You are on page 1of 496

iiliiiiliiiiiii

;.JJ

1-

O

:,

DOGMATIC THEOLOGY
I

a

GOD:
AND
ATTRIBUTES

HIS KNOWABILITY, ESSENCE,

A DOGMATIC

TREATISE

PREFACED BY A BRIEF GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY
BY

THE REVEREND JOSEPH POHLE,
FORMERLY PROFESSOR OF APOLOGETICS
AMERICA,

PH.D., D.D.
OF

NOW

PROFESSOR OF

DOGMA

IN THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF BRESLAU

AUTHORIZED ENGLISH VERSION WITH SOME ABRIDGEMENT AND ADDED REFERENCES
BY

ARTHUR PREUSS

ST. LOUIS, MO., 1911

PUBLISHED BY B. HERDER 17 SOUTH BROADWAY
FREIBURG (BADEN)
B.
I

HERDER

|

68,

LONDON W. C. GREAT RUSSELL STR.

NOV 16

1953

NIHIL OBSTAT.
Sti.

Ludovici, die 14 Dec. igio
/
.

(.1.

HOLU ECK.

Censor Librorum.

I
Sti.

MPRIMA TUR.
^ JOANNES
/.

Ludovici, die 15 Dec. /g/o

GLENNON.

Archiepiscopus Sti. Ludovici.

Copyright, /?//,

by

JOSEPH GUMMERSBACH.

BECKTOLD
PRINTING AND BOOK MFG. CO. ST. LOUIS, MO.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO DOGMATIC THE OLOGY GOD: HIS KNOWABILITY, ESSENCE, AND AT
TRIBUTES
PART
I.

PAGE
i

15

CH.

I.

THE KNOWABILITY OF GOD Human Reason Can Know God i. Man Can Gain a Knowledge of God from
Physical Universe

16 16

the
17
.

The Positive Teaching of Revelation ART. 2. The Idea of God Not Inborn from 2. Our Knowledge of God as Derived
ART.
i.

.17
27
the

Supernatural Order

33

ART.

i.

The Facts of

the Supernatural Order Con sidered as Premises for Unaided Reason
as a

33

ART.

2.

The Supernatural Facts
our Belief
in the

Preamble

to
.

Existence of

God

.

38

3.

Traditionalism and Atheism
i.

44

ART.
ART.

Traditionalism a False System

....

44

2.

The

Possibility of

Atheism
of

49

CH.

II.

The Quality

of

Man s Knowledge

God Accord
55
.

ing to Divine Revelation
i.

Our Knowledge of God as it is Here on Earth ART. i. The Imperfection of Our Knowledge of God in This Life ART. 2. The Threefold Mode of Knowing God Here on Earth
ART.
3.

57

57

67 74

Theological Conclusions
iii

CONTENTS
2.

Man s Knowledge
i.

of

God

**

as

it

Will be in Heaven

ART.

The

Reality and the Supernatural Character of the Intuitive Vision of God

....
. . .

80

ART.

2.

The Light of Glory
The

as a Necessary

Medium
101

for the Intuitive Vision of

God

ART.

3.

Beatific Vision in its Relation to the

Divine Incomprehensibility
3. Eunomianism and Ontologism ART. i. The Heresy of the Eunomians

107
113
.

.

.

ART.

2.

Why

Ontologism

is

Untenable

.

.

.

.113 .116
133

PART

II.
I.

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
The
The
Biblical
"

CH.

i.

God Seven Holy Names
of
to

Names

134

of

God
in the

"

in

the Old
!^4

Testament
2.

The Names Applied
ment and
in

God

New

Testa
140

Profane Literature
in

The Sym

bolic Appellations

CH.

II.

The Essence of God
tributes

its

Relation to His At
!44 144

i.

False Theories
i.

ART.

The Heresy of
Palamites

Gilbert de la Porree and the
145

ART.

2.

The Heresy of Eunomius and
nalists

the

Nomi
148
.
.

ART.
2.

3.

The Formalism of
Virtual
Distinction

the Scotists

.

.151
156
159

The

Between God

s

Essence

and His Attributes

CH.

III.
i.

The Metaphysical Essence of God

Untenable Theories
Aseity the Fundamental Attribute of

160

2.

God

.

.

.165
177 180
180

PART

III.
I.

THE DIVINE
God
s

PROPERTIES OR ATTRIBUTES

....
. .
.

CH.

Transcendental Attributes^ Being i. Absolute Perfection and Infinity ART. i. God s Perfection
ART.
2.

180

God

s Infinity

190
iv

CONTENTS
PAGE
2.

God

s

Unity, Simplicity, and Unicity (or Unique
195
s
s s

ness)

ART.

i.

ART.
ART.

2.
3.

God God God

Intrinsic

Unity

196

Absolute Simplicity
Unicity, or
:

200
its
.

titheses
3.

Monotheism and Polytheism and Dualism
Truth

An
. .

212
225 225

God

the Absolute Truth
i.

ART.

ART.
ART.

2.
3.

God God God

as Ontological

as Logical Truth, or Absolute

Reason 230
236
241

as

Moral Truth, or His Veracity and
Goodness

Faithfulness
4.

God

as Absolute
i.

ART.
ART. ART.
5.

2. 3.

God God God

as Ontological
s

Goodness
.

241
.

Ethical Goodness, or Sanctity

251

s

Moral Goodness, or Benevolence
.

.

.

260

God as Absolute Beauty 265 CH. II. God s Categorical Attributes of Being .274 i. God s Absolute Substantiality 276 281 2. God s Absolute Causality, or Omnipotence 291 3. God s Incorporeity 298 4. God s Immutability 306 5. God s Eternity 6. God s Immensity and Omnipresence 315 Divine Knowl CH. III. The Attributes of Divine Life
.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

edge

327 329 349

The Mode of Divine Knowledge Omniscience 2. The Objects of Divine Knowledge s Knowledge of the ART. i. Omniscience as God
i.

Purely Possible
ART.
2.

351
s

Omniscience as God
of
all

Knowledge of Vision
Cardiognosis,
355

Contingent Beings

or Searching of Hearts

ART.

3.

Omniscience as God s Foreknowledge of the Free Actions of the Future 361
. .
.

V

CONTENTS
PAGE

ART.

4.

Omniscience as
ture, or the
"

God

s

Foreknowledge of

the Conditionally Free Acts of the Scientia Media . .
"

Fu
.

.373
391

The Medium of Divine Knowledge CH. IV. The Attributes of Divine Life
3.

The Divine
42!

Will
i.

The Mode of Divine The Objects of The Virtues of
lar,
i.

Volition

Necessity

and
423

Liberty of the Divine Will
2.

the Divine Will
the Divine Will, and in Particu

438

3.

ART.
ART.

2.

Mercy God s Justice God s Mercy

Justice and

454
455

INDEX

....*...

464

469

GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO DOGMATIC THEOLOGY
NOTION, RANK, AND DIVISION OF DOGMATIC

THEOLOGY
i.

GENERAL DEFINITION OF THEOLOGY.

Dog

matic theology forms an essential part of theology in general, and therefore cannot be correctly de
fined unless
latter.

we have an adequate

notion of the

Theology, then, generally speaking, is the science of faith (scientia fidei). a) Theology is a science. Every science de

unknown truths from known and certain The principles, by means of correct conclusions.
duces

dogmatician receives, and believingly embraces as his principle, the infallible truths of Revela

and by means of logical construction, syste matic grouping, and correct deductions, erects upon this foundation a logical body of doctrine, as does the historian who works with the facts
tion,

of history, or the jurist who is occupied with the statutes, or the scientist who employs bodies and
their

phenomena

as materials for scientific con

struction.

S
It is

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
true that

some Scholastics, e. g., Durandus and have denied theology the dignity of a science, Vasquez, because it affords no intrinsic insight into the How and

Why
ries
etc.
1

of
of the

Catholic

dogmas,

Most Holy

But neither do and everywhere an insight into ways
Euclidian
falls

particularly the myste Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, the profane sciences afford us al
their highest prin

ciples.

geometry, for instance, stands and with the axiom of parallels, which has never yet
;

been satisfactorily proved so much so that of late years there has been made an attempt to establish a non-Euclidian geometry independent of that axiom.
"

"

To
are

this

sciences

should be added the consideration that there which derive their basic principles as

lemmata from some higher science. Such, for ex ample, is metaphysics, which is quite generally ad mitted to be a true science. Hence it is plain that the
notion of a
science,

while of course

it

includes

cer

tainty, does not necessarily include evidence on the part of its principles. According to the luminous teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, 2 "Duplex est scientiarum genus.

quac proccdunt ex principiis notis geomctria ct huiusmodi; qnacdam rcro snnt, quac proccdunt ex principiis notis lumine superioris scientiae, sicut perspectiva procedit ex principiis notificatis per geometriam ct musica ex principiis per arithmeticam notis. Et hoc

Quaedam

enini sunt,

lumine naturalis

intellectus, sicut arithmctica,

est scientia, quia [i. c., theologia] procedit ex principiis notis lumine superioris scientiae,

modo

sacra doctrina

quae scil. est scientia Dei et beatorum. Unde sicut music us credit principia tradita sibi ab arithmetico, ita
doctrina sacra credit principia revelata sibi a
1

Deo."

3

Cfr. Hebr. xi,

"

i

:

Fides

...
art. 2.

3 Cfr.

P.

argumcntum non
2

apparcntiiim."
i,

gie

cine

Schanz, 1st die ThcoloWissensclwft? Tubingen

Summa

Thcol., la, qu.

1900.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
the fact that

3

b) Its specific character theology derives from
it

is

the science of faith, taking

faith both in its objective
sense.

and

in its subjective

Objectively considered, theology com those truths (and those truths only) prises which have been supernaturally revealed and are
all

contained in Scripture and Tradition, under the care of the infallible Church (depositum fidei).

Hence

all

branches of sacred theology, including

canon law and pastoral theology, are bottomed Revelation. upon supernatural Subjectively
theology as a science presupposes faith; for, though reason is the theologian s principle of knowledge, yet not pure reason, but
considered,

were beyond itself, borne, ennobled, and transfigured by supernatural faith. It was in this sense that the Fathers 4 insisted on the proposition: "Gnosis super fidem acdifireason carried as
it
catur,"

just as
s

Scholasticism was founded on
"Fides

St.

Anselm

famous axiom,

quaerit intel-

lectum."

between philosophy and theology. Philosophy, too, especially that branch of it known as Theodicy, treats of God, His existence, es sence, and attributes; but it treats of them only in the light of unaided human reason; while theology, on the
distinction

Hence a sharp

other hand, derives

its knowledge of God and divine from Revelation, as contained in Sacred things entirely Scripture and Tradition, and proposed to the faithful

4Cfr. Clement of Alexandria, Strom., VII.

4
by the

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
infallible

Church.
process,

To

elicit

the act of faith de

manded by

this

requires

an

interior

grace

While philosophy never transcends the bounds of pure reason, and therefore finds itself un able to prove the mysteries of faith by arguments drawn from its own domain, theology always and everywhere retains the character of a science founded strictly upon
(gratia fidei).
authority.
2.

THE HIGH RANK

OF THEOLOGY.
first

The
the

sciences.

ology must be assigned This appears:

place

among

While the a) From its immanent dignity. secular sciences have no other guide than the
flickering

based upon
lation,

lamp of human reason, theology is faith, which, both objectively as Reve and subjectively as grace, is an immediate
God.
St.
:

gift of

Paul emphasizes
. .

this truth in

i Cor. II, 7 sqq. "Loquimur Dei sapicntiam in mysterio, quae abscondita est, quam nemo hiiins saeculi nobis principnm cognovit
.

.

.

.

autem Dens revelavit per Spiritum suum We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery [a wis which none of the dom] which is hidden, of this world knew, but to us God princes hath revealed by his spirit." St. Thomas traces theology to God Himself: "Theologiae princi. .

.

.

.

.

pium proximum qnidem
b)

est fides, sed

primnm
5

est

intellects divinns, cui nos

credimus."

From

its

ulterior
De

object.
ad

The
7.

secular

5 Iu Boeth.

Trin., qu. 2, art. 2,

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
sciences, apart

5

to

man
at

s

gratification they afford natural curiosity and love of knowledge,

from the

no other end than that of shaping his earthly life, beautifying it, and perhaps perfect ing his natural happiness; while theology, on

aim

the other hand, guides man, in all his different modes of activity, including the social and the
political,
"eye

to a supernatural end, whose delights 6 hath not seen, nor ear heard."

The c) From the certitude which it ensures. of faith, upon which theology bases all certitude
its

deductions

a certitude that

is

rooted in the

inerrancy of Divine Reason, rather than in the participated infallibility o a finite, and conse quently fallible, mind excels even that highest

degree of human certitude which is within the reach of metaphysics and mathematics.
This threefold excellence of theology supplies us with motives for studying it diligently and thor

sufficient

oughly.

There does not
is

exist a
all

more sublime

science.

whom sciences, Theology even philosophy, despite its dignity and independence, must pay homage. Hence the oft-quoted Scholastic 7 The axiom Philosophia est ancilla theologiae."
the queen of

a queen to

"

:

more

a science leads up to God, the nobler, and the more useful it necessarily is. But the sublimer,
directly

can any science lead more directly to God than theology, which treats solely of God and things divine?
6
1
i

On

Cor. ii, 9. the true

corum sententia philosophiam
meaning of
this

esse

theologiae
1856.

ancillam,

Monasterii

dictum, see Clemens,

De

Scholasti-

6

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

We should, however, beware lest our study of the ology degenerate into mere inquisitive prying of the sort against which St. Paul warns us: Non plus sapere quam oportet sapere, sed sapere ad sobrietatem Not to be more wise than it behooveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety." 8 Let us not that it is
"

forget

punishable temerity to attempt to fathom the mysteries, strictly and properly so called, of faith. (Cfr. Ecclus. More than any other study that of Ill, 25.) theology should be accompanied by pious meditation and humble
prayer.
8

3. DEFINITION OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY. The notion of dogmatic theology is by no means

of faith.

conterminous with that of theology as the science Moral theology, exegesis, canon law, etc., and indirectly even the auxiliary theological
are
also

theology. Nevertheless, dogmatic theology claims the priv ilege of throning as a queen in the center of the other branches of From another theology.
point of view
it

disciplines,

subdivisions

of

may

be likened to a trunk from
like so

which the others branch out

We

many

limbs.

shall arrive

of dogmatic

easily at the true notion theology, in the modern sense of the

more

term, by enquiring into the

manner

in

which

theology
a)
lar
8

is

divided.

On the threshold we meet that most popu and most important division of theology into
3.

Rom. XII,

9

On

Theologia mentis

et cordis.

Prol.

I,

this subject, cfr.

Contenson,

2.

Lugduni 1673.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
theoretical

7

practical, according as theology is considered either as a speculative science or

and

as furnishing rules for the guidance of conduct. Theoretical theology is the science of faith in
its
is

proper sense, or dogmatics ethical or moral theology.
it

;

practical theology

Although

will not

der, because they are parts of

do to tear these disciplines asun one organic whole, and for

the further reason that the
;

main

rules of right conduct

are also dogmatic principles yet there is good ground for treating the two separately, as has been the custom since
the seventeenth century. glance into the Summa of St. Thomas shows that in the Middle Ages dogmatic

A

and moral theology were treated as parts of one or
ganic whole. Upon the subdivisions of either branch, or the manner in which historical theology (either as Biblical science or Church history), is to be subsumed

under the general subject,
cant.

this is not the place to des

falls into two and special. General great subdivisions, general dogmatics, which defends the faith against the attacks of heretics and infidels, is also known

b) Dogmatic theology naturally

by the name of Apologetics, or, more properly, Fundamental Theology, for the reason that, as
demonstratio Christiana
et catholica,
it

lays the

foundations for special dogmatics, or dogmatic 10 Of late it has become cus theology proper.

tomary

to

assign
J.,

to

fundamental theology a
I,
i

10 Cfr. Ottiger, S.

Theol. Fundamentalis,

sqq. Friburgi 1897.

8

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

of topics which might just as well be treated in special dogmatics, such as, e. g., the rule of faith, the Church, the papacy, and the
necessity of the subject-matter of these two fairly dividing branches of theology, but is chiefly due to the con sideration that the topics named to
really belong

number

between faith and reason. mendable practice grew out of the
relation

This com

the foundations of dogmatic theology proper, and besides, being doctrines in regard to which the

various denominations differ, they require a more detailed and controversial treatment.

We
matics.

purpose to follow this practice and to ex
all

clude from the present work which more properly belong

those subjects

We

define

general dog special dogmatics, or dog

to

matic
tire

theology proper, after the example of 11 Scheeben, as "the scientific exposition of the en

domain of theoretical knowledge, which can be obtained from divine Revelation, of God Him self and His activity, based upon the dogmas of

By emphasizing the words theo and dogmas, this definition excludes moral theology, which is also based upon divine Reve lation and the teaching of the Church, but is
Church."

the

retical

practical rather than theoretical.

A
is
on
i

dogma
Scheeben
s

is

a

norm
nell,

of knowledge
I,

;

the moral law
ogy

a standard
"Dog-

iiDogmatik,

3;

Wilhelm-Scan-

Based
I,

A Manual

of Catholic Theol-

matik,"

sqq..

London

1899.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
of conduct
;

9

though, of course, both are ultimately rooted in the same ground, viz., divine Revela tion as contained in Holy Scripture and Tradi
tion,

c) into

and expounded by the Church. Another division of dogmatic theology, that positive and Scholastic, regards method
than
substance.
Positive

theology, of which our catechisms contain a succinct digest,

rather

limits itself to ascertaining

matic teaching contained in lation. Among its most prominent exponents

and stating the dog the sources of Reve

we may mention

:

Petavius, Thomassin, Lieber-

12 and others. mann, Perrone, Simar, Hurter Thomassin, and especially Petavius, successfully combined the positive with the speculative method. When positive theology assumes a polemical tone, we have what is called Controver sial Theology, a science which Cardinal Bellarmine in the seventeenth century developed

against the so-called reformers.

Dogmatic theology is called Scholastic, when, assuming and utilizing the results of the positive
method,
of
12

it

undertakes: (a) to unfold the deeper

content of

dogma; (b) to set forth the relations the different dogmas to one another; (c) by
Hurter
s

admirable

Compenneeds

dium has been adapted

to the

of English-speaking students by the

and, still more succinctly, for the use of colleges, academies, and high schools, by the Rev. Charles Coppens,
S.
J.,

Rev. Sylvester Joseph Hunter, S. J., in his Outlines of Dogmatic Theology,
three

in

his

the
1903.

Catholic

Systematic Study of Louis St. Religion,

volumes,

London

1894,

2

io

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
deduce from given or cer
so-called
to
"theolog

syllogistic process to

tainly
ical

established

premises

conclusions;"

and (d)

make

plausible,

though, of course, not to explain

fully,

to

our

weak human reason, by means of philosophical meditation, and especially of proofs from anal ogy, the dogmas and mysteries of the faith. These four points, since St. Anselm s day, con
stituted

the

specific
13

programme

of

mediaeval

Scholasticism.

In order to do

full justice to its

specific task, dogmatic theology must combine both methods, the positive and the Scholastic; that is to say, it must not limit itself to ascer

dogmas of the Church, but, after ascertaining them and setting them forth in the most luminous manner possible, must endeavor to adapt them as much as can be to our weak human reason.
taining
the
i

and expounding

great mediaeval Scholastics, notably St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, treated what are called

The

a safe pro dogmatic truths as generally known data; cedure in those days because collections of Biblical and Patristic proofs for each separate dogma were then in the hands of every student. 14 As the most useful in strument for the speculative treatment of dogma, they
seized upon, not the Platonic philosophy, but the system In preferring Ariselaborated by the great Stagirite.
13 Cfr. J. Kleutgen, Theologie der

14 Cfr. Pesch, S.

J.,

Praelectiones
ed.,
p.

Vorzeit,
ster

znd

ed.,

V,

i

sqq.

Miin-

Dogmaticae, Vol.
Friburgi 1903.

I,

3rd

24.

1874.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
totle,

11

Scholasticism did not, however, antagonize the Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers, who, as is well known, had a strong penchant for Plato. Both Plato

and Aristotle may be said to lean on their common master, Socrates, who had grasped with rare acumen the fundamentals of natural religion, wherefor Socratic
philosophy, despite its incompleteness, has justly been 15 extolled as the It cannot Philosophia perennis." be denied, however, that theology in its various branches,
"

excepting dogma, owes a wholesome impulse to modern philosophy, in so far as modern philosophy, especially since Kant (d. 1804), sharpened the critical spirit in method and argumentation, deepened the treat ment of many dogmatic problems, and made theoretical
not
"

doubt
quiry.

"

the starting-point of every truly scientific in Since the Protestant Reformation threw doubt

nay even denied the principal dogmas of the Church, dogmatic theology has been, and still is com pelled to lay stress upon demonstration from positive A fusion of the sources, especially from Holy Writ. positive with the Scholastic method of treatment was
upon,
as early as the seventeenth century by the ologians like Gotti and the Wirceburgenses, whose ex ample has found many successful imitators in modern

begun

times

(Franzelin,

Scheeben,

Chr.

Pesch,

Billot,

To the works of these authors must be others). the commentaries on the writings of Aquinas
dinal
into
Satolli,

and added

L.

Janssens, and Lepicier.

by Car For reasons

which it is not necessary to enter here, the series of dogmatic text-books of which this is the first, while it will not entirely discard the speculative method of the Scholastics, which postulates rare in diaproficiency
Wien
10 Cfr. E.

Commer, Die itnmerwahrende

Philosophie,

1899.

12
lectics

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

and a thorough mastery of Aristotelian meta physics, as developed by the Schoolmen, will employ 1* chiefly the positive method of the exact sciences.

Mystic theology
ter

is

not an adversary but a

sis

of

Scholastic

theology.

While the

latter

appeals exclusively to the intellect, mysticism ad Hence its ad dresses itself mainly to the heart.

vantages, but also
tellect
is

its

perils,

for

when

the in
is

relegated to the background, there

danger that unclear heads will drift into pan theism, as the example of many of the exponents
of later mysticism shows.
17

It

must be remarked,

however,

in

this

connection that the greatest

mystics, like St.

Bonaventure, Richard and
18

Hugh

of St. Victor, and St. Bernard, were also thor

ough-going Scholastics. 4. SUBDIVISION OF SPECIAL DOGMATIC

THE

OLOGY. principal subject of dogmatic the 19 nor the Church, 20 ology as such is not Christ, but God. Now, God can be considered from a
16 As mend:

The

helpful aids we can recomSignoriello, Lexicon peri pa-

die

teticum

Neapoli

1872;

philosophico-thtologicum, L. Schutz, Thomas"

Einfiihrung in Mystik, Paderborn A. B. Sharpc, Mysticism: 1908; Its True Nature and Value, London
J.

18 Cfr.

Zahn,

christliche

Le.rikon, and ed., Paderborn 1895. On the subject of the philosophic
perennis,"

1910.
i

Cfr.

see

especially

O.

Will-

nia

enim
for

mann, Geschichte des Jdealismus, 3 vols., 3rd ed., Braunschweig 1908. 17 Cfr. Proposit. Ekkardi a. 1329 damn, a Joanne XXII, apud Denziger-Stahl,
sqq.,

autent

Cor. Ill, 22 sq. Om-vestra sunt, . . . vos Christi; Christus autem Dei all . . things are yours,
"

i

.

and you are Christ

s;

and Christ
c,,

is

God

s."

Enchird.,

ed.

9,

n.

428

20 Cfr. Kleutgen,

/.

pp.

24 sq.

Wirceburgi 1900.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
essence, or relatively,

13

twofold point of view: either absolutely, in His
in

His outward

activity

(operatic ad extra). cordingly divided into

Dogmatic theology is ac two well-defined, though

quantitatively unequal parts: (i) the doctrine of God per se, and (2) that of His operation ad extra.

again be subdivided into two sections, one of which treats of God con
first

The

part

may

sidered in the unity of His Nature (De Deo Uno secundum naturam), the other of the Trinity of

Persons

(De Deo Trino secundum personas).

His operation ad extra God manifests as Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, and Consummator. Di
vine Revelation, so far as it regards the created universe, includes not only the creation of na ture, but also the establishment of the super

natural order and the

fall

order of the rational creatures
angels.

from the supernatural i. e., men and

The treatise on the Redemption (De Verbo Incarnate) comprises, besides the re vealed teaching on the Person of our Saviour (Christology), the doctrine of the atonement (Soteriology), and of the Blessed Mother of our Lord (Mariology). In his role of Sanc tifier, God operates partly through His invisible grace (De gratia Christi), partly by means of visible, grace-conferring signs or Sacraments

14

GENERAL INTRODUCTION
in

(De Sacramentis,
Consummator,
Noznssimis).
is

gencre

et in specie).

The

dogmatic teaching of the Church on God the
developed in Eschatology (De
this

Into

framework the

entire

body of special
READINGS
ology,
I,
i
:

dogma
Hunter,
I,

can be compressed.
J.,

S. J.

S.

sqq.

Wilhelm-Scannell,
xvii sqq.

A Manual

Outlines of Dogmatic The of Catholic The

ology, London, 1899,

Generatim, Friburgi 1861. der Theologie, Freiburg
theol
1910.

Schrader, S. J., De Theologia Kihn, Enzyklofiadie und Methodologie C. 1892. Krieg, Enzyklopddie der

Wissenschaften, ncbst Methodenlehre, 2nd ed., Freiburg J. Pohle, "Die christliche Religion" in Die Kultur der
,

Gegenwart,

2 pp. 37 sqq. I, 4, Cfr. also D. Coghlan in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. V, s. v. "Dogma;" H. New J. man, The Idea of a University, Disc. 2 sqq. New edition, Lon

don

1893. Hettinger-Stepka, Timothy, or Letters to a Young Theologian, pp. 351 sqq., St. Louis 1902. T. B. Scannell, The
sqq., London 1908. Dogmatic Theology,

Priest s Studies, pp. 63
glican), Introduction to

F.

J.

Hall

(An
1907.

New York

GOD
HIS KNOWABILITY, ESSENCE,

AND ATTRIBUTES
PREFATORY REMARKS
Here below man can know God only by anal
ogy; hence

we

are constrained to apply to

Him
sit,

the three scientific questions: and Qualis sit, that is to say:

An

sit,

Quid

Does

He

exist?

What
ties

is

His Essence? and
?

or attributes

are His quali Consequently in theology, as

What

philosophy, the existence, essence, and at tributes of God must form the three chief heads
in

of

investigation.

The

differs

from the philosophical

treatment theological in that it con

siders the subject in the light of supernatural Revelation, which builds upon and at the same

time confirms, supplements, and deepens the con Since the clusions of unaided human reason.
theological question regarding the existence of God resolves itself into the query: Can we

know God?
falls into

the treatise

De Deo Uno

naturally

three parts:

(i)

(2) His essence; properties or attributes.

God;

The knowability of and (3) The divine

PART I THE KNOWABILITY OF GOD
CHAPTER
HUMAN
Human
REASON CAN
I

KNOW

GOD

is able to know God by a con templation of His creatures, and to deduce His existence from certain facts of the supernatural

reason

order.

Our primary and proper medium
is

the created universe,

i.

e.,

of cognition the material and

the spiritual world.

In defining both the created universe and the supernatural order as sources of our knowledge of God, the Church has barred Traditionalism

and at the same time eliminated the possibility of Atheism, though the latter no doubt consti tutes a splendid refutation of the theory that the idea of God is innate.

16

SECTION
MAN CAN GAIN

i

A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD FROM THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE

ARTICLE
THE

i

POSITIVE TEACHING OF REVELATION

we assume

In entering upon this division of our treatise, that the reader has a sufficient ac

quaintance with the philosophic proofs for the existence of God, as furnished by theodicy and
1

apologetics.

As

and

traditionalists to

against the attempt of atheists deny the valor and strin

gency of these proofs, Catholic theology staunch ly upholds the ability of unaided human reason to know God. Witness this definition of the Vatican Council 2 quis dixerit, Deum
:

"Si

unum

nostrum, per ea quae fact a sunt, natural* rationis humanae
liimine certo cognosci non posse, anathema sit If any one shall say that the one true God, our

et

verum, creatorem

et

Dominum

Creator and Lord, cannot be certainly
iCfr.
caea
s.

known by

Hontheim,
Theol.

S.

J.,

Theodi-

Friburgi 1893; Fr. Aveling, The God of Philosophy, London 1906; C. Gutber-

Naturalis,

1890; B. Boedder, S. J., Natural Theology, 2nd ed., London 1899; J. T. Driscoll, Christian Philosophy:

God,

New York

1904.
*.

let,

Theodicee,

and

ed.,

Munster

2 Sess. Ill,

de Revel., can.

17

i8

THE TEACHING OF REVELATION
natural
light
let

the

of

human

reason

created things;
see

him be

anathema."

through Let us

how

this

dogma can

be proved from Holy

Scripture and Tradition.
i.

THE ARGUMENT FROM SACRED

SCRIPTURE.

means
II,

a) Indirectly the possibility of knowing God by of His creatures can be shown from Rom.

enim gentes, quae legem non 4 habent, naturalitcr ca quae legis sunt faciunt, eiusmodi legcm non habcntes ipsi sibi sunt lex:
14 sqq.
3
:

"Cum

5 qui ostcndunt opus legis, scriptnm in cordibns suis, testimonium rcddcntc illis conscientia ipso-

rum

ct inter se

inriccm cogitationibusf accusan-

tibus aut etiam defendentibus, in die Dens occulta hominum sccundnm

mcum, per Icsum Christum tiles, who have not the law, do by nature
:

cum iudicabit Evangdium For when the Gen
those

things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves who shew the work
of the law written in their hearts, science bearing witness to them,
their

con
their

and

thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another, in the day when God
shall

judge the secrets of

men by
St.

Jesus Christ,

according to
The
is
"

my

"

gospel.

law

"

(lex, VO/AOS) of
in

which
the

identical
TO.
fi

content

with

moral

Paul here speaks, law of na-

*
<f>Vffi

ra TOV

vofjiov

Troiuwv.

8

TUV

\oyiffjj.wv-

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
7

19

ture,

the

same which constituted the formal subjectsupernatural

matter

of

Revelation

in

the

Decalogue.

Hence, considering the mode of Revelation, there is a well-defined distinction, not to say opposition, between the moral law as perceived by unaided human reason, and the revealed Decalogue. Whence it follows, against
in the aboveteaching of Estius, that gentcs," of St. Paul, must refer to the heathen, in quoted passage the strict sense of the word, not to Christian converts

the

"

from Paganism. For, one who has the material con written in his heart," so that, Decalogue without having any knowledge of the positive Mosaic a law unto himself," being able, con legislation, he is with the demands of sequently, to comply naturally the Decalogue, and having to look forward on Judgment Day to a trial conducted merely on the basis of his own
tent of the
"

"

"

"

conscience,

such a one,

I

say,

is

outside the sphere of

8 supernatural Revelation.

From this passage Romans we argue as

of St. Paul

s

letter to the

follows

:

There can be no

knowledge of the natural moral law derived from unaided human reason, unless parallel with it,

and derived from the same source, there runs a natural knowledge of God as the supreme law giver revealing Himself in the conscience of man. Now, St. Paul expressly teaches that the Gentiles were able to observe the natural law
"naturaliter"
7 Cfr. 8 Cfr.
"by

nature"

i.

e.,

without the

Rom.

II,

21 sqq.

the commentaries of Bisp-

ing and Aloys Schafer on St. Paul s On the exEpistle to the Romans.

difficulties raised by St. egetical Augustine and Estius, see Franzelin, De Deo Uno, thes. 4.

20
aid of

THE TEACHING OF REVELATION
supernatural revelation.
is

Since no one
it,

can observe a law unless he knows
supposition obviously
that

St.

Paul

s

the existence of

God, qua author and avenger of the natural law, can likewise be known "naturaliter" that is to

by unaided human reason. b) A direct and stringent proof for our thesis can be drawn from Wisdom XIII, I sqq., and
say,

18 sqq. After denouncing the folly of those whom there is not the knowledge of God/ 9 the
I,
<*)

Rom.

"in

continues (XIII, 5 sq.): 10 magnitudine cnim speciei et creaturae cognos11 2 cibilitcr creator horum ridcri. potent
of
"A

Book

Wisdom

1

.

.

.

I tent

m

ant em
13

nee his debet ignosci;
scire,

si

cnim

tantnm potncnint
saccitlum,
cilius
14

nt

posscnt

acstimare
fa-

qnomodo huins Dominnm non

inveneruntf

For by the greatness of

the beauty, and of the creature, the creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby.
.
.
.

doned; for
as to

But then again they are not to be par if they were able to know so much

make a judgment of the world, how did not more easily find out the Lord thereof?" they

A

careful analysis of this passage reveals the The existence of following line of thought:
"

In quibus non

at
for

scientio
"

Dei."

12

10

By hendyadis
creature."

beauty of

the
11

Ava\6y(t)S

aTo\a.ffa(r9cLi rov aliJJvd, to explore, the visible world, 1*

13

..

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
God
is

21

an object of the same cognitive faculty
the visible world,
i.

that explores

e.,

human

reason.
of

Hence the medium
world,
the

of our

knowledge

God

can be none other than that same

ma
of

terial

magnitude

and

beauty

which

leads us to infer that there

Creator

edge of

who brought it forth. God is more easily

must be a Such a knowl

deeper knowledge of the fact, absence of it would argue unpardonable As viewed by the Old Testament carelessness. writer, therefore, nature furnishes sufficient data
to enable the

acquired than a creatural world; in

mind

of

man

to attain to a

knowl

ex edge of the existence of God, without any traneous aid on the part of Revelation or any

by supernatural grace. have a parallel passage in the New 0) Testament, Rom. I, 18 sqq., which reaches its climax in verse 20: "Invisibilia enim ipsius

special illumination

We

Dei] a creatura mundi per ea, quae facta 15 sempiterna quosunt, intellecta conspiciuntur eius virtus et diviniias, ita ut sint inexcusaqite
[scil.

biles

16

For the

invisible things of

him [God]

from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity so that they In other words: are inexcusable/ God, Who
:

is rois

TToiij/iiCKrt

voovfj.eva

Ka0o-

1C

ai>airo\6yir)Toi.

parcu.

22
is

THE TEACHING OF REVELATION
per se invisible, after some fashion becomes human reason (voov/uva Kafloparai). But

visible to

positive revelation, nor yet by the interior grace of faith; but solely by means of a natural revelation imbedded in the created

how?

Not by

world (TOW iroi^aw).
appears to be such

To know God from nature an easy and matter-of-fact

process (even to man in his fallen state), that the heathen are called "inexcusable" in their

ignorance and are in punishment therefor "given up to the desires of their heart unto unclean17
ness."

c)

Scripture
tinction

By way we

of supplementing this argument from Holy will briefly advert to the important dis

existing,

God.
effort,

which the Bible makes, or at least intimates as between popular and scientific knowledge of The former comes spontaneously and without

while the latter demands earnest research and conscientious study, and, where there is guilty ignorance, involves the risk of a man s falling into the errors of
polytheism, pantheism,
tion
etc.

We

find this

same

distinc

made by St. Paul in his sermons at Lystra and Athens, and we meet it again in the writings of the
Fathers, coupled with the consideration that, to realize
the existence of a
to

Supreme Being men have but
like

to advert

the

fact

that

guided

and
at

nations, directed by
"

God

individuals, are plainly s Providence. In his

sermon
the

Lystra, after noting that God had allowed Gentiles to walk in their own ways," that is

to say, to

become the prey of
17

false religions, the
24 sqq.

Apos-

Rom.

I,

18,

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
tie

23

declares that

He

nevertheless

18

without
rains

testimony,
19

doing

good

left not Himself from heaven, giving

"

and

fruitful seasons, rilling

and

gladness."

our hearts with food Before the Areopagus at Athens, the
"

great Apostle of the Gentiles, pointing to the altar dedi cated To the Unknown God/ said God, who made
"

:

the world, and hath made of one [Adam] all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times and the limits of their habi
. .
.

tation, that they should seek God, if happily they feel after him or find him, 20 he be not

may
far

although

from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and are." 21 In the following verse (29) he calls at tention to the unworthy notion that the Divinity is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of Both sermons assume that art, and device of man." there is a twofold knowledge of God: the one direct,
"

the other reflex.

spontaneously in the

The direct knowledge of God arises mind of every thinking man who

contemplates the visible universe and ponders the favors In the reflexive or continually lavished by Providence. metaphysical stage of his knowledge of God, on the other hand, man is exposed to the temptation wrongly to transfer the concept of God to objects not divine,

and thus

to

fall

into

gross

polytheism

or

22

have, therefore, Scriptural warrant for holding that the idea of God is entirely spontaneous in its origin,

We

idolatry.

but

may easily (though, it is true, only by an abuse of reason), be perverted in the course of its scientific de
23
!8 jccu roi nihilominus. ye 19 Acts XIV, 16.

velopment.

=

21 Acts 22 Cfr.

XVII, 24-28.

Wisdom
In

20

"Si

forte

attrectent

ewn

ant

23 Hieron.

ep.

XIII, 6 sqq. ad Tit. I,
of

10.

inveniant."

For a

further

elucidation

the

24
2.

THE TEACHING OF REVELATION
The
Patristic

argument may be reduced

to

three

main

propositions.

a) In the first place, the Fathers teach that God manifests Himself in His visible creation,

and may be perceived there by man without the
aid of supernatural revelation.
Athenagoras calls the existing order of the material pledges of divine world, its magnitude and beauty, * For the visible is the medium and adds worship Clement of by which we perceive the invisible.
"
"

"

:

*

:

Alexandria, too, insists that we gain our knowledge of Divine Providence from the contemplation of God s

works

in nature,

so

much

so that

it

is

unnecessary to

resort to elaborate arguments to prove the existence of Greeks and barbarians, All men," he says, God.
"

"

discern God, the Father and Creator of all things, un 2T 26 calls the St. Basil aided and without instruction."
"

visible

creation
28

a

school

and

institution

of

divine

knowledge."

St.

Chrysostom, in his third homily on

the Epistle to the Romans (n. 2), apostrophizes St. Did God call the Gentiles with his voice? Paul thus: But He has created something which is Certainly not.
"

more forcibly than words. apt to draw their attention He has put in the midst of them the created world and of visible things, the thereby from the mere aspect learned and the unlearned, the Scythian and the bar
barian, can all ascend to God." 29 Otnnis the Great teaches:
"

homo

Similarly St. Gregory eo ipso quod ra-

subject,

see

J.

Lehre

des

M.

Quirmbach, Paulus von
Sittengesets,

Die
der

23 Lcgat. pro Christ., n. 4 sq. 20 Strom., V, 14.

naturlichen

Gotteserkenntnis

und
Frei-

27 In

Hexaem.,

horn,
trai

i,

n.

6.

dem

natiirlichen

28

5tda<TKa\clot>

Oeoyvuffiat
Cfr.
Sprinzl,

burg 1906.
.

iraiSfvrlipiov. 2Q Moral, xxvii,

5-

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
tionalis
est

25

conditus,

debet
esse

ex ratione

colligere,

eum

qui se condidit

Deum
a

By

the use of his reason

every
fact

man must come
that
is

to the conclusion that the very

he

is

rational

creature

proves

that

his

Creator

God."

b)

The Fathers further

teach:

From even

a

superficial contemplation of finite things there must arise spontaneously, in every thinking man,
at least a popular

knowledge of God.

explain how natural it is to rise from a contem plation of the physical universe to the existence of God, some of the Fathers call the idea of God an in
"

To

planted by nature in the mind of a knowledge which is not acquired," 31 but a dowry of reason," 32 and which, precisely because it is so easy of acquisition, is quite common among men.
nate
conviction,
30
"

man,"
"

Tertullian

calls

"

upon

the

soul

of

the
soul

Gentiles

"

to
"

give testimony to God, learned in the school of
"

not

the

wisdom,"

which has but that which is
"

simplex, rudis, impolita et
tura,"

idiotica."

Magistra nais

he says,

"

anima discipula
33

Nature

the teacher,

the soul a

pupil."

St.

Augustine says that the con
blends with the very essence est vis verae divinitatis, ut
iain

sciousness

of

we have human reason
:

of
"

God Haec

creaturae rationale

ratione

utcnti

non omnino ac
[sc. atheis]

penitus possit abscondi; e.vceptis enim paucis
in qiiibus natura

nimium depravata est, universum genus hominum Deum mundi hnius fatetur auctorem For
Die
Viiter,

Theologie
pp.

der
sqq.,

apostolischen

31

no

Vienna
tvvoia

1880.
t

30

36a

<?/U$I/TOS,

%n<f>vT9s

xprjfj.a ou 5i8a/CTOf, auro/xa^s. 32 Traai ffv^vros \6yos. 33 De Testim. An,, c. 2 et 5.

26
such
is

THE TEACHING OF REVELATION
the energy of true Godhead, that
it

cannot be

altogether and utterly hidden from any rational creature. For with the exception of a few in whom nature has

become outrageously depraved, the whole race of man 88a acknowledges God as the maker of this world."
Seeking a deeper explanation, several Fathers (e. g., Justin Martyr and St. Basil) have raised the rational soul to the rank of an essential image of the Eternal

which irresistibly Logos, calling it a Aoyo? seeks out and finds God in the universe.
<77rp/>umKd?,

c)

The Fathers

finally teach that

human

rea

son possesses, both in the visible world of ex terior objects, and in its own depths, sufficient means to develop the popular notion of God into a philosophical concept.
combat paganism and on two form a of God; viz., the cosmological and philosophical concept the teleological. Augustine s profounder mind turned
Fathers,
to

The Greek

who had

the heresy of the Eunomians, generally relied arguments as sufficient to enable any man to

to the purely metaphysical order of the true, the good, and the beautiful, to deduce therefrom the existence

of

34 This Goodness, and Beauty. trend of mind did not, however, prevent him from ac knowledging the validity of the teleological and cos

Substantial

Truth,

"

mological
coeli,

argument.

Intcrroga

mundum,
.

ornatum
. .

fulgorem dispositionemque siderum, terroga omnia et inde, si non sensu suo tcunquam

intibi

respondent:

Dens nos

fecit.
n.

Hacc
4.

et

philosophi nobiles
12.

SSa Tract. In loa., 106, 34Cfr. Confess., VIII,

17;

DeLib. Arbit.,

II,

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
quaesierunt et

27
.
.
.

ex arte artificem cognoverunt.

Quod

curiositate invenerunt, superbia perdiderunt"

35

ARTICLE

2

THE IDEA OF GOD NOT INBORN

IDEA OF GOD is IN so insisted BORN.- Several of the Fathers strongly on the original and spontaneous char acter of our knowledge of God, that a number of 36 were led to claim Patristic authority theologians
i.

THE THEORY THAT OUR

for the theory of innate ideas evolved by the famous Descartes. According to the teaching of

these theologians, the Patristic concept of God is not based upon a conclusion of human reason (idea Dei acquisita), but is inborn (idea Dei in-

nata).

Our
is

"consciousness

of

God,"

says

e.

g.

