of Christ’s soul and the motion of free choice are subordinated movements, because the motion of free choice presupposes its creation. It is therefore impossible for the motion of free choice to come to an end at the very instant at which creation comes to an end, as soon as the soul is created.
4. The answer was given that Christ’s soul was helped by grace to merit at its first instant.—On the contrary, no grace conferred upon a creature carries it beyond the limits of creaturehood. But it attaches to the soul inasmuch as it is a creature to be unable to have the motion of its free choice at the first instant in which it is, as is evident from the argument given. It therefore cannot be helped by grace to merit at its first instant.
5. Grace perfects the soul after the manner of a habit. Now since a habit presupposes a power, it does not confer upon the soul an unqualified ability to act which it otherwise would not have; it confers rather the ability to act in a given way in which it could not act without the habit. If, then, Christ’s soul in its own nature could not have the use of free choice at the first instant of its creation, it seems that grace did not confer upon it the ability to merit at its first instant.
6. An instant has the same relation to time as a point to a line. But according to the Philosopher, when a being in motion makes use of one point as two, that is, as the beginning of one line and the end of another, there necessarily intervenes a period of repose, as is shown in a reciprocating motion. Now, since the instant it which Christ’s soul was created is taken as the end of creation and as the beginning of the motion of free choice, and so we use one instant as two, it therefore seems that time intervenes. Thus Christ’s soul did not merit at the first instant of its creation.
7. Grace stands to the act of grace as nature to the act of nature. By transposition, then, nature stands to the act of grace as grace to the act of nature. But nature is not capable of an act of grace. Then neither is grace capable of an act of nature. Consequently Christ’s soul at the first instant of its conception could not have had through grace an act which is within its competence by nature, namely, to choose.
8. A form has three acts: it gives being, it distinguishes, and it orients to an end. Now these acts are related in the same way as being, the one, and the good; for being results from the first act, one from the second, and good from the third. A thing is accordingly a being before it is oriented to an end. Now Christ’s soul was oriented to its end by a meritorious act. It is therefore not possible for it to have merited at the first instant of its creation at which it had being.
9. Merit depends upon an act of virtue, which is brought to completion particularly by choice, as the Philosopher teaches. But Christ’s soul could not have had an act of choice at the first instant of its creation; for choice presupposes deliberation, since it is appetency for what has been previously deliberated, as is pointed out in the Ethics. But deliberation takes time, since it is an investigation. Christ’s soul could therefore not have merited at the first instant of its creation.
10. Feebleness of our organs prevents the use of free choice, as is seen in newly born infants. But Christ assumed this feebleness, just as He did the rest of our weaknesses. The soul of Christ therefore did not merit at the first instant of its creation.
To the Contrary
1. At the very instant of His creation Christ was most perfect in soul. But a perfection which is actual as well as habitual is greater than one which is habitual only. There were therefore virtues in Christ not only habitually but also actually at the first instant of His creation. But the acts of the virtues are meritorious. Christ therefore merited at the first instant of His creation.
2. At the first instant of His creation Christ had enjoyment as a true possessor. But enjoyment is had by means of an act of charity. He accordingly had an act of charity at the first instant of His creation. But this act of charity was meritorious in Christ. Therefore we must conclude as before.
3. It was said in answer that the act of charity was not meritorious unless accompanied by deliberation.—On the contrary, deliberation or counsel is not concerned “with the last end, but with the means to it,” as is brought out in the Ethics. But the movement of charity is meritorious particularly inasmuch as it tends to the last end. For this act to be meritorious it therefore does not have to involve any comparison or deliberation.
4. It was said that the motion to the last end is meritorious only in so far as the person relates it to the end. It thus involves a comparison, and that cannot take place in an instant.—On the contrary, the intellectual part of the soul is more powerful in its operation than the sensitive. But as soon as anyone senses, he senses that he is sensing. Consequently, as soon as the will is directed toward God there can be a reference of this motion to God Himself; and so this need not take place successively.
5. Whoever understands anything understands at the same time whatever belongs to its notion; as in understanding man we understand at the same time animal. But of two relative terms each is in the notion of the other. Then whoever understands one relative term at the same time understands the other. It is therefore possible for the mind at one and the same instant to relate the motion of charity to God, referring one to the other. Thus no time is needed in that act.
6. Anselm says that whatever we understand to belong to perfection we must attribute entirely to Christ. But to have a perfect operation at the first instant of one’s creation belongs to perfection. We must therefore attribute it to Christ.
7. As regards the merit of His soul Christ had no room to advance. He would have had, however, if He had not merited at the first instant of His creation. Therefore.
8. The rational power in Christ was no less perfect than the natural power of any other creature. But some of the powers of other creatures can have their operation at the first instant at which they begin to be. A candle, for instance, at the very instant at which it is lighted lights up the air. Consequently Christ’s soul at the first instant of its creation had the act of its rational power, and so it could merit.
9. Gregory says: “The love of God is not inert. If it exists, it does great deeds. If it ceases to do deeds, it is not love.” But Christ had perfect charity at the first instant of His creation. Some act of love was therefore present; and so He had merit at that instant.
10. Something posterior by nature cannot be prior in time, though it may perhaps be simultaneous. Now merit is prior to reward by nature; but at the first instant of His conception Christ had the reward, because He was a true possessor. He therefore had merit at least at the same instant.
