The third and most probable opinion is that even under the New Covenant, explicit faith in Christ, and a fortiori in the Divine Trinity, cannot be regarded as an indispensable medium of justification and salvation, (1) because St. Paul does not mention these two dogmas in the decisive passage, Heb. XI, 6; and (2) because a supernatural act of justifying love and contrition may be inspired by belief in the existence of God and divine retribution; and (3) because this latter belief implicitly, by way of desire (fides in voto), includes belief in Christ and the Trinity.(808) Nevertheless it must be held that an adult who desires to be received into the Church and is baptized in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, is bound to believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation by more than a mere necessitas praecepti, namely, by what is technically called necessitas medii per accidens, a necessity from which God dispenses only in exceptional cases, when it is either physically or morally impossible to elicit an act of explicit faith.(809) It is for this reason that the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office decided, February 28, 1703, that missionaries are bound to explain to all adult converts who have the use of reason, even though they be near death, those mysteries of the faith which are necessary for salvation necessitate medii, especially the Trinity and the Incarnation.(810)
Section 2. The Necessity Of Other Preparatory Acts Besides Faith
1. HERETICAL ERRORS AND THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH.—Martin Luther, to quiet his conscience, evolved the notion that faith alone justifies and that the Catholic doctrine of the necessity of good works is pharisaical and derogatory to the merits of Jesus Christ. This teaching was incorporated into the symbolic books of the Lutherans(811) and adopted by Calvin.(812) It has been called one of the two basic errors of Protestantism. The Tridentine Council solemnly condemns it as follows: "If anyone saith that by faith alone the impious is justified, in such wise as to mean that nothing else is required to cooeperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."(813) Other acts that dispose or prepare the soul for justification, according to the same Council, are: the fear of divine justice; hope in God's mercy; charity, which is the font of all righteousness; detestation of sin, and penitence.(814)
2. REFUTATION OF THE SOLA FIDES THEORY.—The Lutheran theory involves an open rupture with the traditional teaching of the Church and is positively unscriptural. Luther himself felt this, as appears from his interpolation of the word "alone" in Rom. III, 28 and his rejection of the entire canonical Epistle of St. James.(815)
a) The teaching of the Bible in regard to the role played by good works in the process of justification may be summarized as follows:
(1) A man may believe all that the Church teaches and yet be lost for want of good works or because he has not the love of God; consequently, faith alone does not justify or insure eternal salvation. Our Divine Saviour Himself declares: "Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven."(816) St. James says: "Do you not see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?"(817) And St. Paul: "If I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."(818)
(2) Besides faith, justification requires certain other preparatory or dispositive acts. There is, for example, the fear of divine justice. Cfr. Ecclus. I, 28: "He that is without fear cannot be justified."(819) Also, hope in God's mercy. Cfr. Rom. VIII, 24: "For we are saved by hope."(820) Again, charity. Cfr. Luke VII, 47: "Many sins are forgiven her because she hath loved much."(821) Furthermore, contrition or penitence. Cfr. Luke XIII, 3: "Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish."(822) Finally, good works in general. Cfr. St. James II, 17: "So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself."(823) No one who ponders these and similar texts can maintain, as Calvin and Melanchthon did, that the good works mentioned merely accompany justification, for they are unmistakably described as causes which dispose and prepare the sinner for it.
(3) It is not faith alone that justifies, but faith informed and actuated by charity. Cfr. Gal. V, 6: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by charity."(824) The Greek text shows that the word operatur in the Vulgate must be taken passively, so that a more correct translation would be: "... but faith effected or formed by charity." But even if ἐνεργουμένη were used as a deponent (ἐνεργεῖσθαι=agere, operari) the meaning would be substantially the same, i.e. a dead faith, without charity, avails nothing. Cfr. St. James II, 26: "For even as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."(825)
In Rom. III, 28: "For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law,"(826) Luther deliberately inserted the word "alone." The context shows that this is a falsification. The Apostle contrasts justifying faith, not with those preparatory acts of salvation which spring from it, but with the sterile "works of the law" (i.e. the Old Testament), which, as such, possessed no more power to justify than the good works of the heathen. Keeping this contrast in mind, it would not be incorrect to say, and St. Paul might well have said, that "supernatural faith alone (i.e. only) justifies, while the works of the law do not." But if faith be taken in contradistinction to the other acts operative in the process of justification, such as fear, hope, contrition, love,—and this is the sense in which Luther takes it,—then it is false and contrary to the mind of St. Paul to say: "Faith alone justifies, nothing else is required." For in this sense faith is merely the beginning, the foundation, the root of justification and cannot justify the sinner until it has absorbed the other preparatory acts required by Holy Scripture and transformed them into perfect love. This fact was already pointed out by St. Augustine. "Unintelligent persons," he says, "with regard to the Apostle's statement: 'We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law,' have thought him to mean that faith is sufficient for a man, even if he leads a bad life and has no good deeds to allege. It is impossible that such a character should be deemed 'a vessel of election' by the Apostle, who, after declaring that 'in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision,' adds the important remark: 'but faith that worketh by charity.' It is such faith which separates the faithful children of God from unclean devils,—for even these 'believe and tremble,' as the Apostle James says, but they do no good works. Therefore they possess not the faith by which the just man lives,—the faith which operates through love in such wise that God recompenses it according to its works with eternal life."(827)
There is another sense in which faith alone may be said to justify, viz.: if the term be taken to include all those things which God has ordained for our salvation, that is to say, the sum-total of "revelation" or "the true religion" as opposed to "heresy." The term πίστις (fides) is sometimes employed in this sense by the Fathers, but never in Sacred Scripture.(828)
b) There is a unanimous and unbroken tradition in favor of the Catholic doctrine. St. Polycarp writes in his Epistle to the Philippians: "... the faith (πίστις) given you, which is the mother of us all when hope (ἐλπίς) follows and love (ἀγάπη) goes before."(829) St. Augustine teaches that while faith is per se separable from hope and love, it is ineffective without them. "Man begins with faith, but the demons, too, believe and tremble; to faith, therefore, must be added hope, and to hope, love."(830) And again: "Without love, faith can indeed exist, but it availeth nothing."(831) St. Gregory the Great, paraphrasing St. James, says: "Perhaps some one will say to himself: I have believed, I shall be saved. He speaks truly if he sustains faith by works. For that is true faith which does not contradict by deeds what it asserts in words."(832)
c) This teaching is in perfect conformity with reason.
α) No supernatural enlightenment is needed to perceive the intrinsic propriety of a moral preparation for justification. Not only must the sinner learn to know God as His supernatural end and the source of all righteousness, but he must also be persuaded that it is his duty, with the help of sufficient grace, to direct his will towards this final end.
Every tendency or movement presupposes a terminus a quo, from which it starts, and a terminus ad quem, to which it tends. The movement of the will in the process of justification, besides faith, demands a voluntary withdrawal from sin (contrition, good resolutions) and an approach to righteousness (hope, love, desire).(833)
This argument would have made no impression on Luther, since he bluntly denied free-will in the moral order and regarded human nature as so radically depraved by original sin as to be incapable of cooeperating with divine grace. In fact he compared man to a "log, stick or stone." This view was shared by Amsdorf, Flacius, and others, whereas Osiander and Butzer admitted that "inherent righteousness" is at least a partial factor in justification. Melanchthon, in an endeavor to reconcile the contradictions of this discordant system, unwittingly gave rise to the so-called Synergist dispute. When Pfeffinger(834) undertook the defence of free-will, many Lutheran theologians, especially of the University of Jena, boldly attacked the log-stick-and-stone theory(835) and tried to force their adversaries to admit that man is able to cooeperate with grace. The "Half-Melanchthonians," as they were called, succeeded in smuggling Synergism into the "Book of Torgau;"(836) but before the "Formulary of Concord" was finally printed in the monastery of Bergen, near Magdeburg (A. D. 1577), the strict Lutherans had eliminated that article as heterodox and substituted for it the log-stick-and-stone theory as it appears in the official symbols of the Lutheran Church. In the Syncretist dispute, and through the efforts of the Pietists, this harsh teaching was afterwards moderated. But what probably contributed most to the crumbling of the system was the rapid growth of Socinianism and Rationalism among the Lutherans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. To-day, with the exception of a small band of "orthodox" Lutherans in Saxony and the United States, Protestants no longer hold the log-stick-and-stone theory. The school of Luther proclaimed it as the distinguishing tenet of Protestantism, as "the criterion of a standing or falling church,"(837)—and by this criterion the Lutheran Church has indeed fallen. Common sense has led modern Protestants to admit that contrition and penance are quite as necessary for justification as faith, an opinion which, in the words of Dorner,(838) "comes dangerously near the Catholic system." In Scandinavia, according to Dr. Krogh-Tonning,(839) the Lutheran Church has experienced a "quiet reformation" and now unconsciously defends the Catholic doctrine of justification.(840)
β) As the sufficiency of the Bible without Tradition is the formal principle of "orthodox" Protestantism, so justification by faith alone may be said to be its material principle. The absurdity of the Lutheran position is evident from the fact that these two principles are mutually destructive. So far from teaching justification by faith alone, the Bible inculcates the exact contrary, while its sufficiency as the source of faith could be proved from its own pages, if at all, only by a vicious circle.(841) Thus the whole Protestant system is based on contradiction.
