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Title: Summa Theologica, Part II-II (Secunda Secundae)
Author: Thomas Aquinas
Translator: Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Release Date: July 4, 2006 [EBook #18755]
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SUMMA THEOLOGICA, PART II-II ***
Produced by Sandra K. Perry, with corrections and
supplementation by David McClamrock
PART II-II ("Secunda Secundae")
Fathers of the English Dominican Province
To the Blessed Virgin
Seat of Wisdom
NOTE TO THIS ELECTRONIC EDITION
The text of this electronic edition was originally produced by Sandra
K. Perry, Perrysburg, Ohio, and made available through the Christian
Classics Ethereal Library
. I have eliminated
unnecessary formatting in the text, corrected some errors in
transcription, and added the dedication, tables of contents,
Prologue, and the numbers of the questions and articles, as they
appeared in the printed translation published by Benziger Brothers.
Each article is now designated by part, question number, and article
number in brackets, like this:
> SECOND ARTICLE [I, Q. 49, Art. 2]
> Whether the Supreme Good, God, Is the Cause of Evil?
In a few places, where obvious errors appeared in the Benziger
Brothers edition, I have corrected them by reference to a Latin text
of the _Summa._ These corrections are indicated by English text in
brackets. For example, in Part I, Question 45, Article 2, the first
sentence in the Benziger Brothers edition begins: "Not only is it
impossible that anything should be created by God...." By reference
to the Latin, "non solum _non_ est impossibile a Deo aliquid creari"
(emphasis added), this has been corrected to "Not only is it [not]
impossible that anything should be created by God...."
This electronic edition also differs from the Benziger Brothers
edition in the following details (as well as the obvious lack of the
original page numbers and headers):
* The repetitive expression "We proceed thus to the [next] Article"
does not appear directly below the title of each article.
* Italics are represented by underscores at the beginning and end,
_like this._ Quotations and other "quotable" matter, however, are
ordinarily set off by quotation marks with no underscores in this
edition, in accordance with common English usage, even where they
were set in italics with no quotation marks in the Benziger Brothers
edition. Titles of books are set off by underscores when they appear
in the text with no parentheses, but not when the books are cited in
* Bible chapters and verses are cited with arabic numerals separated
by colons, like this: "Dan. 7:10"--not like this: "Dan. vii. 10."
Small roman numerals have been retained where they appear in
citations to books other than the Bible.
* Any matter that appeared in a footnote in the Benziger Brothers
edition is presented in brackets at the point in the text where the
footnote mark appeared.
* Greek words are presented in Roman transliteration.
* Paragraphs are not indented and are separated by blank lines.
* Numbered topics, set forth at the beginning of each question and
at certain other places, are ordinarily presented on a separate line
for each topic.
* Titles of questions are in all caps.
Anything else in this electronic edition that does not correspond to
the content of the Benziger Brothers edition may be regarded as a
defect in this edition and attributed to me (David McClamrock).
SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (QQ. 1-189)
1. Of Faith
2. Of the Act of Faith
3. Of the Outward Act of Faith
4. Of the Virtue Itself of Faith
5. Of Those Who Have Faith
6. Of the Cause of Faith
7. Of the Effects of Faith
8. Of the Gift of Understanding
9. Of the Gift of Knowledge
10. Of Unbelief in General
11. Of Heresy
12. Of Apostasy
13. Of the Sin of Blasphemy, in General
14. Of Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost
15. Of the Vices Opposed to Knowledge and Understanding
16. Of the Precepts of Faith, Knowledge, and Understanding
17. Of Hope, Considered in Itself
18. Of the Subject of Hope
19. Of the Gift of Fear
20. Of Despair
21. Of Presumption
22. Of the Precepts Relating to Hope and Fear
23. Of Charity, Considered in Itself
24. Of the Subject of Charity
25. Of the Object of Charity
26. Of the Order of Charity
27. Of the Principal Act of Charity, Which Is to Love
28. Of Joy
29. Of Peace
30. Of Mercy
31. Of Beneficence
32. Of Almsdeeds
33. Of Fraternal Correction
34. Of Hatred
35. Of Sloth
36. Of Envy
37. Of Discord, Which Is Contrary to Peace
38. Of Contention
39. Of Schism
40. Of War
41. Of Strife
42. Of Sedition
43. Of Scandal
44. Of the Precepts of Charity
45. Of the Gift of Wisdom
46. Of Folly Which Is Opposed to Wisdom
TREATISE ON PRUDENCE AND JUSTICE
47. Of Prudence Considered in Itself
48. Of the Parts of Prudence
49. Of Each Quasi-integral Part of Prudence
50. Of the Subjective Parts of Prudence
51. Of the Virtues Which Are Connected with Prudence
52. Of the Gift of Counsel
53. Of Imprudence
54. Of Negligence
55. Of Vices Opposed to Prudence by Way of Resemblance
56. Of the Precepts Relating to Prudence
57. Of Right
58. Of Justice
59. Of Injustice
60. Of Judgment
61. Of the Parts of Justice
62. Of Restitution
63. Of Respect of Persons
64. Of Murder
65. Of Injuries Committed on the Person
66. Of Theft and Robbery
67. Of the Injustice of a Judge, in Judging
68. Of Matters Concerning Unjust Accusation
69. Of Sins Committed Against Justice on the Part of the Defendant
70. Of Injustice with Regard to the Person of the Witness
71. Of Injustice in Judgment on the Part of Counsel
72. Of Reviling
73. Of Backbiting
74. Of Tale-Bearing
75. Of Derision
76. Of Cursing
77. Of Cheating, Which Is Committed in Buying and Selling
78. Of the Sin of Usury
79. Of the Quasi-integral Parts of Justice
80. Of the Potential Parts of Justice
81. Of Religion
82. Of Devotion
83. Of Prayer
84. Of Adoration
85. Of Sacrifice
86. Of Oblations and First-fruits
87. Of Tithes
88. Of Vows
89. Of Oaths
90. Of the Taking of God's Name by Way of Adjuration
91. Of Taking the Divine Name for the Purpose of Invoking It by
Means of Praise
92. Of Superstition
93. Of Superstition Consisting in Undue Worship of the True God
94. Of Idolatry
95. Of Superstition in Divinations
96. Of Superstition in Observances
97. Of the Temptation of God
98. Of Perjury
99. Of Sacrilege
100. On Simony
101. Of Piety
102. Of Observance, Considered in Itself, and of Its Parts
103. Of Dulia
104. Of Obedience
105. Of Disobedience
106. Of Thankfulness or Gratitude
107. Of Ingratitude
108. Of Vengeance
109. Of Truth
110. Of the Vices Opposed to Truth, and First of Lying
111. Of Dissimulation and Hypocrisy
112. Of Boasting
113. Of Irony
114. Of the Friendliness Which Is Called Affability
115. Of Flattery
116. Of Quarreling
117. Of Liberality
118. Of the Vices Opposed to Liberality, and in the First Place,
119. Of Prodigality
120. Of "Epikeia" or Equity
121. Of Piety
122. Of the Precepts of Justice
TREATISE ON FORTITUDE AND TEMPERANCE
123. Of Fortitude
124. Of Martyrdom
125. Of Fear
126. Of Fearlessness
127. Of Daring
128. Of the Parts of Fortitude
129. Of Magnanimity
130. Of Presumption
131. Of Ambition
132. Of Vainglory
133. Of Pusillanimity
134. Of Magnificence
135. Of Meanness
136. Of Patience
137. Of Perseverance
138. Of the Vices Opposed to Perseverance
139. Of the Gift of Fortitude
140. Of the Precepts of Fortitude
141. Of Temperance
142. Of the Vices Opposed to Temperance
143. Of the Parts of Temperance, in General
144. Of Shamefacedness
145. Of Honesty
146. Of Abstinence
147. Of Fasting
148. Of Gluttony
149. Of Sobriety
150. Of Drunkenness
151. Of Chastity
152. Of Virginity
153. Of Lust
154. Of the Parts of Lust
155. Of Continence
156. Of Incontinence
157. Of Clemency and Meekness
158. Of Anger
159. Of Cruelty
160. Of Modesty
161. Of Humility
162. Of Pride
163. Of the First Man's Sin
164. Of the Punishments of the First Man's Sin
165. Of Our First Parents' Temptation
166. Of Studiousness
167. Of Curiosity
168. Of Modesty as Consisting in the Outward Movements of the Body
169. Of Modesty in the Outward Apparel
170. Of the Precepts of Temperance
TREATISE ON ACTS WHICH PERTAIN ESPECIALLY TO CERTAIN MEN
171. Of Prophecy
172. Of the Cause of Prophecy
173. Of the Manner in Which Prophetic Knowledge Is Conveyed
174. Of the Division of Prophecy
175. Of Rapture
176. Of the Grace of Tongues
177. Of the Gratuitous Grace Consisting in Words
178. Of the Grace of Miracles
179. Of the Division of Life into Active and Contemplative
180. Of the Contemplative Life
181. Of the Active Life
182. Of the Active Life in Comparison with the Contemplative Life
183. Of Man's Various Duties and States in General
184. Of the State of Perfection in General
185. Of Things Pertaining to the Episcopal State
186. Of Those Things in Which the Religious State Properly Consists
187. Of Those Things That Are Competent to Religious
188. Of the Different Kinds of Religious Life
189. Of the Entrance into Religious Life
SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART
["II-II," "Secunda Secundae"]
TREATISE ON THE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES (QQ. 1-46)
OF FAITH (In Ten Articles)
Having to treat now of the theological virtues, we shall begin with
Faith, secondly we shall speak of Hope, and thirdly, of Charity.
The treatise on Faith will be fourfold: (1) Of faith itself; (2) Of
the corresponding gifts, knowledge and understanding; (3) Of the
opposite vices; (4) Of the precepts pertaining to this virtue.
About faith itself we shall consider: (1) its object; (2) its act;
(3) the habit of faith.
Under the first head there are ten points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the object of faith is the First Truth?
(2) Whether the object of faith is something complex or incomplex,
i.e. whether it is a thing or a proposition?
(3) Whether anything false can come under faith?
(4) Whether the object of faith can be anything seen?
(5) Whether it can be anything known?
(6) Whether the things to be believed should be divided into a
certain number of articles?
(7) Whether the same articles are of faith for all times?
(8) Of the number of articles;
(9) Of the manner of embodying the articles in a symbol;
(10) Who has the right to propose a symbol of faith?
FIRST ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 1]
Whether the Object of Faith Is the First Truth?
Objection 1: It would seem that the object of faith is not the First
Truth. For it seems that the object of faith is that which is
proposed to us to be believed. Now not only things pertaining to the
Godhead, i.e. the First Truth, are proposed to us to be believed, but
also things concerning Christ's human nature, and the sacraments of
the Church, and the condition of creatures. Therefore the object of
faith is not only the First Truth.
Obj. 2: Further, faith and unbelief have the same object since they
are opposed to one another. Now unbelief can be about all things
contained in Holy Writ, for whichever one of them a man denies, he is
considered an unbeliever. Therefore faith also is about all things
contained in Holy Writ. But there are many things therein, concerning
man and other creatures. Therefore the object of faith is not only
the First Truth, but also created truth.
Obj. 3: Further, faith is condivided with charity, as stated above
(I-II, Q. 62, A. 3). Now by charity we love not only God, who is the
sovereign Good, but also our neighbor. Therefore the object of Faith
is not only the First Truth.
_On the contrary,_ Dionysius says (Div. Nom. vii) that "faith is
about the simple and everlasting truth." Now this is the First Truth.
Therefore the object of faith is the First Truth.
_I answer that,_ The object of every cognitive habit includes two
things: first, that which is known materially, and is the material
object, so to speak, and, secondly, that whereby it is known, which is
the formal aspect of the object. Thus in the science of geometry, the
conclusions are what is known materially, while the formal aspect of
the science is the mean of demonstration, through which the
conclusions are known.
Accordingly if we consider, in faith, the formal aspect of the
object, it is nothing else than the First Truth. For the faith of
which we are speaking, does not assent to anything, except because it
is revealed by God. Hence the mean on which faith is based is the
Divine Truth. If, however, we consider materially the things to which
faith assents, they include not only God, but also many other things,
which, nevertheless, do not come under the assent of faith, except as
bearing some relation to God, in as much as, to wit, through certain
effects of the Divine operation, man is helped on his journey towards
the enjoyment of God. Consequently from this point of view also the
object of faith is, in a way, the First Truth, in as much as nothing
comes under faith except in relation to God, even as the object of
the medical art is health, for it considers nothing save in relation
Reply Obj. 1: Things concerning Christ's human nature, and the
sacraments of the Church, or any creatures whatever, come under
faith, in so far as by them we are directed to God, and in as much
as we assent to them on account of the Divine Truth.
The same answer applies to the Second Objection, as regards all
things contained in Holy Writ.
Reply Obj. 3: Charity also loves our neighbor on account of God, so
that its object, properly speaking, is God, as we shall show further
on (Q. 25, A. 1).
SECOND ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 2]
Whether the Object of Faith Is Something Complex, by Way of a
Objection 1: It would seem that the object of faith is not something
complex by way of a proposition. For the object of faith is the First
Truth, as stated above (A. 1). Now the First Truth is something
simple. Therefore the object of faith is not something complex.
Obj. 2: Further, the exposition of faith is contained in the symbol.
Now the symbol does not contain propositions, but things: for it is
not stated therein that God is almighty, but: "I believe in God . . .
almighty." Therefore the object of faith is not a proposition but a
Obj. 3: Further, faith is succeeded by vision, according to 1 Cor.
13:12: "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to
face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known."
But the object of the heavenly vision is something simple, for it is
the Divine Essence. Therefore the faith of the wayfarer is also.
_On the contrary,_ Faith is a mean between science and opinion. Now
the mean is in the same genus as the extremes. Since, then, science
and opinion are about propositions, it seems that faith is likewise
about propositions; so that its object is something complex.
_I answer that,_ The thing known is in the knower according to the
mode of the knower. Now the mode proper to the human intellect is to
know the truth by synthesis and analysis, as stated in the First Part
(Q. 85, A. 5). Hence things that are simple in themselves, are known
by the intellect with a certain amount of complexity, just as on the
other hand, the Divine intellect knows, without any complexity,
things that are complex in themselves.
Accordingly the object of faith may be considered in two ways. First,
as regards the thing itself which is believed, and thus the object of
faith is something simple, namely the thing itself about which we
have faith. Secondly, on the part of the believer, and in this
respect the object of faith is something complex by way of a
Hence in the past both opinions have been held with a certain amount
Reply Obj. 1: This argument considers the object of faith on the part
of the thing believed.
