Table of Contents | Words: Alphabetical - Frequency - Inverse - Length - Statistics | Help | IntraText Library
St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

IntraText CT - Text

  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF SUPERSTITION IN DIVINATIONS (EIGHT ARTICLES)
Previous - Next

Click here to hide the links to concordance


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF SUPERSTITION IN DIVINATIONS (EIGHT ARTICLES)

We must now consider superstition in divinations, under which head there
are eight points of inquiry:

(1) Whether divination is a sin?

(2) Whether it is a species of superstition?

(3) Of the species of divination;

(4) Of divination by means of demons;

(5) Of divination by the stars;

(6) Of divination by dreams;

(7) Of divination by auguries and like observances;

(8) Of divination by lots.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether divination is a sin?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that divination is not a sin. Divination is derived
from something "divine": and things that are divine pertain to holiness
rather than to sin. Therefore it seems that divination is not a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 1): "Who dares to say
that learning is an evil?" and again: "I could nowise admit that
intelligence can be an evil." But some arts are divinatory, as the
Philosopher states (De Memor. i): and divination itself would seem to
pertain to a certain intelligence of the truth. Therefore it seems that
divination is not a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, there is no natural inclination to evil; because nature
inclines only to its like. But men by natural inclination seek to
foreknow future events; and this belongs to divination. Therefore
divination is not a sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Dt. 18:10,11): "Neither let there be
found among you . . . any one that consulteth pythonic spirits, or
fortune tellers": and it is stated in the Decretals (26, qu. v, can. Qui
divinationes): "Those who seek for divinations shall be liable to a
penance of five years' duration, according to the fixed grades of
penance."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Divination denotes a foretelling of the future. The
future may be foreknown in two ways: first in its causes, secondly in
itself. Now the causes of the future are threefold: for some produce
their effects, of necessity and always; and such like future effects can
be foreknown and foretold with certainty, from considering their causes,
even as astrologers foretell a coming eclipse. Other causes produce their
effects, not of necessity and always, but for the most part, yet they
rarely fail: and from such like causes their future effects can be
foreknown, not indeed with certainty, but by a kind of conjecture, even
as astrologers by considering the stars can foreknow and foretell things
concerning rains and droughts, and physicians, concerning health and
death. Again, other causes, considered in themselves, are indifferent;
and this is chiefly the case in the rational powers, which stand in
relation to opposites, according to the Philosopher [*Metaph. viii,
2,5,8]. Such like effects, as also those which ensue from natural causes
by chance and in the minority of instances, cannot be foreknown from a
consideration of their causes, because these causes have no determinate
inclination to produce these effects. Consequently such like effects
cannot be foreknown unless they be considered in themselves. Now man
cannot consider these effects in themselves except when they are present,
as when he sees Socrates running or walking: the consideration of such
things in themselves before they occur is proper to God, Who alone in His
eternity sees the future as though it were present, as stated in the FP,
Q[14], A[13]; FP, Q[57], A[3]; FP, Q[86], A[4]. Hence it is written (Is.
41:23): "Show the things that are to come hereafter, and we shall know
that ye are gods." Therefore if anyone presume to foreknow or foretell
such like future things by any means whatever, except by divine
revelation, he manifestly usurps what belongs to God. It is for this
reason that certain men are called divines: wherefore Isidore says (Etym.
viii, 9): "They are called divines, as though they were full of God. For
they pretend to be filled with the Godhead, and by a deceitful fraud they
forecast the future to men."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] Body Para. 2/2

