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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • 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[171] Out. Para. 1/4 - TREATISE ON GRATUITOUS GRACES (QQ[171]-182)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] Out. Para. 1/4 - TREATISE ON GRATUITOUS GRACES (QQ[171]-182)


PERTAINING TO KNOWLEDGE (QQ[171]-175)


OF PROPHECY (SIX ARTICLES)

After treating individually of all the virtues and vices that pertain to
men of all conditions and estates, we must now consider those things
which pertain especially to certain men. Now there is a triple difference
between men as regards things connected with the soul's habits and acts.
First, in reference to the various gratuitous graces, according to 1 Cor.
12:4,7: "There are diversities of graces . . . and to one . . . by the Spirit is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge,"
etc. Another difference arises from the diversities of life, namely the
active and the contemplative life, which correspond to diverse purposes
of operation, wherefore it is stated (1 Cor. 12:4,7) that "there are
diversities of operations." For the purpose of operation in Martha, who
"was busy about much serving," which pertains to the active life,
differed from the purpose of operation in Mary, "who sitting . . . at the
Lord's feet, heard His word" (Lk. 10:39,40), which pertains to the
contemplative life. A third difference corresponds to the various duties
and states of life, as expressed in Eph. 4:11, "And He gave some
apostles; and some prophets; and other some evangelists; and other some
pastors and doctors": and this pertains to diversity of ministries, of
which it is written (1 Cor. 12:5): "There are diversities of ministries."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] Out. Para. 2/4

With regard to gratuitous graces, which are the first object to be
considered, it must be observed that some of them pertain to knowledge,
some to speech, and some to operation. Now all things pertaining to
knowledge may be comprised under "prophecy," since prophetic revelation
extends not only to future events relating to man, but also to things
relating to God, both as to those which are to be believed by all and are
matters of "faith," and as to yet higher mysteries, which concern the
perfect and belong to "wisdom." Again, prophetic revelation is about
things pertaining to spiritual substances, by whom we are urged to good
or evil; this pertains to the "discernment of spirits." Moreover it
extends to the direction of human acts, and this pertains to "knowledge,"
as we shall explain further on (Q[177]). Accordingly we must first of all
consider prophecy, and rapture which is a degree of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] Out. Para. 3/4

Prophecy admits of four heads of consideration: (1) its essence; (2) its
cause; (3) the mode of prophetic knowledge; (4) the division of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] Out. Para. 4/4

Under the first head there are six points of inquiry:

(1) Whether prophecy pertains to knowledge?

(2) Whether it is a habit?

(3) Whether it is only about future contingencies?

(4) Whether a prophet knows all possible matters of prophecy?

(5) Whether a prophet distinguishes that which he perceives by the gift
of God, from that which he perceives by his own spirit?

(6) Whether anything false can be the matter of prophecy?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether prophecy pertains to knowledge?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that prophecy does not pertain to knowledge. For it
is written (Ecclus. 48:14) that after death the body of Eliseus
prophesied, and further on (Ecclus. 49:18) it is said of Joseph that "his
bones were visited, and after death they prophesied." Now no knowledge
remains in the body or in the bones after death. Therefore prophecy does
not pertain to knowledge.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, it is written (1 Cor. 14:3): "He that prophesieth,
speaketh to men unto edification." Now speech is not knowledge itself,
but its effect. Therefore it would seem that prophecy does not pertain to
knowledge.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, every cognitive perfection excludes folly and madness.
Yet both of these are consistent with prophecy; for it is written (Osee
9:7): "Know ye, O Israel, that the prophet was foolish and mad [*Vulg.:
'the spiritual man was mad']." Therefore prophecy is not a cognitive
perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, just as revelation regards the intellect, so inspiration
regards, apparently, the affections, since it denotes a kind of motion.
Now prophecy is described as "inspiration" or "revelation," according to
Cassiodorus [*Prolog. super Psalt. i]. Therefore it would seem that
prophecy does not pertain to the intellect more than to the affections.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (1 Kgs. 9:9): "For he that is now called
a prophet, in time past was called a seer." Now sight pertains to
knowledge. Therefore prophecy pertains to knowledge.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, Prophecy first and chiefly consists in knowledge,
because, to wit, prophets know things that are far [procul] removed from
man's knowledge. Wherefore they may be said to take their name from
{phanos}, "apparition," because things appear to them from afar.
Wherefore, as Isidore states (Etym. vii, 8), "in the Old Testament, they
were called Seers, because they saw what others saw not, and surveyed
things hidden in mystery." Hence among heathen nations they were known as
"vates, on account of their power of mind [vi mentis]," [*The Latin
'vates' is from the Greek {phates}, and may be rendered 'soothsayer']
(Etym. viii, 7).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] Body Para. 2/3