Reply Obj. 2: The symbol mentions the things about which faith is, in
so far as the act of the believer is terminated in them, as is
evident from the manner of speaking about them. Now the act of the
believer does not terminate in a proposition, but in a thing. For as
in science we do not form propositions, except in order to have
knowledge about things through their means, so is it in faith.
Reply Obj. 3: The object of the heavenly vision will be the First
Truth seen in itself, according to 1 John 3:2: "We know that when He
shall appear, we shall be like to Him: because we shall see Him as He
is": hence that vision will not be by way of a proposition but by way
of a simple understanding. On the other hand, by faith, we do not
apprehend the First Truth as it is in itself. Hence the comparison
THIRD ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 3]
Whether Anything False Can Come Under Faith?
Objection 1: It would seem that something false can come under faith.
For faith is condivided with hope and charity. Now something false can
come under hope, since many hope to have eternal life, who will not
obtain it. The same may be said of charity, for many are loved as
being good, who, nevertheless, are not good. Therefore something false
can be the object of faith.
Obj. 2: Further, Abraham believed that Christ would be born,
according to John 8:56: "Abraham your father rejoiced that he might
see My day: he saw it, and was glad." But after the time of Abraham,
God might not have taken flesh, for it was merely because He willed
that He did, so that what Abraham believed about Christ would have
been false. Therefore the object of faith can be something false.
Obj. 3: Further, the ancients believed in the future birth of Christ,
and many continued so to believe, until they heard the preaching of
the Gospel. Now, when once Christ was born, even before He began to
preach, it was false that Christ was yet to be born. Therefore
something false can come under faith.
Obj. 4: Further, it is a matter of faith, that one should believe
that the true Body of Christ is contained in the Sacrament of the
altar. But it might happen that the bread was not rightly
consecrated, and that there was not Christ's true Body there, but
only bread. Therefore something false can come under faith.
_On the contrary,_ No virtue that perfects the intellect is related
to the false, considered as the evil of the intellect, as the
Philosopher declares (Ethic. vi, 2). Now faith is a virtue that
perfects the intellect, as we shall show further on (Q. 4, AA. 2, 5).
Therefore nothing false can come under it.
_I answer that,_ Nothing comes under any power, habit or act, except by
means of the formal aspect of the object: thus color cannot be seen
except by means of light, and a conclusion cannot be known save
through the mean of demonstration. Now it has been stated (A. 1)
that the formal aspect of the object of faith is the First Truth; so
that nothing can come under faith, save in so far as it stands under
the First Truth, under which nothing false can stand, as neither can
non-being stand under being, nor evil under goodness. It follows
therefore that nothing false can come under faith.
Reply Obj. 1: Since the true is the good of the intellect, but not of
the appetitive power, it follows that all virtues which perfect the
intellect, exclude the false altogether, because it belongs to the
nature of a virtue to bear relation to the good alone. On the other
hand those virtues which perfect the appetitive faculty, do not
entirely exclude the false, for it is possible to act in accordance
with justice or temperance, while having a false opinion about what
one is doing. Therefore, as faith perfects the intellect, whereas
hope and charity perfect the appetitive part, the comparison between
Nevertheless neither can anything false come under hope, for a man
hopes to obtain eternal life, not by his own power (since this would
be an act of presumption), but with the help of grace; and if he
perseveres therein he will obtain eternal life surely and infallibly.
In like manner it belongs to charity to love God, wherever He may be;
so that it matters not to charity, whether God be in the individual
whom we love for God's sake.
Reply Obj. 2: That "God would not take flesh," considered in itself
was possible even after Abraham's time, but in so far as it stands in
God's foreknowledge, it has a certain necessity of infallibility, as
explained in the First Part (Q. 14, AA. 13, 15): and it is thus that
it comes under faith. Hence in so far as it comes under faith, it
cannot be false.
Reply Obj. 3: After Christ's birth, to believe in Him, was to believe
in Christ's birth at some time or other. The fixing of the time,
wherein some were deceived was not due to their faith, but to a human
conjecture. For it is possible for a believer to have a false opinion
through a human conjecture, but it is quite impossible for a false
opinion to be the outcome of faith.
Reply Obj. 4: The faith of the believer is not directed to such and
such accidents of bread, but to the fact that the true body of Christ
is under the appearances of sensible bread, when it is rightly
consecrated. Hence if it be not rightly consecrated, it does not
follow that anything false comes under faith.
FOURTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 4]
Whether the Object of Faith Can Be Something Seen?
Objection 1: It would seem that the object of faith is something
seen. For Our Lord said to Thomas (John 20:29): "Because thou hast
seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed." Therefore vision and faith
regard the same object.
Obj. 2: Further, the Apostle, while speaking of the knowledge of
faith, says (1 Cor. 13:12): "We see now through a glass in a dark
manner." Therefore what is believed is seen.
Obj. 3: Further, faith is a spiritual light. Now something is seen
under every light. Therefore faith is of things seen.
Obj. 4: Further, "Every sense is a kind of sight," as Augustine
states (De Verb. Domini, Serm. xxxiii). But faith is of things heard,
according to Rom. 10:17: "Faith . . . cometh by hearing." Therefore
faith is of things seen.
_On the contrary,_ The Apostle says (Heb. 11:1) that "faith is the
evidence of things that appear not."
_I answer that,_ Faith implies assent of the intellect to that which
is believed. Now the intellect assents to a thing in two ways. First,
through being moved to assent by its very object, which is known
either by itself (as in the case of first principles, which are held
by the habit of understanding), or through something else already
known (as in the case of conclusions which are held by the habit of
science). Secondly the intellect assents to something, not through
being sufficiently moved to this assent by its proper object, but
through an act of choice, whereby it turns voluntarily to one side
rather than to the other: and if this be accompanied by doubt or fear
of the opposite side, there will be opinion, while, if there be
certainty and no fear of the other side, there will be faith.
Now those things are said to be seen which, of themselves, move the
intellect or the senses to knowledge of them. Wherefore it is evident
that neither faith nor opinion can be of things seen either by the
senses or by the intellect.
Reply Obj. 1: Thomas "saw one thing, and believed another" [*St.
Gregory: Hom. xxvi in Evang.]: he saw the Man, and believing Him to
be God, he made profession of his faith, saying: "My Lord and my God."
Reply Obj. 2: Those things which come under faith can be considered
in two ways. First, in particular; and thus they cannot be seen and
believed at the same time, as shown above. Secondly, in general, that
is, under the common aspect of credibility; and in this way they are
seen by the believer. For he would not believe unless, on the
evidence of signs, or of something similar, he saw that they ought to
Reply Obj. 3: The light of faith makes us see what we believe. For
just as, by the habits of the other virtues, man sees what is
becoming to him in respect of that habit, so, by the habit of faith,
the human mind is directed to assent to such things as are becoming
to a right faith, and not to assent to others.
Reply Obj. 4: Hearing is of words signifying what is of faith, but
not of the things themselves that are believed; hence it does not
follow that these things are seen.
FIFTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 5]
Whether Those Things That Are of Faith Can Be an Object of Science
[*Science is certain knowledge of a demonstrated conclusion through
Objection 1: It would seem that those things that are of faith can be
an object of science. For where science is lacking there is
ignorance, since ignorance is the opposite of science. Now we are not
in ignorance of those things we have to believe, since ignorance of
such things savors of unbelief, according to 1 Tim. 1:13: "I did it
ignorantly in unbelief." Therefore things that are of faith can be an
object of science.
Obj. 2: Further, science is acquired by reasons. Now sacred writers
employ reasons to inculcate things that are of faith. Therefore such
things can be an object of science.
Obj. 3: Further, things which are demonstrated are an object of
science, since a "demonstration is a syllogism that produces
science." Now certain matters of faith have been demonstrated by the
philosophers, such as the Existence and Unity of God, and so forth.
Therefore things that are of faith can be an object of science.
Obj. 4: Further, opinion is further from science than faith is, since
faith is said to stand between opinion and science. Now opinion and
science can, in a way, be about the same object, as stated in Poster.
i. Therefore faith and science can be about the same object also.
_On the contrary,_ Gregory says (Hom. xxvi in Evang.) that "when a
thing is manifest, it is the object, not of faith, but of
perception." Therefore things that are of faith are not the object of
perception, whereas what is an object of science is the object of
perception. Therefore there can be no faith about things which are an
object of science.
_I answer that,_ All science is derived from self-evident and
therefore "seen" principles; wherefore all objects of science must
needs be, in a fashion, seen.
Now as stated above (A. 4), it is impossible that one and the same
thing should be believed and seen by the same person. Hence it is
equally impossible for one and the same thing to be an object of
science and of belief for the same person. It may happen, however,
that a thing which is an object of vision or science for one, is
believed by another: since we hope to see some day what we now
believe about the Trinity, according to 1 Cor. 13:12: "We see now
through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face": which
vision the angels possess already; so that what we believe, they see.
In like manner it may happen that what is an object of vision or
scientific knowledge for one man, even in the state of a wayfarer,
is, for another man, an object of faith, because he does not know it
Nevertheless that which is proposed to be believed equally by all, is
equally unknown by all as an object of science: such are the things
which are of faith simply. Consequently faith and science are not
about the same things.
Reply Obj. 1: Unbelievers are in ignorance of things that are of
faith, for neither do they see or know them in themselves, nor do
they know them to be credible. The faithful, on the other hand, know
them, not as by demonstration, but by the light of faith which makes
them see that they ought to believe them, as stated above (A. 4, ad
Reply Obj. 2: The reasons employed by holy men to prove things that
are of faith, are not demonstrations; they are either persuasive
arguments showing that what is proposed to our faith is not
impossible, or else they are proofs drawn from the principles of
faith, i.e. from the authority of Holy Writ, as Dionysius declares
(Div. Nom. ii). Whatever is based on these principles is as well
proved in the eyes of the faithful, as a conclusion drawn from
self-evident principles is in the eyes of all. Hence again, theology
is a science, as we stated at the outset of this work (P. I, Q. 1, A. 2).
Reply Obj. 3: Things which can be proved by demonstration are
reckoned among the articles of faith, not because they are believed
simply by all, but because they are a necessary presupposition to
matters of faith, so that those who do not known them by
demonstration must know them first of all by faith.
Reply Obj. 4: As the Philosopher says (Poster. i), "science and
opinion about the same object can certainly be in different men," as
we have stated above about science and faith; yet it is possible for
one and the same man to have science and faith about the same thing
relatively, i.e. in relation to the object, but not in the same
respect. For it is possible for the same person, about one and the
same object, to know one thing and to think another: and, in like
manner, one may know by demonstration the unity of the Godhead, and,
by faith, the Trinity. On the other hand, in one and the same man,
about the same object, and in the same respect, science is
incompatible with either opinion or faith, yet for different reasons.
Because science is incompatible with opinion about the same object
simply, for the reason that science demands that its object should be
deemed impossible to be otherwise, whereas it is essential to
opinion, that its object should be deemed possible to be otherwise.
Yet that which is the object of faith, on account of the certainty of
faith, is also deemed impossible to be otherwise; and the reason why
science and faith cannot be about the same object and in the same
respect is because the object of science is something seen whereas
the object of faith is the unseen, as stated above.
SIXTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 6]
Whether Those Things That Are of Faith Should Be Divided into Certain
Objection 1: It would seem that those things that are of faith should
not be divided into certain articles. For all things contained in
Holy Writ are matters of faith. But these, by reason of their
multitude, cannot be reduced to a certain number. Therefore it seems
superfluous to distinguish certain articles of faith.
Obj. 2: Further, material differences can be multiplied indefinitely,
and therefore art should take no notice of them. Now the formal
aspect of the object of faith is one and indivisible, as stated above
(A. 1), viz. the First Truth, so that matters of faith cannot be
distinguished in respect of their formal object. Therefore no notice
should be taken of a material division of matters of faith into
Obj. 3: Further, it has been said by some [*Cf. William of Auxerre,
Summa Aurea] that "an article is an indivisible truth concerning God,
exacting [arctans] our belief." Now belief is a voluntary act, since,
as Augustine says (Tract. xxvi in Joan.), "no man believes against
his will." Therefore it seems that matters of faith should not be
divided into articles.
_On the contrary,_ Isidore says: "An article is a glimpse of Divine
truth, tending thereto." Now we can only get a glimpse of Divine truth
by way of analysis, since things which in God are one, are manifold in
our intellect. Therefore matters of faith should be divided into
_I answer that,_ the word "article" is apparently derived from the
Greek; for the Greek _arthron_ [*Cf. William of Auxerre, Summa Aurea]
which the Latin renders "articulus," signifies a fitting together of
distinct parts: wherefore the small parts of the body which fit
together are called the articulations of the limbs. Likewise, in the
Greek grammar, articles are parts of speech which are affixed to
words to show their gender, number or case. Again in rhetoric,
articles are parts that fit together in a sentence, for Tully says
(Rhet. iv) that an article is composed of words each pronounced
singly and separately, thus: "Your passion, your voice, your look,
have struck terror into your foes."
Hence matters of Christian faith are said to contain distinct
articles, in so far as they are divided into parts, and fit together.
Now the object of faith is something unseen in connection with God, as
stated above (A. 4). Consequently any matter that, for a special
reason, is unseen, is a special article; whereas when several matters
are known or not known, under the same aspect, we are not to
distinguish various articles. Thus one encounters one difficulty in
seeing that God suffered, and another in seeing that He rose again
from the dead, wherefore the article of the Resurrection is distinct
from the article of the Passion. But that He suffered, died and was
buried, present the same difficulty, so that if one be accepted, it is
not difficult to accept the others; wherefore all these belong to one
Reply Obj. 1: Some things are proposed to our belief are in
themselves of faith, while others are of faith, not in themselves but
only in relation to others: even as in sciences certain propositions
are put forward on their own account, while others are put forward in
order to manifest others. Now, since the chief object of faith
consists in those things which we hope to see, according to Heb.
11:2: "Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for," it follows
that those things are in themselves of faith, which order us directly
to eternal life. Such are the Trinity of Persons in Almighty God
[*The Leonine Edition reads: The Three Persons, the omnipotence of
God, etc.], the mystery of Christ's Incarnation, and the like: and
these are distinct articles of faith. On the other hand certain
things in Holy Writ are proposed to our belief, not chiefly on their
own account, but for the manifestation of those mentioned above: for
instance, that Abraham had two sons, that a dead man rose again at
the touch of Eliseus' bones, and the like, which are related in Holy
Writ for the purpose of manifesting the Divine mystery or the
Incarnation of Christ: and such things should not form distinct
Reply Obj. 2: The formal aspect of the object of faith can be taken
in two ways: first, on the part of the thing believed, and thus there
is one formal aspect of all matters of faith, viz. the First Truth:
and from this point of view there is no distinction of articles.
