*Thesis II: There is no naturally good work by which unaided nature could acquire even so much as an equitable claim to supernatural grace.*
This proposition may be technically qualified as fidei proxima saltem.
Proof. The Semipelagians held that, though nature cannot merit grace in strict justice, it can merit it at least congruously, i.e. as a matter of fitness or equity.(430) This contention was rejected by the Second Council of Orange (A. D. 529), which defined that "God works many good things in man that man does not work, but man works no good deeds that God does not give him the strength to do."(431) And again: "[God] Himself inspires us with faith and charity without any preceding [natural] merits [on our part]."(432) The phrase "without any preceding merits" (nullis praecedentibus meritis) excludes both the meritum de condigno and the meritum de congruo.
a) The Scriptural argument given above for thesis I also covers this thesis.
The Semipelagians quoted Matth. XXV, 15 in support of their teaching: "To one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one, to every one according to his proper ability."(433) But this text is too vague to serve as an argument in such an important matter. Not a few exegetes treat it as a kind of rhetorical figure. Others, following the example of the Fathers, take "talents" to mean purely natural gifts, or gratiae gratis datae, while by "ability" (virtus) they understand the already existing grace of faith or a certain definite measure of initial grace.(434) But even if virtus meant natural faculty or talent, it cannot be identical with "merit." Considering the common teaching of theologians that the angels were endowed with grace according to the measure of their natural perfection,(435) we may well suppose that man receives grace likewise according to his natural constitution (gratia sequitur naturam)—a predisposition or aptitude which God ordained in His infinite wisdom to be the instrument through which His graces should operate either for personal sanctification or the good of others.
b) St. Augustine and his disciples, in defending the orthodox faith against the Semipelagians, strongly insisted on the gratuity of the grace of faith, and above all of the initial gratia praeveniens.
α) St. Augustine comments on 1 Cor. IV, 7 as follows: "Nothing is so opposed to this feeling as for any one to glory concerning his own merits in such a way as if he himself had made them for himself, and not the grace of God,—a grace, however, which makes the good to differ from the wicked, and is not common to the good and the wicked."(436) And in another place he says: "For it would not in any sense be the grace of God, were it not in every sense gratuitous."(437)
β) Certain of the Greek Fathers have been suspected of Semipelagian leanings because they appear to assign the chief role in the business of salvation to nature.(438) A careful study of their writings, however, shows that these authors had in mind co-operating, not prevenient grace. The general teaching of the Orientals on the gratuity of grace is sufficiently indicated by the demand made at the Council of Lydda (A. D. 415), that Pelagius be compelled to retract the proposition: "Gratiam Dei secundum merita nostra dari." The Fathers who have been accused of Semipelagian sympathies merely wished to emphasize free-will and to incite the morally indifferent to co-operate heartily with divine grace.
St. Chrysostom, in particular, expressly asserts the absolute gratuity of grace when he says of faith: "That which is a merit of faith, may not be ascribed to us, for it is a free gift of God,"(439) and directly contradicts Cassian and the Massilians when he declares: "Thou hast it not of thyself, thou hast received it from God. Hence thou hast received whatever thou hast, not only this or that, but all thou hast. For it is not thine own merit, but the grace of God. Although thou allegest the faith, thou hast received it by vocation."(440)
c) The theological argument for our thesis may be succinctly stated thus: The grace of God is the cause of our merits, and hence cannot be itself merited. Being the cause, it cannot be an effect.(441)
*Thesis III: Nature cannot merit supernatural grace even by natural prayer.*
This thesis, like the preceding one, may be technically qualified as fidei proxima saltem.
Proof. Let us first clearly establish the state of the question. Our thesis refers to that particular kind of prayer (preces naturae) which by its intrinsic value, so to speak, obliges Almighty God to grant what the petitioner asks for, as is undoubtedly the case with supernatural prayer, according to our Saviour's own promise: "Ask and ye shall receive."(442) The inefficacy of natural prayer asserted in our thesis, is not, as in the case of merit,(443) due to any intrinsic impossibility, but to a positive divine decree to grant supernatural prayer.
The Second Council of Orange defined against the Semipelagians: "If any one says that the grace of God can be obtained by human [i.e. natural] prayer, and that it is not grace itself which causes us to invoke God, he contradicts the prophet Isaias and the Apostle who say: I was found by them that did not seek me; I appeared openly to them that asked not after me."(444)
a) Sacred Scripture teaches that, unless we are inspired by the Holy Ghost, we cannot pray efficaciously. It follows that to be efficacious, prayer must be an effect of prevenient grace. We should not even know for what or how to pray, if the Holy Ghost did not inspire us. Cfr. Rom. VIII, 26: "For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us [inspires us to ask] with unspeakable groanings."(445) 1 Cor. XII, 3: "No man can say: Lord God, but by the Holy Ghost."(446) Supernatural union with Christ is an indispensable condition of all efficacious prayer. John XV, 7: "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you."(447)
b) This is also the teaching of the Fathers. "Who would truly groan, desiring to receive what he prays for from the Lord," says St. Augustine,(448) "if he thought that he received it from himself, and not from God? ... We understand that this is also itself the gift of God, that with a true heart and spiritually we cry to God. Let them, therefore, observe how they are mistaken who think that our seeking, asking, knocking is of ourselves, and is not given to us; and say that this is the case because grace is preceded by our merits; that it follows them when we ask and receive, and seek and find, and it is opened to us when we knock."(449)
c) From the theological point of view the inefficacy of purely natural prayer in matters pertaining to salvation can be demonstrated thus: Revelation tells us that the work of salvation requires for its beginning an initial supernatural grace. Now prayer, that is to say, efficacious prayer, is in itself a salutary act. Consequently, there can be no efficacious prayer without prevenient grace, and purely natural prayer is inefficacious for salvation.
Ripalda holds that, in an economy different from the present, natural prayer would have a claim to be heard. This opinion can be defended without prejudice to the dogma of the gratuity of grace. No doubt God might condescend to hear such petitions if He would, though, of course, He is not bound to do so by any intrinsic power inherent in natural prayer. Unlike merit, prayer appeals to the mercy of God, not to His justice. Ripalda's theory, however, rests upon an unprovable assumption, namely, that man in the state of pure nature would be able to know of the existence, or at least the possibility, of a supernatural order and to strive for the beatific vision as his final end.(450)
*Thesis IV: Man cannot move God to the bestowal of supernatural grace by any positive disposition or preparation on his part.*
This thesis may be qualified as propositio certa.
Proof. Positive preparation or disposition for grace (capacitas sive praeparatio positiva) is practically on a level with natural prayer. The positive disposition for a natural good sometimes includes a certain demand to satisfaction, as e.g. thirst demands to be quenched. This is still more the case when the disposition has been acquired by a positive preparation for the good in question. Thus a student, by conscientiously preparing himself for examination, acquires a claim to be admitted to it sooner or later. Can this also be said of grace? Does there exist in man a positive disposition for grace in the sense that the withholding of it would grievously injure and disappoint the soul? Can man, without supernatural aid, positively dispose himself for the reception of supernatural grace, confident that God will reward his efforts by bestowing it on him? Both these questions must be answered in the negative.
a) If there were something in the natural make-up of man which would move the Almighty to give him grace, the bestowal of grace would no longer be a free act of God. But to assert the consequent would be Semipelagian, hence the antecedent must be false.
b) This truth can easily be deduced from the teaching of the Fathers in the Semipelagian controversy. They declare, in perfect conformity with St. Paul, that grace is bestowed gratuitously because God can give or withhold it as He pleases. St. Augustine says(451) that the grace of Baptism is granted freely, that is, without regard to any positive disposition on the part of the baptized infant. It should be remembered, moreover, that nature never existed in its pure form, and is now tainted by original sin.(452) Surely a nature tainted by sin cannot possibly possess the power of meriting divine grace.
c) The contention of the so-called Augustinians, that pure nature needs actual grace to save itself, and consequently has a claim to such grace at least ex decentia Creatoris and ex lege iustissimae providentiae, perilously resembles Baius' condemned proposition that the state of pure nature is impossible.(453)
*Thesis V: Man may prepare himself negatively for the reception of supernatural grace by not putting any obstacles in its way.*
This proposition is held by a majority of Catholic theologians (sententia communior).