Since, however, it is written (1 Cor. 12:7): "The manifestation of the
Spirit is given to every man unto profit," and further on (1 Cor. 14:12):
"Seek to abound unto the edification of the Church," it follows that
prophecy consists secondarily in speech, in so far as the prophets
declare for the instruction of others, the things they know through
being taught of God, according to the saying of Is. 21:10, "That which I have heard of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, I have declared unto
you." Accordingly, as Isidore says (Etym. viii, 7), "prophets" may be
described as "proefatores [foretellers], because they tell from afar
[porro fantur]," that is, speak from a distance, "and foretell the truth
about things to come."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] Body Para. 3/3

Now those things above human ken which are revealed by God cannot be
confirmed by human reason, which they surpass as regards the operation of the Divine power, according to Mk. 16:20, "They . . . preached
everywhere, the Lord working withal and confirming the word with signs
that followed." Hence, thirdly, prophecy is concerned with the working of
miracles, as a kind of confirmation of the prophetic utterances.
Wherefore it is written (Dt. 34:10,11): "There arose no more a prophet in
Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs
and wonders."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: These passages speak of prophecy in reference to the third
point just mentioned, which regards the proof of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The Apostle is speaking there of the prophetic utterances.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Those prophets who are described as foolish and mad are not
true but false prophets, of whom it is said (Jer. 3:16): "Hearken not to
the words of the prophets that prophesy to you, and deceive you; they
speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord,"
and (Ezech. 13:3): "Woe to the foolish prophets, that follow their own
spirit, and see nothing."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: It is requisite to prophecy that the intention of the mind
be raised to the perception of Divine things: wherefore it is written
(Ezech. 2:1): "Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak to
thee." This raising of the intention is brought about by the motion of
the Holy Ghost, wherefore the text goes on to say: "And the Spirit
entered into me . . . and He set me upon my feet." After the mind's
intention has been raised to heavenly things, it perceives the things of
God; hence the text continues: "And I heard Him speaking to me."
Accordingly inspiration is requisite for prophecy, as regards the raising
of the mind, according to Job 32:8, "The inspiration of the Almighty
giveth understanding": while revelation is necessary, as regards the very
perception of Divine things, whereby prophecy is completed; by its means
the veil of darkness and ignorance is removed, according to Job 12:22,
"He discovereth great things out of darkness."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether prophecy is a habit?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that prophecy is a habit. For according to Ethic.
ii, 5, "there are three things in the soul, power, passion, and habit."
Now prophecy is not a power, for then it would be in all men, since the
powers of the soul are common to them. Again it is not a passion, since
the passions belong to the appetitive faculty, as stated above (FS, Q[22]
, A[2]); whereas prophecy pertains principally to knowledge, as stated in
the foregoing Article. Therefore prophecy is a habit.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, every perfection of the soul, which is not always in
act, is a habit. Now prophecy is a perfection of the soul; and it is not
always in act, else a prophet could not be described as asleep. Therefore
seemingly prophecy is a habit.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, prophecy is reckoned among the gratuitous graces. Now
grace is something in the soul, after the manner of a habit, as stated
above (FS, Q[110], A[2]). Therefore prophecy is a habit.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, A habit is something "whereby we act when we will," as
the Commentator [*Averroes or Ibn Roshd, 1120-1198] says (De Anima iii).
But a man cannot make use of prophecy when he will, as appears in the
case of Eliseus (4 Kgs. 3:15), "who on Josaphat inquiring of him
concerning the future, and the spirit of prophecy failing him, caused a minstrel to be brought to him, that the spirit of prophecy might come
down upon him through the praise of psalmody, and fill his mind with
things to come," as Gregory observes (Hom. i super Ezech.). Therefore
prophecy is not a habit.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As the Apostle says (Eph. 5:13), "all that is made
manifest is light," because, to wit, just as the manifestation of the
material sight takes place through material light, so too the
manifestation of intellectual sight takes place through intellectual
light. Accordingly manifestation must be proportionate to the light by
means of which it takes place, even as an effect is proportionate to its
cause. Since then prophecy pertains to a knowledge that surpasses natural
reason, as stated above (A[1]), it follows that prophecy requires an
intellectual light surpassing the light of natural reason. Hence the
saying of Micah 7:8: "When I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light." Now
light may be in a subject in two ways: first, by way of an abiding form,
as material light is in the sun, and in fire; secondly, by way of a
passion, or passing impression, as light is in the air. Now the prophetic
light is not in the prophet's intellect by way of an abiding form, else a
prophet would always be able to prophesy, which is clearly false. For
Gregory says (Hom. i super Ezech.): "Sometimes the spirit of prophecy is
lacking to the prophet, nor is it always within the call of his mind, yet
so that in its absence he knows that its presence is due to a gift."
Hence Eliseus said of the Sunamite woman (4 Kgs. 4:27): "Her soul is in
anguish, and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me." The
reason for this is that the intellectual light that is in a subject by
way of an abiding and complete form, perfects the intellect chiefly to
the effect of knowing the principle of the things manifested by that
light; thus by the light of the active intellect the intellect knows
chiefly the first principles of all things known naturally. Now the
principle of things pertaining to supernatural knowledge, which are
manifested by prophecy, is God Himself, Whom the prophets do not see in
His essence, although He is seen by the blessed in heaven, in whom this
light is by way of an abiding and complete form, according to Ps. 35:10,
"In Thy light we shall see light."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] Body Para. 2/3