Secondly, the formal aspect of matters of faith, can be considered
from our point of view; and thus the formal aspect of a matter of
faith is that it is something unseen; and from this point of view
there are various distinct articles of faith, as we saw above.
Reply Obj. 3: This definition of an article is taken from an
etymology of the word as derived from the Latin, rather than in
accordance with its real meaning, as derived from the Greek: hence it
does not carry much weight. Yet even then it could be said that
although faith is exacted of no man by a necessity of coercion, since
belief is a voluntary act, yet it is exacted of him by a necessity of
end, since "he that cometh to God must believe that He is," and
"without faith it is impossible to please God," as the Apostle
declares (Heb. 11:6).
SEVENTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 7]
Whether the Articles of Faith Have Increased in Course of Time?
Objection 1: It would seem that the articles of faith have not
increased in course of time. Because, as the Apostle says (Heb.
11:1), "faith is the substance of things to be hoped for." Now the
same things are to be hoped for at all times. Therefore, at all
times, the same things are to be believed.
Obj. 2: Further, development has taken place, in sciences devised
by man, on account of the lack of knowledge in those who discovered
them, as the Philosopher observes (Metaph. ii). Now the doctrine of
faith was not devised by man, but was delivered to us by God, as
stated in Eph. 2:8: "It is the gift of God." Since then there can be
no lack of knowledge in God, it seems that knowledge of matters of
faith was perfect from the beginning and did not increase as time
Obj. 3: Further, the operation of grace proceeds in orderly fashion
no less than the operation of nature. Now nature always makes a
beginning with perfect things, as Boethius states (De Consol. iii).
Therefore it seems that the operation of grace also began with
perfect things, so that those who were the first to deliver the
faith, knew it most perfectly.
Obj. 4: Further, just as the faith of Christ was delivered to us
through the apostles, so too, in the Old Testament, the knowledge of
faith was delivered by the early fathers to those who came later,
according to Deut. 32:7: "Ask thy father, and he will declare to
thee." Now the apostles were most fully instructed about the
mysteries, for "they received them more fully than others, even as
they received them earlier," as a gloss says on Rom. 8:23: "Ourselves
also who have the first fruits of the Spirit." Therefore it seems
that knowledge of matters of faith has not increased as time went on.
_On the contrary,_ Gregory says (Hom. xvi in Ezech.) that "the
knowledge of the holy fathers increased as time went on . . . and the
nearer they were to Our Savior's coming, the more fully did they
receive the mysteries of salvation."
_I answer that,_ The articles of faith stand in the same relation to
the doctrine of faith, as self-evident principles to a teaching based
on natural reason. Among these principles there is a certain order,
so that some are contained implicitly in others; thus all principles
are reduced, as to their first principle, to this one: "The same
thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time," as the
Philosopher states (Metaph. iv, text. 9). In like manner all the
articles are contained implicitly in certain primary matters of
faith, such as God's existence, and His providence over the salvation
of man, according to Heb. 11: "He that cometh to God, must believe
that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him." For the
existence of God includes all that we believe to exist in God
eternally, and in these our happiness consists; while belief in His
providence includes all those things which God dispenses in time, for
man's salvation, and which are the way to that happiness: and in this
way, again, some of those articles which follow from these are
contained in others: thus faith in the Redemption of mankind includes
belief in the Incarnation of Christ, His Passion and so forth.
Accordingly we must conclude that, as regards the substance of the
articles of faith, they have not received any increase as time went
on: since whatever those who lived later have believed, was
contained, albeit implicitly, in the faith of those Fathers who
preceded them. But there was an increase in the number of articles
believed explicitly, since to those who lived in later times some
were known explicitly which were not known explicitly by those who
lived before them. Hence the Lord said to Moses (Ex. 6:2, 3): "I am
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob [*Vulg.: 'I am
the Lord that appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob'] . . . and
My name Adonai I did not show them": David also said (Ps. 118:100):
"I have had understanding above ancients": and the Apostle says (Eph.
3:5) that the mystery of Christ, "in other generations was not known,
as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets."
Reply Obj. 1: Among men the same things were always to be hoped for
from Christ. But as they did not acquire this hope save through
Christ, the further they were removed from Christ in point of time,
the further they were from obtaining what they hoped for. Hence the
Apostle says (Heb. 11:13): "All these died according to faith, not
having received the promises, but beholding them afar off." Now the
further off a thing is the less distinctly is it seen; wherefore
those who were nigh to Christ's advent had a more distinct knowledge
of the good things to be hoped for.
Reply Obj. 2: Progress in knowledge occurs in two ways. First, on the
part of the teacher, be he one or many, who makes progress in
knowledge as time goes on: and this is the kind of progress that
takes place in sciences devised by man. Secondly, on the part of the
learner; thus the master, who has perfect knowledge of the art, does
not deliver it all at once to his disciple from the very outset, for
he would not be able to take it all in, but he condescends to the
disciple's capacity and instructs him little by little. It is in this
way that men made progress in the knowledge of faith as time went on.
Hence the Apostle (Gal. 3:24) compares the state of the Old Testament
Reply Obj. 3: Two causes are requisite before actual generation can
take place, an agent, namely, and matter. In the order of the active
cause, the more perfect is naturally first; and in this way nature
makes a beginning with perfect things, since the imperfect is not
brought to perfection, except by something perfect already in
existence. On the other hand, in the order of the material cause, the
imperfect comes first, and in this way nature proceeds from the
imperfect to the perfect. Now in the manifestation of faith, God is
the active cause, having perfect knowledge from all eternity; while
man is likened to matter in receiving the influx of God's action.
Hence, among men, the knowledge of faith had to proceed from
imperfection to perfection; and, although some men have been after
the manner of active causes, through being doctors of faith,
nevertheless the manifestation of the Spirit is given to such men for
the common good, according to 1 Cor. 12:7; so that the knowledge of
faith was imparted to the Fathers who were instructors in the faith,
so far as was necessary at the time for the instruction of the
people, either openly or in figures.
Reply Obj. 4: The ultimate consummation of grace was effected by
Christ, wherefore the time of His coming is called the "time of
fulness [*Vulg.: 'fulness of time']" (Gal. 4:4). Hence those who were
nearest to Christ, whether before, like John the Baptist, or after,
like the apostles, had a fuller knowledge of the mysteries of faith;
for even with regard to man's state we find that the perfection of
manhood comes in youth, and that a man's state is all the more
perfect, whether before or after, the nearer it is to the time of his
EIGHTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 8]
Whether the Articles of Faith Are Suitably Formulated?
Objection 1: It would seem that the articles of faith are unsuitably
formulated. For those things, which can be known by demonstration, do
not belong to faith as to an object of belief for all, as stated above
(A. 5). Now it can be known by demonstration that there is one God;
hence the Philosopher proves this (Metaph. xii, text. 52) and many
other philosophers demonstrated the same truth. Therefore that "there
is one God" should not be set down as an article of faith.
Obj. 2: Further, just as it is necessary to faith that we should
believe God to be almighty, so is it too that we should believe Him to
be "all-knowing" and "provident for all," about both of which points
some have erred. Therefore, among the articles of faith, mention
should have been made of God's wisdom and providence, even as of His
Obj. 3: Further, to know the Father is the same things as to know
the Son, according to John 14:9: "He that seeth Me, seeth the Father
also." Therefore there ought to be but one article about the Father
and Son, and, for the same reason, about the Holy Ghost.
Obj. 4: Further, the Person of the Father is no less than the
Person of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Now there are several
articles about the Person of the Holy Ghost, and likewise about the
Person of the Son. Therefore there should be several articles about
the Person of the Father.
Obj. 5: Further, just as certain things are said by appropriation, of
the Person of the Father and of the Person of the Holy Ghost, so too
is something appropriated to the Person of the Son, in respect of His
Godhead. Now, among the articles of faith, a place is given to a work
appropriated to the Father, viz. the creation, and likewise, a work
appropriated to the Holy Ghost, viz. that "He spoke by the prophets."
Therefore the articles of faith should contain some work appropriated
to the Son in respect of His Godhead.
Obj. 6: Further, the sacrament of the Eucharist presents a special
difficulty over and above the other articles. Therefore it should
have been mentioned in a special article: and consequently it seems
that there is not a sufficient number of articles.
On the contrary stands the authority of the Church who formulates the
_I answer that,_ As stated above (AA. 4, 6), to faith those things in
themselves belong, the sight of which we shall enjoy in eternal life,
and by which we are brought to eternal life. Now two things are
proposed to us to be seen in eternal life: viz. the secret of the
Godhead, to see which is to possess happiness; and the mystery of
Christ's Incarnation, "by Whom we have access" to the glory of the
sons of God, according to Rom. 5:2. Hence it is written (John 17:3):
"This is eternal life: that they may know Thee, the . . . true God,
and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent." Wherefore the first
distinction in matters of faith is that some concern the majesty of
the Godhead, while others pertain to the mystery of Christ's human
nature, which is the "mystery of godliness" (1 Tim. 3:16).
Now with regard to the majesty of the Godhead, three things are
proposed to our belief: first, the unity of the Godhead, to which the
first article refers; secondly, the trinity of the Persons, to which
three articles refer, corresponding to the three Persons; and
thirdly, the works proper to the Godhead, the first of which refers
to the order of nature, in relation to which the article about the
creation is proposed to us; the second refers to the order of grace,
in relation to which all matters concerning the sanctification of man
are included in one article; while the third refers to the order of
glory, and in relation to this another article is proposed to us
concerning the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting. Thus
there are seven articles referring to the Godhead.
In like manner, with regard to Christ's human nature, there are seven
articles, the first of which refers to Christ's incarnation or
conception; the second, to His virginal birth; the third, to His
Passion, death and burial; the fourth, to His descent into hell; the
fifth, to His resurrection; the sixth, to His ascension; the seventh,
to His coming for the judgment, so that in all there are fourteen
Some, however, distinguish twelve articles, six pertaining to the
Godhead, and six to the humanity. For they include in one article the
three about the three Persons; because we have one knowledge of the
three Persons: while they divide the article referring to the work of
glorification into two, viz. the resurrection of the body, and the
glory of the soul. Likewise they unite the conception and nativity
into one article.
Reply Obj. 1: By faith we hold many truths about God, which the
philosophers were unable to discover by natural reason, for instance
His providence and omnipotence, and that He alone is to be worshiped,
all of which are contained in the one article of the unity of God.
Reply Obj. 2: The very name of the Godhead implies a kind of watching
over things, as stated in the First Part (Q. 13, A. 8). Now in beings
having an intellect, power does not work save by the will and
knowledge. Hence God's omnipotence includes, in a way, universal
knowledge and providence. For He would not be able to do all He wills
in things here below, unless He knew them, and exercised His
providence over them.
Reply Obj. 3: We have but one knowledge of the Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost, as to the unity of the Essence, to which the first article
refers: but, as to the distinction of the Persons, which is by the
relations of origin, knowledge of the Father does indeed, in a way,
include knowledge of the Son, for He would not be Father, had He not
a Son; the bond whereof being the Holy Ghost. From this point of
view, there was a sufficient motive for those who referred one
article to the three Persons. Since, however, with regard to each
Person, certain points have to be observed, about which some happen
to fall into error, looking at it in this way, we may distinguish
three articles about the three Persons. For Arius believed in the
omnipotence and eternity of the Father, but did not believe the Son
to be co-equal and consubstantial with the Father; hence the need for
an article about the Person of the Son in order to settle this point.
In like manner it was necessary to appoint a third article about the
Person of the Holy Ghost, against Macedonius. In the same way
Christ's conception and birth, just as the resurrection and life
everlasting, can from one point of view be united together in one
article, in so far as they are ordained to one end; while, from
another point of view, they can be distinct articles, in as much as
each one separately presents a special difficulty.
Reply Obj. 4: It belongs to the Son and Holy Ghost to be sent to
sanctify the creature; and about this several things have to be
believed. Hence it is that there are more articles about the Persons
of the Son and Holy Ghost than about the Person of the Father, Who is
never sent, as we stated in the First Part (Q. 43, A. 4).
Reply Obj. 5: The sanctification of a creature by grace, and its
consummation by glory, is also effected by the gift of charity, which
is appropriated to the Holy Ghost, and by the gift of wisdom, which
is appropriated to the Son: so that each work belongs by
appropriation, but under different aspects, both to the Son and to
the Holy Ghost.
Reply Obj. 6: Two things may be considered in the sacrament of the
Eucharist. One is the fact that it is a sacrament, and in this
respect it is like the other effects of sanctifying grace. The other
is that Christ's body is miraculously contained therein and thus it
is included under God's omnipotence, like all other miracles which
are ascribed to God's almighty power.
NINTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 9]
Whether It Is Suitable for the Articles of Faith to Be Embodied in a
Objection 1: It would seem that it is unsuitable for the articles of
faith to be embodied in a symbol. Because Holy Writ is the rule of
faith, to which no addition or subtraction can lawfully be made,
since it is written (Deut. 4:2): "You shall not add to the word that
I speak to you, neither shall you take away from it." Therefore it
was unlawful to make a symbol as a rule of faith, after the Holy
Writ had once been published.
Obj. 2: Further, according to the Apostle (Eph. 4:5) there is but
"one faith." Now the symbol is a profession of faith. Therefore it
is not fitting that there should be more than one symbol.
Obj. 3: Further, the confession of faith, which is contained in the
symbol, concerns all the faithful. Now the faithful are not all
competent to believe in God, but only those who have living faith.
Therefore it is unfitting for the symbol of faith to be expressed
in the words: "I believe in one God."
Obj. 4: Further, the descent into hell is one of the articles of
faith, as stated above (A. 8). But the descent into hell is not
mentioned in the symbol of the Fathers. Therefore the latter is
Obj. 5: Further, Augustine (Tract. xxix in Joan.) expounding the
passage, "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1) says:
"We believe Peter or Paul, but we speak only of believing 'in' God."
Since then the Catholic Church is merely a created being, it seems
unfitting to say: "In the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."
Obj. 6: Further, a symbol is drawn up that it may be a rule of faith.
Now a rule of faith ought to be proposed to all, and that publicly.
Therefore every symbol, besides the symbol of the Fathers, should be
sung at Mass. Therefore it seems unfitting to publish the articles of
faith in a symbol.