Proof. The solution of this question is intimately connected with the famous Scholastic axiom: "Facienti quod est in se Deus non denegat gratiam," that is, to the man who does what he can, God does not refuse grace. This axiom is susceptible of three different interpretations.
a) It may mean: Facienti quod est in se cum auxilio gratiae Deus confert ulteriorem gratiam, i.e., to him who does what he can with the help of supernatural grace, God grants further and more powerful graces up to justification. This is merely another way of stating the indisputable truth that, by faithfully cooeperating with the grace of God, man is able to merit additional graces, and it holds true even of infidels and sinners. The first freely performed salutary act establishes a meritum de congruo towards other acts disposing a man for justification. And since the first as well as all subsequent salutary acts, in this hypothesis, are pure graces, this interpretation of our axiom is entirely compatible with the dogma of the gratuity of grace.(454)
b) Facienti quod est in se ex viribus naturalibus Deus non denegat gratiam (to him who does what he can with his natural moral strength, God does not refuse grace.) This does not mean that, in consequence of the efforts of the natural will, God may not withhold from anyone the first grace of vocation. In this sense the axiom would be Semipelagian, and has been rejected by a majority of the Schoolmen. It is said of Molina that he tried to render it acceptable by the hypothesis that God bound Himself by a contract with Christ to give His grace to all men who would make good use of their natural faculties. But how could the existence of this imaginary contract be proved? In matter of fact Molina taught, with a large number of other divines,(455) that God in the bestowal of His graces freely bound Himself to a definite rule, which coincides with His universal will to save all mankind. In the application of this law He pays no regard to any positive disposition or preparation, but merely to the presence or absence of obstacles which would prove impediments to grace. In other words, God, generally speaking, is more inclined to offer His grace to one who puts no obstacles in its way than to one who wallows in sin and neglects to do his share.(456)
c) Facienti quod est in se ex viribus naturae negative se disponendo [i.e. obicem non ponendo] Deus non denegat gratiam (to the man who does what he can with his natural moral strength, disposing himself negatively [i.e., by not placing any obstacle] God does not deny grace. In this form the axiom is identical with our thesis. The question arises: Can it be made to square with the dogma of the absolute gratuity of grace? Vasquez,(457) Glossner,(458) and some others answer this question in the negative, whereas the great majority of Catholic theologians hold with Suarez(459) and Lessius,(460) that there is no contradiction between the two. Though Lessius did not succeed in proving his famous contention that the axiom Facienti quod est in se Deus non denegat gratiam, was for three full centuries understood in this sense by the schools,(461) there is no doubt that many authorities can be cited in favor of his interpretation.(462)
The theological argument for our thesis may be formulated thus: The gratuity of grace does not imply that the recipient must have no sort of disposition. It merely means that man is positively unworthy of divine favor. Otherwise the Church could not teach, as she does, that the grace bestowed on the angels and on our first parents in Paradise was absolutely gratuitous, nor could she hold that the Hypostatic Union of the two natures in Christ, which is the pattern and exemplar of all true grace,(463) was a pure grace in respect of the humanity of our Lord. The dogma of the gratuity of grace is in no danger whatever so long as the relation between negative disposition and supernatural grace is conceived as actual (facienti=qui facit), not causal (facienti=quia facit). The motive for the distribution of grace is to be sought not in the dignity of human nature, but in God's will to save all men. We must, however, guard against the erroneous notion that grace is bestowed according to a fixed law or an infallible norm regulating the amount of grace in accordance with the condition of the recipient. Sometimes great sinners are miraculously converted, while others of fairly good antecedents perish. Yet, again, who could say that to the omniscient and all-wise God the great sinner did not appear better fitted to receive grace than the "decent" but self-sufficient pharisee?
READINGS:—Hurter, Compendium Theologiae Dogmaticae, Vol. III, thes. 187.—Oswald, Lehre von der Heiligung, 8, Paderborn 1885.—*Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, c. 3, Gulpen 1885.—Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. VIII, 417-420, Mainz 1897.—Chr. Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Vol. V, 3rd ed., pp. 105 sqq., Freiburg 1908.—Schiffini, De Gratia Divina, pp. 468 sqq., Freiburg 1901.
Section 3. The Universality Of Actual Grace
The gratuity of grace does not conflict with its universality. Though God distributes His graces freely, He grants them to all men without exception, because He wills all to be saved.
This divine "will to save" (voluntas Dei salvifica) may be regarded in relation either to the wayfaring state or to the status termini. Regarded from the first-mentioned point of view it is a merciful will (voluntas misericordiae) and is generally called first or antecedent will (voluntas prima s. antecedens) or God's salvific will (voluntas Dei salvifica) in the strict sense of the word. Considered in relation to the status termini, it is a just will, as God rewards or punishes each creature according to its deserts. This second or consequent will (voluntas secunda s. consequens) is called "predestination" in so far as it rewards the just, and "reprobation" in so far as it punishes the wicked.
God's "will to save" may therefore be defined as an earnest and sincere desire to justify all men and make them supernaturally happy. As voluntas antecedens it is conditional, depending on the free co-operation of man; as voluntas consequens, on the other hand, it is absolute, because God owes it to His justice to reward or punish every man according to his deserts.(464)
Hence we shall treat in four distinct articles, (1) Of the universality of God's will to save; (2) Of the divine voluntas salvifica as the will to give sufficient graces to all adult human beings without exception; (3) Of predestination, and (4) Of reprobation.
Article 1. The Universality Of God's Will To Save
Although God's will to save all men is practically identical with His will to redeem all,(465) a formal distinction must be drawn between the two, (a) because there is a difference in the Scriptural proofs by which either is supported, and (b) because the latter involves the fate of the fallen angels, while the former suggests a question peculiar to itself, viz. the fate of unbaptized children.
*Thesis I: God sincerely wills the salvation, not only of the predestined, but of all the faithful without exception.*
This proposition embodies an article of faith.
Proof. Its chief opponents are the Calvinists and the Jansenists, who heretically maintain that God wills to save none but the predestined. Against Calvin the Tridentine Council defined: "If any one saith that the grace of justification is attained only by those who are predestined unto life, but that all others who are called, are called indeed, but receive not grace, as being, by the divine power, predestined unto evil; let him be anathema."(466)
The teaching of Jansenius that Christ died exclusively for the predestined,(467) was censured as "heretical" by Pope Innocent X. Hence it is of faith that Christ died for others besides the predestined. Who are these "others"? As the Church obliges all her children to pray: "[Christ] descended from heaven for us men and for our salvation,"(468) it is certain that at least all the faithful are included in the saving will of God. We say, "at least all the faithful," because in matter of fact the divine voluntas salvifica extends to all the descendants of Adam, as we shall show further on.(469)
a) Holy Scripture positively declares in a number of passages that God wills the salvation of all believers, whether predestined or not. Jesus Himself says in regard to the Jews: Matth. XXIII, 37: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I (volui) have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not (noluisti)." Two facts are stated in this text: (1) Our Lord's earnest desire to save the Jewish people, anciently through the instrumentality of the prophets, and now in His own person; (2) the refusal of the Jews to be saved. Of those who believe in Christ under the New Covenant we read in the Gospel of St. John (III, 16): "God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him(470) may not perish, but may have life everlasting." However, since many who believe in Christ do actually perish,(471) the divine voluntas salvifica, in principle, extends not only to the predestined, but to all the faithful, i.e. to all who have received the sacrament of Baptism.
b) The teaching of the Fathers can be gathered from the quotations given under Thesis II, infra.
c) The theological argument may be briefly summarized as follows: God's will to save is co-extensive with the grace of adoptive sonship (filiatio adoptiva), which is imparted either by Baptism or by perfect charity. Now, some who were once in the state of grace are eternally lost. Consequently, God also wills the salvation of those among the faithful who do not actually attain to salvation and who are, therefore, not predestined.
*Thesis II: God wills to save every human being.*
This proposition is fidei proxima saltem.
Proof. The existence of original sin is no reason why God should exclude some men from the benefits of the atonement, as was alleged by the Calvinistic "Infralapsarians." Our thesis is so solidly grounded on Scripture and Tradition that some theologians unhesitatingly call it an article of faith.
a) We shall confine the Scriptural demonstration to two classical passages, Wisd. XI, 24 sq. and 1 Tim. II, 1 sqq.
α) The Book of Wisdom, after extolling God's omnipotence, says of His mercy: "But thou hast mercy upon all, because thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance. For thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made.... Thou sparest all, because they are thine, O Lord, who lovest souls."(472)
In this text the mercy of God is described as universal. Misereris omnium, parcis omnibus. This universality is based (1) on His omnipotence (quia omnia potes), which is unlimited. His mercy, being equally boundless, must therefore include all men without exception. The universality of God's mercy is based (2) on His universal over-lordship and dominion (quoniam tua sunt; diligis omnia quae fecisti). As there is no creature that does not belong to God, so there is no man whom He does not love and to whom He does not show mercy. The universality of God's mercy in the passage quoted is based (3) on His love for souls (qui amas animas). Wherever there is an immortal soul (be it in child or adult, Christian, pagan or Jew), God is at work to save it. Consequently the divine voluntas salvifica is universal, not only in a moral, but in the physical sense of the term, that is, it embraces all the descendants of Adam.
β) 1 Tim. II, 2 sqq.: "I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men.... For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all."(473)
The Apostle commands us to pray "for all men," because this practice is "good and acceptable in the sight of God." Why is it good and acceptable? Because God "will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." In other words, God's will to save is universal.
The question arises: Is the universality of the divine voluntas salvifica, as inculcated by St. Paul, merely moral, or is it physical, admitting of no exceptions? The answer may be found in the threefold reason given by the Apostle: the oneness of God, the mediatorship of Christ, and the universality of the Redemption. (1) "For there is [but] one God."(474) As truly, therefore, as God is the God of all men without exception, is each and every man included in the divine voluntas salvifica. (2) "There is [but] ... one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus." The human nature which Christ assumed in the Incarnation is common to all men. Hence, whoever is a man, has Jesus Christ for his mediator.(475) (3) Christ "gave himself a redemption [i.e. died] for all." That is to say, God's will to save is co-extensive with His will to redeem. The latter is universal,(476) consequently also the former.(477)
b) The Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers were wont to base their teaching in this matter on the above-quoted texts, and clearly intimated that they regarded the truth therein set forth as divinely revealed. Passaglia(478) has worked out the Patristic argument in detail, quoting no less than two hundred authorities.
