Grace, Actual and Habitual
by Joseph Pohle
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1. HERETICAL PREDESTINARIANISM OR THE THEORY OF THE POSITIVE REPROBATION OF THE DAMNED.—Heretical Predestinarianism was taught by Lucidus, Gottschalk, Wiclif, Hus, the younger Jansenius, and especially by Calvin. The latter asserted that the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the reprobate are the effects of an unconditional divine decree.(652)

According to this abominable heresy, the sin of Adam and the spiritual ruin which it entailed upon his descendants are attributable solely to the will of God. God produces in the reprobate a "semblance of faith," only to make them all the more deserving of damnation. In the beginning of the seventeenth century Arminius and a few other theologians of the Dutch Reformed Church, repelled by Calvin's decretum horribile, ascribed the positive reprobation of the damned to original sin (lapsus). These writers, called Infralapsarians or Postlapsarians, were opposed by the strict school of Calvinist divines under the leadership of Gomarus. The great Calvinist Synod of Dordrecht (1618-1619) condemned the principles of Arminius, and subsequently his adherents were driven from Holland.

The Catholic Church condemned Predestinarianism as early as 529 at the Second Council of Orange, which among other things declared: "We not only refuse to believe that some men are by divine power predestined to evil, but if there be any who hold such a wicked thing, we condemn them with utter detestation."(653)

The Tridentine Council defined against Calvin: "If any one saith that the grace of justification is attained to 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 divine power predestined unto evil; let him be anathema."(654)

Calvinism, both supra- and infra-lapsarian, is easily refuted from Revelation and Tradition.

a) It runs counter to all those texts of the Bible which assert the universality of God's saving will,(655) the bestowal of sufficient grace on all sinners,(656) and the divine attribute of holiness.(657)

Calvin endeavored to prove his blasphemous doctrine chiefly from the ninth chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans.(658) His disciple Beza relied mainly on 1 Pet. II, 7 sq.: "But to them that believe not, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is made the head of the corner: and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of scandal, to them who stumble at the word, neither do believe, whereunto also they are set,"(659) i.e., according to Beza, predestined not to believe.(660) But this interpretation is obviously wrong. For we know from Is. VIII, 14(661) and Matth. XXI, 44,(662) that those who fall on this stone are ground to powder as a punishment for the sin of unbelief.(663)

b) The Fathers, especially those of the East, are unanimous in upholding the orthodox teaching of the Church. The only one whom adherents of Predestinarianism have dared to claim is St. Augustine.

Yet the "Doctor of Grace" expressly teaches: "God is good, God is just. He can deliver some without merits because He is good; but He cannot damn any one without demerits, because He is just."(664) St. Prosper re-echoes this teaching when he says of the reprobates: "Of their own will they went out; of their own will they fell; and because their fall was foreknown, they were not predestined. They would, however, be predestined if they were to return and persevere in holiness; hence God's predestination is for many the cause of perseverance, for none the cause of falling away."(665) St. Fulgentius expresses himself in similar language.(666)

2. THE THEORY OF "NEGATIVE REPROBATION."—Negative reprobation is defined by its defenders as an eternal decree by which God excludes from Heaven those not absolutely predestined, in other words, determines not to save them.

a) Gonet explains the difference between negative and positive reprobation in Scholastic terminology as follows: "... quod haec [i.e. positiva] habet non solum terminum a quo, nempe exclusionem a gloria, sed etiam terminum ad quem, scil. poenam sive damni sive sensus; illa vero [i.e. negativa] solum habet terminum a quo, nempe exclusionem a gloria ut beneficio indebito, non vero terminum ad quem, quia ex vi exclusionis ut sic praecise et ut habet rationem purae negationis, non intelligitur reprobus esse damnandus aut ulli poenae sive damni sive sensus deputandus."(667)

The general principle laid down in this quotation is variously developed by Thomist theologians.

The rigorists (Alvarez, John a S. Thoma, Estius, Sylvius) assign as the motive of reprobation the sovereign will of God. God, they say, without taking into account possible sins and demerits, determined a priori to exclude from Heaven those who are not predestined. De Lemos, Gotti, Gonet, Gazzaniga, and others condemn this view as incompatible with the teaching of St. Thomas, and, appealing to St. Augustine's doctrine of the massa damnata, find the ultimate reason for the exclusion of the reprobates from heaven in original sin, in which God, without being unjust, could leave as many as He saw fit. Goudin, Graveson, Billuart, and others assume that the reprobates are not directly excluded from eternal glory but merely from "effective election" thereunto, God simply having decreed ante praevisa merita to leave them to their weakness.(668)

While the Thomists found no difficulty in harmonizing this view with their theory of physical premotion, the few Molinists who espoused it were hard put in trying to square it with the scientia media.(669) On the whole these Molinists endorse the third and mildest of the above-quoted opinions, which differs only theoretically from the rigoristic view described in the first place. Practically it makes no difference whether God directly excludes a man from heaven or refuses to give him the graces necessary to attain it.

Surveying all three of the theories under consideration we cannot but regard the first and third as heartless and cruel, because they attribute eternal reprobation to a positive decree that takes effect independently of sin; the second, (which ascribes reprobation to original sin), is open to the serious dogmatic objection that it contradicts the teaching of St. Paul and the Tridentine declaration that "there is no condemnation (nihil damnationis) in those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death."(670)

b) Negative reprobation is rightly regarded as the logical counterpart of absolute predestination.(671) If Almighty God, by an absolute decree, without regard to any possible merits, merely to reveal His divine attributes and to "embellish the universe," had determined that only those could enter the "Heavenly Jerusalem" who were antecedently predestined thereto, it would inevitably follow that the unfortunate remainder of humanity by the very same decree were "passed over," "omitted," "overlooked," "not elected," or, as Gonet honestly admits, "excluded from Heaven," which is the same thing as being negatively condemned to hell.

The logical distinction between positive and negative reprobation, therefore, consists mainly in this, that the former signifies absolute damnation to hell, the latter (equally absolute) non-election to Heaven. To protect the Catholic champions of negative reprobation against unjust aspersions, however, it is necessary to point out certain fundamental differences between their theory and the heresy of Calvin.

Calvin and the Jansenists openly deny the universality both of God's saving will and of the atonement; they refuse to admit the actual bestowal of sufficient grace upon those fore-ordained to eternal damnation; and claim that the human will loses its freedom under the predominance of efficacious grace or concupiscence. The Catholic defenders of negative reprobation indignantly reject the charge that their position logically leads to any such heretical implications.

c) The theory of negative reprobation can be sufficiently refuted by showing that it is incompatible with the universality of God's will to save all men. For if God willed absolutely and antecedently to "exclude some men from Heaven," as Gonet asserts, or "not to elect them to eternal glory," as Suarez contends, then it would be His absolute will that they perish.

α) For one thus negatively reprobated it is metaphysically impossible to attain eternal salvation. To hold otherwise would be tantamount to assuming that an essentially absolute decree of God can be frustrated. This consideration led certain Thomists(672) to describe the divine voluntas salvifica as rather an ineffectual velleitas.(673) But this conflicts with the obvious teaching of Revelation.(674) Suarez labors in vain to reconcile the sincerity of God's salvific will with the theory of negative reprobation. The two are absolutely irreconcilable. How could God sincerely will the salvation of all men if it were true, as Suarez says, that "it is not in man's power to work out his eternal salvation in case he falls under non-election, non-predestination, or, which amounts to the same thing, negative reprobation"?(675)

β) The cruel absurdity of the theory of negative reprobation becomes fully apparent when we consider the attitude it ascribes to God. Gonet writes: "Foreseeing that the whole human race would be depraved by original sin, God, in view of the merits of Christ who was to come, elected some men to glory and, in punishment of original sin and to show His justice towards them and His greater mercy towards the elect, permitted others to miss the attainment of beatitude, in other words, He positively willed that they should not attain it.... In virtue of this efficacious intention He devised appropriate means for the attainment of His purpose, and seeing that some would miss beatitude by simply being left in the state of original sin, and others by being permitted to fall into actual sins and to persevere therein, He formally decreed this permission, and finally ... by a command of His intellect ordained these means towards the attainment of the aforesaid end."(676) Translated into plain every-day language this can only mean that God tries with all His might to prevent the reprobate from attaining eternal salvation and sees to it that they die in the state of sin. Suarez is perfectly right in characterizing Gonet's teaching as "incompatible with sound doctrine."(677) But his own teaching is equally unsound and cruel. For he, too, is compelled to assert: "Predestination to glory is the motive for which efficacious or infallible means towards attaining that end are bestowed. Hence to refuse to predestine a man for glory is to deny him the means which are recognized as fit and certain to attain that end."(678)

Holy Scripture fortunately speaks a different language. It describes God as a loving Father, who "wills not that any should perish, but that all should return to penance."(679)

γ) Practically it makes no difference whether a man is positively condemned to eternal damnation, as Calvin and the Jansenists assert, or negatively excluded from Heaven, as held by the orthodox theologians whom we have just quoted. The alleged distinction between positive and negative reprobation is "a distinction without a difference." For an adult to be excluded from Heaven simply means that he is damned. There is no such thing as a middle state or a purely natural beatitude. Lessius justly says that to one reprobated by God it would be all the same whether his reprobation was positive or negative, because in either case he would be inevitably lost.(680)

READINGS:—*Ruiz, De Praedestinatione et Reprobatione, Lyons 1628.—Ramirez, De Praedestinatione et Reprobatione, 2 vols., Alcala 1702.—*Lessius, De Perfectionibus Moribusque Divinis, XIV, 2.—*IDEM, De Praedestinatione et Reprobatione (Opusc., Vol. II, Paris 1878).—Tournely, De Deo, qu. 22 sqq.—Schrader, Commentarii, I-II, De Praedestinatione, Vienna 1865.—J. P. Baltzer, Des hl. Augustinus Lehre ueber Praedestination und Reprobation, Vienna 1871.—Mannens, De Voluntate Dei Salvifica et Praedestinatione, Louvain 1883.—O. Rottmanner, O. S. B., Der Augustinismus, Muenchen 1892.—O. Pfuelf, S. J., "Zur Praedestinationslehre des hl. Augustinus," in the Innsbruck Zeitschrift fuer kath. Theologie, 1893, pp. 483 sqq.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. I, St. Louis 1917, pp. 281, 378, 382 sqq.

