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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT FS Prologue Para. 1/1 - FIRST PART OF THE SECOND PART (FS) (QQ[1]-114)
      • Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] Out. Para. 1/2 - OF THE EXTERNAL CAUSES OF SIN (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] Out. Para. 1/2 - OF THE EXTERNAL CAUSES OF SIN (FOUR ARTICLES)

We must now consider the external causes of sin, and (1) on the part of
God; (2) on the part of the devil; (3) on the part of man.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] Out. Para. 2/2

Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether God is a cause of sin?

(2) Whether the act of sin is from God?

(3) Whether God is the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of
heart?

(4) Whether these things are directed to the salvation of those who are
blinded or hardened?


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether God is a cause of sin?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that God is a cause of sin. For the Apostle says of
certain ones (Rm. 1:28): "God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to
do those things which are not right [Douay: 'convenient']," and a gloss
comments on this by saying that "God works in men's hearts, by inclining
their wills to whatever He wills, whether to good or to evil." Now sin
consists in doing what is not right, and in having a will inclined to
evil. Therefore God is to man a cause of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, it is written (Wis. 14:11): "The creatures of God are
turned to an abomination; and a temptation to the souls of men." But a
temptation usually denotes a provocation to sin. Since therefore
creatures were made by God alone, as was established in the FP, Q[44],
A[1], it seems that God is a cause of sin, by provoking man to sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the cause of the cause is the cause of the effect. Now
God is the cause of the free-will, which itself is the cause of sin.
Therefore God is the cause of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, every evil is opposed to good. But it is not contrary to
God's goodness that He should cause the evil of punishment; since of this
evil it is written (Is. 45:7) that God creates evil, and (Amos 3:6):
"Shall there be evil in the city which God [Vulg.: 'the Lord'] hath not
done?" Therefore it is not incompatible with God's goodness that He
should cause the evil of fault.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Wis. 11:25): "Thou . . . hatest none of
the things which Thou hast made." Now God hates sin, according to Wis.
14:9: "To God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful." Therefore God
is not a cause of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Man is, in two ways, a cause either of his own or of
another's sin. First, directly, namely be inclining his or another's will
to sin; secondly, indirectly, namely be not preventing someone from
sinning. Hence (Ezech. 3:18) it is said to the watchman: "If thou say not
to the wicked: 'Thou shalt surely die' [*Vulg.: "If, when I say to the
wicked, 'Thou shalt surely die,' thou declare it not to him."] . . . I
will require his blood at thy hand." Now God cannot be directly the cause
of sin, either in Himself or in another, since every sin is a departure
from the order which is to God as the end: whereas God inclines and turns
all things to Himself as to their last end, as Dionysius states (Div.
Nom. i): so that it is impossible that He should be either to Himself or
to another the cause of departing from the order which is to Himself.
Therefore He cannot be directly the cause of sin. In like manner neither
can He cause sin indirectly. For it happens that God does not give some
the assistance, whereby they may avoid sin, which assistance were He to
give, they would not sin. But He does all this according to the order of
His wisdom and justice, since He Himself is Wisdom and Justice: so that
if someone sin it is not imputable to Him as though He were the cause of
that sin; even as a pilot is not said to cause the wrecking of the ship,
through not steering the ship, unless he cease to steer while able and
bound to steer. It is therefore evident that God is nowise a cause of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As to the words of the Apostle, the solution is clear from
the text. For if God delivered some up to a reprobate sense, it follows
that they already had a reprobate sense, so as to do what was not right.
Accordingly He is said to deliver them up to a reprobate sense, in so far
as He does not hinder them from following that reprobate sense, even as
we are said to expose a person to danger if we do not protect him. The
saying of Augustine (De Grat. et Lib. Arb. xxi, whence the gloss quoted
is taken) to the effect that "God inclines men's wills to good and evil,"
is to be understood as meaning that He inclines the will directly to
good; and to evil, in so far as He does not hinder it, as stated above.
And yet even this is due as being deserved through a previous sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: When it is said the "creatures of God are turned 'to' an
abomination, and a temptation to the souls of men," the preposition "to"
does not denote causality but sequel [*This is made clear by the Douay
Version: the Latin "factae sunt in abominationem" admits of the
translation "were made to be an abomination," which might imply
causality.]; for God did not make the creatures that they might be an
evil to man; this was the result of man's folly, wherefore the text goes
on to say, "and a snare to the feet of the unwise," who, to wit, in their
folly, use creatures for a purpose other than that for which they were
made.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The effect which proceeds from the middle cause, according
as it is subordinate to the first cause, is reduced to that first cause;
