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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • Aquin.: SMT TP Prologue Para. 1/3 - THIRD PART (TP) OF THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA (QQ[1]-90)
      • Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE UNITY OF CHRIST'S OPERATION (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE UNITY OF CHRIST'S OPERATION (FOUR ARTICLES)

We must now consider the unity of Christ's operation; and under this
head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether in Christ there was one or several operations of the Godhead
and Manhood?

(2) Whether in Christ there were several operations of the human nature?

(3) Whether Christ by His human operation merited anything for Himself?

(4) Whether He merited anything for us by it?


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether in Christ there is only one operation of the Godhead and Manhood?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that in Christ there is but one operation of the
Godhead and the Manhood. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. ii): "The most
loving operation of God is made manifest to us by the supersubstantial
Word having taken flesh integrally and truly, and having operated and
suffered whatsoever befits His human and Divine operation." But he here
mentions only one human and Divine operation, which is written in Greek
{theandrike}, i.e. God-manlike. Hence it seems that there is but one
composite operation in Christ.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, there is but one operation of the principal and
instrumental agent. Now the human nature in Christ was the instrument of
the Divine, as was said above (Q[7], A[1], ad 3; Q[8], A[1], ad 1; Q[18],
A[1], ad 2). Hence the operations of the Divine and human natures in
Christ are the same.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, since in Christ there are two natures in one hypostasis
or person, whatever pertains to the hypostasis or person is one and the
same. But operation pertains to the hypostasis or person, for it is only
a subsisting suppositum that operates; hence, according to the
Philosopher (Metaph. i, 1), acts belong to singulars. Hence in Christ
there is only one operation of the Godhead and the Manhood.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, as being belongs to a subsisting hypostasis, so also
does operation. But on account of the unity of hypostasis there is only
one operation of the Godhead and the (Q[17], A[2]). Hence, on account of
the same unity, there is one operation in Christ.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, as being belongs to a sub-operated there is one
operation. But the same thing was operated by the Godhead and the
Manhood, as the healing of the lepers or the raising of the dead. Hence
it seems that in Christ there is but one operation of the Godhead and the
Manhood.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Fide ii, 8): "How can the same
operation spring from different powers? Cannot the lesser operate as the
greater? And can there be one operation where there are different
substances?"

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Body Para. 1/4

I answer that, As was said above (Q[18], A[1]), the aforesaid heretics
who placed one will in Christ placed one operation in Christ. Now in
order better to understand their erroneous opinion, we must bear in mind
that wherever there are several mutually ordained agents, the inferior is
moved by the superior, as in man the body is moved by the soul and the
lower powers by the reason. And thus the actions and movements of the
inferior principle are things operated rather than operations. Now what
pertains to the highest principle is properly the operation; thus we say
of man that to walk, which belongs to the feet, and to touch, which
belongs to the hand, are things operated by the man - one of which is
operated by the soul through the feet, the other through the hands. And
because it is the same soul that operates in both cases, there is only
one indifferent operation, on the part of the thing operating, which is
the first moving principle; but difference is found on the part of what
is operated. Now, as in a mere man the body is moved by the soul, and the
sensitive by the rational appetite, so in the Lord Jesus Christ the human
nature is moved and ruled by the Divine. Hence they said that there is
one indifferent operation on the part of the Godhead operating, but
divers things operated, inasmuch as the Godhead of Christ did one thing
by Itself, as to uphold all things by the word of His power - and another
thing by His human nature, as to walk in body. Hence the Sixth Council
[*Third Council of Constantinople, Act. 10] quotes the words of Severus
the heretic, who said: "What things were done and wrought by the one
Christ, differ greatly; for some are becoming to God, and some are human,
as to walk bodily on the earth is indeed human, but to give hale steps to
sickly limbs, wholly unable to walk on the ground, is becoming to God.
Yet one, i.e. the Incarnate Word, wrought one and the other - neither was
this from one nature, and that from another; nor can we justly affirm
that because there are distinct things operated there are therefore two
operating natures and forms."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Body Para. 2/4