It follows therefore that the prophetic light is in the prophet's soul
by way of a passion or transitory impression. This is indicated Ex.
33:22: "When my glory shall pass, I will set thee in a hole of the rock,"
etc., and 3 Kgs. 19:11: "Go forth and stand upon the mount before the
Lord; and behold the Lord passeth," etc. Hence it is that even as the air
is ever in need of a fresh enlightening, so too the prophet's mind is
always in need of a fresh revelation; thus a disciple who has not yet
acquired the principles of an art needs to have every detail explained to
him. Wherefore it is written (Is. 1:4): "In the morning He wakeneth my
ear, so that I may hear Him as a master." This is also indicated by the
very manner in which prophecies are uttered: thus it is stated that "the
Lord spake to such and such a prophet," or that "the word of the Lord,"
or "the hand of the Lord was made upon him."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] Body Para. 3/3

But a habit is an abiding form. Wherefore it is evident that, properly
speaking, prophecy is not a habit.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 1: This division of the Philosopher's does not comprise
absolutely all that is in the soul, but only such as can be principles of
moral actions, which are done sometimes from passion, sometimes from
habit, sometimes from mere power, as in the case of those who perform an
action from the judgment of their reason before having the habit of that
action.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 2/2

However, prophecy may be reduced to a passion, provided we understand
passion to denote any kind of receiving, in which sense the Philosopher
says (De Anima iii, 4) that "to understand is, in a way, to be passive."
For just as, in natural knowledge, the possible intellect is passive to
the light of the active intellect, so too in prophetic knowledge the
human intellect is passive to the enlightening of the Divine light.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: Just as in corporeal things, when a passion ceases, there
remains a certain aptitude to a repetition of the passion - thus wood
once ignited is more easily ignited again, so too in the prophet's
intellect, after the actual enlightenment has ceased, there remains an
aptitude to be enlightened anew - thus when the mind has once been
aroused to devotion, it is more easily recalled to its former devotion.
Hence Augustine says (De orando Deum. Ep. cxxx, 9) that our prayers need
to be frequent, "lest devotion be extinguished as soon as it is kindled."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