_On the contrary,_ The universal Church cannot err, since she is
governed by the Holy Ghost, Who is the Spirit of truth: for such was
Our Lord's promise to His disciples (John 16:13): "When He, the
Spirit of truth, is come, He will teach you all truth." Now the
symbol is published by the authority of the universal Church.
Therefore it contains nothing defective.
_I answer that,_ As the Apostle says (Heb. 11:6), "he that cometh to
God, must believe that He is." Now a man cannot believe, unless the
truth be proposed to him that he may believe it. Hence the need for
the truth of faith to be collected together, so that it might the more
easily be proposed to all, lest anyone might stray from the truth
through ignorance of the faith. It is from its being a collection of
maxims of faith that the symbol [*The Greek _symballein_] takes its
Reply Obj. 1: The truth of faith is contained in Holy Writ,
diffusely, under various modes of expression, and sometimes
obscurely, so that, in order to gather the truth of faith from Holy
Writ, one needs long study and practice, which are unattainable by
all those who require to know the truth of faith, many of whom have
no time for study, being busy with other affairs. And so it was
necessary to gather together a clear summary from the sayings of
Holy Writ, to be proposed to the belief of all. This indeed was no
addition to Holy Writ, but something taken from it.
Reply Obj. 2: The same doctrine of faith is taught in all the
symbols. Nevertheless, the people need more careful instruction about
the truth of faith, when errors arise, lest the faith of
simple-minded persons be corrupted by heretics. It was this that gave
rise to the necessity of formulating several symbols, which nowise
differ from one another, save that on account of the obstinacy of
heretics, one contains more explicitly what another contains
Reply Obj. 3: The confession of faith is drawn up in a symbol in the
person, as it were, of the whole Church, which is united together by
faith. Now the faith of the Church is living faith; since such is
the faith to be found in all those who are of the Church not only
outwardly but also by merit. Hence the confession of faith is
expressed in a symbol, in a manner that is in keeping with living
faith, so that even if some of the faithful lack living faith, they
should endeavor to acquire it.
Reply Obj. 4: No error about the descent into hell had arisen among
heretics, so that there was no need to be more explicit on that
point. For this reason it is not repeated in the symbol of the
Fathers, but is supposed as already settled in the symbol of the
Apostles. For a subsequent symbol does not cancel a preceding one;
rather does it expound it, as stated above (ad 2).
Reply Obj. 5: If we say: "'In' the holy Catholic Church," this must
be taken as verified in so far as our faith is directed to the Holy
Ghost, Who sanctifies the Church; so that the sense is: "I believe in
the Holy Ghost sanctifying the Church." But it is better and more in
keeping with the common use, to omit the 'in,' and say simply, "the
holy Catholic Church," as Pope Leo [*Rufinus, Comm. in Sym. Apost.]
Reply Obj. 6: Since the symbol of the Fathers is an explanation of
the symbol of the Apostles, and was drawn up after the faith was
already spread abroad, and when the Church was already at peace, it
is sung publicly in the Mass. On the other hand the symbol of the
Apostles, which was drawn up at the time of persecution, before the
faith was made public, is said secretly at Prime and Compline, as
though it were against the darkness of past and future errors.
TENTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 1, Art. 10]
Whether It Belongs to the Sovereign Pontiff to Draw Up a Symbol of
Objection 1: It would seem that it does not belong to the Sovereign
Pontiff to draw up a symbol of faith. For a new edition of the symbol
becomes necessary in order to explain the articles of faith, as
stated above (A. 9). Now, in the Old Testament, the articles of faith
were more and more explained as time went on, by reason of the truth
of faith becoming clearer through greater nearness to Christ, as
stated above (A. 7). Since then this reason ceased with the advent of
the New Law, there is no need for the articles of faith to be more
and more explicit. Therefore it does not seem to belong to the
authority of the Sovereign Pontiff to draw up a new edition of the
Obj. 2: Further, no man has the power to do what is forbidden under
pain of anathema by the universal Church. Now it was forbidden under
pain of anathema by the universal Church, to make a new edition of
the symbol. For it is stated in the acts of the first* council of
Ephesus (P. ii, Act. 6) that "after the symbol of the Nicene council
had been read through, the holy synod decreed that it was unlawful to
utter, write or draw up any other creed, than that which was defined
by the Fathers assembled at Nicaea together with the Holy Ghost," and
this under pain of anathema. [*St. Thomas wrote 'first' (expunged by
Nicolai) to distinguish it from the other council, A.D. 451, known as
the "Latrocinium" and condemned by the Pope.] The same was repeated
in the acts of the council of Chalcedon (P. ii, Act. 5). Therefore it
seems that the Sovereign Pontiff has no authority to publish a new
edition of the symbol.
Obj. 3: Further, Athanasius was not the Sovereign Pontiff, but
patriarch of Alexandria, and yet he published a symbol which is sung
in the Church. Therefore it does not seem to belong to the Sovereign
Pontiff any more than to other bishops, to publish a new edition of
_On the contrary,_ The symbol was drawn up by a general council. Now
such a council cannot be convoked otherwise than by the authority of
the Sovereign Pontiff, as stated in the Decretals [*Dist. xvii, Can.
4, 5]. Therefore it belongs to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff
to draw up a symbol.
_I answer that,_ As stated above (Obj. 1), a new edition of the
symbol becomes necessary in order to set aside the errors that may
arise. Consequently to publish a new edition of the symbol belongs to
that authority which is empowered to decide matters of faith finally,
so that they may be held by all with unshaken faith. Now this belongs
to the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, "to whom the more
important and more difficult questions that arise in the Church are
referred," as stated in the Decretals [*Dist. xvii, Can. 5]. Hence
our Lord said to Peter whom he made Sovereign Pontiff (Luke 22:32):
"I have prayed for thee," Peter, "that thy faith fail not, and thou,
being once converted, confirm thy brethren." The reason of this is
that there should be but one faith of the whole Church, according to
1 Cor. 1:10: "That you all speak the same thing, and that there be no
schisms among you": and this could not be secured unless any question
of faith that may arise be decided by him who presides over the whole
Church, so that the whole Church may hold firmly to his decision.
Consequently it belongs to the sole authority of the Sovereign
Pontiff to publish a new edition of the symbol, as do all other
matters which concern the whole Church, such as to convoke a general
council and so forth.
Reply Obj. 1: The truth of faith is sufficiently explicit in the
teaching of Christ and the apostles. But since, according to 2 Pet.
3:16, some men are so evil-minded as to pervert the apostolic
teaching and other doctrines and Scriptures to their own destruction,
it was necessary as time went on to express the faith more explicitly
against the errors which arose.
Reply Obj. 2: This prohibition and sentence of the council was
intended for private individuals, who have no business to decide
matters of faith: for this decision of the general council did not
take away from a subsequent council the power of drawing up a new
edition of the symbol, containing not indeed a new faith, but the
same faith with greater explicitness. For every council has taken
into account that a subsequent council would expound matters more
fully than the preceding council, if this became necessary through
some heresy arising. Consequently this belongs to the Sovereign
Pontiff, by whose authority the council is convoked, and its
Reply Obj. 3: Athanasius drew up a declaration of faith, not under
the form of a symbol, but rather by way of an exposition of doctrine,
as appears from his way of speaking. But since it contained briefly
the whole truth of faith, it was accepted by the authority of the
Sovereign Pontiff, so as to be considered as a rule of faith. Since
it contained briefly the whole truth of faith, it was accepted by the
authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to be considered as a rule
OF THE ACT OF FAITH
(In Ten Articles)
We must now consider the act of faith, and (1) the internal act;
(2) the external act.
Under the first head there are ten points of inquiry:
(1) What is "to believe," which is the internal act of faith?
(2) In how many ways is it expressed?
(3) Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe in anything
above natural reason?
(4) Whether it is necessary to believe those things that are
attainable by natural reason?
(5) Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe certain things
(6) Whether all are equally bound to explicit faith?
(7) Whether explicit faith in Christ is always necessary for
(8) Whether it is necessary for salvation to believe in the Trinity
(9) Whether the act of faith is meritorious?
(10) Whether human reason diminishes the merit of faith?
FIRST ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 1]
Whether to Believe Is to Think with Assent?
Objection 1: It would seem that to believe is not to think with
assent. Because the Latin word "cogitatio" [thought] implies a
research, for "cogitare" [to think] seems to be equivalent to
"coagitare," i.e. "to discuss together." Now Damascene says (De Fide
Orth. iv) that faith is "an assent without research." Therefore
thinking has no place in the act of faith.
Obj. 2: Further, faith resides in the reason, as we shall show
further on (Q. 4, A. 2). Now to think is an act of the cogitative
power, which belongs to the sensitive faculty, as stated in the
First Part (Q. 78, A. 4). Therefore thought has nothing to do with
Obj. 3: Further, to believe is an act of the intellect, since its
object is truth. But assent seems to be an act not of the intellect,
but of the will, even as consent is, as stated above (I-II, Q. 15, A.
1, ad 3). Therefore to believe is not to think with assent.
_On the contrary,_ This is how "to believe" is defined by Augustine
(De Praedest. Sanct. ii).
_I answer that,_ "To think" can be taken in three ways. First, in a
general way for any kind of actual consideration of the intellect, as
Augustine observes (De Trin. xiv, 7): "By understanding I mean now
the faculty whereby we understand when thinking." Secondly, "to
think" is more strictly taken for that consideration of the
intellect, which is accompanied by some kind of inquiry, and which
precedes the intellect's arrival at the stage of perfection that
comes with the certitude of sight. In this sense Augustine says (De
Trin. xv, 16) that "the Son of God is not called the Thought, but the
Word of God. When our thought realizes what we know and takes form
therefrom, it becomes our word. Hence the Word of God must be
understood without any thinking on the part of God, for there is
nothing there that can take form, or be unformed." In this way
thought is, properly speaking, the movement of the mind while yet
deliberating, and not yet perfected by the clear sight of truth.
Since, however, such a movement of the mind may be one of
deliberation either about universal notions, which belongs to the
intellectual faculty, or about particular matters, which belongs to
the sensitive part, hence it is that "to think" is taken secondly for
an act of the deliberating intellect, and thirdly for an act of the
Accordingly, if "to think" be understood broadly according to the
first sense, then "to think with assent," does not express completely
what is meant by "to believe": since, in this way, a man thinks with
assent even when he considers what he knows by science [*Science is
certain knowledge of a demonstrated conclusion through its
demonstration.], or understands. If, on the other hand, "to think" be
understood in the second way, then this expresses completely the
nature of the act of believing. For among the acts belonging to the
intellect, some have a firm assent without any such kind of thinking,
as when a man considers the things that he knows by science, or
understands, for this consideration is already formed. But some acts
of the intellect have unformed thought devoid of a firm assent,
whether they incline to neither side, as in one who "doubts"; or
incline to one side rather than the other, but on account of some
slight motive, as in one who "suspects"; or incline to one side yet
with fear of the other, as in one who "opines." But this act "to
believe," cleaves firmly to one side, in which respect belief has
something in common with science and understanding; yet its knowledge
does not attain the perfection of clear sight, wherein it agrees with
doubt, suspicion and opinion. Hence it is proper to the believer to
think with assent: so that the act of believing is distinguished from
all the other acts of the intellect, which are about the true or the
Reply Obj. 1: Faith has not that research of natural reason which
demonstrates what is believed, but a research into those things
whereby a man is induced to believe, for instance that such things
have been uttered by God and confirmed by miracles.
Reply Obj. 2: "To think" is not taken here for the act of the
cogitative power, but for an act of the intellect, as explained above.
Reply Obj. 3: The intellect of the believer is determined to one
object, not by the reason, but by the will, wherefore assent is taken
here for an act of the intellect as determined to one object by the
SECOND ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 2]
Whether the Act of Faith Is Suitably Distinguished As Believing God,
Believing in a God and Believing in God?
Objection 1: It would seem that the act of faith is unsuitably
distinguished as believing God, believing in a God, and believing in
God. For one habit has but one act. Now faith is one habit since it is
one virtue. Therefore it is unreasonable to say that there are three
acts of faith.
Obj. 2: Further, that which is common to all acts of faith should not
be reckoned as a particular kind of act of faith. Now "to believe
God" is common to all acts of faith, since faith is founded on the
First Truth. Therefore it seems unreasonable to distinguish it from
certain other acts of faith.
Obj. 3: Further, that which can be said of unbelievers, cannot be
called an act of faith. Now unbelievers can be said to believe in a
God. Therefore it should not be reckoned an act of faith.
Obj. 4: Further, movement towards the end belongs to the will, whose
object is the good and the end. Now to believe is an act, not of the
will, but of the intellect. Therefore "to believe in God," which
implies movement towards an end, should not be reckoned as a species
of that act.
_On the contrary_ is the authority of Augustine who makes this
distinction (De Verb. Dom., Serm. lxi--Tract. xxix in Joan.).
_I answer that,_ The act of any power or habit depends on the relation
of that power or habit to its object. Now the object of faith can be
considered in three ways. For, since "to believe" is an act of the
intellect, in so far as the will moves it to assent, as stated above
(A. 1, ad 3), the object of faith can be considered either on the part
of the intellect, or on the part of the will that moves the intellect.
If it be considered on the part of the intellect, then two things can
be observed in the object of faith, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 1). One
of these is the material object of faith, and in this way an act of
faith is "to believe in a God"; because, as stated above (ibid.)
nothing is proposed to our belief, except in as much as it is
referred to God. The other is the formal aspect of the object, for it
is the medium on account of which we assent to such and such a point
of faith; and thus an act of faith is "to believe God," since, as
stated above (ibid.) the formal object of faith is the First Truth,
to Which man gives his adhesion, so as to assent for Its sake to
whatever he believes.
Thirdly, if the object of faith be considered in so far as the
intellect is moved by the will, an act of faith is "to believe in
God." For the First Truth is referred to the will, through having the
aspect of an end.
Reply Obj. 1: These three do not denote different acts of faith, but
one and the same act having different relations to the object of
This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection.
Reply Obj. 3: Unbelievers cannot be said "to believe in a God" as
we understand it in relation to the act of faith. For they do not
believe that God exists under the conditions that faith determines;
hence they do not truly imply believe in a God, since, as the
Philosopher observes (Metaph. ix, text. 22) "to know simple things
defectively is not to know them at all."
Reply Obj. 4: As stated above (I-II, Q. 9, A. 1) the will moves the
intellect and the other powers of the soul to the end: and in this
respect an act of faith is "to believe in God."