But herein they were deceived, for what is moved by another has a
twofold action - one which it has from its own form - the other, which it
has inasmuch as it is moved by another; thus the operation of an axe of
itself is to cleave; but inasmuch as it is moved by the craftsman, its
operation is to make benches. Hence the operation which belongs to a
thing by its form is proper to it, nor does it belong to the mover,
except in so far as he makes use of this kind of thing for his work: thus
to heat is the proper operation of fire, but not of a smith, except in so
far as he makes use of fire for heating iron. But the operation which
belongs to the thing, as moved by another, is not distinct from the
operation of the mover; thus to make a bench is not the work of the axe
independently of the workman. Hence, wheresoever the mover and the moved
have different forms or operative faculties, there must the operation of
the mover and the proper operation of the moved be distinct; although the
moved shares in the operation of the mover, and the mover makes use of
the operation of the moved, and, consequently, each acts in communion
with the other.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Body Para. 3/4

Therefore in Christ the human nature has its proper form and power
whereby it acts; and so has the Divine. Hence the human nature has its
proper operation distinct from the Divine, and conversely. Nevertheless,
the Divine Nature makes use of the operation of the human nature, as of
the operation of its instrument; and in the same way the human nature
shares in the operation of the Divine Nature, as an instrument shares in
the operation of the principal agent. And this is what Pope Leo says (Ep.
ad Flavian. xxviii): "Both forms" (i.e. both the Divine and the human
nature in Christ) "do what is proper to each in union with the other,
i.e. the Word operates what belongs to the Word, and the flesh carries
out what belongs to flesh."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] Body Para. 4/4

But if there were only one operation of the Godhead and manhood in
Christ, it would be necessary to say either that the human nature had not
its proper form and power (for this could not possibly be said of the
Divine), whence it would follow that in Christ there was only the Divine
operation; or it would be necessary to say that from the Divine and human
power there was made up one power. Now both of these are impossible. For
by the first the human nature in Christ is supposed to be imperfect; and
by the second a confusion of the natures is supposed. Hence it is with
reason that the Sixth Council (Act. 18) condemned this opinion, and
decreed as follows: "We confess two natural, indivisible, unconvertible,
unconfused, and inseparable operations in the same Lord Jesus Christ our
true God"; i.e. the Divine operation and the human operation.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 1: Dionysius places in Christ a theandric, i.e. a God-manlike
or Divino-human, operation not by any confusion of the operations or
powers of both natures, but inasmuch as His Divine operation employs the
human, and His human operation shares in the power of the Divine. Hence,
as he says in a certain epistle (Ad Caium iv), "what is of man He works
beyond man; and this is shown by the Virgin conceiving supernaturally and
by the unstable waters bearing up the weight of bodily feet." Now it is
clear that to be begotten belongs to human nature, and likewise to walk;
yet both were in Christ supernaturally. So, too, He wrought Divine things
humanly, as when He healed the leper with a touch. Hence in the same
epistle he adds: "He performed Divine works not as God does, and human
works not as man does, but, God having been made man, by a new operation
of God and man."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 2/2