Chapter III. Grace In Its Relation To Free-Will

When we speak of the relation of grace to free-will, we mean efficacious grace; merely sufficient grace, as such, does not involve consent.

The Protestant reformers and the Jansenists denied the freedom of the human will under the influence of efficacious grace.

Catholic theologians have always staunchly upheld both the freedom of the will and the efficacy of grace, but they disagree in explaining the mutual relations between grace and free-will.

Section 1. The Heresy of The Protestant Reformers And The Jansenists

1. THE HERETICAL ERRORS OF LUTHER, CALVIN, AND JANSENIUS CONTRASTED WITH THE ORTHODOX TEACHING OF THE CHURCH.—Luther and Calvin asserted that the freedom of the will was irretrievably lost by original sin. Jansenius taught that the will is overcome by efficacious grace in exactly the same way as it is overpowered by concupiscence in the absence of grace. Against both these heresies the Church has always maintained that the will remains free under the influence of efficacious grace.

a) Luther taught(681) that original sin has so completely annihilated man's free-will that he resembles a horse compelled to go in whatever direction it is driven (according as "God or the devil rides him"),(682) and that the grace of Christ, far from restoring man's liberty, compels him to act with intestine necessity.

Calvin(683) carried this teaching to its logical conclusions by asserting: (1) that the will of our first parents was free in Paradise, but lost its freedom by original sin; (2) that we cannot be delivered from the slavery of Satan except by the grace of Christ, which does not, however, restore liberty, but simply compels the will to do good; (3) that, though the will under the influence of grace is passive, and must needs follow the impulse to which it is subjected, yet its acts are vital and spontaneous.(684)

Against these heresies the Council of Trent maintained the existence of free-will both in the state of original sin(685) and under the influence of efficacious grace: "If any one saith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, ... cannot refuse its consent if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive: let him be anathema."(686)

b) Jansenius differed from Luther and Calvin mainly in drawing a sharper distinction between freedom from external constraint (libertas a coactione) and freedom from internal compulsion (libertas a necessitate), and maintaining that the will, when under the influence of grace, is exempt from external constraint, though not from interior compulsion, and that the libertas a coactione is entirely sufficient to gain merit or demerit in the fallen state.(687)

The Jansenist teaching on the subject of grace may be outlined as follows: (1) By original sin man lost the moral liberty which he had enjoyed in Paradise and became subject to a twofold delectation—delectatio coelestis victrix and delectatio terrena sive carnalis victrix. (2) These two delectations are continually contending for the mastery; the stronger always defeats the weaker, (3) and the will, unable to offer resistance, is alternately overpowered now by the one and then by the other.(688) (4) In each case the delectatio coelestis is either stronger than the delectatio terrena, or it is weaker, or it is of equal strength. When it is stronger, the will is overcome by grace, which in that case becomes efficax or irresistibilis. When it is weaker, the will simply must sin, because the delectatio coelestis is too weak to overcome the delectatio terrena. The grace given to a man under such conditions is called by the Jansenists gratia parva sive sufficiens. When the two delectations are equally strong, the will finds itself unable to come to a definite decision.

This false teaching inspired the famous "five propositions" of Jansenius, to-wit: (1) Man is unable to keep some of God's commandments for want of grace; (2) In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace; (3) To merit or demerit in the state of fallen nature it is sufficient to be free from external constraint; (4) The Semipelagian heresy consisted in assuming the existence of a grace which man may either obey or resist; and (5) Christ did not die for all men, but solely for the predestined.

These propositions were condemned as heretical by Pope Innocent X in his dogmatic Bull "Cum occasione," of May 31, 1653. All five are implicitly contained in the second, viz.: In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace. "If it is true that fallen man never resists interior grace (second proposition), it follows that a just man who violates a commandment of God has not had the grace to observe it, that he therefore transgressed it through inability to fulfil it (first proposition). If, however, he has sinned and thus incurred demerit, it is clear that the liberty of indifference is not a requisite condition of demerit, and what is said of demerit is likewise true of its correlative, merit (third proposition). On the other hand, if grace is wanting to the just whenever they fall, it is wanting still more to sinners; it is therefore impossible to maintain that the death of Jesus Christ assured to every man the graces necessary for salvation (fifth proposition). As a further consequence, the Semipelagians were in error in admitting the universal distribution of a grace which may be resisted (fourth proposition)."(689)

2. THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH PROVED FROM REVELATION.—Far from favoring the determinism of the Reformers and of Jansenius, the Bible and Tradition positively contradict the contention that free-will is overpowered by grace.

a) The operation of grace and the liberty of the will never appear in Sacred Scripture as mutually exclusive, but invariably as cooeperating factors, though sometimes the one is emphasized, and sometimes the other, according to the purpose the sacred writer happens to have in view.

The Council of Trent expressly calls attention to this:(690) "When it is said in the sacred writings, 'Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you,'(691) we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer: 'Convert us, O God, to thee, and we shall be converted,'(692) we confess that we are forestalled by the grace of God."

St. Paul, it is true, asks: "Who resisteth his [God's] will?"(693) But he also admonishes his favorite disciple Timothy: "Exercise thyself unto godliness."(694) St. Stephen testifies that the grace of the Holy Ghost does not compel the will. "You always resist the Holy Ghost," he tells the Jews; "as your fathers did, so do you also."(695) Our Lord Himself teaches that grace exerts no interior compulsion but invites free cooeperation: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."(696) The exhortations, promises, and threats uttered in various portions of Holy Writ would be meaningless if it were true that grace destroys free-will.(697)

b) As regards Tradition, the Greek Fathers who wrote before St. Augustine defended the freedom of the will so energetically that they were subsequently accused of harboring Pelagian and Semipelagian errors.(698) Calvin himself admits that with but one exception the Fathers are unanimously opposed to his teaching.(699)

The one exception noted is St. Augustine, to whom both Calvin and Jansenius appeal with great confidence. It should be noted, however, that the point which chiefly concerned St. Augustine in his controversies with the Pelagians and Semipelagians, was the necessity and gratuity of grace, not its relation to free-will. Where he incidentally touches upon the latter, he shows by the manner in which he formulates his sentences that he regards the relation of grace to free-will as a great mystery. But he does not try to solve this mystery in the manner in which Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot. He does not declare: Grace is everything, free-will is nothing. If the power of grace destroyed the freedom of the human will, their mutual relation would be no problem.(700) Possibly St. Augustine in the heat of controversy now and then expressed himself in language open to misinterpretation, as when he said: "Therefore aid was brought to the infirmity of the human will, so that it might be unchangeably and invincibly influenced by divine grace."(701) But this and similar phrases admit of a perfectly orthodox interpretation. As the context shows, Augustine merely wished to assert the hegemony of grace in all things pertaining to salvation, and to emphasize the fact that free-will, strengthened by grace, is able to resist even the most grievous temptations.(702) At no period of his life did the Saint deny the freedom of the will under the influence of grace. We will quote but two out of many available passages in proof of this statement. "To yield consent or to withhold it, whenever God calls, is the function of one's own will."(703) "For the freedom of the will is not destroyed because the will is aided; but it is aided precisely for the reason that it remains free."(704) St. Bernard of Clairvaux echoes this teaching when, in his own ingenious way, he summarizes the Catholic dogma as follows: "Take away free will and there will be nothing left to save; take away grace and there will be no means left of salvation."(705)

READINGS:—*Bellarmine, De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio (Opera Omnia, ed. Fevre, Vols. V and VI, Paris 1873).—*Dechamps, S. J., De Haeresi Ianseniana, Paris 1645.—F. Woerter, Die christliche Lehre ueber das Verhaeltnis von Gnade und Freiheit bis auf Augustinus, Freiburg 1856.—*Palmieri, De Gratia Divina Actuali, thes. 39-48, Gulpen 1885.—S. Schiffini, De Gratia Divina, pp. 357 sqq., 377 sqq., Freiburg 1901.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp. 507 sqq.

Section 2. Theological Systems Devised To Harmonize The Dogmas Of Grace And Free-Will

The relation of grace to free-will may be regarded from a twofold point of view. We may take grace as the primary factor and trace it in its action on the human will; or, starting from the latter, we may endeavor to ascertain how free-will is affected by grace.

The first-mentioned method has given birth to two closely related theological systems, Thomism and Augustinianism; the latter to Molinism and Congruism, which are almost identical in substance.