We might, however, reply that a person is called a prophet, even while
his prophetic enlightenment ceases to be actual, on account of his being
deputed by God, according to Jer. 1:5, "And I made thee a prophet unto
the nations."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Every gift of grace raises man to something above human
nature, and this may happen in two ways. First, as to the substance of
the act - for instance, the working of miracles, and the knowledge of the
uncertain and hidden things of Divine wisdom - and for such acts man is
not granted a habitual gift of grace. Secondly, a thing is above human
nature as to the mode but not the substance of the act - for instance to
love God and to know Him in the mirror of His creatures - and for this a
habitual gift of grace is bestowed.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether prophecy is only about future contingencies?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that prophecy is only about future contingencies.
For Cassiodorus says [*Prol. super Psalt. i] that "prophecy is a Divine
inspiration or revelation, announcing the issue of things with
unchangeable truth." Now issues pertain to future contingencies.
Therefore the prophetic revelation is about future contingencies alone.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, according to 1 Cor. 12, the grace of prophecy is
differentiated from wisdom and faith, which are about Divine things; and
from the discernment of spirits, which is about created spirits; and from
knowledge, which is about human things. Now habits and acts are
differentiated by their objects, as stated above (FS, Q[54], A[2]).
Therefore it seems that the object of prophecy is not connected with any
of the above. Therefore it follows that it is about future contingencies
alone.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, difference of object causes difference of species, as
stated above (FS, Q[54], A[2]). Therefore, if one prophecy is about
future contingencies, and another about other things, it would seem to
follow that these are different species of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. i super Ezech.) that some prophecies
are "about the future, for instance (Is. 7:14), 'Behold a virgin shall
conceive, and bear a son'"; some are "about the past, as (Gn. 1:1), 'In
the beginning God created heaven and earth'"; some are "about the
present," as (1 Cor. 14:24,25), "If all prophesy, and there come in one
that believeth not . . . the secrets of his heart are made manifest."
Therefore prophecy is not about future contingencies alone.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] Body Para. 1/4

I answer that, A manifestation made by means of a certain light can
extend to all those things that are subject to that light: thus the
body's sight extends to all colors, and the soul's natural knowledge
extends to whatever is subject to the light of the active intellect. Now
prophetic knowledge comes through a Divine light, whereby it is possible
to know all things both Divine and human, both spiritual and corporeal;
and consequently the prophetic revelation extends to them all. Thus by
the ministry of spirits a prophetic revelation concerning the perfections
of God and the angels was made to Is. 6:1, where it is written, "I saw
the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated." Moreover his prophecy
contains matters referring to natural bodies, according to the words of
Is. 40:12, "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand," etc.
It also contains matters relating to human conduct, according to Is.
58:1, "Deal thy bread to the hungry," etc.; and besides this it contains
things pertaining to future events, according to Is. 47:9, "Two things
shall come upon thee suddenly in one day, barrenness and widowhood."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] Body Para. 2/4

Since, however, prophecy is about things remote from our knowledge, it
must be observed that the more remote things are from our knowledge the
more pertinent they are to prophecy. Of such things there are three
degrees. One degree comprises things remote from the knowledge, either
sensitive or intellective, of some particular man, but not from the
knowledge of all men; thus a particular man knows by sense things present
to him locally, which another man does not know by human sense, since
they are removed from him. Thus Eliseus knew prophetically what his
disciple Giezi had done in his absence (4 Kgs. 5:26), and in like manner
the secret thoughts of one man are manifested prophetically to another,
according to 1 Cor. 14:25; and again in this way what one man knows by
demonstration may be revealed to another prophetically.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] Body Para. 3/4