Accordingly it is not called divination, if a man foretells things that
happen of necessity, or in the majority of instances, for the like can be
foreknown by human reason: nor again if anyone knows other contingent
future things, through divine revelation: for then he does not divine,
i.e. cause something divine, but rather receives something divine. Then
only is a man said to divine, when he usurps to himself, in an undue
manner, the foretelling of future events: and this is manifestly a sin.
Consequently divination is always a sin; and for this reason Jerome says
in his commentary on Mich. 3:9, seqq. that "divination is always taken
in an evil sense."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Divination takes its name not from a rightly ordered share
of something divine, but from an undue usurpation thereof, as stated
above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: There are certain arts for the foreknowledge of future
events that occur of necessity or frequently, and these do not pertain to
divination. But there are no true arts or sciences for the knowledge of
other future events, but only vain inventions of the devil's deceit, as
Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxi, 8).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Man has a natural inclination to know the future by human
means, but not by the undue means of divination.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether divination is a species of superstition?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that divination is not a species of superstition.
The same thing cannot be a species of diverse genera. Now divination is
apparently a species of curiosity, according to Augustine (De Vera Relig.
xxxviii) [*Cf. De Doctr. Christ. ii, 23,24; De Divin. Daem. 3]. Therefore
it is not, seemingly, a species of superstition.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, just as religion is due worship, so is superstition
undue worship. But divination does not seem to pertain to undue worship.
Therefore it does not pertain to superstition.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, superstition is opposed to religion. But in true
religion nothing is to be found corresponding as a contrary to
divination. Therefore divination is not a species of superstition.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Origen says in his Peri Archon [*The quotation is from
his sixteenth homily on the Book of Numbers]: "There is an operation of
the demons in the administering of foreknowledge, comprised, seemingly,
under the head of certain arts exercised by those who have enslaved
themselves to the demons, by means of lots, omens, or the observance of
shadows. I doubt not that all these things are done by the operation of
the demons." Now, according to Augustine (De Doctr. Christ. ii, 20,23),
"whatever results from fellowship between demons and men is
superstitious." Therefore divination is a species of superstition.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (A[1]; QQ[92],94), superstition denotes
undue divine worship. Now a thing pertains to the worship of God in two
ways: in one way, it is something offered to God; as a sacrifice, an
oblation, or something of the kind: in another way, it is something
divine that is assumed, as stated above with regard to an oath (Q[89],
A[4], ad 2). Wherefore superstition includes not only idolatrous
sacrifices offered to demons, but also recourse to the help of the demons
for the purpose of doing or knowing something. But all divination results
from the demons' operation, either because the demons are expressly
invoked that the future may be made known, or because the demons thrust
themselves into futile searchings of the future, in order to entangle
men's minds with vain conceits. Of this kind of vanity it is written (Ps.
39:5): "Who hath not regard to vanities and lying follies." Now it is
vain to seek knowledge of the future, when one tries to get it from a
source whence it cannot be foreknown. Therefore it is manifest that
divination is a species of superstition.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Divination is a kind of curiosity with regard to the end in
view, which is foreknowledge of the future; but it is a kind of
superstition as regards the mode of operation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: This kind of divination pertains to the worship of the
demons, inasmuch as one enters into a compact, tacit or express with the
demons.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/3

Reply OBJ 3: In the New Law man's mind is restrained from solicitude
about temporal things: wherefore the New Law contains no institution for
the foreknowledge of future events in temporal matters. On the other hand
in the Old Law, which contained earthly promises, there were
consultations about the future in connection with religious matters.
Hence where it is written (Is. 8:19): "And when they shall say to you:
Seek of pythons and of diviners, who mutter in their enchantments," it is
added by way of answer: "Should not the people seek of their God, a
vision for the living and the dead? [*Vulg.: 'seek of their God, for the
living of the dead?']"

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 2/3

In the New Testament, however, there were some possessed of the spirit
of prophecy, who foretold many things about future events.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 3/3

In the New Testament, however, there were some possessed of the spirit
of prophecy, who foretold many things about future events.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether we ought to distinguish several species of divination?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that we should not distinguish several species of
divination. Where the formality of sin is the same, there are not
seemingly several species of sin. Now there is one formality of sin in
all divinations, since they consist in entering into compact with the
demons in order to know the future. Therefore there are not several
species of divination.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, a human act takes it species from its end, as stated
above (FS, Q[1], A[3]; FS, Q[18], A[6]). But all divination is directed
to one end, namely, the foretelling of the future. Therefore all
divinations are of one species.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, signs do not vary the species of a sin, for whether one
detracts by word writing or gestures, it is the same species of sin. Now
divinations seem to differ merely according to the various signs whence
the foreknowledge of the future is derived. Therefore there are not
several species of divination.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Isidore enumerates various species of divination (Etym.
viii, 9).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] Body Para. 1/4

I answer that, As stated above (A[2]), all divinations seek to acquire
foreknowledge of future events, by means of some counsel and help of a
demon, who is either expressly called upon to give his help, or else
thrusts himself in secretly, in order to foretell certain future things
unknown to men, but known to him in such manners as have been explained
in the FP, Q[57], A[3]. When demons are expressly invoked, they are wont
to foretell the future in many ways. Sometimes they offer themselves to
human sight and hearing by mock apparitions in order to foretell the
future: and this species is called "prestigiation" because man's eyes are
blindfolded [praestringuntur]. Sometimes they make use of dreams, and
this is called "divination by dreams": sometimes they employ apparitions
or utterances of the dead, and this species is called "necromancy," for
as Isidore observes (Etym. viii) in Greek, {nekron} "means dead and
{manteia} divination, because after certain incantations and the
sprinkling of blood, the dead seem to come to life, to divine and to
answer questions." Sometimes they foretell the future through living men,
as in the case of those who are possessed: this is divination by
"pythons," of whom Isidore says that "pythons are so called from Pythius
Apollo, who was said to be the inventor of divination." Sometimes they
foretell the future by means of shapes or signs which appear in inanimate
beings. If these signs appear in some earthly body such as wood, iron or
polished stone, it is called "geomancy," if in water "hydromancy," if in
the air "aeromancy," if in fire "pyromancy," if in the entrails of
animals sacrificed on the altars of demons, "aruspicy."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] Body Para. 2/4