Besides these there is a fifth theory, which tries to reconcile the two extremes and may therefore be called eclectic.

That the human will is free, yet subject to the influence of grace, is an article of faith unhesitatingly accepted by all Catholic theologians. It is in trying to explain how grace and free-will cooeperate, that the above-mentioned schools differ.

In approaching this extremely difficult and obscure problem we consider it our duty to warn the student against preconceived opinions and to remind him that the different systems which we are about to examine are all tolerated by the Church. To-day, when so many more important things are at stake and the faith is viciously assailed from without, the ancient controversy between Thomism and Molinism had better be left in abeyance.

Article 1. Thomism And Augustinianism

Thomism and Augustinianism both hinge on the concept of gratia efficax ab intrinseco s. per se, whereas Molinism and Congruism will not admit even the existence of such a grace.

1. THE THOMISTIC THEORY OF GRACE.—The true founder of the Thomistic system is not St. Thomas Aquinas, who is also claimed by the Molinists, but the learned Dominican theologian Banez (1528-1604). His teaching may be summarized as follows:

a) God is the First Cause (causa prima) and Prime Mover (motor primus) of all things, and all created or secondary causes (causae secundae) derive their being and faculties, nay, their very acts from Him. If any creature could act independently of God, God would cease to be causa prima and motor primus.(706)

The influence of the First Cause is universal, that is to say, it produces all creatural acts without exception,—necessary and free, good and bad,—because no secondary cause has power to act unless it is set in motion by the motor primus.

In influencing His creatures, however, God adapts himself to the peculiar nature of each. The necessary causes He determines to act necessarily, the free causes, freely. All receive from Him their substance and their mode of action.(707) The rational creature, therefore, though subject to His determining influence, acts with perfect freedom, just as if it were not moved.

b) In spite of free-will, however, the influence which God exerts on His rational creatures is irresistible because it proceeds from an absolute and omnipotent Being whose decrees brook no opposition. What God wills infallibly happens.(708)

Nevertheless, God is not the author of sin. He moves the sinner to perform an act; but He does not move Him to perform a sinful act. The malice of sin derives solely from the free will of man.(709)

c) Since the divine influence causally precedes all creatural acts, God's concurrence with creatural causes (concursus generalis) must be conceived as prevenient, not simultaneous. The Divine Omnipotence not only makes the action possible, but likewise effects it by moving the will from potentiality to actuality.(710) Consequently, the causal influence which the Creator exerts upon His creatures is not a mere motio, but a praemotio,—and not merely moral, but physical (praemotio physica).(711) It is by physical premotion that God's prevenient influence effects the free actions of His creatures, without regard to their assent.(712) Free-will is predetermined by God before it determines itself.(713)

d) If we analyse God's physical predeterminations in so far as they are created entities, we find that they are nothing else than the effect and execution of His eternal decrees, embodied in the praedeterminatio physica. It is the temporal execution of the latter that is called praemotio physica. Hence we are justified in speaking, not only of a temporal praemotio, but of an eternal praedeterminatio, in fact the terms are often used synonymously.(714)

Viewed in its relation to rational creatures, this eternal predetermination is nothing but a temporal premotion of the free will to determine itself. Since God has from all eternity made absolute and conditional decrees, which possess the power of physical predetermination without regard to the free consent of His creatures, physical predetermination constitutes an infallible medium by which He can foreknow their future free actions, and hence there is no need of a scientia media. If God knows His own will, He must also know the free determinations included therein. To deny this would be to destroy the very foundation of His foreknowledge.(715)

This is merely the philosophical basis of the Thomistic system. Its champions carry the argument into the theological domain by reasoning as follows: What is true in the natural must be equally true in the supernatural sphere, as we know from reason and Revelation.(716)

e) To physical predetermination or premotion in the order of nature, there corresponds in the supernatural sphere the gratia efficax, which predetermines man to perform salutary acts in such wise that he acts freely but at the same time with metaphysical necessity (necessitate consequentiae, not consequentis). It would be a contradiction to say that efficacious grace given for the purpose of eliciting consent may co-exist with non-consent, i.e., may fail to elicit consent.(717) The will freely assents to the divine impulse because it is effectively moved thereto by grace. Consequently, efficacious grace does not derive its efficacy from the consent of the will; it is efficacious of itself and intrinsically (gratia efficax ab intrinseco sive per se).(718)

It follows that efficacious grace must be conceived as a praedeterminatio ad unum.(719)

f) If efficacious grace is intrinsically and of its very nature inseparably bound up with the consent of the will, it must differ essentially from merely sufficient grace (gratia mere sufficiens), which confers only the power to act (posse operari), not the act itself (actu operari). Efficacious grace, by its very definition, includes the free consent of the will, while merely sufficient grace lacks that consent, because with it, it would cease to be merely sufficient and would become efficacious.(720)

Here the question naturally arises: How, in this hypothesis, can sufficient grace be called truly sufficient? The Thomists answer this question in different ways. Gazzaniga says that sufficient grace confers the power to perform a good deed, but that something more is required for the deed itself.(721) De Lemos ascribes the inefficacy of merely sufficient grace to a defect of the will.(722) If the will did not resist, God would promptly add efficacious grace.(723)

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF THE THOMISTIC THEORY.—The Thomistic system undoubtedly has its merits. It is logical in its deductions, exalts divine grace as the prime factor in the business of salvation, and magnificently works out the concept of God as causa prima and motor primus both in the natural and the supernatural order.

But Thomism also has its weak points.

A. The Thomistic conception of efficacious grace is open to two serious theological difficulties.

(1) To draw an intrinsic and substantial distinction between efficacious and merely sufficient grace destroys the true notion of sufficient grace.

(2) The Thomistic theory of efficacious grace is incompatible with the dogma of free-will.

Though in theory the Thomists defend the sufficiency of grace and the freedom of the will as valiantly as their opponents, they fail in their attempts at squaring these dogmas with the fundamental principles of their system.

a) Sufficient grace, as conceived by the Thomists, is not truly sufficient to enable a man to perform a salutary act, because ex vi notionis it confers merely the power to act, postulating for the act itself a substantially new grace (gratia efficax). A grace which requires to be entitatively supplemented by another, in order to enable a man to perform a salutary act, is clearly not sufficient for the performance of that act. "To be truly sufficient for something" and "to require to be complemented by something else" are mutually exclusive notions, and hence "sufficient grace" as conceived by Thomists is in reality insufficient.

Many subtle explanations have been devised to obviate this difficulty. Billuart and nearly all the later Thomists say that if any one who has received sufficient grace (in the Thomistic sense of the term) is denied the gratia efficax, it must be attributed to a sinful resistance of the will.(724) But this explanation is incompatible with the Thomistic teaching that together with the gratia sufficiens there co-exists in the soul of the sinner an irresistible and inevitable praemotio physica to the entity of sin, with which entity formal sin is inseparably bound up.(725) If this be true, how can the will of man be held responsible so long as God denies him the gratia ab intrinseco efficax?

Speaking in the abstract, the will may assume one of three distinct attitudes toward sufficient grace. It may consent, it may resist, or it may remain neutral. It cannot consent except with the aid of a predetermining gratia efficax, to merit which is beyond its power. If it withstands, it eo ipso renders itself unworthy of the gratia efficax. If it takes a neutral attitude, (which may in itself be a sinful act), and awaits efficacious grace, of what use is sufficient grace?

To resist sufficient grace involves an abuse of liberty. Now, where does the right use of liberty come in? If cooeperation with sufficient grace moves God to bestow the gratia per se efficax, as the Thomists contend, then the right use of liberty must lie somewhere between the gratia sufficiens and the gratia efficax per se. But there is absolutely no place for it in the Thomistic system. The right use of liberty for the purpose of obtaining efficacious grace is attributable either to grace or to unaided nature. To assert that it is the work of unaided nature would lead to Semipelagianism. To hold that it is owing to grace would be moving in a vicious circle, thus: "Because the will offers no resistance, it is efficaciously moved to perform a salutary act; that it offers no sinful resistance is owing to the fact that it is efficaciously moved to perform a salutary act."(726)

It is impossible to devise any satisfactory solution of this difficulty which will not at the same time upset the very foundation on which the Thomistic system rests, viz.: "Nulla secunda causa potest operari, nisi sit efficaciter determinata a prima [scil. per applicationem potentiae ad actum]," that is to say, no secondary cause can act unless it be efficaciously determined by the First Cause by an application of the latter to the former as of potency to act.

b) The Thomistic gratia efficax, conceived as a praedeterminatio ad unum, inevitably destroys free-will.

α) It is important to state the question clearly: Not physical premotion as such,(727) but the implied connotation of praevia determinatio ad unum, is incompatible with the dogma of free-will. The freedom of the will does not consist in the pure contingency of an act, or in a merely passive indifference, but in active indifference either to will or not to will, to will thus or otherwise. Consequently every physical predetermination, in so far as it is a determinatio ad unum, must necessarily be destructive of free-will. Self-determination and physical predetermination by an extraneous will are mutually exclusive. Now the Thomists hold that the gratia per se efficax operates in the manner of a supernatural praedeterminatio ad unum. If this were true, the will under the influence of efficacious grace would no longer be free.

