Actual and Habitual
A Dogmatic Treatise
The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph Pohle, Ph.D., D.D.
Formerly Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Joseph's Seminary, Leeds (England), Later Professor of Fundamental Theology at The Catholic University of America
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Imprimatur Introduction Part I. Actual Grace Chapter I. The Nature Of Actual Grace Section 1. Definition Of Actual Grace Section 2. Division Of Actual Grace Chapter II. The Properties Of Actual Grace Section 1. The Necessity Of Actual Grace Article 1. The Capacity Of Mere Nature Without Grace Article 2. The Necessity Of Actual Grace For All Salutary Acts Article 3. The Necessity Of Actual Grace For The States Of Unbelief, Mortal Sin, And Justification Section 2. The Gratuity Of Actual Grace Section 3. The Universality Of Actual Grace Article 1. The Universality Of God's Will To Save Article 2. God's Will To Give Sufficient Grace To All Adult Human Beings In Particular Article 3. The Predestination Of The Elect Article 4. The Reprobation Of The Damned Chapter III. Grace In Its Relation To Free-Will Section 1. The Heresy of The Protestant Reformers And The Jansenists Section 2. Theological Systems Devised To Harmonize The Dogmas Of Grace And Free-Will Article 1. Thomism And Augustinianism Article 2. Molinism And Congruism Part II. Sanctifying Grace Chapter I. The Genesis Of Sanctifying Grace, Or The Process Of Justification Section 1. The Necessity Of Faith For Justification Section 2. The Necessity Of Other Preparatory Acts Besides Faith Chapter II. The State Of Justification Section 1. The Nature Of Justification Article 1. The Negative Element Of Justification Article 2. The Positive Element Of Justification Section 2. Justifying Or Sanctifying Grace Article 1. The Nature Of Sanctifying Grace Article 2. The Effects Of Sanctifying Grace Article 3. The Supernatural Concomitants Of Sanctifying Grace Section 3. The Properties Of Sanctifying Grace Chapter III. The Fruits Of Justification, Or The Merit Of Good Works Section 1. The Existence Of Merit Section 2. The Requisites Of Merit Section 3. The Objects Of Merit Index Footnotes
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Humanity was reconciled to God by the Redemption. This does not, however, mean that every individual human being was forthwith justified, for individual justification is wrought by the application to the soul of grace derived from the inexhaustible merits of Jesus Christ.
There are two kinds of grace: (1) actual and (2) habitual. Actual grace is a supernatural gift by which rational creatures are enabled to perform salutary acts. Habitual, or, as it is commonly called, sanctifying, grace is a habit, or more or less enduring state, which renders men pleasing to God.
This distinction is of comparatively recent date, but it furnishes an excellent principle of division for a dogmatic treatise on grace.(1)
PART I. ACTUAL GRACE
Actual grace is a transient supernatural help given by God from the treasury of the merits of Jesus Christ for the purpose of enabling man to work out his eternal salvation.
We shall consider: (1) The Nature of Actual Grace; (2) Its Properties, and (3) Its Relation to Free-Will.
GENERAL READINGS:—St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 1a 2ae, qu. 109-114, and the commentators, especially Billuart, De Gratia (ed. Lequette, t. III); the Salmanticenses, De Gratia Dei (Cursus Theologiae, Vol. IX sqq., Paris 1870); Thomas de Lemos, Panoplia Divinae Gratiae, Liege 1676; Dominicus Soto, De Natura et Gratia, l. III, Venice 1560; *Ripalda,(2) De Ente Supernaturali, 3 vols. (I, Bordeaux 1634; II, Lyons 1645; III, Cologne 1648).
*C. v. Schaezler, Natur und Uebernatur: Das Dogma von der Gnade, Mainz 1865; IDEM, Neue Untersuchungen ueber das Dogma von der Gnade, Mainz 1867; *J. E. Kuhn, Die christliche Lehre von der goettlichen Gnade, Tuebingen 1868; Jos. Kleutgen, S. J., Theologie der Vorseit, Vol. II, 2nd ed., pp. 152 sqq., Muenster 1872; R. Cercia, De Gratia Christi, 3 vols., Paris 1879; *C. Mazzella, S. J., De Gratia Christi, 4th ed., Rome 1895; *J. H. Oswald, Die Lehre von der Heiligung, d. i. Gnade, Rechtfertigung, Gnadenwahl, 3rd ed., Paderborn 1885; *D. Palmieri, S. J., De Gratia Divina Actuali, Gulpen 1885; *Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, Mainz 1897; *S. Schiffini, S. J., De Gratia Divina, Freiburg 1901; G. Lahousse, S. J., De Gratia Divina, Louvain 1902; Chr. Pesch, S. J., Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Vol. V, 3rd ed., Freiburg 1908; G. van Noort, De Gratia Christi, Amsterdam 1908; E. J. Wirth, Divine Grace, New York 1903; S. J. Hunter, S. J., Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. III, pp. 1 sqq.; Wilhelm-Scannell, A Manual of Catholic Theology, Vol. II, 2nd ed., pp. 227 sqq., London 1901; A. Devine, The Sacraments Explained, 3rd ed. pp. 1-43, London 1905.—L. Labauche, S. S., God and Man, Lectures on Dogmatic Theology II, pp. 123 sqq., New York 1916.—J. E. Nieremberg, S. J., The Marvels of Divine Grace, tr. by Lady Lovat, London 1917.
On the teaching of the Fathers cfr. Isaac Habert, Theologiae Graecorum Patrum Vindicatae circa Universam Materiam Gratiae Libri III, Paris 1646; E. Scholz, Die Lehre des hl. Basilius von der Gnade, Freiburg 1881; Huemmer, Des hl. Gregor von Nazianz Lehre von der Gnade, Kempten 1890; E. Weigl, Die Heilslehre des hl. Cyrill von Alexandrien, Mainz 1905.
Chapter I. The Nature Of Actual Grace
Section 1. Definition Of Actual Grace
1. GENERAL NOTION OF GRACE.—The best way to arrive at a correct definition of actual grace is by the synthetic method. We therefore begin with the general notion of grace.
Like "nature,"(3) grace (gratia, χάρις) is a word of wide reach, used in a great variety of senses. Habert(4) enumerates no less than fourteen; which, however, may be reduced to four.
a) Subjectively, grace signifies good will or benevolence shown by a superior to an inferior, as when a criminal is pardoned by the king's grace.
b) Objectively, it designates a favor inspired by good will or benevolence. In this sense the term may be applied to any free and gratuitous gift (donum gratis datum), as when a king bestows graces on his lieges.
c) Grace may also mean personal charm or attractiveness. In this sense the term frequently occurs in Latin and Greek literature (the Three Graces). Charm elicits love and prompts a person to the bestowal of favors.
d) The recipient of gifts or favors usually feels gratitude towards the giver, which he expresses in the form of thanks. Hence the word gratiae (plural) frequently stands for thanksgiving ("gratias agere," "Deo gratias," "to say grace after meals").(5)
The first and fundamental of these meanings is "a free gift or favor." The benevolence of the giver and the attractiveness of the recipient are merely the reasons for which the gift is imparted, whereas the expression of thanks is an effect following its bestowal.
Dogmatic theology is concerned exclusively with grace in the fundamental sense of the term.
e) Grace is called a gift (donum, δωρεά), because it is owing to free benevolence, not required by justice. It is called gratuitous (gratis datum), because it is bestowed without any corresponding merit on the part of the creature. A gift may be due to the recipient as a matter of distributive or commutative justice, and in that case it would not be absolutely gratuitous (gratis). Grace, on the contrary, is bestowed out of pure benevolence, from no other motive than sheer love. This is manifestly St. Paul's idea when he writes: "And if by grace, it is not now by works: otherwise grace is no more grace."(6) It is likewise the meaning of St. Augustine when he says, in his Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, that grace is "something gratuitously given ... as a present, not in return for something else."(7)
2. NATURAL AND SUPERNATURAL GRACE.—Grace is not necessarily supernatural. Sacred Scripture and the Fathers sometimes apply the word to purely natural gifts. We petition God for our daily bread, for good health, fair weather and other temporal favors, and we thank Him for preserving us from pestilence, famine, and war, although these are blessings which do not transcend the order of nature.(8)
a) Our petitions for purely natural favors are inspired by the conviction that creation itself, and everything connected therewith, is a gratuitous gift of God. This conviction is well founded. God was under no necessity of creating anything: creation was an act of His free-will. Again, many of the favors to which human nature, as such, has a claim, are free gifts when conferred upon the individual. Good health, fortitude, talent, etc., are natural graces, for which we are allowed, nay obliged, to petition God. The Pelagians employed this truth to conceal a pernicious error when they unctuously descanted on the magnitude and necessity of grace as manifested in creation. It was by such trickery that their leader succeeded in persuading the bishops assembled at the Council of Diospolis or Lydda (A. D. 415) that his teaching was quite orthodox. St. Augustine and four other African bishops later reported to Pope Innocent I, that if these prelates had perceived that Pelagius meant to deny that grace by which we are Christians and sons of God, they would not have listened to him so patiently, and that, consequently, no blame attached to these judges because they simply took the term "grace" in its ecclesiastical sense.(9)
b) Generally speaking, however, the term "grace" is reserved for what are commonly called the supernatural gifts of God, the merely preternatural as well as the strictly supernatural.(10) In this sense "grace" is as sharply opposed to purely natural favors as nature is opposed to the supernatural.
