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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • FIRST PART (FP: QQ 1-119)
      • Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] Out. Para. 1/2 - THE ACTION OF THE ANGELS ON MAN (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] Out. Para. 1/2 - THE ACTION OF THE ANGELS ON MAN (FOUR ARTICLES)

We now consider the action of the angels on man, and inquire: (1) How
far they can change them by their own natural power; (2) How they are
sent by God to the ministry of men; (3) How they guard and protect men.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] Out. Para. 2/2

Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether an angel can enlighten the human intellect?

(2) Whether he can change man's will?

(3) Whether he can change man's imagination?

(4) Whether he can change man's senses?


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether an angel can enlighten man?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that an angel cannot enlighten man. For man is
enlightened by faith; hence Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. iii) attributes
enlightenment to baptism, as "the sacrament of faith." But faith is
immediately from God, according to Eph. 2:8: "By grace you are saved
through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God."
Therefore man is not enlightened by an angel; but immediately by God.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, on the words, "God hath manifested it to them" (Rm.
1:19), the gloss observes that "not only natural reason availed for the
manifestation of Divine truths to men, but God also revealed them by His
work," that is, by His creature. But both are immediately from God - that
is, natural reason and the creature. Therefore God enlightens man
immediately.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, whoever is enlightened is conscious of being
enlightened. But man is not conscious of being enlightened by angels.
Therefore he is not enlightened by them.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. iv) that the revelation of
Divine things reaches men through the ministry of the angels. But such
revelation is an enlightenment as we have stated (Q[106], A[1]; Q[107],
A[2]). Therefore men are enlightened by the angels.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, Since the order of Divine Providence disposes that lower
things be subject to the actions of higher, as explained above (Q[109],
A[2]); as the inferior angels are enlightened by the superior, so men,
who are inferior to the angels, are enlightened by them.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] Body Para. 2/3

The modes of each of these kinds of enlightenment are in one way alike
and in another way unlike. For, as was shown above (Q[106], A[1]), the
enlightenment which consists in making known Divine truth has two
functions; namely, according as the inferior intellect is strengthened by
the action of the superior intellect, and according as the intelligible
species which are in the superior intellect are proposed to the inferior
so as to be grasped thereby. This takes place in the angels when the
superior angel divides his universal concept of the truth according to
the capacity of the inferior angel, as explained above (Q[106], A[1]).

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] Body Para. 3/3

The human intellect, however, cannot grasp the universal truth itself
unveiled; because its nature requires it to understand by turning to the
phantasms, as above explained (Q[84], A[7]). So the angels propose the
intelligible truth to men under the similitudes of sensible things,
according to what Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. i), that, "It is impossible
for the divine ray to shine on us, otherwise than shrouded by the variety
of the sacred veils." On the other hand, the human intellect as the
inferior, is strengthened by the action of the angelic intellect. And in
these two ways man is enlightened by an angel.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Two dispositions concur in the virtue of faith; first, the
habit of the intellect whereby it is disposed to obey the will tending to
Divine truth. For the intellect assents to the truth of faith, not as
convinced by the reason, but as commanded by the will; hence Augustine
says, "No one believes except willingly." In this respect faith comes
from God alone. Secondly, faith requires that what is to be believed be
proposed to the believer; which is accomplished by man, according to Rm.
10:17, "Faith cometh by hearing"; principally, however, by the angels, by
whom Divine things are revealed to men. Hence the angels have some part
in the enlightenment of faith. Moreover, men are enlightened by the
angels not only concerning what is to be believed; but also as regards
what is to be done.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Natural reason, which is immediately from God, can be
strengthened by an angel, as we have said above. Again, the more the
human intellect is strengthened, so much higher an intelligible truth can
be elicited from the species derived from creatures. Thus man is assisted
by an angel so that he may obtain from creatures a more perfect knowledge
of God.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Intellectual operation and enlightenment can be understood
in two ways. First, on the part of the object understood; thus whoever
understands or is enlightened, knows that he understands or is
enlightened, because he knows that the object is made known to him.
Secondly, on the part of the principle; and thus it does not follow that
whoever understands a truth, knows what the intellect is, which is the
principle of the intellectual operation. In like manner not everyone who
is enlightened by an angel, knows that he is enlightened by him.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the angels can change the will of man?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the angels can change the will of man. For,
upon the text, "Who maketh His angels spirits and His ministers a flame
of fire" (Heb. 1:7), the gloss notes that "they are fire, as being
spiritually fervent, and as burning away our vices." This could not be,
however, unless they changed the will. Therefore the angels can change
the will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Bede says (Super Matth. xv, 11), that, "the devil does
not send wicked thoughts, but kindles them." Damascene, however, says
that he also sends them; for he remarks that "every malicious act and
unclean passion is contrived by the demons and put into men" (De Fide
Orth. ii, 4); in like manner also the good angels introduce and kindle
good thoughts. But this could only be if they changed the will. Therefore
the will is changed by them.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the angel, as above explained, enlightens the human
intellect by means of the phantasms. But as the imagination which serves
the intellect can be changed by an angel, so can the sensitive appetite
which serves the will, because it also is a faculty using a corporeal
organ. Therefore as the angel enlightens the mind, so can he change the
will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, To change the will belongs to God alone, according to
Prov. 21:1: "The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord,
whithersoever He will He shall turn it."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, The will can be changed in two ways. First, from within;
in which way, since the movement of the will is nothing but the
inclination of the will to the thing willed, God alone can thus change
the will, because He gives the power of such an inclination to the
intellectual nature. For as the natural inclination is from God alone Who
gives the nature, so the inclination of the will is from God alone, Who
causes the will.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] Body Para. 2/3