On this question there are two opinions. Some” say that Christ did not have merit at the first instant of His conception, but began to merit immediately after the first instant. Others say that He did merit at the very first instant. This latter opinion is the one which seems to be the more reasonable. For we believe that any spiritual perfection which any other creature can possibly have was conferred in its entirety upon the soul of Christ at the first instant of its creation. Now the impossibility of meriting at a given instant could come from either of two sources: (1) from the agent, or (2) from the act.
This could come from the agent because of a lack of either of two capabilities. One is gratuitous. We might, for example, say that in the instant in which someone sins mortally, he cannot merit because he does not have grace. Again it could be because of the lack of a natural capability, as a child at the first instant at which it is conceived cannot merit because it does not have the use of free choice.
Now neither of these reasons is applicable in the matter at hand. For at His first instant Christ had the capability of grace, being full of grace, and also the capability of nature, having the full use of free choice; otherwise He could not have been a possessor. Consequently no impossibility of meriting at the first instant of His conception came from Christ, the agent.
Similarly no such impossibility came from the meritorious act either. That a given act could not be performed at a given instant could come about in two ways: (1) Because that act involves successiveness and so cannot be completed in an instant. Thus local motion cannot take place in an instant. (2) Because the act presupposes certain conditions that cannot precede a definite instant. Thus, if a fire has been kindled out of its proper place, it is impossible for that fire to be in its proper place at the first instant at which it comes into existence, because motion is a prerequisite, and that motion cannot be before the first instant of its existence.
Now in neither of these two ways was Christ prevented from meriting at His first instant. Not in the first, because the motion of free choice upon which merit depends is not successive but simple and instantaneous. Not in the second, because nothing is prerequisite for the motion of the will except the act of the apprehensive power; and that motion is at the same instant as the act of the will, because the apprehended good moves the will; for the mover moves and the being in motion is moved at the same time and with the same motion. In Christ, moreover, the apprehension of the good does not need any previous inquiry in order to reach a certain judgment about the good, because Christ immediately had a true judgment about everything with certitude.
It is evident, then, that there was nothing to keep Christ from meriting at the first instant. It must therefore be granted that at the first instant of His conception He merited.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The term deliberation can imply either of two meanings. The first is the perception by reason in a certain judgment of the matter about which the deliberation is being carried on. From this point of view it can take place in an instant in one devoid of any perplexity about what is to be done. In this sense deliberation found place in Christ. The term can also mean an inquiry or investigation. Then it implies a discourse and cannot take place in an instant. Christ needed no such deliberation, because He was not in doubt about what was to be done.
2. The will of a rational nature is naturally oriented to good, not to evil. It can accordingly at the first instant of its creation, unless prevented, be attracted to good, but not to evil; for it is attracted to evil only through an error which occurs in comparing and investigating. Time for comparing is accordingly needed for evil, but not for good.
3. That argument is valid for successive but not for instantaneous movements. The reason for this is that, when two movements are in sequence, the same instant which is the end of the first movement can be the beginning of the second. Thus at the same instant at which the coming into existence of fire is completed outside its natural place, the local motion of the fire begins, unless there is some impediment,
If the beginning of the second movement and the end of the same movement are the same, as happens in the instantaneous movements, then the end of the second movement occurs at the same instant as the end of the first. Illumination and vision, for example, terminate at the same instant. But if the end of the second movement Cannot be same instant with the beginning of that movement, as happens in all successive movements, then it will be impossible for the end of the second movement to be at the same instant as the end of the first movement. Now since the motion of fret choice is instantaneous, nothing prevents its end from being at the same instant as the end of the creation of Christ’s soul.
4. The answer to this is clear from what has just been said, for it is not beyond the capabilities of a creature that its instantaneous movement should be completed at the first instant.
5. Although the rational power can have its operation at the first instant of its creation as far as it is concerned, yet, if it is taken as coupled with an organ which is not yet suited to a perfection, it is prevented by the defect of the organ from being able to have its operation at that time. But that obstacle was removed from Christ’s soul by grace. On this score it enjoyed through grace the ability to act at its first instant.
6. An instant in time and a point in space are not alike as regards the matter at hand. For a being in motion cannot use as two the same point in space except in the same species of motion; but a being in motion can use as two the same instant of time even as regards different species of motion.
In the same species of motion it is not possible to have continuity of motion if one movement actually ends and the other actually begins, because in this case repose intervenes, and consequently a time. In specifically different motions, however, it is possible for the end of one movement and the beginning of another to coincide, because between them no continuity or order is needed since both can exist together. For instance, while a thing is being moved it can at the same time be whitened, and at the instant at which it begins to become white the local motion ends. Between the parts of the same motion, however, there sometimes is an order, with the result that the two parts cannot exist together. In that case the end of one part does not coincide with the be inning of the other part if both are taken as actual. It is evident, then, that the use of one instant as two does not demand an intervening time, as does the use of one point as two in local motion.
7. Since grace perfects nature it does not have the same relation to nature as nature to grace. When a proportion is transposed it does not hold good in all matters but only in continuous and discrete measures.
8. That argument holds for the order of nature, not for the order of time. This is clearly shown from the fact that at the very same instant the form gives being, orients, and distinguishes.
9. Deliberation is required for choice when the person is not certain in regard to the things to be done. But that does not apply to Christ.
10. Christ did not assume any defects that could result in the imperfection of grace and of knowledge. Such a defect is the unsuitability of one’s organs for the activity of the soul. Christ therefore did not assume this defect, but His organs were strengthened by grace so that they were suited for the operation of the soul, as would perhaps also have happened in the state of innocence.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
We concede these arguments because they arrive at true conclusions even though some of them do not do so by adequate reasons.