α) We must limit ourselves to a few specimen citations. St. Ambrose declares that God wills to save all men. "He willed all to be His own whom He established and created. O man, do not flee and hide thyself! He wants even those who flee, and does not will that those in hiding should perish."(479) St. Gregory of Nazianzus holds God's voluntas salvifica to be co-extensive in scope with original sin and the atonement. "The law, the prophets, and the sufferings of Christ," he says, "by which we were redeemed, are common property and admit of no exception: but as all [men] are participators in the same Adam, deceived by the serpent and subject to death in consequence of sin, so by the heavenly Adam all are restored to salvation and by the wood of ignominy recalled to the wood of life, from which we had fallen."(480) St. Prosper concludes that, since all men are in duty bound to pray for their fellowmen, God must needs be willing to save all without exception. "We must sincerely believe," he says, "that God wills all men to be saved, since the Apostle solicitously prescribes supplication to be made for all."(481) The question why so many perish, Prosper answers as follows: "[God] wills all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth, ... so that those who are saved, are saved because He wills them to be saved, while those who perish, perish because they deserve to perish."(482) In his Responsiones ad Capitula Obiectionum Vincentianarum the same writer energetically defends St. Augustine against the accusation that his teaching on predestination is incompatible with the orthodox doctrine of the universality of God's saving will.(483)
β) St. Augustine aroused suspicion in the camp of the Semipelagians by his general teaching on predestination and more particularly by his interpretation of 1 Tim. II, 4. The great Bishop of Hippo interprets this Pauline text in no less than four different ways. In his treatise De Spiritu et Litera he describes the divine voluntas salvifica as strictly universal in the physical sense.(484) In his Enchiridion he restricts it to the predestined.(485) In his Contra Iulianum he says: "No one is saved unless God so wills."(486) In his work De Correptione et Gratia: "God wills all men to be saved, because He makes us to will this, just as He sent the spirit of His Son [into our hearts], crying: Abba, Father, that is, making us to cry, Abba, Father."(487) How did St. Augustine come to interpret this simple text in so many different ways? Some think he chose this method to overwhelm the Pelagians and Semipelagians with Scriptural proofs. But this polemical motive can hardly have induced him to becloud an obvious text and invent interpretations which never occurred to any other ecclesiastical writer before or after his time. The conundrum can only be solved by the assumption that Augustine believed in a plurality of literal senses in the Bible and held that over and above (or notwithstanding) the sensus obvius every exegete is free to read as much truth into any given passage as possible, and that such interpretation lay within the scope of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost quite as much as the sensus obvius. In his Confessions(488) he actually argues in favor of a pluralitas sensuum. He was keen enough to perceive, however, that if a Scriptural text is interpreted in different ways, the several constructions put upon it must not be contradictory. As he was undoubtedly aware of the distinction between voluntas antecedens and consequens,(489) his different interpretations of 1 Tim. II, 4 can be reconciled by assuming that he conceived God's voluntas salvifica as antecedens in so far as it is universal, and as consequens in so far as it is particular. St. Thomas solves the difficulty in a similar manner: "The words of the Apostle, 'God will have all men to be saved, etc.,' can be understood in three ways: First, by a restricted application, in which case they would mean, as Augustine says, 'God wills all men to be saved that are saved, not because there is no man whom he does not wish to be saved, but because there is no man saved whose salvation He does not will.' Secondly, they can be understood as applying to every class of individuals, not of every individual of each class; in which case they mean that 'God wills some men of every class and condition to be saved, males and females, Jews and Gentiles, great and small, but not all of every condition.' Thirdly, according to the Damascene, they are understood of the antecedent will of God, not of the consequent will. The distinction must not be taken as applying to the divine will itself, in which there is nothing antecedent or consequent; but to the things willed. To understand which we must consider that everything, so far as it is good, is willed by God. A thing taken in its strict sense, and considered absolutely, may be good or evil, and yet when some additional circumstance is taken into account, by a consequent consideration may be changed into its contrary. Thus, that men should live is good; and that men should be killed is evil, absolutely considered. If in a particular case it happens that a man is a murderer or dangerous to society, to kill him becomes good, to let him live an evil. Hence it may be said of a just judge that antecedently he wills all men to live, but consequently he wills the murderer to be hanged. In the same way God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some to be damned, as His justice exacts. Nor do we will simply what we will antecedently, but rather we will it in a qualified manner; for the will is directed to things as they are in themselves, and in themselves they exist under particular qualifications. Hence we will a thing simply in as much as we will it when all particular circumstances are considered; and this is what is meant by willing consequently. Thus it may be said that a just judge wills simply the hanging of a murderer, but in a qualified manner he would will him to live, inasmuch as he is a man. Such a qualified will may be called a willingness rather than an absolute will. Thus it is clear that whatever God simply wills takes place; although what He wills antecedently may not take place."(490)
*Thesis III: The lot of unbaptized infants, though difficult to reconcile with the universality of God's saving will, furnishes no argument against it.*
Proof. The most difficult problem concerning the divine voluntas salvifica—a real crux theologorum—is the fate of unbaptized children. The Church has never uttered a dogmatic definition on this head, and theologians hold widely divergent opinions.
Bellarmine teaches that infants who die without being baptized, are excluded from the divine voluntas salvifica, because, while the non-reception of Baptism is the proximate reason of their damnation, its ultimate reason must be the will of God.
a) This rather incautious assertion needs to be carefully restricted. It is an article of faith that God has instituted the sacrament of Baptism as the ordinary means of salvation for all men. On the other hand, it is certain that He expects parents, priests, and relatives, as his representatives, to provide conscientiously for its proper and timely administration. Sinful negligence on the part of these responsible agents cannot, therefore, be charged to Divine Providence, but must be laid at the door of those human agents who fail to do their duty. In exceptional cases infants can be saved even by means of the so-called Baptism of blood (baptismus sanguinis), i.e. death for Christ's sake. On the whole it may be said that God has, in principle, provided for the salvation of little children by the institution of infant Baptism.
b) But there are many cases in which either invincible ignorance or the order of nature precludes the administration of Baptism. The well-meant opinion of some theologians(491) that the responsibility in all such cases lies not with God, but with men, lacks probability. Does God, then, really will the damnation of these innocents? Some modern writers hold that the physical order of nature is responsible for the misfortune of so many innocent infants; but this hypothesis contributes nothing towards clearing up the awful mystery.(492) For God is the author of the natural as well as of the supernatural order. To say that He is obliged to remove existing obstacles by means of a miracle would disparage His ordinary providence.(493) Klee's assumption that dying children become conscious long enough to enable them to receive the Baptism of desire (baptismus flaminis), is scarcely compatible with the definition of the Council of Florence that "the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin, or only in original sin, forthwith descend to hell."(494) A still more unsatisfactory supposition is that the prayer of Christian parents acts like a baptism of desire and saves their children from hell. This theory, espoused by Cardinal Cajetan, was rejected by the Fathers of Trent,(495) and Pope Pius V ordered it to be expunged from the Roman edition of Cajetan's works.(496)
A way out of the difficulty is suggested by Gutberlet and others, who, holding with St. Thomas that infants that die without Baptism will enjoy a kind of natural beatitude, think it possible that God, in view of their sufferings, may mercifully cleanse them from original sin and thereby place them in a state of innocence.(497) This theory is based on the assumption that the ultimate fate of unbaptized children is deprivation of the beatific vision of God and therefore a state of real damnation (poena damni, infernum), and that the remission of original sin has for its object merely to enable these unfortunate infants to enjoy a perfect natural beatitude, which they could not otherwise attain. It is reasonable to argue that, as these infants are deprived of celestial happiness through no guilt of their own, the Creator can hardly deny them some sort of natural beatitude, to which their very nature seems to entitle them. "Hell" for them probably consists in being deprived of the beatific vision of God, which is a supernatural grace and as such lies outside the sphere of those prerogatives to which human nature has a claim by the fact of creation. This theory would seem to establish at least some manner of salvation for the infants in question, and consequently, to vindicate the divine voluntas salvifica in the same measure. Needless to say, it can claim no more than probability, and we find ourselves constrained to admit, at the conclusion of our survey, that there is no sure and perfect solution of the difficulty, and theologians therefore do well to confess their ignorance.(498)
c) The difficulty of which we have spoken does not, of course, in any way impair the certainty of the dogma. The Scriptural passages cited above(499) clearly prove that God wills to save all men without exception. In basing the universality of God's mercy on His omnipotence, His universal dominion, and His love of souls, the Book of Wisdom(500) evidently implies that the unbaptized infants participate in that mercy in all three of these respects. How indeed could Divine Omnipotence exert itself more effectively than by conferring grace on those who are inevitably and without any fault of their own deprived of Baptism? Who would deny that little children, as creatures, are subject to God's universal dominion in precisely the same manner as adults? Again, if God loves the souls of men, must He not also love the souls of infants?