Now, that he understood two operations in Christ, one of the Divine and
the other of the human nature, is clear from what he says, Div. Nom. ii:
"Whatever pertains to His human operation the Father and the Holy Ghost
no-wise share in, except, as one might say, by their most gracious and
merciful will," i.e. inasmuch as the Father and the Holy Ghost in their
mercy wished Christ to do and to suffer human things. And he adds: "He is
truly the unchangeable God, and God's Word by the sublime and unspeakable
operation of God, which, being made man for us, He wrought." Hence it is
clear that the human operation, in which the Father and the Holy Ghost do
not share, except by Their merciful consent, is distinct from His
operation, as the Word of God, wherein the Father and the Holy Ghost
share.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The instrument is said to act through being moved by the
principal agent; and yet, besides this, it can have its proper operation
through its own form, as stated above of fire. And hence the action of
the instrument as instrument is not distinct from the action of the
principal agent; yet it may have another operation, inasmuch as it is a
thing. Hence the operation of Christ's human nature, as the instrument of
the Godhead, is not distinct from the operation of the Godhead; for the
salvation wherewith the manhood of Christ saves us and that wherewith His
Godhead saves us are not distinct; nevertheless, the human nature in
Christ, inasmuch as it is a certain nature, has a proper operation
distinct from the Divine, as stated above.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: To operate belongs to a subsisting hypostasis; in
accordance, however, with the form and nature from which the operation
receives its species. Hence from the diversity of forms or natures spring
the divers species of operations, but from the unity of hypostasis
springs the numerical unity as regards the operation of the species: thus
fire has two operations specifically different, namely, to illuminate and
to heat, from the difference of light and heat, and yet the illumination
of the fire that illuminates at one and the same time is numerically one.
So, likewise, in Christ there are necessarily two specifically different
operations by reason of His two natures; nevertheless, each of the
operations at one and the same time is numerically one, as one walking
and one healing.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Being and operation belong to the person by reason of the
nature; yet in a different manner. For being belongs to the very
constitution of the person, and in this respect it has the nature of a
term; consequently, unity of person requires unity of the complete and
personal being. But operation is an effect of the person by reason of a
form or nature. Hence plurality of operations is not incompatible with
personal unity.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[1] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: The proper work of the Divine operation is different from
the proper work of the human operation. Thus to heal a leper is a proper
work of the Divine operation, but to touch him is the proper work of the
human operation. Now both these operations concur in one work, inasmuch
as one nature acts in union with the other.


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether in Christ there are several human operations?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that in Christ there are several human operations.
For Christ as man communicates with plants by His nutritive soul, with
the brutes by His sensitive soul, and with the angels by His intellective
soul, even as other men do. Now the operations of a plant as plant and of
an animal as animal are different. Therefore Christ as man has several
operations.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, powers and habits are distinguished by their acts. Now
in Christ's soul there were divers powers and habits; therefore also
divers operations.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, instruments ought to be proportioned to their
operations. Now the human body has divers members of different form, and
consequently fitted to divers operations. Therefore in Christ there are
divers operations in the human nature.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, As Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 15), "operation
is consequent upon the nature." But in Christ there is only one human
nature. Therefore in Christ there is only one human operation.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, Since it is by his reason that man is what he is; that
operation is called human simply, which proceeds from the reason through
the will, which is the rational appetite. Now if there is any operation
in man which does not proceed from the reason and the will, it is not
simply a human operation, but belongs to man by reason of some part of
human nature - sometimes by reason of the nature of elementary bodies, as
to be borne downwards - sometimes by reason of the force of the
vegetative soul, as to be nourished, and to grow - sometimes by reason of
the sensitive part, as to see and hear, to imagine and remember, to
desire and to be angry. Now between these operations there is a
difference. For the operations of the sensitive soul are to some extent
obedient to reason, and consequently they are somewhat rational and human
inasmuch as they obey reason, as is clear from the Philosopher (Ethic. i,
13). But the operations that spring from the vegetative soul, or from the
nature of elemental bodies, are not subject to reason; consequently they
are nowise rational; nor simply human, but only as regards a part of
human nature. Now it was said (A[1]) that when a subordinate agent acts
by its own form, the operations of the inferior and of the superior agent
are distinct; but when the inferior agent acts only as moved by the
superior agent, then the operation of the superior and the inferior agent
is one.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] Body Para. 2/3

And hence in every mere man the operations of the elemental body and of
the vegetative soul are distinct from the will's operation, which is
properly human; so likewise the operations of the sensitive soul inasmuch
as it is not moved by reason; but inasmuch as it is moved by reason, the
operations of the sensitive and the rational part are the same. Now there
is but one operation of the rational part if we consider the principle of
the operation, which is the reason and the will; but the operations are
many if we consider their relationship to various objects. And there were
some who called this a diversity of things operated rather than of
operations, judging the unity of the operation solely from the operative
principle. And it is in this respect that we are now considering the
unity and plurality of operations in Christ.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] Body Para. 3/3