THIRD ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 3]
Whether It Is Necessary for Salvation to Believe Anything Above the
Objection 1: It would seem unnecessary for salvation to believe
anything above the natural reason. For the salvation and perfection of
a thing seem to be sufficiently insured by its natural endowments. Now
matters of faith, surpass man's natural reason, since they are things
unseen as stated above (Q. 1, A. 4). Therefore to believe seems
unnecessary for salvation.
Obj. 2: Further, it is dangerous for man to assent to matters,
wherein he cannot judge whether that which is proposed to him be true
or false, according to Job 12:11: "Doth not the ear discern words?"
Now a man cannot form a judgment of this kind in matters of faith,
since he cannot trace them back to first principles, by which all our
judgments are guided. Therefore it is dangerous to believe in such
matters. Therefore to believe is not necessary for salvation.
Obj. 3: Further, man's salvation rests on God, according to Ps.
36:39: "But the salvation of the just is from the Lord." Now "the
invisible things" of God "are clearly seen, being understood by the
things that are made; His eternal power also and Divinity," according
to Rom. 1:20: and those things which are clearly seen by the
understanding are not an object of belief. Therefore it is not
necessary for man's salvation, that he should believe certain things.
_On the contrary,_ It is written (Heb. 11:6): "Without faith it is
impossible to please God."
_I answer that,_ Wherever one nature is subordinate to another, we
find that two things concur towards the perfection of the lower
nature, one of which is in respect of that nature's proper movement,
while the other is in respect of the movement of the higher nature.
Thus water by its proper movement moves towards the centre (of the
earth), while according to the movement of the moon, it moves round
the centre by ebb and flow. In like manner the planets have their
proper movements from west to east, while in accordance with the
movement of the first heaven, they have a movement from east to west.
Now the created rational nature alone is immediately subordinate to
God, since other creatures do not attain to the universal, but only
to something particular, while they partake of the Divine goodness
either in _being_ only, as inanimate things, or also in _living,_ and
in _knowing singulars,_ as plants and animals; whereas the rational
nature, in as much as it apprehends the universal notion of good and
being, is immediately related to the universal principle of being.
Consequently the perfection of the rational creature consists not
only in what belongs to it in respect of its nature, but also in that
which it acquires through a supernatural participation of Divine
goodness. Hence it was said above (I-II, Q. 3, A. 8) that man's
ultimate happiness consists in a supernatural vision of God: to which
vision man cannot attain unless he be taught by God, according to
John 6:45: "Every one that hath heard of the Father and hath learned
cometh to Me." Now man acquires a share of this learning, not indeed
all at once, but by little and little, according to the mode of his
nature: and every one who learns thus must needs believe, in order
that he may acquire science in a perfect degree; thus also the
Philosopher remarks (De Soph. Elench. i, 2) that "it behooves a
learner to believe."
Hence in order that a man arrive at the perfect vision of heavenly
happiness, he must first of all believe God, as a disciple believes
the master who is teaching him.
Reply Obj. 1: Since man's nature is dependent on a higher nature,
natural knowledge does not suffice for its perfection, and some
supernatural knowledge is necessary, as stated above.
Reply Obj. 2: Just as man assents to first principles, by the natural
light of his intellect, so does a virtuous man, by the habit of
virtue, judge aright of things concerning that virtue; and in this
way, by the light of faith which God bestows on him, a man assents to
matters of faith and not to those which are against faith.
Consequently "there is no" danger or "condemnation to them that are
in Christ Jesus," and whom He has enlightened by faith.
Reply Obj. 3: In many respects faith perceives the invisible things
of God in a higher way than natural reason does in proceeding to God
from His creatures. Hence it is written (Ecclus. 3:25): "Many things
are shown to thee above the understandings of man."
FOURTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 4]
Whether It Is Necessary to Believe Those Things Which Can Be Proved
by Natural Reason?
Objection 1: It would seem unnecessary to believe those things which
can be proved by natural reason. For nothing is superfluous in God's
works, much less even than in the works of nature. Now it is
superfluous to employ other means, where one already suffices.
Therefore it would be superfluous to receive by faith, things that
can be known by natural reason.
Obj. 2: Further, those things must be believed, which are the object
of faith. Now science and faith are not about the same object, as
stated above (Q. 1, AA. 4, 5). Since therefore all things that can be
known by natural reason are an object of science, it seems that there
is no need to believe what can be proved by natural reason.
Obj. 3: Further, all things knowable scientifically [*Science is
certain knowledge of a demonstrated conclusion through its
demonstration] would seem to come under one head: so that if some of
them are proposed to man as objects of faith, in like manner the
others should also be believed. But this is not true. Therefore it is
not necessary to believe those things which can be proved by natural
_On the contrary,_ It is necessary to believe that God is one and
incorporeal: which things philosophers prove by natural reason.
_I answer that,_ It is necessary for man to accept by faith not only
things which are above reason, but also those which can be known by
reason: and this for three motives. First, in order that man may
arrive more quickly at the knowledge of Divine truth. Because the
science to whose province it belongs to prove the existence of God,
is the last of all to offer itself to human research, since it
presupposes many other sciences: so that it would not by until late
in life that man would arrive at the knowledge of God. The second
reason is, in order that the knowledge of God may be more general.
For many are unable to make progress in the study of science, either
through dullness of mind, or through having a number of occupations,
and temporal needs, or even through laziness in learning, all of whom
would be altogether deprived of the knowledge of God, unless Divine
things were brought to their knowledge under the guise of faith. The
third reason is for the sake of certitude. For human reason is very
deficient in things concerning God. A sign of this is that
philosophers in their researches, by natural investigation, into
human affairs, have fallen into many errors, and have disagreed among
themselves. And consequently, in order that men might have knowledge
of God, free of doubt and uncertainty, it was necessary for Divine
matters to be delivered to them by way of faith, being told to them,
as it were, by God Himself Who cannot lie.
Reply Obj. 1: The researches of natural reason do not suffice mankind
for the knowledge of Divine matters, even of those that can be proved
by reason: and so it is not superfluous if these others be believed.
Reply Obj. 2: Science and faith cannot be in the same subject and
about the same object: but what is an object of science for one, can
be an object of faith for another, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 5).
Reply Obj. 3: Although all things that can be known by science are
of one common scientific aspect, they do not all alike lead man to
beatitude: hence they are not all equally proposed to our belief.
FIFTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 5]
Whether Man Is Bound to Believe Anything Explicitly?
Objection 1: It would seem that man is not bound to believe anything
explicitly. For no man is bound to do what is not in his power. Now it
is not in man's power to believe a thing explicitly, for it is written
(Rom. 10:14, 15): "How shall they believe Him, of whom they have not
heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they
preach unless they be sent?" Therefore man is not bound to believe
Obj. 2: Further, just as we are directed to God by faith, so are we
by charity. Now man is not bound to keep the precepts of charity, and
it is enough if he be ready to fulfil them: as is evidenced by the
precept of Our Lord (Matt. 5:39): "If one strike thee on one [Vulg.:
'thy right'] cheek, turn to him also the other"; and by others of the
same kind, according to Augustine's exposition (De Serm. Dom. in
Monte xix). Therefore neither is man bound to believe anything
explicitly, and it is enough if he be ready to believe whatever God
proposes to be believed.
Obj. 3: Further, the good of faith consists in obedience, according
to Rom. 1:5: "For obedience to the faith in all nations." Now the
virtue of obedience does not require man to keep certain fixed
precepts, but it is enough that his mind be ready to obey, according
to Ps. 118:60: "I am ready and am not troubled; that I may keep Thy
commandments." Therefore it seems enough for faith, too, that man
should be ready to believe whatever God may propose, without his
believing anything explicitly.
_On the contrary,_ It is written (Heb. 11:6): "He that cometh to God,
must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him."
_I answer that,_ The precepts of the Law, which man is bound to
fulfil, concern acts of virtue which are the means of attaining
salvation. Now an act of virtue, as stated above (I-II, Q. 60, A. 5)
depends on the relation of the habit to its object. Again two things
may be considered in the object of any virtue; namely, that which is
the proper and direct object of that virtue, and that which is
accidental and consequent to the object properly so called. Thus it
belongs properly and directly to the object of fortitude, to face the
dangers of death, and to charge at the foe with danger to oneself,
for the sake of the common good: yet that, in a just war, a man be
armed, or strike another with his sword, and so forth, is reduced to
the object of fortitude, but indirectly.
Accordingly, just as a virtuous act is required for the fulfilment of
a precept, so is it necessary that the virtuous act should terminate
in its proper and direct object: but, on the other hand, the
fulfilment of the precept does not require that a virtuous act should
terminate in those things which have an accidental or secondary
relation to the proper and direct object of that virtue, except in
certain places and at certain times. We must, therefore, say that the
direct object of faith is that whereby man is made one of the
Blessed, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 8): while the indirect and
secondary object comprises all things delivered by God to us in Holy
Writ, for instance that Abraham had two sons, that David was the son
of Jesse, and so forth.
Therefore, as regards the primary points or articles of faith, man is
bound to believe them, just as he is bound to have faith; but as to
other points of faith, man is not bound to believe them explicitly,
but only implicitly, or to be ready to believe them, in so far as he
is prepared to believe whatever is contained in the Divine
Scriptures. Then alone is he bound to believe such things explicitly,
when it is clear to him that they are contained in the doctrine of
Reply Obj. 1: If we understand those things alone to be in a man's
power, which we can do without the help of grace, then we are bound
to do many things which we cannot do without the aid of healing
grace, such as to love God and our neighbor, and likewise to believe
the articles of faith. But with the help of grace we can do this, for
this help "to whomsoever it is given from above it is mercifully
given; and from whom it is withheld it is justly withheld, as a
punishment of a previous, or at least of original, sin," as Augustine
states (De Corr. et Grat. v, vi [*Cf. Ep. cxc; De Praed. Sanct.
Reply Obj. 2: Man is bound to love definitely those lovable things
which are properly and directly the objects of charity, namely, God
and our neighbor. The objection refers to those precepts of charity
which belong, as a consequence, to the objects of charity.
Reply Obj. 3: The virtue of obedience is seated, properly speaking,
in the will; hence promptness of the will subject to authority,
suffices for the act of obedience, because it is the proper and
direct object of obedience. But this or that precept is accidental
or consequent to that proper and direct object.
SIXTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 6]
Whether All Are Equally Bound to Have Explicit Faith?
Objection 1: It would seem that all are equally bound to have
explicit faith. For all are bound to those things which are necessary
for salvation, as is evidenced by the precepts of charity. Now it is
necessary for salvation that certain things should be believed
explicitly. Therefore all are equally bound to have explicit faith.
Obj. 2: Further, no one should be put to test in matters that he is
not bound to believe. But simple persons are sometimes tested in
reference to the slightest articles of faith. Therefore all are
bound to believe everything explicitly.
Obj. 3: Further, if the simple are bound to have, not explicit but
only implicit faith, their faith must needs be implied in the faith
of the learned. But this seems unsafe, since it is possible for the
learned to err. Therefore it seems that the simple should also have
explicit faith; so that all are, therefore, equally bound to have
_On the contrary,_ It is written (Job 1:14): "The oxen were
ploughing, and the asses feeding beside them," because, as Gregory
expounds this passage (Moral. ii, 17), the simple, who are signified
by the asses, ought, in matters of faith, to stay by the learned, who
are denoted by the oxen.
_I answer that,_ The unfolding of matters of faith is the result of
Divine revelation: for matters of faith surpass natural reason. Now
Divine revelation reaches those of lower degree through those who are
over them, in a certain order; to men, for instance, through the
angels, and to the lower angels through the higher, as Dionysius
explains (Coel. Hier. iv, vii). In like manner therefore the unfolding
of faith must needs reach men of lower degree through those of higher
degree. Consequently, just as the higher angels, who enlighten those
who are below them, have a fuller knowledge of Divine things than the
lower angels, as Dionysius states (Coel. Hier. xii), so too, men of
higher degree, whose business it is to teach others, are under
obligation to have fuller knowledge of matters of faith, and to
believe them more explicitly.
Reply Obj. 1: The unfolding of the articles of faith is not equally
necessary for the salvation of all, since those of higher degree,
whose duty it is to teach others, are bound to believe explicitly
more things than others are.
Reply Obj. 2: Simple persons should not be put to the test about
subtle questions of faith, unless they be suspected of having been
corrupted by heretics, who are wont to corrupt the faith of simple
people in such questions. If, however, it is found that they are free
from obstinacy in their heterodox sentiments, and that it is due to
their simplicity, it is no fault of theirs.
Reply Obj. 3: The simple have no faith implied in that of the
learned, except in so far as the latter adhere to the Divine
teaching. Hence the Apostle says (1 Cor. 4:16): "Be ye followers of
me, as I also am of Christ." Hence it is not human knowledge, but the
Divine truth that is the rule of faith: and if any of the learned
stray from this rule, he does not harm the faith of the simple ones,
who think that the learned believe aright; unless the simple hold
obstinately to their individual errors, against the faith of the
universal Church, which cannot err, since Our Lord said (Luke 22:32):
"I have prayed for thee," Peter, "that thy faith fail not."
SEVENTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 7]
Whether It Is Necessary for the Salvation of All, That They Should
Believe Explicitly in the Mystery of Christ?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not necessary for the salvation
of all that they should believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ.
For man is not bound to believe explicitly what the angels are
ignorant about: since the unfolding of faith is the result of Divine
revelation, which reaches man by means of the angels, as stated above
(A. 6; I, Q. 111, A. 1). Now even the angels were in ignorance of the
mystery of the Incarnation: hence, according to the commentary of
Dionysius (Coel. Hier. vii), it is they who ask (Ps. 23:8): "Who is
this king of glory?" and (Isa. 63:1): "Who is this that cometh from
Edom?" Therefore men were not bound to believe explicitly in the
mystery of Christ's Incarnation.
Obj. 2: Further, it is evident that John the Baptist was one of the
teachers, and most nigh to Christ, Who said of him (Matt. 11:11) that
"there hath not risen among them that are born of women, a greater
than" he. Now John the Baptist does not appear to have known the
mystery of Christ explicitly, since he asked Christ (Matt. 11:3):
"Art Thou He that art to come, or look we for another?" Therefore
even the teachers were not bound to explicit faith in Christ.
Obj. 3: Further, many gentiles obtained salvation through the
ministry of the angels, as Dionysius states (Coel. Hier. ix). Now it
would seem that the gentiles had neither explicit nor implicit faith
in Christ, since they received no revelation. Therefore it seems that
it was not necessary for the salvation of all to believe explicitly
in the mystery of Christ.