Kuhn,
of

but part and parcel of our
that
3T

"self-con

sciousness,"

is

to say,

it

is

"a

knowledge

God founded upon His
mind."

revelation to the

hu

man
For

as,

e.

g.,
-nj

a plausible enough theory. Justin Martyr terms the idea of
It is
<v<r

God
35

"e/vTOv

TWV avOpuiruv Sogav,
37a
men,"

implanted in the nature of
Put.

an Opinion so also Ter-

Serm. 141. Cfr. Schiffini, Dis~ Metaphysicae Specialis, II, 61 sqq. Aug. Taurin. 1888. Copious references from the Greek Fathers will be found in Petavius, De Deo, i Cfr. also on the whole I, sq.
subject:

natiirliche

nach Gotteserkenntnis der Lehre der kappadosischen Kirchenvater, Straubing 1903-4. 36 Thomassin, Klee, Tournely, Drey, Kuhn. 37 Bin Wissen von Gott auf
"

Van
in

Endert, Der Gottespatristischen
Zeit,

Grund
Geiste."

seiner

Offenbarung

im

beweis

der

Freiburg 1861; K. Unterstein, Die

87a

A poL,

II, n. 6.

S8

THE IDEA OF GOD NOT INBORN
"Animae

tullian teaches:

scientia
ct in

Dei dos

est,

enim a primordio concad em nee alia et in Acg\ptiis

Syris et in Pontieis From the beginning the knowledge of God is the dowry of the soul,

one and the same amongst the Egyptians, and
the Syrians, and the tribes of
2.
Pontus."

38

that the concept of

REFUTATION OF THIS THEORY. The theory God is inborn in the human

mind, cannot stand the test of either philosophy or theology. AYithout entering into its philo sophical weaknesses, we will only remark that
aside from the danger of idealism which it in curs, the very possibility of atheism renders
this theory improbable.

While not perhaps de

serving of formal theological censure, it cannot escape the note of "hazardous," inasmuch as it
apt to endanger the dogmatic truth that the existence of God is strictly demonstrable on ra
is

can be shown beyond a peradventure that the Patristic teach
rate
it

tional grounds. 30

At any

ing of the primordial character of human belief in God, is by no means identical with the theory of Descartes, and cannot be construed as an

argument
idea of

in

favor of the proposition that the
is

God

inborn.
place, the
Cfr. Ot-

a) In the
38 Adv. Marcion.,
ten,

first
I,

assumption that
Chr.
t.

it

10.

89 Cfr.
Itct.

Pesch,
II,

S.

J.,

PraeFri-

Der Grundgedanke der
Philosophie,

Carte-

Dogm.,

jrd

ed.,

sianischen
1896.

Freiburg

burgi 1906.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

29

can be so construed does not square with the noetic system of those very Fathers who speak
of our

knowledge of God as

"innate."

Clement

Gregory Nazianzen, Augustine and John of Damascus, uniformly teach that all our concepts, including those we have of God and divine things, in their last analysis are drawn from experience by means of a consideration of the material universe hence they cannot possibly mean to say that our idea
;

of Alexandria, Athanasius,

of

God
b)

is

inborn.

40

A

careful comparison of

all

the Patristic

passages bearing on this subject shows that the Fathers nowhere assert that our idea of God

though they frequently insist on the spontaneity with which, by virtue of an uncon scious syllogism, this idea springs from any, even the most superficial, consideration of na
is

innate,

ture.

What
God

is

inborn in our mind

is

not the

as such, but rather the faculty readily 41 to discover God in His creatures.
idea of
40 Tertullian

seems
like

to

offer
rest,

an
he
"a

tuitions,

pp.

166
of

sqq.,

Paderborn
e.

exception;

but,
"

the

concludes
tor em"

ex factitamentis ad facand explains the phrase which might give rise primordio,"
to
"

1893. 41 Gregory

says:
lex

"Ratio

a

Deo

Nazianzus, data

g.,

et

om-

a misunderstanding,

as

follows:

Deus nunquam
conditor

incertus,

siquidem

ignotus, idea nee a primordio

nibus congenita et prima in nobis otnnibusque conserta ad Deum nos deducit ex visibilibus" (Orat.
28,
n.

6),

which
the

is

in
"

rerum
pariter
prolatis

earum
est,

cum
for

ipsis

cord

with

teaching

perfect acof St.
cognitio

compertus

ipsis

ad hoc
the

Thomas

Aquinas:

Dei

[He
ut

created

them

purpose]

Deus

cognosceretur."

nobis dicitur innata esse, in quanturn per principia nobis innata de
facili

Cfr. G. Esser, Die Seelenlehre Ter-

percipere

possumus

Deum

30
3.

THE IDEA OF GOD NOT INBORN
THE

NECESSITY OF PROVING THE EXIST ENCE OF GOD. If the idea we have of God is not inborn, but owes its origin to a consideration of
the cosmos, it necessarily follows that the exist ence of God must be demonstrated syllogistically.
a) The knowableness of God, as taught by Holy Scripture and the Church, ultimately resolves itself into His demonstrability. To question the validity of the

ordinary proofs for the existence of God, and to say,
as
e.

g.

W. Rosenkranz

says

42
:

"

The

so-called

meta

physical proofs, which theology has hitherto employed, have one and all failed when put to a critical test/ is to advocate scepticism and to miss the meaning in

tended by the Church. If no conclusive argument for the existence of God had yet been found, it would be safe to say that none such exists, and that the case is

XVI obliged Professor Bautin, of Ratiocinatio Dei assent to the thesis Strasbourg, to e.vistentiam cum ccrtitudinc probarc potcst." (Sept. 8,
hopeless.

Gregory

"

:

Fifteen years later the S. Congregation of the Index ordered Bonnetty to subscribe this proposition:
1840.)
"

Ratiocinatio

Dei

e.vistentiam,

animae spiritualitatcm,
probare
**
potest"

hominis libertatem cum
(Dec. 12, 1855.)

certitudine

we inquire into the nature of the middle term indispensable to a valid syllogistic argument for the existence of God, we find that Sacred Scripture and the Fathers agree that we must ascend to God a pob) If
is

that

esse

"

(In Bocth.
art.
3,

De

Trin., prooem.,

ad 6). Cfr. Kleutgen, Philosophie der Vorseit, Abhandl. i and 9; Franzelin, De Deo
qu.
i,

Theologie, Vol. Ill, \ 140. 42 Die Prinzipien der Theologie,
p.

30,

Munchen

1875.

43 Cfr. St. Thomas, Contra. Gent.,
I,

Una,

thes.

7;

Heinrich,

Dogmat.

12.

-KNOWABILITY OF GOD
steriori,
i.

31
us.

e. }

from the material world that surrounds

This fact alone would explain the distrust which the ologians have ever shown towards the a priori or ontological

argument

of

St.

Anselm. 44

Of

the

other

proofs for the existence of God, it may be noted that two, namely, first, that which from the consideration

of possible or contingent beings passes on to the conclu
sion that at least one necessary being exists and, sec draws ondly, that commonly called teleological, which
;

from order and beauty in the physical universe, are imposed on us both by Holy Writ and the teaching of the Fathers. Nor, as the example of 45 can the moral and historical proofs St. Paul shows,
this conclusion

(conscience,

providence)
it

be brushed aside as
that

lacking

cogency.

Whence

appears

these

arguments

cannot easily be improved, except perhaps with regard to method, and by formulating them with greater Since it is not the object of Revelation precision.
to furnish

istence

an exhaustive course of proofs for the ex of God, such other arguments as that of St. Augustine based upon the metaphysical essences, and the one drawn from man s desire for happiness, must

also be accepted as valid, provided, of course, they not move in a vicious circle.

do

c) The a posteriori demonstrability of God is con firmed by the great theological luminaries of the Middle Ages. Thus St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Scho
"

lastic theologians, teaches:

quod Deus non

cst

primum quod a

Simpliciter dicendum est, nobis cognoscitur;

sed magis per creaturas in Dei cognitionem venimus, secundum illud Apostoli ad Romanos (I, 20): Invisi44 Cfr. St.
10, art. 12.

Thomas, De

Verit., qu.

45
16;

Rom. II, XVII, 24

14
sqq.

sqq.;

Acts XIV,

32

THE IDEA OF GOD NOT INBORN

Primum autem quod
St.

biha Dei per ea, quae facta sunt, intellccta conspiciuntur. intelligitur a nobis secundum statum
rci
materialis."

praescntis vitae, est quidditas

40

That

view, apart from his ontological argument, was in substantial agreement with that of St. Thomas, 47 has been established by Van Weddingen.
s

Anselm

Romae

Cfr. the compendiums of Hurter, Jungmann, Bautz, Einig, Hcinrich-Huppcrt, Wilhelm-Scannell, and Hunter. Also, in particular, *Card. Franzelin, De Deo uno, ed. 30,
:

READINGS

1883.*

Kleutgen,

De

Heinrich,

Dogmatischc

Theologie,

Ipso Deo, Ratisbonae Vol. Ill, Mayence

1881.
1883.

*Scheeben, Katholische Dogmatik, Vol. I, Freiburg 1873. *De San, De Deo uno, 2 vols., Lovanii 1804-97. *Stentrup, De Deo uno, Oeniponte 1878. *L. Janssens, O. S. B., De Deo uno, 2 tomi, Friburgi 1000. A. M. Lepicier, De Deo uno, 2 vols.,
Parisiis 1900.
ed.,
linii

Ronayne,
1902.

S. J.,

New York
1909.

D. Coghlan, P. H. Buonpensiere, O.

God Knowable and Known, 2nd De Deo Uno et Trino, DubP.,

Comment,

in I P. (qu. i-

Aquinatis, Romae 1902. Chr. Pesch, S. J., Pracl. Dogmat., Vol. II, ed. 33, R. F. Clarke] Friburgi 1906. S. J., The Existem-e of Of the Scholastics, God, London 1892. especially St. Thomas, Summa Theol. ia, qu. i sqq. and Summa contra Gentiles, 1. I, cap. 10 sqq. (Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures, London 1005, pp. 9 sqq.) also the treatises of Suarez, Petavius, and Thomassin, De Deo uno, and Lessius, De Perfectionibus Moribusque Diiwis, ed. nova, Parisiis 1881. The
;

23) S. Th.

Thomac

teaching of Franzelin and Palmieri is summarized in English by W. Humphrey, S. J., in "His Divine Majesty," or the Living God, London 1897.^ Other references in the text. 48
46 S. Theol., i a, qu. 84, art. 7. 47 Essai critique sur la philosophic de S. Anselme, chap. 4, Bruxelles

name

indicates that his treatment of the question is especially clear and thorough. As- St. Thomas is invari-

1875.

See

also

Heinrich,
Ill,

Dogm.

Theologie,

Vol.

Konig,

Schdpfung

und

A. 137; Gotteser-

ably the best guide, the omission of the asterisk before his name never

kenntnis, Freiburg 1885; and E. Die Rolfes, Gottesbcweise bei

Thomas
Koln
48

i

on Aquin und Aristoteles,
asterisk before an author s

means that we consider his work in any way inferior to that of others. There are vast stretches of dogmatic theology which he scarcely ever
touched.

1898.

The

SECTION

2

OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS DERIVED FROM THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER
In relation to our knowledge of

God

the facts

of the supernatural order may be viewed from a twofold coign of vantage: either as premises for

a syllogism demonstrating the existence of God from the standpoint of human reason; or as a

preamble to supernatural faith in God (actus fidei in Deum), which, being a cognitio Dei per
fidem, differs essentially

from the cognitio Dei

per rationem.

ARTICLE

i

THE FACTS OF THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER CONSIDERED AS
PREMISES FOR UNAIDED REASON
i.

STATE OF THE QUESTION.

Both nature and

the supernatural order,. the latter even more convincingly than the former, tell us that there is a God. The arguments which c an be

drawn from
the

supernatural order the ful filment of prophecies, miracles (in the Old and
the

New

Testament), Christ and His mission,
33

34

THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER

are historical, and therefore appeal most forci bly to the student of history, though scarcely any

thinking mind can escape their force.

must call particular attention to the fact that the proofs for the existence of God drawn from the supernatural deeds of the Almighty
Himself, are really and truly arguments based on reason, and hence do not differ essentially

We

from others of the same

class.

All of

them

depend for their validity upon the law of cau But the proofs here under consideration sation.
possess the twofold advantage of being
perfect
( I )

more

and (2) more

effective.

They

are (i)

more

perfect, because the supernatural effects wrought by God far surpass those of the purely natural order, inasmuch as greater effects point to a

more

perfect cause.

They

are

(2)

more

effective, because they are based, not upon every day phenomena constantly recurring in accord

ance with Nature
startling facts
cles)

s

laws,

but upon rare and

which cannot

(such as prophecies and mira fail to impress even those

who pay little heed to the glories of Nature. 2. SKETCH OF THE ARGUMENT. From the mass of available material we will select three
prominent phenomena, which prove the existence
of a

Supreme Being.

a) The first is the history of the Jews under the Old Covenant. As the Chosen People of God for two

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
thousand years they led a
life radically different

35

religious, social,

and

political

from

that of the heathen nations
to a racial predisposition,

around them.
such as
e.

It

was not due

g.

a monotheistic instinct, that the Jewish

were able to pre people, encompassed by pagan nations, serve their peculiar belief, constitution, and discipline;
for

was not

their chief faults?
peculiarities

the inclination to practice idolatry one of The true explanation is that all their

were bottomed upon supernatural causes, a long, unbroken chain of prophecies and miracles, visi ble apparitions of a hidden Power to individuals (Moses)

and

whole people (the legislation given on Mount entire Old Testament is a most wonderful Sinai). revelation of God and His attributes, and furnishes and gra cogent proof for the existence of an almighty
to the

The

cious sovereign.

1

b) Secondly,
Cfr. Heb.
I, i,

there
"

is

the

person of Jesus

Christ.

2:

Multifariam multisque modis o lim

in prophctis, novissime diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio, quern constitute haeredem uniGod, who at sun versorum, per quern fecit et saecula

Deus loquens patribus

divers manners spoke, in times past the prophets, last of all, in these days to the fathers by hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed

dry times and

in

heir of

by whom also he made the world." The Old Testament was plainly a mere preparation for In the person of the Messiah, God appeared the New.
all

things,

gia

F. H. Reinerding, TheoloFundamentalis, pp. 112 sqq., DeFrederick Monasterii 1864. litzsch s recent attempt (Babel und
l Cfr.

by

a

number

of

eminent

As-

For information syriologists. which intricate this subject,
called

on
has

Bibel,

Leipzig

1902),

to

trace

the

books
is

genesis of Jewish monotheism and the Mosaic revelation back to the civilization and culture of ancient Babylon was promptly frustrated

a veritable flood of pamphlets, the reader referred to J. Nikel, Genesis
forth

and

und Keilschriftforschung,
1903-

Freiburg

36

THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER

His wondrous conception, His miracles and prophecies, His superhuman teaching, His insti tuting the Church, His resurrection and ascension, tri
umphantly prove Christ to be what He claimed to be: Son of God. Hence God exists. Historians and philosophers are constrained to acknowledge in the words of the Evangelist (John I, 14) And we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of
the true
"

bodily on earth.

:

the Father, full of grace and truth." Like the two hands of a clock, universal history, before and after

ward
tian

Christ, gives testimony of Jesus:- antiquity pointing for as a pacdagogus ad Christum," while the Chris
"

era points
s

backward

to

indicate

fulfilment.

The
is

Incarnation represents the climax and culmination of

God
very

self-revelation to

humankind.

Thus Christ

in

truth the axis of the

universe and of universal

wonderful and moral regeneration of the Mediterranean races wrought by the influence of Christianity in the first three centuries of its existence. Oppressed by the shadow of death," the Gentiles before Christ walked in the ways of evil and darkness, or, as St. Paul puts it, God in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways." * The fourth century of the Christian era found these same nations radically a new generation walk changed they had become
religious
" " "
"

3 history, the living proof of Theism. third argument is derived from the c)

A

the way of the cross," ing in burning what they had previously adored." The bloody persecutions of the Caesars had proved so ineffective in stamping out
the

"

"

new
1897;

religion, that

Tertullian

was

able to exclaim:
1906.

3 Cfr.

Didon, Jesus Christ, Lon-

don

Bougaud. The Divinity

of Christ, New York * Acts XIV, 15.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
"

37

Sanguis
aside
ical
all

martyrum semen

Christianorum."

Leaving

other considerations, from the purely histor point of view alone such a radical transforma

tion of the family,

and of economic and

political life,

the

conversion of the masses, and their preservation, even at the risk of life, in a state of moral purity such

as the world

had never known before, demands an ade

quate explanation. Where are we to seek for this ex planation? Surely not in the circumstances, either extraneous or internal, of the regenerated masses them
selves.

For both

in

doctrine

was the

antithesis of paganism,

and morals Christianity and therefore could not

All attempts to derive possibly have developed from it the Christian religion from remnants of Oriental beliefs

or the philosophic theories of the Greeks (Stoicism, NeoFar from aiding Platonism, Philo) have utterly failed. in the regeneration of the corrupt masses under the

Roman Empire,

philosophy made common cause against Christianity with a fanatical Jewry and a paganism al ready struggling in the grip of death. Nor did the new

religion

owe
its

its

final

triumph to force.

The

rulers of

the mighty Empire, far

advancing
foe,

from favoring Christianity and spread with the powerful means at their
these engines against
it

command, turned
blood of
its

and sought to drown the new
adherents. 5

faith

as a deadly in the life-

It was not until the day of Constantine that a change set in. There is no satisfac tory explanation for all this except that a superhuman

Being guides the destinies of men and lets the gentle sun of His providence shine upon the weak and the Filled with a conviction of this strong alike. great truth, the unknown author of the Epistle to Diognetus 6
5 Cfr. P. Allard, Ten Lectures 6 Epist. ad Diogn., n. 7.

on the Martyrs, London 1907.

38
writes:

THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER
"

Ista

non videntur hominis opera, haec
s."

irirtus
7

est Dei, haec adventus eius sunt demonstration

ARTICLE

2

THE SUPERNATURAL FACTS AS A PREAMBLE TO OUR BE LIEF IN THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
i.

STATE OF THE QUESTION.

The supernat

ural facts described in the previous article are more than mere arguments of reason for the ex
istence

of

God.

Inasmuch as they prove the

Christian religion to be divine, they are also a pracambulum to the supernatural act of faith in
the existence of God.

To work

out this argu
8

ment
sized.

in detail is the business of apologetics.

There is another consideration that must be empha While the Revelation made through Jesus Christ, in spite of its demonstrability on rational grounds, does

not necessarily compel supernatural faith, but may leave the unbeliever entirely unconvinced, it produces in
the

mind of him who receives it willingly the act of Inasmuch as, with regard to their contents, the praeambula fidei form an essential part of divine Revela
faith.

tion,
fidei.

they enter as a necessary ingredient into this actus From a mere outwork of (subjective) faith they
B.

7 Cfr.

Jungmann,
pp.

De

Vera

the

first

edition of this work, while

Religione, 1871; F.

Brugis Bole, Flavius Josephus iiber Christus und die Christen in den jiidischen Altertiimern, Brixen
197
sqq.,

1896. 8 Cfr. Schanz, Apologie des Chris-

tentums, 3rd ed., Vol. II, Freiburg 1905. The English translation of

reprinted, has not kept pace with the thoroughly overhauled second and third editions of the German original. Recently a fourth edition has begun to appear under the editorship of Prof. Koch of Tubingen.

several

times

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

39

become a part of its essence; what was previously an historic and apologetic certainty, is transformed into the Nature gives way to the supernatural certainty of faith. in the heart of man. Objectively, purely rational dem
onstration cedes
place to the infallible authority of God s word, while subjectively, a supernatural light in stead of the natural light of reason becomes the source of faith. 9 Like the itself, the existence of preamble
its
"

"

God becomes a formal dogma, to be embraced and held with the supernatural certitude proper to faith.

OF GOD AS AN ARTICLE OF FAITH. The knowableness of God being an ar ticle of faith, His existence must be a dogma a
2.

THE EXISTENCE

fortiori.

super Although, as Heinrich says, unless in the very natural faith is an impossibility act of faith itself we believe with supernatural
certainty in the existence and veracity of God, in asmuch as a revelation postulates the existence of a revealer nevertheless, the fact that there is one
;

9a

who

reveals constitutes a separate and independ "Si ent article of the "depositum fidei." quis unum verum Deum, visibilium et inmsibilium

creatorem

et

Dominum

negaverit,
visible

anathema

sit

-If any one shall deny one true God, Creator

and Lord of all things him be anathema."
Fundamentalpp.

and

invisible, let

a) In his Epistle to the Hebrews,
9 Cfr. Fr. Hettinger,

St.

Paul

9&Dogm.
10 Cone.

theologie,

2nd

ed.,

853-892,

Vat.,

Theol., II, 21. Sess. Ill de Deo,

Freiburg 1888.

can.

I.

40

THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER
God
to be

declares belief in the existence of

an

indispensable condition of salvation.
6:
"But

Hebr. XI,

without faith

God.
that

For

He

He

is,

it is impossible to please that cometh to God, must believe and is a rewarder to them that seek

Him."

Here

belief in the existence of

God

is

belief in the truth that

coordinated, separately and independently, with He rewards those that

Both these truths are based not only seek Him. on philosophical arguments, but likewise on that supernatural faith which is the foundation of man s justification. "De hac dispositione [ad Credere oportet justificationcm} scriptum cst: accedentem ad Deum, quia est et inquirentibus se remunerator sit Concerning this disposition it He that cometh to God, must be is written: lieve that He is, and is a rewarder to them that n The seek Him/ examples of faith which St. Paul gives in Hebr. XI, I sqq., where he au concludes with a reference to Christ as 12 admit of no other thor and finisher of faith/
"

"the

interpretation.

b)
it

Paul, as the conviction of the Schoolmen that

The Fathers reecho this teaching of St. 13 was able to state so much so that Suarez
"Fide

catholica

tcncndnm

est,

Dcnm
13 In
I.

esse."

We
i.

have

the most succinct proof for this proposition in
11 Cone.
Trid.,
i

Sess.
sqq.

VI^ap^6.

p. S. theol. I,

l2Heb. XI,

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
the
in
first article

41
:

of the Apostles

Creed

"Credo

Deum

mcn-erfo e

0eoV

The paraphrase which

the Vatican Council gives of this article 14 shows clearly that "God" here means not the first per

son of the Most Holy Trinity
but

(i. e.,

the Father),

His absolute essence and inasmuch as He is apt to be the object of a sure knowl edge attainable by unaided reason. There can be no mistake about this; else how account
in

God

for the fact that the canons

attached to this

proposition expressly condemn, not some antiTrinitarian heresy, but atheism, materialism, and pantheism. If Atheism is a heresy, the existence

of God must necessarily be a dogma, the fun damental dogma upon which all others rest. This explains why, as early as 1679, Pope In
the proposition: "Fides late dicta ex testimonio creaturarum similive mo-

nocent

XI condemned

two ad

Faith in the justificationem sufficit wide sense, that is faith as based upon the testi
of creatures or
15

mony
for

some similar motive,

suffices

justification."

It may be objected that if 3. KNOWLEDGE vs. FAITH. the natural cognoscibility of God and the necessity of supernatural faith are both supernaturally revealed, these

dogmas would seem to exclude each other, inasmuch as no man can know God for certain by his unaided rea son, and at the same time firmly believe in Him on au14 Cone. Vatican., Constit. de fide,
15 Denzinger-Bannwart,

Enchiri-

c

dion, n. 1173.

42
thority.

THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER
At
the root of this objection lies the assumption

we cannot know a thing and believe it at the same time, because, what we believe on the authority of an other we do not know, and what we know we do not and cannot believe. It is true St. Thomas 16 seems to have held that an evident knowledge of God is incompatible
that

with belief
in

in

Him

;

but Estius confessed himself unable
18

to reconcile this opinion with the teaching of St. Paul

Hebr. XI, 6; while St. Bonaventure, 17 De Lugo, 19 and others, openly defended the contrary. Suarez, Some theologians, like Cardinals De Lugo and d Aguirre,
interpreted St.

Thomas

in favor of their

own

dissenting

view.

as

Whatever may have been the Angelic Doctor s theory to the subjective compatibility of knowledge with
it

seems certain that we are not free to doubt the necessity, much less the possibility, of a co-existence of
faith,

both modes of cognition in the same subject, especially since St. Paul and the Tridentine Council condition the
of each and every man, whether he be learned or ignorant, upon a belief in the existence of God. The Vatican Council expressly defines both the knowableness of God from the consideration of the phys
justification

and the necessity of supernatural faith in God, dogmatic truths. Hence we must conclude that both modes of cognition can co-exist in the same Such teaching involves no subject without conflicting.
ical universe,

as

we can under the same aspect or know and believe the same truth from the same point of view. Manifestly the material God fides) is the same object of both acts (scicntia
contradiction, for
it

does not oblige us to hold that

"

:

165".

De

TheoL aa zae, qu. i, art. 5; Veritate, qu. 14, art. 9.

18
i

De De

Fide, disp.

2,

sect.
ect.

2. 9.

Fide, disp. 3,

17 In 3 dist., 24, art. 2, qu. 3.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
exists."

43

But between the formal object of the one and

the formal object of the other, there is this essential difference, that rational knowledge depends on the de

gree of evidence in the argument, while faith flows from the authority of God Himself testifying to His

own existence. 20 There to know God by purely

is

this

further difference, that

natural

supernatural grace, while faith, conditioned by the supernatural assistance of the Holy Ghost (gratia actus fidei), without which no man can

means does not require on the other hand, is

have that belief
vation. 21

in

God which

is

necessary

for

sal

READINGS
ed.

:

Graun,

t.

I,

Alb. a Bulsano, Instit. Theolog. Dogm. Specialis, pp. 16 sqq., Oeniponte 1893. Heinrich, Dogmat.
149.
"

Theologie, Vol. Ill,

Franzelin,

De Deo Uno,

thes. 8 sq.
,

W. Humphrey,
1897.
20 Cfr.

S. J.,

His Divine

Majesty,"

pp. 28 sqq.

London

W. Humphrey,

S.

J.,

The

Sacred Scriptures, ch. XIII, London 1894. 21 For a fuller treatment of this

point we must refer the student to the treatise on Grace, which is to form Volume of this English edition of Pohle s dogmatic course.

V

SECTION

3

TRADITIONALISM AND ATHEISM

ARTICLE

I

TRADITIONALISM A FALSE SYSTEM

a) Re the teaching of simplest formula, Traditionalism is this: Tradition and oral in struction (language) are absolutely essential to the development of the human race, so much so,
i.

THE

TRADITIONALIST TEACHING.

duced to

its

no knowl edge whatever, especially in the domain of re ligion and morality. Consequently, the knowl
attain to

that without

them man can

edge of truth

is

by head of

oral tradition,
all

propagated among men solely and the source and fountainfirst

knowledge must be our

par
is

ents, or rather

God Himself, who

in

what

called Primitive Revelation

committed to

Adam

and Eve the treasure of truth to be kept and handed down to their descendants. Inspired by
the best of intentions, i. e., to destroy Rational ism, the Traditionalists depreciate the power of human reason and exaggerate the function of
faith.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
b) In
its

45

crudest form

*

Traditionalism asserts that

think without language than he can see without light, that without language reason

a

man can no more

would be dead and man a mere Creator had to endow man with the
fore

brute.

Hence the

He

gift of speech be could impress upon his mind the ideas of God,
liberty,

immortality,

virtue,

etc.

means of language

that

Adam

and it was only by and Eve were able to
;

transmit to their offspring the system of natural re Hence faith ligion and ethics based upon these ideas.
is

and

the foundation not only of supernatural knowledge life, but likewise of purely human science and rea

the inventor of the "sens comsupreme criterion of truth, insisted even more emphatically than De Bonald on the necessity of Primitive Revelation, from which alone, he says, all man s religious and moral knowledge is derived. Tra ditionalism reappears in a somewhat moderated form in the writings of Bonnetty (1798-1879) and P. Ven
son.
mun"

De Lamennais, 2
as the

3 1792-1861 ). Bonnetty admits that human reason is able to deal with the truths at least of the material order independently of language and instruction, but that for the fundamental doctrines of metaphysics and

tura

(

Ventura goes so form the basic notions of being, substance, causality, virtue, and so forth, but his Traditionalistic bent moves him to in sist that these basic notions must needs remain unfruit ful, so far as our natural knowledge of God is con cerned, were it not for the aid of language and instrucethics

we

are dependent on Revelation.

far as to admit that unaided reason can

i Cfr. De Bonald, Recherches philosophiques sur les premiers objets des connaissances morales, Paris

tiere

sur I Indifference en Made Religion, Paris 1817. 3 La Tradition, Paris 1856.
2 Essai

1817.

46
tion,

TRADITIONALISM
that
is

to

say,

ultimately,

Primitive

Revelation.

further attenuated by the Louvain school of Semi-Traditionalists, whose chief repre

Traditionalism was
4

still

sentative,

Ubaghs,

ing that human from the consideration of the physical universe, though he hastens to offset his own concession by explaining
that the full use of reason (in a child) depends essen tially on education and instruction in divine things, and that the concept of

expressly admits the revealed teach reason can acquire a knowledge of God

God which

it

is

the business of edu

cation to convey, is derived from the Primitive Revelation given to our first parents in Paradise. This theory is

calculated to raise

anew the question as to the extent of the cognitive power of human reason, and traces the notion of God back to Tradition as its sole source.

Were

it

not for
its

its

admission that reason can subse

quently, by

essence) of openly contradict
2.

own powers, perceive the existence (and God from nature, Traditionalism would
itself.

WHY

TRADITIONALISM

is

UNTENABLE.

The

different systems of Traditionalism are phil

osophically and theologically untenable.
a) Philosophically, the fundamental fallacy of Tra ditionalism lies in the false assumption that language

engenders ideas, while

in

matter of

fact

it

is

quite

plain that, on the contrary, language necessarily pre supposes thought and ideas already formed. Man must first have ideas before he can express them in words. Verbis nisi verba twn discimus," to quote St. 6 imo sonum strepitumquc verborum. Augustine,
" "

4 Cfr. his Institutions* Philosophicae.

Ubaghs was

Malebranche.

directly inspired by Cfr. J. L. Perrier,

phy,
B

The Revival of Scholastic PhilosoNew York 1909, p. 215.

De

Magistro,

c.

n.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
Nescio tamen verbum
sciam.
esse,

47

donee quid signified

perficitur."

Rebus igitur cognitis, verborum quoque cognitio It is quite true that language and instruc
an important, nay, a necessary part
in

tion play

in

the

formation of ideas, but only

so far as the
child
in

spoken
think

word of parent and
pendent thinking.
mental
b)
faculties.

teacher leads the

to

for himself and supports

and aids him
also

such inde

We may

concede that without

his the family and society no child can fully develop

is

the theological point of view Traditionalism Inasmuch as it the following objections. open that reason can attain to a knowledge of God denies from a consideration of nature, and asserts that all our

From
to

from language, human knowledge of God is derived Primitive Revelation, exaggerated Tradi tradition, and
tionalism
of the manifestly contradicts the teaching The milder form usually called SemiVatican Council. Traditionalism runs counter to dogma only in so far
as

of the knowledge of God questions the certainty It can therefore be squared reason. acquired by unaided definition of the Council on condi with the
it

tion

that

dogmatic understood that the knowl it be expressly
is

edge of

to generation

generation derived not from Primitive Revelation infused in the strict sense of that term, but from an
primitive knowledge? Of the different Traditionalist schools only one, that
of Louvain, has

God handed down among men from

made an attempt

to

interpret

Sacred

accordance with its teaching. Scripture and Tradition in Its representatives endeavored to persuade themselves he grows that the Bible and the Fathers refer to man as
6Cfr. Granderath, S. J., Const*. Dogmaticae SS. Oecum. Concilii

Vatican

ex

ipsis

eius

Actis

Ex-

plicatae, pp.

36 sqq., Fnburgi 1892.

48

TRADITIONALISM
converses with them by

consequently, when they employ the phrase natural knowledge of do not mean God," that concept of God which each individual human
"

up among his fellowmen, and human methods, and

instructors,

deepened by individual consideration of nature. If this explana tion were true, we should have to interpret Wisdom XIII, i sqq., and Rom. I, 20, thus: A man is inex cusable if he does not know God, for the reason that all men derive a knowledge of God from Primitive Revelation and are, besides, able to
perceive

anew under the influence of parents and but that concept which, derived from hu man instruction and tradition, has its roots in Primitive Revelation and can at most be confirmed and

being forms

Him

in

nature.

Is this the sense of

Holy Scripture?

We
is

are
rea

at liberty to

assume an elision only when there son to think that a writer has omitted

something which,

being self-evident, did not require express mention. Is the indispensableness of tradition, oral instruction, and Primitive Revelation self-evident in the
consideration?
This

passages under Certainly not; hence the sacred writers
ellipsin.

can not have meant to pass this point over per

becomes

still

plainer

Traditionalist interpretation cogitated for the purposes of a philosophical system that was entirely unknown in the past. Nor can the teaching of the Fathers be in favor of
tionalism.

when we reflect that the is a modern innovation, ex

perpetually drawing; but they never Primitive Revelation as an absolutely necessary instrument of education: they merely advert to it as an accidental fact with which it is necessary to reckon. They insist that the original purity of

human

quoted Tradi True, the Fathers admit the existence, in Paradise, of a Primitive Revelation upon which the
race
is

regarded

this

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
Primitive Revelation was tarnished
nations,

49

among the heathen and that the genuine knowledge of God had to

be constantly rejuvenated in the perennial purity of the 7 springs of nature.
*Kleutgen, De Ipso Deo, p. i, qu. i, art. 3 la Valeur de la Raison Humaine, Paris 1875. Denzinger, Vier Biicher von der religiosen Erkenntnis, Vol.

READINGS

:

Chastel, S.

J.,

De

I,

For a philosophical appreciation of Traditionalism, see Schiffini, S. J., Disput. Metaphys. Specialis, Vol. I, n. 338 sqq.; B. Boedder, S. J., Natural Theology,
pp. 149 sqq.,

Wurzburg

1856.

pp. 149 sqq.,

New York

1891

;

Jos.

Hontheim,

S.

J.,

Theodicaea,

PP- 33 sqq., Friburgi 1893.

ARTICLE
THE
i.

2

POSSIBILITY OF

ATHEISM

Negative Athe ism (Agnosticism, Criticism, Scepticism) holds that the existence of God is "unknowable," be
cause there are no arguments to prove it. By positive Atheism we understand the flat denial of
the existence of a
tinct

DEFINITION OF ATHEISM.

supreme being apart and dis from the cosmos. Its chief forms are the
(Sensualism,

different varieties of Materialism

Mechanical Monism) and Panthe which constantly assumes new shapes, and ism, has therefore been justly likened to Proteus of
Positivism,

ancient

classic

mythology.
(e.

Polytheism
"Panentheism"

and
of

Semi-Pantheism
7 Cfr. St.

g. }

the
lib.

Augustine,

De

Civitate Dei,

VI

sq.;

Lactantius,

Divin.

Institut, II, 8.

50

ATHEISM

ism.

Krause) cannot, however, be branded as Athe For though both systems logically culmi

nate in the denial of God, their champions in some fashion or other hold to the existence of a

supra-mundane and absolute being
all

8

upon which
ITS

other beings depend.
2.

THE

POSSIBILITY OF

ATHEISM AND

LIMITS. Seeing that Holy Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching of the Church emphatically in sist on the easy cognoscibility of God, our first
question, in
is:

Is

coming to treat of Atheism, naturally Atheism possible, and how is it possible?
must, in the
first place,

a)

We

carefully dis

tinguish between atheistic systems of doctrine and individual professors of Atheism. The his tory of philosophy shows beyond a doubt that there exist philosophic systems which either ex

or in their ultimate principles vir the existence of God. It must be tually exclude, that by a happy inconsistency noted, however,
pressly deny,
9*

9

the atheistic tendency of these systems often re mains more or less latent, inasmuch as their ad
spite of atheistic (or pantheistic) seek to uphold a belief in God. 10 premises, In considering the case of individuals who

herents,

in

profess themselves atheists, the first question to suggest itself is not: Are there practical athe8 The Homeric Zeus, Vedic henotheism, etc. 9 Materialism, Pantheism.

9a Scepticism, Criticism, 10 Ontologism is an example
point.

in

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
ists?

51

(that

is

to say,

were no God), but
oretical

men who live as if there rather: Can there be the
the
positive

atheists

in

sense

of

the

term? It is certain that no man can be firmly and honestly convinced of the non-existence of God. For, in the first place, no human being enjoying the full use of reason can find a
really conclusive

argument

for the thesis that

In the second place, the con is a God, is so deeply in grained in the human heart, and has such a tremendous bearing upon life and death, that
there
is

no God.

sciousness that there

it it

is

for

impossible for any any considerable

man

to rid himself of

length of time.

Not

even Agnosticism can plead extenuating cir cumstances. For every thinking man is con strained by the law of causality, consciously or
unconsciously to form the syllogism:
there
is
it
;

order,

some one must
must
exist a

exist

Where who pro
;

duced

now, nature evinces a wonderful order

therefore there

superhuman power

that produced it, namely, God. The premisses of this simple syllogism must be self-evident to

every thinking man, no matter whether he be learned or unlettered; and the conclusion flow
ing from these premisses forces
solute
itself with ab on the mind of every one who cogency realizes that there can be no effect without a

cause.

Hence

it is

held as a sententia

communis

52

ATHEISM

by theologians that no thinking man can be permanently convinced of the truth of Atheism.
This does not, of course, imply that there may not exist here and there feeble-minded, idiotic,
uncivilized

human

beings
is

who know nothing

of

God.

Their ignorance

due to the fact that

they are unable to reason from effect to cause, which is a necessary condition of acquiring a knowledge of God from His creatures.
b) As we have men may, from

intimated above, even learned

quasi-conviction, temporarily harbor a species of unbelief; though, of course, in"Di.vit this always involves grave guilt. Non cst Dens The fool sipicns in conic sn.o:

hath said

in his heart:

There

is

no

10a
God."

Not
ism.

scientific

folly is the

acumen nor a desire for truth, but source and fountain-head of Athe

In most cases such folly is traceable to a corrupt heart, as St. Paul plainly intimates in his
Epistle to the
in

repeats
<f

Romans, and as St. Augustine his commentary on the Psalms:
illos
. . .

lob

Primo vide
se

corrupt os, id possint dicer e in

corde suo:

apnd a mala

Cocpit corruptio inde itur in turpes mores, inde in acerrimas indignitates: gradus sunt isti." The
fide,

Non cst Dens. non rccte cogitautes.

DLvcrunt enim

psychological process of apostasy from the faith
icaPs. XIII,
i.

lobtln Ps. LII, ru 3.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
may
be described as follows
:

53

First a

man

loses

his faith; then
belief,

comes a period of practical un nourished sometimes by sensuality, some
is

times by pride, until finally he
theoretical

deluded into

Atheism.

Not infrequently moral

Cfr. corruption precedes infidelity as a cause. Eph. IV, 18: "Tenebris obscuratum habentes intellectum, alienati a vita

quae est in

illis

Dei per ignorantiam, propter caecitatem cordis ipsorum
life

Having
alienated

their understanding darkened, being

from the
is

of

norance that
of their
3.

in them,

the ig because of the blindness

God through

hearts."

n

the idea of

INTRINSICALLY POSSIBLE. Since and forces itself almost spontaneous irresistibly upon the human mind, purely moral causes do not suffice to explain Atheism; there must in each instance exist an intellectual factor also. This intel
is

WHY ATHEISM
God
is

lectual factor

must be sought
is

human

reason, which

partly in the fallibility of controlled by the will, and

partly in the circumstance that the proofs for the ex istence of God do not produce immediate certainty. On

more or

power to disregard the of these arguments and by concentrating his thoughts on the manifold objec tions raised against them, to delude himself into the notion that there is no God. On the other hand, these
it

the one hand
less

man

has

in his

cogent features

arguments, as
11

we have

said,

carry no immediate, but

On
X.

see
i

the psychology of unbelief, Moisant, Psychologic de

Hettinger-Bowden, Natural Religion,
pp.
i

sqq.

lncroyant,

Paris

1908.

Cfr.

also

54

ATHEISM

only a mediate certainty, inasmuch as the conviction which they engender depends upon a long chain of mid
dle terms.

The number
tain.
It

of real atheists

is

impossible to ascer

depends on conditions of time, of milieu, of and method of education, and on various other degree

agencies.

Our age
in

immersed

boasts the sorry distinction of being a flood of Atheism which it may take a

social revolution to abate. 12

READINGS
1690.
vols.,

:

Segneri, S.

J.,

L Incredulo

W.
v.

G.

Ward, Essays on

senza scusa, Venezia the Philosophy of Theism, 2

1884. Kaderavek, Der Atheismus, Wien 1884. Hammerstein, Edgar, or From Atheism to the Full W. M. Lacy, An Examination of the Truth, St. Louis 1903.

London

L.

Unknotvablc, Philadelphia 1883. Philosophy Momerie, Agnosticism, London 1889. ID., Belief in God, Lon don 1891. G. J. Lucas, Agnosticism and Religion, Baltimore
G. M. Schuler, Der Panthcismus, Wiirzburg 1881. 1895. ID., Der Matcrialismus, Berlin 1890. E. L. Fischer, Die modernen

of

the

A.

W.

Ersatzversuche
I903-

fur

das

aufgegcbcne

Christentutn,

Ratisbon

liche
olic

Der Gottesglaube und die natuwissenschaftF. Aveling in the Cath Weltcrkenntnis, Bamberg 1904.
H.
Schell,

Encyclopedia,

Vol.

"

II,

s.

v.

Atheism."

F.

Hettinger,

Natural Religion, Enigma, 2nd ed.,
Ingersoll,

New York 1890. New York 1893.
i883.
13

W.
L.

S.

Lilly,

The Great

A.
S.

Buffalo

T.

Finlay,

J.,

Lambert, Notes on "Atheism as a

Mental
12 Cfr.

Phenomenon" in the
C.
2,
J.,

Month

(1878), pp. 186 sqq.

Gutberlet,

Theodicee,
pp.

2nd
der,

ed.,

Munster 1890; B. BoedNatural
Christian

S.
sqq.,

Theology,
1891;
sq., J.

76

New York

perfectly true that popular speakers and writers of the type of Robert G. while Ingersoll, they "may

T.

Driscoll,

Philosophy:

God, 2nd ed., pp. 15
190413 Father
gersoll

New York

Lambert
been

s

Notes on Inshall
is,

has

published
it

merous editions and
tioned here, though

in nube menof course,

create a certain amount of unlearned disturbance, . . are not treated seriously by thinking men, and it is doubtful extremely whether they deserve a place in any historical or philosophical exposition of Atheism." (Aveling in
.

the Catholic Encyclopedia^ II, 42.)