1 Tim. II, 4(501) applies primarily to adults, because strictly speaking only adults can "come to the knowledge of the truth." But St. Paul employs certain middle terms which undoubtedly comprise children as well. Thus, if all men have but "one God," this God must be the God of infants no less than of adults, and His mercy and goodness must include them also. And if Jesus Christ as God-man is the "one mediator of God and men," He must also have assumed the human nature of children, in order to redeem them from original sin. Again, if Christ "gave himself a redemption for all," it is impossible to assume that millions of infants should be directly excluded from the benefits of the atonement.(502)
Article 2. God's Will To Give Sufficient Grace To All Adult Human Beings In Particular
In relation to adults, God manifests His saving will by the bestowal of sufficient grace upon all.(503) The bestowal of sufficient grace being evidently an effluence of the universal voluntas salvifica, the granting of such grace to all who have attained the use of reason furnishes another proof for the universality of grace.
God gives all men sufficient graces. But He is not obliged to give to each efficacious graces, because all that is required to enable man to reach his supernatural destiny is cooeperation with sufficient grace, especially with the gratia prima vocans, which is the beginning of all salutary operation.
To prove that God gives sufficient grace to all adult human beings without exception, we must show that He gives sufficient grace (1) to the just, (2) to the sinner, and (3) to the heathen. This we shall do in three distinct theses.
*Thesis I: God gives to all just men sufficient grace to keep His commandments.*
This is de fide.
Proof. The Tridentine Council teaches: "If any one saith that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema."(504)
A contrary proposition in the writings of Jansenius(505) was censured by Pope Innocent the Tenth as "foolhardy, impious, blasphemous, and heretical."
The Church does not assert that God gives to the just sufficient grace at all times. She merely declares that sufficient grace is at their disposal whenever they are called upon to obey the law (urgente praecepto). Nor need God always bestow a gratia proxime sufficiens; in many instances the grace of prayer (gratia remote sufficiens) fully serves the purpose.(506)
This dogma is clearly contained in Holy Scripture. We shall quote the most important texts.
a) 1 John V, 3 sq.: "For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not heavy. For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world."(507) According to this text the "charity of God" manifests itself in "keeping his commandments" and "overcoming the world." This is declared to be an easy task. Our Lord Himself says: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light."(508) Hence it must be possible to keep His commandments, and therefore God does not withhold the absolutely necessary graces from the just.
St. Paul consoles the Corinthians by telling them that God will not suffer them to be tempted beyond their strength, but will help them to a happy issue, provided they faithfully cooeperate with His grace. 1 Cor. X, 13: "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it."(509) As it is impossible even for the just to overcome grievous temptations without supernatural aid,(510) and as God Himself tells us that we are able to overcome them, it is a necessary inference that He bestows sufficient grace. The context hardly leaves a doubt that St. Paul has in mind the just, for a few lines further up he says: "Therefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall."(511) But there is no exegetical objection to applying the text to all the faithful without exception.(512)
b) This dogma is clearly set forth in the writings of the Fathers. Some of them, it is true, when combating the Pelagians and Semipelagians, defended the proposition that "grace is not given to all men,"(513) but they meant efficacious grace.
α) A typical representative of this group of ecclesiastical writers is the anonymous author of the work De Vocatione Omnium Gentium,(514) whom Pope Gelasius praised as "probatus Ecclesiae magister." This fifth-century writer, who was highly esteemed by his contemporaries, discusses the question whether and in what sense all men are called, and why some are not saved. He begins by drawing a distinction between God's general and His special providence.(515) "It so pleased God," he says, "to give His efficacious grace to many, and to withhold His sufficient grace from none, in order that it might appear from both [actions] that what is conferred upon a portion is not denied to the entire race."(516)
β) The Jansenists appealed in favor of their teaching to such Patristic passages as the following: "After the withdrawal of the divine assistance he [St. Peter] was unable to stand;"(517) and: "He had undertaken more than he was able to do."(518) But the two Fathers from whose writings these passages are taken (SS. Chrysostom and Augustine) speak, as the context evinces, of the withdrawal of efficacious and proximately sufficient grace in punishment of Peter's presumption. Had St. Peter followed our Lord's advice(519) and prayed instead of relying on his own strength, he would not have fallen. That this was the mind of St. Augustine clearly appears from the following sentence in his work De Unitate Ecclesiae: "Who shall doubt that Judas, had he willed, would not have betrayed Christ, and that Peter, had he willed, would not have thrice denied his Master?"(520)
c) The theological argument for our thesis may be formulated as follows: Since the state of grace confers a claim to supernatural happiness, it must also confer a claim to those graces which are necessary to attain it.
To assert that God denies the just sufficient grace to observe His commandments, to avoid mortal sin, and to persevere in the state of grace, would be to gainsay His solemn promise to His adopted children: "This is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day."(521) Consequently, God owes it to His own fidelity to bestow sufficient graces upon the just.
Again, according to the plain teaching of Revelation, the just are obliged, under pain of sin, to observe the commandments of God and the precepts of His Church.(522) But this is impossible without the aid of grace. Consequently, God grants at least sufficient grace to his servants, for ad impossibile nemo tenetur.(523)
*Thesis II: In regard to Christians guilty of mortal sin we must hold: (1) that ordinary sinners always receive sufficient grace to avoid mortal sin and do penance; (2) that God never entirely withdraws His grace even from the obdurate.*
The first part of this thesis embodies a theological conclusion; the second states the common teaching of Catholic theologians.
1. Proof of the First Part. The distinction here drawn between "ordinary" and "obdurate" sinners has its basis in revelation and is clearly demanded by the different degrees of certainty attaching to the two parts of our thesis.
An "ordinary" sinner is a Christian who has lost sanctifying grace by a grievous sin. An "obdurate" sinner is one who, by repeatedly and maliciously transgressing the laws of God, has dulled his intellect and hardened his will against salutary inspirations. A man may be an habitual sinner (consuetudinarius) and a backslider, without being obdurate, or, which comes to the same, impenitent. Weakness is not malice, though sinful habits often beget impenitence, which is one of the sins against the Holy Ghost and the most formidable obstacle in the way of conversion.
With regard to ordinary sinners, our thesis asserts that they always receive sufficient grace to avoid mortal sin and do penance.
a) Experience teaches that a man falls deeper and deeper if he does not hasten to do penance after committing a mortal sin. But this is not the fault of Almighty God, who never withholds His grace; it is wholly the fault of the sinner who fails to cooeperate with the proffered supernatural assistance.
α) A sufficient Scriptural argument for this part of our thesis is contained in the texts cited in support of Thesis I. If it is true that God suffers no one to be tempted beyond his strength,(524) this must surely apply to Christians who have had the misfortune of committing mortal sin. St. John says that the commandments of God "are not heavy" and that faith is "the victory which overcometh the world."(525) Faith in Christ remains in the Christian, even though he be guilty of mortal sin, and consequently if he wills, he is able, by the aid of sufficient grace, to overcome the "world," i.e. the temptations arising from concupiscence,(526) and thus to cease committing mortal sins.
β) As for the teaching of Tradition, St. Augustine lays down two theological principles which apply to saint and sinner alike.
"God does not enjoin impossibilities," he says, "but in His injunctions counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do."(527) It follows that the sinner always receives at least the grace of prayer, which Augustine therefore calls gratia initialis sive parva, and of which he says that its right use ensures the gratia magna.
The second principle is this: "Cum lege coniuncta est gratia, qua lex observari possit." That is, every divine law, by special ordinance, carries with it the grace by which it may be observed. In other words, the laws of God can always be obeyed because the lawgiver never fails to grant sufficient grace to keep them.(528)
b) That the sinner always receives sufficient grace to be converted, follows from the Scriptural injunction of conversion. If conversion to God is a duty, and to comply with this duty is impossible without the aid of grace,(529) the divine command obviously implies the bestowal of sufficient grace.
That conversion is a duty follows from such Scriptural texts as these: "As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways!"(530) "The Lord delayeth not his promise, as some imagine, but dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance."(531)
This teaching is faithfully echoed by Tradition.
2. Proof of the Second Part. Obduracy is a serious obstacle to conversion because the obdurate sinner has confirmed his will in malice(532) and by systematic resistance diminished the influence of grace. The question here is whether or not God in such cases eventually withdraws His grace altogether.