The divination which is practiced without express invocation of the
demons is of two kinds. The first is when, with a view to obtain
knowledge of the future, we take observations in the disposition of
certain things. If one endeavor to know the future by observing the
position and movements of the stars, this belongs to "astrologers," who
are also called "genethliacs," because they take note of the days on
which people are born. If one observe the movements and cries of birds or
of any animals, or the sneezing of men, or the sudden movements of limbs,
this belongs in general to "augury," which is so called from the
chattering of birds [avium garritu], just as "auspice" is derived from
watching birds [avium inspectione]. These are chiefly wont to be observed
in birds, the former by the ear, the latter by the eye. If, however,
these observations have for their object men's words uttered
unintentionally, which someone twist so as to apply to the future that he
wishes to foreknow, then it is called an "omen": and as Valerius Maximus
[*De Dict. Fact. Memor. i, 5] remarks, "the observing of omens has a
touch of religion mingled with it, for it is believed to be founded not
on a chance movement, but on divine providence. It was thus that when the
Romans were deliberating whether they would change their position, a
centurion happened to exclaim at the time: 'Standard-bearer, fix the
banner, we had best stand here': and on hearing these words they took
them as an omen, and abandoned their intention of advancing further." If,
however, the observation regards the dispositions, that occur to the eye,
of figures in certain bodies, there will be another species of
divination: for the divination that is taken from observing the lines of
the hand is called "chiromancy," i.e. divination of the hand (because
{cheir} is the Greek for hand): while the divination which is taken from
signs appearing in the shoulder-blades of an animal is called
"spatulamancy."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] Body Para. 3/4

To this second species of divination, which is without express
invocation of the demons, belongs that which is practiced by observing
certain things done seriously by men in the research of the occult,
whether by drawing lots, which is called "geomancy"; or by observing the
shapes resulting from molten lead poured into water; or by observing
which of several sheets of paper, with or without writing upon them, a
person may happen to draw; or by holding out several unequal sticks and
noting who takes the greater or the lesser. or by throwing dice, and
observing who throws the highest score; or by observing what catches the
eye when one opens a book, all of which are named "sortilege."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] Body Para. 4/4