The importance of the distinction between supernatural and purely natural grace will appear from an analysis of the concept itself. Considered as gifts of God, the strictly supernatural graces (e.g., justification, divine sonship, the beatific vision) ontologically exceed the bounds of nature. Considered as purely gratuitous favors, they are negatively and positively undeserved. The grace involved in creation, for instance, is not conferred on some existing beneficiary, but actually produces its recipient. The creation itself, therefore, being entirely gratis data, all that succeeds it, supernatural grace included, must be negatively undeserved, in as far as it was not necessary for the recipient to exist at all. But the supernatural graces are indebitae also positively, i.e. positing the creation, because they transcend every creatural claim and power. Both elements are contained in the above-quoted letter of the African bishops to Pope Innocent I: "Though it may be said in a certain legitimate sense, that we were created by the grace of God, ... that is a different grace by which we are called predestined, by which we are justified, and by which we receive eternal beatitude."(11) Of this last-mentioned grace (i.e. grace in the strictly supernatural sense), St. Augustine says: "This, the grace which Catholic bishops are wont to read in the books of God and preach to their people, and the grace which the Apostle commends, is not that by which we are created as men, but that by which as sinful men we are justified."(12) In other words, natural is opposed to supernatural grace in the same way that nature is opposed to the supernatural. "[To believe] is the work of grace, not of nature. It is, I say, the work of grace, which the second Adam brought us, not of nature, which Adam wholly lost in himself."(13) Adding the new note obtained by this analysis we arrive at the following definition: Grace is a gratuitous super-natural gift.(14)
3. THE GRACE OF GOD AND THE GRACE OF CHRIST.—Though all supernatural graces are from God, a distinction is made between the "grace of God" and the "grace of Christ." The difference between them is purely accidental, based on the fact that the "grace of Christ" flows exclusively from the merits of the atonement.
a) The following points may serve as criteria to distinguish the two notions:
A) The gratia Dei springs from divine benevolence and presupposes a recipient who is unworthy merely in a negative sense (=not worthy, non dignus), whereas the gratia Christi flows from mercy and benevolence and is conferred on a recipient who is positively unworthy (indignus).
B) The gratia Dei elevates the soul to the supernatural order (gratia elevans), while the gratia Christi heals the wounds inflicted by sin, especially concupiscence (gratia elevans simul et sanans).
C) The gratia Dei is a gratuitous gift conferred by the Blessed Trinity without regard to the theandric merits of Jesus Christ, whereas the gratia Christi is based entirely on those merits.
b) The Scotists hold that the distinction between gratia Dei and gratia Christi is purely logical. They regard the God-man as the predestined centre of the universe and the source of all graces.(15) The Thomists, on the other hand, regard the grace of the angels, and that wherewith our first parents were endowed in Paradise, purely as gratia Dei; they hold that the merits of Christ did not become operative until after the Fall, and that, consequently, there is a real distinction between the grace of the angels and that of our first parents on the one hand, and the grace of Christ on the other.
As it cannot reasonably be supposed that the angels are endowed with specifically the same graces by which mankind was redeemed from sin, the Scotists are forced to admit a distinction between the grace of Christ as God-man (gratia Christi Dei-hominis) and the grace of Christ as Redeemer (gratia Christi Redemptoris), so that even according to them, the dogmatic treatise on Grace is concerned solely with the grace of Christ qua Redeemer.
Hence, grace must be more particularly defined as a gratuitous supernatural gift derived from the merits of Jesus Christ.(16)
4. EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL GRACE.—External grace (gratia externa) comprises all those strictly supernatural institutions which stimulate pious thoughts and salutary resolutions in the human soul. Such are, for example, Holy Scripture, the Church, the Sacraments, the example of Jesus Christ, etc. Internal grace (gratia interna) inheres or operates invisibly in the soul, and places it in relation with God as its supernatural end. Internal graces are, e.g., the theological virtues, the power of forgiving sins, etc. The Pelagians admitted external, but obstinately denied internal grace.(17)
St. Paul(18) emphasizes the distinction between external and internal grace by designating the former as "law" (lex, νόμος) and the latter as "faith" (fides, πίστις). With one exception, (viz., the Hypostatic Union, which is the climax of all graces), external is inferior to, because a mere preparation for, internal grace, which aims at sanctification. We are concerned in this treatise solely with internal grace. Hence, proceeding a step further, we may define grace as a gratuitous, supernatural, internal gift of God, derived from the merits of Jesus Christ.(19)
5. "GRATIA GRATIS DATA" and "GRATIA GRATUM FACIENS."—The supernatural grace of Christ, existing invisibly in the soul either as a transient impulse (actus) or as a permanent state (habitus), tends either to the salvation of the person in whom it inheres or through him to the sanctification of others. In the former case it is called ingratiating (gratia gratum faciens), in the latter, gratuitously given (gratia gratis data). The term gratia gratis data is based on the words of our Lord recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give."(20)
a) The gratia gratum faciens is intended for all men without exception; the gratia gratis data only for a few specially chosen persons. To the class of gratuitously bestowed graces belong the charismata of the prophets and the ordinary powers of the priesthood.(21)
Each of these two species of internal grace may exist independently of the other because personal holiness is not a necessary prerequisite for the exercise of the charismata or the power of forgiving sins, etc.
b) Considered with regard to its intrinsic worth, the gratia gratum faciens is decidedly superior to the gratia gratis data. St. Paul, after enumerating all the charismata, admonishes the Corinthians: "Be zealous for the better gifts, and I show unto you yet a more excellent way,"(22) and then sings the praises of charity:(23) "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all the mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, I am nothing, etc."(24) Charity is a gratia gratum faciens. Hence, since the gratia gratis data is treated elsewhere (Apologetics, Mystic and Sacramental Theology), we must add another note to our definition: Grace is a gratuitous, supernatural, internal gift, derived from the merits of Jesus Christ, by which man is rendered pleasing in the sight of God.(25)
6. ACTUAL AND HABITUAL GRACE.—The gratia gratum faciens is given either for the performance of a supernatural act or for the production of a permanent supernatural state (habitus). In the latter case it is called habitual, or, as it sanctifies the creature in the eyes of God, sanctifying grace.
Actual grace comprises two essential elements: (1) divine help as the principle of every salutary supernatural act, and (2) the salutary act itself. Hence its designation by the Fathers as Θεοῦ ἐνέργεια, ἡ τοῦ Λόγου χείρ, θεία κίνησις, or, in Latin, Dei auxilium, subsidium, adiutorium, motio divina,—all of which appellations have been adopted by the Schoolmen. Actual grace invariably tends either to produce habitual or sanctifying grace, or to preserve and increase it where it already exists. It follows that, being merely a means to an end, actual grace is inferior to sanctifying grace, which is that end itself.
Actual grace may therefore be defined as an unmerited, supernatural, internal divine help, based on the merits of Jesus Christ, which renders man pleasing in the sight of God, enabling him to perform salutary acts; or, somewhat more succinctly, as a supernatural help bestowed for the performance of salutary acts, in consideration of the merits of Jesus Christ.
Actual grace is (1) a help (auxilium), because it consists in a transient influence exercised by God on the soul. (2) A supernatural help, to distinguish it from God's ordinary providence and all such merely natural graces as man would probably have received in the state of pure nature.(26) (3) It is attributed to the merits of Jesus Christ, in order to indicate that the graces granted to fallen man are all derived from the atonement both as their efficient and their meritorious cause. (4) Actual grace is said to be given for the performance of salutary acts to show that its immediate purpose or end is an act, not a state, and that the acts for which it is given must be in the order of salvation.
7. THE TWOFOLD CAUSALITY OF ACTUAL GRACE.—If grace is a supernatural help, mere nature cannot, of its own strength, perform salutary acts. Consequently, actual grace exercises a causal influence without which man would be helpless in the matter of salvation.