The second degree comprises those things which surpass the knowledge of
all men without exception, not that they are in themselves unknowable,
but on account of a defect in human knowledge; such as the mystery of the
Trinity, which was revealed by the Seraphim saying: "Holy, Holy, Holy,"
etc. (Is. 6:3).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] Body Para. 4/4

The last degree comprises things remote from the knowledge of all men,
through being in themselves unknowable; such are future contingencies,
the truth of which is indeterminate. And since that which is predicated
universally and by its very nature, takes precedence of that which is predicated in a limited and relative sense, it follows that revelation of
future events belongs most properly to prophecy, and from this prophecy
apparently takes its name. Hence Gregory says (Hom. i super Ezech.): "And
since a prophet is so called because he foretells the future, his name
loses its significance when he speaks of the past or present."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Prophecy is there defined according to its proper
signification; and it is in this sense that it is differentiated from the
other gratuitous graces.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: This is evident from what has just been said. We might also
reply that all those things that are the matter of prophecy have the
common aspect of being unknowable to man except by Divine revelation;
whereas those that are the matter of "wisdom," "knowledge," and the
"interpretation of speeches," can be known by man through natural reason,
but are manifested in a higher way through the enlightening of the Divine
light. As to "faith," although it is about things invisible to man, it is
not concerned with the knowledge of the things believed, but with a man's
certitude of assent to things known by others.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The formal element in prophetic knowledge is the Divine
light, which being one, gives unity of species to prophecy, although the
things prophetically manifested by the Divine light are diverse.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether by the Divine revelation a prophet knows all that can be known
prophetically?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that by the Divine revelation a prophet knows all
that can be known prophetically. For it is written (Amos 3:7): "The Lord
God doth nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the
prophets." Now whatever is revealed prophetically is something done by
God. Therefore there is not one of them but what is revealed to the
prophet.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, "God's works are perfect" (Dt. 32:4). Now prophecy is a
"Divine revelation," as stated above (A[3]). Therefore it is perfect; and
this would not be so unless all possible matters of prophecy were
revealed prophetically, since "the perfect is that which lacks nothing"
(Phys. iii, 6). Therefore all possible matters of prophecy are revealed
to the prophet.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the Divine light which causes prophecy is more powerful
than the right of natural reason which is the cause of human science. Now
a man who has acquired a science knows whatever pertains to that science;
thus a grammarian knows all matters of grammar. Therefore it would seem
that a prophet knows all matters of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. i super Ezech.) that "sometimes the
spirit of prophecy indicates the present to the prophet's mind and nowise
the future; and sometimes it points not to the present but to the
future." Therefore the prophet does not know all matters of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Things which differ from one another need not exist
simultaneously, save by reason of some one thing in which they are
connected and on which they depend: thus it has been stated above (FS,
Q[65], AA[1],2) that all the virtues must needs exist simultaneously on
account of prudence and charity. Now all the things that are known
through some principle are connected in that principle and depend
thereon. Hence he who knows a principle perfectly, as regards all to
which its virtue extends, knows at the same time all that can be known
through that principle; whereas if the common principle is unknown, or
known only in a general way, it does not follow that one knows all those
things at the same time, but each of them has to be manifested by itself,
so that consequently some of them may be known, and some not.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] Body Para. 2/2