Accordingly it is clear that there are three kinds of divination. The
first is when the demons are invoked openly, this comes under the head of
"necromancy"; the second is merely an observation of the disposition or
movement of some other being, and this belongs to "augury"; while the
third consists in doing something in order to discover the occult; and
this belongs to "sortilege." Under each of these many others are
contained, as explained above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: In all the aforesaid there is the same general, but not the
same special, character of sin: for it is much more grievous to invoke
the demons than to do things that deserve the demons' interference.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Knowledge of the future or of the occult is the ultimate
end whence divination takes its general formality. But the various
species are distinguished by their proper objects or matters, according
as the knowledge of the occult is sought in various things.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The things observed by diviners are considered by them, not
as signs expressing what they already know, as happens in detraction, but
as principles of knowledge. Now it is evident that diversity of
principles diversifies the species, even in demonstrative sciences.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether divination practiced by invoking the demons is unlawful?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that divination practiced by invoking the demons is
not unlawful. Christ did nothing unlawful, according to 1 Pt. 2:22, "Who
did no sin." Yet our Lord asked the demon: "What is thy name?" and the
latter replied: "My name is Legion, for we are many" (Mk. 5:9). Therefore
it seems lawful to question the demons about the occult.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the souls of the saints do not encourage those who ask
unlawfully. Yet Samuel appeared to Saul when the latter inquired of the
woman that had a divining spirit, concerning the issue of the coming war
(1 Kgs. 28:8, sqq.). Therefore the divination that consists in
questioning demons is not unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, it seems lawful to seek the truth from one who knows, if
it be useful to know it. But it is sometimes useful to know what is
hidden from us, and can be known through the demons, as in the discovery
of thefts. Therefore divination by questioning demons is not unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Dt. 18:10,11): "Neither let there be
found among you . . . anyone that consulteth soothsayers . . . nor . . .
that consulteth pythonic spirits."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, All divination by invoking demons is unlawful for two
reasons. The first is gathered from the principle of divination, which is
a compact made expressly with a demon by the very fact of invoking him.
This is altogether unlawful; wherefore it is written against certain
persons (Is. 28:15): "You have said: We have entered into a league with
death, and we have made a covenant with hell." And still more grievous
would it be if sacrifice were offered or reverence paid to the demon
invoked. The second reason is gathered from the result. For the demon who
intends man's perdition endeavors, by his answers, even though he
sometimes tells the truth, to accustom men to believe him, and so to lead
him on to something prejudicial to the salvation of mankind. Hence
Athanasius, commenting on the words of Lk. 4:35, "He rebuked him, saying:
Hold thy peace," says: "Although the demon confessed the truth, Christ
put a stop to his speech, lest together with the truth he should publish
his wickedness and accustom us to care little for such things, however
much he may seem to speak the truth. For it is wicked, while we have the
divine Scriptures, to seek knowledge from the demons."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: According to Bede's commentary on Lk. 8:30, "Our Lord
inquired, not through ignorance, but in order that the disease, which he
tolerated, being made public, the power of the Healer might shine forth
more graciously." Now it is one thing to question a demon who comes to us
of his own accord (and it is lawful to do so at times for the good of
others, especially when he can be compelled, by the power of God, to tell
the truth) and another to invoke a demon in order to gain from him
knowledge of things hidden from us.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: According to Augustine (Ad Simplic. ii, 3), "there is
nothing absurd in believing that the spirit of the just man, being about
to smite the king with the divine sentence, was permitted to appear to
him, not by the sway of magic art or power, but by some occult
dispensation of which neither the witch nor Saul was aware. Or else the
spirit of Samuel was not in reality aroused from his rest, but some
phantom or mock apparition formed by the machinations of the devil, and
styled by Scripture under the name of Samuel, just as the images of
things are wont to be called by the names of those things."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: No temporal utility can compare with the harm to spiritual
health that results from the research of the unknown by invoking the
demon.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether divination by the stars is unlawful?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that divination by the stars is not unlawful. It is
lawful to foretell effects by observing their causes: thus a physician
foretells death from the disposition of the disease. Now the heavenly
bodies are the cause of what takes place in the world, according to
Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv). Therefore divination by the stars is not
unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, human science originates from experiments, according to
the Philosopher (Metaph. i, 1). Now it has been discovered through many
experiments that the observation of the stars is a means whereby some
future events may be known beforehand. Therefore it would seem not
unlawful to make use of this kind of divination.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, divination is declared to be unlawful in so far as it is
based on a compact made with the demons. But divination by the stars
contains nothing of the kind, but merely an observation of God's
creatures. Therefore it would seem that this species of divination is not
unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (Confess. iv, 3): "Those astrologers
whom they call mathematicians, I consulted without scruple; because they
seemed to use no sacrifice, nor to pray to any spirit for their
divinations which art, however, Christian and true piety rejects and
condemns."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Body Para. 1/7

I answer that, As stated above (AA[1],2), the operation of the demon
thrusts itself into those divinations which are based on false and vain
opinions, in order that man's mind may become entangled in vanity and
falsehood. Now one makes use of a vain and false opinion if, by observing
the stars, one desires to foreknow the future that cannot be forecast by
their means. Wherefore we must consider what things can be foreknown by
observing the stars: and it is evident that those things which happen of
necessity can be foreknown by this mean,: even so astrologers forecast a
future eclipse.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Body Para. 2/7

However, with regard to the foreknowledge of future events acquired by
observing the stars there have been various opinions. For some have
stated that the stars signify rather than cause the things foretold by
means of their observation. But this is an unreasonable statement: since
every corporeal sign is either the effect of that for which it stands
(thus smoke signifies fire whereby it is caused), or it proceeds from the
same cause, so that by signifying the cause, in consequence it signifies
the effect (thus a rainbow is sometimes a sign of fair weather, in so far
as its cause is the cause of fair weather). Now it cannot be said that
the dispositions and movements of the heavenly bodies are the effect of
future events; nor again can they be ascribed to some common higher cause
of a corporeal nature, although they are referable to a common higher
cause, which is divine providence. on the contrary the appointment of the
movements and positions of the heavenly bodies by divine providence is on
a different principle from the appointment of the occurrence of future
contingencies, because the former are appointed on a principle of
necessity, so that they always occur in the same way, whereas the latter
are appointed on a principle of contingency, so that the manner of their
occurrence is variable. Consequently it is impossible to acquire
foreknowledge of the future from an observation of the stars, except in
so far as effects can be foreknown from their causes.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Body Para. 3/7