The causality of actual grace is both moral and physical.
a) As a moral cause grace removes the obstacles which render the work of salvation difficult. Besides this negative it also has a positive effect: it inspires delight in virtue and hatred of sin.
This mode of operation manifestly presupposes a certain weakness of the human will, i.e. concupiscence, which is an effect of original sin. Actual grace exercises a healing influence on the will(27) and is therefore called gratia sanans sive medicinalis. "Unless something is put before the soul to please and attract it," says St. Augustine, "the will can in no wise be moved; but it is not in man's power to bring this about."(28) Concretely, this moral causality of grace manifests itself as a divinely inspired joy in virtue and a hatred of sin, both of which incline the will to the free performance of salutary acts. These sentiments may in some cases be so strong as to deprive the will temporarily of its freedom to resist. The sudden conversion of St. Paul is a case in point. Holy Scripture expressly assures us that God is the absolute master of the human will and, if He so chooses, can bend it under His yoke without using physical force. Cfr. Prov. XXI, 1: "The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever he will, he shall turn it." "Who will be so foolish as to say," queries St. Augustine, "that God cannot change the evil wills of men, whichever, whenever, and wheresoever He chooses, and direct them to what is good?"(29) It is but rarely, of course, that God grants to any man a summary victory over his sinful nature; but this fact does not prevent the Church from praying: "Vouchsafe, O Lord, to compel our wills to thee, even though they be rebellious."(30)
b) Even more important than the moral causality of grace is its physical causality. Man depends entirely on God for the physical strength necessary to perform salutary works. Grace elevates the faculties of the soul to the supernatural sphere, thereby enabling it to perform supernatural acts.
Physical is as distinct from moral causality in the order of grace as in the order of nature. The holding out of a beautiful toy will not enable a child to walk without support from its elders. Moral causality is insufficient to enable a man to perform salutary acts. Grace (as we shall show later) is absolutely, i.e. metaphysically, necessary for all salutary acts, whether easy or difficult, and hence the incapacity of nature cannot be ascribed solely to weakness and to the moral difficulty resulting from sin, but must be attributed mainly to physical impotence. A bird without wings is not merely impeded but utterly unable to fly; similarly, man without grace is not only handicapped but absolutely incapacitated for the work of salvation. Considered under this aspect, actual grace is called gratia elevans, because it elevates man to the supernatural state.(31)
This double causality of grace is well brought out in Perrone's classic definition: "Gratia actualis est gratuitum illud auxilium,(32) quod Deus(33) per Christi merita(34) homini lapso(35) largitur, tum ut eius infirmitati consulat,(36) ... tum ut eum erigat ad statum supernaturalem atque idoneum faciat ad actus supernaturales eliciendos,(37) ut iustificationem possit adipisci(38) in eaque iam consecuta perseverare, donec perveniat ad vitam aeternam."(39) In English: "Actual grace is that unmerited interior assistance which God, by virtue of the merits of Christ, confers upon fallen man, in order, on the one hand, to remedy his infirmity resulting from sin and, on the other, to raise him to the supernatural order and thereby to render him capable of performing supernatural acts, so that he may attain justification, persevere in it to the end, and thus enter into everlasting life." This definition is strictly scientific, for it enumerates all the elements that enter into the essence of actual grace.
Section 2. Division Of Actual Grace
Actual grace may be divided according to: (1) the difference existing between the faculties of the human soul, and (2) in reference to the freedom of the will.
Considered in its relation to the different faculties of the soul, actual grace is either of the intellect, or of the will, or of the sensitive faculties. With regard to the free consent of the will, it is either (1) prevenient, also called cooeperating, or (2) efficacious or merely sufficient.
1. THE ILLUMINATING GRACE OF THE INTELLECT.—Actual grace, in so far as it inspires salutary thoughts, is called illuminating (gratia illuminationis s. illustrationis).
This illumination of the intellect by grace may be either mediate or immediate. It is mediate if grace suggests salutary thoughts to the intellect by purely natural means, or external graces, such as a stirring sermon, the perusal of a good book, etc.; it is immediate when the Holy Ghost elevates the powers of the soul, and through the instrumentality of the so-called potentia obedientialis,(40) produces in it entitatively supernatural acts.
The existence of the grace of immediate illumination follows from its absolute necessity as a means of salvation, defined by the Second Council of Orange, A. D. 529.(41)
a) The grace of mediate illumination may be inferred aprioristically from the existence of a divine revelation equipped with such supernatural institutions as the Bible, the sacraments, rites, ceremonies, etc. In conformity with the psychological laws governing the association of ideas, intelligent meditation on the agencies comprised under the term "external grace"(42) elicits in the mind salutary thoughts, which are not necessarily supernatural in their inception.
It is not unlikely that Sacred Scripture refers to such graces as these when it recommends "the law of God" or "the example of Christ" as fit subjects for meditation. Cfr. Ps. XVIII, 8 sq.: "The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls, ... the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes."(43) 1 Pet. II, 21: "Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow his steps."(44) St. Augustine probably had in mind the grace of mediate illumination when he wrote: "God acts upon us by the incentives of visible objects to will and to believe, either externally by evangelical exhortations, ... or internally, as no man has control over what enters into his thoughts."(45) The grace of mediate illumination has for its object to prepare the way quietly and unostentatiously for a grace of greater import, namely, the immediate illumination of the mind by the Holy Ghost.
b) The grace of immediate far surpasses that of mediate illumination because the supernatural life of the soul originates in faith, which in turn is based on a strictly supernatural enlightenment of the mind.
α) St. Paul expressly teaches: "And such confidence we have, through Christ, towards God; not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is of God."(46)
The salient portion of this text reads as follows in the original Greek: Οὐχ ὅτι ἱκανοί ἐσμεν λογίσασθαί τι ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτῶν ὡς ἐξ ἑαυτῶν, ἀλλ᾽ ἡ ἱκανότης ἡμῶν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ. Speaking in the plural (pluralis maiestaticus), the Apostle confesses himself unable to conceive a single salutary thought (λογίσασθαι), and ascribes the power (ἱκανότης) to do so to God. Considered merely as vital acts, such thoughts proceed from the natural faculties of the mind (ἀφ᾽ ἑαυτῶν), but the power that produces them is divine (ἐκ Θεοῦ), not human (ἐξ ἑαυτῶν). Hence each salutary thought exceeds the power of man, and is an immediate supernatural grace.
A still more cogent argument can be derived from 1 Cor. III, 6 sq.: "I have planted, Apollo watered, but God gave the increase. Therefore, neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."(47) In this beautiful allegory the Apostle compares the genesis of supernatural faith in the soul to that of a plant under the care of a gardener, who while he plants and waters, yet looks to God for "the increase." The Apostle and his disciple Apollo are the spiritual gardeners through whose preaching the Corinthians received the grace of mediate illumination. But, as St. Paul says, this preaching would have been useless (non est aliquid) had not God given "the increase." In other words, the grace of immediate illumination was necessary to make the Apostolic preaching effective. "For," in the words of St. Augustine, "God Himself contributes to the production of fruit in good trees, when He both externally waters and tends them by the agency of His servants, and internally by Himself also gives the increase."(48)
β) The argument from Tradition is based chiefly on St. Augustine, "the Doctor of Grace," whose authority in this branch of dogmatic theology is unique.(49) His writings abound in many such synonymous terms for the grace of immediate illumination, as cogitatio pia, vocatio alta et secreta, locutio in cogitatione, aperitio veritatis, etc., etc.
He says among other things: "Instruction and admonition are external aids, but he who controls the hearts has his cathedra in heaven."(50) Augustine esteems human preaching as nothing and ascribes all its good effects to grace. "It is the internal Master who teaches; Christ teaches and His inspiration."(51) In harmony with his master, St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, the ablest defender of the Augustinian (i.e. Catholic) doctrine of grace, says: "In vain will our sacred discourses strike the external ear, unless God by a spiritual gift opens the hearing of the interior man."(52)
2. THE STRENGTHENING GRACE OF THE WILL.—This grace, usually called gratia inspirationis,(53) may also be either mediate or immediate, according as pious affections and wholesome resolutions are produced in the soul by a preceding illumination of the intellect or directly by the Holy Ghost. Owing to the psychological interaction of intellect and will, every grace of the mind, whether mediate or immediate, is eo ipso also a mediate grace of the will, which implies a new act of the soul, but not a new grace. What we are concerned with here is the immediate strengthening grace of the will, which is far more important and more necessary.
We are not able to demonstrate this teaching from Sacred Scripture. The texts John VI, 44 and Phil. II, 13, which are usually adduced in this connection, are inconclusive.