Hence in every mere man there is but one operation, which is properly
called human; but besides this there are in a mere man certain other
operations, which are not strictly human, as was said above. But in the
Man Jesus Christ there was no motion of the sensitive part which was not
ordered by reason. Even the natural and bodily operations pertained in
some respects to His will, inasmuch as it was His will "that His flesh
should do and suffer what belonged to it," as stated above (Q[18], A[5]).
Much more, therefore, is there one operation in Christ, than in any other
man whatsoever.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The operations of the sensitive and nutritive parts are not
strictly human, as stated above; yet in Christ these operations were more
human than in others.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Powers and habits are diversified by comparison with their
objects. Hence in this way the diversity of operations corresponds to the
divers powers and habits, as likewise to the divers objects. Now we do
not wish to exclude this diversity of operations from Christ's humanity,
nor that which springs from a diversity of time, but only that which
regards the first active principle, as was said above.

(St. Thomas gives no reply to OBJ[3]; some codices add: Hence may be
gathered the reply to the third objection.)


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the human action of Christ could be meritorious to Him?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the human action of Christ could not be
meritorious to Him. For before His death Christ was a comprehensor even
as He is now. But comprehensors do not merit: because the charity of the
comprehensor belongs to the reward of beatitude, since fruition depends
upon it. Hence it does not seem to be the principle of merit, since merit
and reward are not the same. Therefore Christ before His passion did not
merit, even as He does not merit now.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, no one merits what is due to him. But because Christ is
the Son of God by nature, the eternal inheritance is due to Him, which
other men merit by their works. And hence Christ Who, from the beginning,
was the Word of God, could not merit anything for Himself.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, whoever has the principle does not properly merit what
flows from its possession. But Christ has the glory of the soul, whence,
in the natural course, flowed the glory of the body, as Augustine says
(Ep. ad Dios cxviii); though by a dispensation it was brought about that
in Christ the glory of the soul should not overflow to the body. Hence
Christ did not merit the glory of the body.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, the manifestation of Christ's excellence is a good, not
of Christ Himself, but of those who know Him. Hence it is promised as a
reward to such as love Christ that He will be manifested to them,
according to Jn. 14:21: "He that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father,
and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him." Therefore Christ
did not merit the manifestation of His greatness.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Phil. 2:8,9): "Becoming obedient unto
death . . . For which cause God also hath exalted Him." Therefore by
obeying He merited His exaltation and thus He merited something for
Himself.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, To have any good thing of oneself is more excellent than
to have it from another, for "what is of itself a cause is always more
excellent than what is a cause through another," as is said Phys. viii,
5. Now a thing is said to have, of itself, that of which it is to some
extent the cause. But of whatever good we possess the first cause by
authority is God; and in this way no creature has any good of itself,
according to 1 Cor. 4:7: "What hast thou that thou hast not received?"
Nevertheless, in a secondary manner anyone may be a cause, to himself, of
having certain good things, inasmuch as he cooperates with God in the
matter, and thus whoever has anything by his own merit has it, in a
manner, of himself. Hence it is better to have a thing by merit than
without merit.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