The sola fides theory is open to serious objection also from the ethical point of view. It cannot be put into practice without grave danger. "Sin lustily," writes Luther, "but be yet more lusty in faith."(842) The first part at least of this injunction was promptly obeyed by his followers, and the rapid deterioration of morals which followed was but a natural sequel of the sola fides theory. If faith alone were sufficient for justification, it would make no difference what kind of life a man led, for unbelief, i.e. the loss of fiduciary faith, would be the only sin. No wonder this ethical antinomism of the Lutheran system, so radically opposed to the teaching of St. James, was rejected by Hugo Grotius, George Buller, and other honest Protestants.
Another weighty objection against the Lutheran theory of justification is that it disregards the law of causation. According to Luther a man is justified by the firm belief and trust that his sins are forgiven. This "belief" is either true or false. If it is false, I can have no certainty with regard to my salvation, but am deceiving myself. If true, it presupposes that which it is to effect, in other words, it puts the cause before the effect. An orthodox Lutheran theologian of the old school would probably retort: My sins are actually forgiven by virtue of the atonement, because all men without exception are redeemed through the merits of Jesus Christ. If this be true, then why not be consistent and say: All men are justified because all are redeemed, consequently there is no need of faith and sacraments, and keeping the commandments is a matter of indifference! It is at this point that the incompatibility of Luther's teaching with the Bible and sound ethics becomes most glaringly apparent. True, Luther himself at times emphasized the necessity of good works; but this merely proves that he had lucid intervals when his honest nature rebelled against the inconsistency of his teaching.(843)
3. EXPLANATION OF THE CATHOLIC DOCTRINE.—The Council of Trent assigned to faith its proper place in the process of justification,(844) and gave a luminous and profound analysis of the process itself.(845) Scholastic theology, in elaborating the teaching of Scripture and Tradition, drew a distinction between fides formata, which truly justifies, and fides informis, which falls short of justification.
a) As regards the intrinsic relation of (dogmatic) faith to other preparatory acts in the process of justification, the Tridentine Council declares: "Faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and the root of all justification."(846) Supernatural faith, therefore, is the beginning of salvation, and not, as Harnack makes Luther say, "at once the beginning, the middle, and the end," because no man can be converted unless he has believingly embraced God as his final goal. This faith is preceded by certain preliminary conditions, of which the first is an illumination of the intellect and a strengthening of the will, which results in the affectus credulitatis (initia fidei). For justifying faith does not flash forth suddenly, like a deus ex machina, but requires time for its development, as the history of many conversions proves.(847)
Faith is called the "foundation" of justification because it not only marks its beginning, but constitutes the basis upon which all subsequent stages of the process rest. To exclude the mistaken notion that the process of justification is a series of mechanical and disconnected acts, the Council calls faith the "root" of justification, from which the other preparatory acts spring organically, as the trunk of a tree from its root.
The psychological description of the whole process given by the Tridentine Fathers, which even Harnack admits to be "a masterly piece of work," runs as follows: "Now they [adults] are disposed unto justice when, excited and assisted by divine grace, conceiving faith by hearing, they are freely moved towards God, believing those things to be true which God has revealed and promised,—and this especially, that God justifies the impious by His grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; and when, understanding themselves to be sinners, they, by turning themselves from the fear of divine justice, whereby they are profitably agitated, to consider the mercy of God, are raised unto hope, confiding that God will be propitious to them for Christ's sake; and they begin to love Him as the fountain of all justice, and are therefore moved against sins by a certain hatred and detestation, to wit: by that penitence which must be performed before Baptism; lastly, when they purpose to receive Baptism, to begin a new life, and to keep the commandments of God...."(848) The four ordinary stages in the process of justification, therefore, are: (1) From faith to fear of divine justice; (2) from fear to hope; (3) from hope to initial love;(849) (4) from initial love to contrition and a firm purpose of amendment.(850) If contrition is dictated and transfused by perfect love,(851) and the sinner has an explicit or at least implicit desire for the Sacrament,(852) justification takes place at once. If, on the other hand, the sinner's sorrow is imperfect (attritio), he attains justification only by actual reception of the Sacrament (Baptism or Penance).(853)
b) Does conversion always follow this conciliary schema? No. The Council did not mean to define that these acts must follow one another in strict sequence or that they are one and all absolutely indispensable for justification. It is certain, however, that the process invariably begins with faith and ends with contrition accompanied by a firm purpose of amendment. In exceptional cases (e.g. the Prodigal Son, Mary Magdalen) perfect charity seems immediately to follow faith, and may then be said virtually to include the intermediate stages of fear, hope, and contrition. Yet this is not the usual way. Ordinarily faith elicits fear, which in turn produces two kinds of hope—hope of forgiveness (spes veniae) and hope in God (spes theologica), which marks the beginning of charity (amor concupiscentiae). Contrition is always a conditio sine qua non, because there can be no forgiveness of sin without sorrow for it.(854) It is for this reason that, according to St. Thomas, explicit contrition for mortal sins is necessary for justification even when there is perfect charity, and the sufficiency of the so-called poenitentia virtualis is limited to venial offenses and such grievous sins as cannot be remembered.(855) Fear, while not absolutely indispensable, is seldom absent. Holy Scripture tells us that "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom," and it is natural for the sinner seeking forgiveness to detest his sins out of fear of divine justice before he attains to the motive of perfect charity.(856)
c) Certain utterances of Scripture and the Fathers with regard to the possibility of a "dead" faith(857) have led theologians to distinguish between fides informis and fides formata. Fides informis is a dead faith, devoid of charity, and without justifying power. The only faith that can justify a man is that which is animated by charity and productive of good works.(858) This is the fides formata of the Schoolmen, which includes all the preparatory acts enumerated by the Tridentine Council, from fear to perfect charity. These acts, however, though united in the fides formata, retain their respective independence, and can disappear singly, one after another, as they came. Zwingli's assertion that faith, hope, and charity are identical, or at least inseparable, has been expressly condemned by the Tridentine Council: "If any one saith that, grace being lost through sin, faith also is always lost with it; or that the faith which remains, though it be no live faith, is not a true faith; or that he who has faith without charity is not a Christian; let him be anathema."(859)
READINGS:—Besides the respective chapters in the various text-books, the student may consult: *A. Vega, De Iustificatione Doctrina Universa Libris XV Absolute Tradita, Venice 1548 (reprinted at Cologne, 1572).—*Bellarmine, De Iustificatione Impii, 1. V (ed. Fevre, Vol. VI, pp. 149 sqq. Paris 1873).—*Suarez, De Gratia, 1. VI sqq.—Becanus, Theol. Scholast., "De Gratia Habituali," Rouen 1658.—L. Nussbaum, Die Lehre der kath. Kirche ueber die Rechtfertigung, Muenchen 1837.—C. von Schaetzler, Neue Untersuchungen ueber das Dogma von der Gnade und das Wesen des christl. Glaubens, Mainz 1867.—Oswald, Die Lehre von der Heiligung, 5, 3rd ed., Paderborn 1885.—B. Bartmann, St. Paulus und St. Jakobus und die Rechtfertigung, Freiburg 1897.—L. Galey, La Foi et les Oeuvres, Montauban 1902.—W. Liese, Der heilsnotwendige Glaube, sein Begriff und Inhalt, Freiburg 1902.—Card. Newman, Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification, 8th impression, London 1900.—Hugh Pope, O. P., art. "Faith" in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. V.—J. Mausbach, Catholic Moral Teaching and its Antagonists (tr. by A. M. Buchanan), pp. 150 sqq., New York 1914.—L. Labauche, S. S., God and Man, pp. 203 sqq., N. Y. 1916.