CHAPTER
THE QUALITY OF MAN
S

II

KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AC

CORDING TO DIVINE REVELATION

The arguments

for the existence of

God

not

only prove His existence, but at the same time reveal each some one or other aspect of the Divine Essence. 1 Whatever knowledge of the

Divine Essence
consideration
of

we may
finite

thus acquire from a things, is sure to be

stamped with the birth mark of the creature. It may be ennobled and transfigured by Revelation

and
in

but they cannot change its substance. Not until we are admitted to the beatific vision
faith,

Heaven, does the abstractive and analogous knowledge of God acquired here on earth give way to that intuitive and perfect knowledge which
enables us to see the Blessed Trinity as It is. Such are the limitations of the created intellect
that
it

cannot even enjoy the beatific vision ex

cept by
"lumen
1 Cfr.

means

of a specially infused light, called

gloriae."

S.

Thomas, In Boeth. De
art.

nisi

quoquo

modo

de

ea

sciatur

Trinitate,
"

De

qu. 2, ord. 6, nulla re potest sciri

3
est,

:

an

vel cognitione perfecta quid est vcl cognitione confusa."

55

56

IMPERFECTION OF OUR KNOWLEDGE

We
two

shall treat of the

two modes of knowing

God, the earthly and the heavenly, in the next sections, reserving a third section for the

consideration of

Eunomianism and Ontologism.

SECTION
OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS
In this
section

i

IT IS

HERE ON EARTH

we shall consider, (i) the of our knowledge of God here be imperfection low; (2) the threefold mode by which man can

know God,

(a) affirmation or causation, inferring the nature of His attributes from the nature of His works; (b) negation or remotion,
viz.:

excluding the idea of
sification or

finite limitation; (c)

inten

to

eminence, ascribing every perfection is consistent with His infinity, to the exclusion of all quantitative and temporal

God which

measures and comparisons;

and (3) certain conclusions flowing therefrom. theological

2

ARTICLE
L,IFE

i

THE IMPERFECTION OF OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IN THIS

i. PRELIMINARY REMARKS. The perfection or imperfection of any act of cognition depends upon the manner in which we acquire our con

cepts.
2

These
G.

may
in

be,

on the one hand, either
art.
"

Cfr.

M.

Sauvage

the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. I, pp. 449 sq.

Analogy,"

57

58

IMPERFECTION OF OUR KNOWLEDGE

abstractive or intuitive; or, on the other, either analogous or univocal.
intuitive concept, when consciousness us into direct communication with ob put jective truth (such is, e. g., the concept of a tree).

a)

We

form an

and

intellect

A

concept
are

is

abstractive
" "

this

term must
its

not

be

con

founded with
derived

abstract

- when

compound elements

from some other object or objects, and transferred to the object under consideration (e. g.,
the

concept

of

a

golden

calf).
is

Whence

it

follows]

an immediate one (con ceptus immediatus), while an abstractive concept is al ways mediate (concerns mediatus), because it can be gained only by means of other concepts or of syl
It follows also that an abstractive logistic conclusions. concept can never represent its object adequately, while

that every intuitive concept

an intuitive concept may, though it must not do so. b) An analogous (conceptus analogue) differs from
a univocal concept (conceptus univocus) in the same way that a metaphorical differs from a proper concept

(conceptus improprius univocal or proprius). A proper concept is one which applies to every individual comprehended under it in the same sense, as for ex

ample the concept
etc.

"

applies to Peter, Paul, John, analogous concept, on the other hand, is predi cated of a number of objects partly in the same and

man

"

An

partly in a different sense, as e. g., of the healthy human body, the color of one s face, the climate, etc. 3
" "

c) Here we shall have to borrow from philosophy two important truths. The first is, that all rational knowledge is grounded on sense perception, so that the
8

For further

details consult

any good text-book of

logic.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

59

material objects of the senses must be said to be the primary, proportionate, and adequate object of our in
tellect.

The second

truth

is

based upon the

first

:

Our

earthly knowledge of God is not the fountain-head and source, but the consummation and climax of human
4

cognition.

This gives us the status quaestionis of the
this life

problem we are studying. If it is true that in we can acquire a knowledge of God only from

the con

templation of nature, it follows that our concept of Him is not intuitive (immediate, adequate) but abstrac tive (mediate, inadequate). And if the concept we form
of God does not represent Him as He is in Himself, but only analogically, it follows further that our knowl edge of God cannot be univocal, but must be analo

gous.

very imperfect

Being abstractive and analogical, then, it must be and this imperfection not even super natural belief in God (fides in Dcum) can remove. 5
2.

THE DOGMA

IN SACRED SCRIPTURE

AND

TRADITION.
edge of
cluded
or

The imperfection of man s knowl God here below may be said to be in in the dogma of God s incomprehensibility
(dKaTaA^ta).
Q
"Deus
.
.

inscrutability

.

.

.

in-

comprehensibilis" ;

"Ecclesia
. . .

credit

.

Deum
7

verum

et

vivum
in

incomprehensibilem."

How

the term

"incomprehensible" is

to be

under

stood,
sibility
4 Cfr.

and

what the essence of incomprehen consists, the Church has never denned.
Propaed.
ed.,

Egger,
6th

Philoso-

For we walk by
sight."

faith

and not by

phico-theol.,

pp.
"

146

sqq.,

Brix.

1903.

6 Cfr.

Cone. Lot. IV, A. D. 1215,
i.

5 Cfr. 2

Cor. V, 7:
,

yap

Treptirarou/iej

8ta TriVrcws ou Sta etSous

ca P7

"

Firmiter."

Cone. Vat., Sess. Ill, cap.

60 a)

IMPERFECTION OF OUR KNOWLEDGE
Scriptural argument, drawn from the and New Testaments, covers both our nat

The

Old
ural

and our supernatural knowledge of God on faith and grace). In the (i. c., that based 8 Old Testament, besides the Book of Job, it is especially the Sapiential Books which insist that

we cannot comprehend God

while

we

are

way

remains in comprehensible to our mind even in the here 9 after, when we enjoy the light of glory. The principal text in proof of our thesis is
farers on this earth; nay, that

He

drawn from
XIII, 12:

the

New

Testament,

viz.,

i

Cor.

"yidcinns untie per speculum in actune autcm facie ad faciem; nunc cognigmatc, nosco ex partc, tune autcm [i. c. in eoclo] cog-

see now cognitus sum through a glass in a dark manner but then face Now I know in part; but then I shall to face.

noscam, sicut

ct

We

;

St. Paul here between two modes of makes a sharp distinction knowing God, the one earthly, the other heavenly,

know even

as

I

am

known."

which are opposed to each other (mine
&pri

tune,

Tore).

Limiting

ourselves

to

the

former

(the latter will engage us later), human knowl edge of God here below is characterized by three
essential marks.
It is

ing through a glass/
8

10

represented first as a "see a mode of perception diclus.

Job XI,
Cfr.

7 sqq.

Wisdom

IX,

13

sqq.;

EC-

10

XLII, 23 sqq.; Prov. XXV, Per speculum, 81 fff6irrpov.

27.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
rectly As in

61

opposed to intuitive vision

"face

to

face."

Rom.

I,

20,

so here St.

Paul describes

our earthly knowledge of

God

as an abstractive,

mediate, inadequate knowledge, which remains a vision per speculum even if a man "should have
all

The second mark is "enigmatic," 12 which means that the human mind on earth can conceive God only by analogy drawn from
faith."

n

His creatures; for a proper and univocal con
cept of God could not be designated as enig a dark man matical or compared to seeing This characteristic is completed by the ner."
"in

third mark, viz., partiality (ex parte,

ww),

which clearly designates our knowledge of God All three of as being a knowledge part."
"in

these notes prove the imperfection of our earthly knowledge of God as conclusively as they estab lish God s incomprehensibility by the human

mind
b)

so long as
13

man

lingers in

"this

vale of

tears."

The Fathers

of the fourth

and

fifth

cen

turies defended this

mians,
to

who

dogma against the Eunoclaimed that the human mind is able

comprehend God adequately here below. They defended it first as mere witnesses to the ancient Tradition, and secondly as philosophers discuss ing the How and Why.
11
i

Cor. XIII,

2.

farer s
1909.

Vision,

pp.

i

sqq.,

London

12 In

v alviypari. aenigmate, isCfr. T. J. Gerrard, The Way-

62
a)

IMPERFECTION OF OUR KNOWLEDGE
the
first

One of Martyr, who God and the

of these witnesses

is

St.

Justin

insists

both on the incomprehensibility of spontaneousness of our concept of Him.

That same Being, which is beyond all es sence, unutterable, and inexplicable, but alone beautiful and good, coming suddenly into souls welldispositioned, on account of their affinity to and .de
"

He

says
14

:

I say, is

of seeing Him." 15 Gregory of Nyssa appeals to the Bible to give testimony against Eunomius All
sire
"

:

those Scriptural expressions which have been invented
to

glorify
16
. .
.

God, designate something which belongs to

God,
.

whereby we are taught,
insusceptible

either that

He

is

almighty,
.
.

or

His own

corruption, or immense. essence, however, since it cannot be com

of

prehended by reason, nor expressed in language, He has not exposed to curious searching, inasmuch as He commanded [men] to venerate silently that which He withheld from their certain knowledge." 17 By the act of confessing our ignorance," according to very
"

profess a deep knowledge of special importance in this connection are the five homilies of St. Chrysostom against the EunoGod."

Cyril of Jerusalem,
18

"

we

Of

Of Him Who is Inscrutable." mians, entitled hear the same string faintly vibrating in the writings of the last of the Greek Fathers, for John of Damascus teaches The supreme, unutterable, impenetrable Being
"

:

We

"

:

True, it is manifest to all but they are utterly ignorant exists; of what He is according to His substance and nature." 19 To quote at least one representative of the Latins, St.
is

alone in knowing

Itself.

creatures that

God

i* ^7rf /ceil/a TTCUTTJS ovfftas. 16 Contra Tryph., 4.

17 Contr.

Eunom.,

12.
2.

iTct
God.

irepl

Qe6v

= attributes

18 Catech., VI, n.

of

i

De Fide

Orthod.,

I,

4.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
"

63
cogitatur

Augustine

says

beautifully

:

Verius

enim

Deus quam dicitur, et verius est quam cogitatur God is more truly thought than He is uttered, and 20 more truly than He is thought."
/?)

For
exists

In their capacity as metaphysicians, the Fathers seek to refute Eunomianism partly by a close analysis of the elements that enter into the human conception of God, partly by opposing to it a complete theory of

knowledge.
In regard to the first point, the Fathers involved in the Eunomian controversy, especially the Cappadocians,

prove the impossibility of
quate knowledge of

man

s

having an

intuitive,

ade

here below, by an analysis of the logical constituents of the various concepts we are Their argument may be summed able to form of God.

God

careful classification of all these differ up as follows ent concepts shows some of them to be affirmative, while The affirmative concepts others are negative in quality.
:

A

connote some perfection, either concrete (e. g., God is wise), or abstract (e. g., God is wisdom). In the case of the former (affirmative), the human mind forms the
inheres after being wise concept of a being in which in the case of the the manner of an accidental form
"

"

;

latter (negative) notions,

we

conceive a form abstracted

from

its

subject,

exist as such.

a form, therefore, which does not Now, this mode of conception is proper

to creatures, but not to
is

God;

for God, as Infinite

Be

neither the subject of accidental forms of per ing, He fection, nor Himself an abstract form of perfection.
is

Substantial

Wisdom, which

is
it

really

identical

with

every other perfection, though

does not enter into

any composition, either physical or metaphysical.
20

On

De

Trinit.,

VII,

4, 7.

For further references,
I,

cfr.

Petavius,

De Deo,

5

sqq.

64

IMPERFECTION OF OUR KNOWLEDGE

the other hand, the negative concepts we form of God deny the existence in Him of any imperfection of the

kind

common

to creatures

(e.

g.,

God

is

incorporeal),

and hence do not express God s essence such as it is in itself. But a concept which, in order to be a true concept, must first shed all imperfections, cannot pos
20a sibly claim to be adequate, intuitive, or univocal.

The theory of knowledge elaborated by
assumes that
perception,
e . g.,
all

the Fathers,

our concepts are derived from sense

and concludes that a concept of God drawn from such a source must needs be imperfect. Thus,
"

Gregory of Nyssa argues based upon the things He works
:

God
us.

s

epithets are

in

essence

is

anterior to

its

operations,

... But His and we derive our

knowledge of these operations from the things
ceive by our
2l
senses."

we

per

The

great Basil

of Damascus
eral

express themselves in like of the Fathers go into the subject more deeply, anticipating as it were the Scholastic axiom: Cognitum est in cognoscente non ad modum cogniti, sed ad
"

28

and John manner. Sev
"

modum
"

cognosccntis,"

the measure
in

immanent
"

and emphasizing the truth that (TO p.irpov) of our knowledge of God is man, who is a synthesis of spirit and mat
to
say,
is

ter

;

that

is

the

cognition, the nobler

more perfect the power of the resultant act or knowledge.

Man, ranking midway between angels and brutes, ap prehends the material things below him according to a
higher, i. e., the notional, mode of being but his apprehen sion of the things that are above him (the angels, God)
;

20a For tke necessary references,

kenntnis nach

der Lehre

der

kap-

Contra Eunom., lib. I, n. 13 sqq.; Gregory of Nazianzus, Oral, theolog., 2; Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunom., lib. XII. Cfr. K. Unterstein, Die naturliche Gottesersee
St.

Basil,

padosischen Kirchenvtiter, Straubing
1903-04. 21 Contr. Eunom.,
22 Ep., 234.
1.

XII.

23

De

Fide Orth.,

I, 4.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
is

65

cast in a

more imperfect mould. 24
is

Consequently, our
utterances

idea of

God

y) There

necessarily imperfect. are on record certain

of
least

the
to

Fathers

which

appear

to

contradict

or

at

weaken the doctrine we have just propounded. But The oft-repeated phrase, in reality they confirm it.

We
of

know
25

that

essence,

does not

God exists, but we do not know His mean that we can have no knowledge

God whatever,
is

essence

but merely that our knowledge of His Nor can the Patristic dictum that imperfect.
is

we merely know what God

not, but

do not know what

He

is,

be cited in support of the Neo-Platonic teaching

26 or of Mr. Herbert of a purely negative cognoscibility, the mark!) of the Unknow Spencer s Philosophy (bless

able.

St.

Augustine,
sit

e.

g.,

insists:

"Si

non

potestis

comprehendere, quid
quid non

sit

Deus, vel hoc comprehendite,

Dens; multum profcceritis, si non aliiid If ye are not able to com Deo senseritis prehend what God is, comprehend at least what God is not you will have made much progress, if you think of 27 We God as being not something other than He 28 for explaining, that he merely have his own authority

quam
:

est

de

is."

intends to define the sublimity of the divine Essence as surpassing all categories of human thought; that is to
say, he merely emphasizes the purely analogical and There abstractive character of our knowledge of God. It is not fore Gregory Nazianzen admonishes us :
"

enough

to state

what [God]

is

not; but he
is

who would
must what

discover the nature of
also define

Him Who
confessio

(TOV OVTOS),

what

He
Ps. t

is.

For he who

defines only
de

24 Cfr. Gregory of Nyssa, Contra

est,

Deo solum hoc

E-unom.,
25 Cfr.
"

lib.

I.

Hilary,

In

129:
religiosa

Humanae

infirmitatis

nosse, quod est." 26 Q e bs J3v06s dyvuffros. 27 Tract, in loa., XXIII, n. 9. 28 De Trinit., V, i.

66

IMPERFECTION OF OUR KNOWLEDGE
is

God

not, is like

unto a

man who would answer

the

question: How much is twice five? by saying: It is not one, nor two, etc., omitting to tell his questioner
that
it

is

28
ten."

c)

The dogma here under
theologians,

consideration

is

supported also by the authority of the great
Scholastic

notably

St.

Thomas

Aquinas.

30

School out a theory of knowledge which conforms not only to the psychology of the thinking mind, but likewise to the principles of revealed As the religion. foundation of their system they adopted the

Following

in the footsteps of the Fathers, the

men worked

philoso

reason that this system at least in its fundamental lines fitted in best with both the nature of the human intellect, and supernatural Revelation. Inasmuch as Sacred Scripture and the Fathers favor the basic principles of the Aristotelian theory of knowledge, this theory can claim our uncon
Aristotle,

phy of

for the

ditional assent,

and we must admit that in its essential from incidental details, it cannot be false. In making this assertion, we do not, of course, wish to
features, aside
effort at originality in stating and Our sole object is to impress

advocate a slavish restoration of the ancient psychology,

nor to condemn every
developing
its

principles.

upon the reader
can be
fitted
e. g.,

that not every

system of psychology
it

into the

framework of revealed theology.
is

Thus,

the critical Idealism of Kant, based as
false
It

upon

radically

with Revelation.
2

premises, cannot be harmonized is a mistake to believe that, by
2,

Orat. Theol, 2. See also Article 805. Thcol., ia, qu. 12, art. 13.

infra.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
clinging to Scholastic Aristotelianism, the

67

a brake upon theologians
special

who endeavor
contrary,

Church puts to clear up

was not, for in Magnus, a heteroclite amalgam of omnigenous philosophical elements, which it required the master mind of an Aquinas to sift and
questions.

On

the

stance, the psychology of Albertus

transfuse into a coherent system, by eliminating

all

ex

traneous ingredients

?

31

ARTICLE

2

THE THREEFOLD MODE OF KNOWING GOD HERE ON EARTH
i.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.

Our

previ

ous article will receive confirmation from the de
tailed exposition,

the

which we now undertake, of manner which man acquires such knowl of God as is vouchsafed him here below. edge He attains to it in a threefold manner: via
in
tionis

affirmationis seu
(a^cupeo-is),

(feW), via negaan(j v i^ superlationis seu emicausalitatis

nentiae
is

(^epx^).

Every one of these methods

not perceive (in specie propria), but in that of some other being (in specie aliena), that

exceedingly imperfect.
in his

As we do

God
is

own form

to say,
J.

by means of analogous concepts derived
Bach,

31 Cfr.

Des

Albertus

lastik,

Mainz 1875; A. Otten,

All-

Magnus

Verhdltnis zu der Erkenntnislehre der Griechen, Lateiner,
"

Araber und Juden, Wien 1881. For a digest of the traditional
theory of
knowledge,"

gemeine Erkenntnislehre des hi. Thomas, Paderborn 1882; De WulfCoffey, History of Medieval Philosophy, pp. 304
Id., Scholasticism
sq.,

London 1909;

Dogm. Theol., Ill, M. Schneid, Aristoteles

see Heinrich, Cfr. also 141.
in der Scho-

Old and New, pp.

124 sqq., Dublin 1907.

68

THREEFOLD MODE OF KNOWING GOD

from His creatures, it is plain that our knowl edge of Him must involve many imperfections, notably a certain inaccuracy in the notion of God, which calls for incessant correction if the judg ments we formulate of God and divine things
are not to be entirely wrong. When we affirm some divine perfection, such as, e. g. y wisdom, we are immediately constrained to eliminate

from

this perfection,

by an act of negation, every

species
(e.

of

imperfection

common

to

creatures
to

g.,

human wisdom), and furthermore
its

raise the perfection thus

negations to
lute

purged by a series of superlative degree and into the

domain of the
wisdom).

infinite (e. g.,

superhuman, abso This threefold process of affir

mation, negation, and intensification, is therefore merely a natural and necessary result of the ab stractive and analogous character of our concep
tion of God. 32
It appears, then, that we may indeed claim to have a knowledge of the divine Essence, but only in a certain

sense. As our earthly knowledge of God is neither intuitive nor univocal, we do not apprehend the divine Essence in the manner claimed by the Eunomians

limited

;

though, on the other hand, as the Fathers insisted against the Gnostics and Neo-Platonists (who would admit the of the possibility of none but a purely negative
divine Essence),
32 Cfr.
in it
"

knowledge must be held that our cognition of
Humphrey, His Divine Majesty,
42 sqq.
pp.

Sauvage,

art.

Analogy,"

the

Catholic Encyclopedia; Gers Vision, ch. i;

rard,

The Wayfarer

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
God

69

comprises more than merely His abstract existence

(on mi/), inasmuch as we are able, by means of affirm ative (positive) concepts of quality in a limited measure to conceive the Divine Essence and to differentiate it
distinctly

from

all

other objects
"

(TO,

TTf.pl

0eoV).

The

doctrine that
is

we know God by mode

of

affirmation

held by theologians to be

fidei proximo,"

because

Holy Scripture applies positive as well as negative at tributes to the Godhead.

THESE THREE MODES OF COGNITION ARE INSEPARABLE. The three modes of knowing God which we have just explained, are like parts of a cripple s crutch the human mind cannot pro
2.

ceed by means of one of them alone, employ all three simultaneously.

it

must

a) The positive predicates at which we arrive by means of the via affirmationis express either a simple or a mixed divine perfection. 33 The difference between the two classes is, that the concept of a simple per
,

fection

(e.

g.,

sanctity),

does not include any sort of

imperfection, while a mixed perfection always connotes

some defect (e. g., syllogistic reasoning). Now it is obvious that no mixed perfection can be affirmed of God that has not previously been subjected to a process of logical purification. may not even apply our

We

notions of simple perfections unconditionally to God, ex cept with the express restriction that such and such a
quality exists in God not after the manner of the crea ture (negation), but in an infinitely higher mode, in

what

is

called the eminent sense.
33 Perfectio simplex, perfectio mixta.

;o

THREEFOLD MODE OF KNOWING GOD
we must
observe

b) With regard to the ina negotiants
that this

method

is

it is essentially a negation of a negation, and thus attains to the dignity of an 34 Thus the infinity of God, being essentially affirmation.

negative knowledge nates defects or limitations,

able to impart more than a purely of God; for inasmuch as it elimi

a denial that there are limitations in Him, postulates the plenitude of all being in God which implies not only an
;

affirmation, but also a

mode

of being.

modus eminentior, a more eminent Hence there is no reason why, after the

example of the Calvinist theologian, John Clericus, we should reject the via ncgationis as unfruitful and mean
ingless.

c)

Inasmuch as the superlative degree
entails

is

merely the

positive degree

intensified, the via supcrlationis, or

mode
the

naturally process also implies a negation

of

eminence,

affirmations.

But

which serves the purpose

of complement and correction. And for this reason, since even the purest perfections in God differ radically

from those proper to creatures, in applying to God the notion of any created perfection, we must exclude every species of limitation. Language has three terms for
three different forms of the superlative: First, abstract terms; e. g., God is goodness (ipsa banitas avrayaBoTT/S)
;

or
is

"

second, terms alone e. g.,
"

compounded with

the adverbs
"

"

"

all

;

God
the

is
"

powerful"
;

(cfr.

Tu

God alone all-powerful or, solus altissimus" of the

"Gloria")

and
(e.

third,
g.,

fix

"super"

God

terms compounded with the pre is super-temporal, i. e., above
35

time, independent of it).

The
Divin.
faces

Scotist

Frassen
"

appropriately compares these
35 Scotus

34 Cfr. S. Maxim., In Dionys. de

Academicus,
j.

"

DC

Deo,"

Nomin.,
positiones."

c.

4:

Sunt

effi-

disp. I, art. 2, qu.

KNOW ABILITY OF GOD
three

71

modes of cognition with the modus procedendi peculiar to the three arts of painting, sculpture, and The painter produces a portrait as it were poetry.
"

affirmatively,"

by brushing

his colors

upon the canvas
" "

;

in the sculptor may be said to proceed negatively a statue; while the poet treats his subject carving
"

by applying 36 metaphors, and hyperboles.
superlatively,"

to

it

all

sorts

of tropes,

3.

How THIS THREEFOLD MODE OF COGNITION

ACCORDS WITH DIVINE REVELATION. The three modes by which the mind of man conceives God,
as explained above, are clearly indicated in Holy Scripture and Tradition, and their existence and objective fitness must be admitted to be certain from a theological point of view.
a) We have a plain Scriptural argument in Ecclus. XLIII, 29-32, a text which picturesquely describes the works of God, winding up as follows Consum mate autem sermonum [i. e., briefly stated] Ipse mv avro?, i. e., He [sell. Deus] est in omnibus [TO irav
"

:

:

contains

all

salitatis].
36
"

created perfections Gloriantes ad quid
may
of

= via

affirmationis

s.

cau-

valebimus?
his

Ipse

enim

The
to

three ways

be

lik-

ened
arts.

the

methods

the

fine

makes

Just

his picture

as a painter produces by putting paint on his
I

And just as a poet word-picture more by than metaphorical suggestion by exact description, so I use the more
limitations.

canvas, so of forming

use

the

positive
I

way
take

eminent way in forming
I

my shadows

my shadows

qualities from creatures and I transfer them to God. Just as a sculptor produces his statue by chipping

pieces from a block of marble, so I use the negative way of formoff

take the qualities of creatures and knowing that they are all realized in infinite degree in God, I conclude that any mutual exclusiveness which they have in creatures must be transcended in the simplic-

ing

my shadows

ties in

I think of qualicreatures and I remove the

(Gerrard, ity of God." farer s Vision, pp. 5 sq.)

The Way-

72

THREEFOLD MODE OF KNOWING GOD
super
yap 6
of

omnipotent
has:
avros
is

omnia
/Ac yas

opera
things

sua

irapa

Travra

[the ra cpya

Septuagint
avTov",

I.

.,

He

nothing
. .

the

He

has

made

= via

Ghrincantes Dominum, quantumcnn. negationis]. alebit enim adhuc [Wepc &i yap *ai qiic pot u er it is, siiperi via eminentiae]" en, i. e.\ He is high above every thing

Thomas Aquinas dicated also in Rom.
St.

finds the three
I,

modes or
Dei

stages in

20:

"

Invisibilia

cuntnr per rlam negationis;
causalitatis;

sempiterna virtus

cognosper viam
3T

per viam exccllentiae." formula that b) The most famous and the best known has come down to us from Patristic times, is -that of Trdvruv Oiw* Kat TTOVTCOV 0tos the Pseudo-DionysillS
divinitas
:

.

.

.

u<uip(n<

TJ

VTrcp

rrafrav

Q(.aiv

Kai

CM^OipCO iV

atria.

The

same
in

early writer, whoever he may have been, sailing the wake of the Neo-Platonists, cultivated with a
"

certain predilection the via superlationis:

Nihil eorum,

quae sunt
et

.

.

.

e.vplicat

arcanum

illud

omnem
-jravra

rationem

intellection

snpcrans superdeitatis
(r^s
is

superessentialiter

supra
vTrepoi

omnia superexistentis
39
tTT/?

Wcp
equally

vTTtp&or^To?).

He

WTC/KWOMW familiar with

the via negationis, though in employing this mode he does not adopt the one-sided view of the Neo-Platon
ists.
is not substance, not life, says not sense, not spirit, not wisdom, not good not light, ness, not divinity, but something that is far higher and 40 nobler than all these." Summing up the teaching of
" "

God

he

"

the

Greek Fathers,

St.

John of Damascus says

"

:

It is

more becoming to speak of God negatively, denying all Not as if He were nothing Him things about Him.
self,

but inasmuch as
Rom.,
c.
c.

He
5.

is

above everything which
De Div. Norn., 13. *o Myst. Theol., c. 3
39

37 In Ep. ad

I, lect.

38 Myst. Theol.,

a.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
exists, nay,

73

above being

41
itself."

For many other con

firmatory passages, see Thomassin, As every negative conception of
volves

De Deo,
God

IV, 7-12.

essentially in

mode

affirmations and intensifications, the negative of apprehending God is not quite so striking as one might conclude from the manner in which it was
"
"

urged by the Fathers. Far from employing it for the of purpose of proving the (Gnostic) incognoscibility God or the (Neo-Platonic) "purely negative cognosciof God, the Fathers rather strive by means of bility
"

it

to

throw

(Wepovena)
of
things
rectly

of

on the super-substantiality and on our (relative) ignorance God, divine. For as Pseudo-Athanasius cor
light

both

remarks, 0eo yap KaTaAa/z/Javo /xeyos owe tort 616*. This explains why ever since the days of the PseudoAreopagite, the mystics have defended the principle that
"

The we do

highest knowledge

we can have

of

God

is

that

not

know

Him."

42

Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa
est scirc,

devoted
thought.

an
"

entire

book to the

In rebus divinis scire

development of this nos ignorare,"
"

he writes. 43
night,"

In speaking, as they often do, of a

in

which God

s

obscurity

reveals

itself

mystic to us
"

most

medieval mystics merely vary the dic lucem tum of the Apostle of the Gentiles [Dens]
clearly, the
:

.

vidit,

inaccessibilem, quern nullus hominum sed nee videre potest [God] inhabited! light in 44 accessible, whom no man hath seen, nor can see."
.
.

inhabitat

41

De

42 Cfr.

Fide Orth., I, 4. Pseudo-Dionysius,

Myst.
i-

vuffKetv inrep vovv yivuffKeiv." 43 De Docta Ignorantia, I, 26. ** i Tim. VI, 16.

74

GOD S INEFFABILITY
ARTICLE
3

THEOLOGICAL CONCLUSIONS
I.

GOD
is

S

INEFFABILITY.

a)

Language

is

merely the expression of thought, and therefore,
incomprehensible, it follows that He must also be ineffable or unutterable. "Deus
if

God
.

.

.

ineffabilis"

cil.

45

And

says the Fourth Lateran Coun St. Augustine beautifully observes:

"Quid

quaeriSj nt ascendat in linguam,
asccndit?"

quod

in

cor hominis non

46

As God
alone can

alone
utter

comprehends Himself, so Himself adequately. It is
Fathers
designate

He

in this sense that the

God

as

the

"ineffable"

or

"nameless"

one

(tU^nvto*).

b) Nevertheless

man

is

able to conceive God,

though inadequately, by a series of concepts repre
senting His different attributes; and consequently can utter Him in a variety of names. Hence the Patristic term ^oAt^/io^ "He of many names,"

and the
the
to

still

larger term employed by
Travwnvxo^
e. y
apply."

some of
"He

Fathers,

"all-names,"

Whom

all

names

In

his

sublime

"Hymn to

God,"

Gregory Nazianzen beautifully
"2v

sums up these conceptions:
KOL cis Kal TrdvTa
TI
"

Trdvrw WAo? lam
ou Travra.
46a
One,
art

Kal ovSeV

ov%

cv

tov

Ila-

<re

TraAe aaxo

TOV

JJUOVQV

aKA^tOTOi//
art
at

5t.
All,

45 Caput Firmiter." 4e In Ps. 85, n. 12.

46a

Thou

once

and None, and yet Thou

not

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
Augustine expresses himself
ner
:

75

in a similar

man

possunt de Deo did et nihil digne dicitur de Deo. Nihil latins hac inopia. Quae"Omnia

ris

congruum nomenf

Non
God,

invents.

Quaeris
All
is

quoquo
things

modo
can
be

diceref
said

Omnia

invenis

of

and nothing

worthily said of God. Nothing is wider than this poverty of expression. Thou seekest a fit
ting name for Him seekest to speak of
findest that
;

thou canst not find
in
47

it.

Thou

Him
all."

any way soever; thou

He

is

c) comparison of the logical elements of the various names applied to God, shows that

A

together yet fall far short of ex the fulness of his infinite and superpressing notional Being hence the Patristic term Wepwvu/Aos.
;

all

taken

We

need not

call attention to the fact that this

threefold
wrepww/xos)
48

mode

of appellation

(n-oAuwi/iyAo^ Travon/u/xo^

corresponds exactly to the threefold mode of our apprehension of God, as explained
above.
2. THE COMPOSITE CHARACTER OF OUR CON CEPTION OF GOD IN RELATION TO His SIMPLIC ITY. The three modes by which we apprehend God produce in the human mind a great variety

of concepts expressing attribution
all

;

hence the
ia,

in13,

or

one.
I

All-name!
call
all.

name can
47 Tract,

Thee,
13,

by what nameless
5.

St.
art.

Thomas, S. Theol.,
i.

qu.

One, alone of
in

48 Cfr.
n.

Gerrard,

The Wayfarer

s

loa.,

Cfr.

Vision, p. 7.

;6

OUR CONCEPTION OF HIM COMPOSITE

evitably composite character of our conception of have a typical example of such com God.

We

Catholic

position in the "Dogmatic Constitution on the Faith" adopted by the Vatican Council:
"Ecclesia

credit ct confitetur,
I

verum
ct

ct

ivum, Croat or em ac

unum csse Dcum Dominum coeli

tcrrae,

omnipotent cm, aetcrnum, immensum,
iufinitum,
etc.

incomprehensibilcm, intcllcctu ac voluntatc omnique perfcctione Catholic Apostolic

The

Roman Church

believes

Holy and

confesses that there

is one true and living God, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, almighty,

eternal,

immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intelligence, in will, and in all perfection." There naturally arises the question: How can a composite conception of God be harmonized with the absolute simplicity of the Divine Es
sence
?

Already the Eunomians raised the objection that the doctrine of the abstractive and analogous character of our knowledge of God must necessarily lead to an (im
possible) piecing together of the Divine Essence, though it is quite evident that the supremely simple Being can

be conceived only by the agency of an equally simple concept, and that consequently the various names ap
plied to
ticular Basil

are mere synonyms. The Fathers, in par and Gregory of Nyssa, solved this cunning objection by pointing out that though our knowledge
49 Cone. Vatic., Const.

God

De

Fide,

c.

i.

Denzinger-Bannwart, Enchiridion,

n.

1782.

KKOWABILITY OF GOD
of God
is

77

the Divine Essence com and consequently cannot be com prises all perfections our abstractive pressed into a finite concept. While

very

imperfect,

cognition compels the intellect to series of partial concepts, the in conceive finite fulness of the Divine Being renders it impossible for us to exhaust that Being by means of conceptions
analogical

mode of God by a

formed

in

our

finite

mind. 50

3.

OUR CONCEPTION

OF GOD

is

A TRUE CON

CEPTION, DESPITE ITS IMPERFECTIONS. Our in of God is ability to form an adequate conception that the conception we do apt to make us suspect
arrive at
is false.

Eunomius expressly declared

it

to be so, insisting that, in order not to be misled into forming wrong notions of God, it must nec
essarily be in

man
of

quate

notion

power to construct an ade Him. Proceeding from the
s

axiom that no conception can be true that repre
sents a thing otherwise than it is, this heretic insisted that man must have the ability to form an adequate concept of God; because otherwise

he would be doomed to form inadequate notions, and consequently to be deceived.
a)

we must

In undertaking to refute this specious objection, stress the fact that the truth and correctness

of the concept which man forms of God by the agencies of reason and revelation, is a dogma coinciding with
tion

so For a more detailed explanaof this difficulty, see Part II.

Cfr. also St.
7, art.
7.

Thomas, De

Pot., qu.

78
that

OUR CONCEPTION OF HIM TRUE
of the cognoscibility
of

God. 51

Among

the

di

reason gathers from the predicates that consideration of nature, St. Paul 62 expressly mentions two rj ai8K avrov SiW/xis, i. e., the eternal power mani
:

vine

human

fested in the creation of the universe, and flcwr^, i. e., a Divine Essence differing from all created things.

a third predicate the Book of Wisdom 63 adds the attribute of divine Elsewhere the Bible re beauty."
"

As

fers to God as He who i. e., Who has the pleni tude of being; the Eternal, the Allwise, the Immense,
"

is,"

etc.,

all

true,

would

predicates which, if they were incorrect or belie the Word of God.

un

b) The Eunomian contention, that unless we assume the possibility of man s forming an adequate idea of God, we are placed before the alternative of forming
either a
all, is

false

conception of

Him

or no conception at
retort that
it

met by the Fathers with the
"
"

rests

upon a confusion of the separate and distinct notes of and incorrect on the one hand, imperfect and their contradictories, and perfect correct," on
"

"

"

"

"

the other. The Fathers insist that there is such a thing as a true though imperfect concept of God; that our knowledge of God, in spite of its inevitable defects, is true and remains true for the very simple reason, among others, that we are fully aware, and do so

judge, that the perfections we ascribe to God exist in Him in a quite different way than they exist in His creatures and in the concepts of the human mind; that,

whatever wrong elements may enter into our conception of God, are eliminated by an express judgment; while on the other hand the Eunomians themselves are open
to the charge of counterfeiting the notion of
61 Supra, Ch.
i.

God when
5.

52

Rom.

I, 20.

53 Wisd. XIII,

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

79

to conceive God and to com they pretend to be able in matter of fact they prehend Him as He is, though

derive their conceptions of

Him from

54

analogy.

READINGS
lib.
I,

:

Suarez,
8-12.

cap.

Thomassin,
thes.

De Divina Substantia eiusque Attributes, De Deo, lib. IV, cap. 6-12.
10-13.

Franzelin,

De Deo Uno,

Chr.

Pesch, S.

J.,

Der

M. Glossner, Der spekulative Gottesbegriff, Freiburg 1886. FaderGottesbegriff in der neuen und neuesten Philosophic, Lehrbuch der Dogmatik, 4th ed., Vol. I, born 1894. Simar, H3 sqq. W. Humphrey, S. J., "His Divine Majesty," pp. 16
pp.
sqq., London Known, 2nd

1897.
ed.,

M. Ronayne,
1902. 1909.

S.

J.,

God Knowable and
Gerrard, The

New York

T.

J.

Way

farer s Vision,

London

54Cfr. Franzelin,

De Deo Uno,

thes.

13.

SECTION
MAN
S

2
IT

KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AS HEAVEN

WILL BE IN

When we arrive in the abode of the Blessed, our knowledge of God will It will be change. different from, and far more perfect than the knowledge we have here below. Our mediate
abstractive knowledge of

God

will give

same time ana transformed into univocal knowl edge, inasmuch as we shall see God as He is.
logical will be

immediate

way

to

intuition, while at the

light glory to the intellect of the and (3) the re Blessed; lation between the intuitive vision of God

we therefore propose to treat three important questions, viz.: (i) the reality and the supernatural character of the intuitive vision; (2) the necessity of the of
and

In this section

His

incomprehensibility.

ARTICLE

i

THE REALITY AND THE SUPERNATURAL CHARACTER OF THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
I.

PRELIMINARY REMARKS.
God"

The expression

intuitive vision of

is

based on a metaphor

80

KNOWABIL1TY OF GOD
which
likens

81

the

human

intellect

to

the

eye.

Bodily vision has two peculiarities: first, the eye sees a material object immediately, and, second,
it

perceives

it

clearly

and

distinctly.

Analo

gously we may say that the intuitive vision of God means, first, that we know Him immediately,
without depending on the created universe as a medium or mirror and secondly, that our knowl
;

edge of sion in

Him
the

is

clear

and
in

distinct

an apprehen
word.

proper

sense

of

the

The

God to our intuitive quality corresponding vision of Him, is His visibility (visibilitas Dei),
which some dogmaticians treat as a separate
vine attribute.
di

distinguish in abstracto a fourfold visibility, corresponding to the four different kinds of intuitive vision in God. There is (a) bodily
vision
(insio

we take the term sense, we shall be able
If

"

vision
to

"

in its

more extended

oculis corporcis), which, being

metaphys

applied to God, can never take place, not even in Heaven; (b) that mode of spiritual vision by which we see God through the cosmos, or by
ically impossible

when

an act of
sole

faith

(visio abstractive*)

;

this constitutes the
all

mode

of seeing

God

natural to

rational

crea

tures, angels

and men; (c) that mode of
s.

spiritual vision
in

by which we envisage God immediately
(visio intuitiva
beatificia)
;

His essence

it

is

in this the beatitude

of angels and men consists; (d) the comprehensive or exhaustive vision of God (visio comprehensiva s. exhaustiva), which is denied even to the Blessed in

Heaven, being reserved

to

the Almighty Himself. 1

1 Vide infra, Article 3.

82

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
Corresponding to
this fourfold

manner of seeing God, a threefold invisibility. distinguish (To the both in its natural and in its glorified state, bodily eye, God is absolutely invisible). Since the created mind

we may

has

no means of knowing God other
apprehension proper

than
to
its

the

ab

stractive-analogical
faculties,

limited

God

s

essence and substance must ever remain
"

invisible to the created intellect, except supernaturally,

by means of the
light of glory

lumen

gloriae"

But even

in

the

be adequately conceived by His and therefore under this aspect, too, must ever creatures,
i. c., incomprehensible, even to the and the Elect in Heaven. God alone sees holy Angels Himself fully and adequately to the limit of His essence and cognoscibility.

God cannot

remain

invisible,

"

"

THESES. The subject-matter the above preliminary remarks propounded may be reduced to three problems, which we
2.

DOGMATIC
in

in as many theses; vis.: the absolute impossibility of a bodily vision (i) of God; (2) the natural impossibility of an in

shall

endeavor to solve

tuitive vision of
reality,

God; and (3) the supernatural
possibility, of the intui

and consequent

tive (beatific) vision of
First Thesis.
fied state,

God

in

Heaven.
its glori

To
is

the bodily eye, even in

God

absolutely invisible.

partly of faith, sents a theological conclusion.
is

This thesis
Proofs.

and partly repre

To

enable us to see

God

bodily, either

God would have

to appear in a material vesture,

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
or our

83

own

corporeal organ of sight would have

to be capable of attaining by supernatural means to a bodily vision of purely spiritual substances.

Both these suppositions are inadmissible. a) God, being a pure spirit, has no material body, and therefore cannot be visible to the human eye. This sort of invisibility, conceived
as
incorporeity,
is

a

dogma

clearly
2

taught in

Holy
texts

Scripture, partly in those passages which

teach that

God

is

a pure

spirit,

partly in those

that insist on His invisibility in terms which exclude every possibility of bodily vision. O Cfr. I Tim. VI, l6l IX MV ^Oavaaiav^
/*oi>os

4>ois

oiKo>v

airpoviTOv

ov ctSev ovSeis

dv#po>7r<ov

ouSe tSeiv Bvvarai

Who
see."

only hath immortality, and inhabiteth light

inaccessible,

whom
John
I,

no
18:

man

Cfr.

hath seen, nor can "Deiun nemo vidit un-

hath seen God at any time." quam Asserting as they do the spiritual invisibility of the Divine Essence, these texts must a fortiori be understood as denying the corporeal visibility
of God.
it is

No man

In the light of these Scriptural texts not to be wondered at that the Fathers and

the infallible magisterium of the Church have always considered the invisibility of God, as just

dogma and have de and vigorously against the expressly Audians and the Anthropomorphites, who atexplained, to be a revealed

fended

it

2 Cfr.

John IV, 20 sqq.

84

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
to

tributed
limbs.
3

God

a material body and

human

b) Another question here presents itself: Would it be possible for the human eye, by means of some super

of

natural light sui generis, to attain to a bodily vision God s spiritual substance ? Leo Allatius 4 held that

while the Elect in

Heaven

will not see the

Divine Es

sence (he means the Divinity itself, not the human nature of Christ) until after the resurrection of the body, Mary, the Mother of God, with glorified eyes sees it

already now.
St.
"

When, many
6

centuries

before Allatius,
this

Augustine
et

undertook to denounce
dementia,"

view

as

insipicntia

his

were so scandalized by his great Bishop of Hippo in his little treatise De Vidcndo 9 Deo, found himself constrained to admit that it would require a more careful investigation than any one had
yet

Catholic contemporaries harsh strictures that the

made
"

of

the

question

whether,
"

in
"

virtue
into a

of the
"

metamorphosis of
enly
will

man from an
to

being, his spiritualized

heav earthly after the resurrection eye
the

be

enabled

envisage

Divine

Substance.