To perceive the full force of this argument it is necessary to keep in mind the Thomistic definition of praemotio physica as "actio Dei, qua voluntatem humanam, priusquam se determinet, ita ad actum movet insuperabili virtute, ut voluntas nequeat omissionem sui actus cum illa praemotione coniungere."(728) That is to say: As the non-performance of an act by the will is owing simply and solely to the absence of the respective praemotio physica, so conversely, the performance of an act is conditioned simply and solely by the presence of a divine premotion; the will itself can neither obtain nor prevent such a premotion, because this would require a new premotion, which again depends entirely on the divine pleasure. If the will of man were thus inevitably predetermined by God, it could not in any sense of the term be called truly free.


β) The Thomists meet this argument with mere evasions. They make a distinction between necessitas consequentis (antecedens), which really necessitates, and necessitas consequentiae (subsequens), which does not. A free act, they say, necessarily proceeds from a physical premotion, but it is not on that account in itself necessary. But, we answer, a determinatio ad unum, which precedes a free act and is independent of the will, is more than a necessitas consequentiae—it is a necessitas consequentis destructive of free-will. The Thomists reply: Considered as a created entity, physical premotion may indeed be incompatible with free-will; not so if regarded as an act of God, who, being almighty, is able to predetermine the will without prejudice to its freedom.(729) The obvious rejoinder is that an intrinsic contradiction cannot be solved by an appeal to the divine omnipotence, because even God Himself cannot do what is intrinsically impossible.(730) He can no more change a determinatio ad unum into a libertas ad utrumque than He can create a square circle, because the two notions involve an intrinsic contradiction. Furthermore, if the Almighty wished intrinsically to compel a man to perform some definite act, would He not choose precisely that praemotio physica which, the Thomists claim, also produces free acts? Not so, replies Alvarez; "for the will remains free so long as the intellect represents to it an object as indifferent."(731) That is to say: Liberty remains as long as its root, i.e. an indifferent judgment, is present. But this new rejoinder, far from solving the riddle, simply begs the question. Liberty of choice resides formaliter in the will, not in the intellect, and consequently the will, as will, cannot be truly free unless it possesses within itself the unimpeded power to act or not to act. This indifferentia activa ad utrumlibet, as it is technically termed, is absolutely incompatible with the Thomistic praemotio ad unum. What would it avail the will to enjoy the indifferentia iudicii if it had to submit to compulsion from some other quarter?

γ) To escape from this quandary the Thomists resort to the famous distinction between the _sensus compositus_ and the _sensus divisus_. The Molinists argue: "_Liberum arbitrium efficaciter praemotum a gratia non potest dissentire; ergo non est liberum._" The Thomists reply: "_Distinguo:—non potest dissentire in sensu diviso, nego; non potest dissentire in sensu composito, concedo._" They explain this distinction by certain well-known examples taken from dialectics. Thus Billuart says: "_Ut si dicas, sedens potest stare, significat in sensu composito, quod possit sedere simul et stare; ... in sensu diviso, quod sedens sub sessione retinet potentiam standi, non tamen componendi stationem cum sessione. Uno verbo: sensus compositus importat potentiam simultaneitatis, sensus divisus simultaneitatem _ potentiae._"(732) As one who sits cannot at the same time stand (_sensus compositus_), although he is free to rise (_sensus divisus_), so the consent of the will effected by efficacious grace, cannot become dissent (_sensus compositus_), though the will retains the power to dissent instead of consenting (_sensus divisus_), and this is sufficient to safeguard its freedom.

Is the distinction between sensus compositus and sensus divisus correctly applied here? Can the will, under the predetermining influence of the gratia efficax, change its consent into dissent at any time and as easily as a man who is sitting on a chair can rise and thereby demonstrate that his sitting was an absolutely free act? Alvarez(733) describes the Thomistic potentia dissentiendi as a faculty which can never under any circumstances become active. But such a potentia is really no potentia at all. A man tied to a chair is not free to stand; his natural potentia standi is neutralized by external restraint. Similarly, the will, under the influence of the Thomistic gratia efficax, no longer enjoys the power to dissent, and the alleged potentia resistendi, by which the Thomists claim to save free-will, is a chimera.

δ) It is at this decisive point in the controversy that the Molinists triumphantly bring in the declaration of the Council of Trent that "man ... while he receives that inspiration [i.e. efficacious grace], ... is also able to reject it." And again: "If any one saith that man's free-will, moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, does in no wise cooeperate towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of justification; that it cannot refuse its consent if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema."(734) To adjust their system to this important dogmatic decision, the older Thomists claimed that the Tridentine Council had in mind merely the gratia sufficiens, to which the will can refuse its consent. But this interpretation is untenable. The Council plainly refers to that grace with which the will cooeperates by giving its consent (cooperatur assentiendo) and which it can render inefficacious by withdrawing its consent, in other words, with the grace which disposes and prepares a sinner for justification, and under the influence of which, according to Luther and Calvin, the will remains inanimate and merely passive. This can only be the gratia efficax. Other Thomist theologians, not daring to contradict the obvious sense of the Tridentine decree, assert that the Council intentionally chose the term dissentire (sensus divisus) rather than resistere (sensus compositus), in order to indicate that under the predetermining influence of grace it is possible for the will to refuse its consent (posse dissentire) but not to offer resistance (posse resistere).(735) This interpretation is no longer tenable since the Vatican Council has defined that "Faith, even when it does not work by charity, is in itself a gift of God, and the act of faith is a work appertaining to salvation, by which man yields voluntary obedience to God Himself, by assenting to and cooeperating with His grace, which he is able to resist."(736) If efficacious grace can be successfully resisted, it can not possess that "irresistible" influence which the Thomists ascribe to it.(737)


B. The Thomistic system is open to two serious objections also from the philosophical point of view. One of these concerns the medium by which God foreknows the future free acts of His rational creatures; the other, His relation to sin.

a) In regard to the first-mentioned point we do not, of course, underestimate the immense difficulties involved in the problem of God's foreknowledge of the free acts of the future.


The Molinistic theory also has its difficulties, and they are so numerous and weighty that in our treatise on God(738) we made no attempt to demonstrate the scientia media by stringent arguments, but merely accepted it as a working hypothesis which supplies some sort of scientific basis for the dogmas of divine omnipotence and free-will in both the natural and the supernatural order.

b) A more serious objection than the one just adverted to is that the Thomistic hypothesis involves the blasphemous inference that God predetermines men to sin.

α) Under a rigorous application of the Thomistic principles God would have to be acknowledged as the cause of sin. As the predetermination of the will to justification can take no other form than the gratia per se efficax, so sin, considered as an act, necessarily postulates the predetermining influence of the motor primus.(739) Without this assumption it would be impossible in the Thomistic system to find in the absolute will of God an infallible medium by which He can foreknow future sins. Banez says on this point: "God knows sin with an intuitive knowledge, because His will is the cause of the sinful act, as act, at the same time permitting free-will to concur in that act by failing to observe the law."(740) Though the Thomists refuse to admit that God Himself is the immediate author of sin, the conclusion is inevitable from their premises. And this for two reasons. First, because the alleged praemotio ad malum is as irresistible as the praemotio ad bonum; and secondly, because the material element of sin must be inseparable from its formal element; otherwise God would foreknow sin merely materialiter as an act but not formaliter as a sin. The teaching of the Church on this point was clearly defined by the Council of Trent: "If any one saith that it is not in man's power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissibly only, but properly and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema."(741)

If the rational creature were compelled to perform a sinful act, as act, resistance would be impossible. And if it were true that the malice of an act practically cannot be separated from its physical entity, then in the Thomistic hypothesis God would be the author not only of the entitas but likewise of the malitia peccati. The devil tempts us only by moral means, i.e. by suggestion; are we to assume that God tempts us physically by inducing sin as an act and simultaneously withholding the praemotio ad bonum, thus making sin an inevitable fatality? This consideration may be supplemented by another. So-called "sins of malice" are comparatively rare. Most sins are committed for the sake of some pleasure or imaginary advantage. It is for this reason that moral theology in forbidding sin forbids its physical entity. How gladly would not those who are addicted to impurity, for instance, separate the malice from the entity of their sinful acts, in order to be enabled to indulge their passion without offending God!

β) Against the logic of this argument some Thomist theologians defend themselves by a simile. The soul of a lame man, they say, enables him indeed to move his disabled limb; however, the cause of limping is not the soul but a crooked shinbone. Father Pesch wittily disposes of such reasoning as follows: "The will of Adam before the fall was not a crooked shinbone, but it was absolutely straight, and became crooked through physical premotion."(742)

Another and more plausible contention of the Thomist school is that Molinism, too, is compelled to ascribe sin somehow to God. "It is impossible for a man to sin unless God lends His cooeperation. Do not, therefore, the Molinists also make God the author of sin?" Those who argue in this wise overlook the fact that there is a very large distinction between the concursus simultaneus of the Molinists and the praemotio physica of the Thomists. The praemotio physica predetermines the sinful act without regard to the circumstance whether or not the will is able to offer resistance. The concursus simultaneus, on the other hand, begins as a mere concursus oblatus, which is in itself indifferent and awaits as it were the free consent of the will before it cooeperates with the sinner as concursus collatus in the performance of the sinful act.(743) For this reason the distinction between actus and malitia has a well-defined place in the Molinistic system, whereas it is meaningless in that of the Thomists.(744)

2. AUGUSTINIANISM.—This system, so called because its defenders pretend to base it on the authority of St. Augustine, has some points of similarity with Thomism but differs from the latter in more than one respect, especially in this that the Augustinians,(745) though they speak with great deference of the gratia per se efficax, hold that the will is not physically but only morally predetermined in its free acts. Hence Augustinianism may fitly be described as the system of the praedeterminatio moralis. Its most eminent defender is Lawrence Berti, O. S. A. (1696-1766), who in a voluminous work De Theologicis Disciplinis(746) so vigorously championed the Augustinian theory that Archbishop Jean d'Yse de Saleon, of Vienne,(747) and other contemporary theologians combated his teaching as a revival of Jansenism. Pope Benedict XIV instituted an official investigation, which resulted in a decree permitting Augustinianism to be freely held and taught.

a) Whereas Thomism begins with the concept of causa prima and motor primus, Augustinianism is based on the notion of delectatio coelestis or caritas. Berti holds three principles in common with Jansenius: (1) Actual grace consists essentially in the infusion of celestial delectation. (2) This heavenly delectation (i.e. grace) causally precedes free-will in such wise that its relative intensity in every instance constitutes the law and standard of the will's disposition to do good.