On the teaching of the Reformers cfr. *Moehler, Symbolik, 18 sqq., 11th ed., Mainz 1890 (English tr. by James Burton Robertson, pp. 82 sqq., 5th ed., London 1906); Ad. Harnack, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, Vol. III, 4th ed., Freiburg 1910; Denifle-Weiss, O. P., Luther und Luthertum in der ersten Entwicklung, Vol. II, Mainz 1909; H. Grisar, S. J., Luther, Vol. I, Freiburg 1911 (English tr., Vols. I and II, London 1913).
Chapter II. The State Of Justification
Though the term "justification" may be extended to the preparatory acts that lead up to the state of justice, strictly speaking it signifies only that decisive moment in which the sinner is cleansed from mortal sin by an infusion of sanctifying grace. Hence a careful distinction must be made between justification as an act (actus iustificationis) and justification as an habitual state (habitus iustificationis s. status gratiae sanctificantis). The transient act introduces a permanent state, just as the Sacrament of Holy Orders constitutes a man in the sacerdotal state or priesthood.
Both as an act and as a state justification possesses three distinct properties; it is uncertain, unequal, and capable of being lost.
This gives us the basis for a division of the present Chapter into three Sections: (1) On the Nature of Justification, (2) On Justifying, i.e. Sanctifying Grace, and (3) On the Properties of that Grace.
Section 1. The Nature Of Justification
Justification in the active sense (iustificatio, δικαίωσις) is defined by the Tridentine Council as "a translation from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour."(860)
Justification, therefore, has both a negative and a positive element. The positive element is interior sanctification through the merits of Jesus Christ. The negative element consists in the forgiveness of sin. Though these elements are objectively inseparable, the forgiveness of sin being practically an effect of interior sanctification, yet we must treat them separately in order to be able to refute more effectively the Lutheran heresy that sin is not wiped out but merely "covered," and that justification consists in an external "imputation" of the righteousness of Christ.
Article 1. The Negative Element Of Justification
1. THE HERESY OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMERS AND THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH.—Luther held that human nature was radically depraved by original sin(861) and that justification consists in this, that sin (original and mortal) is no longer "imputed" to the sinner; that is to say, it is not blotted out but merely "covered" by the merits of Christ.
a) Forgiveness of sins, therefore, according to Luther, consists simply in their being no longer imputed.(862) This heresy was incorporated in the Formula of Concord and other symbolical books of the Lutheran Church,(863) and subsequently adopted by Calvin.(864)
b) The Catholic Church has always maintained that justification is a renewal of the soul by which a man's sins are blotted out and he becomes truly just. This applies first of all to original sin. "If," says the Council of Trent, "anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in Baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted, or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only raised or not imputed, let him be anathema."(865) What it here defines in regard to original sin, the Council elsewhere reaffirms in respect of mortal sin.(866)
2. REFUTATION OF THE LUTHERAN THEORY.—The theory thus solemnly condemned by the Tridentine Fathers is unscriptural and opposed to Catholic Tradition.
a) The teaching of the Bible on this point may be reduced to four distinct heads.
(1) The remission of sin granted in the process of justification is a real annihilation of guilt; that is to say, the sins remitted cease to exist in the moral (though not, of course, in the historical) order. Cfr. Ps. L, 3: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity."(867) Is. XLIII, 25: "I am he that blot out thy iniquities."(868) After God has blotted out a sin, it no longer exists. Cfr. Is. XLIV, 22: "I have blotted out thy iniquities as a cloud, and thy sins as a mist."(869) Acts III, 19: "Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."(870) Elsewhere God is said to "take away" sin. Cfr. 2 Kings XII, 13: "The Lord also hath taken away thy sin."(871) 1 Paral. XXI, 8: "I beseech thee, take away the iniquity of thy servant."(872) When He takes away sin, it is really and truly blotted out. Cfr. Mich. VII, 18 sq.: "Who is a God like to thee, who takest away iniquity?... He will put away our iniquities, and he will cast all our sins into the bottom of the sea."(873) Ps. X, 15: "His sin shall be sought, and shall not be found."(874) Ps. CII, 12: "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us."(875) Consequently, when our Divine Saviour said of Mary Magdalen: "Many sins are forgiven her,"(876) He meant that her sins were completely blotted out and taken away.
(2) Justification washes the soul from iniquity and purifies the heart. Cfr. Ps. L, 4: "Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."(877) Is. I, 16: "Wash yourselves, be clean."(878) After one's sins are washed away, the heart is clean and pure. Cfr. Ez. XXXVI, 25 sq.: "And I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, ... and I will give you a new heart."(879) 1 Cor. VI, 11: "And such [fornicators, etc.] some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified."(880) Spotless purity takes the place of the impurity that previously defiled the soul of the sinner. Cfr. Ps. L, 9: "Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow."(881) Is. I, 18: "If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool."(882) No trace of sin remains in the soul after it has been washed in the Precious Blood of Christ. Apoc. I, 5: "... Jesus Christ, ... hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood."(883) 1 John I, 7: "... the blood of Jesus Christ ... cleanseth us from all sin."(884)
(3) Justification is an awakening of the sinner from death to life, a transition from darkness to light. Cfr. 1 John III, 14: "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren; he that loveth not, abideth in death."(885) Col. II, 13: "And you, when you were dead in your sins, ... he hath quickened together with him, forgiving you all offences."(886) Eph. V, 8: "For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord."(887)
(4) Baptism, in particular, completely removes all guilt. Cfr. Acts XXII, 16: "Rise up, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins."(888) Hence, though concupiscence remains, the soul has no longer in it anything damnable, i.e. any trace of original or mortal sin. Cfr. Rom. VIII, 1: "There is now therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."(889)
It requires no special acuteness to perceive that this Biblical teaching is irreconcilably opposed to the Protestant theory of non-imputation. If, as the Lutherans allege, God merely declared the believer just, justification would not blot out or take away sin, nor could it be truthfully said that light and life take the place of death and darkness; something deserving of condemnation would still remain in those that are in Christ Jesus.(890)
There are a few Scriptural texts that seem to favor the Lutheran view, but they must be interpreted in conformity with the general teaching of the Bible as outlined above. Among these texts is Ps. XXXI, 1 sq.: "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, and in whose spirit there is no guile."(891) The parallelism apparent in this verse allows us to conclude that "covered" is used in the sense of "remitted" and that "he to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin" is identical with the man "in whose spirit there is no guile." The text manifestly refers to a real forgiveness of sins, for any sin that God "covers" and ceases to "impute," must be blotted out and swept away, because "all things are naked and open to the eyes" of the omniscient Creator.(892)
Another favorite text of the Lutheran theologians is Rom. VII, 17: "Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me."(893) This passage clearly refers to concupiscence, which remains in the sinner after justification, but, according to Rom. VIII, 1 and James I, 14 sq., is not truly and properly sin but merely called "sin"(894) by metonymy, "because," in the words of the Tridentine Council, "it is of sin and inclines to sin."(895)
b) The Fathers of the Church, both Greek and Latin, unanimously teach that justification effects the forgiveness of sins.