Secondly, the will is moved from without. As regards an angel, this can
be only in one way - by the good apprehended by the intellect. Hence in
as far as anyone may be the cause why anything be apprehended as an
appetible good, so far does he move the will. In this way also God alone
can move the will efficaciously; but an angel and man move the will by
way of persuasion, as above explained (Q[106], A[2]).

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] Body Para. 3/3

In addition to this mode the human will can be moved from without in
another way; namely, by the passion residing in the sensitive appetite:
thus by concupiscence or anger the will is inclined to will something. In
this manner the angels, as being able to rouse these passions, can move
the will, not however by necessity, for the will ever remains free to
consent to, or to resist, the passion.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Those who act as God's ministers, either men or angels, are
said to burn away vices, and to incite to virtue by way of persuasion.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The demon cannot put thoughts in our minds by causing them
from within, since the act of the cogitative faculty is subject to the
will; nevertheless the devil is called the kindler of thoughts, inasmuch
as he incites to thought, by the desire of the things thought of, by way
of persuasion, or by rousing the passions. Damascene calls this kindling
"a putting in" because such a work is accomplished within. But good
thoughts are attributed to a higher principle, namely, God, though they
may be procured by the ministry of the angels.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The human intellect in its present state can understand
only by turning to the phantasms; but the human will can will something
following the judgment of reason rather than the passion of the sensitive
appetite. Hence the comparison does not hold.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether an angel can change man's imagination?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that an angel cannot change man's imagination. For
the phantasy, as is said De Anima iii, is "a motion caused by the sense
in act." But if this motion were caused by an angel, it would not be
caused by the sense in act. Therefore it is contrary to the nature of the
phantasy, which is the act of the imaginative faculty, to be changed by
an angel.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, since the forms in the imagination are spiritual, they
are nobler than the forms existing in sensible matter. But an angel
cannot impress forms upon sensible matter (Q[110], A[2]). Therefore he
cannot impress forms on the imagination, and so he cannot change it.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 12): "One spirit by
intermingling with another can communicate his knowledge to the other
spirit by these images, so that the latter either understands it himself,
or accepts it as understood by the other." But it does not seem that an
angel can be mingled with the human imagination, nor that the imagination
can receive the knowledge of an angel. Therefore it seems that an angel
cannot change the imagination.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, in the imaginative vision man cleaves to the similitudes
of the things as to the things themselves. But in this there is
deception. So as a good angel cannot be the cause of deception, it seems
that he cannot cause the imaginative vision, by changing the imagination.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Those things which are seen in dreams are seen by
imaginative vision. But the angels reveal things in dreams, as appears
from Mt. 1:20;[2]:13,[19] in regard to the angel who appeared to Joseph
in dreams. Therefore an angel can move the imagination.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Both a good and a bad angel by their own natural power
can move the human imagination. This may be explained as follows. For it
was said above (Q[110], A[3]), that corporeal nature obeys the angel as
regards local movement, so that whatever can be caused by the local
movement of bodies is subject to the natural power of the angels. Now it
is manifest that imaginative apparitions are sometimes caused in us by
the local movement of animal spirits and humors. Hence Aristotle says (De
Somn. et Vigil.) [*De Insomniis iii.], when assigning the cause of
visions in dreams, that "when an animal sleeps, the blood descends in
abundance to the sensitive principle, and movements descend with it,"
that is, the impressions left from the movements are preserved in the
animal spirits, "and move the sensitive principle"; so that a certain
appearance ensues, as if the sensitive principle were being then changed
by the external objects themselves. Indeed, the commotion of the spirits
and humors may be so great that such appearances may even occur to those
who are awake, as is seen in mad people, and the like. So, as this
happens by a natural disturbance of the humors, and sometimes also by the
will of man who voluntarily imagines what he previously experienced, so
also the same may be done by the power of a good or a bad angel,
sometimes with alienation from the bodily senses, sometimes without such
alienation.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The first principle of the imagination is from the sense in
act. For we cannot imagine what we have never perceived by the senses,
either wholly or partly; as a man born blind cannot imagine color.
Sometimes, however, the imagination is informed in such a way that the
act of the imaginative movement arises from the impressions preserved
within.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: An angel changes the imagination, not indeed by the
impression of an imaginative form in no way previously received from the
senses (for he cannot make a man born blind imagine color), but by local
movement of the spirits and humors, as above explained.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The commingling of the angelic spirit with the human
imagination is not a mingling of essences, but by reason of an effect
which he produces in the imagination in the way above stated; so that he
shows man what he [the angel] knows, but not in the way he knows.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[3] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: An angel causing an imaginative vision, sometimes
enlightens the intellect at the same time, so that it knows what these
images signify; and then there is not deception. But sometimes by the
angelic operation the similitudes of things only appear in the
imagination; but neither then is deception caused by the angel, but by
the defect in the intellect to whom such things appear. Thus neither was
Christ a cause of deception when He spoke many things to the people in
parables, which He did not explain to them.



Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether an angel can change the human senses?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It seems that an angel cannot change the human senses. For the
sensitive operation is a vital operation. But such an operation does not
come from an extrinsic principle. Therefore the sensitive operation
cannot be caused by an angel.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the sensitive operation is nobler than the nutritive.
But the angel cannot change the nutritive power, nor other natural forms.
Therefore neither can he change the sensitive power.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the senses are naturally moved by the sensible objects.
But an angel cannot change the order of nature (Q[110], A[4]). Therefore
an angel cannot change the senses; but these are changed always by the
sensible object.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The angels who overturned Sodom, "struck the people of
Sodom with blindness or {aorasia}, so that they could not find the door"
(Gn. 19:11). [*It is worth noting that these are the only two passages in
the Greek version where the word {aorasia} appears. It expresses, in
fact, the effect produced on the people of Sodom - namely, dazzling
(French version, "eblouissement"), which the Latin "caecitas" (blindness)
does not necessarily imply.] The same is recorded of the Syrians whom
Eliseus led into Samaria (4 Kgs. 6:18).

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The senses may be changed in a twofold manner; from
without, as when affected by the sensible object: and from within, for we
see that the senses are changed when the spirits and humors are
disturbed; as for example, a sick man's tongue, charged with choleric
humor, tastes everything as bitter, and the like with the other senses.
Now an angel, by his natural power, can work a change in the senses both
ways. For an angel can offer the senses a sensible object from without,
formed by nature or by the angel himself, as when he assumes a body, as
we have said above (Q[51], A[2]). Likewise he can move the spirits and
humors from within, as above remarked, whereby the senses are changed in
various ways.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The principle of the sensitive operation cannot be without
the interior principle which is the sensitive power; but this interior
principle can be moved in many ways by the exterior principle, as above
explained.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: By the interior movement of the spirits and humors an angel
can do something towards changing the act of the nutritive power, and
also of the appetitive and sensitive power, and of any other power using
a corporeal organ.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[111] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: An angel can do nothing outside the entire order of
creatures; but he can outside some particular order of nature, since he
is not subject to that order; thus in some special way an angel can work
a change in the senses outside the common mode of nature.





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