Now since all perfection and greatness must be attributed to Christ,
consequently He must have by merit what others have by merit; unless it
be of such a nature that its want would detract from Christ's dignity and
perfection more than would accrue to Him by merit. Hence He merited
neither grace nor knowledge nor the beatitude of His soul, nor the
Godhead, because, since merit regards only what is not yet possessed, it
would be necessary that Christ should have been without these at some
time; and to be without them would have diminished Christ's dignity more
than His merit would have increased it. But the glory of the body, and
the like, are less than the dignity of meriting, which pertains to the
virtue of charity. Hence we must say that Christ had, by merit, the glory
of His body and whatever pertained to His outward excellence, as His
Ascension, veneration, and the rest. And thus it is clear that He could
merit for Himself.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Fruition, which is an act of charity, pertains to the glory
of the soul, which Christ did not merit. Hence if He merited by charity,
it does not follow that the merit and the reward are the same. Nor did He
merit by charity inasmuch as it was the charity of a comprehensor, but
inasmuch as it was that of a wayfarer. For He was at once a wayfarer and
a comprehensor, as was said above (Q[15], A[10]). And therefore, since He
is no longer a wayfarer, He is not in the state of meriting.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Because by nature Christ is God and the Son of God, the
Divine glory and the lordship of all things are due to Him, as to the
first and supreme Lord. Nevertheless a glory is due to Him as a beatified
man; and this He has partly without merit, and partly with merit, as is
clear from what has been said.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: It is by Divine appointment that there is an overflow of
glory from the soul to the body, in keeping with human merit; so that as
man merits by the act of the soul which he performs in the body, so he
may be rewarded by the glory of the soul overflowing to the body. And
hence not only the glory of the soul, but also the glory of the body
falls under merit, according to Rm. 8:11: "He . . . shall quicken also
our [Vulg.: 'your'] mortal bodies, because of His Spirit that dwelleth in
us [Vulg.: 'you']." And thus it could fall under Christ's merit.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[3] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: The manifestation of Christ's excellence is His good as
regards the being which it has in the knowledge of others; although in
regard to the being which they have in themselves it chiefly belongs to
the good of those who know Him. Yet even this is referred to Christ
inasmuch as they are His members.


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether Christ could merit for others?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that Christ could not merit for others. For it is
written (Ezech. 18:4): "The soul that sinneth, the same shall die."
Hence, for a like reason, the soul that meriteth, the same shall be
recompensed. Therefore it is not possible that Christ merited for others.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, of the fulness of Christ's grace we all receive, as is
written Jn. 1:16. Now other men having Christ's grace cannot merit for
others. For it is written (Ezech. 14:20) that if "Noe and Daniel and Job
be in the city [Vulg.: 'the midst thereof'] . . . they shall deliver
neither son nor daughter; but they shall only deliver their own souls by
their justice." Hence Christ could not merit anything for us.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the "reward" that we merit is due "according to justice
[Vulg.: 'debt'] and not according to grace," as is clear from Rm. 4:4.
Therefore if Christ merited our salvation it follows that our salvation
is not by God's grace but by justice, and that He acts unjustly with
those whom He does not save, since Christ's merit extends to all.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Rm. 5:18): "As by the offense of one,
unto all men to condemnation; so also by the justice of one, unto all men
to justification of life." But Adam's demerits reached to the
condemnation of others. Much more, therefore, does the merit of Christ
reach others.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (Q[8], AA[1],5), grace was in Christ not
merely as in an individual, but also as in the Head of the whole Church,
to Whom all are united, as members to a head, who constitute one mystical
person. And hence it is that Christ's merit extends to others inasmuch as
they are His members; even as in a man the action of the head reaches in
a manner to all his members, since it perceives not merely for itself
alone, but for all the members.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The sin of an individual harms himself alone; but the sin
of Adam, who was appointed by God to be the principle of the whole
nature, is transmitted to others by carnal propagation. So, too, the
merit of Christ, Who has been appointed by God to be the head of all men
in regard to grace, extends to all His members.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Others receive of Christ's fulness not indeed the fount of
grace, but some particular grace. And hence it need not be that men merit
for others, as Christ did.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[19] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As the sin of Adam reaches others only by carnal
generation, so, too, the merit of Christ reaches others only by spiritual
regeneration, which takes place in baptism; wherein we are incorporated
with Christ, according to Gal. 3:27, "As many of you as have been
baptized in Christ, have put on Christ"; and it is by grace that it is
granted to man to be incorporated with Christ. And thus man's salvation
is from grace.





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