Now two kinds of effects escape the causality of heavenly bodies. In the
first place all effects that occur accidentally, whether in human affairs
or in the natural order, since, as it is proved in Metaph. vi [*Ed. Did.
v, 3], an accidental being has no cause, least of all a natural cause,
such as is the power of a heavenly body, because what occurs
accidentally, neither is a "being" properly speaking, nor is "one" - for
instance, that an earthquake occur when a stone falls, or that a treasure
be discovered when a man digs a grave - for these and like occurrences
are not one thing, but are simply several things. Whereas the operation
of nature has always some one thing for its term, just as it proceeds
from some one principle, which is the form of a natural thing.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Body Para. 4/7

In the second place, acts of the free-will, which is the faculty of will
and reason, escape the causality of heavenly bodies. For the intellect or
reason is not a body, nor the act of a bodily organ, and consequently
neither is the will, since it is in the reason, as the Philosopher shows
(De Anima iii, 4,9). Now no body can make an impression on an incorporeal
body. Wherefore it is impossible for heavenly bodies to make a direct
impression on the intellect and will: for this would be to deny the
difference between intellect and sense, with which position Aristotle
reproaches (De Anima iii, 3) those who held that "such is the will of
man, as is the day which the father of men and of gods," i.e. the sun or
the heavens, "brings on" [*Odyssey xviii, 135].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Body Para. 5/7

Hence the heavenly bodies cannot be the direct cause of the free-will's
operations. Nevertheless they can be a dispositive cause of an
inclination to those operations, in so far as they make an impression on
the human body, and consequently on the sensitive powers which are acts
of bodily organs having an inclination for human acts. Since, however,
the sensitive powers obey reason, as the Philosopher shows (De Anima iii,
11; Ethic. i, 13), this does not impose any necessity on the free-will,
and man is able, by his reason, to act counter to the inclination of the
heavenly bodies.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Body Para. 6/7

Accordingly if anyone take observation of the stars in order to foreknow
casual or fortuitous future events, or to know with certitude future
human actions, his conduct is based on a false and vain opinion; and so
the operation of the demon introduces itself therein, wherefore it will
be a superstitious and unlawful divination. On the other hand if one were
to apply the observation of the stars in order to foreknow those future
things that are caused by heavenly bodies, for instance, drought or rain
and so forth, it will be neither an unlawful nor a superstitious
divination.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] Body Para. 7/7

Wherefore the Reply to the First Objection is evident.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: That astrologers not unfrequently forecast the truth by
observing the stars may be explained in two ways. First, because a great
number of men follow their bodily passions, so that their actions are for
the most part disposed in accordance with the inclination of the heavenly
bodies: while there are few, namely, the wise alone, who moderate these
inclinations by their reason. The result is that astrologers in many
cases foretell the truth, especially in public occurrences which depend
on the multitude. Secondly, because of the interference of the demons.
Hence Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ii, 17): "When astrologers tell the
truth, it must be allowed that this is due to an instinct that, unknown
to man, lies hidden in his mind. And since this happens through the
action of unclean and lying spirits who desire to deceive man for they
are permitted to know certain things about temporal affairs." Wherefore
he concludes: "Thus a good Christian should beware of astrologers, and of
all impious diviners, especially of those who tell the truth, lest his
soul become the dupe of the demons and by making a compact of partnership
with them enmesh itself in their fellowship."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

This suffices for the Reply to the Third Objection.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether divination by dreams is unlawful?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that divination by dreams is not unlawful. It is
not unlawful to make use of divine instruction. Now men are instructed by
God in dreams, for it is written (Job 33:15,16): "By a dream in a vision
by night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, and they are sleeping in
their beds, then He," God to wit, "openeth the ears of men, and teaching
instructeth them in what they are to learn." Therefore it is not unlawful
to make use of divination by dreams.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, those who interpret dreams, properly speaking, make use
of divination by dreams. Now we read of holy men interpreting dreams:
thus Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh's butler and of his chief
baker (Gn. 40), and Daniel interpreted the dream of the king of Babylon
(Dan. 2,4). Therefore divination by dreams is not unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, it is unreasonable to deny the common experiences of
men. Now it is the experience of all that dreams are significative of the
future. Therefore it is useless to deny the efficacy of dreams for the
purpose of divination, and it is lawful to listen to them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Dt. 18:10): "Neither let there be found
among you any one that . . . observeth dreams."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Body Para. 1/5