but if it proceed from the middle cause, according as it goes outside the
order of the first cause, it is not reduced to that first cause: thus if
a servant do anything contrary to his master's orders, it is not ascribed
to the master as though he were the cause thereof. In like manner sin,
which the free-will commits against the commandment of God, is not
attributed to God as being its cause.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Punishment is opposed to the good of the person punished,
who is thereby deprived of some good or other: but fault is opposed to
the good of subordination to God; and so it is directly opposed to the
Divine goodness; consequently there is no comparison between fault and
punishment.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the act of sin is from God?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the act of sin is not from God. For Augustine
says (De Perfect. Justit. ii) that "the act of sin is not a thing." Now
whatever is from God is a thing. Therefore the act of sin is not from God.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, man is not said to be the cause of sin, except because
he is the cause of the sinful act: for "no one works, intending evil," as
Dionysius states (Div. Nom. iv). Now God is not a cause of sin, as stated
above (A[1]). Therefore God is not the cause of the act of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, some actions are evil and sinful in their species, as
was shown above (Q[18], AA[2],8). Now whatever is the cause of a thing,
causes whatever belongs to it in respect of its species. If therefore God
caused the act of sin, He would be the cause of sin, which is false, as
was proved above (A[1]). Therefore God is not the cause of the act of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The act of sin is a movement of the free-will. Now "the
will of God is the cause of every movement," as Augustine declares (De
Trin. iii, 4,9). Therefore God's will is the cause of the act of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The act of sin is both a being and an act; and in both
respects it is from God. Because every being, whatever the mode of its
being, must be derived from the First Being, as Dionysius declares (Div.
Nom. v). Again every action is caused by something existing in act, since
nothing produces an action save in so far as it is in act; and every
being in act is reduced to the First Act, viz. God, as to its cause, Who
is act by His Essence. Therefore God is the cause of every action, in so
far as it is an action. But sin denotes a being and an action with a
defect: and this defect is from the created cause, viz. the free-will, as
falling away from the order of the First Agent, viz. God. Consequently
this defect is not reduced to God as its cause, but to the free-will:
even as the defect of limping is reduced to a crooked leg as its cause,
but not to the motive power, which nevertheless causes whatever there is
of movement in the limping. Accordingly God is the cause of the act of
sin: and yet He is not the cause of sin, because He does not cause the
act to have a defect.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: In this passage Augustine calls by the name of "thing,"
that which is a thing simply, viz. substance; for in this sense the act
of sin is not a thing.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Not only the act, but also the defect, is reduced to man as
its cause, which defect consists in man not being subject to Whom he
ought to be, although he does not intend this principally. Wherefore man
is the cause of the sin: while God is the cause of the act, in such a
way, that nowise is He the cause of the defect accompanying the act, so
that He is not the cause of the sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As stated above (Q[72], A[1]), acts and habits do not take
their species from the privation itself, wherein consists the nature of
evil, but from some object, to which that privation is united: and so
this defect which consists in not being from God, belongs to the species
of the act consequently, and not as a specific difference.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether God is the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that God is not the cause of spiritual blindness
and hardness of heart. For Augustine says (Qq. lxxxiii, qu. 3) that God
is not the cause of that which makes man worse. Now man is made worse by
spiritual blindness and hardness of heart. Therefore God is not the cause
of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Fulgentius says (De Dupl. Praedest. i, 19): "God does
not punish what He causes." Now God punishes the hardened heart,
according to Ecclus. 3:27: "A hard heart shall fear evil at the last."
Therefore God is not the cause of hardness of heart.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the same effect is not put down to contrary causes. But
the cause of spiritual blindness is said to be the malice of man,
according to Wis. 2:21: "For their own malice blinded them," and again,
according to 2 Cor. 4:4: "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of
unbelievers": which causes seem to be opposed to God. Therefore God is
not the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Is. 6:10): "Blind the heart of this
people, and make their ears heavy," and Rm. 9:18: "He hath mercy on whom
He will, and whom He will He hardeneth."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, Spiritual blindness and hardness of heart imply two
things. One is the movement of the human mind in cleaving to evil, and
turning away from the Divine light; and as regards this, God is not the
cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart, just as He is not
the cause of sin. The other thing is the withdrawal of grace, the result
of which is that the mind is not enlightened by God to see aright, and
man's heart is not softened to live aright; and as regards this God is
the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] Body Para. 2/3