_On the contrary,_ Augustine says (De Corr. et Gratia vii; Ep. cxc):
"Our faith is sound if we believe that no man, old or young is
delivered from the contagion of death and the bonds of sin, except
by the one Mediator of God and men, Jesus Christ."
_I answer that,_ As stated above (A. 5; Q. 1, A. 8), the object of
faith includes, properly and directly, that thing through which man
obtains beatitude. Now the mystery of Christ's Incarnation and
Passion is the way by which men obtain beatitude; for it is written
(Acts 4:12): "There is no other name under heaven given to men,
whereby we must be saved." Therefore belief of some kind in the
mystery of Christ's Incarnation was necessary at all times and for
all persons, but this belief differed according to differences of
times and persons. The reason of this is that before the state of
sin, man believed, explicitly in Christ's Incarnation, in so far as
it was intended for the consummation of glory, but not as it was
intended to deliver man from sin by the Passion and Resurrection,
since man had no foreknowledge of his future sin. He does, however,
seem to have had foreknowledge of the Incarnation of Christ, from the
fact that he said (Gen. 2:24): "Wherefore a man shall leave father
and mother, and shall cleave to his wife," of which the Apostle says
(Eph. 5:32) that "this is a great sacrament . . . in Christ and the
Church," and it is incredible that the first man was ignorant about
But after sin, man believed explicitly in Christ, not only as to the
Incarnation, but also as to the Passion and Resurrection, whereby the
human race is delivered from sin and death: for they would not, else,
have foreshadowed Christ's Passion by certain sacrifices both before
and after the Law, the meaning of which sacrifices was known by the
learned explicitly, while the simple folk, under the veil of those
sacrifices, believed them to be ordained by God in reference to
Christ's coming, and thus their knowledge was covered with a veil, so
to speak. And, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 7), the nearer they were to
Christ, the more distinct was their knowledge of Christ's mysteries.
After grace had been revealed, both learned and simple folk are bound
to explicit faith in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards
those which are observed throughout the Church, and publicly
proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation, of
which we have spoken above (Q. 1, A. 8). As to other minute points in
reference to the articles of the Incarnation, men have been bound to
believe them more or less explicitly according to each one's state
Reply Obj. 1: The mystery of the Kingdom of God was not entirely
hidden from the angels, as Augustine observes (Gen. ad lit. v, 19),
yet certain aspects thereof were better known to them when Christ
revealed them to them.
Reply Obj. 2: It was not through ignorance that John the Baptist
inquired of Christ's advent in the flesh, since he had clearly
professed his belief therein, saying: "I saw, and I gave testimony,
that this is the Son of God" (John 1:34). Hence he did not say: "Art
Thou He that hast come?" but "Art Thou He that art to come?" thus
saying about the future, not about the past. Likewise it is not to be
believed that he was ignorant of Christ's future Passion, for he had
already said (John 1:39): "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who
taketh away the sins [Vulg.: 'sin'] of the world," thus foretelling
His future immolation; and since other prophets had foretold it, as
may be seen especially in Isaias 53. We may therefore say with
Gregory (Hom. xxvi in Evang.) that he asked this question, being in
ignorance as to whether Christ would descend into hell in His own
Person. But he did not ignore the fact that the power of Christ's
Passion would be extended to those who were detained in Limbo,
according to Zech. 9:11: "Thou also, by the blood of Thy testament
hast sent forth Thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein there is no
water"; nor was he bound to believe explicitly, before its
fulfilment, that Christ was to descend thither Himself.
It may also be replied that, as Ambrose observes in his commentary on
Luke 7:19, he made this inquiry, not from doubt or ignorance but from
devotion: or again, with Chrysostom (Hom. xxxvi in Matth.), that he
inquired, not as though ignorant himself, but because he wished his
disciples to be satisfied on that point, through Christ: hence the
latter framed His answer so as to instruct the disciples, by pointing
to the signs of His works.
Reply Obj. 3: Many of the gentiles received revelations of Christ, as
is clear from their predictions. Thus we read (Job 19:25): "I know
that my Redeemer liveth." The Sibyl too foretold certain things about
Christ, as Augustine states (Contra Faust. xiii, 15). Moreover, we
read in the history of the Romans, that at the time of Constantine
Augustus and his mother Irene a tomb was discovered, wherein lay a
man on whose breast was a golden plate with the inscription: "Christ
shall be born of a virgin, and in Him, I believe. O sun, during the
lifetime of Irene and Constantine, thou shalt see me again" [*Cf.
Baron, Annal., A.D. 780]. If, however, some were saved without
receiving any revelation, they were not saved without faith in a
Mediator, for, though they did not believe in Him explicitly, they
did, nevertheless, have implicit faith through believing in Divine
providence, since they believed that God would deliver mankind in
whatever way was pleasing to Him, and according to the revelation of
the Spirit to those who knew the truth, as stated in Job 35:11: "Who
teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth."
EIGHTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 8]
Whether It Is Necessary for Salvation to Believe Explicitly in the
Objection 1: It would seem that it was not necessary for salvation to
believe explicitly in the Trinity. For the Apostle says (Heb. 11:6):
"He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to
them that seek Him." Now one can believe this without believing in the
Trinity. Therefore it was not necessary to believe explicitly in the
Obj. 2: Further our Lord said (John 17:5, 6): "Father, I have
manifested Thy name to men," which words Augustine expounds (Tract.
cvi) as follows: "Not the name by which Thou art called God, but the
name whereby Thou art called My Father," and further on he adds: "In
that He made this world, God is known to all nations; in that He is
not to be worshipped together with false gods, 'God is known in
Judea'; but, in that He is the Father of this Christ, through Whom He
takes away the sin of the world, He now makes known to men this name
of His, which hitherto they knew not." Therefore before the coming of
Christ it was not known that Paternity and Filiation were in the
Godhead: and so the Trinity was not believed explicitly.
Obj. 3: Further, that which we are bound to believe explicitly of God
is the object of heavenly happiness. Now the object of heavenly
happiness is the sovereign good, which can be understood to be in
God, without any distinction of Persons. Therefore it was not
necessary to believe explicitly in the Trinity.
_On the contrary,_ In the Old Testament the Trinity of Persons is
expressed in many ways; thus at the very outset of Genesis it is
written in manifestation of the Trinity: "Let us make man to Our image
and likeness" (Gen. 1:26). Therefore from the very beginning it was
necessary for salvation to believe in the Trinity.
_I answer that,_ It is impossible to believe explicitly in the
mystery of Christ, without faith in the Trinity, since the mystery of
Christ includes that the Son of God took flesh; that He renewed the
world through the grace of the Holy Ghost; and again, that He was
conceived by the Holy Ghost. Wherefore just as, before Christ, the
mystery of Christ was believed explicitly by the learned, but
implicitly and under a veil, so to speak, by the simple, so too was
it with the mystery of the Trinity. And consequently, when once grace
had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of
the Trinity: and all who are born again in Christ, have this bestowed
on them by the invocation of the Trinity, according to Matt. 28:19:
"Going therefore teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
Reply Obj. 1: Explicit faith in those two things was necessary at all
times and for all people: but it was not sufficient at all times and
for all people.
Reply Obj. 2: Before Christ's coming, faith in the Trinity lay hidden
in the faith of the learned, but through Christ and the apostles it
was shown to the world.
Reply Obj. 3: God's sovereign goodness as we understand it now
through its effects, can be understood without the Trinity of
Persons: but as understood in itself, and as seen by the Blessed, it
cannot be understood without the Trinity of Persons. Moreover the
mission of the Divine Persons brings us to heavenly happiness.
NINTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 9]
Whether to Believe Is Meritorious?
Objection 1: It would seem that to believe is not meritorious. For
the principle of all merit is charity, as stated above (I-II, Q. 114,
A. 4). Now faith, like nature, is a preamble to charity. Therefore,
just as an act of nature is not meritorious, since we do not merit by
our natural gifts, so neither is an act of faith.
Obj. 2: Further, belief is a mean between opinion and scientific
knowledge or the consideration of things scientifically known
[*Science is a certain knowledge of a demonstrated conclusion through
its demonstration.]. Now the considerations of science are not
meritorious, nor on the other hand is opinion. Therefore belief is
Obj. 3: Further, he who assents to a point of faith, either has a
sufficient motive for believing, or he has not. If he has a
sufficient motive for his belief, this does not seem to imply any
merit on his part, since he is no longer free to believe or not to
believe: whereas if he has not a sufficient motive for believing,
this is a mark of levity, according to Ecclus. 19:4: "He that is
hasty to give credit, is light of heart," so that, seemingly, he
gains no merit thereby. Therefore to believe is by no means
_On the contrary,_ It is written (Heb. 11:33) that the saints "by
faith . . . obtained promises," which would not be the case if they
did not merit by believing. Therefore to believe is meritorious.
_I answer that,_ As stated above (I-II, Q. 114, AA. 3, 4), our
actions are meritorious in so far as they proceed from the free-will
moved with grace by God. Therefore every human act proceeding from
the free-will, if it be referred to God, can be meritorious. Now the
act of believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the Divine
truth at the command of the will moved by the grace of God, so that
it is subject to the free-will in relation to God; and consequently
the act of faith can be meritorious.
Reply Obj. 1: Nature is compared to charity which is the principle of
merit, as matter to form: whereas faith is compared to charity as the
disposition which precedes the ultimate form. Now it is evident that
the subject or the matter cannot act save by virtue of the form, nor
can a preceding disposition, before the advent of the form: but after
the advent of the form, both the subject and the preceding
disposition act by virtue of the form, which is the chief principle
of action, even as the heat of fire acts by virtue of the substantial
form of fire. Accordingly neither nature nor faith can, without
charity, produce a meritorious act; but, when accompanied by charity,
the act of faith is made meritorious thereby, even as an act of
nature, and a natural act of the free-will.
Reply Obj. 2: Two things may be considered in science: namely the
scientist's assent to a scientific fact and his consideration of that
fact. Now the assent of science is not subject to free-will, because
the scientist is obliged to assent by force of the demonstration,
wherefore scientific assent is not meritorious. But the actual
consideration of what a man knows scientifically is subject to his
free-will, for it is in his power to consider or not to consider.
Hence scientific consideration may be meritorious if it be referred
to the end of charity, i.e. to the honor of God or the good of our
neighbor. On the other hand, in the case of faith, both these things
are subject to the free-will so that in both respects the act of
faith can be meritorious: whereas in the case of opinion, there is no
firm assent, since it is weak and infirm, as the Philosopher observes
(Poster. i, 33), so that it does not seem to proceed from a perfect
act of the will: and for this reason, as regards the assent, it does
not appear to be very meritorious, though it can be as regards the
Reply Obj. 3: The believer has sufficient motive for believing, for
he is moved by the authority of Divine teaching confirmed by
miracles, and, what is more, by the inward instinct of the Divine
invitation: hence he does not believe lightly. He has not, however,
sufficient reason for scientific knowledge, hence he does not lose
TENTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 2, Art. 10]
Whether Reasons in Support of What We Believe Lessen the Merit of
Objection 1: It would seem that reasons in support of what we believe
lessen the merit of faith. For Gregory says (Hom. xxvi in Evang.)
that "there is no merit in believing what is shown by reason." If,
therefore, human reason provides sufficient proof, the merit of faith
is altogether taken away. Therefore it seems that any kind of human
reasoning in support of matters of faith, diminishes the merit of
Obj. 2: Further, whatever lessens the measure of virtue, lessens
the amount of merit, since "happiness is the reward of virtue," as
the Philosopher states (Ethic. i, 9). Now human reasoning seems to
diminish the measure of the virtue of faith, since it is essential
to faith to be about the unseen, as stated above (Q. 1, AA. 4, 5).
Now the more a thing is supported by reasons the less is it unseen.
Therefore human reasons in support of matters of faith diminish the
merit of faith.
Obj. 3: Further, contrary things have contrary causes. Now an
inducement in opposition to faith increases the merit of faith whether
it consist in persecution inflicted by one who endeavors to force a
man to renounce his faith, or in an argument persuading him to do so.
Therefore reasons in support of faith diminish the merit of faith.
_On the contrary,_ It is written (1 Pet. 3:15): "Being ready always to
satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that faith [*Vulg.: 'Of
that hope which is in you.' St. Thomas' reading is apparently taken
from Bede.] and hope which is in you." Now the Apostle would not give
this advice, if it would imply a diminution in the merit of faith.
Therefore reason does not diminish the merit of faith.
_I answer that,_ As stated above (A. 9), the act of faith can be
meritorious, in so far as it is subject to the will, not only as to
the use, but also as to the assent. Now human reason in support of
what we believe, may stand in a twofold relation to the will of the
believer. First, as preceding the act of the will; as, for instance,
when a man either has not the will, or not a prompt will, to believe,
unless he be moved by human reasons: and in this way human reason
diminishes the merit of faith. In this sense it has been said above
(I-II, Q. 24, A. 3, ad 1; Q. 77, A. 6, ad 2) that, in moral virtues,
a passion which precedes choice makes the virtuous act less
praiseworthy. For just as a man ought to perform acts of moral
virtue, on account of the judgment of his reason, and not on account
of a passion, so ought he to believe matters of faith, not on account
of human reason, but on account of the Divine authority. Secondly,
human reasons may be consequent to the will of the believer. For when
a man's will is ready to believe, he loves the truth he believes, he
thinks out and takes to heart whatever reasons he can find in support
thereof; and in this way human reason does not exclude the merit of
faith but is a sign of greater merit. Thus again, in moral virtues a
consequent passion is the sign of a more prompt will, as stated above
(I-II, Q. 24, A. 3, ad 1). We have an indication of this in the words
of the Samaritans to the woman, who is a type of human reason: "We
now believe, not for thy saying" (John 4:42).
Reply Obj. 1: Gregory is referring to the case of a man who has no
will to believe what is of faith, unless he be induced by reasons.
But when a man has the will to believe what is of faith on the
authority of God alone, although he may have reasons in demonstration
of some of them, e.g. of the existence of God, the merit of his faith
is not, for that reason, lost or diminished.
Reply Obj. 2: The reasons which are brought forward in support of
the authority of faith, are not demonstrations which can bring
intellectual vision to the human intellect, wherefore they do not
cease to be unseen. But they remove obstacles to faith, by showing
that what faith proposes is not impossible; wherefore such reasons do
not diminish the merit or the measure of faith. On the other hand,
though demonstrative reasons in support of the preambles of faith
[*The Leonine Edition reads: 'in support of matters of faith which
are however, preambles to the articles of faith, diminish,' etc.],
but not of the articles of faith, diminish the measure of faith,
since they make the thing believed to be seen, yet they do not
diminish the measure of charity, which makes the will ready to
believe them, even if they were unseen; and so the measure of merit
is not diminished.