(3) Simultaneously with this celestial delectation, concupiscence (delectatio carnalis, concupiscentia) is doing its work in fallen man, and the two powers constantly contend for the mastery. So long as celestial delectation (i.e. grace) is weaker than, or equipollent with, concupiscence, the will inevitably fails to perform the salutary act to which it is invited by the former. It is only when the delectatio coelestis overcomes concupiscence (delectatio coelestis victrix) that free-will can perform the act inspired by grace. There is a fourth principle, and one, too, of fundamental importance, which brings out the essential difference between Augustinianism and Jansenism, viz.: the delectatio coelestis never overpowers the will but leaves it free to choose between good and evil.(748)

b) The relation between merely sufficient and efficacious grace in the Augustinian system, therefore, may be described as follows: Merely sufficient grace imparts to the will the posse but not the velle, or at best only such a weak velle that it requires the delectatio victrix (gratia efficax) to become effective. Efficacious grace (delectatio coelestis victrix), on the other hand, impels the will actually to perform the good deed. Hence there is between the two an essential and specific difference, and the efficacy of that grace which leads to the performance of salutary acts does not lie with free-will but depends on the delectatio coelestis, which must consequently be conceived as gratia efficax ab intrinseco sive per se.(749)

c) Nevertheless, the necessity of the _gratia efficax ab _ intrinseco_, according to the Augustinian theory, is not due to the subordination of the _causa secunda_ to the _causa prima_, as the Thomists contend, but to a constitutional weakness of human nature, consisting in this that its evil impulses can be overcome solely by the _delectatio coelestis victrix_ (_gratia efficax, adiutorium quo_. The case was different before the Fall, when the _gratia versatilis_ (_gratia sufficiens, adiutorium sine quo non_) sufficed for the performance of salutary acts.(750)

d) However, the Augustinians insist against the Jansenists, that the delectatio coelestis (i.e. efficacious grace) does not intrinsically compel the will, but acts merely as a praemotio moralis, and that while the will obeys the inspiration of grace infallibly (infallibiliter) it does not do so necessarily (non necessario). With equal certainty, though not necessarily, the will, when equipped solely with sufficient grace, succumbs to concupiscence. The ultimate reason for the freedom of the will is to be found in the indifferentia iudicii.(751) By way of exemplification the Augustinians cite the case of a well-bred man who, though physically free and able to do so, would never turn summersaults on a public thoroughfare or gouge out his own eyes.

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF AUGUSTINIANISM.—On account of its uncritical methods Augustinianism has found but few defenders and deserves notice only in so far as it claims to base its teaching on St. Augustine.

Like the Bible, the writings of that holy Doctor have been quoted in support of many contradictory systems.(752) If the use of Augustinian terms guaranteed the possession of Augustinian ideas, Jansenius would have a strong claim to be considered a faithful disciple of St. Augustine. Yet how widely does not the "Augustinus Iprensis," as he has been called, differ from the "Augustinus Hipponensis"! Augustinianism, too, utterly misconceives the terms which it employs. Space permits us to call attention to one or two points only.

a) In the first place Augustinianism labors under an absolutely false conception of sufficient grace.

How can that grace be sufficient for justification which is first described in glowing colors as parva et invalida and then in the same breath is declared to be insufficient except when reinforced by a gratia magna in the shape of delectatio victrix? What kind of "grace" can that be which in its very nature is so constituted that the will, under the prevailing influence of concupiscence, infallibly does the opposite of that to which it is supernaturally impelled? It is quite true that the distinction between gratia parva and gratia magna(753) is found in St. Augustine. However, he understands by gratia parva not sufficient grace, but the grace of prayer (gratia remote sufficiens), and by gratia magna, not efficacious grace as such, but grace sufficient to perform a good act (gratia proxime sufficiens).(754)

b) Augustinianism is unable to reconcile its theory of a praemotio moralis with the dogma of free-will.

Under the Augustinian system the influence of efficacious grace can be conceived in but two ways. Either it is so strong that the will is physically unable to withhold its consent; or it is only strong enough that the consent of the will can be inferred with purely moral certainty. In the former alternative we have a prevenient necessity which determines the will ad unum and consequently destroys its freedom. In the latter, there can be no infallible foreknowledge of the future free acts of rational creatures on the part of God, because the Augustinians reject the scientia media of the Molinists and expressly admit that the same grace which proves effective in one man remains ineffective in another because of the condition of his heart.(755)

c) Finally, the three fundamental principles of the Augustinian system are false and have no warrant in the writings of St. Augustine.

It is not true that pleasure (delectatio) is the font and well-spring of all supernaturally good deeds. Such deeds may also be inspired by hatred, fear, sorrow, etc.(756) With many men the fear of God or a sense of duty is as strong an incentive to do good as the sweet consciousness of treading the right path. St. Augustine did not regard "celestial delectation" as the essential mark of efficacious grace, nor concupiscence as the characteristic note of sin.(757)

The second and third principles of the Augustinian system are likewise false. If delectation is only one motive among many, its varying intensity cannot be the standard of our conduct; and still less can it be said that the will is morally compelled in each instance to obey the relatively stronger as against the weaker delectation; for any necessitation that does not depend on the free will excludes the libertas a coactione, but not that libertas a necessitate which constitutes the notion of liberty. There can be no freedom of the will unless the will is able to resist delectation at all times. Consequently, the fourth principle of the Augustinians, by which they pretend to uphold free-will, is also false.(758)

READINGS:—The literature on the different systems of grace is enormous. We can mention only a few of the leading works.

On the Thomist side: *Banez, O. P., _Comment. in S. Theol. S. Thom._, Salamanca 1584 sqq.—*Alvarez, O. P., _De Auxiliis Gratiae et Humani Arbitrii Viribus_, Rome 1610.—IDEM, _Responsionum Libri Quatuor_, Louvain 1622.—Ledesma, O. P., _De Divinae Gratiae Auxiliis_, Salamanca 1611.—*Gonet, O. P., _Clypeus Theologiae Thomisticae_, 16 vols., Bordeaux 1659-69.—Contenson, O. P., _Theologia Mentis et Cordis_, Lyons 1673.—De Lemos, O. P., _Panoplia Divinae Gratiae_, 4 vols., Liege 1676.—Goudin, O. P., _De Scientia et Voluntate Dei_, new ed., Louvain 1874.—*Gotti, O. P., _Theologia Scholastico-Dogmatica iuxta Mentem _ Divi Thomae_, Venice 1750.—Gazzaniga, O. P., _Theologia Dogmatica in Systema Redacta_, 2 vols., Vienne 1776.—*Billuart, _De Gratia_, diss. 5 (ed. Lequette, t. III, pp. 123 sqq.).—IDEM, _Le Thomisme Triomphant_, Paris 1725.—*Fr. G. Feldner, O. P., _Die Lehre des hl. Thomas ueber die Willensfreiheit_, Prague 1890.—IDEM, in Commer's _Jahrbuch fuer Philosophie und spekulative Theologie_, 1894 sqq.—*Dummermuth, O. P., _S. Thomas et Doctrina Praemotionis Physicae_, Paris 1886.—I. A. Manser, _Possibilitas Praemotionis Physicae Thomisticae_, Fribourg (Switzerland) 1895.—Joh. Ude, _Doctrina Capreoli de Influxu Dei in Actus Voluntatis Humanae_, Graz 1905.—Del Prado, _De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio_, 3 vols., Fribourg (Switzerland) 1907.—P. Garrigou-Lagrange, _S. Thomas et le Neomolinisme_, Paris 1917.

On the Augustinian side: Card. Norisius, Vindiciae Augustinianae, Padua 1677.—*Berti, De Theologicis Disciplinis, 8 vols., Rome 1739 sqq.—Bellelli, Mens Augustini de Modo Reparationis Humanae Naturae, 2 vols., Rome 1773.—L. de Thomassin, Memoires sur la Grace, etc., Louvain 1668.

For a list of Molinistic and Congruistic authors see pp. 269 sq.

Article 2. Molinism And Congruism

The point in which these two systems meet, and in regard to which they differ from Thomism and Augustinianism, is the definition of efficacious grace as efficax ab extrinseco sive per accidens.