St. Justin Martyr says: "By doing penance, all who desire it can obtain mercy from God, and Scripture calls them blessed in saying: 'Blessed is he to whom God hath not imputed sin,' which means that he receives forgiveness of his sins from God, not as you, deceiving yourselves, and others like you aver, that God does not impute [their] sin to them, though they are [still] sinners."(896) Clement of Alexandria likens Baptism to "a bath in which sins are washed off."(897) St. Gregory Nazianzen says: "It is called Baptism [βαπτισμός, from βάπτειν, to immerse] because the sin is buried in water, ... and a bath (λουτρόν), because it washes off."(898) St. Augustine indignantly opposes the erroneous opinion of the Pelagians that Baptism does not take away sins but merely "trims them off." "Who but an unbeliever," he exclaims, "can affirm this against the Pelagians? We say, therefore, that Baptism gives remission of all sins and takes away crimes, not merely trims them off (radere) in such wise that the roots of all sins may be preserved in an evil flesh, as of hair trimmed on the head, when the sins cut down may grow again."(899) Pope St. Gregory the Great seems almost to have foreseen the heresy of the Protestant Reformers, for he says: "But if there are any who say that in Baptism sins are forgiven as to outward appearance only, what can be more un-Catholic than such preaching?... He who says that sins are not completely forgiven in Baptism might as well say that the Egyptians did not perish in the Red Sea. But if he admits that the Egyptians actually died [in the Red Sea], let him also admit that of necessity sins completely die in Baptism."(900)
c) The theological argument may be briefly formulated as follows: We can imagine but two reasons why God should not truly forgive us our sins in the process of justification: inability and unwillingness. To say that He is unable to forgive us our sins would be to assert that the remission of sin involves a metaphysical impossibility. This no Protestant will admit, because all believe that "nothing defiled shall enter into heaven."(901) To assert that God is unwilling to forgive our sins would be to contradict the plain teaching of Scripture, as set forth above. Consequently there is no reason whatever for assuming that God does not truly forgive us our sins in the process of justification. Furthermore, it would be incompatible with His veracity and holiness to assume that He merely declares the sinner to be "free from sin," without actually cleansing his soul. It would be a contradiction to assert that a man whom the truthful and all-holy God has declared free from sin, remains steeped in iniquity. Cfr. Prov. XVII, 15: "He that justifieth the wicked [i.e. absolves him from his sins], and he that condemneth the just, both are abominable before God."
According to Revelation the justification of the sinner is not a mere change, with a privation for its terminus a quo(902) and an indifferent form for its terminus ad quem, but involves a movement from extreme to extreme, and hence the genesis of the one extreme must coincide with the destruction of the other. Sin, being in contrary opposition to righteousness, must depart when righteousness enters the soul.(903)
Article 2. The Positive Element Of Justification
1. HERETICAL ERRORS AND THE CHURCH.—Calvin held that justification consists essentially and exclusively in the remission of sins.(904) The other "Reformers" maintained that there must also be a positive element in the process, but differed in determining its nature.
a) The ambiguous language employed by Luther and Melanchthon gave rise to many different opinions, which agreed only in one point, that is, in holding, contrary to Catholic teaching, that the positive element of justification is not inward sanctification or inherent righteousness (i.e. sanctifying grace). Probably the view most common among the supporters of the Augsburg Confession was that the sinner, by a "fiduciary apprehension" of God's mercy, as proclaimed in the Gospel, "apprehends" the extrinsic justice of Christ, and with it covers his sins, which are thereupon no longer "imputed" to him. In other words, he is outwardly accounted and declared righteous in the sight of God, though inwardly he remains a sinner. With the exception of "sola fides" there was probably no shibboleth in the sixteenth century so persistently dinned into the ears of Catholics and Protestants alike as "iustitia Christi extra nos." It is found in the Apologia written in defence of the Augsburg Confession(905) and recurs in the Formula of Concord.(906) According to the "orthodox" Lutheran view, therefore, justification on its positive side is a purely forensic and outward imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which the sinner seizes with the arm of faith and puts on like a cloak to hide the wounds of his soul.(907)
b) Against this dismal heresy the Tridentine Council solemnly declared that "Justification ... is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and of the gifts,"(908) and anathematized all those who say that "men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost and is inherent in them, or even that the grace whereby we are justified is only the favor of God."(909)
In thus defining the doctrine of the Church, the Council did not, however, mean to deny that the sinner is in a true sense "justified by the justice of Christ,"—in so far namely, as our Lord has merited for us the grace of justification. He merely wished to emphasize the fact that a sinner is not formaliter justified by the imputation of Christ's justice. For the sake of greater clearness the various "causes" of justification are enumerated as follows: "Of this justification the causes are these: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting; while the efficient cause is a merciful God, who washes and sanctifies gratuitously; ... but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who ... merited justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the Cross; ... the instrumental cause is the Sacrament of Baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified; lastly, the sole formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just."(910)
So important did the distinction between the causa meritoria and the causa formalis of justification appear to the Fathers of Trent, that they made it the subject of a separate canon, to wit: "If anyone saith that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema."(911) Justification in the Catholic sense, therefore, is not a mere outward imputation of the justice of Christ, but a true inward renewal and sanctification wrought by a grace intrinsically inhering in the soul. This grace theologians call the "grace of justification."
2. REFUTATION OF THE LUTHERAN THEORY OF IMPUTATION.—Nothing is so foreign to both the spirit and the letter of Holy Scripture as the idea that justification merely covers a man's sins with a cloak of justice and leaves him unsanctified within.
Justification is described in the Bible not only as a remission of sins,(912) but likewise as the beginning of a new life,(913) a renewal of the spirit,(914) a new creation,(915) a regeneration,(916) a supernatural likeness of God,(917) etc. All these similes point to a permanent state of sanctity in the soul of the just.
α) The Lutheran theory of imputation can be most effectively refuted by an analysis of the Scriptural term "regeneration" (regeneratio, ἀναγέννησις, παλιγγενεσία). "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost," says our Divine Lord, "he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."(918) This spiritual rebirth wipes out sin and inwardly sanctifies the soul. The regenerate sinner receives a new and godlike nature. That this nature can be conceived in no other way than as a state of sanctity and justice appears clearly from Tit. III, 5 sqq.: "Not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost, whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour: that, being justified by His grace, we may be heirs, according to the hope of life everlasting."(919) Both text and context show that the Apostle is here speaking of the justification of adult sinners in Baptism, which he describes as a "laver of regeneration and renovation" resulting in an "outpouring of the Holy Ghost." These phrases plainly denote a positive quality of the soul as well as a permanent interior grace. Regeneration consists in the remission of sin through Baptism, and also, more particularly, in man being made like God, i.e. becoming a child of God,(920) while "renovation" means "putting off the old man"(921) and "putting on the new."(922) The "outpouring of the Holy Ghost" effected by Baptism is not, of course, an outpouring of the Hypostasis of the Third Person of the Trinity, but of created grace, which re-forms the sinner and makes him just.(923) This justifying grace must not be conceived as an actual grace, much less as a series of actual graces, for it is not given us merely as an aid in the performance of some particular act, but as a new nature. Regeneration and renovation denote a state of being, as we can plainly see in the case of baptized infants. It is for this reason that the Apostle speaks of it as a lasting state;—that which theologians call the status gratiae sanctificantis.(924)
Closely akin to the notion of "regeneration" is that of "re-creation." Justification renews the sinner inwardly and makes of him, so to speak, a new creature, which has sloughed off sin and become just and holy in the sight of God. Cfr. 2 Cor. V, 17: "If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new."(925) This is all the more true since re-creation effects an "incorporation of man with Christ," and is closely connected with "regeneration of God." Cfr. James I, 18: "For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creature."(926) A comparison with Gal. VI, 15 and Gal. V, 6 fully establishes it as a Biblical truth that in the process of justification the sinner, through faith informed by charity, is changed into a new creature. "For in Christ Jesus," says St. Paul, "neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."(927) And again: "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity."(928) In both these texts the Jewish rite of circumcision is rejected as useless and contrasted with justification, which by means of the fides formata gives birth to a "new creature." This is incompatible with the Protestant notion that a man is justified by being declared righteous in the sight of God, though he remains inwardly unchanged.(929)
β) The Lutherans vainly appeal to the fact that Holy Scripture employs the word "justify"(930) for the purpose of declaring a man to be just in a purely forensic sense, as in Is. V, 23: "Who justify the wicked for gifts." This proves nothing against the Catholic doctrine, which is based entirely on texts that exclude the judicial meaning of the term and plainly refer to inward sanctification.(931)
The word "justification" also occurs in two other meanings in the Bible. Ps. CXVIII, 8 and 26 it stands in the plural for the "law": "I will keep thy justifications;"(932) and "Teach me thy justifications."(933) Apoc. XXII, 11 and in a few other passages it signifies "growth" in interior holiness, which theologians call iustificatio secunda.(934)
The Lutherans are equally unfortunate in maintaining that St. Paul countenances their theory when he speaks of "putting on Christ." Cfr. Gal. III, 27: "For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ."(935) The Apostle in employing this simile does not mean to say that justification consists in putting on an outward cloak of grace to cover sins which inwardly endure, but precisely the contrary, viz.: that the sinner by being justified is inwardly cleansed from sin and becomes a new creature and a child of God. This interpretation is supported by various parallel texts(936) and by the staple of St. Paul's teaching.