Hence we must rely solely on Tradition. The argument from Tradition is based mainly on St. Augustine. In defending divine grace against Pelagius, this holy Doctor asserts the indispensability and superior value of the strengthening grace of the will.
"By that grace it is effected, not only that we discover what ought to be done, but also that we do what we have discovered; not only that we believe what ought to be loved, but also that we love what we have believed."(54) And again: "Let him discern between knowledge and charity, as they ought to be distinguished, because knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.... And inasmuch as both are gifts of God, although one is less and the other greater, he must not extol our righteousness above the praise which is due to Him who justifies us in such a way as to assign to the lesser of these two gifts the help of divine grace, and to claim the greater one for the control of the human will."(55) St. Augustine emphasized the existence and necessity of this higher grace of the will in his controversy with the Pelagians. He was firmly convinced that a man may know the way of salvation, and yet refuse to follow it.(56) He insisted that mere knowledge is not virtue, as Socrates had falsely taught.
Ecclesiastical Tradition was always in perfect accord with this teaching, which eventually came to be defined by the plenary Council of Carthage (A. D. 418) as follows: "If any one assert that this same grace of God, granted through our Lord Jesus Christ, helps to avoid sin only for the reason that it opens and reveals to us an understanding of the [divine] commands, so that we may know what we should desire and what we should avoid; but that it is not granted to us by the same (grace) to desire and be able to do that which we know we ought to do, let him be anathema;—since both are gifts of God: to know what we must do and to have the wish to do it."(57)
Like the illuminating grace of the intellect the strengthening grace of the will effects vital acts and manifests itself chiefly in what are known as the emotions of the will. St. Prosper, after Fulgentius the most prominent disciple of St. Augustine, enumerates these as follows: "Fear (for 'the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'); joy ('I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord'); desire ('My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord'); delight ('How sweet are thy words to my palate, more than honey to my mouth');"—and he adds: "Who can see or tell by what affections God visits and guides the human soul?"(58)
3. ACTUAL GRACES OF THE SENSITIVE SPHERE.—Though it cannot be determined with certainty of faith, it is highly probable that actual grace influences the sensitive faculties of the soul as well as the intellect and the will.
God, who is the first and sole cause of all things, is no doubt able to excite in the human imagination phantasms corresponding to the supernatural thoughts produced in the intellect, and to impede or paralyze the rebellious stirrings of concupiscence which resist the grace of the will,—either by infusing contrary dispositions or by allowing spiritual joy to run over into the appetitus sensitivus. The existence of such graces (which need not necessarily be supernatural except quoad modum et finem) may be inferred with great probability from the fact that man is a compound of body and soul. Aristotle holds that the human mind cannot think without the aid of the imagination.(59) If this is true, every supernatural thought must be preceded by a corresponding phantasm to excite and sustain it. As for the sensitive appetite, it may either assume the form of concupiscence and hinder the work of salvation, or aid it by favorable emotions excited supernaturally. St. Augustine says that the delectatio victrix has for its object "to impart sweetness to that which gave no pleasure."(60) St. Paul, who thrice besought the Lord to relieve him of the sting of his flesh, was told: "My grace is sufficient for thee."(61)
4. The Illuminating Grace of the Mind and the Strengthening Grace of the Will Considered as Vital Acts of the Soul.—If we examine these graces more closely to determine their physical nature, we find that they are simply vital acts of the intellect and the will, and receive the character of divine "graces" from the fact that they are supernaturally excited in the soul by God.
a) The Biblical, Patristic, and conciliar terms cogitatio, suasio, scientia, cognitio, as well as delectatio, voluptas, desiderium, caritas, bona voluntas, cupiditas, all manifestly point to vital acts of the soul. But even where grace is described as vocatio, illuminatio, illustratio, excitatio, pulsatio, inspiratio, or tractio, the reference can only be—if not formaliter, at least virtualiter—to immanent vital acts of the intellect or will. This is the concurrent teaching of SS. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. The former says: "God calls [us] by [our] innermost thoughts," and: "See how the Father draws [and] by teaching delights [us]."(62) The latter quotes the Aristotelian axiom: "Actus moventis in moto est motus."(63)
If the graces of the intellect and of the will are supernaturally inspired acts of the soul, by what process does the mind of man respond to the impulse of illumination and inspiration?
The language employed by the Fathers and councils leaves no doubt that supernatural knowledge manifests itself mainly in judgments. But simple apprehension and ratiocination must also play a part, (1) because these two operations are of the essence of human thought, and the grace of illumination always works through natural agencies; and (2) because some intellectual apprehensions are merely condensed judgments and syllogisms.
The graces of the will naturally work through the spiritual emotions or passions, of which there are eleven: love and hatred, joy and sadness, desire and abhorrence, hope and despair, fear and daring, and lastly anger. With the exception of despair (for which there is no place in the business of salvation), all these passions have a practical relation to good and evil and are consequently called "graces" both in Scripture and Tradition. Love (amor) is the fundamental affection of the will, to which all others are reducible, and hence the principal function of grace, in so far as it affects the will, must consist in producing acts of love.(64) The Council of Carthage (A. D. 418) declares that "both to know what we must do, and to love to do it, is a gift of God."(65) It would be a mistake, however, to identify this "love" with theological charity, which is "a perfect love of God above all things for His own sake."(66) Justification begins with supernatural faith, is followed by fear, hope, and contrition, and culminates in charity.(67)
St. Augustine sometimes employs the word caritas in connections where it cannot possibly mean theological love.(68) This peculiar usage is based on the idea that love of goodness in a certain way attracts man towards God and prepares him for the theological virtue of charity. In studying the writings of St. Augustine, therefore, we must carefully distinguish between caritas in the strict, and caritas in a secondary and derived sense.(69) The champions of the falsely so-called Augustinian theory of grace(70) disregard this important distinction and erroneously claim that St. Augustine identifies "grace" with caritas in the sense of theological love; just as if faith, hope, contrition, and the fear of God were not also graces in the true meaning of the term, and could not exist without theological charity.
b) Not a few theologians, especially of the Thomist school, enlarge the list of actual graces by including therein, besides the supernatural vital acts of the soul, certain extrinsic, non-vital qualities (qualitates fluentes, non vitales) that precede these acts and form their basis. It is impossible, they argue, to elicit vital or immanent supernatural acts unless the faculties of the soul have previously been raised to the supernatural order by means of the potentia oboedientialis. The gratia elevans, which produces in the soul of the sinner the same effects that the so-called infused habits produce in the soul of the just, is a supernatural power really distinct from its vital effects. In other words, they say, the vital supernatural acts of the soul are preceded and produced by a non-vital grace, which must be conceived as a "fluent quality." These "fluent" (the opponents of the theory ironically call them "dead") qualities are alleged to be real graces.(71) Alvarez and others endeavor to give their theory a dogmatic standing by quoting in its support all those passages of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers and councils in which prevenient grace is described as pulsatio, excitatio, vocatio, tractio, tactus, and so forth. The act of knocking or calling, they say, is not identical with the act of opening, in fact the former is a grace in a higher sense than the latter, because it is performed by God alone, while the response comes from the soul cooeperating with God.(72)
The theory thus briefly described is both theologically and philosophically untenable.
α) Holy Scripture and Tradition nowhere mention any such non-vital entities or qualities,—a circumstance which would be inexplicable if it were true, what Cardinal Gotti asserts,(73) that the term "grace" applies primarily and in the strict sense to these qualities, while the vital acts are merely effects. Whenever Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, and the Church speak literally, without the use of metaphors, they invariably apply the term "grace" to these vital acts themselves and ascribe their supernatural character to an immediate act of God.(74) In perfect conformity with this teaching St. Augustine explains such metaphorical terms as vocare and tangere in the sense of credere and fides.(75) God employs no "fluent qualities" or "non-vital entities" in the dispensation of His grace, but effects the supernatural elevation of the soul immediately and by Himself.(76)
β) The theory under consideration is inadmissible also from the philosophical point of view. A quality does not "flow" or tend to revert to nothingness. On the contrary, its very nature demands that it remain constant until destroyed by its opposite or by some positive cause. It is impossible to conceive a quality that would of itself revert to nothingness without the intervention of a destructive cause. Billuart merely beats the air when he says: "Potest dici qualitas incompleta habens se per modum passionis transeuntis."(77) What would Aristotle have said if he had been told of a thing that was half ποιόν and half πάσχειν, and consequently neither the one nor the other? Actual grace is transitory; it passes away with the act which it inspires, and consequently may be said to "flow." But this very fact proves that it is not a dead quality, but a modus vitalis supernaturalis. In the dispensation of His grace, God employs no fluent qualities or non-vital entities, but He Himself is the immediate cause of the supernatural elevation of the human soul and its faculties. St. Thomas is perfectly consistent, therefore, when he defines actual grace as a vital act of the soul.(78)
5. PREVENIENT AND COOePERATING GRACE.—The vital acts of the soul are either spontaneous impulses or free acts of the will. Grace may precede free-will or cooeperate with it. If it precedes the free determination of the will it is called prevenient; if it accompanies (or coincides with) that determination and merely cooeperates with the will, it is called cooeperating grace.