This conception was violently attacked by the Spanish Dominican Banez and other divines. About 1594, the controversy between the followers of Banez and the Molinists waxed so hot that Pope Clement VIII appointed a special commission to settle it. This was the famous Congregatio de Auxiliis, consisting of picked theologians from both the Dominican and the Jesuit orders. It debated the matter for nine full years without arriving at a decision. Finally Pope Paul V, at the suggestion of St. Francis de Sales, declared both systems to be orthodox and defensible, and strictly forbade the contending parties to denounce each other as heretical.(759)

While Thomism devoted its efforts mainly to the defense of grace, Molinism made it its chief business to champion the dogma of free-will.

1. MOLINISM.—Molinism takes its name from the Jesuit Luis de Molina, who published a famous treatise under the title Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Gratiae Donis at Lisbon, in 1588. His teaching may be outlined as follows:

a) In actu primo there is no intrinsic and ontological but merely an extrinsic and accidental distinction between efficacious and sufficient grace, based upon their respective effects. Sufficient grace becomes efficacious by the consent of the will; if the will resists, grace remains inefficacious (inefficax) and merely sufficient (gratia mere sufficiens). Consequently, one and the same grace may be efficacious in one case and inefficacious in another. It all depends on the will.(760)

b) This theory involves no denial of the priority and superior dignity of grace in the work of salvation. The will, considered as a mere faculty, and in actu primo, is raised to the supernatural order by prevenient grace (gratia praeveniens), which imparts to it all the moral and physical power necessary to perform free salutary acts. Neither can the actus secundus be regarded as a product of the unaided will; it is the result of grace cooeperating with free-will.(761) Consequently, the will by giving its consent does not increase the power of grace, but it is grace which makes possible, prepares, and aids the will in performing free acts. To say that the influence of grace goes farther than this would be to assert that it acts independently of the will, and would thereby deny the freedom of the latter.(762)

c) The infallibility with which efficacious grace works its effects is to be explained not by God's absolute will, but by His infallible foreknowledge through the scientia media,—a Molinistic postulate which was first defined and scientifically demonstrated by Father Fonseca, S. J., the teacher of Suarez.(763) God foreknows not only the absolutely free acts (futura) of His rational creatures by the scientia visionis, but likewise their hypothetically free acts (futuribilia) by means of the scientia media, and hence He infallibly knows from all eternity what attitude the free-will of man would assume in each case if grace were given him. Consequently, when God, in the light of this eternal foreknowledge, actually bestows a grace, this grace will prove efficacious or inefficacious according as He has foreknown whether the will will give or withhold its consent. Thus can the infallibility of efficacious grace be reconciled with the dogma of free-will without prejudice to such other dogmas as final perseverance and the predestination of the elect, because God by virtue of the scientia media has it absolutely in His power to give or withhold His graces in each individual case.(764)

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF MOLINISM.—Even the most determined opponents of Molinism admit that this system possesses three important advantages.

a) First, it gives a satisfactory account of the sufficiency of "merely sufficient grace," which in its physical nature does not differ essentially from efficacious grace.

Second, Molinism safeguards free-will by denying that efficacious grace either physically or morally predetermines the will to one course of action.

Third, Molinism explains in a fairly satisfactory manner why efficacious grace is infallibly efficacious. God in virtue of the scientia media knows with metaphysical certainty from all eternity which graces in each individual case will prove efficacious through the free consent of the will and which will remain inefficacious, and is thereby enabled to bestow or withhold grace according to His absolute decrees.

b) The question may justly be raised, however, whether, in endeavoring to safeguard freewill, the Molinists do not undervalue grace, which is after all the primary and decisive factor in the work of salvation.

There is something incongruous in the notion that the efficacy or inefficacy of divine grace should depend on the arbitrary pleasure of a created will. If sufficient grace does not become efficacious except by the consent of the will, how can the resultant salutary act be said to be an effect of grace? St. Paul, St. Augustine, and the councils of the Church do not say: "Deus facit, si volumus," but they declare: "Deus facit, ut faciamus," "Deus ipse dat ipsum velle et facere et perficere," and so forth. What can this mean if not: Divine grace need not concern itself with external circumstances, occasions, humors, etc., but it takes hold of the sinner and actually converts him, without regard to anything except the decree of the Divine Will. On account of this and similar difficulties Cardinal Bellarmine, who was a champion and protector of P. Molina, seems to have rejected Molinism(765) in favor of Congruism.(766)

c) The same reasons that induced Bellarmine to embrace Congruism probably led the Jesuit General Claudius Aquaviva, in 1613, to order all teachers of theology in the Society to lay greater emphasis on the Congruistic element in the notion of efficacious grace. This measure was quite in harmony with the principles defended by the Jesuit members of the Congregatio de Auxiliis before Clement VIII and Paul V. Aquaviva's order is of sufficient importance to deserve a place in the text of this volume: "Nostri in posterum omnino doceant, inter eam gratiam quae effectum re ipsa habet atque efficax dicitur, et eam quam sufficientem nominant, non tantum discrimen esse in actu secundo, quia ex usu liberi arbitrii etiam cooperantem gratiam habentis effectum sortiatur, altera non item; sed in ipso actu primo, quod posita scientia conditionalium [scientia media] ex efficaci Dei proposito atque intentione efficiendi certissime in nobis boni, de industria ipse ea media seligit atque eo modo et tempore confert, quo videt effectum, infallibiliter habitura, aliis usurus, si haec inefficacia praevidisset. Quare semper moraliter et in ratione beneficii plus aliquid in efficaci, quam in sufficienti gratia est, in actu primo contineri: atque hac ratione efficere Deum, ut re ipsa faciamus, non tantum quia dat gratiam qua facere possimus. Quod idem dicendum est de perseverantia, quae procul dubio donum est." This modified, or perhaps we had better say, more sharply determined form of Molinism is called Congruism.(767)

2. CONGRUISM.—The system thus recommended by Aquaviva in its fundamental principles really originated with Molina himself. It was developed by the great Jesuit theologians Suarez, Vasquez, and Lessius, and became the official system of the Society of Jesus under Muzio Vitelleschi (d. 1645) and Piccolomini (d. 1651).

a) The distinction between gratia congrua and gratia incongrua is founded on the writings of St. Augustine, who speaks of the elect as "congruenter vocati."(768) The Congruists maintain against the extreme Molinists that the efficacy of grace is not attributable solely to a free determination of the will, but, at least in part, to the fact that grace is bestowed under circumstances favorable to its operation, i.e. "congruous" in that sense. When the circumstances are comparatively adverse (incongrua), grace remains merely sufficient. A prudent father who knows how to govern his children without physical force will speak the right word to each at the proper time. Similarly God adapts His grace, if it is to prove efficacious, to the circumstances of each individual case, thereby attaining His purpose without fail. Thus the reckless youth on the city streets needs more powerful graces than the pious nun in her secluded convent cell, because he is exposed to stronger temptations and his environment is unfavorable to religious influences. Since grace is conferred with a wise regard to temperament, character, inclinations, prejudices, time and place, there exists between it and free-will a sort of intrinsic affinity, which in the hands of God becomes an infallible means of executing His decrees.(769)

b) The actual bestowal of congruous grace, considered in actu primo, is undoubtedly a special gift of God, and hence the gratia congrua possesses a higher value than the gratia incongrua sive inefficax. An entitatively weaker impulse of grace, if conferred under comparatively favorable conditions, is more precious than a stronger impulse which fails in its purpose by reason of unfavorable circumstances created by inclination, training, or environment. Little David accomplished more with a handful of pebbles in his scrip than had he been heavily armed.(770)

c) Congruism assigns a far more important role to grace than extreme Molinism. It makes the will depend on efficacious grace, not the efficacy of grace upon the will. Bellarmine illustrates this difference by the example of a sermon which, under an entirely equal distribution of internal grace, converts one sinner while it leaves another untouched.(771)

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF CONGRUISM.—Among the different systems devised for the purpose of harmonizing the dogmas of grace and free-will, Congruism probably comes nearest the truth. It strikes a golden mean between the two extremes of Pelagianism and Semipelagianism on the one hand, and Calvinism and Jansenism on the other, and its principal theses can be supported by clear and unmistakable passages from the writings of St. Augustine.

a) Other points in its favor are the following: "Sufficient grace," in the Congruist hypothesis, is truly sufficient so far as God is concerned, because its inefficaciousness is attributable solely to the human will. That free-will is properly safeguarded under the influence of efficacious grace (gratia congrua) is admitted even by theologians of the opposing schools. True, Congruism does not regard the will as an abstract notion, but as a factor closely interwoven with the concrete circumstances of daily life. As favorable circumstances (education, association, temperament) merely influence the will but do not compel it, so supernatural grace (gratia congrua s. efficax) may soften the will and occasionally even break down its resistance, but (rare cases excepted)(772) will never compel it to do good. Congruism marks a distinct advance over extreme Molinism also in this, that it bases the difference between gratia efficax (congrua) and gratia inefficax not entirely on the will of man, but likewise on the will of God, whereby it is able to explain such formulas as "Deus facit, ut faciamus," "Deus est, qui discernit," etc., in a manner entirely compatible with the dogmatic teaching of the Church.(773)