Another passage which the Lutherans cite in their favor is 1 Cor. I, 30: "... who [Christ Jesus] of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption."(937) Christ is made unto us justice and sanctification, in what sense? Manifestly in the same sense in which He is made unto us wisdom of God, that is to say, in so far as He imparts to us wisdom, which thereupon becomes our own, but not in the sense that the wisdom of Christ is outwardly imputed to us. Note that St. Paul in this and many other passages of his Epistles merely wishes to emphasize the gratuity of the Redemption and of grace to the exclusion of all natural merit on the part of man.(938)
b) As regards the teaching of the Fathers, the "Reformers" themselves admitted that it was against them.(939)
We read in the Epistle of Barnabas, which was probably composed about A. D. 100:(940) "Since then He made us new by the remission of sins, he made us another type, that we should have the soul of children, as though He were creating us afresh."
The reason why St. Paul calls Baptism the "laver of regeneration" rather than the laver of forgiveness, is explained by St. John Chrysostom(941) as follows: "Because it [Baptism] not only remits our sins and wipes out our misdeeds, but accomplishes all this in such a way as if we were born anew;(942) for it entirely re-creates and re-forms us."(943)
St. Ambrose regards innocence as the positive element of justification: "After this [i.e. Baptism] you received a white robe, to indicate that you stripped off the vesture of sin and put on the chaste garments of innocence."(944)
Harnack claims that St. Augustine first stemmed the current dogmatic tradition and reshaped it by going back to St. Paul. Bellarmine(945) refuted this audacious assertion long before it was rehashed by the German rationalist. The Council of Trent was so thoroughly imbued with the teaching of Augustine that its decrees and canons on justification read as though they were lifted bodily from his writings. The great "Doctor of Grace" flatly contradicts the Protestant theory of imputation in such utterances as these: "He [St. Paul] does not say, 'the righteousness of man,' ... but 'the righteousness of God,'—meaning not that whereby He is Himself righteous, but that with which He endows man when He justifies the ungodly.... The righteousness of God is by faith of Jesus Christ, that is, by the faith wherewith one believes in Christ. For here is not meant the faith with which Christ Himself believes, just as there was not meant the righteousness whereby God is Himself righteous. Both no doubt are ours; but yet they are called [in one case] God's, and [in the other] Christ's, because it is by their bounty that these gifts are bestowed upon man."(946) Again: "When righteousness is given to us, it is not called our own righteousness, but God's, because it becomes ours only so that we have it from God."(947) Again: "The grace of God is called the righteousness of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, not that by which the Lord is just, but that by which He justifies those whom from unrighteous He makes righteous."(948) Again: "The love of God is said to be shed abroad in our hearts, not because He loves us, but because He makes us lovers of Himself; just as the righteousness of God is used in the sense of our being made righteous by His gift."(949) According to St. Augustine, therefore, justification culminates in a true sanctification of the soul. "When he [St. Paul] says: 'We are transformed into the same image,' he assuredly means to speak of the image of God; and by calling it 'the same,' he means that very image which we see in the glass,... and that we pass from a form that is obscure to a form that is bright,... and this [human] nature, being the most excellent among things created, is changed from a form that is defaced into a form that is beautiful, when it is justified by its Creator from ungodliness."(950)
The Augustinian passages which we have quoted (and they are not by any means all that could be quoted) enumerate the distinguishing marks of sanctifying grace in so far as it is the formal cause of justification.(951)
c) The argument from Revelation can be reinforced by certain philosophical considerations which show the absurdity of the imputation theory from the standpoint of common sense.
A man outwardly justified but inwardly a sinner would be a moral monster, and Almighty God would be guilty of an intrinsic contradiction were He to regard and treat such a one as just. This contradiction is not removed but rather intensified by the Lutheran appeal to the extraneous justice of Christ.(952)
The incongruity of the Lutheran doctrine of justification becomes fully apparent from the consequences which it involves, to wit: (1) all Christians without distinction would possess exactly the same degree of sanctity and justice; (2) justification once obtained by fiduciary faith could not be lost except by the sin of unbelief; and (3) children would not be justified by Baptism because they are not sufficiently advanced in the use of reason to enable them to "apprehend" the external righteousness of Christ. The first of these inferences runs counter to common sense and experience. The second, which Luther clothed in the shameful exhortation, "Pecca fortiter et crede fortius et nihil nocebunt centum homicidia et mille stupra,"(953) is repugnant to the teaching of Scripture and destructive of morality.(954) The third consistently led to the rejection of infant baptism by the Anabaptists, the Mennonites, and other Protestant sects.
3. SANCTIFYING GRACE THE SOLE FORMAL CAUSE OF JUSTIFICATION.—In declaring that "inherent grace" is the "sole formal cause of justification," the Council of Trent(955) defined it as an article of faith that sanctifying grace of itself is able to produce all the formal effects of justification, e.g. forgiveness of sins, the sanctification of the sinner, his adoption by God, etc.,(956) and consequently requires no supplementary or contributory causes. In other words, justification is wholly and fully accomplished by the infusion of sanctifying grace.
a) It appears from the discussions preceding its sixth session that the Tridentine Council not only meant to condemn the heretical contention of Butzer that "inherent grace" must be supplemented by the "imputed justice of Christ" as the really essential factor of justification,(957) but also wished to reject the view of divers contemporary Catholic theologians(958) that "intrinsic righteousness" is inadequate to effect justification without a special favor Dei externus.(959) In this the Fathers of the Council were on Scriptural ground. The principal effects of justification,—forgiveness of sins and internal sanctification,—are both produced by sanctifying grace. Sacred Scripture is perfectly clear on this point. It represents sin as opposed to grace in the same way in which darkness is opposed to light,(960) life to death,(961) the new man to the old.(962) The one necessarily excludes the other. Sanctifying grace and sin cannot co-exist in the same subject.
Internal sanctification may be defined as a permanent, vital union with God, by which the soul becomes righteous and holy in His sight and obtains a claim to Heaven. That this is also a function of sanctifying grace appears from those Scriptural texts which treat of the positive element of justification.(963) With this doctrine Tradition is in perfect accord, and consequently the Fathers of Trent were right in teaching as they did, in fact they could not have taught otherwise.(964)
b) While all Catholic theologians admit the incompatibility of grace and sin in the same subject, they differ as to the kind and degree of opposition existing between the two. Some hold that this opposition is purely moral, others that it is physical, again others that it is metaphysical.
α) Nominalists(965) and Scotists(966) before the Tridentine decision maintained that the distinction between sanctifying grace and (original or mortal) sin is based on a free decree of the Almighty, and therefore purely moral. God, they held, by a favor externus superadditus, externally supplies what sanctifying grace internally lacks, just as a government's stamp raises the value of a coin beyond the intrinsic worth of the bullion. Followed to its legitimate conclusions, this shallow theory means that sanctifying grace is of itself insufficient to wipe out sin, and that, but for the superadded divine favor, grace and sin might co-exist in the soul. This is tantamount to saying that justification requires a twofold formal cause, viz.: sanctifying grace and a favor Dei superadditus,—which runs counter to the teaching of Trent. Henno tries to escape this objection by explaining that the favor Dei acceptans appertains not to the formal but merely to the efficient cause of justification. But this contention is manifestly untenable. Sanctifying grace is either able to wipe out sin, or it is unable: if it is unable to produce this effect, the favor Dei acceptans must be part of the causa formalis of justification, and then, in Henno's hypothesis, we should have a duplex causa formalis, which contradicts the Tridentine decree. If, on the other hand, sanctifying grace is able to wipe out sin without any favor superadditus, then the Scotistic theory has no raison d'etre.