While
"In

opponents appealed to Job XIX, 26: came mea vidcbo Dcum mcum In my flesh I
see

his offended

seems St. Augustine personally never changed his belief that such a spiritualization of
shall

my

God,"

it

the flesh

was impossible. In spite of the passage quoted from Job, the impos sibility of the bodily eye being so highly spiritualized as to be able immediately to see God, while not an arti3 Cfr.

Epiphanius,

Haeres.,

70.

*

De Consensu

Eccles. Orient., II,

See also Part III of this work, on the Incorporeity of God.

17.

6

Ep. 22 ad Italicam.

6 Ep. 147 ad Paulinom.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
cle

85

of faith, is to-day generally received as a well es St. Augustine himself tablished theological conclusion. refuted the construction which his adver trenchantly
saries put

upon Job XIX,
to

26,

and other similar
:

texts.
"

Non the effatum of Job, he says dixit Job: per carneni meam, quod quidem si di.visset, posset Deus Christus intelligi, qui per carnem in carne
With regard
I I

idebitur.

Nunc
ac

vero potest et
si

sic accipi: in

carne

mea

idebo

Deum,

di.risset:

In carne mea ero,

cum

videbo
indeed,
that by

Deum
if

he had said

God

And, Job does not say by the flesh. this, it would still be possible for Christ shall be Christ was meant
;

seen by the
it

flesh.

But even understanding
"

it

of God,

only equivalent to saying, I shall be in the flesh when I see God/ 7 The spiritualization of the risen
is

body, of which St. Paul speaks in
,

i

Cor.

XV, 44

(o-w/xa

TrvtvpaTLKov) by no means consists in the transmission to the material body of spiritual powers and qualities - for this would be tantamount to an impossible evo

lution

of

matter into

spirit

,

but

in

a clarification

or transfiguration of the flesh enabling it to foster and support the activity of the soul, instead of pulling it

down

to the level of the senses.

"

Erit spiritui subdita
"

sed tamen caro, caro spiritualist St. Augustine says, non spiritus; sicut carni subditus fuit spiritus ipse The flesh shall carnalis, sed tamen spiritus, non caro
then be spiritual, and subject to the spirit, but still not spirit." 8 At bottom the whole question ap Philosophy, pertains to philosophy rather than theology.
flesh,

needless to remark, cannot admit the possibility of an intuitive vision of God s spiritual substance by a ma
terial
1

organ,

for

such a concession would imply that
XXII, 29. XXII, 21.
Cfr. Petavius,

De

Civit. Dei, Civit. Dei,

*De

De Deo,

VII,

z.

86
flesh

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
could be changed into spirit without ceasing to

flesh. The argument is strengthened by another theological conclusion, viz.: It is metaphysically certain that the bodily eye can see none but corporeal substances; on the other hand, it is de fide that the

be material

glorified bodies of the Elect after the resurrection will be and remain bodies of real flesh; hence it is the

ologically certain that the bodily eye, even in its trans figured state, can perceive only what is corporeal

consequently, that
spirit.

it

cannot see God,

Who

is

a pure

Second Thesis. No created spirit (angel or man), can by his purely natural faculties attain to the im mediate vision of God.
applies to existing spirits, this proposition is an article of faith. Proof. The supernatural character of the visio beatifica on the part of such rational creat ures as exist under the present economy, was defined as early as A. D. 1311, by the Council
it

So far as

of Vienne. 9

But we have not the certitude of whether God might not create a spirit say, an angel of the highest pos sible order which would have a right to the
faith as to the question

vision of God in virtue of the perfection of its nature, this point having never been defined by the Church. few of the Schoolmen

A

(Duran-

dus, Becanus, Ripalda) believed themselves free
fiCfr.

also

Propos. Baji damn., 3-5, 9, a 1003 sqq.

pd

Denzinger-Ban nwart, nn.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
to hold the

87

view that

in

some other universe than

God could create a spirit which, in virtue of its very nature, might claim beatific vision
ours
as a right.
10

Ripalda
calls

in
it

speaking of such a hy
"substantia

pothetical spirit,

intrinsece

sup ernatur alls." However, since Sacred Scrip ture and Tradition trace the natural invisibility
of God to His innermost essence, the hypothesis of the possibility of a "supernatural substance" must be rejected as false and involving a con
tradiction.
11

Hence our present
all
it is

thesis

must be

made
and

to

embrace

in that sense

possible spiritual beings; certainly true, because the

proofs drawn from Revelation are applicable to all created or creatable intellects.

our

a) Apropos of the Scriptural thesis, it must be noted:
)

argument for

The
is

natural inaccessibility of the Divine
i

Essence
16:

expressly taught in et solus pot ens "Beatus

Tim. VI, 15rex re gum et

Domimts dominantium,

qui solus habet immortalitatem et hicem inhabitat inaccessibilem, quern nullus hominum vidit, sed nee videre potest

The Blessed and only Mighty, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath im
mortality,

and

inhabiteth

light

inaccessible,
see."

whom
10
11
disp. 23;
t.

no
II,

man

hath seen, nor can
t.

It

apet

De Ente
For

Supernaturali,
disp. ult.,
details,
sec.

I,

mieri,

S.

J.,

De Deo

Creante
1878.

40.

Elevante, thes. 39,

Romae

further

see

Pal-

88

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD

pears from this enumeration of such attributes as "blessedness," "omnipotence," and "immor
(attributes every one of which is quite invisible to the bodily eye), that the Apostle had in view not so much the bodily as the in
tality,"

tellectual invisibility of

as

"whom

no
as

man

God. Such expressions hath seen nor can see," and

"inhabiteth

light

inaccessible,"

must therefore
the

be

taken

referring
if

mainly to

under

standing.
alone,
it

Now

this light is inhabited
all

by God
it

follows that

who

are outside of

rational creatures both existing and possible are outside of it, because it is "inac nor neither to all except God cessible"

and

all

"see"

"can

see"

the Godhead.

Nor

is

this conclusion

the least affected by the circumstance that invisibility is here predicated of God only in
in

relation to

man

("nitllus

hominum")

;

for the
is

decretory
positive

principle

viz.,

inaccessibility
it

so

and universal that

comprises

not

only the angels but all spirits in general (even those which have no existence). That, on the
other hand, St. Paul did not consider it impos sible for finite rational beings to be admitted
into the divine
"light"

by the favor of grace,

is quite plain from his teaching in regard to the reality of the supernatural vision of God in

Heaven. 12
12 Cfr.
i

Cor. XIII, 8-12.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
Rom.
KaOoparat
I,

89

2O, To, aopara avrov

.

.

.

TOIS TroirjfJLam voovfJLtva

For

the

invisible

things

of

him

.

.

.

are

clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made"can be quoted in support of the same truth. of God) For the invisible things of Him e., (i.
" "

are here contrasted with His visibility, that is to say, His knowableness in the light and by means of the

That the contrast is intentional ap KaOoparai, pears from the Use of the words do para which are calculated to convey the idea that without the medium of created things, the Godhead is in itself in
created universe.
"

visible,"

i.

e.,

invisibility
"

is

cannot be envisaged in its essence. This in defined not as a bodily but as an
"

tellectual

attribute (intellect a

voov /xeva).

Though

St.

Paul in the passage under consideration means to refer primarily to the human understanding, as the context
shows, it is quite plain that he looks upon invisibility as such a characteristic attribute of the Godhead per se
(TO,
"

"

aopara), and that
"

we

are not at liberty to

make an

exception in favor of any rational being, either actually 13 creatable." existing or merely
/?)

There are a number of Scriptural texts
is

in

which the intuition of the Divine Essence

de

scribed as the exclusive privilege of the Godhead, or of the three Persons in the Most Holy Trinity,

implying that

God

s

intuition of

Himself can be

communicated
with
grace.

to creatures, even those

endowed

reason,

only

by

way

of

Cfr. Matth. XI, 27:

"Nemo

supernatural novit Fi-

lium nisi Pater, neque Pair em quis novit
13 Cfr. the commentators on Rom.I, 20.

(-

90

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD

n isi Films, et cui volnerit Filius revelare Xo one knoweth the Son, but the ) Father: neither doth any one know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the

Son
nisi

to reveal

him."

Similarly in John VI, 46:
vidit

"Non

quia Pair em
qiti

qitisquam
Filius]

(^oxe
:

T)
the

is,

est

a

Deo
is

[scil.

hie vidit

Patrem
Father."

Not

that

any

man

hath

seen

Father; but he

who
John

of God, he hath seen the
is still

The same thought
in
(ovSa? i^pa

brought out

unquam
est in

7)
in the

I,

18:
;

more sharply "Dcum nemo vidit

unigenitits Filius, qui

No

sinu Patris, ipse enarravit man hath seen God at any time
is

(ryVaro )
:

the only be

gotten Son who

he hath declared
the

him."

of the Father, Besides the Father and

bosom

Son,
14

intues
i

only the Holy Ghost the inner essence of the Divinity.
there
is
1 1
:

Who
Cfr.

Cor.

II,

(>o>Kv)

nisi

"Quae Dei sunt, nemo cognovit The things that are Spiritus Dei

God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God/ Whence it follows that no created intellect can, by virtue of its own power, penetrate into the
of

Divine Essence.

men

If the revelation to believing of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is a supernatural favor, the intuitive "face-to-face"

vision of the
14
"

same must a
tion

fortiori be a grace,
G.

We
as

will

intue

use the word corresponding in every
.

.

.

(W.
I,

and the adjective intuitive. Ward, Nature and Gractt
"

respect with the substantive

intui-

40,

London

1860.)

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
and a much greater
one.

91

From

all

of

which we

may

validly conclude that, according to the teach of the Bible, the Divine Essence is absolutely ing invisible to any created being except through the

operation of supernatural grace.
b)

The Fathers formulated
Those of the Fathers

their

teaching

along the lines of the Biblical texts just quoted.
a)
in particular,

who

did not

content themselves with merely stating the dogma and showing it to be founded in Holy Writ, tried to bot

tom the natural invisibility of God on the metaphysical axiom that the Uncreated cannot become visible to a
"

created

15
being."

They

regarded

solely

the

natural

mode

of cognition, as is evidenced by the fact that they did not hesitate to ascribe to the Elect in Heaven a

Gregory of Nazianzus an intuitive vision of the Divine Essence is in virtue of a special indwelling of God possible only
insists that
"

supernatural intuition of God.

and of the latter s being penetrated and through with a divine light," 1C a divine act through which St. Chrysostom designates more succinctly as cnry/cara/JaD-i?, *. e., a. condescension on the part of the
in

the

intellect

Almighty.
/?) The teaching of St. Irenaeus is deserving of special mention because of its unmistakable clearness. He as sumes that we can attain to a knowledge of God nat

urally,

by contemplating the created universe, and then
"

proceeds to distinguish three stages in the supernatural knowledge which man can have of God (i) the sym:

15 Cfr.

Chrysost. Horn. 5 de In-

10 Or. 34:

comprehens.:
virep\ov<ja.v

Ovata

yap

ovalav
yea-

Oeou
<r#at.

/cat

Aia rb ir\t)aiov elvai 6\u TU tfxarl /caraXd/ttTre-

OVK av SvvaOeii)

Aws

2
"

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
;
" "

vision implied in the Old Testament theophanies the vision exemplified in the Incar (2) adoptive nation of the Logos and (3) the vision of paternal the Elect in Heaven, which alone deserves the name
bolical
" "

;

of intuition.
20,
5,

principal passage is Adv. Hacrcs. IV, Irenaeus says: "Homo etenim a se [per naturalia sua] non videt Deum, ille autem volens

The
St.

where
\ab]

videtur

hominibus, quibns vnlt

et

qitando vult et

quemadrnodum I ult ; potens est enim in omnibus Dens. Visus quidem tune [i. e., in V. T.] per spiritum prophetiac, visus autem et per F ilium adoptive, zndebitur autcm ct in rcgno coelorum paternaliter For man does not see God by his own powers; but when He pleases He is seen by men, by whom He wills, and when He For God is powerful in all wills, and as He wills. things, having been seen at that time [in the Old Testa
too, adoptively

ment] indeed, prophetically through the Spirit, and seen, through the Son, and He shall also be
seen
paternally
in

the

kingdom

of

Heaven."

17

He

sharply differentiates between the natural invisibility and the supernatural visibility of God, when he says: Qui indent Deum, intra Deum su-nt, percipientes eius
"

claritatem.
TOS)

.

.

.

Et propter hoc

et invisibilis et

incapabilis (6 axw~ (doparo?) insibilem se et comprchensi-

bilem

capabilem hominibus pracstat
\<t)povfjLvoi>)

(bp^vov

lavrov

KOL KaraXanpavofjicvov Kal

And

for this rea-

son,
ble,

He [although] beyond comprehension, and invisi rendered Himself visible and comprehensible to
18

men."

Third Thesis.

The Blessed

in

grace, see God face to face, as are thereby rendered eternally
17 Iren.,

He

is in

Heaven, through Himself, and

happy.
ia, qu.

Adv. Haer., IV, 20. ISlren., /. c. Cfr. St. Thomas, S. Theol.,

12, art. 4.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
This thesis embodies an article of faith. Proof. "Ab esse ad posse valet illatio."
very
fact

93

The

that

Sacred Scripture describes the

beatific

the supernatural recompense virtue in angels and men, proves the possibility of such vision, al though, despite the existence of Revelation, hu
vision as

with which

God rewards

man

reason cannot demonstrate either the in
the reality of the beatific

trinsic possibility or

vision,

which

is

consequently reckoned

among

the absolute theological mysteries by nearly all 19 The fact itself has been defined theologians. as an article of faith in the Constitution
dictus
J
Dens"

"Bene-

of Pope Benedict XII (A. D. which says: "Definimiis quod [animae 336),

sanctorum] post Domini Nostri Jesu Christi passionem et mortem viderunt et vident divinam essentiam vislone intuitiva et etiam faciali, nulla mediant e creatura in ratlone objecti visi se habente,

sed divina essentia immediate se nude,
et

aperte eis ostendente, quodque sic videntes eadem divina essentia perfruuntur, necnon quod ex tali vislone et fruitione eorum animae,

dare

qid iam decesserunt, sunt vere beatae et habent

vitam

et

clearly sets off
fact itself
II, 43 sqq.,

This definition requiem aeternam." both the reality and the super

natural character of the beatific vision.
is

The
Enchiri-

established in part (negatively) by
20 Denzinger-Bannwart,
dion, n. 520.

10 Cfr. Chr. Pesch, Protect. Dogni.,

Friburgi 1899.

94

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
medium
and
in part

the exclusion of every other

Its super natural character appears from the fact that its beginning is traced back to the death of Christ and that it is described as the consum

tion, (positively) the immediateness of the act of vision.

of cogni by insistence on

mation of the theological virtues of faith and 21 All possible doubt as to whether or not hope.
the vision of the Blessed Trinity is included in the beatific vision, has been removed the

by

.

Florence decree of 1439, which says "Definimus in coelum mox recipi [illorum animas]
:

.

.

.

.

.

et intueri sicuti
est."

dare ipsum
22

Deum

trinum

ct

unum,

a) Holy Scripture promises to the just in the hereafter boundless bliss, which it calls "eternal
life,"

"the

kingdom of

and Lamb," etc., which tears stop flowing, pain ceases, 24 pure joy and happiness reign supreme. Now, in what does this heavenly bliss consist ?
state in

feast of the

Heaven," 23

the marriage describes as a
-

Cor. XIII, 8 sqq., we read: "Sive cvacuabuntur sive linguae cessabunt prophetiae sive scientia destruetur; ex parte enim cognoscimus et ex parte prophetamus. Cum autem
) i
21
fidei
"

In

Ac quod
et

et

visio et fruitio actus spei in eis evacuant, prout

K a8ws

fffnv,"

Cfr.

Denzinger-

fides

spes
I.

sunt

virtutes."

propriae Const.

theologicae
"

Benedictus

Bannwart, n. 693. 23 For further information on this point we must refer the reader
to Eschatology.

Deus,"

c.

22"*at

rbv

$t>a

Ocupciv avrbv Kal Toiffviroffra,, o-bv
/catfapws

24 Cfr.
etc.

Apoc. VII,

16;

3HF-I,

4,

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
venerit quod perfectum
est,

95

evacuabitur quod ex

parte

Videmus nunc per speculum in ad faciem; nunc aenigmate, tune autem facie tune autem cognoscam, sicut cognosco ex parte, Whether prophecies shall be et cognitus sum made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed for we know in part, and we is per prophesy in part. But when that which 24a that which is in part shall be done fect is come,
est.
.

.

.

;

24b We see now through a glass in a dark away. 24c Now I know manner, but then face to face. 24d but then I shall know even as I am in part 24e As we have already observed on a known."
;

contrasts the previous page, the Apostle here vision of piecemeal, enigmatic, and per speculum God that is vouchsafed us here below, with the
radically
different

one which

we

shall

enjoy

hereafter,
tive
26

and which possesses the two distinc 25 and perfect clear marks of immediateness

ness.

Man s
"face

knowledge of God
to
face,"

in

Heaven
person,"

is

a vision

or

"person

to

which
glass"

is
28

opposed
(
.

to

the

vision

"through

a
the

that we have on earth.
re

Again,

"perfectum"

Aaov)

is

contrasted with the

24a T 6 reXeioj/,
vision.

e.,

the beatific
25 Sine spcculo, non in aenigmate. 26 Non ex parte.

povj,
shall

24b Karapyndrifferai rb e* ntabstractive knowledge * e
>

cease.
irpbs

2TCfr.

Exodus

XXXIII,

n:

24c irpoffwirov
visio facialis. / O .j
24<J

= irpoffuirov
T

CK uuipovs

28 Cor/nitio

per

speculum

ab-

gtracttva et analogica.

96

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
and the perfect
is

r * ju^ 01 cognitio ex parte ( *), clearness of the beatific vision

illustrated in

this
I

wise:
Him;"

"As

God
is

sees

me,

even

so

shall

see

that

to say, immediately, intui
veil

or medium, no longer by means of analogy derived from the created
tively,

clearly, without
29

universe.

ft) The teaching of St. John accords perfectly with that of St. Paul. Cfr. i John III, 2: "Ca-

rissimi,

mine

filii

quid criimts.
(iav
<f>avcpu0f)) ?

nondum apparuit, Scinms, quoniam, cum apparuerit
et

Dei sumus

similes ci crimus,

quoniam

videbi-

mus cum
what we
shall see

sicuti est

the sons of

God; and
be.

Dearly beloved, we are now it hath not yet appeared

shall

We

know,

that,

shall appear,

we
[i.

shall be like to him, because

when he we

him

he

is."

edge of
it

As in i God on

e., Christ in His Divinity] as Cor. XIII, so here our knowl earth is contrasted with our

knowledge of
will

Him
in

in

Heaven.

Here below,
be,"
;

until

"appear
God"
"we

dren of

what we shall we are an imperfect way only but
be
are
like to
31

"chil

in

Heaven
shall see

shall

Him

as

He

is."

explanations
29 Cfr.

we

because we God, In the light of these able to understand the
ing
"

30

Al. Schafer, Erklarung der beiden Brief e an die Korinther, 268 sqq., Munster 1903. On pp. man s dark and enigmatical vision of God here on earth, its purpose,

on

the

Pragmatism,"

present-day error of cfr. T. J. Gerrard,
s

The

Wayfarer

Vision,

London

1909. 30 8/40101

avru
abrbv KaBtin

and the bearing of

St.

Paul

s teach-

31

6^6fj.fda

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
deeper meaning of the Saviour
s

97
:

dictum

"Beati

mundo
32
God."

corde,

quoniam

ipsi

Deum

videbunt

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see
vision of

The God

angels, too, enjoy the beatific the Father, and consequently of
"Angeli

the whole Divine Trinity.

eoruni

[sc.

inf anti-urn] in coelis semper vident faciem Patris 33 mei, qni in coelis est Their [the children s]

angels

in

heaven always see the face of
is

my

Father
b)
offers

who
some

in

heaven."

34

The

Patristic

argument for our thesis difficulties, though these difficulties

appear to be hermeneutical rather than dogmatic. Vasquez contends that such eminent authorities

among

the Fathers as Chrysostom, Basil,

Greg

ory of Nazianzus, Cyril of Alexandria and Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose and others, deny that the
denizens of

God.

Heaven enjoy the beatific vision of But even if this somewhat strange con
would not destroy the unanimous consensus
For, be
it

tention could be proved, it argument based upon the

of the majority of the Fathers.

re

membered,

this

much

later,

point in the

dogma was not defined until and its history shows a turningfourth century, when the Eunomian

heresy began to influence considerably the tactics of the Fathers.
32Matth. V,
33
pXcirovffi
8.

rb

34 Matth.

XVIII,

irpoffu-rrov 10.

rov irarpos

(j,ov.

98

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
")

The pre-Eunomian Fathers simply

teach,

accord with the Bible, that the angels and saints in Heaven are vouchsafed a real "face
in full

have already ad verted to the admirably lucid teaching of St. Irenaeus. Corroborative passages can be cited from the writings of Clement of Alexandria,
face"

to

vision of God.

We

35 Origen, Cyprian, and others.
/?)

The

rise of the

Eunomian heresy

led to a

change of tactics, though the doctrine remained unchanged. Whenever the Fathers of Eunomius s time were not engaged in controversy,
they employed the traditional phraseology with which the Christians of that era were so familiar.
It is important to exonerate especially St. John Chrysostom from the charge of material heresy made against him by Vasquez. 30 Treating of the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor, Chrysostom says: 37 the
"If

bliss

produced by a dark vision of the future was

suffi

cient to induce St. Peter to cast

everything, what will man say when once the reality bursts upon him; when the doors of the royal chamber are thrown open,

away

and he is permitted to look upon the King Himself no longer enigmatically as in a mirror, but face to face no longer in the faith, 38 but in reality." 39 Again he
;

says:

40

"The

just,

however,
a

dwell
41

there

with
the

their
faith,

King, ... not

as

in

vestibule,

not

in

35 Cfr. Petavius, De Deo, VII, 7. 36 Comment, in S. Th., i p., disp. 37, cap. 3. 37 Ad Theod. Laps., n. u.

39 $ t & 40 Horn, in Phil., 3, n. 3. 41 5 t(i flff68ov is probably a more correct reading than J a etjovj

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
but face to
42
face."

99

mianism, or at least
that St.

It is only when he combats Eunowhen he has this heresy in view,

Chrysostom uses expressions which might
it

strike

the careless reader as a denial of the beatific vision in

Heaven, or a limitation of
"

to the

Blessed Trinity.
:

Vasquez points especially to Horn, de Incompreh., 3, n. 3 3 Nulli creatae viriuti Deum esse comprehensibilem*
et

a nulla plene
45

4*

videri

posse."

and similar passages
first place,

correctly,

To understand we must consider in
s

this

the

that in St. Chrysostom between such terms as knowing (yi/wo-ts), seeing (Owpia), and comprehending (KaraAr/i/a?) was not yet clearly de fined, and that the Saint was not minded to deny the sim ple visio intuitiva, but merely combated the comprehensio adaequata asserted by Eunomius. Hence such guarded

time the distinction

phrases as these
ova-las,
aK/3t/?J>?

"

:

yrwo-t?

d/cpt/?^?,

aKpifirjs

KaraA^?

rrjs

yivto0>civ,"

etc.

An

adequate comprehen

sion of God, such as that taught by Eunomius, is plainly not granted to either angels or men, but, as St. Chrysos tom himself elsewhere explains, is proper only to the
46 three Divine Persons.

By

putting a different construc

tion

on St. Chrysostom s teaching, we should not only muddle the sense and violate the context of his writings,
but

make him

47 contradict himself.

y) Vasquez s accusations against must be appraised in the light of
If
42

certain other Fathers
this typical

St.

Basil

asserts
TTpOS

that
TTpOffU-

"

the

angels

example. do not see the
TOffCLVTTJV,
Offt]V

dXXa

TTpOffdJTTOV

KaToX^lV,

/Cttt

6

43 AcaTCtXTjTTTOj;. 44 pera d/fpt/3e ias. 45 Cfr. Kleutgen,
238. 46 Horn,
"

De

Ipso Deo,
15,

p.

For by knowledge He here means an exact idea and comprehension, such as the Father hath of the
Son."

in

loa.,

n.

2:

yvwffiv
rrjv

yap

cvravQa

CI^ous)
ical

47 Cfr. Wirceburgenses, Una, nn. 99 sqq.

De Deo

dKpipij

Xe yei Oeuptav re

loo

THE INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD

Godhead as It sees Itself," he expresses no doubt as to the beatific vision, but merely wishes to emphasize the dogma of God s absolute incomprehensibility, which
makes Him inscrutable even to the Elect in Heaven. The face to face vision and the perfect cognition
of the
"

incomprehensible majesty of
all

48
God,"

he says,

are worthy of it as a reward in the hereafter." 40 Such was also the teaching of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who, after the declaring that B0 angels do not see God as He immediately adds
is

promised to

who

"

is,"

:

They
. .

see

Him
the

according to the measure of their
[see

ability,

.

the

Thrones and Powers
01

Him] more

per

fectly

than

cellency; can see Him in a

[mere] angels, yet short of His ex only the one Holy Ghost, besides the Son,

becoming

manner."

52

can spare ourselves the trouble of 8) defending the other Fathers who have been attacked
because
it

We

is

quite plain

to

by Vasquez, any one who reads their

writings carefully and without bias, that they teach just the contrary of what Vasquez imputes to them. If the

one or other of them does here and there appear to deviate from the orthodox view c. g., Gregory of (as, Nyssa), they must be interpreted in the same way as St.
Chrysostom. There is no solid reason for charging a single one of these Fathers with heterodoxy. St.

Augus
of

tine

already

showed
St.

53

how

certain

utterances
in

St.

Ambrose and
fectly
T&

Jerome can be construed

a per
in

orthodox sense. 54
nkv

The only
03 Ep.
L.,

false
alit.

note

the

y&p
if

irpbauirov

Trpbs

wpoffuTrov /cat
40 Basil,
&

TfXcia eiriywffis.

Serm. de Imp. et Potest. ov KaOws ianv 6 0eos.
of

si SXdTToi/ 5* rijj dtfoj.

& s -^p^i Cyril Catech., 6, n. 6.
62

148, Migne, P. XXXIII, 622. 54 For St. Augustine s own teaching the reader is referred to De Civ. Dei, XI, 29, XXII, 29, and

m;

Jerusalem,

De

Trinit.,

XIV,

16.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
harmonious concert
is
"

101

an expression of Theodoretus do not see the who, he says, 5 Divine Essence, but only a certain lustre/ which is
in regard to the Angels,

is

adapted to their nature." It is likely that this passage the source of the heresy of the fourteenth century 50 who alleged that the divine attributes can Palamites,
"

be contemplated separately from the divine Substance in the form of a enveloping the God garb of light head. 57
"

ARTICLE

2

THE LIGHT OF GLORY A NECESSARY MEDIUM FOR THE
INTUITIVE VISION OF GOD
I.

WHAT THE LIGHT OF
(lumen),
like

GLORY

is.

The term

"vision"

"light"

(visio), has been

transferred from the material world to the realm

As material light is of intellectual cognition. the condition and the cause of bodily vision, so intellectual light is necessary for intellectual

As there are three states cognition. that of nature, that of grace, and that of glory; so there are three specific modes of cognition,
vision,
i.

e. y

:

with as
55
56

many

different

"lights"
"

adapted and pro-

86av nva On the heresy

of the Palamites

Fuere nonnulli, qui Deum dicerent etiam in ilia regione beatitudinis in claritate quidem sua conspici, sed in natura minime videri. Quos

(from Gregory Palamas), cfr. Hergenrother s Handbuch der Allgemeinen Kirchengeschichte, 4th ed. by J. P. Kirsch, vol. II, pp. 804 Blunt, Dictionary of Sects, sqq.;
etc.,

nimirum minor
tas
plici

fefellit;

neque

inquisitionis subtilienim illi simest

essentiae

aliud
claritas

claritas

et

pp. 191 sq.

aliud natura, sed ipsa ei natura sua
claritas,

luded

57 Possibly Gregory the Great alto Theodoretus when he

ipsa

natura

est."

wrote (Moral. XVIII, nn. 90 sq.):

On the whole De Deo Uno,

subject, see Franzelin, thes. 19, Romae 1883.

102

THE LIGHT OF GLORY
"light

portioned to each; viz.: the
the

of

reason"

(lumen rationis), which conies from the Creator; of grace" (lumen gratiae, fidei), which "light comes from the Sanctifier, and the "light of (lumen gloriae), which comes from the glory"
Divine Remunerator.

Here we have

to deal with the light of glory.

What

is

the

light

of

glory?

Like the light

of reason and the light of grace, the light of glory must be immanent in the human intellect,

and hence cannot be objectively

identical with

the majesty or splendor of God (lumen quod Nor can it be the actus ridcndi of vidctur).
the
Elect,
in

inasmuch as
the

this

act,
is

though im
impossible

manent

human

intellect,

without the light of glory, just as cognition de

pends of necessity on the light of reason, and The theologians faith on the light of grace. accordingly define the light of glory as a super
natural force or power imparted to the intellect of the Blessed in Heaven, like a new eye (or principle of vision), enabling them to see God as

He
2.

58
is.

THE DOGMA.

The

Council
of the

of

Vienne

(A. D. 1311) defined the necessity (and hence

lumen gloriae, when, through the mouth of Clement V, it con demned the heresy of the Beguines and Begimplicitly the existence)
68 Cfr.

W. Humphrey,

"

His Divine

Majesty,"

pp. 48 sqq.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
59

103

non indiget lumine gloriae ipsam elevante ad Deum videndum et eo beate
hards,
that
"Anima
60

fruendum"

a) The necessity of the light of glory flows as If a corollary from what we have said above. the order of grace and salvation instituted for

a strictly supernatural state, absolutely unattainable by purely natural means; if, in particular, the natural power of
all

rational creatures

is

the created intellect
to attain to

is

not sufficient to enable

it

an

intuitive vision of
in light

God

s

essence

because

He

"dwells

inaccessible;"

then

manifestly the cognitive faculty of rational crea tures must, in virtue of the potentia obedientialis latent therein, be elevated to the supernatural

sphere and endowed with the supernatural power necessary for it to see God. Whoever denies
this conclusion

must perforce accept the
is

heretical

antecedent that the created intellect
its

able

by

own
b)

natural powers to arrive at an intuitive
61

vision of God.

necessity of the light of glory can be proved even more cogently from its relation to For while the the habitus of theological faith.
will continue in the
59

The

supernatural habitus of love (habitus caritatis) 62 faith, on the other beyond,
On
the Beguines and the Beg-

hards, see E. Gilliat-Smith in the Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. II, pp.

60 Clement., 1. V, tit. 3, cap. 61 Cfr. Supra, Article i, No. 62 Cfr. i Cor. XIII, 8:
ovdcTrore

3. 2.

389

sq.

104

THE LIGHT OF GLORY

63 hand, will cease, being changed into vision. Now, if the supernatural life of faith here on earth is supported by a special habitus, viz.,

theological
glory,
too,

faith,

it

is

plain that

the light of
faith
in

which takes the place of
its

Heaven, requires a habitus for
the

foundation;
is

more

so because the beatific vision

far

superior to the knowledge of faith, representing, as it does, the summit which grace makes it
possible
for

any

created
sqq.
:

intellect
"Et

to

attain.

Cfr. Apoc.

ems;

.

.

.

XXII, 4 et nox

indebunt faciem
crit; ct

ultra

non

non egequoet re%-

bunt lumine lucernae, ncque famine

solis,

niam Dominus Dens illuminabit
nabunt
in

illos

saeaila saeculorum
.

And

they shall

shall be no more: need the light of the lamp, nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God
.

see his face;

.

and night

and they

shall not

shall enlighten them, and they shall reign for ever and ever."
3.

SCHOLASTIC CONTROVERSIES REGARDING THE
While no
is

NATURE OF THE LIGHT OF GLORY.
Catholic
necessity of the light of glory
"supernatural assistance"

allowed to doubt the existence and the
in the sense of

we

are free to discuss

the question, in
consists,
63 Cfr.

what the essence of this light and what are its qualities; provided, of
10:
e/c

5

c\0r)

i Cor. XIII, rb rfreiov,

6rav
/te povj

64 65

fy OVT ai r6

npoffuirov avrov.

rt>

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
course, that

105

the

dogma

itself

is

duly

safe

guarded.
a) Three Scholastic theories on the matter must be
rejected as partly erroneous and partly inadequate. must reject as incorrect in the first place the a)

We

opinion of that
trinsic elevation

school

which holds that a mere ex
6

the
that

for (elevatio e.rtrinseca) is sufficient supernatural equipment of the human intellect, or
it

is

at least possible. 67
is

The

essence of this ele
to consist not

vatio extrinseca
in

held by

its

champions

any

intrinsic strengthening of the

cognitive faculty,

but in the exercise by God Himself of an immediate influence on the natural intellect, enabling it to attain
to

Some theologians, as, c. g., supernatural vision. Cardinals Cajetan and Franzelin, regard this opinion
theologically

as

involving a philo that no vital potency sophic contradiction, can produce a supernatural act without undergoing an

unsound,

and as on the ground

intrinsic alteration. Whatever view one may take of the possibility or impossibility of the elevatio e.vtrinscca, this much appears to be certain: the theory does not

68

cause the term

accord with the spirit of the Clementine decision, be lumen gloriae clevans animam ad Deum
"

videndum" implies just

as

much

tive)

change

in the principle of cognition
fidei

of an intrinsic (qualita as does the
credendum."

phrase,
(3)

"lumen

elevans

animam ad

a second theory, which accords some what better with the sense of the dogma. It postu
is

There

lates

an

intrinsic strengthening of the soul
in

by the agency
Theol,
B.
,

66Durandus, Comment,
tuor Libras Sent., IV, 20
dist.

Quaqu.
13;

49,

Toletus, Comment, in S. qu. 12, art. 5, concl. 3.
68 Cfr.,

i,

however,

G.

67Cfr. Suarez,
8

De Deo,

Tepe,
37
S qq. f

II,

S. J.. Instit. Theol., II, pp.

Paris 1895.

io6

THE LIGHT OF GLORY

of an unbroken chain of actual graces (gratiac actuates). If it is true that in Heaven faith gives way to vision,

i.

while charity remains, and both are of the same species, then should we not expect a cor e., habitual virtues, habitus visionis to replace the former habitus responding
fidei?

But

this habitus visionis

would be
it

identical with
is

the lumen gloriae.

Hence,

if

the latter

at all to

be

compared

to supernatural grace,

must be compared not

to actual grace (gratia actualis), but to sanctifying grace soul of the jus (gratia habitualis), which inheres in the
tified as

a permanent quality, a habitus infusus. Thomassin and several other theologians y)

69

held

that the beatific vision of
ticipation

God

consists in a direct par
itself,
i.

by the Elect

in the

Divine Vision
70
:

e.,

in an actual transfer of the divine act of intuition to

the intellect of the Just.

Thomassin says

"

Videtur

Deus a bcatis non alia specie inteUigibili quam Verbo Nay, he does not shrink ipso mentem informante." from identifying the light of glory with the Holy Ghost,
drawing from Ps. XXXV, 10: videbimus lumen," the conclusion:
falsely
"In
"

lumine tuo

Idcoque
sanctus."

gloriae,

quo videtur Deus, cst Spiritus confusion of the beatific vision with the uncreated Logos, and of the light of glory with the Person of the Holy is Ghost, deserves to be called adventurous. While it

lumen Such a

transfer His own vital quite certain that God cannot act of self-contemplation to any extraneous being, it is
in Heaven behold Him equally certain that the Blessed in virtue of a vital act of vision proper to, and immanent Can I see with the eyes of their own intellects.
in,

another?

the intellect per appropriationem; but
69

True, the Holy Ghost elevates and strengthens He is not the subMentioned by Lessius, De De Deo, VI, 16.

Summo

Bono,

II,

2.

70

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
jective principle of energy from act of vision vitally emanates.

107

which the supernatural Pursued to its logical

conclusion this theory leads directly to Pantheism.

b) From what we have said in refutation of these false theories the reader can easily for mulate the true view. According to the sententia

communis, the

light of glory consists in that
in the intel

"supernatural

power which inheres

Blessed as a permanent habitus, en abling them to see the Divine Countenance." This definition possesses the twofold advantage of being in full accord with the Clementine de
cree,

lect of the

and of satisfying the
71

scientific

dogmati-

cian.

ARTICLE
THE

3

BEATIFIC VISION IN ITS RELATION TO

THE DIVINE

INCOMPREHENSIBILITY
i.

STATE OF THE QUESTION.

The incompre
must not be con
is

hensibility of the Divine Essence ceived as merely relative. God
sible to

incomprehen

us not only in the natural condition of our intellect here below, but likewise in the super natural state of glory in Heaven. Holy Scrip 72 ture and Tradition both define incomprehen71

On some

lems
Instit.

concerning

of the deeper probthe species imcfr.

ject

more

briefly
vol.
II,

in

his

Praelect.
pp.

Dogmat.,
sqq.

3rd
7; Ps.

ed.,

41
3.

pressa and expressa,

Pesch,

G. B. Tepe, Chr. Theol., pp. 145 sqq. S. J., treats the same sub-

Friburgi

1906.

72 Cfr.

Job XI,

CXLIV,

io8

THE BEATIFIC VISION

as an absolute attribute, by which the Divine Essence is, and ever remains, impene
sibility

trable to every created and creatable intellect, even in the state of transfiguration and elevation produced by the light of glory. The Fourth

Lateran
bilis"

Council
s
73

among God
It

enumerates "incomprchcnsiabsolute and incommunicable
there arises a difficult prob

attributes.

Now

has been defined by Benedict XII ( 1336) and by the Florentine Council (1439), that the beatific vision of the Blessed in Heaven is di
lem.

rected to the infinite substance of God, nay, to the Blessed Trinity itself, which the Elect intue
If this is true, immediate, nude, dare ct a[>erte. how can the Divine Essence remain incompre

hensible to those

who

In other words:

enjoy the beatific vision? How can the dogma of the

absolute incomprehensibility of God be reconciled with the dogmatic teaching of the Church that the Just in Heaven are happy in the intuitive
vision of the Divine Essence?

UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS AT HARMONIZ ING THE Two DOGMAS. It is plain that no at tempt to harmonize these two dogmas by at
2.

tenuating either the one or the other can prove The incomprehensi successful or acceptable.
bility of

must

the reality of the beatific vision both be accepted in their true meaning and
78 Cfr.

God and

Denzinger-Bannwart,

Enchirid., n. 428.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

109

Be to the full extent of their logical bearing. cause they fail in this the theories enumerated
below are
a)
all

defective.

By

attributes,

excepting from the beatific vision several divine and positing the essence of God s incompre
in the

hensibility precisely

concealment of certain un

seen divine perfections, Thomassin and Toletus mani Tole festly minimize the dogma of the visio intuitiva.
"

tus

insists

that

Dccem

attribute,

distincte

percipcre,

maioris est virtutis qitam octo ; ergo infinita percipere Divinac perfectiones sunt infinitae: infinitae est virtutis.

ergo impossibile

est,

omnes ab

intellectu creato

74
percipi."

But
is

to distinguish

between seen and unseen attributes

contrary to the absolute simplicity of the Divine Es That some of God s attributes remain hidden to sence.

the Elect, in contradistinction to others which they do see, is a theory which can be entertained only on the

assumption that the Divine Essence is split up into an infinite multiplicity of objectively distinct perfections, of which one might become visible while the others re

mained hidden. But the essence of the Godhead is Hence, who physically and metaphysically indivisible. ever enjoys an intuitive vision of this most sim its perfections or ple Being, must envisage either all
none.
"

To

the objection of

Toletus that
indicia,

in

that

case

sequeretur quod omnia Dei

onuies voluntates

occultae essent beatis manifesto, quia omnia talia sunt s occult decrees formaliter in Deo," we retort that God

and counsels involve an extrinsic relation, i. e., a rela As little as the tion to something which is not God. intuition of the Divine Essence eo ipso entails a knowl74

Comment,

in

S.

Theol.,

I,

qu. 12, art.

7.

no

THE BEATIFIC VISION

for these do edge of all real and possible creatures not form a part of the Divine Essence as such just

so

little

does a vision of the Divine Essence in
of

its

en
de

tirety

necessarily

crees,

which have

imply knowledge their terminus outside of the
s

God

free

God

head, and, therefore, remain hidden even to the Elect in Heaven, unless God sees fit to disclose them by a
special revelation.

b)

The second theory under
s

consideration

detracts
Its

from the dogma of God
pions (notably

Ockham and
(i.

cham incomprehensibility. Gabriel Biel) assert that no
is

concept formed of any object

complete, unless to the

comprchensio intrinscca
its

e.,

an exhaustive notion of

objective cognoscibility), there is joined a comprc hensio extrinscca, which implies that the subjective mode

of cognition is the most perfect possible. This view does not necessarily deny the incomprehensibility of

God, because after
of Himself which
is

all

it

is

only

God

s

contemplation

entitatively

and

noetically infinite,

inasmuch as only the infinite Being Himself is capable of performing an infinitely perfect vital act. But the underlying shallow conception of God s incomprehensi

im involves certain insoluble antinomies. It on the one hand, that the Blessed in Heaven might enjoy a true and full comprehension of the Di vine Essence without infringing on the dKaraA^ta," inasmuch as, subjectively and from the noetic stand point, there would still remain an unbridgeable chasm between God s divine apprehension of Himself and the vision which He vouchsafes to His creatures in Heaven. It implies, on the other hand, that the attribute of in comprehensibility cannot be limited to the Divine Es sence, but must be extended to all things without exbility
plies,
"

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
ception,

in

even the smallest and most easily knowable.
truth (e.
g.,

Not only God, but every
grass)

theorem), nay, every material object
highest angelic
intellect,

(e.

the Pythagorean of g., a blade
to

would then be incomprehensible even

the

for the simple reason that an
is

infinitely perfect

mode
75

of knowledge

possible only to

an

infinite being.

3.

THE TRUE THEORY.

St.

Thomas Aquinas

strikes at the root of the

problem by reducing the incomprehensibility of God to His infinity. verum convert untur." Therefore God s et "Ens

In infinite. knowableness, like His Essence, must be can be exhausted only by finite cognoscibility, however, an infinite power of cognition, and this no creature pos

Being only and thought, can that cognoscibility and cognition, being be really identical. Everything that is comprehended
sesses.

Hence

it

is

in the infinite, absolute

"

known by it as perfectly as it by any knowing mind, is But the Divine Substance is infinite is knowable. since every in comparison with every created intellect, limits of a cer created intellect is bounded within the
. . .

tain species.

that the vision .It is impossible, therefore,

of any created intellect can see the Divine Substance 76 In the light of this as perfectly as it is visible." the Elect in Heaven, explanation we can understand why Substance of God (in though they envisage the entire and the Divine Persons), cluding all His attributes do not and cannot comprehend this Sub nevertheless of its content, stance either intensively, to the limits
75 On the unsatisfactory theory of Vasquez (De Deo, disp. 53, c*PUna, 2), see Franzelin, De Deo
thes.
1

76 S.
55.

Thorn.,

Contr.