The modus operandi of the gratia congrua (efficacious grace) is explained by Congruism, in common with Molinism, as follows: There is a threefold efficacy: the efficacy of power (efficacia virtutis), the efficacy of union (efficacia connexionis), and the efficacy of infallible success (efficacia infallibilitatis). Grace (both efficacious and sufficient) does not derive its efficacia virtutis from the free-will of man, nor from the knowledge of God (scientia media), but from itself. The efficacia connexionis (of union between act and grace) on the other hand, depends entirely on the free-will, since, according to the Council of Trent as well as that of the Vatican, efficacious grace does not operate irresistibly but can be "cast off." The efficacia infallibilitatis springs from God's certain foreknowledge (scientia media), which cannot be deceived.(774)

b) Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to contend that Congruism solves all difficulties. The mystery surrounding both the unequal distribution of efficacious grace and the scientia media still remains. Moreover, the theory that God adjusts himself slavishly to all the circumstances of His creatures, can hardly be reconciled with His dignity and omnipotence. It would no doubt be far worthier of His majesty to seize upon the free will of man and compel it to perform the salutary act which He wishes it to perform. Whoever has studied the lives of saints and eminent converts knows that the sudden and seemingly unaccountable changes of heart which many of them have experienced can hardly be regarded as miracles in the strict sense, though on the other hand it seems certain that grace worked in them with little or no regard to the "congruity" of circumstances. Again, it is one of the highest and most sublime missions of grace not to be balked by unfavorable circumstances but to re-shape them by changing a man's temperament, dulling concupiscence, weakening the power of temptation, and so forth. In other words, grace does not depend on but controls and fashions the circumstances of the recipient.

After all is said, therefore, the relation of grace and free-will still remains an unsolved mystery.(775)

3. SYNCRETISM.—Seeing that each of the different systems which we so far reviewed contains grains of truth, some theologians(776) have adopted the good points of all four and combined them into a fifth, called Syncretism.

These authors begin by assuming the existence of two quite distinct sorts of efficacious grace, the (Thomistic-Augustinian) gratia efficax ab intrinseco, and the (Molinistic-Congruistic) gratia efficax ab extrinseco. The former, they contend, is bestowed for the performance of more difficult good works, such as resisting grievous temptations, observing onerous precepts, exercising patience in severe tribulation, etc.; while the latter enables man to accomplish less difficult acts, such as short prayers, slight mortifications, etc. The connecting link between the two is prayer, which has been instituted for the purpose of enabling man to obtain that gratia efficax ab intrinseco which is necessary for the performance of the more difficult works of salvation. Sacred Scripture teaches that prayer originates in grace, that it is binding upon all men, and that it accomplishes its purpose infallibly.(777)

CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF SYNCRETISM.—The outstanding characteristic of Syncretism is its insistence on prayer as a highly important, not to say the most important, factor in the work of salvation.

a) In this the Syncretistic school is undoubtedly right. Sacred Scripture and Tradition both strongly emphasize the importance and necessity of prayer, so much so that one naturally expects to find prayer playing an essential and indispensable role in every complete and orthodox system of grace. "The present economy of grace is essentially and intrinsically an economy of prayer," is a theological axiom which cannot be too strongly insisted upon. To have brought out this great truth forcibly and luminously is the merit of Syncretism.

b) We do not mean to intimate, however, that the Syncretistic theory has solved the problem of the relation between free-will and grace. On the contrary, by adopting two such heterogeneous concepts as gratia efficax ab intrinseco and gratia efficax ab extrinseco it has actually increased the difficulties found in the other systems. For now we are put before the dilemma:—the Thomistic gratia efficax either supposes free-will or it does not: if it does, there is no reason to limit this grace to the more difficult works of salvation; if it does not, then the gratia efficax can be of no assistance in the performance of more difficult works, because these too, to be meritorious, require the cooeperation of free-will.

The Syncretists try to evade this dilemma by contending that prayer, as the connecting link, communicates its own liberty and meritoriousness to the salutary acts performed through its agency, in other words, that these acts are the effect of prayer (effectus orationis). But aside from the fact that prayer itself is quite often a difficult act, the more arduous works of salvation would in the Syncretist hypothesis be stripped of their meritoriousness and degraded to the level of a voluntarium in causa, which is an untenable assumption.(778) Finally, there is something illogical and unsatisfactory in admitting on equal terms, as it were, two such incompatible notions as the Thomistic cognitio Dei in decretis praedeterminantibus and the Molinistic scientia media.

Thus in the end all attempts to harmonize the dogmas of grace and free-will fail to solve the mystery, and we are compelled to exclaim with St. Paul: "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways!"(779)

READINGS:—Molinistic and Congruistic works of importance are: *Molina, S. J., _Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Gratiae Donis_, Lisbon 1588 (repr. Paris 1876).—Platel, S. J., _Auctoritas contra Praedeterminationem Physicam pro Scientia Media_, Douai 1669.—Henao, S. J., _Scientia Media Historice Propugnata_, Lyons 1655.—IDEM, _Scientia Media Theologice Defensa_, Lyons 1674-6.—De Aranda, S. J., _De Deo Sciente, Praedestinante et Auxiliante seu Schola Scientiae Mediae_, Saragossa 1693.—*Suarez, S. J., _De Concursu, Motione et Auxilio Dei_, new ed., Paris 1856.—IDEM, _De Auxilio Efficaci_, Paris ed., 1856, t. XI.—IDEM, _De Vera Intelligentia Auxilii Efficacis_ (_Op. Posthum._, t. X, Appendix).—*Lessius, S. J., _De Gratia Efficaci_ (_Opusc._, t. II, Paris 1878).—Sardagna, S. J., _Theologia Dogmatico-Polemica_, Ratisbon 1771.—Wirceburgenses (Kilber, S. J.), _De Gratia_, new ed., Paris 1853.—Murray, _De Gratia_, Dublin 1877.—B. Jungmann, S. J., _De Gratia_, 6th ed., Ratisbon 1896.—Th. de Regnon, S. J., _Banez et Molina, Histoire, Doctrines, Critique, Metaphysique_, Paris 1883.—Card. Mazzella, S. J., _De Gratia Christi_, 3rd ed., Rome 1882.—Palmieri, S. J., _De Gratia Divina Actuali_, thes. 49-58, Gulpen 1885.—*V. Frins, S. J., _S. Thomae Doctrina de Cooperatione Dei cum Omni _ Natura Creata, Praesertim Libera, seu S. Thomas Praedeterminationis Physicae Adversarius_, Paris 1890.—*Schiffini, S. J., _De Gratia Divina_, disp. 5, Freiburg 1901.—Card. Billot, S. J., _De Gratia Christi et Libero Hominis Arbitrio_, I, Rome 1908.—Limbourg, S. J. "_Selbstzeichnung der thomistischen Gnadenlehre_," in the Innsbruck _Zeitschrift fuer kath. Theologie_, 1877.—B. J. Otten, S. J., _A Manual of the History of Dogmas_, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp. 493 sqq.

Among the theologians who have tried to harmonize Thomism and Molinism we may mention, besides Ysambert and St. Alphonsus de' Liguori, *Tournely, De Gratia, Venice 1755.—Card. Jos. Pecci, Sentenza di S. Tommaso circa l'Influsso di Dio sulle Azioni delle Creature Ragionevoli e sulla Scienza Media, Rome 1885.—A. Adeodatus, J. Pecci's Schrift: Lehre des hl. Thomas ueber den Einfluss Gottes, etc., analysiert, Mainz 1888.—C. Krogh-Tonning, De Gratia Christi et de Libero Arbitrio S. Thomae Doctrina, Christiania 1898.—J. Herrmann, C. SS. R., De Divina Gratia, Rome 1904.

The history of the great controversy between Thomism and Molinism can be studied in H. Serry, O. P., Historia Congregationum de Auxiliis Divinae Gratiae, Louvain 1700 and Antwerp 1709.—Livinus de Meyer, S. J., Historia Controversiarum de Divinae Gratiae Auxiliis, Antwerp 1705.—*Schneemann, S. J., Entstehung der thomistisch-molinistischen Controverse, Freiburg 1879.—*IDEM, Weitere Entwicklung der thomistisch-molinistischen Controverse, Freiburg 1880.—*IDEM, Controversiarum de Divinae Gratiae Liberique Arbitrii Concordia Initia et Progressus, Freiburg 1881.


The grace of justification, commonly called sanctifying grace, is related to actual grace as an end to its means. Actual grace introduces the state of sanctifying grace or preserves and augments it where it already exists.

This fact makes it advisable to consider the genesis of sanctifying grace before studying its nature and effects.

We shall therefore treat in three chapters: (1) of the Process of Justification (iustificatio in fieri); (2) of the State of Justification (iustificatio in esse), and (3) of the Fruits of Justification (iustificatio in facto esse), or the Merit of Good Works.

Chapter I. The Genesis Of Sanctifying Grace, Or The Process Of Justification

The justification of an adult human being does not take place suddenly, but runs through certain well-defined stages, which in their totality are called the process of justification.

Being a "regeneration in God," justification bears a striking resemblance to the development of the foetus in the maternal womb. Like physical birth, spiritual regeneration is preceded by travailing, i.e. fear and painful contrition.

The dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church on justification is formally defined by the Tridentine Council, whose decrees(780) contain a masterly analysis of this most interesting of psychological processes. The holy Synod puts faith at the beginning. "Faith," it says, "is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and the root of all justification."(781) The nature of faith and the part it plays in justification were the chief points in dispute between the Church and the so-called Reformers. Luther and his followers denatured the traditional Catholic teaching by basing justification solely on faith, which they falsely defined as mere confidence or trust in the mercy of God.