I answer that, As stated above (AA[2],6), divination is superstitious
and unlawful when it is based on a false opinion. Wherefore we must
consider what is true in the matter of foreknowing the future from
dreams. Now dreams are sometimes the cause of future occurrences; for
instance, when a person's mind becomes anxious through what it has seen
in a dream and is thereby led to do something or avoid something: while
sometimes dreams are signs of future happenings, in so far as they are
referable to some common cause of both dreams and future occurrences, and
in this way the future is frequently known from dreams. We must, then,
consider what is the cause of dreams, and whether it can be the cause of
future occurrences, or be cognizant of them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Body Para. 2/5

Accordingly it is to be observed that the cause of dreams is sometimes
in us and sometimes outside us. The inward cause of dreams is twofold:
one regards the soul, in so far as those things which have occupied a
man's thoughts and affections while awake recur to his imagination while
asleep. A such like cause of dreams is not a cause of future occurrences,
so that dreams of this kind are related accidentally to future
occurrences, and if at any time they concur it will be by chance. But
sometimes the inward cause of dreams regards the body: because the inward
disposition of the body leads to the formation of a movement in the
imagination consistent with that disposition; thus a man in whom there is
abundance of cold humors dreams that he is in the water or snow: and for
this reason physicians say that we should take note of dreams in order to
discover internal dispositions.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Body Para. 3/5

In like manner the outward cause of dreams is twofold, corporal and
spiritual. It is corporal in so far as the sleeper's imagination is
affected either by the surrounding air, or through an impression of a
heavenly body, so that certain images appear to the sleeper, in keeping
with the disposition of the heavenly bodies. The spiritual cause is
sometimes referable to God, Who reveals certain things to men in their
dreams by the ministry of the angels, according Num. 12:6, "If there be
among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision, or I
will speak to him in a dream." Sometimes, however, it is due to the
action of the demons that certain images appear to persons in their
sleep, and by this means they, at times, reveal certain future things to
those who have entered into an unlawful compact with them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Body Para. 4/5

Accordingly we must say that there is no unlawful divination in making
use of dreams for the foreknowledge of the future, so long as those
dreams are due to divine revelation, or to some natural cause inward or
outward, and so far as the efficacy of that cause extends. But it will be
an unlawful and superstitious divination if it be caused by a revelation
of the demons, with whom a compact has been made, whether explicit,
through their being invoked for the purpose, or implicit, through the
divination extending beyond its possible limits.
Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[6] Body Para. 5/5

This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether divination by auguries, omens, and by like observations of
external things is unlawful?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that divination by auguries, omens, and by like
observations of external things is not unlawful. If it were unlawful holy
men would not make use thereof. Now we read of Joseph that he paid
attention to auguries, for it is related (Gn. 44:5) that Joseph's steward
said: "The cup which you have stolen is that in which my lord drinketh
and in which he is wont to divine [augurari]": and he himself afterwards
said to his brethren (Gn. 44:15): "Know you not that there is no one like
me in the science of divining?" Therefore it is not unlawful to make use
of this kind of divination.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, birds naturally know certain things regarding future
occurrences of the seasons, according to Jer. 8:7, "The kite in the air
hath known her time; the turtle, the swallow, and the stork have observed
the time of their coming." Now natural knowledge is infallible and comes
from God. Therefore it seems not unlawful to make use of the birds'
knowledge in order to know the future, and this is divination by augury.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Gedeon is numbered among the saints (Heb. 11:32). Yet
Gedeon made use of an omen, when he listened to the relation and
interpreting of a dream (Judges 7:15): and Eliezer, Abraham's servant,
acted in like manner (Gn. 24). Therefore it seems that this kind of
divination is not unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Dt. 18:10): "Neither let there be found
among you anyone . . . that observeth omens."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, The movements or cries of birds, and whatever
dispositions one may consider in such things, are manifestly not the
cause of future events: wherefore the future cannot be known therefrom as
from its cause. It follows therefore that if anything future can be known
from them, it will be because the causes from which they proceed are also
the causes of future occurrences or are cognizant of them. Now the cause
of dumb animals' actions is a certain instinct whereby they are inclined
by a natural movement, for they are not masters of their actions. This
instinct may proceed from a twofold cause. In the first place it may be
due to a bodily cause. For since dumb animals have naught but a sensitive
soul, every power of which is the act of a bodily organ, their soul is
subject to the disposition of surrounding bodies, and primarily to that
of the heavenly bodies. Hence nothing prevents some of their actions from
being signs of the future, in so far as they are conformed to the
dispositions of the heavenly bodies and of the surrounding air, to which
certain future events are due. Yet in this matter we must observe two
things: first, that such observations must not be applied to the
foreknowledge of future things other than those which can be foreknown
from the movements of heavenly bodies, as stated above (AA[5],6):
secondly, that they be not applied to other matters than those which in
some way may have reference to these animals (since they acquire through
the heavenly bodies a certain natural knowledge and instinct about things necessary for their life - such as changes resulting from rain and wind
and so forth).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] Body Para. 2/3