Reply Obj. 3: Whatever is in opposition to faith, whether it consist
in a man's thoughts, or in outward persecution, increases the merit
of faith, in so far as the will is shown to be more prompt and firm
in believing. Hence the martyrs had more merit of faith, through not
renouncing faith on account of persecution; and even the wise have
greater merit of faith, through not renouncing their faith on account
of the reasons brought forward by philosophers or heretics in
opposition to faith. On the other hand things that are favorable to
faith, do not always diminish the promptness of the will to believe,
and therefore they do not always diminish the merit of faith.
OF THE OUTWARD ACT OF FAITH
(In Two Articles)
We must now consider the outward act, viz. the confession of faith:
under which head there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether confession is an act of faith?
(2) Whether confession of faith is necessary for salvation?
FIRST ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 3, Art. 1]
Whether Confession Is an Act of Faith?
Objection 1: It would seem that confession is not an act of faith.
For the same act does not belong to different virtues. Now confession
belongs to penance of which it is a part. Therefore it is not an act
Obj. 2: Further, man is sometimes deterred by fear or some kind of
confusion, from confessing his faith: wherefore the Apostle (Eph.
6:19) asks for prayers that it may be granted him "with confidence,
to make known the mystery of the gospel." Now it belongs to
fortitude, which moderates daring and fear, not to be deterred from
doing good on account of confusion or fear. Therefore it seems that
confession is not an act of faith, but rather of fortitude or
Obj. 3: Further, just as the ardor of faith makes one confess one's
faith outwardly, so does it make one do other external good works,
for it is written (Gal. 5:6) that "faith . . . worketh by charity."
But other external works are not reckoned acts of faith. Therefore
neither is confession an act of faith.
_On the contrary,_ A gloss explains the words of 2 Thess. 1:11, "and
the work of faith in power" as referring to "confession which is a
work proper to faith."
_I answer that,_ Outward actions belong properly to the virtue to
whose end they are specifically referred: thus fasting is referred
specifically to the end of abstinence, which is to tame the flesh,
and consequently it is an act of abstinence.
Now confession of those things that are of faith is referred
specifically as to its end, to that which concerns faith, according
to 2 Cor. 4:13: "Having the same spirit of faith . . . we believe,
and therefore we speak also." For the outward utterance is intended
to signify the inward thought. Wherefore, just as the inward thought
of matters of faith is properly an act of faith, so too is the
outward confession of them.
Reply Obj. 1: A threefold confession is commended by the Scriptures.
One is the confession of matters of faith, and this is a proper act
of faith, since it is referred to the end of faith as stated above.
Another is the confession of thanksgiving or praise, and this is an
act of "latria," for its purpose is to give outward honor to God,
which is the end of "latria." The third is the confession of sins,
which is ordained to the blotting out of sins, which is the end of
penance, to which virtue it therefore belongs.
Reply Obj. 2: That which removes an obstacle is not a direct, but an
indirect, cause, as the Philosopher proves (Phys. viii, 4). Hence
fortitude which removes an obstacle to the confession of faith, viz.
fear or shame, is not the proper and direct cause of confession, but
an indirect cause so to speak.
Reply Obj. 3: Inward faith, with the aid of charity, causes all
outward acts of virtue, by means of the other virtues, commanding,
but not eliciting them; whereas it produces the act of confession
as its proper act, without the help of any other virtue.
SECOND ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 3, Art. 2]
Whether Confession of Faith Is Necessary for Salvation?
Objection 1: It would seem that confession of faith is not necessary
for salvation. For, seemingly, a thing is sufficient for salvation, if
it is a means of attaining the end of virtue. Now the proper end of
faith is the union of the human mind with Divine truth, and this can
be realized without any outward confession. Therefore confession of
faith is not necessary for salvation.
Obj. 2: Further, by outward confession of faith, a man reveals his
faith to another man. But this is unnecessary save for those who have
to instruct others in the faith. Therefore it seems that the simple
folk are not bound to confess the faith.
Obj. 3: Further, whatever may tend to scandalize and disturb others,
is not necessary for salvation, for the Apostle says (1 Cor. 10:32):
"Be without offense to the Jews and to the gentiles and to the Church
of God." Now confession of faith sometimes causes a disturbance among
unbelievers. Therefore it is not necessary for salvation.
_On the contrary,_ The Apostle says (Rom. 10:10): "With the heart we
believe unto justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto
_I answer that,_ Things that are necessary for salvation come under
the precepts of the Divine law. Now since confession of faith is
something affirmative, it can only fall under an affirmative precept.
Hence its necessity for salvation depends on how it falls under an
affirmative precept of the Divine law. Now affirmative precepts as
stated above (I-II, Q. 71, A. 5, ad 3; I-II, Q. 88, A. 1, ad 2) do
not bind for always, although they are always binding; but they bind
as to place and time according to other due circumstances, in respect
of which human acts have to be regulated in order to be acts of
Thus then it is not necessary for salvation to confess one's faith at
all times and in all places, but in certain places and at certain
times, when, namely, by omitting to do so, we would deprive God of
due honor, or our neighbor of a service that we ought to render him:
for instance, if a man, on being asked about his faith, were to
remain silent, so as to make people believe either that he is without
faith, or that the faith is false, or so as to turn others away from
the faith; for in such cases as these, confession of faith is
necessary for salvation.
Reply Obj. 1: The end of faith, even as of the other virtues, must
be referred to the end of charity, which is the love of God and our
neighbor. Consequently when God's honor and our neighbor's good
demand, man should not be contented with being united by faith to
God's truth, but ought to confess his faith outwardly.
Reply Obj. 2: In cases of necessity where faith is in danger, every
one is bound to proclaim his faith to others, either to give good
example and encouragement to the rest of the faithful, or to check
the attacks of unbelievers: but at other times it is not the duty
of all the faithful to instruct others in the faith.
Reply Obj. 3: There is nothing commendable in making a public
confession of one's faith, if it causes a disturbance among
unbelievers, without any profit either to the faith or to the
faithful. Hence Our Lord said (Matt. 7:6): "Give not that which is
holy to dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine . . . lest
turning upon you, they tear you." Yet, if there is hope of profit to
the faith, or if there be urgency, a man should disregard the
disturbance of unbelievers, and confess his faith in public. Hence it
is written (Matt. 15:12) that when the disciples had said to Our Lord
that "the Pharisee, when they heard this word, were scandalized," He
answered: "Let them alone, they are blind, and leaders of the blind."
OF THE VIRTUE ITSELF OF FAITH
(In Eight Articles)
We must now consider the virtue itself of faith, and, in the first
place, faith itself; secondly, those who have faith; thirdly, the
cause of faith; fourthly, its effects.
Under the first head there are eight points of inquiry:
(1) What is faith?
(2) In what power of the soul does it reside?
(3) Whether its form is charity?
(4) Whether living (_formata_) faith and lifeless (_informis_) faith
are one identically?
(5) Whether faith is a virtue?
(6) Whether it is one virtue?
(7) Of its relation to the other virtues;
(8) Of its certitude as compared with the certitude of the
FIRST ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 4, Art. 1]
Whether This Is a Fitting Definition of Faith: "Faith Is the
Substance of Things to Be Hoped For, the Evidence of Things That
Objection 1: It would seem that the Apostle gives an unfitting
definition of faith (Heb. 11:1) when he says: "Faith is the substance
of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not."
For no quality is a substance: whereas faith is a quality, since it
is a theological virtue, as stated above (I-II, Q. 62, A. 3).
Therefore it is not a substance.
Obj. 2: Further, different virtues have different objects. Now things
to be hoped for are the object of hope. Therefore they should not be
included in a definition of faith, as though they were its object.
Obj. 3: Further, faith is perfected by charity rather than by hope,
since charity is the form of faith, as we shall state further on (A.
3). Therefore the definition of faith should have included the thing
to be loved rather than the thing to be hoped for.
Obj. 4: Further, the same thing should not be placed in different
genera. Now "substance" and "evidence" are different genera, and
neither is subalternate to the other. Therefore it is unfitting to
state that faith is both "substance" and "evidence."
Obj. 5: Further, evidence manifests the truth of the matter for which
it is adduced. Now a thing is said to be apparent when its truth is
already manifest. Therefore it seems to imply a contradiction to
speak of "evidence of things that appear not": and so faith is
_On the contrary,_ The authority of the Apostle suffices.
_I answer that,_ Though some say that the above words of the Apostle are
not a definition of faith, yet if we consider the matter aright, this
definition overlooks none of the points in reference to which faith
can be defined, albeit the words themselves are not arranged in the
form of a definition, just as the philosophers touch on the principles
of the syllogism, without employing the syllogistic form.
In order to make this clear, we must observe that since habits are
known by their acts, and acts by their objects, faith, being a habit,
should be defined by its proper act in relation to its proper object.
Now the act of faith is to believe, as stated above (Q. 2, AA. 2, 3),
which is an act of the intellect determinate to one object of the
will's command. Hence an act of faith is related both to the object
of the will, i.e. to the good and the end, and to the object of the
intellect, i.e. to the true. And since faith, through being a
theological virtue, as stated above (I-II, Q. 62, A. 2), has one same
thing for object and end, its object and end must, of necessity, be
in proportion to one another. Now it has been already stated (Q. 1,
AA. 1, 4) that the object of faith is the First Truth, as unseen, and
whatever we hold on account thereof: so that it must needs be under
the aspect of something unseen that the First Truth is the end of the
act of faith, which aspect is that of a thing hoped for, according to
the Apostle (Rom. 8:25): "We hope for that which we see not": because
to see the truth is to possess it. Now one hopes not for what one has
already, but for what one has not, as stated above (I-II, Q. 67, A.
4). Accordingly the relation of the act of faith to its end which is
the object of the will, is indicated by the words: "Faith is the
substance of things to be hoped for." For we are wont to call by the
name of substance, the first beginning of a thing, especially when
the whole subsequent thing is virtually contained in the first
beginning; for instance, we might say that the first self-evident
principles are the substance of science, because, to wit, these
principles are in us the first beginnings of science, the whole of
which is itself contained in them virtually. In this way then faith
is said to be the "substance of things to be hoped for," for the
reason that in us the first beginning of things to be hoped for is
brought about by the assent of faith, which contains virtually all
things to be hoped for. Because we hope to be made happy through
seeing the unveiled truth to which our faith cleaves, as was made
evident when we were speaking of happiness (I-II, Q. 3, A. 8; I-II,
Q. 4, A. 3).
The relationship of the act of faith to the object of the intellect,
considered as the object of faith, is indicated by the words,
"evidence of things that appear not," where "evidence" is taken for
the result of evidence. For evidence induces the intellect to adhere
to a truth, wherefore the firm adhesion of the intellect to the
non-apparent truth of faith is called "evidence" here. Hence another
reading has "conviction," because to wit, the intellect of the
believer is convinced by Divine authority, so as to assent to what it
sees not. Accordingly if anyone would reduce the foregoing words to
the form of a definition, he may say that "faith is a habit of the
mind, whereby eternal life is begun in us, making the intellect
assent to what is non-apparent."
In this way faith is distinguished from all other things pertaining to
the intellect. For when we describe it as "evidence," we distinguish
it from opinion, suspicion, and doubt, which do not make the intellect
adhere to anything firmly; when we go on to say, "of things that
appear not," we distinguish it from science and understanding, the
object of which is something apparent; and when we say that it is "the
substance of things to be hoped for," we distinguish the virtue of
faith from faith commonly so called, which has no reference to the
beatitude we hope for.
Whatever other definitions are given of faith, are explanations of
this one given by the Apostle. For when Augustine says (Tract. xl in
Joan.: QQ. Evang. ii, qu. 39) that "faith is a virtue whereby we
believe what we do not see," and when Damascene says (De Fide Orth.
iv, 11) that "faith is an assent without research," and when others
say that "faith is that certainty of the mind about absent things
which surpasses opinion but falls short of science," these all amount
to the same as the Apostle's words: "Evidence of things that appear
not"; and when Dionysius says (Div. Nom. vii) that "faith is the solid
foundation of the believer, establishing him in the truth, and showing
forth the truth in him," comes to the same as "substance of things to
be hoped for."
Reply Obj. 1: "Substance" here does not stand for the supreme genus
condivided with the other genera, but for that likeness to substance
which is found in each genus, inasmuch as the first thing in a genus
contains the others virtually and is said to be the substance thereof.
Reply Obj. 2: Since faith pertains to the intellect as commanded by
the will, it must needs be directed, as to its end, to the objects of
those virtues which perfect the will, among which is hope, as we
shall prove further on (Q. 18, A. 1). For this reason the definition
of faith includes the object of hope.
Reply Obj. 3: Love may be of the seen and of the unseen, of the
present and of the absent. Consequently a thing to be loved is not so
adapted to faith, as a thing to be hoped for, since hope is always of
the absent and the unseen.
Reply Obj. 4: "Substance" and "evidence" as included in the
definition of faith, do not denote various genera of faith, nor
different acts, but different relationships of one act to different
objects, as is clear from what has been said.
Reply Obj. 5: Evidence taken from the proper principles of a thing,
make[s] it apparent, whereas evidence taken from Divine authority
does not make a thing apparent in itself, and such is the evidence
referred to in the definition of faith.
SECOND ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 4, Art. 2]
Whether Faith Resides in the Intellect?
Objection 1: It would seem that faith does not reside in the
intellect. For Augustine says (De Praedest. Sanct. v) that "faith
resides in the believer's will." Now the will is a power distinct
from the intellect. Therefore faith does not reside in the intellect.
Obj. 2: Further, the assent of faith to believe anything, proceeds
from the will obeying God. Therefore it seems that faith owes all its
praise to obedience. Now obedience is in the will. Therefore faith is
in the will, and not in the intellect.
Obj. 3: Further, the intellect is either speculative or practical.
Now faith is not in the speculative intellect, since this is not
concerned with things to be sought or avoided, as stated in _De
Anima_ iii, 9, so that it is not a principle of operation, whereas
"faith . . . worketh by charity" (Gal. 5:6). Likewise, neither is
it in the practical intellect, the object of which is some true,
contingent thing, that can be made or done. For the object of faith
is the Eternal Truth, as was shown above (Q. 1, A. 1). Therefore
faith does not reside in the intellect.