Section 1. The Necessity Of Faith For Justification

1. THE LUTHERAN HERESY VS. THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH.—The Protestant Reformers, notably Luther and Calvin, did not deny that justification is wrought by faith, but they defined justifying faith in a manner altogether foreign to the mind of the Church.

a) They distinguished three kinds of faith: (1) belief in the existence of God and the historical fact that Christ has come on earth, suffered, and ascended (fides historica); (2) the sort of trust which is required for exercising the gift of miracles (fides miraculorum); and (3) faith in the divine promises with regard to the remission of sin (fides promissionum). The last-mentioned species of faith they subdivided into general and particular. Fides generalis is that by which we believe that the righteousness of Christ "covers" (but does not wipe out) our sins. Fides specialis or fiduciary faith (fiducia) is that by which a man applies to himself the righteousness of the Redeemer, firmly trusting that his sins are for Christ's sake not imputed to him. Thus the Reformers erroneously transferred the seat of justifying faith from the intellect to the will and completely subverted the Catholic notion of faith as an intellectual assent to revealed truth.

b) To this fundamental error the Fathers of Trent opposed the orthodox doctrine that (adults) "are disposed unto justice when, excited and assisted by divine grace, receiving faith by hearing, they are freely moved towards God, believing those things to be true which God has revealed and promised, ..."(782) and they solemnly anathematized those who assert "that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sin for Christ's sake, or that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified."(783)

Hence it is de fide that the faith whereby man is justified, is not a confident persuasion of being esteemed righteous in the sight of God, but a dogmatic or theoretical belief in the truths of Divine Revelation.

2. REFUTATION OF THE LUTHERAN DOCTRINE OF FIDUCIARY FAITH.—Whenever Sacred Scripture and Tradition speak of justifying faith, they mean a dogmatic belief in the truths of Revelation,—that faith which the Protestants call fides historica.

a) Christ Himself solemnly commanded His Apostles and their successors to preach the Gospel to all nations, and before baptizing them to convert them to a firm belief in certain specified truths which no man may reject except at the peril of his eternal salvation.

α) Mark XVI, 15 sq.: "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel(784) to every creature: He that believeth [i.e. in the Gospel] and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned." Agreeable to this injunction St. John declares it to be the object of his Gospel "that you may believe that(785) Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in his name."(786) The Gospel is written "that we may believe." What must we believe? That "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." This is a revealed truth by firmly believing which we shall be saved. When the treasurer of Queen Candace begged to be baptized, Philip the deacon said to him: "If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest." The eunuch replied: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God," whereupon Philip baptized him.(787)

β) St. Paul in his Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians eloquently insists on the necessity of faith, not a mere fides fiducialis, but a believing acceptance of Divine Revelation. Cfr. Rom. X, 9 sq.: "For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart we believe unto justice, but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."(788) We must confess with the mouth and believe with the heart. External profession and internal faith go together and have for their common object a certain truth open to our knowledge, viz.: the resurrection of Christ,—a dogma in which the whole teaching of the atonement lies imbedded.

The character of justifying faith is still more plainly evident from Heb. XI, 6: "Without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God [he that is to be justified], must believe that He is [the existence of God], and is a rewarder to them that seek Him."(789) The Apostle here clearly asserts both the necessity of justifying faith and the minimum of doctrine to be explicitly "believed," viz.: the existence of God and eternal retribution.(790)

γ) The Lutherans appeal chiefly to Matth. IX, 2, Luke XVII, 19, Rom. IV, 5, and Heb. XI, 1. But not a single one of these texts represents fiduciary faith as the instrumental cause of justification. The word πίστις occurs no less than eighty times in the Synoptic Gospels and in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, but there are only six passages in which it could possibly be construed as synonymous with fiducia, and in none of these is the interpretation entirely certain. Not once does the New Testament employ πίστις in the sense of "fiduciary faith," i.e. a confident persuasion of one's own righteousness.(791)

b) Tradition is in such perfect agreement with Scripture on this point that the Reformers did not venture to deny that their doctrine ran counter to the time-honored teaching of the Church. The Fathers unanimously insist on the necessity of dogmatic faith as a requisite of justification.

α) St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, who is regarded as "the best theologian of his time" (468-533),(792) in his golden booklet De Fide seu de Regula Verae Fidei ad Petrum, says: "I rejoice that you take care to preserve the true faith without which conversion is useless, nay, impossible. Apostolic authority tells us that we cannot please God without faith. For faith is the foundation of all good [works]; it is the beginning of human salvation, and without it no one can obtain a place among the children of God, because without it no one can obtain the grace of justification in this world or possess eternal life in the next."(793) St. Fulgentius was a faithful disciple of St. Augustine, and the whole trend of his treatise shows that by vera fides he understands not the Lutheran fiducia propriae iustificationis, but Catholic belief in revealed truth.(794)

β) This teaching is corroborated by the ancient practice of instructing the catechumens in the truths of revelation and requiring them to make a public profession of faith before Baptism. It was because they believed and professed the true faith that the early Christians, who knew nothing of the Lutheran fides fiducialis, were called "faithful" (fideles, πιστοί), to distinguish them from false believers or heretics (haeretici, αἱρητικοὶ, from αἱρεῖσθαι to choose), who denied some portion or other of the orthodox creed.

c) In analyzing the notions of fides and necessitas theologians distinguish between fides explicita and fides implicita, and between necessitas medii and necessitas praecepti.

Fides explicita is an express and fully developed belief in the truths of revelation; fides implicita, a virtual belief in whatever may be contained in a dogma explicitly professed. I make an act of implicit faith when I say, for instance: "I believe whatever the Church teaches," or: "I heartily accept whatever God has revealed."

The necessitas medii is based on the objective relation of means to an end, and consequently binds all men, even the ignorant and those who are in error without their own fault. Such, for example, is the necessity of the eye for seeing, of wings for flying, of grace for performing salutary acts, of the lumen gloriae for the beatific vision. The necessitas praecepti, on the other hand, is founded entirely on the will of God, who positively commands or forbids under pain of grievous sin, but is willing to condone non-compliance with his precepts when it is owing to guiltless ignorance. This applies to all positive divine precepts, e.g. the law of fasting and abstinence. It is to be noted that the necessitas medii always involves the necessitas praecepti, because God must needs will and impose upon us by positive precept whatever is objectively necessary as a means of salvation.

α) The first question that arises with regard to this twofold faith and necessity is: Are sinners preparing for justification, and the faithful in general, obliged by necessity of precept to believe explicitly all revealed truths? The answer is, No; because this is practically impossible, and God does not demand the impossible.

Generally speaking, it is sufficient to have an explicit knowledge of, and give one's firm assent to, the more important dogmas and moral precepts—the twelve articles of the Apostles' Creed, the Commandments of God and the Church, the Sacraments (as needed), and the Our Father. All other revealed truths need be held only fide implicita.(795) More is of course demanded of educated persons and those who are in duty bound to instruct others, such as priests and teachers.(796)

β) A more important and more difficult question is this: Are there any dogmas, and if so how many, which must be believed by all men fide explicita and necessitate medii? St. Paul says: "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."(797)

With but few exceptions,(798) Catholic theologians maintain that the Apostle in this passage means theological faith, based upon supernatural motives. This interpretation is borne out by the context, by such parallel texts as John III, 11 sqq., 32 sqq., 2 Tim. I, 12, 1 John V, 9 sq., and by the decisions of several councils.(799) There can be no reasonable doubt that all men, to be justified and saved, must have an explicit belief in at least two dogmas, viz.: the existence of God and eternal retribution. Pope Innocent XI condemned the Jansenist proposition that explicit belief in divine retribution is not necessary for salvation.(800)

Are there any other dogmas which must be explicitly believed necessitate medii? The only dogmas which might come in question are: the Trinity, the Incarnation, the immortality of the soul, and the necessity of grace. The last-mentioned two may be omitted from the list, because St. Paul does not mention them,(801) and for the additional reason that belief in immortality is included in the dogma of eternal retribution, while the necessity of grace is inseparably bound up with the dogma of Divine Providence, which in its turn is but a particular aspect of eternal retribution.(802) Hence the only two dogmas in regard to which the question at the beginning of this paragraph can reasonably be asked, are the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation.

Theologians are divided in the matter. Some maintain that no human being can or could ever be saved without explicit belief in both the Trinity and the Incarnation. Others(803) hold that this necessitas medii did not exist under the Old Covenant. A third school(804) avers that no such necessity can be proved either for the Old or the New Dispensation.

The first of these three opinions is excessively rigorous and intrinsically improbable. The Jews had no clearly revealed knowledge of the Trinity and the Incarnation, and consequently were under no obligation to believe them. As the divinely constituted guardians of the Messianic prophecies, they were bound to believe in the Redeemer, though only necessitate praecepti. The gentiles were dispensed even from this.

The second opinion, which limits the necessitas medii to the New Testament, lacks solid proof. The Scripture texts cited in its support merely prove the efficaciousness of belief in Christ,(805) or the duty of embracing that belief on the strength of the Apostolic preaching,(806) or, finally, the impossibility of redemption except through the mediation of Jesus;(807)—all truths which in themselves have nothing to do with the question under discussion.

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