Gent.,

Ill,

(Rickaby,

Of

Creatures,

p. 227.

God and His London 1905.)

8,

Romae

1883.

ii2

THE BEATIFIC VISION

nor yet extensively, in its totality. They intue the whole Godhead (totum), but they do not intue it fully
(totalitcr) they envisage the Infinite (infinitum), but they do not envisage
finite

Him

Being Himself in an in

manner
than
a

(infinite).
77

As
so

of

Middletown,
vision

perceives

the

a keen eye, says Richard same color more dis the
saints

tinctly

weak
is

eye,

supernatural

power of

proportioned to the

measure of their

is to say, to the different degrees of the of glory vouchsafed to each, light although they all be hold the same object. 78

merits, that

READINGS:

Lessius,

S.

J.,

Der Himmel, spekulativ Mainz 1881. *Franzelin, De Deo Uno, thes. 14-19. -Th. Conefry, The Beatific Vision, Longford W. Hum 1907. His Divine Majesty," pp. 46 sqq., London phrey, S. J., 1897. IDEM, The One Mediator, pp. 296 sqq., London 1890. Schnutgen, Die Visio Beatifica, Wurzburg *G. B. 1867. S.
dargestellt,
"

Beatitudine Hominis, Antwerpiae 1616. pp. 222 sq., Ratisbonae 1881. Bautz,

DC Sumnio Bono et Aeterna Kleutgen, De Ipso Deo,

Tepe,

J.,

In-

stitut.

Theol.,

Vol.

II,

pp.

103

sqq.,

Parisiis

Die Mysterien des Christentums, 2nd ed., pp. 583 sqq., Frei burg 1898.- St. Thomas, S. Theol., la, qu. 12, and the commen
tators.
77

1895.- Scheeben,

Comment,
St.

in

78Cfr.

Thorn.,

Quatuor Libros Sent., Ill, Comp. Theol., cap. 216.

dist.

14,

qu

14

SECTION

3

EUNOMIANISM AND ONTOLOGISM
The dogmas expounded in the two foregoing Sections have been attacked by two classes of opponents: (i) by those who deny the incom
prehensibility of God, either here

on earth or in

Heaven; and (2) by those who
intuitive

vision of

God

is

allege that the proper to man al

ready here on
class belong the

earth.

To

the

first-mentioned

Eunomians, who arrogated to themselves an adequate comprehension of God here below (a fortiori, of course, in

Heaven).

Prominent among the
gists,

latter class are the

who

claim that

man

Ontolohas an immediate, in
in this world.

tuitive

knowledge of God already

ARTICLE

i

THE HERESY OF THE EUNOMIANS
i.

THE TEACHING OF EUNOMIUS.

Eunomius,

a pupil of Ae tius, about A. D. 360, espoused the cause of strict Arianism and became the leader
of the so-called

emphasize their

Anomoeans, who, in order to belief that the Logos was a crea-

U4

EUNOMIANISM
"6/iou>v<noi>"

ture, substituted for the

of the semi-

"aw>/W In (unlike). the interest of Arianism, whose premises he car ried to their legitimate conclusions, Eunomius soon added to his Trinitarian heresy a theological

Arians the harsher term

one by asserting that there is nothing in the God head which can elude the grasp of human rea 1 son. The Eunomian heresy may be condensed
into the following propositions:

Human reason conceives God as ade Accord quately as He comprehends Himself.
a)

ing
is

to

St.

2

Chrysostom,
lit

"Deum

sic nori,

ipse

Eunomius declared: Deus seipsum," which

merely a more pregnant formulation of the teaching of his master Aetius: "Tarn Deum novi, sicut meipsnm, imo non tantum novi meip-

sum, quantum

Deum."

3

b) We acquire an adequate knowledge of the Divine Essence by forming the notion of
"oy

vrjvta"

(uncreatedness),. which perfectly expresses

that
the

Essence.

By
"aye

terms

"oyewpW

and from "yaW w Eunomius infected the unsuspect ing masses with two heretical errors. On the
"ytyvofuu")
")

interchanging (uncreated, derived from /?" (not generated, derived
sophistically

one hand, he discredited the Logos,
1

Who,

(he

Cfr. Alzog,

Manual of Universal
ed., vol.
I,

3

Quoted
7.

by

Church History, English
p.

76.

Cfr. also

Epiphanius, Haer., Socrates, Hist. Eccl.,

540, Cincinnati 1899. 2 Horn. 2 De Incompr.

IV,

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
i. w? said), being creature of the Father;
c/
"y
,"

115

generated, is a mere on the other hand, he the handy equivocation as a means to employed confuse the "ayevnpna" (innascibilitas) of the
e.,

T

Father with the fundamental attribute of God,
aseity ( "dyo^cria" ) , thus poisoning the his hearers with Arianism.

minds of

c) Besides "dyew^aia" (uncreatedness), he said, there is no other divine attribute. All the other
so-called attributes are
in

mere synonyms comprised
"dyewpia."

the one notion of

A

composite

concept of God would necessarily imply compo sition in the Divine Essence, and therefore could
not possibly be true. There is but one simple conception of God that corresponds to the sim
plicity

of

the

Divine

Essence,

and

that

is

2.

the

REFUTATION OF EUNOMIANISM. Though Church never formally condemned Eunomius,

his teaching as to the absolute intelligibility of

the Divine Essence has always been held to be quite as heretical as his decidedly Arian view
of the Logos.
his

In refuting him the Fathers of time insisted chiefly on the dogma of the divine incomprehensibility, though they did not

neglect to combat this heretic, who versed in the writings of Aristotle,
3a

was
gth

well

with the
ed.,

On

term dyvvr}TOv
lect

the history and use of the see Newman, Se>

Vol.

II,

pp.

347-9,

Lon-

don 1903.

Treatises

of

St.

Athanasius,

n6

ONTOLOGISM

sharp weapons of philosophy also. It was, as we have already shown on a previous page, espe 5 4 Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory cially Basil,
of

Nyssa

heresy.
in

and Chrysostom 7 who refuted this After what we have said on the subject
6

an earlier chapter, we need not enter into a

detailed
READINGS

argument
:

here.

Klose, Gcschichte und Lehre des Eunomius, Kiel Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, 2nd ed., Vol. I, pp. 644 sqq., Schwane, Dogmengeschichte, 2nd ed., Vol. II, Freiburg 1873.
1883.

*Fr. Diekamp, Gottcslehre des hi. 19 sqq., Freiburg 1895. E. Myers in the Catholic Gregor von Nyssa, Miinster 1896. BarEunomianism." Encyclopedia, Vol. V, pp. 605 sq., art. New denhewer-Shahan, Patrology, pp. 239 sq., Freiburg 1908. man, Arians of the Fourth Century, pp. 335 sqq., New Impres
pp.
"

sion,
ed.,

London 1901. London 1903.

Blunt, Dictionary of Sects, pp. 151

sq.,

New

ARTICLE
WHY
i.

2

ONTOLOGISM

IS

UNTENABLE

EXPOSITION OF THE ONTOLOGICAL SYSTEM. The system of Ontologism consists of two main
propositions: (a) the
this

human

intellect

already in

life enjoys an immediate intuition of the Divine Essence; (b) this intuition, which is the source and principle of all other human knowl edge, is natural to the human understanding, be

cause the Absolute
4

is

not only the highest object
5

attitude

Contra Eunom. On St. Basil s towards Eunomianism, cfr. Bardenhewer-Shahan, Patrology, pp.
28.2

Or. Theol, 1-4.

T

Contra Eunom. Horn, contra Anomoeos,
1-5,

espe-

sq.

daily

ncpi TOV

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

117

of our cognition (veritas prima ontologica), but also the first thing that we actually perceive

prima logica). The human intellect can conceive nothing whatever until it has con ceived God, because it can apprehend created
(veritas

archetype. Sense-perception serves merely to make us reflexively conscious of the ideas which we perceive

things

only

in

God,

who

is

their

though unconsciously in Him who is Truth itself. The name Ontologism was in 8 vented by Vincenzo Gioberti, for the purpose
directly

of indicating,

first,

takes place not of real entities

by
(TO

rational cognition the agency of concepts, but
all

that

and, secondly, that as God is first in the order of being (primum onTO omos 5v 6 so He is also first in &i/) tologicum, the order of knowledge (primum logicum).
6V),
y )

2.

HISTORY OF ONTOLOGISM.
himself at
first

may who

be traced back to the time of St.

The germ of Ontologism Thomas Aquinas,

favored the theory, in his

Com
-

mentary on the Liber Sententiarum of Peter Lombard, 88 In but combated it vigorously in his later writings. the fifteenth century Ontologism had an exponent in Marsilio Ficino, an ardent neo-Platonist, who went so
far as
8
-|-

to

demand

that

Plato

should be read in the
i,

1852.

For a sketch of

his life
"

Ch. II,
Aquinas,"

no. 3:

"

and a brief account of his philosoGiophy, see U. Benigni s article,
berti,"

pp.

109
of

sqq.,

Innatism of Notre

Dame, Ind.
Ferre,
St.

1905.

See also Msgr.

in

vol.

VI

of

the

Catholic

Thomas

Aquin and

Encyclopedia. 8a On this point, cfr. M. Schumacher, The Knozvableness of God,

Ideology, English transl. by a Father of Charity, 3rd ed., London 1881.

n8

ONTOLOGISM

churches, and who kept a light burning before the great 8 philosopher s bust in his room at Florence. a) Nicolas Malebranche first developed the theory
into

a

philosophical

system

and

may

therefore

be

justly called the Father of Ontologism. his famous Recherche de la Veritc

He

tells

us in

God
into

is

as

it

were the Sun

in

(published in 1675) : the center of a world

of thinking

spirits.

He

is

pours only by peering into this intellectual Sun, f. e., by an immediate intuition of God, that we perceive all things and truths. "Nous voyons toutcs choses en
It
is

which

He

the

ever present to our minds, light of His eternal ideas.

Malebranche s theory was adopted and de fended by Cardinal Gerdil in his Defense du Sentiment du P. Malebranche sur la Nature et I Originc des Idees; but it is said the learned Cardinal renounced Ontologism
Dieu."

10

in his later years.

Gioberti

J1

endeavored

In the nineteenth century, Vincenzo to strengthen Ontologism by
distinction

drawing
flex

his

famous

between direct and

re

Direct perception, according to him, perception. consists in the immediate intuition of God, though not
of

God per
existence

sc,

but

in

His creative influence on the
"

world.
le

Hence the celebrated
Being creates

principle:

L

cnte crea

existences."

In virtue of

reflexive perception we realize, though indistinctly and in a limited way, what we see clearly and definitely,

of Gioberti

though unconsciously, in the intuitus Dei. The essence s system lies in the assumption that direct
10 For a succinct account of Malebranche s see W. system, Turner, History of Philosophy, pp. 464 sq., Boston 1903.
11

9 Cfr. M. Schumacher, C.S.C., in the Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. VI, s. v. Ficino." Among Ficino s several works, the Theologia Plat on"

ica de

Animarum

Immortalitatc de-

Introdusione allo Studio delta

serves mention.

Cfr. also

De Wulf1909.

Coffey, History of Medieval Philoso-

Filosofia. in Vol.

On
VI

of

Gioberti, cfr. Benigni the Catholic Ency-

phy, pp. 468

sq.,

London

clopedia, pp. 562 sq.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
intuition of

119
"

God, though only as
existentias,
i.

"

Ens creans
cises

e.,

creating existences in so far as He exer
is

an influence upon the cosmos,

the starting-point

of

all

b)

human knowledge. The Ontological system
stir,

of Antonio Rosmini (died

1855) created quite a
tion,

The controversy reached

especially in his native Italy. its climax in the condemna

on December 14, 1887, of forty propositions taken from Rosmini s writings. 12 The condemnation was pro nounced by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition by command of Pope Leo XIII. Rosmini, who began
his philosophical career as a defender of the theory of inborn ideas," 13 later entered the camp of the Ontolo"

gists,
ties

and finally ascribed to the idea entis certain quali which belong only to the Absolute, i. c., God. 14 By hopelessly confusing the notion of indefinite, gen
divine

eral, abstract

crete,

being (TO ov) with that of the Being (6 wi/), he gave the

infinite,

con

Ontological

15 system a decidedly Pantheistic turn. Among the theistic champions of Ontologism Profes

Ubaghs of Louvain (died 1854), whom we have already met with as a defender of Traditionalism, was perhaps the most prominent. Ubaghs thinks that we
sor
"

this

are born with the idea of the infinite God, and that idea is in the beginning unformed, but becomes

formed by
cation
12

reflection, to

in

human
list

which we are led by our edu 16 society." Ontological errors were
13

For a

of

the

doctrines,

consult

condemned Rosminianarum

Nuovo

Saggio

suit

Originc
Filoso-

delle Idee (1830).

Propositionum Trutina Theologica, Romae, Typis Vaticanis, 1892. A Life of Rosmini was written in English by Fr. Lockhart (London 1901). Cfr. Turner, History of
Philosophy, pp. 631 sq.

14 //
fia

Rinnovamento

della

(1836); Teosofia (1859). 15 Cfr. Propos. Rosmini damn,,
16 Boedder,

Natural Theology,

p.

14.

120

ONTOLOGISM
19

also propagated by Pere Gratry, 17

Bishop Hugonin of Bayeux,

Abbe Branchereau, 18 Abbe Fabre, 20 by an un
"

known author under

and by a number of other writers in France, Belgium, and There is also, or was until recently, a small school Italy.
the

pseudonym

21

Sans-Fiel,"

of Ontologists in the United States. 22 German writers, with the sole exception of P. Rothenflue, S. J., 23 never

grew enthusiastic over Ontologism but such among them as were tainted with it (notably Krause and Baader) drifted straightway into Pantheism, which is
;

after

all

only a logical

if

covert

sequel of Ontolo

gism.
c)

How

could so
so

themselves
planation

learned and pious men deceive egregiously ? For a psychological ex

many

let

Ontologists.

Some

us turn to the leading arguments of the of these arguments are very specious.

Thus, one of them, based upon the doctrine of universal A universal concept must have a real ideas, concludes:

Now there can be no univerobject (universale in re). sale in re either in the contingent things of this world, which are in a constant flux, nor in the activity of
human mind. Not in the contingent things of this material world, because the universals are as necessary, as eternal, and as unchangeable as Truth itself. Not
the
17
vols.

De

la

Paris

Connaissance de Dieu, 2 On Gratry and 1853.

(Cfr.

W.

Turner, History of Phi-

his teachings, see G. M. Sauvage s article s. v. in the Catholic Ency-

losophy, pp. 636 sq., Boston 1903). Driscoll (Christian Philosophy: God,
p. 56) says that To-day Ontologism counts no defenders among Catholic writers," but is most strenuously advocated by many nonCatholic writers (c. Harris, g., Knight, Luthardt, C. M. Tyler, T.
" " "

clopedia, vol. VI. 18 Instit, Philos.

19 Etudes

Philosophiques;
I

Onto-

logisme. 20 Defense de
21 Discussion
tologistne.

Ontologismc. Amicale sur / On-

H.

most distinguished representative was Orestes A. Brownson.
22 Its

Green, E. Caird). cent form of Ontologism the influence of Hegel." 23 Instit. Philos.

"This

re-

is

due

to

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
in

121

the

human mind, because
majesty.
etc.,

the

mind does
it

thinking, create truth, but presupposes

not, by and bows be

fore

its

Now,

necessity,

eternity,

unchange-

ableness,

can be predicated of

God

alone; hence

in perceiving truth we see the Godhead. Again, it is only on the basis of Ontologism that we can account for the notion of infinity, inasmuch as the finite is a
"

limitation

of

the

infinite,"

and consequently must

in

idea of infinity cannot be gained by abstraction, because the finite contains nothing infinite which could be abstracted. Consequently, the
it.

thought come after

The

concept of the infinite is derived from an immediate intuition of the Infinite Being itself.
Gioberti bottoms one of his favorite arguments on the
postulate of a parallelism supposed to exist between the (ontological) order of being and the (logical) order of

thought.

The order of

cognition, he argues,

must cor

respond to the order of being. Therefore we perceive all things in the rank and sequence in which they are.

Now, God is the very first thing in the order of being (ens primum) consequently He must also be the first which we apprehend (primum cognitum). The tradi
;

tional

practice of
first,

senses

and God

placing the material objects of the last, among the objects of human

cognition, he says, destroys the harmony between being and thought (between the ontological and the logical order), and fails to take due account of the unique

dignity of God. With a contemptuous sneer at

"

German
"

philosophy,"

some of

the leaders of Ontologism attempted to raise their system into the exalted place of the only ac Catholic philosophy." In endeavoring to explain cepted

the origin of our ideas, they argued,
9

we must choose

122

ONTOLOGISM

between Cartesian Psychologism and Ontologism. In other words: We must draw our ideas either from
the

mind

that conceives
(ov = being).

them, or from the object of
If

perception

we

derive them from the

mind, we

shall depreciate their objective content, deify reason as the sole source of truth, throw open the door

to Pantheism,
2*

and drift into the shoals of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. Ontologism is the only alterna Schelling,

tive.

3.

PHILOSOPHICAL CRITIQUE OF THE ONTOLO-

GIST SYSTEM.

we

shall

To refute Ontologism thoroughly, have to demonstrate, first, the falsity of

its principle of knowledge, and, secondly, the per nicious consequences to which it logically tends.

a)

A

close examination of the nature of our universal

concepts (idcac universales) shows convincingly that God cannot be the principal nor (in point of time) the first object of human knowledge here on earth.
first

We

apprehend the

visible world,

and thence ascend to

a knowledge of God as its Creator. Our knowledge of God is the arch or keystone of science. Further more, our conception of the infinite is vitiated by an
incurable negation,
in reality

dowed with an immediate
should

which could not be were we en intuition of that Being which is the Infinite. If Ontologism were right, how

we explain the notorious fact that man can know of the existence of God by no other than the syllogistic
method?

How

comes

it

that

we

are forced to define

the Essence of

of concepts that express quality, and to employ the methods of negation and
24

God by means

For a refutation of

all these fallacies, see the losophy; cfr. also No. 3, infra.

text-books

on

phi

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

123

eminence? How is it that theodicy is built up on cos mology and psychology (the sciences of the world and of the soul) ? Why do all our apprehensions and judg ments contain an admixture of phantasms? 25 if

we have an immediate
conscious of it?
itself

intuition

of God, are

Why, we not

All these questions Ontologism finds

unable to answer.
fact last referred to, viz., that

we are not con of possessing an intuitive knowledge of God, is alone sufficient to disprove Ontologism. If our con sciousness (sensus intimus) faithfully reports all the in terior facts both of sense perception and of
scious
spiritual

The

must if we are to accept it as a reli able source of true and certain then it is knowledge, simply impossible that it should tell us nothing what ever of what, if it existed, would manifestly be the most fundamental of all the facts of our conscious
life,
it

which

ness, namely, the intuitive knowledge of God. Yet con science is silent on this point, and therefore those who affirm that the human mind enjoys such an intuitive

knowledge of
themselves.

its

Maker, must evidently be deceiving

b) The falsity of Ontologism further appears from the circumstance that it entails wrong conclusions. Logic tells us that where there is a false consequent, there must be a false antecedent. The worst feature of the Ontologist system is its immanent Pantheistic bias. do not, of course, mean to all On-

We

charge

tologists,

most of

whom

were well-meaning, learned,

and honorable men, with consciously advocating Pan theism, though several of them, like Gioberti and Rosmini, seem to have quite frankly drawn the last con26Cfr. Aristotle,

De Memor.

Rent,

i:

"

N

o>

otf/c

law

&y V

d>av-

124
elusions

ONTOLOGISM
from
their premises.

What we mean
its

to say

is,

that the system as

such,

in

logical

deductions,

in
is

evitably runs into the marshes of Pantheism.

This

most plainly apparent in those forms of Ontologism which identify abstract being (esse universale) with Divine Being (csse infinitum), and confuse knowledge of the one with an intuition of the other. For if
abstract being is really identical with Divine Being, then everything that can be subsumed under the uni versal notion of being is God in other words Every
; :

But even the more moderate defenders thing is God. of the Ontologist system, who put the purely negative necessity, eternity, and unchangeableness of our univer
sal

ideas

positive attributes of

of finite

on the same plane with the corresponding God, are guilty of a deification essences and tumble hopelessly into the pit of

Pantheism.

THEOLOGICAL ESTIMATE OF ONTOLOGISM. So much for the philosophical aspects of Ontolo
4.

gism.

To

ascertain

its

status before the bar of

dogmatic theology, we will first examine the judgments pronounced upon it by the Church.
a) The first in the series of these judgments is a decree of the Holy Office, dated September 18, 1861, in which seven Ontologist propositions are indirectly

censured by the remark Chief among them are:
:

"

Titto
"

tradi

non

possunt."

Iwmediata

Dei

cognitio.
ita

habitualis saltern, intellectui

humano
"

essentialis est,

ut sine ea nihil cognoscere possit, siquidem est ipsum

lumen intellcctuale" (prop. omnibus [est] et sine quo
"

i).
nihil

Esse

illud,

quod
est

in

divinum"

(prop. 2).

cognoscimus, Univcrsalia a parte rei consi-

esse

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
derata a

125

Deo

realiter

non distinguuntur

"

Ontologists tried to

make

it

(prop. 3). appear that this decree

The
was

directly against Pantheism; but when Branchereau in 1862 submitted his theistic Ontologism to the judgment of the Roman authorities, he was advised

aimed

that the

fifteen

theses into which he
Office.

had cast
26

it

fell

under the decree of the Holy
ration,

The Vatican
2r

Council did not enter into a discussion of this aber
but
at

one

of

its

dogmatic

definitions

plainly

Ontologism, in so far as Ontologism leads logically to a Pantheistic identification of God with the
strikes

universe. 28

Even more
tion,

in

Office,

telling and important is the condemna A. D. 1887, by the Congregation of the Holy of forty propositions of Antonio Rosmini, in
"

proprio sensu

auctoris" a decision which Pope Leo XIII expressly ordered to be observed throughout the

universal Church.

embody a frank statement of
"

Several of these forty propositions the principles of Ontolo

gism.
ditbio

Thus,

e. g.:

notum

est

Esse indeterminatum, quod procul omnibus intelligentiis, est divinum illud,
"

Esse, quod homini in natura manifestatur" (prop. 4). quod homo intuetur, necesse est ut sit aliquid entis necessarii
Deus"

et

aetcrni,
29

causae creantis

.

.

.

atque

hoc

est

(prop, s). b) In appraising the theological value of these official decisions the first question that suggests itself is: If contradicts two dogmas, that of the mediate Ontologism
mat.
eius
29

26 See Kleutgen, Verurtheilung des Ontologismus, Miinster 1868. 27
et
"

SS.
Actis

Cone.

Vaticani
p.

ex
75,

ipsis

Explicatae,

Fri-

Praedicandus
a

est

[Deus]

re

burgi 1892.

essentia

mundo

distinctus."

The

full

text of the decree is

Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 1782. 28 Cfr. Granderath, Constit. Dog-

given by Schiffini, Disput. Metaph. Spec., Vol. I, pp. 432 sqq.

126

ONTOLOGISM
God
lumen gloriae* 1 why was
here below, 80 and it not condemned as

character of our knowledge of
that of the

a heresy?
a) There is a vast difference between the Ontologists and those earlier writers who denied the dogmas just

mentioned.

The latter were outright heretics, while the on the contrary, disavow the heretical con Ontologists, sequences of their doctrine and profess loyal adherence

to the faith.

They deny

in particular that the intuition
"

visio beatified" they teach implies the admitting that the latter can only take place in Heaven and by virtue of the lumen gloriae." In explaining this distinction they have recourse to various subter
"

of

God which

fuges, which, while elucidating nothing, at least prove that those who seek shelter under them are not and do

not desire to be regarded as heretics. /?) But the laws of logic are inexorable, and Ontologism cannot escape the heretical conclusions that flow

from its principles. It is for this reason that the Church dealt the whole system a mortal blow. An immediate intuition of God, no matter whether we
consider
as the Absolute Spirit or as the Creator, -necessarily implies an intuitive knowledge of the Most Holy Trinity, and also beatific bliss. He who excludes

Him

the visible world as an indispensable medium of cog nition, must needs admit that man, if he sees God, Who
is Now if, simplicity itself, must see Him as He is. as Ontologism alleges, an intuitive knowledge of the Di vine Essence is essential to the human natural," nay
" "
"

intellect,

intuitive

impossible to escape the conclusion that an knowledge of the Most Holy Trinity, and conseit

is

30V.

supra, Chapter II, 31 V. supra, Chapter II,

i.

2,

Art. 2.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

127

quently also beatific vision, are likewise natural and essen 32 tial to the mind of man.
y) For a positive dogmatic justification of the Roman decrees against Ontologism it suffices to revert to the

two dogmas
inferential

which

we have

For, the fact that our

already proved above. knowledge of God is necessarily

and imperfect, of itself excludes the possi of an immediate intuitive vision of the Divine bility Essence. This teaching being so clearly contained in the sources of Divine Revelation, it is plain that the
Ontologists

cannot
Ps.

base

their
"

claims

on
est

the

Bible.

super nos of thy counte lumen vultus tui, Domine light nance, Lord, is signed upon us," in favor of their but contention, that we see God directly here below

They adduce

IV,

7:

Signatum

The

O

;

the

context makes

it

plain

that

the

Psalmist

meant
true

to praise the benevolence of

God
9)

Who

merely watches
"the

over him. 33
light,

And

if

St.

John

(I,

speaks of

which enlighteneth every man that cometh

into this world," he clearly means supernatural enlight enment by faith and grace through the Divine Logos. Nor has Ontologism been successful in its attempts to found its teaching upon the Fathers. Its opponents were able to show that not a single one of the Fathers ever taught that man enjoys an intuitive vision of God here on earth no, not even St. Augustine, on whom the
;

Ontologists chiefly rely.
5.

ST.

AUGUSTINE NO ONTOLOGIST.

More em

phatically than
St.

any other Patristic writer has Augustine insisted on the difficulty of acKleutgen,

32 Cfr.

De

Ipso

Deo,

33 Cfr.

Ps.

XXX,

7;

Numbers

pp. 76 sqq.

VI,

25.

128

ONTOLOGISM

quiring a metaphysically correct conception of God here on earth.
"Metis itaque Lit., lib. IV: prius haec, qitae facta sunt, per sensus corporis cernit cornmqne notitiam pro infirmitatis huntanae mo dulo capit ; et delude quaerit cor urn causas, si quomodo

a)

Cfr.

De

Genes, ad

humana

ad eas pervenire principal it er et incomtnutabiliter permanentcs in Vcrbo Dei, ac si invisibilia eius per ea,
possit

quae facta sunt,
tarditate
.
.

intellecta conspicinntnr.

ac
id

diflicultate

agat

et

Quod quanta quanta temporis mora

is It to be noted, however, quis ignoret?" that St. Augustine applies to every species of cognition the term of which he distinguishes three vision,"
.
"

kinds:
"visio "visio "visio

"visio

corporalis"

spiritualis"

"

intellectuals

(by means of the bodily eyes), means of the imagination), and (by (by means of the intellect). The

intellectualis"

he

subdivides

into

natural

and

supernatural, according to the power which performs it (nature or grace). Grace enables us to see God
either through faith ("per fidcm") us the Divine Essence ("per
"

or by revealing to Cfr. Enarr. speciem)."

in Ps. 149, n. 4: Est quaedam visio huius temporis, erit altera visio futuri temporis. Visio, quae modo est,

per fidem est; visio, quae futura erit, per speciem erit. Si credimus, videmus; si amamus, videmus There is a kind of sight belonging to this present time; there will be another belonging to the time hereafter; the
sight

which now
if

be, will be

see;

is, is by faith; the sight which is to by the [Divine] Essence. If we believe, we we love, we see." But the only real and true

vision of

God

is

Heaven.

Cfr.

De

that enjoyed by the angels and the just in Trin. I, 13: Ipsa visio est facie ad
"

faciem, quae

summum praemium

promittitur

iustis

KNOWABILITY OF GOD
That sight is face to face that reward to the just."
is

129

promised as the highest

with this fundamental teach b) It is in conformity of St. Augustine that we must interpret those pas ing in which he speaks of God as the sages of his writings lux" of things, and even describes him as intelligibilis
"
"

the

"lumen

mentium!
et

Solil, cap.

i,

n.

3:

Dens

in

in telligibilis lux,

lucent

quo God is the omnia and from which and through which

a quo

per quern mtelligibiliter intelligible light, in which
all

et

things are in
est}

telligible."

De

Civit. Dei,

VIII, 7:

"[Deus

lumen

mentium ad discenda omnia understanding, by which all
In the
"

[God is] the light of our things are learned by us."

of these passages his purpose is to raise created things to the rank of copies of the divine orig while inal, incorporated thoughts of God," as it were that the light in the second passage he evidently means of reason in man is a reflection as well as an effect
first
;

of
"

the

Divine

Light.

Cfr.

De
sed
. .

Trin.,

Mens humana non sua

luce,
.

XIV, n. summae illius
enim
.
.

15:
lucis
ista
ita

participatione

Sic sapiens erit. hominis sapientia, ut etiam Dei sit
. .
.

dicitur

.

verum non

Dei, qua sapiens est Deus,

quemadmodum
impium
.

dicitur
cst,

etiam
sed

iustitia

Dei non solum

ilia,

qua ipse iustus

quam man mind

dat homini,

cum

iustincat

The hu
.

then will be wise, not by its own light, but For this by participation of that supreme Light. wisdom of man is so called, that it is also of God
.

wise ... as

God is yet not so of God, as is that wherewith we call it the righteousness of God, not Himself is only when we speak of that by which He but also of that which He gives to man righteous,
. .

.

when He
nothing in

justifies

the

ungodly."

This

teaching

has

common

with the Ontologism condemned by

130
the

ONTOLOGISM
Church;
else the
it

incorporated

into their treatises

Schoolmen would surely not have on God. 84

c) The genius of Augustine ascended to heights into which only the profoundest mystic can follow. It is his mystic utterances that the Ontologists adduce in

favor of their theory, especially his teaching that we envisage the truths of the metaphysical order in ra"

tionibus

acternis"

nay,

"in

ipsa,

nostras
others,

cst,

incommutabili

veritate."

quae supra mentes *5 Vercellone and

from the

fact that St.

Augustine was favorably

inclined towards Platonism, inferred that he postulated an intuitive vision of the archetypal ideas in God Him

This would stamp him an Ontologist. But the assumption is altogether unfounded. Despite his predi lection for Plato, he himself towards the end of his
self.

retracted the exaggerated encomiums he upon the ancient Greek philosopher, St.
life

had heaped Augustine

never
assures

shared
us
30

the
that

errors
"

of

Platonism.

St.

Thomas

Augustinus, qui doctrinis Platoni-

in

corum imbutus fuerat, si qua invenit fidei accommodata eorum dictis, assumpsit ; quae vero invenit fidei nosBesides, the

trae adversa, in mclius commutavit."
tologist

On

claim cannot be harmonized

well-known theory of knowledge.
sists

with Augustine s For he not only in
"
"

God which men have here a cognition and in aenigper speculum derived from the consideration of the material mate," universe; but he also teaches that we can not
that the conception of
"

below,

is

argue

a priori from ideal truth to real truth, or to the Divine 37 Archetype. Interpreting the above quoted passages
their context, therefore,
34 Cfr.
S.
art.

and
la, 10,

in the light of the
35 Confess., XII, 25.

by author s

Thorn.,
5;

S.

Theol.,

qu.

84,
ii,

De

Verit.,

qu.

art

ad

12.

Theol., I. r. 37 Cfr. supra, Chapter

36 S.

I,

Art.

i.

KNOWABILITY OF GOD

131

must be that the Author ordinary teaching, their meaning of all things, in creating them, stamped them with the truth, at the same time imprinting seal of
ontological

upon

the

human

intellect the eternal
i.

that govern thought,

e.,

logical truth.

and necessary laws That man has
God,

an immediate
is

intellectual intuition of all truths in

a teaching quite foreign to the mind of St. Augus Thomas Aquinas and the tine, as interpreted by St. Schoolmen generally; and the Ontologist construction, which was unknown before the seventeenth century, has

no claim

to truth or probability.

38

have shown that Ontologism has no basis Its either in Sacred Scripture or Tradition.
the teaching of Reve principle runs counter to have been lation, in spite of all attempts that

We

made

to

deny or to
it

veil this opposition.

In

its

consequences

leads partly to Pantheism, partly Hence the Church to other heretical doctrines.
fully justified in

was

condemning

it.

*A. Lepidi, Examen Philosophico-Theologicum READINGS: Schiffini, S. J., Disput. Metade Ontologismo, Lovanii 1874.
Taurini 1888. *Kleutgen, physicae Spec., Vol. I, pp. 476 sqq., hi. Stuhl (BeilaS. J., Verurtcilung des Ontologismus durch den 1868. gcn zur Theol. und Philos. der Vorzeit}, Minister
*Zigliara, Delia

Luce

Intellettuale

e

dell

Ontologismo,

Romae

Karl Werner, Antonio Rosmini und- seine Schule, Wien 1874. nationalen IDEM, Der Ontologismus als Philosophic des 1884. Wien 1885. IDEM, Die kritische Zersetzung und Gedankens, Wien 1885. Boedder, speculative Umbildung des Ontologismus,
S.
J.,

Natural Theology, 2nd

ed.,

pp.

12

sqq.,

London

1899.

M. Schumacher, The Knowableness of God, pp. 136 sqq., Notre Dame, Ind. 1905. J. T. Driscoll, Christian Philosophy: God,
38 Cfr. Schutz,

Divum Augustinum non

esse

Ontologum, Monasterii 1867,

132

ONTOLOGISM

pp. 56 sqq., 2nd ed., New York 1904. W. Turner, History of Philosophy, pp. 228, 367, 632 sqq., Boston 1903. Rosmini s Short Sketch of Modern Philosophies and of His Own System, trans, by Lockhart, London 1882. For the ecclesiastical de cisions in the matter, see the Resolutiones Congr. S. OfKcii et Indicts de Traditionalismo, Ontologismo, etc.

PART
Having demonstrated

II

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
the knowableness of God,

we

proceed to inquire into His Essence. Our knowledge of the Divine Essence
attributive notions.

A

is gained from more perfect mode of apprehen

sion

is

impossible on account of the defectiveness of

our cognitive faculties, which enable us to perceive God only in an abstractive and analogical manner. But His infinite perfection offers us a supereminent equivalent for an infinite number of separate perfections, which the human mind can grasp. While in the creature, ex
istence, essence,
entities,

in

God

Essence

= Attributes).
attributes
all

and attributes are separate and distinct they are all identical (Existence-

scientifically, therefore,

To define the we must try to
the one which

Divine Essence
discover
is

among
is

God

s

many
of

the root and

principle

the

rest.

This particular attribute

Aseity or Self -existence.
in

As

the

names applied

to

God

Holy Scripture afford us valuable

indications for de

termining the Divine Essence, we shall begin by studying the substantive names of God in the Bible.

133

CHAPTER

I

THE BIBLICAL NAMES OF GOD

SECTION
THE
"SEVEN

I

HOLY NAMES OF TESTAMENT

GOD"

IN

THE OLD

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS. We scarcely need to premise that in speaking of names, or nouns, a distinction lies between proper and common nouns (nomcn proprium nomcn com
i.

mune

s.

appcllativum).

Since

God does

not be

long to

any

species,

and

since there are

no other

strictly speak ing be designated either by a proper or a com mon noun (hence the predicate OWW/AO^ op^^

individuals like

Him, He cannot

ineffabilis).

to

God

in

Consequently the names attributed Holy Scripture are not to be taken

as adequately expressing His essence or nature; they are merely imperfect, inadequate, analogical appellations.
Scheeben
holy
1

has ingeniously divided the so-called
of
I,

"

seven

names"

God
66

in

the

Old Testament
s

into three
170 sqq.)

iDogmatik, Vol.

(Wilhelm-Scannell

Manual,

pp.

134

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
classes,

135
three
i.

of

which the

first

(containing
extra,

names)
to

elucidates the relation of

God ad

e.,

man;

while the third (comprising also three names) sets off the three aspects of His intrinsic perfection." In the center of both groups stands Yahwch, which is es
"

proper name, because it expresses the Divine Essence, and which is related to the other six names as a cause to its effects.
2. THE THREE CLASSES OF DIVINE NAMES. As we have already explained, the proper name of
_ God, describing His Essence, is (Yahweh). three aspects of His intrinsic perfection are denoted by (Schadai), the Strong, Mighty;

sentially a

The

"?$

If*?

(Elton), the High, Sublime, the Most High; and (Kadosch), the Holy. God s relation
tf"HJ

ad extra is characterized by ta (El),- the Strong, Dv (He who is worthy of veneration), and T* (Adonai), Commander, Lord.
n<**

a)

God Himself
ineffabile

revealed to

Moses the Tetragram-

maton
of

His Divine
Lev.

(m.T) Essence. 2
16:

as the proper name signifying Owing to a misunderstanding
"

XXIV,

Qui pronuntiaverit

[=

blas-

He that phemaverit] nomen Domini, morte moriatur blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him the Jews did not dare to pronounce the die," Four
"

Letters" (rcr/oaypa/x/xarov), and in consequence it long remained uncertain whether the Tetragrammaton was

to be
"

pronounced
or
"

"Jehovah"

(a

word

still

in use), or

Yihve"

Yehave"

or

"

Yahweh."

In the Jewish
ac-

synagogues

mrp

was always pronounced Adonai,
2 Ex. Ill, 13 sqq.; VI, 3.

136

THE SEVEN HOLY NAMES
"

Divit Dens: non cording to the Rabbinical precept: Scribor et Icgor Adonai." 3 This legor, sed scribor.
uncertainty as to the proper pronunciation of mrr ex plains the interesting fact that the Tetragrammaton

found its way even into Greek Bible codices, where was changed by ignorant copyists ifito (^ To indicate that ni.T was always to be pronounced

mm

it

(Adonai}, it was written with the vowel signs of the rnrp latter word, thus (chatcph-patach being altered This gave rise into shwa mobile). probably no earlier
:

to the wrong pronuncia seems pretty certain that the To-day word must be written JUT and pronounced Yahweh*
"

than the sixteenth century
tion
Jchova"
it

More important than
form,
is
is

the question of

its

grammatical
Its root
e.,

meaning of the Tetragrammaton. undoubtedly rnn, an older form of rpfl, i.
the
:

to

be.

Hence m.T means
this

He Who

Is.

God Himself
"

attached

word when he replied to Moses who 5 had asked Him for His name: I am who am." It is therefore God s His very es proper name, denoting
meaning
to the

sence, and can never, even catachrestically, be applied to other beings besides Himself, e. g., to false gods. 6 Exegetes have often discussed the question, whether the Tetragrammaton was known to the antediluvian

vealed to Moses.

Patriarchs and to Abraham, or whether it was first re In attempting to solve this problem,
distinguish carefully between the
Martini,
1687.
"

we must
3 Cfr.

word
"

as a

Raym.

Pugio

Fidei, p. 649, Lips. 4 Cfr. Broglie,

weh
55

"

Elohim et Jah(Annales de Phil. Chretienne,
"Sum

6 Cfr. Is. XLII, 8: Ego Jahve, hoc fst nomen mcum; gloriam meant alteri non dabo I the Lord, this is my name: I will not give

PP- 537 sqq-. 1891.

my
qui
clfAt

Ex. Ill, 14. Vulg., sum"; Septuagint, e^w

glory to another." (Cfr. also Deut. VI, 4; 2 Kings VII, 22.)

6 &v\

Hebrew, !TnK

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
:

137

The pre-Mosaic origin vocal sound, and its meaning. of the word is probable I from the archaic verbal ( ) root JTin, to be, from which was formed njiT (the root
is

not

njn,

to

be,

which was

in use in

Moses

time)

;

(2) from the use of the Divine Name among the 7 Patriarchs; (3) from the pre-Mosaic verbal com

pounds with

rnrv

(abbreviated

T),

like

Abja, Achja,

Jochabed, Morja, etc. The assumption of a prolepsis does not appear to be justified in view of the fact that the name occurs 150 times in Genesis and that Moses
introduces

himself

to

the

Israelites

as

one
a

sent

by

Yahweh. 8
in
its

It is quite certain that the

Tetragrammaton
(as

deeper

meaning and
first

full

sense

nomen

proprium) was
3:
ut
"Ego

revealed to Moses.

mrp

et

apparui

Abraham

et

Ex. VI, Isaac et lacob
Cfr.
rnrr

*j$ ?K, sed (quoad)
illis."

nomen meum

non notus
of

fui affected by Delitzsch s theory 9 that the was familiar to the ancient Babylonians.

This fact

is

well established and cannot be

name

God

b)

Among

the

names of

the

third

class,

which, as

we have
the article
also the
i.

said,

express

perfection of God,

^

the

intrinsic

(transcendental)

(Schadai), usually enforced by
f>N,

^tfn

or

**&
10

most ancient.

most frequent and Derived from the etymon I*!,
is

the

e.,

to

trinsic

be violent, employ force, it designates the in might or power of God, thus: the
\

Allpowerful;
fortis).

Sept.,

TravTOKparup

Vulg., omtiipotens

(i.

e.,

The majesty and sublimity of God find expression in the name the Most High; ascendit) \ty (from
fif>y

=

:

7 Cfr.

Gen. IV,

i,

26;

V, 29;

et

9

passim.

Bib el und Babel, 10 Cfr. Ex. VI, 3.

Leipzig

1902.

however, Himpel, Kirchenlexikon, 2nd ed., VI, 1281 sq.

8 Cfr.,

10

138
Sept.,
6

THE SEVEN HOLY NAMES
fyujTo-s;

Vulg.,

altissimits.

The word

Prophets, and among these espe in Isaias, means the Holy One, and denotes the cially These three sanctity and purity of the Divine Essence. have been devel words, although originally adjectives, oped into substantive appellations of the Deity and en

found

chiefly in the

joy the prerogative of being applied exclusively to the

one true God.
c)

The same cannot be

said of the first

two names

of the remaining group, which describe God in His re The first and most ancient of these, lation to man. current

among
i.

all

Semitic nations, ?K

(from

h,

to

be strong),
TTavroKfjaTMf}
)

e., is

the Strong, the

Mighty

(Sept., 6 io^po?,

sometimes per abusum applied also to 11 When applied to the one true God, it pagan gods. thus: is emphasized (Deus (6 0e o), or VI or D viwis), or D?tfn5>K (Dcus coclorum),
,
i>KH
5>K

nii>

i>K

(Deus dcorum).
lar,
rrita,
is

1

-

The

chiefly
is

form D n^K (the singu poetical), occurs no less than 2,plural
i>K.