_On the contrary,_ Faith is succeeded by the heavenly vision,
according to 1 Cor. 13:12: "We see now through a glass in a dark
manner; but then face to face." Now vision is in the intellect.
Therefore faith is likewise.
_I answer that,_ Since faith is a virtue, its act must needs be
perfect. Now, for the perfection of an act proceeding from two active
principles, each of these principles must be perfect: for it is not
possible for a thing to be sawn well, unless the sawyer possess the
art, and the saw be well fitted for sawing. Now, in a power of the
soul, which is related to opposite objects, a disposition to act well
is a habit, as stated above (I-II, Q. 49, A. 4, ad 1, 2, 3).
Wherefore an act that proceeds from two such powers must be perfected
by a habit residing in each of them. Again, it has been stated above
(Q. 2, AA. 1, 2) that to believe is an act of the intellect inasmuch
as the will moves it to assent. And this act proceeds from the will
and the intellect, both of which have a natural aptitude to be
perfected in this way. Consequently, if the act of faith is to be
perfect, there needs to be a habit in the will as well as in the
intellect: even as there needs to be the habit of prudence in the
reason, besides the habit of temperance in the concupiscible faculty,
in order that the act of that faculty be perfect. Now, to believe is
immediately an act of the intellect, because the object of that act
is "the true," which pertains properly to the intellect. Consequently
faith, which is the proper principle of that act, must needs reside
in the intellect.
Reply Obj. 1: Augustine takes faith for the act of faith, which is
described as depending on the believer's will, in so far as his
intellect assents to matters of faith at the command of the will.
Reply Obj. 2: Not only does the will need to be ready to obey but
also the intellect needs to be well disposed to follow the command of
the will, even as the concupiscible faculty needs to be well disposed
in order to follow the command of reason; hence there needs to be a
habit of virtue not only in the commanding will but also in the
Reply Obj. 3: Faith resides in the speculative intellect, as
evidenced by its object. But since this object, which is the First
Truth, is the end of all our desires and actions, as Augustine proves
(De Trin. i, 8), it follows that faith worketh by charity just as
"the speculative intellect becomes practical by extension" (De Anima
THIRD ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 4, Art. 3]
Whether Charity Is the Form of Faith?
Objection 1: It would seem that charity is not the form of faith.
For each thing derives its species from its form. When therefore two
things are opposite members of a division, one cannot be the form of
the other. Now faith and charity are stated to be opposite members of
a division, as different species of virtue (1 Cor. 13:13). Therefore
charity is not the form of faith.
Obj. 2: Further, a form and the thing of which it is the form are in
one subject, since together they form one simply. Now faith is in the
intellect, while charity is in the will. Therefore charity is not the
form of faith.
Obj. 3: Further, the form of a thing is a principle thereof. Now
obedience, rather than charity, seems to be the principle of
believing, on the part of the will, according to Rom. 1:5: "For
obedience to the faith in all nations." Therefore obedience rather
than charity, is the form of faith.
_On the contrary,_ Each thing works through its form. Now faith works
through charity. Therefore the love of charity is the form of faith.
_I answer that,_ As appears from what has been said above (I-II, Q.
1, A. 3; I-II, Q. 18, A. 6), voluntary acts take their species from
their end which is the will's object. Now that which gives a thing
its species, is after the manner of a form in natural things.
Wherefore the form of any voluntary act is, in a manner, the end to
which that act is directed, both because it takes its species
therefrom, and because the mode of an action should correspond
proportionately to the end. Now it is evident from what has been said
(A. 1), that the act of faith is directed to the object of the will,
i.e. the good, as to its end: and this good which is the end of
faith, viz. the Divine Good, is the proper object of charity.
Therefore charity is called the form of faith in so far as the act
of faith is perfected and formed by charity.
Reply Obj. 1: Charity is called the form of faith because it quickens
the act of faith. Now nothing hinders one act from being quickened by
different habits, so as to be reduced to various species in a certain
order, as stated above (I-II, Q. 18, AA. 6, 7; I-II, Q. 61, A. 2)
when we were treating of human acts in general.
Reply Obj. 2: This objection is true of an intrinsic form. But it is
not thus that charity is the form of faith, but in the sense that it
quickens the act of faith, as explained above.
Reply Obj. 3: Even obedience, and hope likewise, and whatever other
virtue might precede the act of faith, is quickened by charity, as
we shall show further on (Q. 23, A. 8), and consequently charity is
spoken of as the form of faith.
FOURTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 4, Art. 4]
Whether Lifeless Faith Can Become Living, or Living Faith, Lifeless?
Objection 1: It would seem that lifeless faith does not become
living, or living faith lifeless. For, according to 1 Cor. 13:10,
"when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be
done away." Now lifeless faith is imperfect in comparison with living
faith. Therefore when living faith comes, lifeless faith is done
away, so that they are not one identical habit.
Obj. 2: Further, a dead thing does not become a living thing. Now
lifeless faith is dead, according to James 2:20: "Faith without works
is dead." Therefore lifeless faith cannot become living.
Obj. 3: Further, God's grace, by its advent, has no less effect in a
believer than in an unbeliever. Now by coming to an unbeliever it
causes the habit of faith. Therefore when it comes to a believer, who
hitherto had the habit of lifeless faith, it causes another habit of
faith in him.
Obj. 4: Further, as Boethius says (In Categ. Arist. i), "accidents
cannot be altered." Now faith is an accident. Therefore the same
faith cannot be at one time living, and at another, lifeless.
_On the contrary,_ A gloss on the words, "Faith without works is dead"
(James 2:20) adds, "by which it lives once more." Therefore faith
which was lifeless and without form hitherto, becomes formed and
_I answer that,_ There have been various opinions on this question.
For some [*William of Auxerre, Sum. Aur. III, iii, 15] have said that
living and lifeless faith are distinct habits, but that when living
faith comes, lifeless faith is done away, and that, in like manner,
when a man sins mortally after having living faith, a new habit of
lifeless faith is infused into him by God. But it seems unfitting
that grace should deprive man of a gift of God by coming to him, and
that a gift of God should be infused into man, on account of a mortal
Consequently others [*Alexander of Hales, Sum. Theol. iii, 64] have
said that living and lifeless faith are indeed distinct habits, but
that, all the same, when living faith comes the habit of lifeless
faith is not taken away, and that it remains together with the habit
of living faith in the same subject. Yet again it seems unreasonable
that the habit of lifeless faith should remain inactive in a person
having living faith.
We must therefore hold differently that living and lifeless faith are
one and the same habit. The reason is that a habit is differentiated
by that which directly pertains to that habit. Now since faith is a
perfection of the intellect, that pertains directly to faith, which
pertains to the intellect. Again, what pertains to the will, does not
pertain directly to faith, so as to be able to differentiate the habit
of faith. But the distinction of living from lifeless faith is in
respect of something pertaining to the will, i.e. charity, and not in
respect of something pertaining to the intellect. Therefore living and
lifeless faith are not distinct habits.
Reply Obj. 1: The saying of the Apostle refers to those imperfect
things from which imperfection is inseparable, for then, when the
perfect comes the imperfect must needs be done away. Thus with the
advent of clear vision, faith is done away, because it is essentially
"of the things that appear not." When, however, imperfection is not
inseparable from the imperfect thing, the same identical thing which
was imperfect becomes perfect. Thus childhood is not essential to man
and consequently the same identical subject who was a child, becomes
a man. Now lifelessness is not essential to faith, but is accidental
thereto as stated above. Therefore lifeless faith itself becomes
Reply Obj. 2: That which makes an animal live is inseparable from an
animal, because it is its substantial form, viz. the soul:
consequently a dead thing cannot become a living thing, and a living
and a dead thing differ specifically. On the other hand that which
gives faith its form, or makes it live, is not essential to faith.
Hence there is no comparison.
Reply Obj. 3: Grace causes faith not only when faith begins anew to
be in a man, but also as long as faith lasts. For it has been said
above (I, Q. 104, A. 1; I-II, Q. 109, A. 9) that God is always
working man's justification, even as the sun is always lighting up
the air. Hence grace is not less effective when it comes to a
believer than when it comes to an unbeliever: since it causes faith
in both, in the former by confirming and perfecting it, in the latter
by creating it anew.
We might also reply that it is accidental, namely on account of the
disposition of the subject, that grace does not cause faith in one
who has it already: just as, on the other hand, a second mortal sin
does not take away grace from one who has already lost it through a
previous mortal sin.
Reply Obj. 4: When living faith becomes lifeless, faith is not
changed, but its subject, the soul, which at one time has faith
without charity, and at another time, with charity.
FIFTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 4, Art. 5]
Whether Faith Is a Virtue?
Objection 1: It would seem that faith is not a virtue. For virtue
is directed to the good, since "it is virtue that makes its subject
good," as the Philosopher states (Ethic. ii, 6). But faith is
directed to the true. Therefore faith is not a virtue.
Obj. 2: Further, infused virtue is more perfect than acquired virtue.
Now faith, on account of its imperfection, is not placed among the
acquired intellectual virtues, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. vi,
3). Much less, therefore, can it be considered an infused virtue.
Obj. 3: Further, living and lifeless faith are the same species, as
stated above (A. 4). Now lifeless faith is not a virtue, since it is
not connected with the other virtues. Therefore neither is living
faith a virtue.
Obj. 4: Further, the gratuitous graces and the fruits are distinct
from the virtues. But faith is numbered among the gratuitous graces
(1 Cor. 12:9) and likewise among the fruits (Gal. 5:23). Therefore
faith is not a virtue.
_On the contrary,_ Man is justified by the virtues, since "justice
is all virtue," as the Philosopher states (Ethic. v, 1). Now man is
justified by faith according to Rom. 5:1: "Being justified therefore
by faith let us have peace," etc. Therefore faith is a virtue.
_I answer that,_ As shown above, it is by human virtue that human
acts are rendered good; hence, any habit that is always the principle
of a good act, may be called a human virtue. Such a habit is living
faith. For since to believe is an act of the intellect assenting to
the truth at the command of the will, two things are required that
this act may be perfect: one of which is that the intellect should
infallibly tend to its object, which is the true; while the other is
that the will should be infallibly directed to the last end, on
account of which it assents to the true: and both of these are to be
found in the act of living faith. For it belongs to the very essence
of faith that the intellect should ever tend to the true, since
nothing false can be the object of faith, as proved above (Q. 1, A.
3): while the effect of charity, which is the form of faith, is that
the soul ever has its will directed to a good end. Therefore living
faith is a virtue.
On the other hand, lifeless faith is not a virtue, because, though
the act of lifeless faith is duly perfect on the part of the
intellect, it has not its due perfection as regards the will: just as
if temperance be in the concupiscible, without prudence being in the
rational part, temperance is not a virtue, as stated above (I-II, Q.
65, A. 1), because the act of temperance requires both an act of
reason, and an act of the concupiscible faculty, even as the act of
faith requires an act of the will, and an act of the intellect.
Reply Obj. 1: The truth is itself the good of the intellect, since it
is its perfection: and consequently faith has a relation to some good
in so far as it directs the intellect to the true. Furthermore, it
has a relation to the good considered as the object of the will,
inasmuch as it is formed by charity.
Reply Obj. 2: The faith of which the Philosopher speaks is based on
human reasoning in a conclusion which does not follow, of necessity,
from its premisses; and which is subject to be false: hence such like
faith is not a virtue. On the other hand, the faith of which we are
speaking is based on the Divine Truth, which is infallible, and
consequently its object cannot be anything false; so that faith of
this kind can be a virtue.
Reply Obj. 3: Living and lifeless faith do not differ specifically,
as though they belonged to different species. But they differ as
perfect and imperfect within the same species. Hence lifeless faith,
being imperfect, does not satisfy the conditions of a perfect virtue,
for "virtue is a kind of perfection" (Phys. vii, text. 18).
Reply Obj. 4: Some say that faith which is numbered among the
gratuitous graces is lifeless faith. But this is said without reason,
since the gratuitous graces, which are mentioned in that passage, are
not common to all the members of the Church: wherefore the Apostle
says: "There are diversities of graces," and again, "To one is given"
this grace and "to another" that. Now lifeless faith is common to all
members of the Church, because its lifelessness is not part of its
substance, if we consider it as a gratuitous gift. We must,
therefore, say that in that passage, faith denotes a certain
excellency of faith, for instance, "constancy in faith," according
to a gloss, or the "word of faith."
Faith is numbered among the fruits, in so far as it gives a certain
pleasure in its act by reason of its certainty, wherefore the gloss
on the fifth chapter to the Galatians, where the fruits are
enumerated, explains faith as being "certainty about the unseen."
SIXTH ARTICLE [II-II, Q. 4, Art. 6]
Whether Faith Is One Virtue?
Objection 1: It would seem that faith is not one. For just as faith
is a gift of God according to Eph. 2:8, so also wisdom and knowledge
are numbered among God's gifts according to Isa. 11:2. Now wisdom and
knowledge differ in this, that wisdom is about eternal things, and
knowledge about temporal things, as Augustine states (De Trin. xii,
14, 15). Since, then, faith is about eternal things, and also about
some temporal things, it seems that faith is not one virtue, but
divided into several parts.
Obj. 2: Further, confession is an act of faith, as stated above (Q.
3, A. 1). Now confession of faith is not one and the same for all:
since what we confess as past, the fathers of old confessed as yet
to come, as appears from Isa. 7:14: "Behold a virgin shall conceive."
Therefore faith is not one.
Obj. 3: Further, faith is common to all believers in Christ. But one
accident cannot be in many subjects. Therefore all cannot have one
_On the contrary,_ The Apostle says (Eph. 4:5): "One Lord, one faith."
_I answer that,_ If we take faith as a habit, we can consider it in
two ways. First on the part of the object, and thus there is one
faith. Because the formal object of faith is the First Truth, by
adhering to which we believe whatever is contained in the faith.
Secondly, on the part of the subject, and thus faith is
differentiated according as it is in various subjects. Now it is
evident that faith, just as any other habit, takes its species from
the formal aspect of its object, but is individualized by its
subject. Hence if we take faith for the habit whereby we believe, it
is one specifically, but differs numerically according to its various
If, on the other hand, we take faith for that which is believed,
then, again, there is one faith, since what is believed by all is one
same thing: for though the things believed, which all agree in
believing, be diverse from one another, yet they are all reduced to
Reply Obj. 1: Temporal matters which are proposed to be believed, do
not belong to the object of faith, except in relation to something
eternal, viz. the First Truth, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 1). Hence
there is one faith of things