β) From what we have said it follows that there must be at least a physical contrariety between grace and sin. The difference between physical and metaphysical opposition may be illustrated by the example of fire and water. These two elements are incompatible by a law of nature. But as there is no metaphysical contradiction between them, Almighty God could conceivably bring them together. It is this physical kind of opposition that Suarez and a few of his followers assume to exist between grace and sin. Absolutely speaking, they say, there is no intrinsic contradiction in the assumption that God could preserve the physical entity of sanctifying grace in a soul guilty of mortal sin.(967) In so far as this school admits the existence of an internal opposition, which actually prevents original or mortal sin from ever co-existing in the soul with justifying grace, its teaching may be said to be acceptable to all Catholic theologians. The Scotistic view, on account of its incompatibility with the teaching of the Tridentine Council, is no longer held.
It may be questioned, however, whether Suarez goes far enough in this matter, and whether the opposition between grace and sin could really be overcome by a miracle. The simultaneous co-existence of grace and sin seems to involve an absolute, i.e. metaphysical, contradiction.
γ) This is what the Thomists maintain with the majority of Jesuit theologians.(968) As some subtle objections have been raised against this view, it cannot be accepted as theologically certain; but it undoubtedly corresponds better than its opposite to the spirit and letter of Scripture. The Bible, as we have already pointed out, likens the opposition existing between grace and sin to that between life and death,(969) justice and injustice, Christ and Belial, God and an idol.(970) But these are contradictories, ergo.(971) The same conclusion can be reached by arguing from the character of sanctifying grace as a participatio divinae naturae.(972) If grace is a participation in the divine nature, it must be opposed to sin in the same way in which God Himself is opposed to it. Now God as the All-Holy One is metaphysically opposed to sin; consequently, the same kind of opposition must exist between sanctifying grace and sin.
It is alleged against this teaching that between habitual grace and habitual sin there is merely a disparate opposition, i.e. that of a physical to a moral form, the concepts of which are not mutually exclusive. But sanctifying grace is more than a physical ornament of the soul; it is an ethical form which has for its essential function to render the soul holy and righteous in the sight of God.(973)
READINGS:—St. Thomas, Summa Theol., 1a 2ae, qu. 113, and the commentators, especially Billuart, De Gratia, diss. 7, art. 1 sqq.; *Bellarmine, De Iustificatione, l. II (Opera Omnia, ed. Fevre, Vol. VI, pp. 208 sqq., Paris 1873).
Besides the current text-books cfr. *Jos. Wieser, S. Pauli Apostoli Doctrina de Iustificatione, Trent 1874; H. Th. Simar, Die Theologie des hl. Paulus, 2nd ed., 33 sqq. Freiburg 1883.
On the Protestant notion of justification cfr. Moehler, Symbolik, 10 sqq., Mainz 1890 (Robertson's translation, pp. 82 sqq., 5th ed., London 1906); Realenzyklopaedie fuer prot. Theologie, Vol. XVI, 3rd ed., pp. 482 sqq., Leipzig 1905 (summarized in English in the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. VI, pp. 275 sqq., New York 1910); Card. Newman, Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification, 8th impression, London 1900; J. Mausbach, Catholic Moral Teaching and its Antagonists, New York 1914, pp. 150 sqq.—B. J. Otten, S. J., A Manual of the History of Dogmas, Vol. II, St. Louis 1918, pp. 246 sqq., 464 sq., 470 sqq.
Section 2. Justifying Or Sanctifying Grace
Sanctifying grace is defined by Deharbe as "an unmerited, supernatural gift, imparted to the soul by the Holy Ghost, by which we are made just, children of God, and heirs of Heaven." As it makes sinners just, sanctifying grace is also called justifying, though this appellation can not be applied to the sanctification of our first parents in Paradise or to that of the angels and the sinless soul of Christ. Justification, as we have shown, consists in the infusion of sanctifying grace, and hence it is important that we obtain a correct idea of the latter. We will therefore consider (1) The Nature of Sanctifying Grace, (2) Its Effects in the Soul, and (3) Its Supernatural Concomitants.
Article 1. The Nature Of Sanctifying Grace
1. SANCTIFYING GRACE A "PERMANENT QUALITY" OF THE SOUL.—Having no intuitive knowledge of sanctifying grace, we are obliged, in order to obtain an idea of its true nature, to study its effects, as made known to us by Revelation. Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church do, however, enable us to form certain well-defined conclusions, of which the most important is that sanctifying grace must be conceived as a permanent quality (qualitas permanens) of the soul. If it is a permanent quality, sanctifying grace cannot be identical with actual grace or with "uncreated grace," i.e. the Person of the Holy Ghost.
a) In conformity with such Biblical expressions as "the new life," "renovation of the spirit," "regeneration," "divine sonship," etc., the Council of Trent defines justifying grace as a supernatural something "infused" into and "inherent" in the soul. Both ideas denote a permanent state, not a mere transient act or the result of such acts. "The charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein."(974) "That justice which is called ours, because we are justified from its being inherent in us, that same is (the justice of God) because it is infused into us by God, through the merit of Christ."(975) "If any one saith that men are justified ... to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost and is inherent in them,... let him be anathema."(976) Hence Justification is defined by the Fathers of Trent as "a translation ... to the state of grace and adoption of the sons of God."(977)
Before the Tridentine Council a number of theologians held that sanctifying grace consists in some particular actual grace or in a consecutive series of actual graces. This view is incompatible with the definition just quoted; in fact Suarez, Bellarmine, Ripalda, and others regard it as positively heretical or at least intolerably rash. During the preliminary debates at Trent some of the Fathers asked for an express declaration of the Council to the effect that justification is wrought by the instrumentality of an infused habit; but their request was set aside on the ground that the nature of justifying grace as a stable habit is sufficiently indicated by the word "inhaeret."(978)
That sanctifying grace is a permanent state of the soul may also be inferred from the Catholic teaching that the grace which Baptism imparts to children does not differ essentially from that which it imparts to adults. True, this teaching was not always regarded as certain;(979) but at the Ecumenical Council of Vienne, A. D. 1311, Pope Clement V declared it to be "the more probable opinion,"(980) and it was rendered absolutely certain by the Tridentine decision that infant Baptism results not only in the remission of sins, but likewise in an infusion of sanctifying grace. This being so, there can be no essential difference between the justification of children and that of adults. Now it cannot be actual grace which renders children righteous in the sight of God, for they are unable to avail themselves of actual grace on account of the undeveloped state of their intellect. The grace that Baptism imparts to them is consequently a gratia inhaerens et informans, that is, a permanent state of grace; and it must be the same in adults.(981)
Peter Lombard(982) identified sanctifying grace with the gratia increata, i.e. the Person of the Holy Ghost. This notion was combatted by St. Thomas(983) and implicitly rejected by the Tridentine Council when it declared that sanctifying grace inheres in the soul and may be increased by good works.(984) To say that the Holy Ghost is poured forth in the hearts of men, or that He may be increased by good works, would evidently savor of Pantheism. The Holy Ghost pours forth sanctifying grace and is consequently not the formal but the efficient cause of justification.(985)
b) The gratia inhaerens permanens is not a mere relation or denominatio extrinseca, but a positive entity productive of real effects,(986) and must consequently be conceived either as a substance or as an accident. We have shown that it is not identical with the uncreated substance of the Holy Ghost. Neither can it be a created substance. The idea of an intrinsically supernatural created substance involves a contradiction.(987) Moreover, sanctifying grace in its nature and purpose is not an entity independently co-existing with the soul but something physically inherent in it. Now, a thing which has its existence by inhering in some other thing is in philosophic parlance an "accident." St. Thomas expressly teaches that, "since it transcends human nature, grace cannot be a substance nor a substantial form, but is an accidental form of the soul itself."(988) Agreeable to this conception is the further Thomistic teaching that sanctifying grace is not directly created by God, but drawn (educta) from the potentia obedientialis of the soul.(989) Not even the Scotists, though they held grace to be created out of nothing(990) claimed that it was a new substance.