Now the principle of those things that are prophetically manifested by
the Divine light is the first truth, which the prophets do not see in
itself. Wherefore there is no need for their knowing all possible matters
of prophecy; but each one knows some of them according to the special
revelation of this or that matter.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The Lord reveals to the prophets all things that are
necessary for the instruction of the faithful; yet not all to every one,
but some to one, and some to another.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Prophecy is by way of being something imperfect in the
genus of Divine revelation: hence it is written (1 Cor. 13:8) that
"prophecies shall be made void," and that "we prophesy in part," i.e.
imperfectly. The Divine revelation will be brought to its perfection in
heaven; wherefore the same text continues (1 Cor. 113:10): "When that
which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away."
Consequently it does not follow that nothing is lacking to prophetic
revelation, but that it lacks none of those things to which prophecy is
directed.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: He who has a science knows the principles of that science,
whence whatever is pertinent to that science depends; wherefore to have
the habit of a science perfectly, is to know whatever is pertinent to
that science. But God Who is the principle of prophetic knowledge is not
known in Himself through prophecy; wherefore the comparison fails.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the prophet always distinguishes what he says by his own spirit
from what he says by the prophetic spirit?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the prophet always distinguishes what he says
by his own spirit from what he says by the prophetic spirit. For
Augustine states (Confess. vi, 13) that his mother said "she could,
through a certain feeling, which in words she could not express, discern
betwixt Divine revelations, and the dreams of her own soul." Now prophecy
is a Divine revelation, as stated above (A[3]). Therefore the prophet
always distinguishes what he says by the spirit of prophecy, from what he
says by his own spirit.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, God commands nothing impossible, as Jerome [*Pelagius.
Ep. xvi, among the supposititious works of St. Jerome] says. Now the
prophets were commanded (Jer. 23:28): "The prophet that hath a dream, let
him tell a dream; and he that hath My word, let him speak My word with
truth." Therefore the prophet can distinguish what he has through the
spirit of prophecy from what he sees otherwise.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the certitude resulting from a Divine light is greater
than that which results from the light of natural reason. Now he that has
science, by the light of natural reason knows for certain that he has it.
Therefore he that has prophecy by a Divine light is much more certain
that he has it.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Hom. i super Ezech.): "It must be
observed that sometimes the holy prophets, when consulted, utter certain
things by their own spirit, through being much accustomed to prophesying,
and think they are speaking by the prophetic spirit."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[5] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, The prophet's mind is instructed by God in two ways: in
one way by an express revelation, in another way by a most mysterious
instinct to "which the human mind is subjected without knowing it," as
Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ii, 17). Accordingly the prophet has the
greatest certitude about those things which he knows by an express
revelation, and he has it for certain that they are revealed to him by
God; wherefore it is written (Jer. 26:15): "In truth the Lord sent me to
you, to speak all these words in your hearing." Else, were he not certain
about this, the faith which relies on the utterances of the prophet would
not be certain. A sign of the prophet's certitude may be gathered from
the fact that Abraham being admonished in a prophetic vision, prepared to
sacrifice his only-begotten son, which he nowise would have done had he
not been most certain of the Divine revelation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[5] Body Para. 2/3

On the other hand, his position with regard to the things he knows by
instinct is sometimes such that he is unable to distinguish fully whether
his thoughts are conceived of Divine instinct or of his own spirit. And
those things which we know by Divine instinct are not all manifested with
prophetic certitude, for this instinct is something imperfect in the
genus of prophecy. It is thus that we are to understand the saying of
Gregory. Lest, however, this should lead to error, "they are very soon
set aright by the Holy Ghost [*For instance, cf. 2 Kgs. 7:3 seqq.], and
from Him they hear the truth, so that they reproach themselves for having
said what was untrue," as Gregory adds (Hom. i super Ezech.).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[5] Body Para. 3/3