Some rigorists hold that He does so, with the purpose of sparing the sinner greater tortures in hell.(533) Though this assertion cannot be said to contravene the dogma of the universality of God's salvific will, (its defenders do not deny that He faithfully does His share to save these unfortunate reprobates), we prefer to adopt the _sententia _ communis_, that God grants even the most obdurate sinner—at least now and then, _e.g._ during a mission or on the occasion of some terrible catastrophe—sufficient grace to be converted. The theological reasons for this opinion, which we hold to be the true one, coincide in their last analysis with those set forth in the first part of our thesis.
a) Sacred Scripture, in speaking of the duty of repentance, makes no distinction between ordinary and obdurate sinners. On the contrary, the Book of Wisdom points to one of the most wicked and impenitent of nations, the Canaanites, as a shining object of divine mercy and patience.(534) According to St. Paul, God calls especially upon hardened and impenitent sinners to do penance. Rom. II, 4 sq.: "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and patience, and long suffering? Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his works."(535)
There are some Scriptural passages which seem to imply that God withdraws His grace from those who are obdurate, nay, that He Himself hardens their hearts in punishment of sin. Thus the Lord says of Pharao: "I shall harden his heart,"(536) and Moses tells us: "The Lord hardened Pharao's heart, and he harkened not unto them."(537) But it would be wrong to assume that this denotes a positive action on the part of God. Pharao, as we are told further on, "hardened his own heart" (ingravavit cor suum).(538) The fault in all cases lies with the sinner, who obstinately resists the call of grace. God's co-operation in the matter is merely indirect. The greater and stronger graces which He grants to ordinary sinners, He withholds from the obdurate in punishment of their malice. This is, however, by no means tantamount to a withdrawal of sufficient grace.(539)
b) The Fathers speak of God's way of dealing with obdurate sinners in a manner which clearly shows their belief that He never entirely withdraws His mercy. They insist that the light of grace is never extinguished in the present life. "God gave them over to a reprobate mind," says St. Augustine, "for such is the blindness of the mind. Whosoever is given over thereunto, is shut out from the interior light of God: but not wholly as yet, whilst he is in this life. For there is 'outer darkness,' which is understood to belong rather to the day of judgment; that he should rather be wholly without God, whosoever, whilst there is time, refuses correction."(540)
It follows that no sinner, how desperate soever his case may appear, need be despaired of. As long as there is life there is hope.(541) The Fathers consistently teach that the reason why reprobates are lost is not lack of grace but their own malice. Thus St. Chrysostom comments on Isaias' prophecy regarding the impenitence of the Jews: "The reason they did not believe was not that Isaias had predicted their unbelief, but his prediction was based on the fact that they would not believe. They were unable to believe, i.e. they had not the will to believe."(542)
c) The theological argument for our thesis is well stated by St. Thomas. He distinguishes between obstinatio perfecta and obstinatio imperfecta and says: Perfect obstinacy exists only in hell. Imperfect obstinacy is that of a sinner who has his will so firmly set on evil that he is incapable of any but the faintest impulses towards virtue, though even these are sufficient to prepare the way for grace.(543) "If any one falls into sin after having received Baptism," says the Fourth Lateran Council, "he can always be restored by sincere penance."(544) As the power of the keys comprises all sins, even those against the Holy Ghost, so divine grace is held out to all sinners. The Montanistic doctrine of the unforgivableness of the "three capital sins" (apostasy, murder, and adultery) was already condemned as heretical during the life-time of Tertullian. The sinner can obtain forgiveness only by receiving the sacrament of Penance or making an act of perfect contrition.(545) Justly, therefore, does the Church regard despair of God's mercy as an additional grievous sin. If the rigorists were right in asserting that God in the end absolutely abandons the sinner, there could be no hope of forgiveness, and despair would be justified.
*Thesis III: The heathens, too, receive sufficient graces for salvation.*
This proposition may be qualified as certa.
Proof. The "heathens" are those whom the Gospel has not yet reached. They are called infideles negativi in contradistinction to the infideles positivi, i.e. apostates and formal heretics who have fallen away from the faith. We assert that God gives to the heathens sufficient grace to know the truth and be saved. Pope Alexander VIII, on December 7, 1690, condemned Arnauld's Jansenistic proposition that "pagans, Jews, heretics, and others of the same kind experience no influence whatever from Christ, and it may therefore be rightly inferred that there is in them a nude and helpless will, lacking sufficient grace."(546) A proposition of similar import, set up by Quesnel, was censured by Clement XI.(547) Though not formally defined, it is a certain truth—deducible from the infallible teaching of the Church—that God does not permit any one to perish for want of grace.
a) The Biblical argument for our thesis is based on the dogma that God wills all men to be saved. 1 Tim. II, 4: "[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth [i.e. the true faith]." In speaking of the "day of wrath," St. Paul emphasizes the fact that the Almighty Judge "will render to every man according to his works,"—eternal life to the good, wrath and damnation to the wicked.(548) And he continues: "But glory, and honor, and peace to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek; for there is no respect of persons with God."(549) "Greek" is here evidently synonymous with gentile or heathen. It follows that the heathens are able to perform supernatural salutary acts with the aid of grace, and that they will receive the reward of eternal beatitude if they lead a good life.
In another passage (1 Tim. IV, 10) the Apostle calls Christ "the Saviour of all men, especially of the faithful."(550) Consequently, Christ is the Saviour also of unbelievers and heathens.(551)
b) St. Paul's teaching is faithfully echoed by the Fathers. Thus St. Clement of Rome,(552) in commenting on the penitential sermons of Noe and the prophet Jonas, says: "We may roam through all the ages of history and learn that the Lord in all generations(553) gave opportunity for penance to all who wished to be converted, ... even though they were strangers to him."(554)
St. Chrysostom says in explanation of John I, 9: "If He enlightens every man that comes into this world, how is it that so many are without light? For not all know Christ. Most assuredly He illumines, so far as He is concerned.... For grace is poured out over all. It flees or despises no one, be he Jew, Greek, barbarian or Scythian, freedman or slave, man or woman, old or young. It is the same for all, easily attainable by all, it calls upon all with equal regard. As for those who neglect to make use of this gift, they should ascribe their blindness to themselves."(555)
Similar expressions can be culled from the anonymous work De Vocatione Omnium Gentium(556) and from the writings of SS. Prosper and Fulgentius, and especially from those of Orosius, who says that grace is given to all men, including the heathen, without exception and at all times.(557)
c) Catholic theologians have devoted considerable thought to the question how God provides for the salvation of the heathen.
To the uncivilized tribes may be applied what has been said regarding the fate of unbaptized infants. The real problem is: How does the merciful Creator provide for those who are sufficiently intelligent to be able to speculate on God, the soul, the future destiny of man, etc.? Holy Scripture teaches: "Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him."(558) Faith here means, not any kind of religious belief, but that theological faith which the Tridentine Council calls "the beginning, the foundation, and the root of all justification."(559) Mere intellectual assent to the existence of God, immortality, and retribution would not be sufficient for salvation, even if elevated to the supernatural sphere and transfigured by grace. This is evident from the condemnation, by Pope Innocent XI, of the proposition that "Faith in a wide sense, based on the testimony of the created universe, or some other similar motive, is sufficient unto justification."(560) The only sort of faith that results in justification, according to the Vatican Council, is "a supernatural virtue, whereby, inspired and assisted by the grace of God, we believe that the things which He has revealed are true; not because of the intrinsic truth of the things, viewed by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, who reveals them, and who can neither be deceived nor deceive."(561) Of special importance is the following declaration by the same Council: "Since without faith it is impossible to please God and to attain to the fellowship of His children, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification...."(562)
The Catechism demands of every one who desires to be saved that he have a supernatural belief in six distinct truths: the existence of God, retribution in the next world, the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, the immortality of the soul, and the necessity of grace. The first two are certainly necessary for salvation, both fide explicita and necessitate medii. With regard to the other four there is a difference of opinion among theologians. We base our argumentation on the stricter, though not absolutely certain view, that all six articles must be believed necessitate medii. On this basis God's method of providing sufficient graces for the heathen may be explained in one of two ways, according as a fides explicita is demanded from them with regard to all the above-mentioned dogmas, or a fides implicita is deemed sufficient in regard to all but the first two. By fides explicita we understand the express and fully developed faith of devout Christians; by fides implicita, an undeveloped belief of desire or, in other words, general readiness to believe whatever God has revealed.
α) The defenders of the fides explicita theory are compelled to assume that God must somehow reveal to each individual heathen who lives according to the dictates of his conscience, the six truths necessary for salvation. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."(563)
But how can the gentiles believe in a revelation that has never been preached to them? Here is an undeniable difficulty. Some theologians say: God enlightens them interiorly about the truths necessary for salvation; or He miraculously sends them an apostle, as He sent St. Peter to Cornelius;(564) or He instructs them through the agency of an angel.(565) None of these hypotheses can be accepted as satisfactory. "Interior illumination" of the kind postulated would practically amount to private revelation. That God should grant a special private revelation to every conscientious pagan is highly improbable. Again, an angel can no more be the ordinary means of conversion than the miraculous apparition of a missionary. Nevertheless, these three hypotheses admirably illustrate the firm belief of the Church in the universality of God's saving will, inasmuch as they express the conviction of her theologians that He would work a miracle rather than deny His grace to the poor benighted heathen.(566) The difficulties to which we have adverted constitute a strong argument in favor of another theological theory which regards explicit belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation merely as a necessitas praecepti, from which one may be dispensed.
β) The fides implicita theory is far more plausible, for it postulates no miracles, implicit faith (or fides in voto) being independent of the external preaching of the Gospel, just as the baptism of desire (baptismus in voto) is independent of the use of water.