Prevenient grace, regarded as a divine call to penance, is often styled gratia vocans sive excitans, and if it is received with a willing heart, gratia adiuvans. Both species are distinctly mentioned in Holy Scripture. Cfr. Eph. V, 14: "Wherefore he saith: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee." 2 Tim. I, 9: "Who hath delivered us and called us by his holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of the world." Rom. VIII, 26: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity." Rom. VIII, 30: "And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified." Apoc. III, 20: "Behold I stand at the gate and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
St. Augustine says: "Forasmuch as our turning away from God is our own act and deed, and this is [our] depraved will; but that we turn to God, this we cannot do except He rouse and help us, and this is [our] good will,—what have we that we have not received?"(79)
An equivalent division is that into gratia operans and cooeperans, respectively—names which are also founded on Scripture. Cfr. Phil. II, 13: "For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will." Mark XVI, 20: "But they going forth preached everywhere: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed."
St. Augustine describes the respective functions of these graces as follows: "He [God] begins His influence by working in us that we may have the will, and He completes it by working with us when we have the will."(80)
A third division of the same grace is that into praeveniens and subsequens. It is likewise distinctly Scriptural,(81) and its two members coincide materially with gratia vocans and adiuvans, as can be seen by comparing the usage of St. Augustine with that of the Tridentine Council. "God's mercy," says the holy Doctor, "prevents [i.e. precedes] the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing lest he will in vain."(82) And the Council of Trent declares that "in adults the beginning of justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their part, they are called."(83)
If we conceive a continuous series of supernatural graces, each may be called either prevenient or subsequent, according as it is regarded either as a cause or as an effect. St. Thomas explains this as follows: "As grace is divided into working and cooeperating grace, according to its diverse effects, so it may also be divided into prevenient and subsequent grace, according to the meaning attached to the term grace [i.e., either habitual or actual]. The effects which grace works in us are five: (1) It heals the soul; (2) moves it to will that which is good; (3) enables man efficaciously to perform the good deeds which he wills; (4) helps him to persevere in his good resolves; and (5) assists him in attaining to the state of glory. In so far as it produces the first of these effects, grace is called prevenient in respect of the second; and in so far as it produces the second, it is called subsequent in respect of the first. And as each effect is posterior to one and prior to another, so grace may be called prevenient or subsequent according as we regard it in its relations to different effects."(84)
Among so many prevenient graces there must be one which is preceded by none other (simpliciter praeveniens), and this is preeminently the gratia vocans s. excitans.
There is a fourth and last division, mentioned by the Council of Trent, which is also based on the relation of grace to free-will. "Jesus Christ Himself," says the holy Synod, "continually infuses His virtue into the justified, and this virtue always precedes, accompanies, and follows their good works."(85) The opposition here lies between gratia antecedens, which is a spontaneous movement of the soul, and gratia concomitans, which cooeperates with free-will after it has given its consent. This terminology may be applied to the good works of sinners and saints alike. For the sinner no less than the just man receives two different kinds of graces—(1) such as precede the free determination of the will and (2) such as accompany his free acts.
Thus it can be readily seen that the fundamental division of actual grace, considered in its relation to free-will, is that into prevenient and cooeperating grace. All other divisions are based on a difference of function rather than of nature.(86)
a) The existence of prevenient grace (gratia praeveniens s. excitans s. vocans) may be inferred from the fact that the process of justification begins with the illumination of the intellect, which is by nature unfree, i.e. devoid of the power of choosing between good and evil. That there are also graces which consist in spontaneous, indeliberate motions of the will,(87) is clearly taught by the Council of Trent,(88) and evidenced by certain Biblical metaphors. Thus God is described as knocking at the gate (Apoc. III, 20), as drawing men to Him (John VI, 44), and men are said to harden their hearts against His voice (Ps. XCIV, 8), etc. Cfr. Jer. XVII, 23: "But they did not hear, nor incline their ear: but hardened their neck, that they might not hear me, and might not receive instruction."
The Catholic tradition is voiced by St. Augustine, who says: "The will itself can in no wise be moved, unless it meets with something which delights or attracts the mind; but it is not in the power of man to bring this about."(89) St. Prosper enumerates a long list of spontaneous emotions which he calls supernatural graces of the will.(90)
Prevenient grace is aptly characterized by the Patristic formula: "Gratia est in nobis, sed sine nobis," that is, grace, as a vital act, is in the soul, but as a salutary act it proceeds, not from the free will, but from God. In other words, though the salutary acts of grace derive their vitality from the human will, they are mere actus hominis (θέλησις), not actus humani (βούλησις).(91) "God," explains St. Augustine, "does many good things in man, which man does not do; but man does none which God does not cause man to do."(92) And again: "[God] operates without us, in order that we may become willing; but when we once will so as to act, He cooeperates with us. We can, however, ourselves do nothing to effect good works of piety without Him either working that we may will, or cooeperating when we will."(93) St. Bernard employs similar language.(94)
b) Cooeperating grace (gratia cooperans s. adiuvans s. subsequens) differs from prevenient grace in this, that it supposes a deliberate act of consent on the part of the will (βούλησις, not θέλησις). St. Gregory the Great tersely explains the distinction as follows: "The divine goodness first effects something in us without our cooeperation [gratia praeveniens], and then, as the will freely consents, cooeperates with us in performing the good which we desire [gratia cooperans]."(95) That such free and consequently meritorious acts are attributable to grace is emphasized by the Tridentine Council: "So great is the bounty [of God] towards all men that He will have the things which are His own gifts to be their merits."(96) Such free salutary acts are not only graces in the general sense, but real actual graces, in as far as they produce other salutary acts, and their existence is as certain as the fact that many men freely follow the call of grace, work out their salvation, and attain to the beatific vision. It is only in this way, in fact, that Heaven is peopled with Saints.
α) St. Augustine embodies all these considerations in the following passage: "It is certain that we keep the commandments when we will; but because the will is prepared by the Lord, we must ask of Him that we may will so much as is sufficient to make us act in willing. It is certain that we will whenever we like, but it is He who makes us will what is good, of whom it is said (Prov. VIII, 35): 'The will is prepared by the Lord,' and of whom it is said (Ps. XXXVI, 32): 'The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the Lord, and his way doth He will,' and of whom it is said (Phil. II, 13): 'It is God who worketh in you, even to will.' It is certain that we act whenever we set to work; but it is He who causes us to act, by giving thoroughly efficacious powers to our will, who has said (Ezech. XXXVI, 27): 'I will cause you to walk in my commandments, and to keep my judgments, and do them.' When He says: 'I will cause you ... to do them,' what else does He say in fact than (Ezech. XI, 19): 'I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh,' from which used to rise your inability to act, and (Ezech. XXXVI, 26): 'I will give you a heart of flesh,' in order that you may act."(97)
β) The manner in which grace and free-will cooeperate is a profound philosophical and theological problem. A salutary act derives its supernatural character from God, its vitality from the human will. How do these two factors conjointly produce one and the same act? The unity of the act would be destroyed if God and the free-will of man in each case performed, either two separate acts, or each half of the same act. To preserve the unity of a supernatural act two conditions are required: (1) the divine power of grace must be transformed into the vital strength of the will and (2) the created will, which by its own power can perform at most a naturally good act, must be equipped with the supernatural power of grace. These conditions are met (a) by the supernatural elevation of the will (elevatio externa), and (b) by the supernatural concurrence of God (concursus supernaturalis ad actum secundum). The supernatural elevation of the will is accomplished in this wise: God, by employing the illuminating and strengthening grace, works on the potentia oboedientialis, and thus raises the will above its purely natural powers and constitutes it a supernatural faculty in actu primo for the free performance of a salutary act. The divine concursus supervenes to enable the will to perform the actus secundus or salutary act proper. This special divine concurrence, in contradistinction to the natural concursus whereby God supports the created universe,(98) is a strictly supernatural and gratuitous gift. Consequently, God and the human will jointly perform one and the same salutary act—God as the principal, the will as the instrumental cause.(99)
6. EFFICACIOUS GRACE AND MERELY SUFFICIENT GRACE.—By efficacious grace (gratia efficax) we understand that divine assistance which with infallible certainty includes the free salutary act. Whether the certainty of its operation results from the physical nature of this particular grace, or from God's infallible foreknowledge (scientia media), is a question in dispute between Thomists and Molinists.(100)
Merely sufficient grace (gratia mere sufficiens) is that divine assistance whereby God communicates to the human will full power to perform a salutary act (posse) but not the action itself (agere).