The arguments set down in the first place consider the revelation that
is made by the prophetic spirit; wherefore the answer to all the
objections is clear.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether things known or declared prophetically can be false?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that things known or declared prophetically can be
false. For prophecy is about future contingencies, as stated above (A[3]
). Now future contingencies may possibly not happen; else they would
happen of necessity. Therefore the matter of prophecy can be false.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Isaias prophesied to Ezechias saying (Is. 38:1): "Take
order with thy house, for thou shalt surely die, and shalt not live," and
yet fifteen years were added to his life (4 Kgs. 20:6). Again the Lord
said (Jer. 18:7,8): "I will suddenly speak against a nation and against a
kingdom, to root out and to pull down and to destroy it. If that nation
against which I have spoken shall repent of their evil, I also will
repent of the evil that I have thought to do them." This is instanced in
the example of the Ninevites, according to Jn. 3:10: "The Lord [Vulg.:
'God'] had mercy with regard to the evil which He had said that He would
do to them, and He did it not." Therefore the matter of prophecy can be
false.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, in a conditional proposition, whenever the antecedent is
absolutely necessary, the consequent is absolutely necessary, because the
consequent of a conditional proposition stands in the same relation to
the antecedent, as the conclusion to the premises in a syllogism, and a
syllogism whose premises are necessary always leads to a necessary
conclusion, as we find proved in I Poster. 6. But if the matter of a
prophecy cannot be false, the following conditional proposition must
needs be true: "If a thing has been prophesied, it will be." Now the
antecedent of this conditional proposition is absolutely necessary, since
it is about the past. Therefore the consequent is also necessary
absolutely; yet this is unfitting, for then prophecy would not be about contingencies. Therefore it is untrue that the matter of prophecy cannot
be false.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Cassiodorus says [*Prol. in Psalt. i] that "prophecy is
a Divine inspiration or revelation, announcing the issue of things with
invariable truth." Now the truth of prophecy would not be invariable, if
its matter could be false. Therefore nothing false can come under
prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As may be gathered from what has been said (AA[1],3,5),
prophecy is a kind of knowledge impressed under the form of teaching on
the prophet's intellect, by Divine revelation. Now the truth of knowledge
is the same in disciple and teacher since the knowledge of the disciple
is a likeness of the knowledge of the teacher, even as in natural things
the form of the thing generated is a likeness of the form of the
generator. Jerome speaks in this sense when he says [*Comment. in Daniel
ii, 10] that "prophecy is the seal of the Divine foreknowledge."
Consequently the same truth must needs be in prophetic knowledge and
utterances, as in the Divine knowledge, under which nothing false can
possibly come, as stated in the FP, Q[16], A[8]. Therefore nothing false
can come under prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As stated in the FP, Q[14], A[13] the certitude of the
Divine foreknowledge does not exclude the contingency of future singular
events, because that knowledge regards the future as present and already
determinate to one thing. Wherefore prophecy also, which is an "impressed
likeness" or "seal of the Divine foreknowledge," does not by its
unchangeable truth exclude the contingency of future things.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The Divine foreknowledge regards future things in two ways.
First, as they are in themselves, in so far, to wit, as it sees them in
their presentiality: secondly, as in their causes, inasmuch as it sees
the order of causes in relation to their effects. And though future
contingencies, considered as in themselves, are determinate to one thing,
yet, considered as in their causes, they are not so determined but that
they can happen otherwise. Again, though this twofold knowledge is always
united in the Divine intellect, it is not always united in the prophetic
revelation, because an imprint made by an active cause is not always on a
par with the virtue of that cause. Hence sometimes the prophetic
revelation is an imprinted likeness of the Divine foreknowledge, in so
far as the latter regards future contingencies in themselves: and such
things happen in the same way as foretold, for example this saying of Is.
7:14: "Behold a virgin shall conceive." Sometimes, however, the prophetic
revelation is an imprinted likeness of the Divine foreknowledge as
knowing the order of causes to effects; and then at times the event is
otherwise than foretold. Yet the prophecy does not cover a falsehood, for
the meaning of the prophecy is that inferior causes, whether they be
natural causes or human acts, are so disposed as to lead to such a
result. In this way we are to understand the saying of Is. 38:1: "Thou
shalt die, and not live"; in other words, "The disposition of thy body
has a tendency to death": and the saying of Jonas 3:4, "Yet forty days,
and Nineveh shall be destroyed," that is to say, "Its merits demand that
it should be destroyed." God is said "to repent," metaphorically,
inasmuch as He bears Himself after the manner of one who repents, by
"changing His sentence, although He changes not His counsel" [*Cf. FP,
Q[19], A[7], ad 2].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[171] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Since the same truth of prophecy is the same as the truth
of Divine foreknowledge, as stated above, the conditional proposition:
"If this was prophesied, it will be," is true in the same way as the
proposition: "If this was foreknown, it will be": for in both cases it is
impossible for the antecedent not to be. Hence the consequent is
necessary, considered, not as something future in our regard, but as
being present to the Divine foreknowledge, as stated in the FP, Q[14],
A[13], ad 2.





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