500 times, and
root root
is

probably related to

Its

primary

n/>K,

supposed to be ^i, to be strong, its derived The funda to swear, to venerate, to fear.
is

mental meaning of the word, therefore,

power,

in

asmuch as it strikes fear, or challenges adoration. 13 Elohim is a majestic plural, or a veiled indication of the Most Holy Trinity, and by no means represents a rudiment of polytheism. For not only is the word
almost invariably construed with the verbal singular, but we must remember that God Himself took special
Dan. XI, 37 sqq. Zschokke, Theologie der Propheten, pp. 12 sqq., Freiburg
11

is Cfr. the

Arabian Allah, Syrian
//,

12 Cfr.

Aloho, Babylonian

Jlu.

1877.

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
care to

139

preserve

Monotheism pure among the Jews.

Elohim is quite frequently applied to the false gods of the Gentiles, and likewise to angels and kings, that is to say, to rational beings that reflect the power and
14 adorableness of God.

In
15

all

such cases, however, D nita

is

is

describe the true God, it always a true plural. often combined with appositions such as rriN3V C^nvK

To

(Elohim Sabaoth

= dominus
Jacob,
etc.

cxercituuin)

,

or

Elohim
is

Abraham,

Isaac,

Unlike

POT, Elohim

consequently not a proper name of God, but rather a nomcn appositivum, which sometimes even takes the

A

place of a predicate, further difference

"

e.

g.,

Yahweh
this

is

the

Elohim."

lies

in

that

Elohim

is

used

preferably to designate the God of nature, while Yahwe more often describes God in His relation to the super natural order of salvation. The most significant and
Jitf most important name of this group is the third, to judge; hence: (Adonai), from jri, Judge, Lord (Dominus, 6 KV/BIOS). In spite of its plural form (=" my cfr. monsieur, monsignore) Adonai is always lords;" singular in meaning and is applied only to the one true God. It is closely related to nvr, not only because it

loans
that

its
it

is

vowels to that word, but also for the reason to be considered as a quasi-proper name of

God. 18
14 Cfr.
dixi,
dii

Ps.
estis

LXXXI,
I

6:

"

Ego

15 Cfr. St.

Thomas,

S. Theol., ia,

have said:

You

are

gods."

qu. 13, art. 9. 16 Cfr. Gesenius, Thesaur., I, 328
sq.

SECTION

2

THE NAMES APPLIED TO GOD IN THE NEW TESTA MENT AND IN PROFANE LITERATURE THE SYMBOLIC APPELLATIONS
i.

The New Testament adopted

the

nomen

clature of the

Old by translating the Hebrew
as literally as possible into Greek.

names of God
It

did not, however, succeed in adequately ren dering the profundity of the Hebrew appella
tions with their wealth of meaning.

We

also

Testament usage in this regard is characterized by an almost slavish dependence on the Greek Septuagint.

note that

New

On

the whole 0eo

(Vulg. Dens), corresponds to the

also Adonai and Schadai) is generally translated by Kvpio* (Vulg. Domimis). Hence it is not too much to say that from the point of view of the comparative science of lan
is constantly called 6 K vpun presumptive evidence in favor of His Divin On the other hand there comes to the foreground ity. in the New Testament a new name of God, vis.: ira-r^p, pater (Father), which is characteristic of the spirit of

Hebrew El and Elohim, while Yahwe (and

guages the fact that Christ

(Lord)

is

however,

love and mercy exemplified in the Incarnation. Since, this name also occurs in the Old repeatedly

140

THE DIVINE ESSENCE

141

1 Testament, there is no objective reason for accepting the Gnostic theory of a clean-cut opposition between the

God
2.

of the Old Testament and the
If

God

of the

New.

from the old Hellenic an abbreviation for nJT), the IndoGermanic languages have coined altogether dif ferent names for the Deity than the Semitic.
abstract
n (same as
,

we

of or cos from 6Uw (run) or 6edaOai (behold), which the Fathers of the (burn)

The

derivation

Church adopted from
3

Plato,

2

and which was approved

by the Schoolmen, is no longer considered probable, since there has been found in the Sanskrit root dyu (div), to
shine, shed luster (applied to the firmament), a

common

verbal stem for

all

the divine
Miiller

names current among the
discovery (Sanskrit) Diaus-Pitar
refers
to the

Aryan

nations.

4

Max

of the etymological equation

=

(Greek)
Tyr, as
"

century,"

Latin) Jupiter =(old Nordic) Zevs-iraTyp the most important discovery of the nineteenth inasmuch as it proves not only that our own

=(

ancestors and the ancestors of
the

Homer and

Cicero spoke

same tongue
XXXII,
10.

as the nations of India, but also that
LXIII, 16;
but it also occurs in LithuZevs, anian as devas and in the ancient Nordic Edda as Ty-r (genit. Ty-s, accus. Ty), whom the ancient Teutons venerated as their supreme god. In Old High German this god was
called

1 Deut. Mal. II,

6; Is.

2 Cratyl., c. 16, p. 397 D. 3 Cfr. John Damascene, De
"

Fide
ex

Orth.,
TO,
i)

I,

9:

0e6s

X^yercu

TOV Oefiv
9)

airo
S.
art.

ffvfnravK TOV aidetv, 6 eari Kdietv rov dedffdai TO. trdvTCL."

/cat irepteireiv TO,

Zio,

in

Anglo-Saxon,
"

Tiw;

Cfr.
13,

Thorn.,
8.

5".

Theol.,

la,

qu.

English Tuesday, the in the Alemansame Ziestag The highest deity of nic dialect.

hence

our
"

as

4 Cfr.

Max

Miiller,

Essays,

IV,

the

Romans, Jupiter
with
the

444.

The

(Persian

word Dyaus devs), formed from this
Sanskrit

identical

(Dispiter) is ancient Greek

root, appears not only in the Latin

Cfr. J. T. Driscoll, Ze&s-TrdTTjp. Christian Philosophy: God, pp. 42
sqq.,

language
divo)

as Deus (cfr. dies, sub and in Greek as 9eos and

2nd

ed.,

New York

1904.

I

42

THE NEW TESTAMENT NAMES

they
"

all at one time had the same faith and for a while adored the same deity under exactly the same name Father of Heaven." 5

The origin of the Germanic Gott (English God) is more uncertain, in fact, it has not been cleared up. Some have derived the word from the Sanskrit jut
far

=

dyitt

(shining)

;

it

the Greek ayatfo s to the Persian

others from ghu, to hail; others from (good), while again others have traced

khoda (old Persian godata

=

"

ens a

&")*

The
derived

Slavic tongues have the name bogu, Polish bog, from the Sanskrit root bhag to apportion,

=

7 order, venerate.

3.

The symbolic names

Scripture (light, lion, stood metaphorically.

fire, etc.),

Holy must be under To interpret them literally

applied to

God

in

would be

heretical.

Adapting itself to man s way of thinking and speaking, the Bible applies to God many appellations known as anthropomorphic or anthropopathic, which describe Him
as
if

he were a man, attributing to

Him

eyes,

ears,

arms, a heart, feet, etc., and purely human emotions such as passions, either concupiscible (as joy, desire, That etc.) or irascible (e. g., anger, revenge, hate).
these are metaphors appears clearly from the Scriptural

teaching that
6

God

is

an absolutely
Retion,

invisible spirit,
on the subject of
Miiller,

and
this

in
sec-

Max

Miiller, Anthropological

7 Cfr.

London 1892. ligion, p. 82. 6 Cfr. Kluge, Etymol.
" "

Max

Lectures on iht

Wbrterbuck der deutschcn Sprache s. v.

Dr. Murray s New English Gott; Dictionary, Vol. IV, p. 267, Oxford
1901.

Science of Language, Vol. I, pp. London 1880; also O. 421 sqq., Schrader, Sprachverglcichung und Urgeschichte, Chapter VIII, Jena
1883.

THE DIVINE ESSENCE

143

particular from the fact that some of the symbols used to describe Him are derived from irrational, lifeless
creatures.
"

Thus God
"

is

called a
forth.

"

lion,"

a

8
"fire,"

a

9
sun,"

a

10
light,"

and so
of

St.

Thomas Aquinas
appellations:

tells
"

us

the

purpose

these

symbolic

Nomen

leonis dictum de

Deo

nihil aliud significat,

qnam

quod Deus

similiter se habct, ut fortiter operetur in sitis

The Church has always operibus, sicut leo in suis." to be heretical to apply these words literally declared it to God, as did, e. g., the Anthropomorphites of the fifth
century.

n

READINGS Theologie des Alien Scholz, Handbuch der 66 (WilScheeben, Dognuitik, Vol. I, Bundes, Vol. I, 25. S. J. Hunter, S. J., helm-Scannell s Manual, Vol. I, pp. 169 sqq.). Franzelin, Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II, pp. 40 sqq. De Deo Uno, thes. 22. Chr. Pesch, Praelect. Dogmat., Vol. I, Reinke, Beitrage zur 3rd ed., pp. 53 sqq., Friburgi 1903. De Lagarde, Erklarung des Alten Testaments, Minister 1855. F. Vigouroux, DictionBildung der Nomina, Gottingen 1889. T. Driscoll, Christian naire de la Bible, Paris 1891 sqq. J.
:

Philosophy: God, pp. 42 sqq., 2nd Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, s.
F. J. Hall,

ed., v.

New York
(in

1904.
T.)."-

"God

O.

The Being and Attributes of God,
A.
J.

pp. 227 sqq.,

New

York

1909.

Maas,

S.

J.,

art.

"Jehovah"

in the Catholic

Encyclopedia, Vol. VIII, pp. 329 sqq.
8 Cfr. 9

Heb. XII,
2. I,

29.

Herbert Spencer, see Boedder, Natural

Mai. IV,

Theology,
Driscoll,

pp.

106

sqq.

Cfr.

10

John

9;
s

i

John
qu.

I,

5.

also
art.
6.

11 S.
St.

Theol.,

la,

13,

Christian Philosophy: God, pp. 335 sq. (against J. Fiske) ;
"

Thomas

teaching

on
of

the

ap-

J.

J.
"

Fox,
in
I;

art.

Anthropomor-

plication

of

terms
Deity
is

human

phism

the

Catholic Encyclope-

thought to the
Catholic
phers,

that of all

theologians and philosoFor a defence of it against

and M. Schumacher, dia, The Knowableness of God, pp. 161 sqq., Notre Dame, Ind. 1905.
Vol.

CHAPTER
THE ESSENCE OF GOD
TRIBUTES

II

IN ITS RELATION TO HIS AT

SECTION
When we
monly mean
proximate
"

I

FALSE THEORIES
speak of the essence of a thing, we com not its physical but its metaphysical entity,
its

as expressed in

definition

(TO ri ty emu), giving the
specific

homo

cst

genus animal

and

the

difference

;

e.

g.,

rationale."

With

the

essence thus

constituted

we

tributes of the thing,

contrast the essential properties or at which emanate from the essence as

their ontological principle.

the relation that
tributes,

God

s

begin to enquire into Essence bears to His divine at

As we

for the nonce the question in we find that what His metaphysical essence consists, such relation must needs depend on the distinction be

leaving aside

tween them.

tinct categories of difference, real

Ontology teaches us that there are two dis and logical. The latter
s.

can be subdivided into two kinds: virtual (distinctio rationis ratiocinatae

cum fundamento

in re),
s.

and purely

pure mcntalis). The attempt of the Scotists to construe another distinc tion, called formalis, intermediary between the real and
the virtual,

logical (distinctio rationis ratiocinantis

must be looked upon as

futile.

It is

the busi

ness of dogmatic theology to ascertain precisely Essence of God differs from His attributes,

how

the

144

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
ARTICLE
PALAMITES
i.

145

i

THE HERESY OF GILBERT DE LA PORREE AND THE

HERETICAL REALISM AND THE CHURCH.
1

That well-known champion of extreme Realism, Gilbert de la Porree, taught that there is and needs must be a real distinction between God and Divinity, and between essence and person in God. Opinions differ as to whether Gilbert ap plied his Realism also to the Essence and the
attributes

of

God.

Some

writers

exonerate
2

him from clares him
the

this charge, while St.

Bernard
any

de

guilty.

It is certain, at
1

rate, that

Synod

of Rheims, A. D.

148, in the pres

ence of Pope Eug;ene III, condemned as heretical the error of the extreme Realists when it de
creed:
"Credimus et

confitemur, simplicem na-

turam

divinitatis esse

Deuni nee aliquo sensu

catholic o posse negari quin divinitas sit

Dens
.

et

Deus

divinitas.
.

Si vero dicitur, Deuni sapientia
aeternitate
.

aeternum esse, sapientem eredimus nonnisi ea sapientia, quae est ipse Deus,
.
.

.

sapientem esse num, aeternum,
i

.

.

.

i.

e.,

unum

Deum."

seipso sapientem, mag 3 Gilbert readily

Bishop of
to

Poitiers

1142

his

death
is

principal

work

from about His 1154. the Liber Sex
in

De

Wulf-Coffey, History of Medieval Philosophy, pp. 194 sqq. 2 Serm. 80 in Cant.
3
p.

For a concise statePrincifriorum. ment of his philosophical views, see

Hardouin,
col.

Coll.

Cone.,

t.

VI,

2,

1299.

146

HERETICAL REALISM

submitted to this decision, and also his friend, Otto von Freising.

Two centuries later there arose among the schismatic Greeks the heresy of the Palamites so called from its author, Palamos.
This

Gregory two Constantinopolitan (A. D. 1341 and 1347) did not blush
heresy
as

synods
to pro

claim

a

schismatic

dogma.

The

quintes

sence of the Palamite error
follows:
activity

may
there

be stated as a

Between the essence (owna) and the
(eWpyew)

of

God

is

real

distinction,

inasmuch as the from the former as something
in a sense, divine

latter

radiates

inferior,

though

still,

(&onp).

God

s different

attributes are merely radiations of the Divine Essence, and they solidify as it were by taking

on the shape of an uncreated but visible light, which the Blessed in Heaven perceive by means
of bodily vision. disciples beheld
It is the

same

light that the

on

Mount Tabor.

Here on

earth this heavenly bliss is possible per ant idpationem only, as the fruit of severe mortifica t/a that is, the repose of con tion, in the
^n>x

,

Hence the name Hesychasts ; templative prayer. hence also the contemptuous nickname o^ a \6^X 0i
or Umbilicans, given to these heretics by Barlaam, the learned Abbot of St. Saviour s at Con
4

stantinople.
4C/r. Alsog, Manual of
Universal Church History,
II,

812

sq.,

Cin-

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
2.

147

HERETICAL REALISM REFUTED.

Except be

tween the Divine Hypostases, no real distinc tion can be admitted to exist in the Godhead, because if there were in it any sort of real dis tinction, the Divine Essence would consist of distinct parts, which is repugnant. St. Bernard 5 of Clairvaux justly traces this erroneous view
to Polytheism: "Multa dicuntur esse in Deo et quid em sane catholic eque, sed mult a unum; alio-

diversa put emus, non quaternitatem habemus, sed centeneitatem: habebimus multiplicem

quin

si

Deum"

The dogma
identical with

that

God

His

attributes,

by implication, in all Writ in which the divine attributes are con
ceived
Cfr.
i

absolutely taught, at least those passages of Holy
is

s

Essence

is

substantively John IV, 8:

rather
"Deus
:

adjectively. caritas est God is

than

charity."

tas et

sum via et veriJohn XIV, 6 "Ego I am the way, and the truth, and vita
The Fathers never took
von
Stein,

the

life."

these pas

sages for rhetorical figures of speech, but intercinnati
iiber

1899;

Studien

Hesychasten, Wien 1874; Hergenrother, Kirchengeschichte, 4th ed., Vol. II, pp. 804 sqq., Freiburg 1904. The doctrine of the sight of the divine light has been
die

which leads to the vision of light, was published at Athens as lately as 1854, under the title of Spiritual Synopsis," by Sophronios, an archimandrate of Mt. Athos. Cfr.
"

retained in the theology of schismatic Greeks and gained

the

zog

new

Ph. Meyer in the New Schaff-HerEncyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. V, pp. 256 sqq.,
1909.
7.

power with the revival in that body in the nineteenth century. A work on the spiritual prayer
"
"

New York
6

De
jj

Consid., V,

6

dXijtfeia

Kdi

w.

148

NOMINALISM

preted them
entire

literally. Augustine condensed the dogmatic teaching of the Church on this "Dens subject into one pregnant axiom, viz.: 1 quod habet, hoc est God is what He has." When the Fathers distinguish between co and ra
-rrcpl

ov
is

there

they simply mean to emphasize that room for a virtual distinction between
t

the Divine Essence and attributes. 8

ARTICLE

2

THE HERESY OF EUNOMIUS AND THE NOMINALISTS

NOMINALISM AND THE CHURCH. The Eunomian heresy, that man can form an adequate conception of God here below by means of the
i.
9

ayem/am,

that

all

paved the way for another error, viz.: the names and attributes of God are
;

synonymous

in other
s

words, that the distinction

between God

essence

and His

attributes

is

purely logical (distinctio pure mentalis s. rationis The medieval Nominalists (Ockratiocinantis).

ham, Gregory of Rimini, Gabriel Biel) revamped this same error, with this difference that they
held that the only ground we have on which to base distinctions between the attributes of God

(which are per se synonymous), is the difference in the modes by which God manifests His power ad extra (distinctio cum connotatione effectuum).
7

De

Cii it. Dei, XI,

10.

9
16.

Supra,

p.

114.

8 Cfr. S.

Anselm., Monol., cap.

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
Both the Eunomians and the

149

later Nominalists

insisted that the absolute unity and simplicity of the Divine Essence allowed of no distinctions,

not even a virtual one. 10

That the various names and
correspond to as

attributes of

God
Di

many objective
"

aspects of the

vine Substance, and are consequently not synony
It was because mous, is "vix non de fide! he had exaggerated the concept of unity that

Master Eckhart had
tion,

to submit to the

condemna

by Pope John XXII, of the following prop extracted from his writings: "Deus unus est omnibus modis et secundum omnem raositions

tionem, ita ut in ipso non
(prop. 23).
"Omnis

sit

invenire aliqnam,
intellectum"

multitudinem in intellectu vel extra
distinctio est

a Deo aliena,

neque in natura neque in personis; probatur: quia natura ipsa est una et hoc unum, et quaelibet

persona est una
12

et id

ipsum unum, quod

natura"

(prop. 24).
12a

a) Gregory already called attention to the many attributes ascribed to God in various parts of
of

2.

REFUTATION OF NOMINALISM.

Nyssa

the

Bible.

correct,
lOCfr.

Eunomian hypothesis were he insisted, these attributes would be
If

the

Gotti,
5

De Deo,

tract.

2,

and writings,
in

cfr.

A. L.
"

McMahon
Vol.

qu

-

4
i

5

the
art.

Catholic Encyclopedia,
"

Kleutgen.

12 Cfr.

Denzinger-Bannwart,

n.

523
("

sq.

The
27,

Bull

of

John XXII
is

Dolentes

referimus")

dated
s

March

1329.

On

also De WulfEckhart; Coffey, History of Medieval Philosophy, pp. 453 S qq. I2a Or. 12 contr. Eunom.

V,

Eckhart

life

150

NOMINALISM

meaningless and the Sacred Writers guilty of insufferable pleonasms. Basil ridicules the pat
ent absurdities implied in the Eunomian theory as "manifeste insania, ridiculum." The intrin
sic

unity and simplicity of

God does

not justify

us in timidly denying all virtual distinctions in the Godhead. Far from infringing on the sim plicity of God, the distinctions drawn by the

human intellect "rather have their roots in, and 13 grow out of, the unity of the Divine Essence." "Hoc ipsum ad perfcctam Dei unit at em pertinet,"
says St. Thomas, "quod ca quae sunt multiplicitcr et dirisim in aliis, in ipso sunt simpliciter et unite." The simplicity of God not only
consists,
like

point, in the

absence of

the simplicity of a mathematical all composition, but also

in an infinite wealth of unnumbered perfections-. But since our finite intellect is unable to exhaust

this wealth of perfection in one concept, we are compelled to form successively a number of

varying attributive notions, which correspond to
(not elements) in the Divine Being. It is only by this method that our limited understanding can take account
of the plenitude of Divine Perfection.

as

many

different

momenta

b) The connotata tentatively suggested by the Nominalists do not make their theory acceptable.

For God

is

called

good and
IE,

wise, not only be4,

13 Scheeben.
1*5".

Theol.,

qu.

13,

art.

ad

3.

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
cause

151

communicates His goodness and wis dom to His creatures, but likewise because He is in Himself really good and wise, regardless of His imitabilitas ad extra. 15
pernicious conclusions which follow from the teachings of Eunomianism and Nominal ism become most glaringly apparent in their treatment of the Most Holy Trinity. For if we
c)

He

The

only a logical distinction (dispure mentalis) between God s Essence and His attributes, how can there be a virtual
is

hold that there

tinctio

between the essential and the notional acts of the intellect and will, such as is postulated
distinction

the dogmatic principle: The Father gen erates, but the divine Essence does not generate
in

Pater generat, essentia divina non

generat"?

Thus we
alism.

see

how

the error of

Nominalists logically

Eu^omius and the involves a Sabellian Mod-

ARTICLE

3

THE FORMALISM OF THE
I.

SCOTISTS

SCOTIST THEORY. "Formalism" plays a very important role in the philosophy and the ology of the Scotist school, quite as important
as the concept of
"praemotio"

THE

in

the Thomist
that
bonus bona

system.
15 Cfr.
S.

By
Thorn.,
"

"Formalism"

we understand
quod [Deus] bona sed quia bonus
facit,
est,

Comment,
I,

in
2,

hoc,
est;

Quatuor Libros
qu.
i,

Sent.,

dist.

art.

3:

Neque enim

ex

facit."

I

52

FORMALISM

distinctions that are peculiar theory which posits neither real nor virtual, but are said to lie mid between these two as "formaKtates ex na-

way

tura

rei."

Formal

distinctions are not real, be

cause they are related to one another not as but only as "formal object is related to object,
ity"

is

related to

"formality."

At

the

same

time,

however, they are more than virtual distinctions, because the various "formalitates" are rooted in the things themselves, independently of the human intellect; that is to say, they are ante
cedently present in things not merely fundamcnand rationalitalitcr, but actu, as e. g. animalitas in man before the mind ever draws tas are present
a distinction

between them.

Only

in this

way,

why the say the Scotists, are various "formalities" postulate each an essen
able to explain
tially different

we

note,

so that

it

is

deny

their

mutual identity

(e. g.,

necessary to animalitas non

applying their Formalism Scotus himself to the Godhead, the Scotists 1G from this indictment be excepted must perhaps arrived at the notion that the distinction be
est rationalitas).

By

tween the Essence and the attributes of God, and also that between the various divine attributes, while not real, is more than virtual, namely, For inasmuch as the Divine Intellect formal. must be defined differently from the Divine Will,
16 Cfr.

Comment,

in

Quatnor Libras Sent.,

I,

dist.

8,

qu. 4.

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
it is

153
e.

possible to

deny the one of the other,
not the
17
will;"

g.:

"The

intellect is

"Justice

spares

mercy spares," etc. Al 2. CRITICAL ESTIMATE OF FORMALISM. though the Church has never officially pronounced
not,

against

the formal distinction invented by the Scotists must be rejected as hair-splitting, un
it,

justified,

and dangerous.

a) It is unjustified because it is an incon ceivable hybrid which eludes every attempt of the mind to grasp it. The dichotomy of real and
logical distinction has
its

roots deep

down

in

the very principle of contradiction, for every true distinction must be conceived either as real existing only in the think ing subject) and therefore it is as impossible to find room for a third member between the two,

or as not-real
;

(i.

e.,

as it would be to establish an intermediary link between Yes and No. b) But even if the logical possibility of a

formal distinction were,

for

argument

s

sake,

conceded, what would theology gain thereby? Would not Formalism lead, though not per

haps so straightway nor so evidently as Realism,

same end, viz.: the destruction of God s For if, independently of and ante simplicity?
to the

cedently to
IT Cfr.
zeit,

the
2;

action
d.

of

the

mind, the JUS-

Kleutgen, Philos.
I,

Vor-

alters,

Stockl, Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittel-

Vol.

Abh.

Vol. II, Mainz 1865; J. Rickaby, General Metaphysics, pp. 107 sqq. (Stonyhurst Series).

11

154
tice of

FORMALISM
God
is

carried to

its

not His mercy, this proposition, ultimate logical consequences, can

only

mean

that the attribute of

mercy

is

founded

upon a different "reality" in God than the at tribute of justice. What the Scotists call a
"formalitas"

reality.

thus ex subject a materia becomes a Different formalities, therefore, sup

will not pose as many varying realities. here inquire into the applicability of Formalism

We

to such creatures as are physically

and meta

physically

no

plainly has place, because the unique simplicity of the Divine Essence forbids all attempts to dissolve it.

compound;

in

theology

it

Finally, the arguments of the Scotist school, in so far at least as they apply to the dogmatic treatise on the nature and attributes

c)

of God, are absolutely unconvincing. For the logical necessity of defining mercy otherwise

than

justice, or necessity

otherwise than liberty,

and so

God

forth, only proves that there co-exist in perfections which, in spite o f their concen
in

tration

one indivisible monad, offer to the

a basis for distinguishing sepa distinctio rate, nay, even opposite excellencies For the same reason the divine at virtualis).

thinking mind

(=

tributes cannot be negatived absolutely of one another, or of the Divine Essence, but must be

predicated of each other in the same identical sense. St. Augustine exemplifies this truth as

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
follows:
"Una

155

ergo eademque res dicitur, sive dicatur aeternus Deus, sive immortalis, sive sive immutabilis. Bonitas incorruptibilis,
. .
.

etiam atque
Dei,
sicut

iustitia,

numquid
operibus

inter se in natura
distant,

in

eius

tamquam

duae diversae sint qualitates Dei, una bonitas, alia iustitia? Non ittique; sed quae iustitia, ipsa et quae bonitas, ipsa beatitude It is bonitas; one and the same thing, therefore, to call God
eternal,

or immortal,
differ

or incorruptible, or un

changeable.

again, and from each other in the righteousness, nature of God, as they differ in His works, as though they were two diverse qualities of God goodness one, and righteousness another? Certainly not; but that which is righteousness is also itself goodness; and that which is good

... Or do goodness,

ness

is

also itself

blessedness."

Scotist school has diluted

its

The younger Formalism so much

18

that

it

now approaches

the virtual distinction

It is not worth while theory of the Thomists. to enter into a more detailed discussion of these

subtleties.
18 S. Aug.,
7;

De
384,

Trinit.,

Haddan
pp.

s

translation,

XV, 5, n. On the

mat.,

Vol.

I,

3rd ed.,

pp.

79

sqq.

Trinity,

1873.

Cfr.

Pesch,

385, Edinburgh Praelect. Dog-

For a sharp critique of Formalism, v. Gerson, Contra Vanam Curiositatern,
lect.
i.

SECTION

2
S

THE VIRTUAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD SENCE AND HIS ATTRIBUTES
i.

ES

rejected the Realistic, the Nominalistic, and the Scotistic theories with regard to the distinction of God s Essence from His at

Having

tributes,

as well as of these attributes

among

themselves, there remains but one other, viz.: that which asserts the distinctio virtualis. This is the

theory of

St.

Thomas Aquinas, which has be
com munis.
Inasmuch as the ex

come

sententia

tremes, Realism and Nominalism, both lead to heresy, or at least come dangerously near it,

We

Catholic theology must plainly seek a via media. have seen that Scotistic Formalism cannot

claim to be the golden mean. Hence we must adopt the Thomist view, which postulates a
virtual distinction

between God
this

s

Essence and
will be rea

His

attributes.

What

means

sonably clear to the student who has read the first section of this chapter carefully. The subjoined
quotation from St.
point even better:
lectuin nostrum, est

Thomas
"Quod

l

will elucidate the
intel-

Dens excedat
I,

ex parte ipsius Dei propter
dist. 2,

1 Comment, in Quatuor Libras Sent.,

qu.

i,

art. 3.

156

THE DIVINE ESSENCE

157

plenitudinem perfections ems, et ex parte intellectus nostri, qui deficient er se habet ad earn

comprehendendam.

Unde

patet,

quod

pluralitas

istarum rationum non tantum est ex parte intellectus nostri, sed etiam ex parte ipsius Dei, inperfectio superat nostri intellectus. conceptionem
tati

quantum sua

unamquamque Et ideo pluralire,

istarum rationum respondet aliquid in

est; non quidem pluralitas rei, sed plena perfectio, ex qua contingit, ut omnes istae

quae Deus

conceptiones ei aptentur." 2. In order to gain a

deeper

understand

ing of the Thomistic distinctio virtualis, let us remember that it can be conceived in a twofold

manner.
fection,
ject,

which

Either the objective concept of one per is (really) identical with its ob
that

excludes

identical with the
ality"

of another, which is also same object (as e. g. "sensu and "rationality" in man), and then we
s.

have a distinctio virtualis perfecta
cisione objectiva.

praethe objective concept of one perfection includes the objective concept of the other, either formaliter or radicaliter (as

cum

Or

e.

g.

"sensitive

being"

and

"substance,"

the lat

ter

being contained formally in the former; or
soul"

"rational

latter is contained radically in the

which the former), and then the two are related to each other as an cludens" to an "inclusum," and we have a dis"intellect,"

and

of

"in-

158
tinctio

THE VIRTUAL DISTINCTION
virtualis

impcrfccta

s.

cum

praecisionc

for mali.

The

distinctio virtualis per feet a, inas

much

as it implies real composition in its object notional indifference of the one perfection (the towards the other being an infallible index of

their potentiality), cannot possibly be applied to

God,

Who

is

purest actuality (actus purissimus).

Hence there must be posited between His Es sence and His attributes a distinctio virtualis im pcrfccta; which means that each separate at tribute of God includes within itself formally His Essence, that His Essence includes within
each separate divine attribute, and, finally, that each separate attribute notionally includes
itself
2 every other attribute.

READINGS

:

*S. Thorn.,
I,

6".

Theol., la, qu.

13,

art.

4-5,

12.

31-36 (Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures, pp. 24 sqq., London 1905). Suarcz, De Div. Sub. eiusque Attrib., I, 10-14. *Gillius, De Essentia Dei, Pctavius, De Deo I, 7-13.
IDEM, Contra Gent.,
tr.

6,

cap. 6 sqq.

3.

Hpst.
pp.

W. Humphrey,

London
Vol.
2
I,

1897.

*Kleutgen, TheoL der Vorzeit, I. T., 2. Abh., Divine Majesty," pp. 57 sqq., "His Wilhelm-Scanncll, Manual of Catholic Theology,

164 sqq., 2nd ed.,

London
tt

1899.

Suarez tried to demonstrate this mutual inclusion from God s infin

Wow sapientia, v. gr., vel ity. includitur in essentiali concepts Dei vel non," he says (De Deo, I, n,
"

"Si includitur, ergo praedicaessentialiter de illo, eademque ratio est de quolibet alio ottributo

5).

on includitur, ergo illud ens quod essentialiter est Deus, ex vi suae csscntiae non est summe perfectum neque infinitum ens, quia non includit in suo esse essentiali omnem For a possibilem." perfcctioncm

tur
vel

more
II,

detailed

treatment

of

this

point, see Tepe, Instil.

Theol., Vol.

perfectione

absolute,
cxistat.

Deo

formaliter

quae in Si vero

pp. 69 sqq., Paris 1895.

CHAPTER

III

THE METAPHYSICAL ESSENCE OF GOD
In order to come at the metaphysical essence of God, we must try to find among His many attributes one which fulfils four distinct require

ments:

i.

It

must be the

first to
2.

be perceived

(primum God s very mode of His

in

being,

cognitione). not merely
It

It

must signify
the
status

or

must present a clearbeing. 3. cut distinction, after the analogy of an ultimate or specific difference, between God and every thing that is not God. 4. It must be the taproot
or a priori source of all the other divine at tributes. As the Church has never defined in

what the metaphysical essence of God

consists,

differences of opinion are permissible, a right of which philosophers and theologians have lib
erally availed themselves.

SECTION

i

UNTENABLE THEORIES
i.

the

SURVEY OF THE FIELD. Leaving aside for moment aseity or self-existence, we find that

three theories have been elaborated to solve the problem of defining the Divine Essence.

The Nominalists held that the Essence of God was simply sum of His perfections" omnium perfectionum) that is, the sum (cumulus
a)
"the
,

His attributes and perfections, whether known or unknown, quiescent or active, trans cendental or predicamental, whether qualities of
of
all

the intellect or of the will. the

They excluded only

and Hypostases and ar gued that, inasmuch as there are in God no accidents His attributes being (^/Sc/tyami), strictly identical with His Essence, whatever is divine must eo ipso be part of the Divine Es
divine

Relations

1

sence.

upon God s infinity as that one among His attributes from which all others flow. They argued that since no attribute
b)
Scotists pitched

The

can be a truly divine perfection unless
V. supra, Chapter
II.

it

is

160

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
stamped as it were with the seal of infinity, finity must be the one attribute in which

161

in
all

others are contained. By positing a radical in stead of a formal infinity, several writers of this school managed to bring their theory into sub

which makes self-exist ence (aseitas) the fundamental attribute of God. 2
stantial accord with that

considerable number of theologians of c) the Thomist school assigned intellectuality as
the metaphysical Essence of God, some conceiv ing this attribute as "absolute spirituality" (esse

A

spiritum), others as formal intellectual activity It must be said in (intellectio subsistens).

favor of this view that

we can hardly imagine a more serviceable principle of distinction than

absolute reason, inasmuch as this attribute neatly marks off the Divine Essence from matter and from created reason, and is at the same time the root from which all other vital attributes log

grow. CRITICISM OF THESE THEORIES. Neverthe less these theories must all be rejected, either be cause they do not meet the question squarely, or because they assume as God s fundamental attribute some property which is not really the basic principle of His Divine Essence, but points
ically
2.

to another
2

still

more fundamental.
"

By

"

infinitas

radicalis

they

must

necessarily
real

enjoy

all

other

understood
tribute,

in

fundamental atvirtue of which God
that

perfections,

and

possible,

162

UNTENABLE THEORIES

a) The Nominalist solution does not solve the problem at all. The "sum of all divine per fections" merely constitutes God s physical es
sence.

The
is

the

many

question to be solved is, qualities that make up God
the foundation or root of

Which
s

of

essence

all

physical the rest?

Those writers of the Thomist school who take
metaphysical essence to be absolute spir ituality, likewise evade the question, because
s

God

absolute
volition)

spirituality

(including
constitute

cognition

formally rather than His Essence.
is

God

s

and Nature
merely

The

essence of any

thing another

prior to its nature, nature being

name

for essence viewed as the principle

of operation.

b) The remaining theories fail to comply with one or other of the four conditions laid down
in the introductory
)

paragraph of

this Chapter.

finity

The Scotistic theory, .which regards in as God s fundamental attribute, conforms
of these conditions, but not to
is
all.

to several

For

infinity

neither the fundamental attrib
is
it

ute of God, nor
first

the one which our
in

mind
It
is

aseity builds the logical bridge to infinity; and it is not the primitm in cognitione, because infinity

perceives (primitm cognitione). not the fundamental attribute, because

has

source elsewhere, namely, in the notion of aseity, avrovala, actus pitrus. True, aseity can
its

THE DIVINE ESSENCE

163

be logically deduced from infinity, but only by an a posteriori argument, concluding from the consequent to the antecedent, rather than vice
versa.

must

plain that any attribute which be conceived as the sequela rather than the

Now,

it is

source of other divine attributes, cannot claim to by the root principle of all others.

There remains the theory of those Thomists 3 who define the metaphysical Essence of God as the activity or operation of the Di
/?)

vine Intellect (intellectio subsist ens).

It

cannot
all

be denied that

God

differs

radically from

created beings by His absolute act of cognition. But He differs from them just as radically by
several other absolute attributes,
nity, immutability,

immensity. can be said to constitute His metaphysical Es

e. g., His eter Yet none of these

sence.

there

Hence underlying must manifestly be
Besides
it

all
still

these

attributes

another,
to

which the whole
cability.

series derive their
is

from incommuni-

look upon intellectio subsistens as the basic attribute of

an error

God from which

others spring. For while it may be possible to derive from it a priori a whole group of new properties, such as omni
all

science,

wisdom, etc.; yet there are other neces attributes of the divine Essence that can sary not be derived from intellectio subsist ens, and
8 Gonet, Billuart,

Salmanticense,

i64

UNTENABLE THEORIES
in

which

turn must therefore be conceived as

the fruit of a most comprehensive perfection of being, (viz.: the actus punts), rather than as the

fount and origin of
telligerc
4

all

other attributes.

The

in-

stibsistcns necessarily presupposes
its

the

esse subsistens as
ciple.

ontological and

logical prin

4 Cfr. S. Thorn., Theol., la, Dcus cst ipsum qu. 4, art. 2: esse Per sc subsistcns. ex quo opor5".
"

in se

contineat."

For more detailed
sqq.,

information,
1881.

consult
125

Ipso Deo, pp.

Kleutgen, De Ratisbonac

let

quod totom perfectionem essendi

SECTION
THE NOTION

2

ASEITY THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTE OF GOD
i.

OF ASEITY.

Aseity (aseitas,

from ens ase) is that divine attribute in virtue of which God exists by Himself, in Himself, and
through Himself.
called

In English
1

it

is

generally

"self-existence."

Opposed

to the ens

a

se as

the ens ab alio, i. e., a be contrary which has the reason for its existence and ing essence not in itself, but in another, extraneous
its

is

being.

and

in

Since the created universe, as a whole all its parts, is thus conditioned, we
if

might,

we were allowed

to coin a

new word,

designate as its fundamental quality "abaliety," that notion of created being which is most
directly contrary to the metaphysical Essence of

God

the Creator. 2
its

a) In

purely

etymological

sense,

aseity

denominates not the divine Essence, but its mode or status, viz.: that it has no cause (ens a se ens non ab alio). But we need only to analyze
the concept of aseity or self-existence to find that
1

=

Cfr.

tnatic

Hunter, Outlines of DogTheology, II, pp. 54-55, LonPohle-Preuss,

Author of Nature and the Supernatural, to be soon published as the third volume of this series.

don

1894.

2 Cfr.

God

the

165

166

THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTE

besides this negative it also contains a positive note, in virtue of which aseity expands and de velops into the notion of being pure and simple

ipsum esse) or pure actuality (actus purissimus), all synony
(esse simpliciter, esse subsist ens,

mous

terms,

denoting the absoluteness of the

divine being.

Thus

aseity

becomes

avrowria

pure

and simple, L e., identity of existence and es sence. For in Him who does not derive His be from another but possesses it of Himself, ex ing 3 istence and essence must coincide.
Here the enormous
and
created
difference between Divine Being

being again becomes manifest. God is either this or that, such being, the creature has being, or another. God is pure transcendent being the crea
;

ture
If

is

we

limited to the one or other category of being. hold them together, they are not only not com

strictly speaking, cannot even be com pared, inasmuch as the notion of being is predicated of God in an entirely different sense than of His creatures.

mensurable, but,

The Fourth Lateran Council (1215)
creatorcm
tari,

defines:

"Inter

creaturam non potest tanta similitude no4 quin inter eos maior dissimilitude sit notanda."
et

which

Hence being does not represent a common genus in God and creatures coincide. The concept of
its

being in
plies

proper sense (proprie
alone
;

et principaliter)

ap

only improperly and analogically (im proprie ct analogice) a relation which finds its most pregnant expression in the Biblical
3 Cfr. S.
art.

to

God

to

the creatures

Thorn.,
3,
esse."

S.

Theol.,
"

la,

4 Cone. Lateran. IV, cap.
namus."

"

Dam-

qu.

18,

ad 2:

Deus

est

ipsum suum

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
designation of the creature as or "non-being" (^ ov). 5
"

167
is

something which

not

"

b) In order to gain a deeper understanding of aseity, it is necessary to avoid two serious

misconceptions into which even a trained thinker
is

confounding self-existence with self-realization on the one hand; and, on the other, absolute being with abstract being.
a)
It is

liable to fall, viz.:

a mistake to take aseity or

avroWa
"

to

mean

This misconception was probably occa sioned by the Scholastic use of the phrase causa sui" as synonymous with "ens a The phrase was ill
se."

self-realization. 6

chosen.

The Schoolmen do

not

mean

that

God

causes

Himself (causa sui efficient), but, on the contrary, they use the term causa sui precisely for the purpose of de nying that the first cause is in need, or capable, of being caused by some other, ulterior cause, extrinsic or intrinsic
(causa sui formalis). St. Jerome says origo est suaeque causa substantiae,"
metaphorically, as does St.
"
"

:

Deus
he

ipse sui

7

but

speaks
et

Anselm when he
est

declares:

Quomodo ergo tandem esse intelligenda ex se [divina substantia], si nee ipsa se
sibi

per se

fecit nee ipsa

materia

non

e.vtitit nee ipsa se quolibet modo, ut quod erat esset, adiuvit, nisi forte eo modo intelligendum

videtur,

quo

dicitur,

quia lux lucet per seipsam et ex

seipsaf

The theory here under consideration runs

of contradiction.

counter to both the law of causality and the principle The law of causality, far from de manding that it be applied to God, halts before the
5Cfr.
IS>

Wisdom XI,
Kuhn,

23;

Is.

XL,"

7

8 St.

In Eph., Ill, 14. Anselm, Monol., cap. 6.

Giinther,

Schell.

1

68

THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTE

causa prima incausata. He Who carries the reason for (not the cause of) His existence within Himself, neither
requires an extrinsic cause, nor does he produce Him self; for either the one or the other would presuppose
a potentiality towards a reality not yet (logically) ex of aseity. 9 isting, which would contradict the notion

The notion

that

God

causes Himself

is

likewise repugnant

to the principle of contradiction. For, in order to cause itself a being would have to be conceived as being
in

order to be able to posit

itself;

that

is

to

say,

it

would exist before it had caused itself; in other words, it would exist before it came into existence, which is
absurd. 10
/?)

A

second error, far worse than the

first,

is

to

confuse absolute being (ens a se) with abstract being
(ens universalc), to which the philosophers sometimes pure being." According to Hegel apply the name of
"

"

"

pure being
the
dialectical

is

that which, as yet absolutely vacuous
its

and undetermined, awaits

realization;
its

it is

only

when

apex process Now, the pure develops into the plenitude of being. of God must not be confounded either with being
" "

reaches

that

nothing

or with the abstract being which pure being Hegel s forms the subject-matter of ontology. A comparison
o Cfr.

Henry
21,

of
5:

Gent,

Summa,
arguiesse a
sui
est,

Ratisbon
scntia
tract,
i,

1874.
c.

Also
"

Gill,

De
lib.

EsII,

Ila,
tur,
se,

art.

qu.

"Cum

atque

Unitate

Dei,

quod Deus non
quia
haberet
[sccus]
esse

habet esset causa
se

se

ipsius,
si

diccndum quod verum
a

principiative

genere causalitatis; nam nihil potest csse sibi causa csscndi: omnis quippe causa est

3: causaliter ullo

Deus non

est

a

sibile,

hoc cnim est imposquia nihil est principiativum sui ipsius; formaliter tamen bene est possibile aliquid habere esse a

[= efficienter] ;

prior causato, at idem se ipso prius ct postcrius esse repugnat." For further details, consult Chr. Pesch,
1.

c.,

pp.