The division of grace into efficacious and merely sufficient is not identical with that into prevenient and cooeperating. Cooeperating grace does not ex vi notionis include with infallible certainty the salutary act. It may indeed be efficacious, but in matter of fact frequently fails to attain its object because the will offers resistance.
a) The existence of efficacious graces is as certain as that there is a Heaven filled with Saints. God would be neither omnipotent nor infinitely wise if all His graces were frustrated by the free-will of man. St. Augustine repeatedly expresses his belief in the existence of efficacious graces. Thus he writes in his treatise on Grace and Free-Will: "It is certain that we act whenever we set to work; but it is He [God] who causes us to act, by giving thoroughly efficacious powers to the will."(101) And in another treatise: "[Adam] had received the ability (posse) if he would [gratia sufficiens], but he had not the will to exercise that ability [gratia efficax]; for if he had possessed that will, he would have persevered."(102)
b) Before demonstrating the existence of sufficient grace it is necessary, in view of certain heretical errors, carefully to define the term.
α) Actual grace may be regarded either in its intrinsic energy or power (virtus, potestas agendi) or in its extrinsic efficacy (efficientia, efficacitas). All graces are efficacious considered in their intrinsic energy, because all confer the physical and moral power necessary to perform the salutary act for the sake of which they are bestowed. From this point of view, therefore, and in actu primo, there is no real but a purely logical distinction between efficacious and merely sufficient grace. If we look to the final result, however, we find that this differs according as the will either freely cooeperates with grace or refuses its cooeperation. If the will cooeperates, grace becomes truly efficacious; if the will resists, grace remains "merely sufficient." In other words, merely sufficient grace confers full power to act, but is rendered ineffective by the resistance of the will.
The inefficacy of merely sufficient grace, therefore, is owing to the resistance of the will and not to any lack of intrinsic power. This is a truth to which all Catholic systems of grace must conform.
Merely sufficient grace may be subdivided into gratia proxime sufficiens and gratia remote sufficiens.
Proximately sufficient grace (also called gratia operationis) confers upon the will full power to act forthwith, while remotely sufficient grace (also termed gratia orationis) confers only the grace of prayer, which in its turn brings down full power to perform other salutary acts.
The gratia orationis plays a most important role in the divine economy of grace. God has not obliged Himself to give man immediately all the graces he needs. It is His will, in many instances, as when we are besieged by temptations, that we petition Him for further assistance. "God does not enjoin impossibilities," says St. Augustine, "but in His injunctions He counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do."(103)
Hence, though grace may sometimes remain ineffective (gratia inefficax = gratia vere et mere sufficiens), it is never insufficient (insufficiens), that is to say, never too weak to accomplish its purpose.
Calvinism and Jansenism, while retaining the name, have eliminated sufficient grace from their doctrinal systems.
Jansenius (+ 1638) admits a kind of "sufficient grace," which he calls gratia parva, but it is really insufficient because no action can result from it unless it is supplemented by another and more powerful grace.(104) This heretic denounced sufficient grace in the Catholic sense as a monstrous conception and a means of peopling hell with reprobates.(105) Some of his followers even went so far as to assert that "in our present state sufficient grace is pernicious rather than useful to us, and we have reason to pray: From sufficient grace, O Lord, deliver us!"(106)
β) It is an article of faith that there is a merely sufficient grace and that it is truly sufficient even when frustrated by the resistance of the will. The last-mentioned point is emphasized by the Second Council of Orange (A. D. 529): "This also we believe, according to the Catholic faith, that all baptized persons, through the grace received in Baptism, and with the help and cooeperation of Christ, are able and in duty bound, if they will faithfully do their share, to comply with all the conditions necessary for salvation."(107) The existence of sufficient grace was formally defined by the Council of Trent as follows: "If any one saith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, ... no wise cooeperates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of justification; that it cannot refuse its consent if it would, ... let him be anathema."(108)
This dogma can be convincingly demonstrated both from Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
(1) God Himself complains through the mouth of the prophet Isaias: "What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it? Was it that I looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it hath brought forth wild grapes?"(109) This complaint clearly applies to the Jews. Yahweh did for the Jewish nation whatever it behooved Him to do lavishly (gratia vere sufficiens), but His kindness was unrequited (gratia mere sufficiens). In the Book of Proverbs He addresses the sinner in these terms: "I called, and you refused: I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded."(110) What does this signify if not the complete sufficiency of grace? The proffered grace remained inefficacious simply because the sinner rejected it of his own free will. Upbraiding the wicked cities of Corozain and Bethsaida, our Lord exclaims: "If in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes."(111) The omniscient God-man here asserts the existence of graces which remained inefficacious in Corozain and Bethsaida, though had they been given to the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, they would have proved effective. The conclusion evidently is: these graces remained ineffective, not because they were unequal to the purpose for which they were conferred, but simply and solely because they were rejected by those whom God intended to benefit.(112)
(2) Though they did not employ the name, the Fathers were thoroughly familiar with the notion of sufficient grace.
Thus St. Irenaeus comments on our Lord's lamentation over the fate of the Holy City: "When He says: (Matth. XXIII, 37): 'How often would I have gathered together thy children, ... and thou wouldest not,' He manifests the ancient liberty of man, because God hath made him free from the beginning.... For God does not employ force, but always has a good intention. And for this reason He gives good counsel to all.... And those who do it [gratia efficax] will receive glory and honor, because they have done good, though they were free not to do it; but those who do not do good will experience the just judgment of God, because they have not done good [gratia inefficax], though they were able to do it [gratia vere et mere sufficiens]."(113) St. Augustine is in perfect agreement with ecclesiastical tradition, and the Jansenists had no right whatever to claim him for their teaching. "The grace of God," he expressly says in one place, "assists the will of men. If in any case men are not assisted by it, the reason lies with themselves, not God."(114) And again: "No one is guilty because he has not received; but he who does not do what he ought to do, is truly guilty. It is his duty to act if he has received a free will and amply sufficient power to act."(115)
READINGS:—St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 1a 2ae, qu. 110, art. 1; qu. 111, art. 1-5.—J. Scheeben, Natur und Gnade, Mainz 1861.—M. Glossner, Lehre des hl. Thomas vom Wesen der Gnade, Mainz 1871.—Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes. 1-16, Gulpen 1885.—Oswald, Die Lehre von der Heiligung, 3rd ed., 1-3, Paderborn 1885.—S. Schiffini, De Gratia Divina, disp. 1, sect. 2; disp. 3, sect. 1-5, Freiburg 1901.—Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, pp. 3 sqq., Mainz 1897.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp. 234 sqq.
Chapter II. The Properties Of Actual Grace
Actual grace has three essential properties: (1) necessity, (2) gratuity, and (3) universality. The most important of these is necessity.
Section 1. The Necessity Of Actual Grace
In treating of the necessity of actual grace we must avoid two extremes. The first is that mere nature is absolutely incapable of doing any thing good. This error was held by the early Protestants and the followers of Baius and Jansenius. The second is that nature is able to perform supernatural acts by its own power. This was taught by the Pelagians and Semipelagians.
Between these two extremes Catholic theology keeps the golden mean. It defends the capacity of human nature against Protestants and Jansenists, and upholds its incapacity and impotence against Pelagians and Semipelagians. Thus our present Section naturally falls into three Articles.
Article 1. The Capacity Of Mere Nature Without Grace
The capacity of nature in its own domain may be considered with regard either to the intellect or to the will.