In the second place, this instinct is produced by a spiritual cause,
namely, either by God, as may be seen in the dove that descended upon
Christ, the raven that fed Elias, and the whale that swallowed and
vomited Jonas, or by demons, who make use of these actions of dumb
animals in order to entangle our minds with vain opinions. This seems to
be true of all such like things; except omens, because human words which
are taken for an omen are not subject to the disposition of the stars,
yet are they ordered according to divine providence and sometimes
according to the action of the demons.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] Body Para. 3/3

Accordingly we must say that all such like divinations are superstitious
and unlawful, if they be extended beyond the limits set according to the
order of nature or of divine providence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: According to Augustine [*QQ. in Genes., qu. cxlv], when
Joseph said that there was no one like him in the science of divining, he
spoke in joke and not seriously, referring perhaps to the common opinion
about him: in this sense also spoke his steward.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The passage quoted refers to the knowledge that birds have
about things concerning them; and in order to know these things it is not
unlawful to observe their cries and movements: thus from the frequent
cawing of crows one might say that it will rain soon.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[7] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Gedeon listened to the recital and interpretation of a
dream, seeing therein an omen, ordered by divine providence for his
instruction. In like manner Eliezer listened to the damsel's words,
having previously prayed to God.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether divination by drawing lots is unlawful?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that divination by drawing lots is not unlawful,
because a gloss of Augustine on Ps. 30:16, "My lots are in Thy hands,"
says: "It is not wrong to cast lots, for it is a means of ascertaining
the divine will when a man is in doubt."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: There is, seemingly, nothing unlawful in the observances which
the Scriptures relate as being practiced by holy men. Now both in the Old
and in the New Testament we find holy men practicing the casting of lots.
For it is related (Jos. 7:14, sqq.) that Josue, at the Lord's command,
pronounced sentence by lot on Achan who had stolen of the anathema. Again
Saul, by drawing lots, found that his son Jonathan had eaten honey (1
Kgs. 14:58, sqq.): Jonas, when fleeing from the face of the Lord, was
discovered and thrown into the sea (Jonas 1:7, sqq.): Zacharias was
chosen by lot to offer incense (Lk. 1:9): and the apostles by drawing
lots elected Matthias to the apostleship (Acts 1:26). Therefore it would
seem that divination by lots is not unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, fighting with the fists, or "monomachy," i.e. single
combat as it is called, and trial by fire and water, which are called
"popular" trials, seem to come under the head of sortilege, because
something unknown is sought by their means. Yet these practices seem to
be lawful, because David is related to have engaged in single combat with
the Philistine (1 Kgs. 17:32, sqq.). Therefore it would seem that
divination by lot is not unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written in the Decretals (XXVI, qu. v, can.
Sortes): "We decree that the casting of lots, by which means you make up
your mind in all your undertakings, and which the Fathers have condemned,
is nothing but divination and witchcraft. For which reason we wish them
to be condemned altogether, and henceforth not to be mentioned among
Christians, and we forbid the practice thereof under pain of anathema."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Body Para. 1/7

I answer that, As stated above (A[3]), sortilege consists, properly
speaking, in doing something, that by observing the result one may come
to the knowledge of something unknown. If by casting lots one seeks to
know what is to be given to whom, whether it be a possession, an honor, a
dignity, a punishment, or some action or other, it is called "sortilege
of allotment"; if one seeks to know what ought to be done, it is called
"sortilege of consultation"; if one seeks to know what is going to
happen, it is called "sortilege of divination." Now the actions of man
that are required for sortilege and their results are not subject to the
dispositions of the stars. Wherefore if anyone practicing sortilege is so
minded as though the human acts requisite for sortilege depended for
their result on the dispositions of the stars, his opinion is vain and
false, and consequently is not free from the interference of the demons,
so that a divination of this kind is superstitious and unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Body Para. 2/7

Apart from this cause, however, the result of sortilegious acts must
needs be ascribed to chance, or to some directing spiritual cause. If we
ascribe it to chance, and this can only take place in "sortilege of
allotment," it does not seem to imply any vice other than vanity, as in
the case of persons who, being unable to agree upon the division of
something or other, are willing to draw lots for its division, thus
leaving to chance what portion each is to receive.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Body Para. 3/7