64

sqq.;

IDEM,

Theolo-

se,

ut

dictum

est.

esse ex hoc, quod actus purus.]" 10 Cfr. Glossner, Dogmatik

[Habet enim est forma et
I,

gische Zeitfragen, Freiburg 1900; L. Janssens, O. S. B., De Deo Uno, t. I, pp. 229 sqq. Friburgi 1900.

64,

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
will bring out the difference
in

169

between them. Pure being and abstract being as a metaphysical conception, God, are logically distinct both in comprehension and exten Absolute Being, though the smallest in extension, sion. has the widest and fullest comprehension. Abstract being has no comprehension at all outside of the nude
note of abstract being (esse), and for this reason the term is exceedingly wide in extension, as it can be
predicated of every sort of possible and real being. The two notions differ also with regard to the man ner of their origin. While the concept of abstract be
ing
is

formed by simple
is

abstraction,

that

of

Divine

Being
differ

the

result

of

a

syllogistic

process.

They

thirdly in their

mode

of existence.
;

Divine Be

while abstract ing is concrete, individual, personal being has no formal existence except in the abstracting mind; in the things themselves it exists only funda
mentally, and hence a personality. They
"

it

is

no

real being at
finally

all,

still

less

differ
"

in

their
"

properties.

are predicated and transcendence True, simplicity of both, but in an essentially different sense. Abstract
being, like a mathematical point,

"

of

its

is simple only by virtue vacuity and logical incompositeness while Abso
;

lute

Being

is

called

simple, because, though possessed

of an infinite plenitude of being, it is ontologically in divisible. Again, abstract being is merely a transcen dental concept, while God is a transcendental being, i. e.,

a substance existing far above
individuals. 11
c)

all

genera, species, and
scientific division
it

To

prepare the ground for a

of

the divine attributes, to be
to

made

later,

will be useful

turn our attention to the twofold aspect presented by aseity in its full signification of avTowia or actus
11 Cfr.

Cone.

Vatican.,

Sess.

Ill,

De

Fide,

can.

4

12

1

70

ASEITY A TRUE ATTRIBUTE

distinguish in it a static and a dynamic purus. source of a side, each of which can be taken as the number of divine attributes. As ens a se, God is not

We

not only pro only pure being, but also pure activity; found repose, but also sheer motion. Both these mo

menta mysteriously coincide in the concept of actus to them spon purissimns, and our mind is led up the same logical process by which it as taneously by cends to a knowledge of the existence of God from the the con contemplation of nature. The argument from
tingency

of the cosmos and that called argumentum ex gradibiis point mainly to the absolute being, while the argument from motion, that from causality, and
that
called
teleological,

accentuate

rather the absolute

It is in these two aspects of life of the First Cause. have the underlying foundation for two aseity that we classes of divine attributes, viz.: attributes of being and

attributes of

life.

ASEITY A TRUE ATTRIBUTE OF GOD. Both Holy Scripture and Tradition teach that aseity 12 is an attribute proper to God, and to God alone. is a) The argument from Sacred Scripture based upon the revealed name of God, Yahwe.
2.

Ex.

Ill,

14 sqq.
filiis
. .

:

"Ego

sum
est
,

qui
(

sum.

.

.

.

&), misit me Dominns .)?l Deus patrum vesad vos. misit me ad vos: hoc nomen mihi trorum Thus I am who am. est in aeternum
Sic dices
Israel:

Qui
n

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

shalt thou say to the children of Israel: The who is, hath sent me to you.
.

He
Lord

.

.

12 Cfr. Cone.

Vatican., Sfss.

HI, De

Fide, cap.

u

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
of your fathers This is my name for
.

171

God

.

.

hath sent
13

me

to you:

getes take
delity in

?!

as

Modern merely expressing God
ever."

exes
fi

keeping His promises. is contradicted by Jehovah s own of His name, and runs counter Jewish and Christian Tradition.
delity

But

this

view

interpretation to the whole

Of

course,

fi

necessarily
is is

follows
,T

from

self-existence.

But God
ful;

not called

because

He
se.

is 14

faith

He

faithful because

He

is

ens a

Nu
in the

merous paraphrases of aseity are found
Apocalypse.
et w
,

Cfr.,
et

e.

g.,

XXII,
apx>1

13:
TO
re

"Ego

sum

primus
Kat 6

novissimus, principium et Unis
r;

(6

7T/OWT05

lo-^aro?^

KCU

Aos)

1

am

Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the be 15 ginning and the end/ b) Tradition elucidates and confirms the above-quoted texts from Holy Scripture. Greg ory of Nazianzus explains the appellation &v as follows: "Quia totum esse (^\ov dvai)
in ipso collocandum est, a
sint

The

totality

quo cetera habent, ut of Being must be embodied in
everything else derives
its

Him from Whom
being."

as

"an

Gregory s famous description of aseity immense ocean of being" 16 was taken
XLII,
8:
"

is Cfr. Is.

Ego ni,T
p.

J the
last."

Lord

>

I

am

the

first

and the
proof
thes.

hoc est
120.

nomen

meum."

Detailed

Scriptural

14 Cfr. Kleutgen,
is Cfr.

De
4:

Ipso Deo,

apud Franzelin, De Deo Uno,
22.

Is.

XLI,

"***m,T,

16

O r.,

"

45:

oU*

r

primus

et

novissimus

ego

sum

ovfflas Aveipov Kal

d6piffrov,"

i;2

SELF-EXISTENCE

over literally by St. John of Damascus into his 11 treatise De Fide Orthodoxa. Hilary gives us avrown o, when he a beautiful paraphrase of says:
"Ipse

est,
3.

qui quod est non aliunde est, in sese secum est, ad se est, suits sibi est."
est,

ASEITY THE FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTE OF GOD. The more general and more ancient opin
theologians favors the view that aseity constitutes the metaphysical essence of
ion

among

God.

Hence we

shall act prudently in
it

adopting

this theory, especially since

is

well founded in

Holy Scripture and Tradition, and can be de
fended with solid philosophical arguments. nj 7- as a) Sacred Scripture defines
it
<^,

and
en

would seem, therefore, that
(Ex.
is,
i.

this definition is

titled to

universal acceptance.
Ill,

Now, God Him
that
19

self

mrp 14) interprets His proper name

as

"Sum

qui

sum

y

>t

W
is

is,

I

am He

who

e., I

am Being

itself.

Consequently

being, the Divine Essence.
avrowria,

self-existence,

the signature of

This interpretation, based ex as it is upon the literal meaning of n V?l of the Tetragramplains not only the ineffability 20 but likewise its absolute incommunicamaton,
,

bility

to

creatures,

inasmuch as the
is

essential

proper
17

name

of a person

of

its

very nature

De Fide Orth., I, 9. 18 Tract, in Ps., 2, n. 13. Additexts quoted by tional Heinrich,
Dogmat. Theologie,
I,

19 Cfr. Ex. Ill, 13 sqq. 20 V. supra, pp. 135 sq.

160.

THE DIVINE ESSENCE
incommunicable.
essence
of

173

the

Hence aseity denotes the very Godhead and differentiates it
is

sharply from every thing that The Old Testament definition of
the statement,
text,

not divine.
w_ also

21

proves

made

a

little

that the aseity of

God

further up in our must not be con

ceived as inert or dead being, but as living, per E For God does not say: sonal activity. not "That ei/u TO oV, but o & v -He

y<*

=

Who

is,"

The Hebrew text brings out the After explaining His idea still more vividly. Essence and His name by declaring: "Ego sum qui sum" ( T* 10*. n ?$), He commands
which
is."

Moses

to tell the children of Israel, not:

"He

who
to

&v; Vulg., qui est) has sent me I am "The but far more trenchantly: you," 22 This * (the njw) has sent me to you."
is

(Sept.,

Acyd/xcvov

has led not a few Scholastics to enter

tain the false notion that the verbal

form used

here as a substantive
"

is

another divine
is
23

name

quite

distinct

from

.

"It

perfectly proper and
"to

quite

correct,"

God

s

observes Oswald, designate essence as TO 6V O r TO on-w? 6V; but it is more

appropriate to call Him o av, because by this term He is described as a personal and intellectual be n &* best and most ( ???) gives the ing; besides,
21 Cfr.
Is.

Deut.
6.

XXXII,

39

sqq.;

23
76.

Dogmat. Theologie, Vol.

I,

p.

XLIV,

22 Ex.

Ill,

14.

r;4

SELF-EXISTENCE
answer
to

complete
God?"

the

question:

What

is

as

b) a

The
real

Fathers, too, treated aseity, or self-existence, and fundamental attribute of the Divine

Essence.

Contemplating the profundity of the
"

name

Admiratus sum plane tarn Yahzveh, Hilary exclaims: Non enim aliud absolutam de Deo significationem.
.

.

.

proprium magis Deo quam

csse

24
intelligitur"

Gregory

of Nyssa, arguing against Eunomius, insists upon avrovo-i a as a divinely revealed note of God s essence (in
If Moses has incor contradistinction to dyewqo-i a) in the Law an essential note of true Divinity, porated
"

:

it

is

to

know of God
:

by the effatum
cinctly

I
"

that He am who

is

Being; as
24a

is

proved

am."

St.

Jerome suc
verc

declares
. .

:

Dens

solus
2B

cssentiac

nomen
is

qui sum." wont St. Augustine observes:
.

tenet

ego

sum

Profoundly as
"Non

his
est.

est

ibi

nisi

.

.

.

Ego sum
Alius,

Cains.

qui sum. Lucius.
est

Tu
.
.

dicercs:

Ego sum, quis?

qui sum.
vocaris."

Hoc
26

Ego [Deus] sum. Quis? nomen tuum, hoc est totum quod
.

No

tribute
"

of
est

God more
DcusT

one has described the fundamental at graphically than St. Bernard:

Quid
est.

Non

sane occurrit melius

quam

qui

ipse de se voluit respondere: qui est, misit me Si bonum, si magnum, si ad vos. Merito qiiidem. bcatum, si sapicntem TC\ qiridquid tale de Deo dixeris, 27 in hoc verbo instauratur, quod est Est."

Hoc

.

.

.

c)

Philosophy

supports

the

Scriptural

and

Traditional
24

argument by demonstrating that
I,

De

Trin.,

1.

n.

5. I, 8.

27
S.

De

Consid.,

24a Contr. Eunom,,

Anselm.,

V, Monol.,
la,

6.
c.

Cfr.
3
sq.;
13,

also
S.
art.

25 Ep. 15 ad Domasutn, n. 4. 26 In Ps., 101, serm. 2.

Thorn., S.

Theol.,

qu.

u.

THE DIVINE ESSENCE

175

aseity alone among all of God s attributes com 28 plies with the four conditions enumerated above.
begin with, aseity or self-existence, as theodicy shows, is the first of the divine attributes to be perceived by the thinking mind. Secondly, taken in its full com

To

prehension as avrovaia, aseity reveals to us not only the mode or state of God s Essence, but that Essence itself. Quum esse Dei sit ipsa eius essentia," observes
"

29

"

Aquinas,

manifestum

est

quod

inter alia

nomina hoc

proprie nominal Deum." In the [scil.: qui est] unlike the so-called communicable attributes, third place, aseity differentiates God primarily and essentially from

maxime

every thing that

is

not-God, while the other incommunica

ble attributes are incommunicable to creatures precisely because they are rooted in aseity. Finally, aseity is the

fount and origin of all the other divine attributes. St. Thomas deduces all divine perfections from the con
cept of the actus purus.

ATTRIBUTES DERIVED IMMEDIATELY FROM GOD S ASEITY are all those divine perfections which refer to God s mode of existence and His
4.

knowability.
a) God s inoriginateness, independence, and necessity, are merely different names for His aseity or self-ex istence. The first-mentioned perfection^ not to be con

founded with the innascibilitas of the Father as the first Person of the Blessed Trinity) results from the fact that God, in virtue of His self-existence, has no
efficient

cause outside Himself

(ens non ab alio).

In

28 Supra, p. 159. 29 S. Theol., la, qu. 13, art. n. SOCfr. Honthehn, S. J., Theodi-

caea,

pp. 283 sqq., Friburgi 1893; Stentrup, Synopsis de Deo Una, pp.
sqq.,

51

Oeniponte 1895.

176
this

SELF-EXISTENCE
same
fact

His independence (mand His neces sity (necessitas), which flows from aseity in so far as a Being that exists by virtue of its own essence, exists necessarily (non potcst uon esse).
are also rooted
all

dcpcndentia) from

extrinsic factors,

b)

The

three attributes of invisibility

(invisibilitas) ,

(incomprehensibilitas), and ineffability (ineffabilitas), which have reference to the knowablcness of God, are likewise founded upon his aseity

incomprehensibility

Precisely because the notion of essential being penetrates to the very depth of the Godhead, its mode of expression is the most imper
says
:

or

ai Tovo-ta.

Schecben

"

its content, more than that of any other human remains a^ro?, incffabilis, unutterable. Hence concept, the holy dread which surrounded the name Jehova among the Jews and kept them from employing it or

fect,

and

For the same reason the Fathers giving it utterance." referred to God not only as the avrovtru* and the Wepbut likewise as the dvoWto? or essence-less one.
,

81

READINGS: S. Thorn., S. Theol., la, qu. 13, art. n. IDEM, Contra Gentiles, I, 21-24 (Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures, pp. 16 sqq. London 1905). Thomassin, De Deo, 1. Ill, cap. 21D Aguirrc, Theologia S. 24. Petavius, De Deo, 1. Ill, cap. 6. Ansclmi, disp. 24. Klcutgen, Philosophic der Vorzcit, Bd. I, Abh. 5, Bd. II, Abh. 9. IDEM, Theologie der Vorzcil, T. i, Abh.
2,

1610.

Hpst. 6. *Gillius, De Essentia atque Unitate Dei, Lugdun. D. Coghlan, De Deo Uno et Trino, pp. 106 sqq., Dublinii W. Humphrey, S. J., "His Divine Majesty," pp. 59 sqq., 1909.
1897.

London

BiDogtnatik,

I,

502.

PART

III

THE DIVINE PROPERTIES OR
ATTRIBUTES
In our imperfect

human way

of thinking

we

are led

to conceive the divine properties or attributes as forms enveloping the already constituted essence after the man

ner of qualities.

this inadequate conception

identity

But our judgment proceeds to correct by insisting on the absolute of God s attributes with His Essence. 1 The

Fathers speak of the divine attributes as proprictates (IBiwfjiaTa) or ea circa Dcum (ra TTf.pl 0eoV), as dignitates

(duu,

d^uo/xara )

,

or Tdtiones

(vor^uara, eTriAoyioyiOt),

or as

Virtutes (dpcrat) or

mores

(eVtrTySe^/xara).

More important than

this

nomenclature

is

the ques

tion liow these attributes are to be divided.

The most
attributes

common
attributes

classifications

are

:

First,

negative

(attributa negativa, d^acpcriKa, d-Tro^artKa),

and affirmative

This division

(attributa affirmativa, s. positiva, Kara^ariKa). is based on the different modes in which

we

acquire a knowledge of these attributes, some being conceived by the negative method, 2 others by the positive

method or
has
its

that of supereminence. 3

This classification

God, There

roots deep down in our creatural knowledge of and must therefore be considered fundamental.
is

a second classification, viz.: into incommunicable

(attributa incommunicabilia)
(attributa

and communicable
.

attributes

communicabilia)
2.

.

This
3V.

coincides
supra,
p.

materially

1 V. supra, Part II, Ch. II, 2 V. supra, p. 70.

69 sqq.

177

178

HOW
first,

DIVIDED

with the

inasmuch as the negative qualities of God, as they do a fundamental contrast between expressing Him and His creatures, cannot be communicated to any

being outside of God; while in His affirmative perfec tions (both in the order of nature and of grace), crea
tures

may

be allowed to share.

Since, however,
fast line

it

is

between comand incommunicability, than between affir municability mation and negation (even certain negative attributes, as, e. g., unchangeableness, are communicable, in a degree, by grace; the only really and absolutely in communicable attribute is aseity), we do not consider

more

difficult to

draw a hard and

advisable to classify the divine attributes according to this principle of division.
it

that into quiescent (attributa quicsccntia, avtytpw*) and operative at tributes (attributa operated, &*win*a>), accord

A

favorite division

is

ing as

we

conceive

God

in

His being or

in

His

operation (nature).

however, we
sence
being.
is
4

In making this distinction, must never forget that God s Es

pure actuality and His actuality is pure As this classification brings out the
to,
it

two aspects of aseity already referred the static and the dynamic, we consider
adapted than any
study of the divine attributes.

viz.:

better

other to facilitate a scientific

We

therefore

divide the divine attributes into attributes of be

ing and attributes of operation. All being may be reduced partly to the
4 V. supra, p. 170.

five

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
transcendental
categories,
viz.
:

179

ens,

unum,
relation,

verum, bonum, pulchrum;
dicables:
5

partly to the ten prequantity,

substance, quality,

place, time, posture, habiliment, action
sion.

and pas

Accordingly we shall divide the divine

attributes into transcendental,

and categorical or

predicamental.
6 Cfr.

any text-book on Ontology.

CHAPTER
GOD
S

I

TRANSCENDENTAL ATTRIBUTES OF BEING

SECTION

I

ABSOLUTE PERFECTION AND INFINITY
The term being (ens) includes in its signification both existence (existerc) and essence (essc, cssentia). have treated of the existence of God in the first part of this volume. Here we are considering the Divine

We

Ens

in

its

essence.

God

s

proper

essence

(esscntia

inctaphysica), as we have seen, consists in aseity (aurouTherefore there remain to be cn a) or self-existence.

considered only perfection and infinity, as special at
tributes flowing

from the divine

ens.

ARTICLE
GOD
i.

i

S

PERFECTION
"Perfect"

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS. etymologically means that which is
which nothing can be added an end accomplished). In

finished, to

=

(TC ACCW,

from

AOS

this sense perfec

tion connotes

fieri,

development.

More

specif

the accomplished end ically, perfection signifies as the possession and or state itself (reActor^),
180

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

181

enjoyment of goods obtained. It is in this nar rower sense that we apply the term to God. 1
But even within these circumscribed
limits

the con

In the first place cept of perfection admits of degrees. all being, considered as being, is necessarily perfect.

The degree
of
its

of

a

thing

s

being

is

also

the

measure

perfection, while, conversely, not-being furnishes In a higher sense, how the measure of imperfection. 2

sum total of all those ex which a being ought to have in considera tion of its nature and end. The absence of even one
ever, perfection denotes the

cellences

of these (essential or integral) excellences constitutes a privation (privatio, o-rep^o-t?), a concept which coincides with that of evil (e. g., blindness, eternal damnation).

In

its

session
lences,

highest sense, lastly, perfection means the pos and fruition of all the aforementioned excel

not only in a large,

but in an extraordinary

measure.
for

eternal bliss means, man, the state of highest consummation or achieve ment, and Mary, the Mother of God, is the beau ideal of a human being, surpassed only by Christ Himself
(in
It

Thus supernatural or

His human nature).

goes without saying that between divine and crea even taking the latter in its highest ted perfection sense there yawns a chasm as immense as that which
For, while separates the ens a se from the ens ab alio. the creature acquires all its perfections through cre ation and development, God possesses His own of, from,

and through Himself.
originally
1 Cfr.
I, 28.

He
Gent.,
ia,

is

avrorcA^?,

essentially

and

perfect.
Thorn.,

Again,

while creaturely perfection
qu. 5, art. i:

S.

Contra
5".

fectum
S.

"In tantum est perunumquodque, inquantum

2 Cfr.

Thorn.,

Theol.,

est

actu."

1

82
limited
to

PERFECTION
certain

is

the other hand

well-defined categories, God, on as iravTeXfa, all-perfect unites within

Himself every existing and every conceivable perfection. Finally, while the measure and end of creaturely per fection is outside of and above the creature, God car ries the measure and end of His perfections within His own Essence, as a centre from which He communicates excellencies to His creatures in other words, He is
;

^, more-than-perfect.
2.

THE DOGMATIC
article of faith.

PROOF.

inally perfect, all-perfect,
is
I

That God is orig and more-than-perfect,
.

an

"Deum

.

.

intcllectu ac
Infinite
3

oluntatc omniqnc pcrfectione infinitum

in intelligence, in will,

and

in all

perfection."

find all three of the characteristic modes a) of perfection attributed to the Deity in Sacred

We

original or archetypal perfection, follows not only from the name H-

Scripture.

That God

is

Himself has revealed as signifying His essence, but is expressly taught in the Gospel of "Eacotfe ow St. Matthew: v/w rc Actot, wo-Trcp 6 Trarr/p
4
"

which

He

Be ye therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect," which the Fourth Lateran Council interprets as fol
lows
:

Ifiwv 6 ovpdvios TC ACIO S tvriv

"Estate

pcrfecti pcrfectione gratiae, sicut
est

Pater vestcr
5

coelestis perfcctus

perfectione

naturae."
3

Note also those passages of Holy
5
namus."

Cone. Vatic., Sess. Ill, De Fide, CQ P- * * Cfr. our remarks on His aseity, supra.

Cone. Lateran. IV, cap. Dam(Denzinger-Bannwart, En"

chiridion, n. 432.)

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

183

Writ which emphasize the divine self-sufficiency, as, e. g., Rom. XI, 35: "Quis prior dedit illi et
retribuetur ei?

Who
is

hath

first

given to him,
6
him?"

and recompense
all-perfect,

shall be

made

God

the exemplar
their
"To

Being and the cause

of

all

created perfections, which

He

within
clesus.

Himself

in

highest
iffTiv

purity.

comprises Ec-

XLIII, 29: of our words is:
"On

irav

OUTOS

The sum

He

is

all/
et?

e

avTOV

KCLL

8t

avrov KOL

avrov ra Trdvra

Rom. XI, 36: For

and by him, and in him, are all things/ Out of His inexhaustible fund of being, there fore, God draws the concepts of created things and bestows upon them all the perfections of
of him,

9: "Qui plant avit ant qui finxit ocidiun non audiet, consideratf He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? or he that formed the eye, doth he not consider?" 7 The superabundance of di
being.

their

Ps.

XCIII,

aurem non

vine perfection, finally, so glowingly described in Ecclesus. XLIII, 29 sqq., is apt to inspire rational creatures with fear: "Terribilis Do-

minus

et

magnus vehement er
is

et mirabilis potentia

ipsius--The Lord is great, and his power

and exceeding Here no univocal comparison between the Creator and the creature is possible, because we have no
terrible,
admirable."
e Cfr.
Is. Is.

XL,

13;
9.

Ps.

XV,

2; Acts

XVII,

25.

7Cfr.

LXVI,

!84

PERFECTION
standard by which to measure their

common

All Cfr. Is. XL, 17: respective perfections. nations are before him as if they had no being and are counted to him as nothing and at
all,
vanity."

b)

The Fathers

resolved

divine

perfection

it con into its various momenta, and found that most highly tains all creatural perfections in their

sublimated form.
Hence
"

the golden rule formulated

by

St.

Ambrose:

8

intelligas

sentiri potcst, qitidquid praestanQitidquid religiosius ad potestatem, hoc tius ad dccorcm, quidquid sublimius St. Bernard has the follow Deo conrenire."
9 Non quod lomje ab unoquoing beautiful passage: omnium est, sine quo omnia nihil. que sit, qid esse Sane esse omnium di.rerim, non quia ilia sunt quod i//*,
"

sed quia ex ipso

el

per ipsum
for

et in

ipso sunt
s

omnia."

The
partly

philosophical proof on aseity as the taproot of

God

and

partly on the arguments Among these the profound argumentum

perfection rest divine perfections, for God s existence.
all

fectionum,
10

unfortunately

too

much
"

ex gradibus perneglected now-a-

St. shows God to be the ens perfectissimum. days, n Deus est ipsum esse Thomas proves this as follows
:

quo oportet quod per sc subsistens, Secundum in se continent. essendi
.
.

ex

.

totam perfectionem hoc enim ah-

modo esse habent, qua perfecta sunt, quod aliquo nullius rci pcrfcctio Deo dcsit." quod
sequitur
s

unde

n

P,^

T

16
4.

Ifer^ln
10 S.
"Quarta

(?.

1X S. Theol., la, qu. 3, art. 2. D, S. Schiffini S. J

,

Theol.,
via;"

la,

qu.

3,

art.

3=

Contra Gent.

II, 15.

Melafhys. Spec., Vol. sect, i, August. Taur.

I

disp.

1888.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
3.

185

How THE

TAINED IN GOD.
be
all-perfect

CREATED PERFECTIONS ARE CON All creaturely perfections must
in

somehow contained

God, because

He

is

the

and more-than-perfect Being.

But

how
It
is

are they contained in the Divine Essence? quite plain that finite perfections cannot

be attributed to

God

until they

have been put

through a refining process.
Since the time of St. Anselm, 13 theologians have been wont to distinguish two classes of divine perfections
viz.:

pure or simple, and mixed perfections (perfectiones
perfectiones mi.vtae
in their
s. secundum quid). The form and concept exclude all imperfec
" "

simplices

former

tion, so that

they contain nothing but pure perfection e. g., spirituality, wisdom) while the latter are per (as fections with an admixture of imperfection (as, e. g.,
;
"

St. Anselm matter, the faculty of drawing conclusions). melius ipsum appropriately defines a pure perfection as

quam non ipsum," a mixed perfection as melius non ipsum quam ipsum." Thus, measured by the absolute standard, spirit is better than non-spirit or body while,
"

;

"

conversely, corporeity
to, spirituality.

is

not-better

"

than,

i.

e.,

inferior

a) These considerations furnish the key to the question how both kinds of perfection are contained in the Divine Essence. The pure
perfections,
intensified to
in

inasmuch as they can be notionally an infinite degree, are contained God formally; the mixed perfections, on the
13 Cfr.

MonoL,

c.

14;

Proslog.,

c.

5.

13

186

PERFECTION

other hand, are in
14

Him

virtually

and eminently

only.
It is easy to see the reason for this. For, as the formal attribution of the pure perfections is founded in the circumstance that they signify nothing but perfec

tion,

so the concept of a
it

mixed perfection postulates

that

put through a process of logical re finement (which takes place by means of negation) be E. g., if there were fore it can be applied to God. a thing as infinite contrition, we should not be such
be
first
it

justified in predicating

formaliter of God, because the
sin,

very concept of contrition implies
perfection.

which

is

an im

b)

may

thing be virtually and eminently contained in an
It

remains to be determined

how one

other.

God
lently

contains

all

(virtus = valor), inasmuch as He

mixed perfections

virtually or equivais their ideal or

exemplar (causa cxemplaris).

mixed perfections
ing
to
its

after the

But He also contains the manner of a cause contain
creates them, or
is

effects,

inasmuch as

He
is

able
ac-

create them, out of nothing

tiva).

Thus material

light

(virtus contained in

= potcntia
God

virtually,

because

exemplary and its creative cause. Eminent containment involves three elements: first, the necessity of previous purification by means of negation second, elevation to a different and higher mode of being; and third, absolute identification of one perfec A mixed perfection cannot tion with all the others.
is

He

both

its

;

"

14 Hence the theological axiom: Perfectiones simplices sunt in Deo

formaliter,
virtualiter

mixlae
et

autem

tantum

eminenter."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
be formally predicated of God, unless
refined
it

187

has been properly

by negation (e. g., God is incorporeal). But even after it has been so purified, a form cannot exist
in

God

in its creatural

mode

(e.

g.,

but must be elevated to a higher

mode

as filling space) of existence (e. g.,
is

;

omnipresence). Since, however, this divine attribute not to be conceived as an accident, but as a substance,

it

must

in

the

last

analysis

be

identical

not only

with

God s essence, but with all His other perfections, the It is easy to see that pure as well as the mixed. there is an intrinsic connexion between the two modes of presence, the virtual and the eminent. They partly complement and partly condition each other. Eminent
presence is no doubt the more comprehensive of the two, wherefor some theologians 15 confine themselves to the thesis The mixed perfections are contained in God eminenter! It is in this sense that we must in
:

terpret the following curious proposition taught by dinal Nicholas of Cusa Deus est
"

:

complicatio

Car 0w-

nium"

(namely, non formaliter, sed eminenter).

The proposition that the mixed perfections God virtualiter et eminenter only, must not, however, be taken to mean that the pure perfections are not so contained in Him. In mat
c)

are in

pure perfections no less than the are virtually and eminently in Him, the mixed, only difference being that the former are form
ally attributable, while the latter are not.

ter of fact the

But even this is not true without some limitation. For inasmuch as the perfectio simplex, too, is invariably
15

Among them

Lessius and

Kleutgen.

588

PERFECTION
it

an abstractive and analogical conception derived from
created things,
is

congenitally affected by a creatural

mode involving imperfection. This can be removed only 18 On the other by way of negation or intensification. it would be a serious mistake were we to rely hand, for our knowledge of God solely upon an analysis
of the simple or pure perfections, neglecting the per The mixed perfections are equally fect tones mi.rtae. a true knowledge of God, first, because they helpful to are ektypa or likenesses, and secondly, because they are As ektypa or likenesses effects (effectus) of God. they suggest a corresponding archetype (causa cxcmplaris), while as effects they point to an efficient cause.
It
is

in intimate

connexion with these truths that the

Schoolmen

teach, that all creatures bear the

stamp of

likeness; though not, of course, in the same man ner or to the same extent. The irrational creatures are

God

s

it were God s footprints (vestigia), while dowed with reason are true images of Him. 17

as

those en

4.

A

PANTHEISTIC OBJECTION.

Against the

doctrine set forth above Pantheists object that "God plus the universe" must obviously be more

minus the universe." means that God and the uni verse are two separate and distinct beings (plura entia), Pantheism simply reverses itself. If, contrariwise, it means that from an addition of creaturely perfections and divine perfections
perfect than
"God

If this objection

and Janssens commentary, De Deo Una,
5".

16 V. supra, pp. 70. 17 Cfr. Theol., la, qu. 93;

"

torn.

I,

p.

250, Friburgi,

1900.

On

The Vestiges of God in Creation," M. Ronayne, S. J., God Knowable and Known, Chap. IV, and ed., New York 1902.
see

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
there results

189

a higher degree of being (plus and the entis), the Pantheists forget that God added together, because divine universe cannot be Being belongs to an altogether different order
It
is

than creatural being.

only homogeneous

that admit of things, objects of the same kind, addition. Now, the concept of being applies to

proper sense, to creatures only analo Therefore, "God plus the universe" is gously. a sum that can not be added. Besides, all crea

God

in its

tural perfections, both pure and mixed, are in matter of fact already present in God, either for-

maliter or virtualiter et eminenter, in a plenitude which is infinite, and with a reality concentrated
in the highest degree.

Were we

to attempt,

e. g.,

to blend the corporeal perfections of the material world with the immanent perfections of God, in

order to obtain a third being superior to God Himself, the attempt would not result in a higher

form of perfection, just as
try to
it,
"improve"

little

as

if

we

should

human

by some intrinsic wrongly called animal
case

reason by amalgamating process, with what is
intelligence.

In

either

we should simply deteriorate the grade of As little as "Dante plus the Divina perfection. Commedia," or "Michelangelo plus The Last
Judgment,"

constitute a higher perfection than a work of either Dante or Michelangelo alone
art obviously derives all
its

merits from the artist

190

INFINITY
little,

and even less, can "God plus the be said to constitute a higher degree of being than God alone minus the world of
just so
universe"

creatures.

18

in

READINGS: *Scheeben, Dogmatik, Vol. I, Wilhelm-Scannell s Manual, pp. 177-179).
I,

71

(summarized

Heinrich,

DogI,

mat. Theologic, Vol.
sqq.
28,
S. Thorn., S.

163.

*Kleutgen,

De

Ipso Deo, pp. 163

Theoi,

la, qu. 4.

IDEM, Contra Gentiles,
"

Of God and His Creatures, pp. 22 sq.). PeW. Humphrey, His Divine Majesty," pp. tavius, De Deo, VI, 7. F. Aveling, The God of Philosophy, pp. 74 sqq., London 1897. 101 sqq., London 1906.
29 (Rickaby,

ARTICLE
GOD
i.

2

S

INFINITY
"Finite"

THE NOTION
which has

call that
"infinite"

OF INFINITY. limits or an end

we
;

(finis,

p*)
is

(infinitum, limited or endless.
a)

*pov)

j

s

that which

un

being can be infinite in one of two ways either potentially (infinitum potentiate) or actually (infinitum
;

A

The latter is called infinitum catcgorematicum, actuate). the former, infinitum syncatcgorcmaticum. of
Infinity

the last-mentioned kind

is

merely the susceptibility of be

ing multiplied

What
in

is

indefinitely (indefinitum). indefinite, is not therefore infinite, but merely,

or

increased

the phrase of the Schoolmen, "sine fine finitum" That which is actually infinite (infinitum catcgoremati on the other hand, is absolutely limitless; it is
,

18 Cfr. Suarez, Metaphys. Disput., 28, sect. 3; J. Uhlmann, Die Per-

sbnlichkeit Gottes

und

ihre

modernen

Gegner, pp. 56 sqq., Freiburg 1906.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
really infinite in the

191

proper sense of the term.
19

Leaving

we must say that, al aside the vagaries of Hegel, the actually infinite (infinitum categorematicum) though
the only real infinite, the potentially infinite (infinitum syncategorematicum s. indefinitum) is not a mere figment, but a real, objective concept. Aristotle and the School
is

men

attributed a true (though potential) infinity to pri mordial matter (materia, prima, vXrj Trpom;), because its 20 Similarly they conceived determinability is unlimited. the created intellect as potentially infinite, because of
its
21 At the same unlimited capacity for knowledge. held that no created intellect can time, however, they

actually know things that the

all

things knowable.

And
it

even the few

knows not like and in itself, but either by means of infused God, of forms (as the angels), or (as man) by a process of abstraction from material things.

human mind

does know,

b)

We

must furthermore draw a sharp

line

between quantitative infinity (infinitum quantitate) and infinity of being (infinitum perfectione
s.

essentid).

Quantitative
infinity of

infinity

belongs

to

mathematics;
theology.

being or perfection, to

The mathematician reckons with
and
"

"infinitely

large"

infinitely

small

"

quantities,

losophy

to

determine

whether

phi leaving these magnitudes are

it

to

22 actually infinite or only potentially so.
19 Cfr. Ensyklopadie , pp.

Even
in

if

the

90 sqq.
potentid

Unendlichen,"

the

Katholik,

20
21

"

Materia

prima
fit

est

omnia."
"

Intellectus
"

quodammodo

unendHch Kleine," in the Philosoph. Jahrbuck der Gorresgesellschaft, 1888,
Mainz,
1880;

Idem,

"Das

omnia."

1893*

22 Cfr. Pohle,

Das Problem des

IQ2
quantities with
infinite,

INFINITY
which mathematics deals were actually
they would yet retain their character of ac and could not, therefore, form a connecting

cidents,

link with

God,

Who

is

infinitely perfect.

of the

finite

we should have

at

In the domain most an actu infinitum
simpliciter.

always denotes being and substance, and therefore must be objectively identical with the absolutely perfect, though formally there may be drawn between them a three
infinity of

secundum quid, never an actu infinitum The term infinite in the strict sense

fold distinction:

first,

affirmative, while infinity
finity in the

because absolute perfection is an is a negative attribute of God;
is

secondly, because absolute perfection

related

to

in

which the universal is lated to the particular, or the whole to any one of parts; and thirdly, because absolute perfection
in

same manner

re
its

empha

plenitude of being, while infinity rather accentuates the extrinsic magnitude of His being
s

sizes

God

intrinsic

and

attributes.

The Church has repeatedly defined infinity to be an attribute of God. The first definition of this dogma was uttered by the Second Council of Nicaea (A. D. 787 ); 23 the
2.

THE DOGMA.

last

24 by the Vatican Council.

a) In order to prove the dogma from Sacred Scrip ture, we will not repeat the texts already quoted in
establishing the attribute of divine perfection, 25 but confine ourselves to such passages as bear directly on the infinity of the Divine Substance. Ps. CXLIV, 3:
23 0e6s dvciriypa<t>os. 24 Omntque perfectione
"

infinitum.

25 Supra, pp.

182 sq.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"Magnus

193

Dominus

et

eius

non

est finis

Great

praised: and of his

laudabilis nimis et magnitudinis is the Lord, and greatly to be greatness there is no end." In

there can be no accidents in God (quan an accident), "magnitude" in the foregoing pas sage must refer to the Divine Substance. Nor can the infinity which the Psalmist ascribes to God s magni tude, be an infinitum potentiate, because potentiality in an ens a se would involve contradiction.
tity is

asmuch as

Manifestly
in

meaning of the passage is that God is actually finite. There are other texts which ascribe
to the one or other of

the

infinity

God

s

attributes.

For

instance,

Great power, and of his wisdom All such passages prove the infinity of the divine Essence, which is identical with each divine attribute. The infinity of the divine Es sence is furthermore taken for granted in all those

Ps. CXLVI, 5: "Magnus Dominus nosier et virtus eius, et sapientiae eius non est numerus
is
is

magna

our Lord, and great there is no number."

his

God as the absolute Be HVV) with His creatures, which are often described as mere shadows or zeroes Also when ( p ).
ing
(6

Scriptural texts which contrast

&v

,

ever the Bible distinguishes

God

in

an especial manner

by superlative predicates. 26
b)
It
is

from Tradition.
postulate

hardly necessary to develop the argument The Fathers of the Church invariably
s

God

infinity

comprehensibility.

whenever they discuss His in Gregory of Nyssa expressly excludes

from God potential infinity when he says: "He be comes neither larger nor smaller by addition or sub traction, because in the Infinite there can be no such
addition as takes place in creatures,
26Cfr.
Is.

when they grow

XL,

17;

Ecclus. XLIII, 32.

194
27
larger."

INFINITY
St.

Hilary gives a beautiful description of

God s infinity in his commentary on the I44th Psalm: Hacc Dei pritna et praecipua laudatio est, quod nihil in se mediocre, nihil circutnscriptum, nihil emcnsum et
"

maynitudinis suae habeat
ficcntia eius
28
ncscit."

et

laudis.

.

.

.

Finem magniinfinity directly

c)

Scholastic theology deduces

God
"

s

from the concept of His self-existence. It is in this sense that St. Bonaventure writes Ipsum esse purissitnum non occurrit nisi in plena fuga rov non esse." 29
:

St.
"

Thomas Aquinas argues trenchantly Secundum modum, quo res habet esse,
. .
.

in this

fashion

:

est

suus modus

Igitur si aliquid est, cui competit tola rirtus essendi, ei null a nobilitas deesse potest, quac alicui rei conreniat. Dens autem sicut habet esse totaliter, ita
in nobilitate.

ab co
teriori

totaliter absistit TO

non

80
esse."

method the
all
31

infinite perfection

By the a pos of the divine Es
God
as the

sence can be deduced from the concept of

cause of

being.
S.

READINGS:
I,

Thorn., S.

Thcol,

ra,

qu.

7.

Contra Gent.,

43

(Rickaby,

Of God and His
II,
i.

Suarcz,

DC

Deo,
t.

Creatures, pp. 30 sqq.). Aguirrc, Thcol. S. Anselm., disp. 32.
pp. 130 sqq.,

*Gutberlet,

Das Unendliche,
I,

Mainz
1902.

1878.

Lepicier,
S.
J.,

De Deo

Uno,

pp. 263 sqq., Parisiis

Boedder,

Natural Theology, pp. 100 sqq. Wilhelm-Scannell, Manual of Catholic Theology, Vol. I, pp. 185.
27 Contr.

Eunom.

t

1.

12.

Toletus,
66.

Comment,

in S. Th., I, qu.

28 Tract, in Ps.

144,

n.

For
cfr.

7.

other

Patristic

testimonies,
S.

31 Cfr.
2.

Aguirre,
32. 2
I tin.

Theol.

Anselmi,
5.

disp.

The

5. Theol., la, qu. 4, art. philosophical arguments are

Mentis, SO Contr. Gent.,

c.

developed systematically by GutterDas Unendliche, Mainz 1878let,
Cfr. also

I,

28.

SECTION
GOD
S

2

UNITY,

SIMPLICITY,

AND UNICITY

(OR

UNIQUENESS)
essence of oneness (unum, this that it is intrinsically undivided.
Scholastic definition of

The

/)

lies

in

Hence
quod

the
est

unum

as

"id

indivisum in

se."

A

being which

is

not merely

undivided, indivisible, possesses simplicity (unit as indivisibilitatis s. simplicitas) Unicity
.

but

(or uniqueness) differs from both unity and simplicity in that it superadds to the concept one

(unum) the further note

of

"exclusion

of

all

other beings from the possession of some at tribute or quality." Hence uniqueness is no

more a transcendental
mathematical unity,

attribute of being, than which is the principle of

numbers or quantity.

As a pure perfection, metaphysical or trans cendental unity, raised to infinite power, must be predicable of God both as indivisio and indithe uniqueness of God is plainly a postulate of reason. While created units exist as individuals, the uncreated
divisibilitas.

Thus understood,

Being must of necessity be sole and unique.

196

INTRINSIC UNITY

the concept of unum there are deducible three additional attributes of God, viz.:

Hence from

His

intrinsic unity (unitas
;

(simplicitas)

Dei)} His simplicity His uniqueness (unicitas). and

ARTICLE
GOD
i.

i

S

INTRINSIC UNITY

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.

The concept

of metaphysical (transcendental) unity adds the note of indivision to the general notion of being. Whatever is undivided in itself is one. Con
sequently, the essence of unity consists in the Nevertheless, unity is a negation of division. ens re positive predicate of being; first, because fundamental concept; and secondly, mains the

because to deny that there is division is at bot tom only a negation of a negation, and therefore

an affirmation or

position.

a) There is a distinction to be made between things Some are incapable of being divided that are undivided. while others are (indivisible), and therefore simple, composite. Hence, besides unitas indivisionis, we must
distinguish
divisibility

two other kinds of unity, viz.: unity of in (simplicity) and unity of composition (unitas
.

The latter may be unitas per se (c. compositionis) a man) or unitas per accidens (e. g., a house). g., It follows that unity must be co-extensive with being:
"Ens

et

unum

convertuntur"

For

every
it

being

is

either simple or composite.

If simple,

is

indivisible

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

197

and therefore surely indivisum in se; if composite, it has no being so long as its parts are not united into
one, receiving
its

indivision,

i.

e. t

its

unity, at the

mo

ment when composition sets in. 1 b) Over against this metaphysical unity we have to distinguish sharply between two cognate concepts that do not represent transcendental determinations of be Mathematical ing, viz.: mathematical unity and unicity.
(one), as the "principle of numbers," has its place in the category of (discreet) quantity, and there fore is not a general determination of being as such. the exclusion Unicity, on its part, connoting as it does
unity
"

of others from the possession of some perfection," also belongs to the class of determined beings, although, of
course,

of beings, both mathematical unity and unicity embody the notion of metaphysical or transcendental unity.
in

their

quality

opposite of one (unum) is many (multa). against simple unity as mere indivisio, we have multiplicity as division into parts, unities, or monads.
c)

The

Over

But the contrary of
multiplicity
is

indivisibility

or simplicity

is

not

God, though absolutely one, (multiplex) but composition (compositum). threefold in person
they are contrasted with unity in a

Inasmuch as both division and composition involve im
perfection
(ore/3?7<7is),

Mathe privative manner (as "seeing," and "blind"). matical unity is related to multiplicity as a part is re
is both the one whole, inasmuch as first in the series of numbers, and likewise one of that series; and this opposition must be conceived as a rela
"

"

lated

to

its

tive

one

"

(e. g.,

father

"

and

"

son

").