Now we must consider that God is the universal cause of the enlightening
of souls, according to Jn. 1:9: "That was the true light which
enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world," even as the sun is
the universal cause of the enlightening of bodies, though not in the same
way; for the sun enlightens by necessity of nature, whereas God works
freely, through the order of His wisdom. Now although the sun, so far as
it is concerned, enlightens all bodies, yet if it be encountered by an
obstacle in a body, it leaves it in darkness, as happens to a house whose
window-shutters are closed, although the sun is in no way the cause of
the house being darkened, since it does not act of its own accord in
failing to light up the interior of the house; and the cause of this is
the person who closed the shutters. On the other hand, God, of His own
accord, withholds His grace from those in whom He finds an obstacle: so
that the cause of grace being withheld is not only the man who raises an
obstacle to grace; but God, Who, of His own accord, withholds His grace.
In this way, God is the cause of spiritual blindness, deafness of ear,
and hardness of heart.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] Body Para. 3/3

These differ from one another in respect of the effects of grace, which
both perfects the intellect by the gift of wisdom, and softens the
affections by the fire of charity. And since two of the senses excel in
rendering service to the intellect, viz. sight and hearing, of which the
former assists "discovery," and the latter, "teaching," hence it is that
spiritual "blindness" corresponds to sight, "heaviness of the ears" to
hearing, and "hardness of heart" to the affections.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Blindness and hardheartedness, as regards the withholding
of grace, are punishments, and therefore, in this respect, they make man
no worse. It is because he is already worsened by sin that he incurs
them, even as other punishments.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: This argument considers hardheartedness in so far as it is
a sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Malice is the demeritorious cause of blindness, just as sin
is the cause of punishment: and in this way too, the devil is said to
blind, in so far as he induces man to sin.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether blindness and hardness of heart are directed to the salvation of
those who are blinded and hardened?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that blindness and hardness of heart are always
directed to the salvation of those who are blinded and hardened. For
Augustine says (Enchiridion xi) that "as God is supremely good, He would
nowise allow evil to be done, unless He could draw some good from every
evil." Much more, therefore, does He direct to some good, the evil of
which He Himself is the cause. Now God is the cause of blindness and
hardness of heart, as stated above (A[3]). Therefore they are directed to
the salvation of those who are blinded and hardened.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, it is written (Wis. 1:13) that "God hath no pleasure in
the destruction of the ungodly [*Vulg.: 'God made not death, neither hath
He pleasure in the destruction of the living.']." Now He would seem to
take pleasure in their destruction, if He did not turn their blindness to
their profit: just as a physician would seem to take pleasure in
torturing the invalid, if he did not intend to heal the invalid when he
prescribes a bitter medicine for him. Therefore God turns blindness to
the profit of those who are blinded.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, "God is not a respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). Now He
directs the blinding of some, to their salvation, as in the case of some
of the Jews, who were blinded so as not to believe in Christ, and,
through not believing, to slay Him, and afterwards were seized with
compunction, and converted, as related by Augustine (De Quaest. Evang.
iii). Therefore God turns all blindness to the spiritual welfare of those
who are blinded.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: On the other hand, according to Rm. 3:8, evil should not be done,
that good may ensue. Now blindness is an evil. Therefore God does not
blind some for the sake of their welfare.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Blindness is a kind of preamble to sin. Now sin has a
twofold relation - to one thing directly, viz. to the sinner's
damnation - to another, by reason of God's mercy or providence, viz. that
the sinner may be healed, in so far as God permits some to fall into sin,
that by acknowledging their sin, they may be humbled and converted, as
Augustine states (De Nat. et Grat. xxii). Therefore blindness, of its
very nature, is directed to the damnation of those who are blinded; for
which reason it is accounted an effect of reprobation. But, through God's
mercy, temporary blindness is directed medicinally to the spiritual
welfare of those who are blinded. This mercy, however, is not vouchsafed
to all those who are blinded, but only to the predestinated, to whom "all
things work together unto good" (Rm. 8:28). Therefore as regards some,
blindness is directed to their healing; but as regards others, to their
damnation; as Augustine says (De Quaest. Evang. iii).

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Every evil that God does, or permits to be done, is
directed to some good; yet not always to the good of those in whom the
evil is, but sometimes to the good of others, or of the whole universe:
thus He directs the sin of tyrants to the good of the martyrs, and the
punishment of the lost to the glory of His justice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: God does not take pleasure in the loss of man, as regards
the loss itself, but by reason of His justice, or of the good that ensues
from the loss.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: That God directs the blindness of some to their spiritual
welfare, is due to His mercy; but that the blindness of others is
directed to their loss is due to His justice: and that He vouchsafes His
mercy to some, and not to all, does not make God a respecter of persons,
as explained in the FP, Q[23], A[5], ad 3.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[79] A[4] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1
Reply OBJ 4: Evil of fault must not be done, that good may ensue; but
evil of punishment must be inflicted for the sake of good.





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