An accident that inheres in a substance permanently and physically is called a quality (qualitas, ποιότης). Consequently, sanctifying grace must be defined as a supernatural quality of the soul. This is the express teaching of the Roman Catechism: "Grace ... is a divine quality inherent in the soul, and, as it were, a certain splendor and light that effaces all the stains of our souls and renders the souls themselves brighter and more beautiful."(991)
2. SANCTIFYING GRACE AN INFUSED HABIT.—Sanctifying grace may more specifically, though with a lesser degree of certainty, be described as a habit (habitus). Being entitatively supernatural, this habit must be infused or "drawn out" by the Holy Ghost.
a) Aristotle(992) distinguishes four different sets of qualities: (1) habit and disposition; (2) power and incapacity; (3) passio (the power of causing sensations) and patibilis qualitas (result of the modification of sense); (4) figure and circumscribing form (of extended bodies). As sanctifying grace manifestly cannot come under one of the three last-mentioned heads, it must be either a habit or a disposition. Habit denotes a permanent and comparatively stable quality, by which a substance, considered as to its nature or operation, is well or ill adapted to its natural end.(993) As a permanently inhering quality, sanctifying grace must be a habit. Hence its other name, "habitual grace." The Scholastics draw a distinction between entitative and operative habits. An operative habit (habitus operativus) gives not only the power (potentia) to act, but also a certain facility, and may be either good, bad, or indifferent. An entitative habit (habitus entitativus) is an inherent quality by which a substance is rendered permanently good or bad, e.g. beauty, ugliness, health, disease.
Philosophy knows only operative habits. But sanctifying grace affects the very substance of the soul. Hence the supplementary theological category of entitative habits. "Grace," says St. Thomas, "belongs to the first species of quality, though it cannot properly be called a habit, because it is not immediately ordained to action, but to a kind of spiritual being, which it produces in the soul."(994) There is another reason why grace cannot be called a habit in the philosophical sense of the term:—it supplies no acquired facility to act. This consideration led Suarez to abstain altogether from the use of the term "habit" in connection with grace,(995) and induced Cardinal Bellarmine to describe sanctifying grace as a qualitas per modum habitus,(996) by which phrase he wished to indicate that it imparts a supernatural perfection of being rather than a facility to act. To obviate these and similar subtleties the Council of Trent defined sanctifying grace simply as a permanent quality.
Nevertheless scientific theology employs the term habitus because it has no other philosophical category ready to hand. This defect in the Aristotelian system is somewhat surprising in view of the fact that besides the supernatural, there are distinctly natural qualities which "belong to the first species," though they impart no facility to act but merely a disposition to certain modes of being, e.g. beauty, health, etc.
There is also a positive reason which justifies the definition of sanctifying grace as a habit. It is that grace imparts to the soul, if not the facility, at least the power to perform supernaturally meritorious acts, so that it is really more than a habitus entitativus, namely, a habitus (at least remotely) operativus.(997)
b) The Scholastic distinction between native and acquired habits does not apply in the supernatural domain, because the supernatural by its very definition can never be either a part or an acquisition of mere nature.(998) It follows from this that supernatural habits, both entitative and operative, can be imparted to the human soul in no other way than by infusion (or excitation) from above. Hence the name habitus infusus. When the Holy Ghost infuses sanctifying grace, the habitus entitativus imparts to the soul a supernatural principle of being, while the habitus operativus confers upon it a supernatural power, which by faithful cooeperation with (actual) grace may be developed into a facility to perform salutary acts. Hence, if we adopt the division of habits into entitative and operative, sanctifying grace must be defined first as an entitative habit (habitus entitativus), because it forms the groundwork of permanent righteousness, sanctity, divine sonship, etc.; and, secondly, as an infused habit, because it is not born in the soul and cannot be acquired by practice. This view is in accord with Sacred Scripture, which describes the grace of justification as a divine seed abiding in man,(999) a treasure carried in earthen vessels,(1000) a regeneration by which the soul becomes the abode of God(1001) and a temple of the Holy Ghost.(1002)
3. THE CONTROVERSY REGARDING THE ALLEGED IDENTITY OF SANCTIFYING GRACE AND CHARITY.—As justifying grace and theological love (charity) are both infused habits, the question arises as to their objective identity. The answer will depend on the solution of the problem, just treated, whether sanctifying grace is primarily an entitative or an operative habit. Of theological love we know that it is essentially an operative habit, being one, and indeed the chief of the "three theological virtues." What we have said in the preceding paragraph will enable the reader to perceive, at the outset, that there is a real distinction between grace and charity, and that consequently the two can not be identical.
a) Nevertheless there is an imposing school of theologians who maintain the identity of grace with charity. They are Scotus(1003) and his followers,(1004) Cardinal Bellarmine,(1005) Molina, Lessius, Salmeron, Vasquez, Sardagna, Tournely, and others. Their principal argument is that Holy Scripture ascribes active justification indiscriminately to theological love and sanctifying grace, and that some of the Fathers follow this example. Here are a few of the Scriptural texts quoted in favor of this opinion. Luke VII, 47: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much."(1006) 1 Pet. IV, 8: "Charity covereth a multitude of sins."(1007) 1 John IV, 7: "Every one that loveth is born of God."(1008) St. Augustine seems to identify the two habits in such passages as the following: "Inchoate love, therefore, is inchoate righteousness; ... great love is great righteousness; perfect love is perfect righteousness."(1009) According to the Tridentine Council, "the justification of the impious" takes place when "the charity of God is poured forth ... in the hearts of those that are justified, and is inherent therein."(1010) It is argued that, if charity and grace produce the same effects, they must be identical as causes, and there can be at most a virtual distinction between them. This argument is strengthened by the observation that sanctifying grace and theological love constitute the supernatural life of the soul and the loss of either entails spiritual death.
These arguments prove that grace and charity are inseparable, but nothing more. All the Scriptural and Patristic passages cited can be explained without recourse to the hypothesis that they are identical. Charity is not superfluous alongside of sanctifying grace, because the primary object of grace is to impart supernatural being, whereas charity confers a special faculty which enables the intellect and the will to elicit supernatural salutary acts.
b) The majority of Catholic theologians(1011) hold with St. Thomas(1012) and his school that grace and charity, while inseparable, are really distinct, sanctifying grace as a habitus entitativus imparting to the soul a supernatural being, whereas charity, being purely a habitus operativus, confers a supernatural power.
Let us put the matter somewhat differently. Grace inheres in the substance of the soul, while charity has its seat in one of its several faculties. Inhering in the very substance of the soul, grace, by a physical or moral power, produces the three theological virtues—faith, hope, and love. "As the soul's powers, which are the wellsprings of its acts, flow from its essence," says the Angelic Doctor, "so the theological virtues flow from grace into the faculties of the soul and move them to act."(1013) And St. Augustine: "Grace precedes charity."(1014)
This is a more plausible view than the one we have examined a little farther up, and it can claim the authority of Scripture, which, though it occasionally identifies the effects of grace and charity, always clearly distinguishes the underlying habits. Cfr. 2 Cor. XIII, 13: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the charity of God."(1015) 1 Tim. I 14: "The grace of our Lord hath abounded exceedingly with faith and love."(1016) Furthermore, "regeneration" and "new-creation" in Biblical usage affect not only the faculties of the soul, but its substance. Finally, many councils consistently distinguish between gratia and caritas (dona, virtutes)—a distinction which has almost the force of a proof that grace and charity are not the same thing.(1017) These councils cannot have had in mind a purely virtual distinction, because theological love presupposes sanctifying grace in exactly the same manner as a faculty presupposes a substance or nature in which it exists. The Roman Catechism expressly designates the theological virtues as "concomitants of grace."(1018)
The question nevertheless remains an open one, as neither party can fully establish its claim, and the Church has never rendered an official decision either one way or the other.(1019)
4. SANCTIFYING GRACE A PARTICIPATION OF THE SOUL IN THE DIVINE NATURE.—The highest and at the same time the most profound conception of sanctifying grace is that it is a real, though of course only accidental and analogical, participation of the soul in the nature of God. That sanctifying grace makes us "partakers of the divine nature" is of faith, but the manner in which it effects this participation admits of different explanations.