Cardinal Gotti regards the first-mentioned of the two theories as safer (tutior), but admits that the other is highly probable, because it has the support of St. Thomas.(567) However, a great difficulty remains. Though it may suffice to hold the dogmas of the Trinity and the Incarnation, and a fortiori those of the immortality of the soul and the necessity of grace, with an implicit faith, it is the consentient teaching of Revelation, the Church, and Catholic divines that the two principal truths of religion, viz.: the existence of God and retribution, must be held fide explicita and necessitate medii, because a man cannot be converted to God unless He knows Him. But how is he to acquire a knowledge of God? Does this not also necessitate a miracle (e.g. the sending of an angel or of a missionary, which we have rejected as improbable)? There can be but one answer to this question. Unaided reason may convince a thoughtful pagan of the existence of God and of divine retribution, and as these two fundamental truths have no doubt penetrated to the farthest corners of the earth also as remnants of primitive revelation, their promulgation may be said to be contained in the traditional instruction which the heathen receive from their forebears. This external factor of Divine Revelation, assisted by interior grace, may engender a supernatural act of faith, which implicitly includes belief in Christ, Baptism, etc., and through which the heathen are eventually cleansed from sin and attain to justification.(568)
Some theologians hold that those to whom the Gospel has never been preached, may be saved by a quasi-faith based on purely natural motives.(569)
For the rest, no one will presume to dictate to Almighty God how and by what means He shall communicate His grace to the heathen. It is enough, and very consoling, too, to know that all men receive sufficient grace to save their souls, and no one is eternally damned except through his own fault.(570)
READINGS:—*Didacus Ruiz, De Voluntate Dei, disp. 19 sqq.—Petavius, De Deo, X, 4 sqq.; De Incarnatione, XIII, 1 sqq.—Fontana, Bulla "Unigenitus" Dogmatice Propugnata, prop. 12, c. 5, Rome 1717.—Passaglia, De Partitione Voluntatis Divinae in Primam et Secundam, Rome 1851.—*Franzelin, De Deo Uno, thes. 49-51, Rome 1883.—*Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes. 59-62, Gulpen 1885.—A. Fischer, De Salute Infidelium, Essen 1886.—*J. Bucceroni, De Auxilio Sufficiente Infidelibus Dato, Rome 1890.—Fr. Schmid, Die ausserordentlichen Heilswege fuer die gefallene Menschheit, Brixen 1899.—Chr. Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Vol. II, 3rd ed., pp. 144 sqq., Freiburg 1906.—L. Caperan, Le Probleme du Salut des Infideles, Paris 1912.—A. Wagner, Doctrina de Gratia Sufficiente, Graz 1911.—J. Bainvel, S. J., Is There Salvation Outside the Catholic Church? (tr. J. L. Weidenhan), St. Louis 1917.
Article 3. The Predestination Of The Elect
1. WHAT IS MEANT BY PREDESTINATION.—We have shown that God antecedently wills to save all men,(571) and that He gives to all sufficient grace to work out their eternal salvation.
On the other hand, Sacred Scripture assures us that some are lost through their own fault. Cfr. Matth. XXV, 41: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire."
It follows that God's will to save, considered as voluntas consequens, remains ineffective with regard to a portion of the human race, and consequently, in this respect, is no longer universal but particular.
Being omniscient, God has foreseen this from all eternity and disposed His decrees accordingly. It is in this sense that Catholic theology teaches the existence of a twofold predestination: one to Heaven, for those who die in the state of grace, another to hell, for those who depart this life in mortal sin.
Present-day usage reserves the term predestination for the election of the blessed.
a) Rightly does the Council of Trent call predestination a "hidden mystery."(572) For in the last analysis it rests solely with God, who are to be admitted to Heaven and who condemned to hell. But why does God give to some merely sufficient grace, with which they neglect to cooeperate, while on others He showers efficacious graces that infallibly lead to eternal salvation? In this unequal distribution of efficacious grace lies the sublime mystery of predestination, as St. Augustine well knew, for he says in his treatise On the Gift of Perseverance: "Therefore, of two infants equally bound by original sin, why the one is taken and the other left; and of two wicked men already mature in years, why one should be so called that he follows Him that calleth, while the other is either not called at all, or is not called in such a manner,—are unsearchable judgments of God."(573)
b) What is meant by "predestination of the elect"? In view of the many errors that have arisen with regard to this important dogma, it is necessary to start with clearly defined terms.
Predestination may mean one of three different things. A man may be simply predestined to receive certain graces (praedestinatio ad gratiam tantum); or he may be predestined to enjoy eternal happiness without regard to any merits of his own (praedestinatio ad gloriam tantum); or, again, he may be predestined to both grace and glory, glory as the end, grace as a means to that end—vocation, justification, and final perseverance. When the concepts of grace and glory are considered separately, and each is made the object of a special predestination, we have what is called incomplete or inadequate predestination (praedestinatio incompleta sive inadaequata). It is this incomplete predestination that St. Paul(574) and St. Augustine(575) have in mind when they apply the term to the vocation of men to grace, faith, and justification. Theologians speak of praedestinatio ad gloriam tantum, that is, ante praevisa merita, as a true predestination, but disagree as to its existence.(576)
The dogma of predestination, which mainly concerns us here, has for its sole object predestination in the complete or adequate sense of the term, which is explained by St. Augustine as follows: "Predestination is nothing else than the foreknowledge and the preparation of those gifts of God whereby they who are delivered are most certainly delivered [i.e. saved]."(577) St. Thomas expresses himself more succinctly: "Predestination is the preparation of grace in the present, and of glory in the future."(578)
2. THE DOGMA.—Complete predestination involves: (a) the first grace of vocation (gratia prima praeveniens), especially faith as the beginning, foundation, and root of justification; (b) a number of additional actual graces for the successful accomplishment of the process; (c) justification itself as the beginning of the state of grace; (d) the grace of final perseverance; (e) eternal happiness in Heaven.
The question arises; Do men really seek and find their eternal salvation with infallible certainty by passing through these successive stages—not merely in the foreknowledge of God (praescientia futurorum), but by virtue of an eternal decree (decretum praedestinationis)?
The Pelagians asserted that man works out his eternal salvation of his own free will, and that consequently God merely foreknows but does not fore-ordain who shall be saved. The Semipelagians held that the beginning of faith (initium fidei) and final perseverance (donum perseverantiae) are not pure graces but may be obtained by natural means, without special aid from above. Against these heretics the Catholic Church has always taught the eternal predestination of the elect as an article of faith.(579)
a) St. Paul says explicitly: "We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren. And whom he predestinated, them he also called. And whom he called, them he also justified. And whom he justified, them he also glorified."(580) Here we have all the elements of complete predestination: God's eternal foreknowledge (praescivit, προέγνω), an eternal decree of the divine will (praedestinavit, προώρισε), and the various stages of justification, beginning with vocation (vocavit, ἐκάλησε) up to justification proper (iustificavit, ἐδικαίωσε), and eternal beatitude (glorificavit, ἐδόξασεν).(581)
b) The Fathers of the fifth century undoubtedly taught the predestination of the elect as an article of faith. Thus St. Augustine says: "There never was a time when the Church of Christ did not hold this faith in predestination, which is now defended with fresh solicitude against the new heretics."(582) His faithful disciple St. Prosper writes: "No Catholic denies predestination by God."(583) And again: "It would be as impious to deny predestination as to oppose grace itself."(584)
c) Several important theological corollaries follow from the dogma of predestination.
α) The first is the immutability of the divine decree of predestination. This immutability is based on God's infallible foreknowledge that certain individuals will die in the state of grace, and on His unchangeable will to reward them with eternal happiness.
St. Augustine says: "If any one of these [the predestined] perishes, God is mistaken; but none of them perish because God is not mistaken."(585)
God's unerring foreknowledge is symbolized by the "Book of Life."(586) Christ Himself said to His Apostles: "Rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven."(587) The "Book of Life" admits neither addition nor erasure. This does not, however, mean that a man is unable to change God's hypothetical decree of predestination with regard to himself into an absolute one. He can do this by prayer, good works, and faithful co-operation with grace.(588) Whatever promotes our salvation is included in the infallible foreknowledge of God, and consequently also in the scope of predestination. In this sense, but in no other, can we accept the somewhat paradoxical maxim: "If you are not predestined, conduct yourself so that you may be predestined." Sacred Scripture occasionally refers to another "Book of Life," which contains the names of all the faithful, irrespective of their predestination. This "book," of course, is capable of alterations. Cfr. Apoc. III, 5: "I will not blot out his name out of the book of life."(589) Finally, there is the "Book of Reprobation," which records the wicked deeds of men and by which the unrepentant sinners will be judged. This is the "liber scriptus" of the "Dies Irae":
"Liber scriptus proferetur. In quo totum continetur."(590)
β) If the divine decree of predestination is immutable, the number of the elect must be definitively fixed. "The number [of those who are predestined to the kingdom of God] is so certain," says St. Augustine, "that no one can either be added to or taken from them."(591) We must distinguish between the absolute and the relative number of the predestined.