*Thesis I: Man is capable by the natural power of his intellect to arrive at a knowledge of God from a consideration of the physical universe.*
This proposition embodies an article of faith defined by the Vatican Council: "If any one shall say that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be certainly known by the natural light of human reason through created things, let him be anathema."(116)
For a formal demonstration of this truth we must refer the reader to our treatise on God: His Knowability, Essence, and Attributes, pp. 17 sqq. The argument there given may be supplemented by the following considerations:
1. The Vatican Council vindicates the native power of the human intellect when it says: "The Catholic Church, with one consent, has ever held and does hold, that there is a twofold order of knowledge, distinct both in principle and in object: in principle, because our knowledge in the one is by natural reason, and in the other by divine faith; in object, because, besides those things to which natural reason can attain, there are proposed to our belief mysteries hidden in God, which, unless divinely revealed, cannot be known."(117) This teaching, which the Church had repeatedly emphasized on previous occasions against the scepticism of Nicholas de Ultricuria,(118) the rationalistic philosophy of Pomponazzi, the "log-stick-and-stone" theory(119) of Martin Luther, the exaggerations of the Jansenists, and the vagaries of the Traditionalists,(120) is based on Revelation as well as on sound reason. Holy Scripture clearly teaches that we can gain a certain knowledge of God from a consideration of the created universe.(121) Reason tells us that a creature endowed with intelligence must be capable of acquiring natural knowledge, and that supernatural faith is based on certain praeambula, which are nothing else than philosophical and historical truths.(122) "The existence of God and other like truths," says St. Thomas, "are not articles of faith, but preambles to the articles; for faith presupposes natural knowledge, even as grace presupposes nature, and perfection something that can be perfected."(123) Luther denounced reason as the most dangerous thing on earth, because "all its discussions and conclusions are as certainly false and erroneous as there is a God in Heaven."(124) The Church teaches, in accordance with sound philosophy and experience, that the original powers of human nature, especially free-will, though greatly weakened, have not been destroyed by original sin.(125) The Scholastics, it is true, reckoned ignorance among the four "wounds of nature" inflicted by original sin.(126) But this teaching must be regarded in the light in which the Church condemned Quesnel's proposition that "All natural knowledge of God, even that found in pagan philosophers, can come from nowhere else than God, and without grace produces nothing but presumption, vanity, and opposition against God Himself, instead of adoration, gratitude, and love."(127) The Traditionalist contention that the intrinsic weakness of the human intellect can be cured only by a primitive revelation handed down through the instrumentality of speech and instruction, or by a special interior illumination, involves the false assumption that there can be a cognitive faculty incapable of knowledge,—which would ultimately lead to a denial of the essential distinction between nature and the supernatural, because it represents exterior revelation or interior grace as something positively due to fallen nature.(128) Following the lead of St. Thomas,(129) Catholic apologists, while maintaining the necessity of a supernatural revelation even with regard to the truths of natural religion and ethics, base their argument not on the alleged physical incapacity of reason to ascertain these truths, but on the moral impossibility (i.e. insuperable difficulty) of finding them unaided. "It is to be ascribed to this divine Revelation," says the Vatican Council, "that such truths among things divine as are not of themselves beyond human reason, can, even in the present state of mankind, be known by every one with facility and firm assurance, and without admixture of error."(130) In conformity with the teaching of Revelation and Tradition, the Church has always sharply distinguished between πίστις and γνῶσις,—faith and knowledge, revelation and philosophy,—assigning to reason the double role of an indispensable forerunner and a docile handmaid of faith. Far from antagonizing reason, as charged by her enemies, the Church has on the contrary always valiantly championed its rights against Scepticism, Positivism, Criticism, Traditionalism, Rationalism, Pantheism, and Modernism.(131)
2. As regards those purely natural truths that constitute the domain of science and art, Catholic divines are practically unanimous(132) in holding that, though man possesses the physical ability of knowing every single one of these truths, even the most highly gifted cannot master them all. Cardinal Mezzofanti had acquired a knowledge of many languages,(133) and undoubtedly was capable of learning many more; yet without a special grace he could not have learned all the languages spoken on earth, though their number is by no means infinite. The science of mathematics, which embraces but a limited field of knowledge, comprises an indefinite number of propositions and problems which even the greatest genius can not master. Add to these impediments the shortness of human life, the limitations of the intellect, the multitude and intricacy of scientific methods, the inaccessibility of many objects which are in themselves knowable, (e.g. the interior of the earth, the stellar universe)—and you have a host of limitations which make it physically impossible for the mind of man to encompass the realm of natural truths.(134)
*Thesis II: Fallen man, whether pagan or sinner, is able to perform some naturally good works without the aid of grace.*
This thesis may be technically qualified as propositio certa.
Proof. A man performing moral acts may be either in a state of unbelief, or of mortal sin, or of sanctifying grace. The question here at issue is chiefly whether all the works of pagans, that is all acts done without grace of any kind, are morally bad, or whether any purely natural works may be good despite the absence of grace. Baius and Jansenius affirmed this; nay more, they asserted that no man can perform good works unless he is in the state of grace and inspired by a perfect love of God (caritas). If this were true, all the works of pagans and of such Christians as have lost the faith, would be so many sins. But it is not true. The genuine teaching of the Church may be gathered from her official condemnation of the twenty-fifth, the twenty-sixth, and the thirty-seventh propositions of Baius. These propositions run as follows: "Without the aid of God's grace free-will hath power only to sin;"(135) "To admit that there is such a thing as a natural good, i.e. one which originates solely in the powers of nature, is to share the error of Pelagius;"(136) "All the actions of unbelievers are sins and the virtues of philosophers vices."(137) To these we may add the proposition condemned by Pope Alexander VIII, that "The unbeliever necessarily sins in whatever he does."(138)
1. Sacred Scripture and the Fathers, St. Augustine included, admit the possibility of performing naturally good, though unmeritorious, works (opera steriliter bona) in the state of unbelief; and their teaching is in perfect conformity with right reason.
a) Our Divine Lord Himself says:(139) "If you love them that love you, what reward(140) shall you have? Do not even the publicans this? And if you salute(141) your brethren only, what do you more? Do not also the heathens(142) this?" The meaning plainly is: To salute one's neighbor is an act of charity, a naturally good deed, common even among the heathens, and one which, not being done from a supernatural motive, deserves no supernatural reward. But this does not by any means imply that to salute one's neighbor is sinful.
St. Paul(143) says: "For when the gentiles,(144) who have not the law,(145) do by nature(146) those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: who shew the work of the law written in their hearts." By "gentiles" the Apostle evidently means genuine heathens, not converts from paganism to Christianity, and hence the meaning of the passage is that the heathens who know the natural law embodied in the Decalogue only as a postulate of reason, are by nature(147) able to "do those things that are of the law,"(148) i.e. observe at least some of its precepts. That St. Paul did not think the gentiles capable of observing the whole law without the aid of grace appears from his denunciation of their folly, a little further up in the same Epistle: "Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened, etc.,"(149) and also from the hypothetic form of Rom. II, 14 in the original Greek text: "Ὅταν γὰρ ἔθνη ... τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῶσιν—Si quando gentes, ... quae legis sunt, faciunt."(150)
In Rom. XIV, 23: "For all that is not faith is sin,"(151) a text often quoted against our thesis, "faith" does not mean the theological habit of faith, but "conscience,"(152) as the context clearly shows.(153)
b) The teaching of the Fathers is in substantial harmony with Sacred Scripture.
α) Thus St. Jerome, speaking of the reward which Yahweh gave to Nabuchodonosor for his services against Tyre,(154) says: "The fact that Nabuchodonosor was rewarded for a good work shows that even the gentiles in the judgment of God are not passed over without a reward when they have performed a good deed."(155) In his commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians the same holy Doctor observes: "Many who are without the faith and have not the Gospel of Christ, yet perform prudent and holy actions, e.g. by obeying their parents, succoring the needy, not oppressing their neighbors, not taking away the possessions of others."(156)
β) The teaching of St. Augustine offers some difficulties. There can be no doubt that this Father freely admitted that pagans and infidels can perform naturally good works without faith and grace. Thus he says there is no man so wicked that some good cannot be found in him.(157) He extols the moderation of Polemo(158) and the purity of Alypius, who were both pagans.(159) He admires the civic virtues of the ancient Romans,(160) etc. Holding such views, how could Augustine write: "Neither doth free-will avail for anything except sin, if the way of truth is hidden."(161) And what did his disciple Prosper mean when he said: "The whole life of unbelievers is a sin, and nothing is good without the highest good. For wherever there is no recognition of the supreme and immutable truth, there can be no genuine virtue, even if the moral standard be of the highest."(162)
To understand these and similar passages rightly and to explain at the same time how it was possible for Baius and Jansenius to bolster their heretical systems with quotations from the writings of St. Augustine and his disciples, it is necessary to observe that the quondam rhetorician and Platonic idealist of Hippo delights in applying to the genus the designation which belongs to its highest species, and vice versa.(163) Thus, in speaking of liberty, he often means the perfect liberty enjoyed by our first parents in Paradise;(164) in using the term "children of God" he designates those who persevere in righteousness;(165) and in employing the phrase "a good work" he means one supernaturally meritorious. Or, vice versa, he designates the slightest good impulse of the will as "caritas," as it were by anticipation, and brands every unmeritorious work (opus informe s. sterile) as false virtue (falsa virtus), nay sin (peccatum). To interpret St. Augustine correctly, therefore, allowance must be made for his peculiar idealism and a careful distinction drawn between the real and the metaphorical sense of the terms which he employs. Baius neglected this precaution and furthermore paid no attention to the controversial attitude of the holy Doctor. Augustine's peculiar task was not to maintain the possibility of naturally good works without faith and grace, but to defend against Pelagius and Julian the impossibility of performing supernaturally good and meritorious works without the aid of grace. It is this essential difference in their respective points of view that explains how St. Augustine and Baius were able to employ identical or similar terms to express radically different ideas.(166)
c) It can easily be demonstrated on theological grounds that fallen man is able, of his own initiative, i.e. without the aid of grace, to perform morally good works, and that Baius erred in asserting that this is impossible without theological faith.