a) The fact itself can be proved from Sacred Scripture. Cfr. 2 Pet. I, 4: "By whom [Christ] He [the Father] hath given us great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature."(1020) To this text may be added all those which affirm the regeneration of the soul in God, because regeneration, being a new birth, must needs impart to the regenerate the nature of his spiritual progenitor. Cfr. John I, 13: "Who are born, not of blood, ... but of God."(1021) John III, 5: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven."(1022) St. James I, 18: "For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth."(1023) 1 John III, 9: "Whosoever is born of God, committeth no sin."(1024)
The Fathers of the Church again and again extol the deification (deificatio, θείωσις) of man effected by sanctifying grace and compare the union of the soul with God to the commingling of water with wine, the penetration of iron by fire, etc. St. Athanasius(1025) begins his Christological teaching with the declaration: "He was not, therefore, first man and then God, but first God and then man, in order that He might rather deify us."(1026) St. Augustine describes the process of deification as follows: "He justifies who is just of Himself, not from another; and He deifies who is God of Himself, not by participation in another. But He who justifies also deifies, because He makes [men] sons of God through justification.... We have been made sons of God and gods; but this is a grace of the adopting [God], not the nature of the progenitor. The Son of God alone is God; ... the others who are made gods are made gods by His grace; they are not born of His substance, so as to become that which He is, but in order that they may come to Him by favor and become co-heirs with Christ."(1027) The idea underlying this passage has found its way into the liturgy of the Mass,(1028) and Ripalda is justified in declaring that it cannot be denied without rashness.(1029)
b) In trying to explain in what manner grace enables us to partake of the divine nature, it is well to keep in view the absolutely supernatural character of sanctifying grace and the impossibility of any deification of the creature in the strict sense of the term. The truth lies between these two extremes.
A few medieval mystics(1030) and modern Quietists(1031) were guilty of exaggeration when they taught that grace transforms the human soul into the substance of the Godhead, thus completely merging the creature in its Creator. This contention(1032) leads to Pantheism. How can the soul be merged in the Creator, since it continues to be subject to concupiscence? "We have therefore," says St. Augustine, "even now begun to be like Him, as we have the first-fruits of the Spirit; but yet even now we are unlike Him, by reason of the old nature which leaves its remains in us. In as far, then, as we are like Him, in so far are we, by the regenerating Spirit, sons of God; but in as far as we are unlike Him, in so far are we the children of the flesh and of this world."(1033)
On the other hand it would be underestimating the power of grace to say that it effects a merely external and moral participation of the soul in the divine nature, similar to that by which those who embraced the faith of Abraham were called "children of Abraham," and those who commit heinous crimes are called "sons of the devil." According to the Fathers(1034) and theologians, to "partake of the divine nature" means to become internally and physically like God and to receive from Him truly divine gifts, i.e. such as are proper to God alone and absolutely transcend the order of nature.(1035) Being self-existing, absolutely independent, and infinite, God cannot, of course, be regarded as the formal cause of created sanctity; yet the strictly supernatural gifts which He confers on His creatures, especially the beatific vision and sanctifying grace, can be conceived only per modum causae formalis (not informantis), because through them God gives Himself to the creature in such an intimate way that the creature is raised up to and transfigured by Him.(1036) Consequently, the so-called deificatio of the soul by grace is not a real deification, but an assimilation of the creature to God.(1037)
c) Which one of God's numerous attributes forms the basis of the supernatural communication made to the soul in the bestowal of grace, is a question on which theologians differ widely. The so-called incommunicable attributes, (self-existence, immensity, eternity, etc.), of course, cannot be imparted to the creature except by way of a hypostatic union.(1038)
Gonet(1039) misses the point at issue, therefore, when He declares the essential characteristic of deification to be the communication to the creature of the divine attributes of self-existence and infinity. Self-existence is absolutely incommunicable.(1040) Somewhat more plausible, though hardly acceptable, is Ripalda's opinion that deification formally consists in the participation of the creature in the holiness of the Creator, particularly in the supernatural vital communion of the soul with God in faith, hope, and charity, thus making sanctifying grace the radix totius honestatis moralis.(1041) While it is perfectly true that the supernatural life of the soul is a life in and through God, and that the very concept of sanctifying grace involves a peculiar and special relation of the soul to God, the Biblical term κοινωνία θείας φύσεως points to a still deeper principle of the sanctifying vita deiformis. This principle, as some of the Fathers intimate, and St. Thomas expressly teaches,(1042) is the absolute intellectuality of God. Hence the object of sanctifying grace is to impart to the soul in a supernatural manner such a degree of intellectuality as is necessary to perceive the absolute Spirit—here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and in the life beyond by the lumen gloriae.(1043) This view is to a certain extent confirmed by Sacred Scripture, which describes the regeneration of the sinner as a birth of spirit from spirit.(1044) It is also held by some of the Fathers, who attribute to sanctifying grace both a deifying and a spiritualizing power. Thus St. Basil(1045) says: "The spirit-bearing souls, illuminated by the Holy Ghost, themselves become spiritual(1046) and radiate grace to others. Hence ... to become like unto God,(1047) is the highest of all goals: to become God."(1048) Finally, since the Holy Ghost, as the highest exponent of the spirituality of the divine nature, by His personal indwelling crowns and consummates both the regeneration of the soul and its assimilation to God, there is a strong theological probability in favor of Suarez's view. Of course the process does not attain its climax until the creature is finally admitted to the beatific vision in Heaven. Cfr. 1 John III, 2: "We are now the sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is."(1049)
Article 2. The Effects Of Sanctifying Grace
We shall better understand the nature of sanctifying grace by studying what are known as its "formal effects." As the causa efficiens of a thing is commonly farther removed from our mental grasp than its effects, we are ordinarily more familiar with the latter than with the former. For this reason the glories of divine grace can be best explained to children and to the faithful in general by describing the effects it produces in the soul.(1050)
1. SANCTITY.—The first among the formal effects of sanctifying grace (an effect connoted by its very name) is sanctity. Eph. IV, 24: "Put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth."(1051) The Tridentine Council explicitly mentions sanctity as an effect of sanctifying grace: "Justification ... is not remission of sins merely, but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and of the gifts whereby man from unjust becomes just."(1052) It follows that the two elements of active justification, viz.: remission of sin and sanctification, are also constitutive elements of habitual or sanctifying grace. For it is precisely by the infusion of sanctifying grace that sin is wiped out and sanctity established in its place.(1053)
a) By sanctifying grace the justified man becomes a living member (membrum vivum) of the mystical body of Christ. His sins, it is true, did not forfeit membership in the Church, so long as he preserved the faith, but by sinning he became a dead member who can regain life only by returning to the state of grace. Grace is the life of the soul, sin its death. Hence the evil of mortal sin can be most effectively illustrated by contrast with the glory of divine grace, and vice versa. Cfr. Gal. II, 20: "And I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me."(1054)
b) He who hates mortal sin and faithfully obeys the will of God, enjoys peace of heart,(1055) whereas the sinner is incessantly harassed by qualms of conscience. The faithful Christian rejoices in serving His Master and combats the flesh, the world, and the devil with a fortitude that not infrequently rises to heroic proportions, as the example of many holy men and women proves.
c) Sanctifying grace entails a particular providence, inasmuch as, by means of it, God grants man His special assistance towards preserving the state of grace, without, of course, interfering with free-will. Cfr. Is. XLIX, 16: "Behold, I have graven thee in my hands."(1056) Rom. VIII, 28: "... to them that love God, all things work together unto good."(1057) Mediately, God also proves his special love for the just man by shielding him from bodily and spiritual danger.