God, being omniscient, knows not only the abstract number of the elect, but every individual predestined to Heaven. To us the number of the elect is wrapped in impenetrable mystery. St. Thomas justly observes: "Some say that as many men will be saved as angels fell; some, so many as there were angels left; others, in fine, so many as the number of angels who fell, added to that of all the angels created by God. It is, however, better to say that 'God alone knows the number for whom is reserved eternal happiness,' as the prayer for the living and the dead expresses it."(592) Whether God will round out the number of the elect by suddenly precipitating the end of the world or by a sort of "natural selection," is an open question. To assume the latter could hardly be reconciled with the dogma of the universality of His saving will. St. Augustine seems to favor the former.(593)
As regards the relative number of the elect, some writers (e.g. Massillon) represent it as so infinitesimally small that it would almost drive a saint to despair,—"as if the Church had been established for the express purpose of populating hell."(594) Even St. Thomas held that relatively few are saved.(595) But the arguments adduced in support of this contention are by no means convincing.(596) Recently, the Jesuit Father Castelein(597) impugned the rigorist theory with weighty arguments. He was sharply attacked by the Redemptorist Godts,(598) who marshalled a great number of authorities in favor of the sterner view. The controversy cannot be decided either on Scriptural or traditional grounds. In our pessimistic age it is more grateful and consoling to assume that the majority of Christians, especially Catholics, will be saved.(599) If we add to this number not a few Jews, Mohammedans, and heathens, it is probably safe to estimate the number of the elect as at least equal to that of the reprobates. Were it smaller, "it could be said to the shame and offense of the divine majesty and mercy, that the [future] kingdom of Satan is larger than the kingdom of Christ."(600)
3. THE MOTIVE OF PREDESTINATION.—The efficient cause of predestination is God; its instrumental cause, grace; its final cause, the divine glory; its primary meritorious cause, the merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. On these points all theologians are agreed. Not so as to the motive that induced God to predestine certain individuals to the exclusion of others. The question narrows itself down to this: What influence, if any, do the merits of a man exert on the eternal decree of predestination?—and may be formulated in three different ways.
a) What influence do the merits of a man exert on his predestination to the initial grace of vocation? Recalling the dogma of the absolute gratuity of grace, our answer must be: None. For whatever merits one may have acquired before he receives the initial grace of vocation, must be purely natural, and consequently worthless in the eyes of God for supernatural predestination. "To assume," says St. Thomas, "that there is on our part some merit, the foreknowledge of which [on the part of God] would be the cause [motive] of our predestination, would be to assume that grace is given to us [as a reward] of our [natural] merits."(601)
b) What influence do the merits of a man exert on his predestination to grace and glory? Catholic theologians are unanimous in holding that, since grace is absolutely gratuitous and inseparably connected with glory as its effect, the union of both can no more be based upon natural merit than the initial grace of vocation itself, which transmits the quality of gratuitousness to each and every one of the graces that follow in its wake, up to and including justification and eternal beatitude. Those among the Fathers who defended the gratuity of predestination against the Pelagians and Semipelagians, really aimed at safeguarding the gratuity of initial grace, in order not to be constrained to say with Pelagius that "the grace of God is given as a reward of merit."(602) "What compelled me in this work of mine [De Dono Perseverantiae] to defend more abundantly and clearly those passages of Scripture in which predestination is commended," says St. Augustine, "if not the Pelagian assertion that God's grace is given according to our [natural] merits?"(603) Obviously these Fathers did not have in view the praedestinatio ad gloriam tantum, as the champions of the praedestinatio ante praevisa merita mistakenly assert, but what they meant was that complete predestination which comprises grace and glory as one whole. Similarly, the early Schoolmen, when they speak of the "gratuity of predestination," usually mean complete predestination.(604) D'Argentre's researches show how necessary it is to draw sharp distinctions and carefully to establish the real state of the question before claiming the common teaching of the Scholastics in favor of any particular theory of predestination.
c) What influence do the supernatural merits of a man exert on his predestination to glory as such? Here the controversy begins. Predestination may be considered either as the cause of supernatural merit or as its effect. If it is considered as the cause, the problem takes this shape: Did God, by an absolute decree, and without any regard to their future supernatural merits, eternally predestine certain men to the glory of heaven, and only subsequently decide to give them the efficacious graces necessary to reach that end, particularly final perseverance? If, on the other hand, predestination be considered as an effect of supernatural merit, the question will be: Did God predestine certain men to the glory of Heaven by a merely hypothetical decree, making His will to save them dependent on His infallible foreknowledge of their supernatural merits? The lack of decisive Scriptural and Patristic texts on this subject has led to a division of Catholic opinion, some theologians favoring absolute predestination ante praevisa merita, others hypothetical predestination post praevisa merita. Without concealing our conviction that absolute predestination is untenable, we shall set forth both theories impartially and examine the arguments on which they rely.
4. ORTHODOX PREDESTINATIONISM, OR THE THEORY OF PREDESTINATION ANTE PRAEVISA MERITA.—Some theologians conceive the divine scheme of salvation in this wise: (a) In ordine intentionis, God, by an absolute decree, first predestines certain men to eternal salvation, and then, in consequence of this decree, decides to give them all the graces necessary to be saved; (b) in time, however, or in ordine executionis, He observes the reverse order, that is to say, He first bestows the pre-appointed graces and subsequently the glory of heaven as a reward of supernatural merit acquired by the aid of those graces.
This theory reverses the relation of grace and glory. While it correctly(605) represents glory as the fruit and reward of supernatural merit in the order of execution, it wrongly represents it in the order of intention as the cause of supernatural merit, whereas it is merely an effect. This opinion is championed by most Thomists,(606) some Augustinians,(607) and a few Molinists.(608) Their arguments may be sketched as follows:
a) In innumerable passages of Sacred Scripture predestination to eternal happiness is represented as a work of pure mercy, nay, even as an arbitrary act of God. Take, e.g., Matth. XXIV, 22 sqq.: "And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened.... For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect."(609) Here, it is claimed, the elect are represented as so thoroughly confirmed in faith and in good works as to be proof against error.
This conclusion is unwarranted. The phrase "those days" manifestly refers either to the destruction of Jerusalem or to the end of the world. If it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, the "elect," according to Biblical usage,(610) are the faithful Christian inhabitants of the Holy City, for whose sake God promises to shorten the terrible siege. If it referred to the end of the world, electi would indeed stand for praedestinati, but the context would not forbid us to interpret their predestination hypothetically, as merely indicating the immutability of the divine decree, which is not denied by the opponents of the theory.
Another text quoted in favor of absolute predestination ante praevisa merita, is Acts XIII, 48: "As many as were ordained (praeordinati, τεταγμένοι) to life everlasting, believed." Here, we are told, predestination to eternal life is given as the motive why many believed. But the text really says nothing at all about predestination. Τεταγμένοι is not synonymous with προτεταγμένοι or προωρισμένοι. The more probable explanation is the following: As many believed as were disposed to receive the faith. It is wellnigh impossible to assume that all who received the faith at that time were predestined, while those that refused to be converted were without exception reprobates. But even if praeordinati were synonymous with praedestinati, the text would merely say that certain predestined souls embraced the faith, without affording any clue as to the relation between conversion and predestination.
The ninth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans is the main reliance of the advocates of absolute predestinationism, though the passage is unfit to serve as a _locus classicus_ because of its obscurity. Let us examine a few of the verses most frequently quoted. Rom. IX, 13: "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated," is alleged to prove the absolute predestination of Jacob and the negative reprobation of Esau. But many theologians hold that Esau was saved, and, besides, the Apostle is not dealing with predestination to glory, but with Jacob's vocation to be the progenitor of the Messias. Esau, who was not an Israelite but an Idumaean, was simply passed over in this choice (_odio habere _ minus diligere_; cfr. Matth. X, 37). If the passage is interpreted typically, it should be done in harmony with the context, that is to say, as referring to the gratuity of grace, not to predestination.
The same may be said of Rom. IX, 16 and 18: "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.... He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth."(611)
The strongest text alleged by the advocates of absolute predestination is Rom. IX, 20 sq.: "O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it: Why hast thou made me thus? Or hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?" Here the Apostle really seems to have thought of predestination. But the simile must not be pressed, lest we arrive at the Calvinistic blasphemy that God positively predestined some men to heaven and others to hell. The tertium comparationis is not the act of the Divine Artificer, but the willingness of man to yield his will to God like clay in the hands of a potter.
Nor is it admissible to read into the Apostle's thought even a negative reprobation of certain men. For the primary intention of the Epistle to the Romans is to insist on the gratuity of man's vocation to Christianity and to reject the presumption that the Mosaic law and their bodily descent from Abraham gave the Jews preference over the heathens. The Epistle to the Romans has no bearing whatever on the speculative question whether or not the free vocation of grace is a necessary result of eternal predestination to glory.(612)
b) Among the Fathers the only one to whom the advocates of absolute predestinationism can appeal with some show of justice is St. Augustine, who, with the possible exception of Prosper and Fulgentius, was the most rigorous among early ecclesiastical writers,—so rigorous, in fact, that Oswald does not hesitate to call him "the head and front of all rigorists in the Church."(613)
However, this is saying too much. Augustine's genuine teaching is still in dispute among our ablest theologians. Some(614) deny that he broke with the almost unanimous teaching of his predecessors, while others think that in the treatises De Dono Perseverantiae and De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, and in several of his letters, the Saint frankly taught absolute predestinationism. The latter group of writers is split into two classes. A number of Thomists and Cardinal Bellarmine not only assert that Augustine taught absolute predestination, but boldly adopt his supposed teaching. Petavius, Maldonatus, Cercia, Oswald, and others censure this view. Franzelin(615) undoubtedly strikes the right note when he says: "If there were a manifest discrepancy between Augustine's teaching and that of the other Fathers, I should not hesitate to follow Pighius, Catharinus, Osorius, Camerarius, Maldonatus,(616) Toletus,(617) and Petavius(618) in reverently departing from his doctrine, because in that case we should be dealing merely with a private opinion."(619) Under these circumstances the Patristic argument for the theory of absolute predestination evidently lacks convincingness.(620)
c) It was probably because they felt its weakness that some of the later champions of the theory attempted to prove absolute predestination ante praevisa merita by philosophical arguments. Gonet reasons as follows: "He who proceeds in an orderly way, wills the end before he wills the means necessary to attain it. But God proceeds in an orderly way. Therefore he wills the end before the means. Now, glory is an end, and merits are means to attain that end. Consequently, God wills glory before He wills merits, and a man's preelection to glory cannot be based on foreknowledge of his merits."(621) This argument, if it proved anything, would prove the logical impossibility of conditional predestination. But it overshoots the mark and consequently proves nothing at all. Qui nimium probat, nihil probat.