α) With regard to the first-mentioned point it will be well, for the sake of clearness, to adopt Palmieri's distinction between physical and moral capacity.(167) Man sins whenever he transgresses the law or yields to temptation. This would be impossible if he were physically unable to keep the whole law and resist temptation. Hence he must be physically able to do that which he is obliged to do under pain of sin, though in this or that individual instance the difficulties may be insuperable without the aid of grace. To put it somewhat differently: Baius and Jansenius hold that fallen man can perform no morally good works because of physical or moral impotence on the part of the will. This assumption is false. Man is physically able to perform good works because they are enjoined by the moral law of nature under pain of sin; he is morally able because, in spite of numerous evil tendencies, not a few gentiles and unbelievers have led upright lives and thereby proved that man can perform good works without the aid of grace.(168) This is also the teaching of St. Thomas.(169)
β) It is an expressly defined dogma that the process of justification starts with theological faith (fides), preceded by the so-called grace of vocation, which prepares and effects conversion. To say, as Baius did, that all good works performed in a state of unbelief are so many sins, is tantamount to asserting that the preliminary acts leading up to faith, and which the unbeliever performs by the aid of prevenient grace, are sinful; in other words, that God requires the unbeliever to prepare himself for justification by committing sin. This is as absurd as it is heretical.(170)
The whole argument of this section applies a fortiori to the theory that no act can be morally good unless prompted by both theological charity and theological faith.(171)
2. We must now define the limitations of fallen nature unaided by grace. Though the graces dispensed by Providence even for naturally good deeds are in the present economy de facto nearly all supernatural, nothing prevents us from conceiving a different economy, consisting of purely natural helps, such as would have been necessary in the state of pure nature.(172)
As regards the limitations of man's moral power in the natural order, we may say, in a general way, that the will is able to keep the easier precepts of the moral law of nature without the assistance of grace (either supernatural or natural). However, as it is impossible in many instances to determine just where the easier precepts end and the more difficult ones begin, a broad field is left open for theological speculation.
a) Theologians are practically unanimous in holding that man cannot observe the natural law in its entirety for any considerable length of time without the aid of grace.
Suarez is so sure of this that he does not hesitate to denounce the contrary teaching,—which is (perhaps unjustly) ascribed to Durandus, Scotus, and Gabriel Biel—as "rash and verging on error."(173) In matter of fact the Church has formally defined that, because of concupiscence, no one, not even the justified man, much less the sinner, is able, without divine assistance (grace), to keep for any considerable length of time the whole Decalogue, which embodies the essentials of the moral law. "Nevertheless," says the Council of Trent, "let those who think themselves to stand take heed lest they fall, and with fear and trembling work out their salvation, ... for ... they ought to fear for the combat which yet remains with the flesh, with the world, with the devil, wherein they cannot be victorious unless they be with God's grace obedient to the Apostle, who says: 'We are debtors, etc.' "(174)
St. Paul, who lived, so to speak, in an atmosphere of grace, yet found reason to exclaim: "I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man, but I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my members,"(175) and: "Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord."(176) Surely it would be vain to expect the proud ideal of the Stoics or Pelagius' presumptuous claim of impeccability ever to be realized on earth except by a special privilege of grace, such as that bestowed upon the Blessed Virgin Mary.(177)
The Fathers follow St. Paul in describing the power of concupiscence, even after justification.(178)
b) A pertinent question, closely allied to the proposition just treated, is this: Can the human will, without the aid of grace, overcome all the grievous temptations to mortal sin by which it is besieged?
It is the common teaching of theologians that, without the aid of grace, man in the fallen state succumbs with moral (not physical) necessity to grievous temptations against the moral law, i.e. to mortal sin. This conclusion flows from the impossibility, which we have demonstrated above, of observing the whole law of nature for life or for any considerable length of time without the help of grace. If man were able to resist all violent temptations, he would be able to keep the whole law.
The theological teaching which we are here expounding may be formulated in two different ways: (1) No man can overcome all grievous temptations against the moral law without the aid of grace; (2) there is no man living who is not now and then assailed by temptations to which he would inevitably succumb did not God lend him His assistance.
In its first and rather indefinite form the proposition is attacked by Ripalda,(179) Molina,(180) and many later Scholastics. These writers argue as follows: It is impossible to deduce from Revelation or experience a definite rule by which man could determine the conditions on which the grievousness of a temptation depends. To say that a temptation is grievous when it cannot be resisted without the aid of grace, would be begging the question. Besides, the possibility always remains that there be men who, though in theory unable to withstand all grievous temptations without the aid of grace, de facto never meet with such temptations, but only with the lighter kind which can be overcome without supernatural help.
The second and more specific formulation of our proposition is supported by Sacred Scripture, which explicitly declares that all men are subject to temptations which they could not resist if God did not uphold them.(181)
If the just are obliged to watch and pray constantly, lest they fall,(182) this must be true in an even higher degree of sinners and unbelievers. St. Augustine writes against the Pelagians: "Faithful men say in their prayer: 'Lead us not into temptation.' But if they have the capacity [of avoiding evil], why do they pray [for it]? Or, what is the evil which they pray to be delivered from, but, above all else, the body of this death?... the carnal lusts, whence a man is liberated only by the grace of the Saviour.... He may be permitted to pray that he may be healed. Why does he presume so strongly on the capability of his nature? It is wounded, hurt, harassed, destroyed; what it stands in need of is a true confession [of its weakness], not a false defense [of its capacity]."(183)
c) Another question, on which Catholic divines disagree, is this: Can fallen man, unaided by grace, elicit an act of perfect natural charity (amor Dei naturalis perfectus)?
Scotus answers this question affirmatively,(184) and his opinion is shared by Cajetan,(185) Banez,(186) Dominicus Soto,(187) and Molina.(188) Other equally eminent theologians, notably Suarez(189) and Bellarmine,(190) take the negative side.
In order to obtain a clear understanding of the question at issue we shall have to attend to several distinctions.
First and above all we must not lose sight of the important distinction between the natural and the supernatural love of God. Supernatural charity, in all its stages, necessarily supposes supernatural aid. The question therefore can refer only to the amor Dei naturalis.(191) That this natural charity is no mere figment appears from the ecclesiastical condemnation of two propositions of Baius.(192)
Another, even more important distinction is that between perfect and imperfect charity. Imperfect charity is the love of God as our highest good (amor Dei ut summum bonum nobis); perfect charity is the love of God for His own sake above all things (amor Dei propter se et super omnia). The holy Fathers and a number of councils(193) declare that it is impossible to love God perfectly without the aid of grace. The context and such stereotyped explanatory phrases as "sicut oportet" or "sicut expedit ad salutem,"(194) show that these Patristic and conciliary utterances apply to the supernatural love of God. Hence the question narrows itself down to this: Can fallen man without the aid of grace love God for His own sake and above all things by a purely natural love? In answering this question Pesch,(195) Tepe,(196) and other theologians distinguish between affective and effective love. They hold that whereas the amor affectivus in all its stages is possible without the aid of grace, not so the amor effectivus, since that would involve the observance of the whole natural law. This compromise theory can be demonstrated as highly probable from Scripture and Tradition. St. Paul says(197) that the gentiles knew God and should have glorified Him. This evidently supposes that it was possible for them to glorify God, and consequently to love Him affectively, as easily and with the same means by which they knew Him. Else how could the Apostle say of those gentiles who, "when they knew God, glorified him not as God," that they "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator"?(198) This interpretation of Rom. I, 21 sqq. is explicitly confirmed by St. Ambrose when he says: "For they were able to apprehend this by the law of nature, inasmuch as the fabric of the cosmos testifies that God, its author, is alone to be loved, as Moses hath set it down in his writings; but they were made impious by not glorifying God, and unrighteousness became evident in them when, knowing, they changed the truth into a lie and refused to confess the one God."(199)