If, on the other hand, the decision by lot be left to a spiritual cause,
it is sometimes ascribed to demons. Thus we read (Ezech. 21:21) that "the
king of Babylon stood in the highway, at the head of two ways, seeking
divination, shuffling arrows; he inquired of the idols, and consulted
entrails": sortilege of this kind is unlawful, and forbidden by the
canons.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Body Para. 4/7

Sometimes, however, the decision is left to God, according to Prov.
16:33, "Lots are cast into the lap, but they are disposed of by the
Lord": sortilege of this kind is not wrong in itself, as Augustine
declares [*Enarr. ii in Ps. xxx, serm. 2; cf. OBJ[1]].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Body Para. 5/7

Yet this may happen to be sinful in four ways. First, if one have
recourse to lots without any necessity: for this would seem to amount to
tempting God. Hence Ambrose, commenting on the words of Lk. 1:8, says:
"He that is chosen by lot is not bound by the judgment of men." Secondly,
if even in a case of necessity one were to have recourse to lots without
reverence. Hence, on the Acts of the Apostles, Bede says (Super Act.
Apost. i): "But if anyone, compelled by necessity, thinks that he ought,
after the apostles' example, to consult God by casting lots, let him take
note that the apostles themselves did not do so, except after calling
together the assembly of the brethren and pouring forth prayer to God."
Thirdly, if the Divine oracles be misapplied to earthly business. Hence
Augustine says (ad inquisit. Januar. ii; Ep. lv): "Those who tell
fortunes from the Gospel pages, though it is to be hoped that they do so
rather than have recourse to consulting the demons, yet does this custom
also displease me, that anyone should wish to apply the Divine oracles to
worldly matters and to the vain things of this life." Fourthly, if anyone
resort to the drawing of lots in ecclesiastical elections, which should
be carried out by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Wherefore, as Bede
says (Super Act. Apost. i): "Before Pentecost the ordination of Matthias
was decided by lot," because as yet the fulness of the Holy Ghost was not
yet poured forth into the Church: "whereas the same deacons were ordained
not by lot but by the choice of the disciples." It is different with
earthly honors, which are directed to the disposal of earthly things: in
elections of this kind men frequently have recourse to lots, even as in
the distribution of earthly possessions.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Body Para. 6/7

If, however, there be urgent necessity it is lawful to seek the divine
judgment by casting lots, provided due reverence be observed. Hence
Augustine says (Ep. ad Honor. ccxxviii), "If, at a time of persecution,
the ministers of God do not agree as to which of them is to remain at his
post lest all should flee, and which of them is to flee, lest all die and
the Church be forsaken, should there be no other means of coming to an
agreement, so far as I can see, they must be chosen by lot." Again he
says (De Doctr. Christ. xxviii): "If thou aboundest in that which it
behooves thee to give to him who hath not, and which cannot be given to
two; should two come to you, neither of whom surpasses the other either
in need or in some claim on thee, thou couldst not act more justly than
in choosing by lot to whom thou shalt give that which thou canst not give
to both."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] Body Para. 7/7

This suffices for the Reply to the First and Second Objections.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[95] A[8] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The trial by hot iron or boiling water is directed to the
investigation of someone's hidden sin, by means of something done by a
man, and in this it agrees with the drawing of lots. But in so far as a
miraculous result is expected from God, it surpasses the common
generality of sortilege. Hence this kind of trial is rendered unlawful,
both because it is directed to the judgment of the occult, which is
reserved to the divine judgment, and because such like trials are not
sanctioned by divine authority. Hence we read in a decree of Pope Stephen
V [*II, qu. v., can. Consuluist i]: "The sacred canons do not approve of
extorting a confession from anyone by means of the trial by hot iron or
boiling water, and no one must presume, by a superstitious innovation, to
practice what is not sanctioned by the teaching of the holy fathers. For
it is allowable that public crimes should be judged by our authority,
after the culprit has made spontaneous confession, or when witnesses have
been approved, with due regard to the fear of God; but hidden and unknown
crimes must be left to Him Who alone knows the hearts of the children of
men." The same would seem to apply to the law concerning duels, save that
it approaches nearer to the common kind of sortilege, since no miraculous
effect is expected thereupon, unless the combatants be very unequal in
strength or skill.





Previous - Next

Table of Contents | Words: Alphabetical - Frequency - Inverse - Length - Statistics | Help | IntraText Library

Best viewed with any browser at 800x600 or 768x1024 on Tablet PC
IntraText® (V89) - Some rights reserved by Èulogos SpA - 1996-2007. Content in this page is licensed under a Creative Commons License