Gonet moreover assumes what he sets out to prove, namely, that God voluntate antecedente decreed the glory of certain men to the exclusion of others. This petitio principii vitiates the entire polysyllogism. God's will to save is universal. He wills the eternal happiness of all men antecedenter, and the reprobation of some only consequenter; hence eternal predestination is not absolute, but hypothetical, that is, it depends on merit. That the divine scheme of grace can take a different course in ordine intentionis from that in ordine executionis is a mere fiction. If eternal salvation in the order of temporal execution is given only as a reward of merit, it must be a reward of merit also in the order of intention. In both cases predestination depends upon a future condition.
Perhaps the worst feature of the theory of absolute predestination is the fact that it involves the absolute reprobation of those not predestined to glory. "If it could be validly argued," says Gutberlet, "that, since the end must be willed before the means, salvation must be decreed before the means to its attainment (i.e. merits), the argument would be applicable also to the damned. If God voluntate antecedente wills to lead only a few to salvation, and if this intention must precede every other, then He must likewise voluntate antecedente have in view the end of the reprobates, which is His own glorification through the manifestation of His justice and mercy. Hence He must also decree the means necessary to obtain this end, i.e. He must cause these unfortunate creatures to sin, in order that they may reach the end for which He has predestined them; in other words, He must pre-ordain them to sin and eternal damnation,"(622) which is what Calvin teaches. The advocates of the theory naturally shrink from adopting such a blasphemous conclusion, and fall back upon the theory of negative reprobation, which, however, amounts practically to the same thing.(623)
5. THE THEORY OF HYPOTHETICAL PREDESTINATION POST PRAEVISA MERITA.—Predestination, like God's will to save all men, is based on a hypothetical decree. Those only are predestined to eternal happiness who shall merit it as a reward. It is solely by reason of His infallible foreknowledge of these merits that God's hypothetical decree of predestination becomes absolute. Or, as Becanus puts it, "God first prepared the gifts of grace, and then elected to eternal life those whose good use of the gifts He foresaw."(624)
This view, which strongly appeals to us for the reason that it sets aside the cruel theory of "negative reprobation," was defended by such earlier Scholastics as Alexander of Hales and Albertus Magnus, and by many eminent later writers, e.g. Toletus, Lessius, Frassen, Stapleton, Tournely, and is held to-day by nearly all theologians outside the Thomist school. What gave it special authority in modern times was the recommendation of St. Francis de Sales, who, in a letter to Lessius (Aug. 26, 1618) described the theory of conditional predestination post praevisa merita as "more in harmony with the mercy and grace of God, truer and more attractive."(625) This view has a solid basis both in Scripture and Tradition.
a) Holy Scripture clearly teaches the universality of God's saving will. Now if God voluntate antecedente wills the eternal salvation of all men without exception,(626) He cannot possibly intend that only some shall be saved.
It is further to be noted that the Bible makes not only the temporal realization but likewise the eternal promise of glory dependent on the performance of good works. St. Paul, whose Epistle to the Romans is cited as a locus classicus by the advocates of the theory,(627) wrote towards the end of his life to Timothy: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day."(628) In writing these lines the Apostle no doubt had in mind the sentence of the Universal Judge: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,"(629)—which may with far greater reason be termed a "classical" text than the obscure ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. To prepare for men the kingdom of heaven from the foundation (i.e. beginning) of the world, is to predestine them to eternal happiness. Now, God has "prepared" the kingdom of heaven for men in view of their foreseen merits, that is to say, conditionally. The causal conjunction enim in the sentence following the one just quoted (Matth. XXVI, 25): "Esurivi enim et dedistis mihi manducare, etc.," refers to the entire preceding sentence, not only to the possidete in time, but also to the paratum in eternity. Consequently, the eternal decree of predestination itself, like its temporal execution, depends on good works or merit. This interpretation of Matth. XXV, 34-36 is confirmed by the sentence pronounced upon the reprobates, Matth. XXV, 41 sqq.: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat, etc." The "everlasting fire" is manifestly decreed from all eternity in the same sense in which it is inflicted in time, namely, propter et post praevisa merita. Billuart's contention(630) that hell has been prepared solely for "the devil and his angels" is untenable, because in several other Scriptural passages(631) the reprobates are expressly classed among the followers of Satan. If we add to this that our Divine Lord, in foretelling the last judgment, had naturally to formulate his prediction so as not only to show its absolute justice but likewise to intimate that, had they so willed, the damned might have had their place on the right hand of the Great Judge, we must admit that the theory of predestination post praevisa merita has a solid foundation in Scripture.(632)
b) The Greek Fathers unanimously favor hypothetical predestination, which fact has caused the theory to be commonly referred to as "sententia Graecorum."(633)
Thus St. Chrysostom interprets the judgment of the Son of Man as follows: "Possess ye the kingdom [of heaven] as your own by heredity, as a paternal heritage, as a gift long due to you; for it was prepared and arranged for you before you came into existence, because I knew beforehand that you would be what you are."(634) Theodoret says: "He did not simply predestine [men], but He predestined them because He foreknew [their merits]."(635)
The Latin Fathers before St. Augustine all without exception taught hypothetical predestination. St. Hilary says: "Many are called, but few are chosen.... Hence election is not a matter of indiscriminate choice, but a selection based on merit."(636) And St. Ambrose: "Therefore the Apostle says: 'Whom he foreknew he also predestined' (Rom. VIII, 29); for He did not predestine before He foreknew, but He predestined a reward to those whose merits He foresaw."(637)
The question cannot, as Bellarmine contends,(638) be decided on the sole authority of St. Augustine, because he is claimed by both parties to the controversy.(639)
On account of the existing differences of opinion it is impossible to establish the theory of hypothetical predestination on the basis of Scholastic teaching.(640) The opinion of St. Thomas is in dispute;(641) likewise that of St. Bonaventure. Scotus in his controversy with Henry of Ghent shows a disposition to favor absolute predestination, but leaves the question open. "Let every one," he says,(642) "choose whichever opinion suits him best, without prejudice to the divine liberty, which must be safeguarded against injustice, and to the other truths that are to be held in respect of God."(643)
6. A COMPROMISE THEORY.—For the sake of completeness we will add a few words on a theory which takes middle ground between the two just reviewed, holding that, while the common run of humanity is predestined hypothetically, a few exceptionally favored Saints enjoy the privilege of absolute predestination.
Among the champions of this "eclectic" theory may be mentioned: Ockam,(644) Gabriel Biel,(645) Ysambert,(646) and Ambrosius Catharinus.(647) The Saints regarded by these writers as absolutely predestined to eternal glory are: the Blessed Virgin Mary, the prophets and Apostles, St. Joseph, St. Aloysius, and a few others, as well as all infants dying in the grace of Baptism. Billuart,(648) Dominicus Soto, and certain other divines attack this theory on the ground that it makes the salvation of the great majority of the elect a matter of chance and thereby imperils the dogmatic teaching of the Church. This objection is unfounded. For though the "eclectic" theory has little or no support either in Revelation or in reason, it sufficiently safeguards the dogma of predestination by admitting that voluntate consequente none but the predestined can attain to eternal beatitude.
Only with regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary are we inclined to make an exception. It is probable that she was predestined to eternal glory ante praevisa merita, because, in the words of Lessius, the privileges she enjoyed "exceed all measure and must not be extended to any other human being."(649)
Article 4. The Reprobation Of The Damned
The reprobation of the damned is sometimes called praedestinatio ad gehennam, though, as we have remarked, the term "predestination" should properly be restricted to the blessed.
There can be no absolute and positive predestination to eternal punishment, and the pains of hell can be threatened only in view of mortal sin. Hence reprobation may be defined, in the words of Peter Lombard, as "God's foreknowledge of the wickedness of some creatures and the preparation of their damnation."(650)
A distinction must, however, be made (at least in theory), between positive and negative reprobation. To teach positive reprobation would be heretical. Negative reprobation, on the other hand, is defended by all those Catholic theologians who advocate the theory of absolute predestination ante praevisa merita.(651)