QUESTION XII. CONTINUED . . . .
It is explained with regard to the Divine Permission,
would not make a Creature to be Naturally
Secondly, God in His justice permits the prevalence of evil, both that of
sin and that of pain, and especially now that the world is cooling and
declining to its end; and this we shall prove from two propositions which
must be postulated. First, that God would not - or let us rather say, with
the fear of God, that (humanly speaking) it is impossible that any creature,
man or Angel, can be of such a nature that it cannot sin. And secondly, that
it is just in God to permit man to sin, or to be tempted. These two
propositions being granted, and since it is a part of the Divine providence
that every creature shall be left to its own nature, it must be said that,
according to the premises, it is impossible that God does not permit
witchcraft to be committed with the help of devils.
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And that it was not possible to communicate to a creature a natural
incapacity for sin, is shown by S. Thomas (II, 23, art. 1). For if this
quality were communicable to any creature, God would have communicated it;
for He has, at least in kind, communicated all other graces and perfections
to His creatures that are communicable. Such is the personal union of two
natures in Christ, the Maternity and Virginity of Immaculate MARY,
the blessed companionship of the elect, and many other things. But we read
that this quality was not given to any creature, either man or Angel; for it
is said: Even in His Angels He found sin. Therefore it is certain that God
will not communicate to man a natural incapacity for sin, although man may
win to this through grace.
Again, if this were communicable, and were not communicated, the universe
would not be perfect. And its perfections consists in the fact that all
communicable good qualities of creatures are communicated in kind.
Neither is it valid to argue that God, being omnipotent, and having made men
and Angels in His likeness, could also have caused his creatures to be by
nature impeccable: or even that He would make that condition of Grace, which
is the cause of confirmation in goodness, an essential part of the nature of
Angels and men, so that through their natural origin and natural condition
they would be so confirmed in goodness that they would not be able to sin.
For the first argument will not hold. Since, although God is all-powerful
and all-good, yet he will not bestow this quality of impeccability; not
because of any imperfection in His power, but because of the imperfection
of the creature; and this imperfection lies chiefly in the fact that no
creature, man or Angel, is capable of receiving this quality. And for this
reason: that, being a creature, its being depends upon its Creator, just as
an effect depends on the cause of its being. And to create is to make
something out of nothing, and this, if left to itself, perishes, but endures
so long as it preserves the influence of its cause. You may take, if you
wish, an example from a candle, which burns only so long as it has wax. This
being so, it is to be noted that God created man, and left him in the hand
of his own counsel (Ecclesiasticus xvii). And so also He created the
Angels in the beginning of Creation. And this was done for the sake of
Free-will, the property of which is to do or to omit doing, to recede or not
to recede from its cause. And since to recede from God, from free-will, is
to sin, therefore it was impossible for man or Angel to receive, and God
did not will to give, such a natural quality that he should at the same time
be endowed with free-will and also be incapable of sin.
Another imperfection by reason of which this quality cannot be communicated
to man or Angel is that it implies a contradiction; and since a contradiction
is by its nature impossible, we say that God will not do this thing. Or
rather we should say that His creatures cannot receive such a quality. For
example, it is impossible that anything can be at one and the same time
alive and dead. And so it would imply this contradiction: that a man should
have free-will, by which he would be able to depart from his Creator, and
that he should also be unable to sin. But if he were unable to sin, he would
be unable to depart from his Creator. For this is sin: to despise the
incommutable good and cleave to things that are variable. But to despise or
not to despise is a matter of free-will.
The second argument also is not valid. For if the confirmation of grace were
so essential a part of the original creation that it became a natural
quality of the creature to be unable to sin, then his inability to sin would
arise, not from any exterior cause or from grace, but from his own very
nature; and then he would be God, which is absurd. S. Thomas treats of this
in his above solution of the last argument, when he says that whenever there
happens to any creature something that can only be cause by a superior
influence, the lower nature cannot itself cause that effect without the
co-operation of the higher nature. For example, a gas becomes ignited by
fire; but it could not of its own nature light itself without fire.
I say, therefore, that since the confirmation of a rational creature comes
only through grace, which is a sort of spiritual light or image of the light
of Creation, it is impossible for any creature to have, of its own nature,
that confirmation of grace, unless it be made one with the Divine nature;
that is, unless it be of the same nature as God, which is altogether
impossible. Let us conclude by saying that the inability to sin belongs by
nature to God alone. For He does not depart from His nature, Who gives to
all things their being, neither can He depart from the righteousness of His
goodness; for this belongs to Him through the character of His nature. But
for all others who have this quality that they cannot sin, it is conferred
upon them through the confirmation in goodness by grace; by which the sons
of God are made free from sin, and they who in any way consort with the
This chapter was transcribed by Wicasta Lovelace.
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