And

as, finally,

the notion of unicity (unicum) directly excludes every species of multiplicity within the same genus, the two
iCfr. S. Theol,
ia,

qu.

n,

art.

i.

198

INTRINSIC UNITY

concepts are related to each other as contradictories (as
"yes"

and

"no").

every species of multiplicity, as opposed to unity, must be rigorously excluded, so far as His divine nature, substance, or essence is concerned
;

From God

though

in respect of personality, there is a real Trinity.

The

Divine Essence more particularly excludes every kind of intrinsic division, every species of composition, all On the other hand, it nec multiplicity of like beings.
essarily includes intrinsic unity, absolute simplicity, shall devote separate chapters to the unicity.

We

and two

Here we have to consider an attribute which, it is hardly necessary to remark, is virtually implied in His sim
last-mentioned
attributes.

God

s

intrinsic unity,

plicity.

2.

THE DOGMA

OF GOD

S

INTRINSIC UNITY.

In view of the fact that the subjoined proposi
tions merely paraphrase

dogmatic definitions of the Church (aseity, simplicity, etc.) they must be received as substantially dc fide.
a) If

we

consider
it

God
is

s

unity
that

in

connection
is

with
sc.

His

self-existence,

plain

He

unus a

as the primarily One, 2 or, in the language of the Fathers, as unity itself unit as, ?/ /xoms, cms). Of course, this unity is not, like
(if>sa

Hence He must be conceived

abstract being, a vacuous unity devoid of content. It is rather the smallest kernel of being that can pos
"

sibly

be

conceived,
"

can be conceived
its
2

;

smaller than which nothing on the other hand, because of and,
it

and

plenitude of being

is

also

"

the largest being that
(Manual,
Vol.

We

adapt this

English

term

from

Wilhelm-Scannell

I, p.

203).

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

199

can possibly be conceived, and larger than which noth 3 The description which St. ing can be conceived."

Bernard gives of the divine primordial monas, may be gem of both theological and rhetorical Est qui est, non quae est. Purus, exposition: non habens quod ad simplex, integer, perfectus, nnmerum dividat, non quae colligat ad unum. Unum quippe est, sed non unitum: non partibus constat ut Tarn sim corpus, non affectibus distat ut anima. plex est Deus quam unus est. Est autem unus et quomodo aliud nihil, si did possit, unissimus est. Quid Unus est etiam sibi: idem est semper et uno plus? modo. Non sic unus est sol, non sic una luna: clamat
cited here as a
"

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

uterque

Hie

motibus,

ilia

et

defectibus

suis.

Deus

autem non modo unus sibi, et in se unus est; nihil in se nisi se habet: non ex temp ore altcrationem habet, non in
substantia
alteritatem.
.

.

.

Compara

huic
4
erit."

uni

omne

infinitely higher created entities, He may be said to be Super-Unity, with which created unities are absolutely incomparable. Concentrated in the very smallest focus,

quod unum dici potest, et unum non b) Inasmuch as God is one in an
all

sense than

as the minutest possible unity, the super-fulness of His infinitely great and various perfections coalesces into a

super-one monas, which in its simplicity is the most narrowly contracted and therefore the richest and also
the purest
St.
is

"

From this concept of super-unity, Thomas Aquinas 6 deduces the proposition that God not only unum, but maxime unum. That is maxime
being."

5

unum, he
3 J.
v.

says, which has the greatest fulness of be and the largest measure of undividedness. Now, ing
Gorres, Preface to Sepp s
7.

5 Gorres,

/.

c.

Leben Jesu, Ratisbon 1853.

6 S.

TheoL,

la,

qu.

u,

art. 4.

*De

Consid., V,

200

ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY
and as the ab most undivided maxime unum, i. e., one in a

God
in

as the actus punts is very being, solutely simple He is that being which is

hence He is and unique sense. 7 supreme
itself;

READINGS: Kleutgen, DC Jpso Deo, pp. 177 sqq. Scheeben, 82. Picus a Mirandola, De Ente ct Una. Dogmatik, Vol. I, Thomassin, DC Deo, II, i sq. Jos. Gorres in Sepp s Leben Jcsu, Vol. I (Preface, pp. 18 sqq.), 2nd ed., Ratisbon 1853. Boedder, Natural Theology, pp. 85 sqq. J. T. Driscoll, Chris tian Philosophy: God, pp. 209 sqq., 2nd ed., New York 1904.

ARTICLE
GOD
1

2

S

ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY

i.

STATE OF THE QUESTION.

In treating of

the relation of

we drew

a

Essence to His attributes, 8 virtual distinction between them,

God

s

basing it on the simplicity of the Divine Nature. This we shall now endeavor to explain more
exactly.

Since a contrary opposition

lies

not

between the simple and the multiplex, but be tween the simple and the composite, we can de 10 fine simplicity as "the absence of composition/
a)

Now, composition

is

metaphysical, according within itself parts that are really distinct, or parts that are merely notionally or metaphysi7 For Scriptural proofs, consult Gregor. de Valentia, Comment, in i

twofold, physical and as a being contains

of

the

Trinity

(De Deo

Ipso,

p.

P., qu.

ii,

art.

4.

Kleutgen shows

that the

God

is

unutterable super-unity of not affected by the dogma

185). 8 Supra, pp. 144 sqq. o V. supra, Art. i, No.

i.

10

"

Simplicitas est carentia

com-

positionis."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

201

cally distinct. Physically composite beings are those in which there is substantial composition

and form, body and soul), those which there is a composi tion of accidents (e. g., substance and accident). Metaphysical compounds are those whose parts (e genus and specific difference), though
(e.

g.,

of matter

and

also

in

-

g->

really identical, are nevertheless represented

by

objectively distinct concepts. Every compound consists of parts. "Part" signifies "an incom
plete being, requiring to be

complemented by an other." It follows from what we have so far explained, that the parts which enter into any compound mutually complement and perfect one
another, giving completeness to the compound and in their turn receiving completion from the

whole.
b) While this conclusion is evidently true of physical compounds, the complementary function of metaphys
ical

parts

is

not.

quite so clear, for the reason that in

God

virtually distinct perfections can easily be

mistaken

for metaphysical parts. Yet the dogma of the absolute of God forbids the assumption that there is simplicity
in

the

divine
it

though
parts.

Essence any sort of composition, even be a mere composition of logically distinct

The essential difference between metaphysical and virtual composition lies in this, that the latter is founded on a distinction purely subjective, while the former is based upon truly objective differences. The
metaphysical parts of any creature, even though
14
it

be

202

ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY
all

the most indivisible of

creatures, an angel, bear the

same objective

relation to each other

which potentiality

(potentia) bears to actuality (actus). Hence, where there is objective composition in a being, this is certain

proof that such being is contingent. Moreover, in the creature the determinable element (e. g., animal) ap pears to stand in need of being determined by another
while at the same time both these (c. g., rationale) elements are mutually indifferent to such a degree that either can be realized without the other (c. g., brute,
;

In God, on the other hand, there is neither angel). a determinable nor a determining element. He is pure
act,

and

His

perfections

are

anything

but

mutually

indifferent.

None of them can

exist apart

from the

others.

2.

THE DOGMA

ITY.

OF GOD S ABSOLUTE SIMPLIC The Fourth Lateran Council (A. D. 1215)

defined the Blessed Trinity as "One absolutely simple essence, substance, or nature una essentia,

The

absolutely simple and immutable spiritual substance sim plex omnino ct incommutabilis substantia spir
.
. .

substantiaf sen natnra simplex Vatican Council as "one

omnino."

n

itualist

12

a)

The

Bible

teaches

God

s

absolute

sim

plicity

(a simplicity which does not even admit

of metaphysical composition) in all those pas sages where it speaks of God s attributes substantively, that
11 Cone. Lateran.
miter."

is

to say,
"

where
12 Cone.

it

identifies
Sess.

them
Ill,

IV, cap.

Fir-

Vatican.,
I.

De

Fide, cap.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
really with the Divine Essence. 13 but only "hath life in himself"
14
self,"

203

Thus God not

He

"is

life it

and, therefore,
15

is

the only one

who hath

immortality. the treasures of self
"all

As God
is

possesses within
17

Him

wisdom and knowl
itself,
is

1G

edge/
fore,

so

He

wisdom
18

"alone

wise."

He

a

God

and, there of charity,

because
so far,

He

has charity; but

it is still
itself,"

more cor
19

rect to say that
"alone

He
is

"is

charity

and, in
is
"full

20
good."

Although

He

of

21
truth,"

He

more properly

"the

truth."

In a word, according to the teaching of Sacred Scripture, God is purest actuality without any
qualification.

His attributes are
This
is is

identical with

His substance.
saying that

God

merely another way of pure actuality without any

admixture of potentiality, and that there is in Him no sort of composition, not even of the kind
called metaphysical.
23

b)

We

proceed to formulate the argument

from Tradition.
a)

can easily be

That the simplicity of the Divine Essence is real, shown to have been the belief of the
21
i

13 John, V, 26. 14 John I, 4; XIV, 6;
2.

John

I,

14.

John

I,

22^

dXijtfeta.
6.

John XIV,
"

6;

i

John V,
15
i

Tim. VI,

16.

23 Cfr.

i

John

I,

5:
est,

Quoniam
et

16 Col. II, 3. 17 Prov. I, 20;
i

Deus lux

[== actus]

tene-

Wisdom VII,
7.

21;

brae
ullae

Cor.
18
10

I,

24.
8.

[= potentia] in eo non sunt God is light [actuality],
in

Rom. XVI,
i

and

Him

there

is

no darkness

John IV, 20 Math. XIX,

[potentiality]."

17;

Luke XVIII,

19.

204

ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY
all
it

Christian Church through
istence.

the centuries of her ex

Origen mentions
"

among

the earliest dogmas.

24

tion that

Irenaeus asserts against the Gnostic teaching of emana Dens simplex ct non compositus, lotus cwua
:

et totus vovs ct totus

Adyo."

Cyril of Alexandria says

this

28 by the whole human race. The opposing error is branded by the Fathers in terms so harsh that they must plainly have meant to strike

truth

is

testified

to

"

at
"

a

heresy:

absurdum

ct

ncfarium"
"

(Maximus),
"

summa

impictas"

(John of Damascus),

blasphcmia

(Athanasius).

dogma

as a

errors they

repeatedly employed this the Arians, who, whatever weapon against may have taught with regard to the relation

The Fathers

existing between

God

the Father and the Son, never de
27

nied the divine simplicity. of God as taught by the Fathers ft) The simplicity taken not only as a real, but also as a is to be

be necessary quality, because of the absolute identity

tween God s Essence and existence, His attributes and Not Essence, and between His separate attributes. and partially as not seeing, but only as seeing partially, in His whole substance He is all eye and all hearing

and
hoc
est,

all spirit

(oAos

vow),"

says St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
28a
:
"

28

Hence

the Augustinian

axiom

Dens quod
"

habct,

est,"

and

its

Patristic conversion
etc."

:

Creatura non

In the words of St. scd habct sapicntiam, Dei est ct sapit, nee Sapicntia Gregory the Great: habct aliud esse, aliud sapcre. Scrvi autcm sapientiae
"

[i.

e.,

homines],
Princ.,
I,
i,

quum habcnt
6.

zntam, aliud sunt ct aliud
Ian

26

Adv. Haer.,

II,

13.

ovaias Trarpos) esse dixistis: yap ten* oveta, iv $ OVK
TrouSrTjj."

26 Thesaur., 31. 27 Cfr. Athanasius,
"

Dixistis ex

torn

ex

De Synod. 34: esse filium, ergo substantia Patris (&c rip
Deo

28 Catech., VI.

28a

De

Civit. Dei,

XI,

10.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
hdbent,
2Q

205

quippe quibus non est hoc ipsum esse quod The technical phrase of the Schoolmen, which vivere." is so familiar to us, viz.: that God is pure act with
out any potentiality, dates back to the time of St. MaxiGod exists actually, mus the Confessor, who wrote
"

:

not potentially (ercpyeta eVnv, ov 8i>ra/m), as if He were originally not wisdom (d^/ooowr/) and then in reality became reason; therefore He is only pure reason (vovs
povov
Katfa/oo s),

additional, but
iavrov
30
voci)."

He

possessing cognition not as something 1 thinks only through Himself (Trap Petavius has collected a large number

of additional passages

from

Patristic literature bearing

on

this subject.

31

c)

proceed
plicity
(i.

The philosophical explanation of the dogma must on the assumption that God s perfect sim
does
not
"

consist

merely
"

in

His

indivisibility

for else the "monads" the absence of parts) atoms of of Leibnitz, the Realen of Herbart, the the chemists, and the points "of the mathematicians
e.,
" "

"

would eo ipso be endowed with supreme perfection
but primarily in
the

simultaneous plenitude of

God

s

From this point of positive perfections of being. the argument by which we prove God s simplicity
Thomas
:

view from
"

His aseity or self-existence is a most cogent one. St. 32 In luminously formulates it as follows omni composite oportet esse potentiam et actwn, quod in Deo non est, quia vel una partium est actus respectu
alterius, vel saltern

amnes paries sunt

sicut .in potentia
is
"

respectu

totius"

An

equally stringent argument
33

that

based upon the absolute causality of God:

Omne

compositum causam habet; quae enim secundum se diversa sunt, non conveniunt in aliquod umnn, nisi per
29 Gregor. M., Moral, II, 27. 30 Comment, in Dionys. De Div.

31 Petav.,
also

Now.,

c.

5.

Thomassin, 32 TheoL,
5".

De Deo, II, sq.; De Deo, IV, 4.
la,
/.

cfr.

qu. 3, art. 7,

83 S. Thorn.,

c.

206
aliquant

ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY
causam adunantcm
ipsa.

Dens autem non habct
34

causam,
3.

cum

sit

prima causa

efficient."

DOGMATIC CONCLUSIONS. In virtue of His simplicity (which we have proved) there must be excluded from God all manner of composi
tion,
ical.

and

all

parts, both physical

and metaphys

begin with the cruder forms of com position, gradually ascending to the higher ones.
Thesis I:

We

God
Matter

is

not composed

of

matter and

form (ex materia
Proof.
(8iW/ii)
Ac
;

et

forma).
(v*n
is
"7*^7)

is

mere

potentiality
(cWpycio,
eVre-

bllt

God

pure actuality

xeta),

without a trace of potentiality.

In the

words of St. Thomas: "Dens est actns pnrus, non Jiabcns aliqnid dc potentialitate. Unde impossibile est quod 35 teria et forma."
"Ipse

Dens

sit

conipositus ex
St.

ma

Therefore

Bernard says:

sibi

Non formatus mernm simplex est. Tarn simplex Dens, Dens, 36 Materialism alone believes qnam nnns est/ in a material God.
Thesis II:

est forma, ipse sibi essentia est. est compositns Dens, forma est.

Non

God
is

is

not composed of substance and

accidents (ex substantia et accidentibus).

Proof.

It

the function of an accident to

perfect the substance in
34 Other in
St.

which

it

inheres,
3,

by
2.

philosophical
s

arguments
c.

Anselm

Mono!.,
sect.
2.

16,

17.

35 S. Theol., la, qu. 36 De Consid., F, 7-

art.

Cfr. also Schiffini, Mctaph. Special.,

Vol. II, disp.

2,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
giving
it

207

something which it does not possess Substance and accident are conse of itself. related to each other in the same man quently
ner as the potential
is

related to

its

actuation.

As

6 fii/, incapable of being perfected. In other words, while the created substance pos

God

is

and supports its properties, which in turn are possessed and supported by their substance (ratio habentis et habiti), God is what He has. 37 Hence there can be no accidents in Him.
sesses

There is in God no composition of fac and act (ex facultate et actu). ulty If God were not immutable actuality Proof.
Thesis III
:

from

everlasting, there
still

would have taken

place,

or there would

be taking place within His

Essence a transition from potentiality to actuality (a potentia ad actum), and the resulting act would inhere in the Divine Substance after the manner of an accident. This is repugnant to

God

pure actuality and the absence of accidents in His Essence. Consequently, in the words of St. Thomas, "Deus est sua operatic et actio."
s

Thesis IV:

There

is

in

God no composition
willing

of

really distinct activities (ex actu et actu).

Proof.

If

knowing and

and transient
see Petavius,

operation in
St.

God were

really distinct activities,
tristic testimonies,

STCfr. August., De Trinit., V, I. Z&Contr. Gent., II, 10. For Pa-

De

Deo, V, 10-11.

208

ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY
none of which would be identical with
In other words, the

there would exist in the Divine Essence three
acts,

either of the others.

God

head would consist of a real trinity of acts, cul minating in some sort of "organic unity/ as Gimther taught. To hold this would be to

deny the identity of God s Essence with His attributes, and also His aseity, His absolute per It follows that the di fection, and His infinity. vine Nature must exercise its activity in one sim There can be no reasonable objection to ple act.
this thesis so far as
it

applies to

God

s

necessary

operation ad infra

only

when

it

is

It is (cognition, volition). to God s free operation applied

ad extra
difficulties

(e.

g.,

creation,

sanctification)

that the

arise.

Yet,

when we

consider

question carefully, we find that creation and sanc tification do not add to the perfection of God, but merely to that of the creature. It is not
the divine operation as such that undergoes an intrinsic change, but solely the product of this

Hence God s free operation ad extra operation. -furnishes no objective reason why His operation
and nature should be
39

split

up and His simplicity
30,
sect.

endangered.
39

For a more detailed treatment

disp.

9;
4.

cfr.

also

supra,

of this subject, see Suarez, Metaph.,

Chapter

II,

{

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Thesis V:

209
of

There

is in

God no composition

sub

ject and essence, or of nature and person (ex subjecto et essentia; ex natura et hypostasi).

Proof.
40

According
is

to the teaching of Aris

totle,

it

only in material things that indi
lies

vidual determination

outside of specific de

termination, so that the production of an indi vidual requires a principle of individuation the r materiel signata. O V\T) Of the "pure Trpwrrj
forms"

(angels) St.

Thomas

asserts

41

that their

specific coincides

with their individual determi

nation, so that every individual eo ipso consti tutes a separate species. Regardless of what one

think of this theory (which is not entirely unobjectionable from the view-point of philoso phy) it is certain that in God individuality

may

(in

the

sense

of

singularitas)

must coincide

To assume composition absolutely with essence. in the Deity, even if it were a merely metaphysical
composition of subject and essence, would be to attribute to the Divine Essence potentiality, and
consequently to deny
its aseity.

Therefore

Eu

gene

III, at

Gilbert

de
42

"Divinitate
Deus"

Rheims, in 1148, laid down against la Porree s heretical proposition, Deus est, sect divinitas non est
:

ratio

aliqua theologia inter naturam et personam divideret, neve Deus divina essentia diceretur,
"Ne

the dogmatic declaration

in

40
*i

De Anima,
5".

III,
la,

4. 3.

42 See
Cant.,
80,

St.

Bernard,
6.

Serni.

in

Theol.,

qu. 4, art.

n.

210

ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY

ex sensu ablativi tantiun, sed etiam nominativi." Whence it is plain that the Divine Essence ab
solutely excludes a composition of naiure

and

hypostasis.

We

not only
est

"Pater

cst

are therefore bound to profess, Dcus," but likewise, "Pater

and conversely. 43 But how does the mystery of the Blessed Trinity affect the absolute simplicity of the Di vine Essence? Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, distinct as Persons, do not subsist though really
divinitas"

(Tritheism), but in one and the same divine nature. "Quaclibet
in

three different natures

triiim

personarum
essentia

est
s.

ilia

[sununa]

res,
44

vid.

substantiat

natitra

dirina."

We

conceive this threefold subsistence of the one

by drawing a virtual distinction between nature and person, a distinction which
"sHtnwa
res"

does not imply objective composition.

"In the theological axiom: divinis ubi non obviat relationis oppositio." umun,

Hence omnia sunt
46

45

Thesis VI:

There

is

in

God no composition

of

genus and
tia).

specific difference (ex genere et differen-

Proof.

A

genus
IV

(e. g.,

animal)

is

something

abstract, capable of being determined, and there43 Cfr.
"

Cone.

Later an.

,

cap.

Damnamus."

44 Cone. Lateran. IV, I. c. 45 V. supra, pp. 156 sqq. 46 Decretum Eugenii IV pro

For a fuller explanation we bitis. must refer the reader to the dogmatic treatise on the Blessed Trinity.

Jaco<

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

211

The specific difference (e. g., ra fore potential. tionale} lies outside the genus and determines
it

more

nearly,

though
in

it

notionis.

Now,

God

does not posit it ex vi there can be neither a

determination nor a determinans, because He is actus punts; and therefore each separate divine perfection logically postulates every other divine

His perfections are iden tical among themselves and with His essence and existence. "Ex genere enini habetur quid est res, non autem rem esse; nam per differentias speciperfection, because all
ficas constituitur res in

proprio esse.

Sed

hoc,

quod Dens est, est ipsiun esse. Iinpossibile est 47 As a thing is defined ergo, quod sit genus." by giving the class (or proximate genus) to which it belongs, and the characteristic (or
specific) quality

other
that,

members
strictly

of the

which differentiates it from the same genus, 48 it is evident

speaking,

God cannot be

defined.
se,"

proposition "Deus est ens a while absolutely correct so far as it goes, is no true definition, but merely an analogous substi
the
tute

Hence

for a definition.

The

undefinable Divine

Being has its place above and beyond all genera and categories, because it cannot be univocally subsumed under any common genus with created
beings.
47 Cfr.
c.

S.

Thorn.,

Comp. Theol,

48 Cfr. Clarke, Logic, p. 205.

13.

212

UNICITY
:

Thesis VII

There

is

in

God no composition

of

essence and existence (ex essentia et existentia).

Proof.

The Divine Essence, which

exists

with metaphysical necessity, cannot be conceived
as non-existing. The notion of a merely pos sible God, or of a God real indeed but objec

composed of essence and existence, involves a contradiction. 49 For the same reason the Godhead does not even admit of a virtual distinc tion between essence and existence. The dis tinction between them is purely logical (distively
tinctio rationis ratiocinantis

sou sine fundmncnto

in re).
I, 72 (summarized Manual, Vol. I, pp. 182 sqq.). Hurter, Compendium Thcol. Dogmat., t. II, thcs. 82. Franzelin, De Deo Uno, thes. 26 sq. Petavius, De Deo, II, 1-7. *St. Thorn., Contra Gent., I, 16-27 (Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures,

READINGS:

Schecbcn, Dogmatik, Vol.

in Wilhelm-Scannell s

pp.

14 sqq.).

Lepicier,

1902.

Boedcler,
p.

De Deo Uno, t. I, pp. 149 sqq., Parisiis Natural Theology, pp. 92 sqq. See also the

Readings on

158.

ARTICLE
GOD
S

3

UNICITY, OR

MONOTHEISM AND ITS ANTITHESES! POLYTHEISM AND DUALISM

i.

MONOTHEISM AS A DOGMA.
all
la,

does at the head of
49 Cfr. qu.
3,

Standing as it our creeds, 50 the besua essentia.
esse

S.

art.

4.

Thorn., S. Sicut
"

Theol.,
illud
ignis,

est

Si igitur non
erit

sit

quod
est

suum

[=

existere],

ens

habet

ignem

et

non

est

ignitum

ita per participationem, illud quod habet esse et non est esse, est ens per participationem et

per participationem et non per essentiam. Non erit ergo primum
ens."

50 Cfr. Nicacn.:

"Credo

in

unum
"

non

per

essentiam.

Deus

autem

Deum

iriffTtvu els

cva Qc6v

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
lief in

213

God s unicity (novaPX ia) forms one of the fundamental verities of the Christian faith. In matter of fact Monotheism is the only possible form of Theism. While the Fourth Council of
the Lateran professes, in accord with all Chris 51 the tendom, "that there is but one true God/

formally condemns Atheism, and Dualism, when it defines, Polytheism,

Vatican

Council

"Si

quis unum verum Deum, visibilium et invisibilium creator em et Dominum negaverit, anathema sit If any one shall deny the one true God, Creator

and Lord of things visible and invisible; let him be anathema/ 52 * We are bound to believe not
only that there is but one God, but also that there can be no more than one God.
a) Monotheism was the principal, nay, strict ly speaking, the only express dogma of the Jewish people under the Old Law, and it had
the

same fundamental importance
connected

for

them that

the baptismal

Organically

formula has for us Christians. with this fundamental
the love of God.
their

dogma was the basic law of The Israelites were to build

world-view theoretically on belief in, and practically on the love of, the one God. Both precepts appear to
dogmatically
Israel,
Lateran.
est

be

defined

in

the

famous

$&&:

"Audi
61 Cone.

Dominus Deus
IV
Deus."

noster
Vatican.,
7.

Dominus
Sess.

(A. D.
"Quod

52 Cone.

HI, De

1215),

cap.

"Firmiter":

Fide, can.

unus solus

verus

2i 4

MONOTHEISM
est; diligcs
53
tuo."

unus
corde

Dominum Deum tuum ex
these

toto

The connection between
is

two

commandments
is

a causal one:

"Because

God

one, therefore shalt thou love

Him

heart/

Monotheism runs
all

like

thy a golden strand

with

all

through

the pages of the

Old Testament and

constitutes

much
is

its specific mark of distinction, so so that the Rationalist hypothesis that nj?! the national God of the Jews, might appear de

batable, did not

Holy Scripture
s

the fact that

God

emphasize numerical unity must be con

itself

ceived as absolute unicity (/^wwck), subject to no limitations, either national or theocratic. Is.

primus ct ego novissimus et I am the [proptcrea} absque me non cst Dens first and I am the last, and [therefore] there is no God besides me." 54

XLIV,

6:

"Ego

fundamental dogma of Chris tianity in the New Testament is the Trinity, while the basic law of love endures in a higher and transfigured form. But so far from being obscured or impaired by the dogma of the Trinity, Monotheism is confirmed and deep ened thereby. The Athanasian Creed insists
distinctive

The

that the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity is possible except on a Monotheistic basis.

im

The

Mosaic yv&
63Deut. VI,
64
Is.
4.

is

not abrogated by Christianity;
J.

Konig, Theologie der Psalmen, pp. 280 sqq.,
6.

XLIV,

Cfr.

Freiburg 1857; Zschokke, Theologie der Prophelen, \ 36, Freiburg 1877.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
on the contrary,
it

215

has become the foundation stone of the Christian dispensation. Mark XII, "lesus autem ei 29: respondit [scribae], quia

primum omnium mandatum (-n-p^rrj Trdvrw ivroX^ est: Audi Israel, Dominus Deus tuus Dens
unus
est.

Diliges

etc.
:

And

Jesus

answered

him [one of the scribes] The first command ment of all is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God," etc. The real distinction between
the three divine Persons does not destroy but of divine Nature. postulates unity Cfr. John

XVII,
aXijOivov

3:

"Hacc

cognoscant
eoV)
is

te

autem vita acterna, ut solum verum Deurn (^ rov /*oW ct quern misisti lesum Christum
est
:

eternal life that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

Now this

Among
the

the Apostles St. Paul is pre-eminently The protagonist of strict Monotheism.

Lystrians in Lycaonia,
bulls to

who

offered to sacrifice

him and

to his

companion Barnabas, he

instructs impressively concerning the one true God. 55 In Athens he preaches the "one un

known

He

before the assembled Areopagus. 56 proclaims Monotheism as a universal re
God"

ligion

which transcends

all
"Is

national and local

bounds.

Rom.
Is

Ill,

Jews only?
56 Acts

he

23 not
:

he the
of
XVII,

God
23.

of the

also
so Acts

the

Gentiles

XIV,

14.

2i6
?

MONOTHEISM
Yes, of the Gentiles
also."

He

for

bids, finally, the eating of sacrificed to idols, saying:

nothing in 57 no God but one."
idol is

meat that had been "We know that an the world, and that there is

Tra b) In constructing the argument from dition, we note in the first place the apodictic
form
the

which the Fathers teach Monotheism. Following the lead of Scripture, they deduce
in

intrinsic

contradiction

involved

in

Poly

theism, and the absolute necessity of there be ing but one God, from various middle terms,
especially that of aseity,
finite perfection.

and also that of

in

Thus
aliquid,

St.

Irenaeus

68

argues:
est

"Si

extra

ilium

est

iam non omnium

-rrXrjpMfia

neque continet

omnia; decrit cnim wAi/pw/um hoc, quod extra eum [esse] But if there is anything beyond Him, He is diccnt not then the Pleroma of all, nor does He contain all. For that which they declare to be beyond Him will be
appeals to the wanting to the Pleroma." Tertullian anima naturalitcr soul which is by nature Christian the truth of Monotheism, and Christiana"), to witness he proves its intrinsic necessity from God s absolute
("

69

perfection:

"Duo

ergo

summa magna quomodo

con

par non haberef sistent, can two great Supremes co-exist, How, therefore, when this is the attribute of the Supreme Being, to have

cum hoc

sit

summum magnum

no
67
i

00
equal?"

Justly, therefore,
/XT;

do the Fathers, having
I, 3-

Rat cm

ouSets 0e6j fl
4.

els.

Cor. VIII,
08

59 Contr. Marcion., 60 Tertull., /. c.

Adv. Haer.,

II, 2.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
in

217
TU>

mind

St.
.

Paul
.
.

s

dictum
is

"

:

Kcu
in

aflcoi

eV

You

were

without

God
at

this

61
world,"

con
62

"

clude that

Polytheism
est

bottom sheer
"

Atheism."

And
unus

Tertullian
est,

summarily

declares

:

Deus,
is

si
c3

non

non

God

is

not

if

He

not

one."

In regard to the teaching of the Scholastics, it will suffice to note that St. Thomas Aquinas in his philosoph
ical

Summa 64

marshals no

less

than seventeen arguments

to prove the necessity of

Monotheism.

The

three chief

among them, viz.: those based on the simplicity and perfection of God, and on the harmony existing in the created universe, he repeats in his Summa The ological Another author worth reading on the subject
ones
is

St.

Anselm. 66

OF POLYTHEISM. By Poly theism we understand the belief in two or more Its wellspring is partly the weakness of gods. the human intellect since the Fall, partly and prin
2.

THE HERESY

cipally the sinful bias of the

human

will.

Some
finite

forms of Polytheism reduce the Absolute to the
level of the finite,

while others raise the

to the

rank of the divine. All of them flagrantly contradict both reason and Revelation.
a) If it be permissible to draw a distinction between and the applied concept of God, we may the pure that the fundamental error of Polytheism consists say
"
"

"

"

61 Eph. II, 12. 62 Cfr. Athanasius
"

De Deo Uno,
(C.

I,

3-4;
I,

Thomassin,
(Rickaby, pp. 29
art.
3.

Gent., 40,

De Deo,

II,

1-6.

24)

:

Trjv TroXufleoTijra dtfeoTTjra

64 Contr.

Gent.,

42

\eyoncv
.

.

/cat

iroXvapxia

Of God and His Creatures,
Theol., la, qu. 66 Monol., c. 4.
655".

For
Patristic

further

literature,

quotations from see Petavius,

n,

15

2i8
in applying the
i.

POLYTHEISM
to

concept of God to improper subjects, beings which are not and cannot be divine. Cfr. Wisdom XIV, 21: Incommunicabilc nomen [i.
e. }
"
"

gave the

Men lapidibus et lignis imposucrunt incommunicable name to stones and wood." It would be an exaggeration to say that Polytheism is identical with Atheism for the atheist denies that there
-,

7. !]

1

.

.

.

;

a God, while the polytheist merely transfers the con But Polytheism involves cept of Deity to some creature. an intrinsic contradiction and, pushed to its logical con
is

clusions, necessarily leads to Atheism. Polytheism is a specific characteristic of Paganism, and hence the direct

antithesis of all non-pagan,
religion (Christianity, the

i.

c.,

monotheistic, forms of
religion,

Jewish

Mohammedan

ism).
b) The rapid spread of Polytheism, especially during the period stretching from Abraham to Christ, calls for an explanation. Since reason is able to produce the
strongest arguments against the intrinsic possibility of Polytheism, the enormous propagation of this error can

not be

sufficiently

explained

by attributing
after the

it

to

the

weakness of the human
enslavement of the

intellect

Fall,

or to

forgetfulness, or to a disinclination to reasoning, or to an intellect by the material things of this world. Its chief source is doubtless the false bias

which bends the

will

of

man towards

sin.

Without the

co-operation of sin it is hard to imagine how so many nations could have fallen into gross idolatry. St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Romans, 67 gives a graphic
description of the powerful influence of sin, and the

Book

of

Wisdom
in the

explains

8

how

idolatry,

once
to

it

finds lodg

ment

human mind, can grow
eswisd.

enormous pro

portions and eventually plunge the race into dire mis
er

Rom.

I,

18-32.

xm-xv.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
fortune and misery. tura omnis mali causa
"

219

Infan dorum enim idolorum culest,

et initium et finis
is

worship of abominable idols 69 ginning and end of all evil."
St.

the cause,

For the and the be

traces Polytheism and idolatry principal causes: first, sinful aberrations of the mind, such as image worship, the idolizing of crea tures, etc.; and, secondly, the influence of evil spirits

Thomas Aquinas

70

to

two

This last-mentioned agency (e. g., in the pagan oracles). must not be underestimated, because the Devil and his

imps doubtless do everything in their power to spread idolatry and to fasten it upon the minds of men. How
often
devil

Holy Scripture designate idolatry as Idolatry must indeed exercise a dia bolic charm upon men who have become entangled in the snares of sin; else how could the Chosen People,
worship?
71

does

not

in spite of continual castigations,

indulge their terrible

penchant for Polytheism and surrender themselves unre servedly to such an irrational cult, for instance, as that
of the golden calf? of the Babylonian
"It

was only

in the fiery

furnace

was extirpated

captivity that this impious tendency root and branch; after that time we

72 never again hear of the Jews practicing idolatry." The forms which Polytheism has assumed are c) manifold. It belongs to the science of comparative re ligion, and to the philosophy of religion, to distribute

We will only ob categories. way, that the classification depends chiefly on whether the Absolute is leveled down to the finite, or whether the finite* is deified. The firstthem
into
scientific

serve, in a general

eo Cfr. Wisdom XIV, 27. 70 S. Theol., 23 2ae, qu. 94, art.
4-

sacrifice to devils,

and not

to

God."

Cfr. i Cor. X, 20. 72 Oswald, Dogmat.
I,

Theol.,

Vol.

71 Cfr. Bar. IV, 7:

"

Immolantes
Offering

p.

270.

daemoniis

et

non

Deo

220

POLYTHEISM
in the East,

mentioned method was practiced
Gnostic
"

where the
with
their

and. Hindoo
"

systems

of

religion,

emanations,"

eons,"

and

"

incarnations,"

flourished,

although the original unity of God was in a manner The second still retained as the center of emanation.

method is distinctively Western in origin and character, and exemplified mainly in the Polytheism of the GraecoRoman world. Since the deification of the creature can
give rise to as many divinities as there are classes of created things, Polytheism has had a wide and fertile field
for
its
73

vagaries.

On

the lowest plane

we

find Fetish

which looks for help or punishment to inanimate ism, Related to objects, such as, e. g., a stick of wood.
Fetishism
is

Idolatry (in the strict sense of the term),

which actually worships inanimate objects (e. g., images of stone, wood, or metal) as symbols of the Deity. Of somewhat higher rank is Sabaism, so-called, which adores the elements, especially the stars. From Sabaism it is but one step to Nature Worship, which pays divine honors to the powers of nature or the animal world

Animism, Totemism). The Deification of Man probably had its origin in ancestral and hero worship and developed into the formal apotheosis not only of particular men, but of general attributes of mankind, including vices, which were individualized, e. g., Apollo goddess of love, etc. god of wisdom Aphrodite Of this latter kind was the gay and motley Polytheism of the Greeks and Romans. The most horrid form of Polytheism, and the one most directly opposed to Chris
74

(e. g.,

=

;

=

tian

Monotheism,

is
75

Devil Worship or the cult of evil

spirits
73 See

(Satanism).
the
article
"

Fetishism,"

in
I,

by

J.

T.

Driscoll

in

the

Catholic

Encyclopedia, Vol. VI. 74 On Animism, see J. T. Driscoll

Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 526 sqq.; and the same author s The Soul, New York, 1900. 75 Cfr. W. H. Kent, art. Devil
the
pp.
"

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

221

d) Monotheism and Polytheism are logical contraries; hence Polytheism in any guise whatever is not only
a grave aberration of ural knowableness of

human reason, because the nat God clearly postulates Monothe

ism; but also repugnant to Divine Revelation.. If Mono theism is a dogma, Polytheism must eo ipso be a heresy.

The Bible expressly tells Book of Wisdom devotes

us that

it

is

several chapters

The a heresy. 76 to the ref

utation and condemnation of Polytheism and Idolatry. In fact, Holy Scripture never tires of denouncing Idol

atry as foolish and impious, and the pagan deities as
"

not

7r
gods,"

"

lies

and

78
vanity,"

"

wind and

79
vanity,"

80

airy nothings.

OF DUALISM. Dualism is the theory that there are two absolute and eter
3.

THE HERESY
It.

nal principles.

is

traceable to a different psy

It orig chological source than Polytheism. in a mistaken conception of the problem inated

of evil
lation.

and

is

opposed to both reason and Reve

a) The Dualism of the Gnostics and Manichseans, which teaches that there are two divinities, one good and

As early as the other evil, is of very ancient origin. the sixteenth century B. C., Zoroaster, the founder of the Perso-Iranian national religion, imagined two divine
"

"Worshippers

in

the

cyclopedia, Vol. IV.

For a

Catholic Enlist of

78 Wisd.

XIII-XV.
Jer.
II,

77 4 Kings
...

reference works on these subjects, consult M. Heimbucher, Die Bibliothek des Priesters, pp. 114 sqq. Ratisbon 1904, and the bibliographical notes appended to the respective articles in the Catholic Ency
clopedia.

70 Is

-

X IX, 18; vyi XLI 2 45 Dan.
>

u.

V,

23.

80 Ps.

XCV,
.

5;

not

Q^^tf,

e.,

nihila.

222

DUALISM

principles, Ormuzd, the god of light, and Ahriman, the the one the author of all good, the god of darkness other the principle of all evil, physical and moral. In

their never-ending struggle

for

supremacy now one
in

is

victorious,

now

the other.

When

after Christ,

Manes (or Mani) 81

the third century introduced the Persian

gnosis into the countries of the Western world, which was just then opening its doors to Christianity, even

was temporarily of wild fancies, among jumble which the soberest and strongest dogmas of the Chris
so brilliant a genius as St. Augustine
"

seduced by
creed

its

eclectic

sometimes seen to be imbedded." 82 Later on, however, he became one of the most powerful 88 opponents of Manichaeism. That Dualism is repugnant to sound reason appears b) from an analysis of the notion of evil." A principle
tian

were

"

of evil, taking it Anti-Christianism
tradiction
in

not in

the

sense

of

Satanism or
is

but as an absolute being,
"Evil"

a con

terms.

(malum) merely means
new-being

privation of being (privatio, orcpi/aw) i. c., which, carried to its ultimate limits, (turj
oi>),

must

issue

in

pure nothingness

(nihilum, OVK

6i>).

Now

nothing

is no being, least of all absolute being. The case against Dualism may also be argued thus The good God and His evil anti-god are either equal or

ness

:

If they possess equal they are unequal in power. power, they are mutually destructive, because each is
sufficiently potent to paralyze the other, and, therefore,

to

reduce

him

to

inactivity.

If

their
is

power

is

un

equal, then the stronger of the
81 Cfr.

two

sure to vanquish

T.

Church
sqq.,

History,

Gilmartin, Vol.

Manual
I.

of

83 Cfr.
St.

pp.
v.

126

trology, pp. 474, 482,

Bardenhewer-Shahan, PaFreiburg and

3rd ed., Dublin 1909.

Louis 1908.

82 Cyclop.

Americana,

s.

Ma

nichaeism.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
and paralyze the weaker.
"

223

St.

Athanasius says beauti
is

speak of several equally powerful gods, fully 84 like speaking of several equally powerless gods."
:

To

c)
it

Dualism

is

opposed

to the

Catholic faith because

runs counter to the

dogma

of Monotheism.

But

it

can also be expressly disproved from Scripture. So far as physical evil (death, pain, suffering) is concerned, we have it on God s own authority that He is its funda
mental principle, just as He is the fount of whatever In the farewell canticle chanted is good in this world.

by Moses in the hearing of the whole assembly of See ye that I alone am, and there Israel, we read is no other God besides me; I will kill and I will make
"

:

live I will strike and I will heal, and there is none that can deliver out of my hand." 85 As if to refute Dualism in advance, God declared by the mouth of the prophet Isaias I am the Lord, and there I is none else I form the light and create darkness I the Lord that do all make peace and create evil these things." 88 With regard to moral evil (sin), of course, hold that God, on account of His we must,

to

:

"

:

:

;

:

absolute sanctity, cannot be considered the author of sin; that, on the contrary, sin has its proximate cause It is interesting in this in an abuse of man s liberty.

connection to note
e.

how God assumes

the responsibility,
87

g.,

for the hard-heartedness of

Pharaoh

in a

man

of an absolutely evil principle.

ner which positively excludes the co-existence with Him Of the Fathers of the

Church Irenseus, Tertullian, Augustine, and John of Damascus have written special treatises against Dualism
(Manichaeism).
88 84 Or. contr. Gent. 85 Deut. XXXII, 39.
87 Ex. IV, 21. 88 On the mystery

of

evil,

of

86 Is.

XLV,

6,

7.

which

F.

J.

Hall

(The Being and

224
READINGS
154.
:

DUALISM
Heinrich,

Dogmat.
pp.

Theologie,
thes.
25.

Vol.
*C.

I,

151-

Franzelin, Theologie, Vol.
1880.

De Deo Uno,
I,

Oswald,

Dogmat.

Appendix,
J.,

264

sqq.

Krieg,

Der

Monothcismus dcr Offcnbarung und das Heidenthum, Mainz
Chr. Pesch, S.
1893.
II.

Nikcl,

Der Monothcismus
God,
1906.

Gott und Cotter, Freiburg 1890 J. Israels in der vorcxilischen Zeit,

Paderborn
Driscoll,

Formby,

Monotheism,
J.,
"

London,
Idolatry,"

s.

a.

pp.

30 sqq.

E. R. Hull, S.

Studies in Idolatry,
in

Bombay
Irish

W. McDonald,

Studies
I

in

the

Theological Quarterly, Vol.

(1906),

No.

4.

Attributes of God, p. 66, New York that it observes, 1909), rightly sums up apparently all that can ever be urged as constituting anti"

theistic

evidence
of
that

in

the see

sense

term,"

proper A. B.

Evil: Its Nature and Sharpe, Cause, London, 1907; IDEM, art. L vil in the Catholic Encyclo"
"

pedia, Vol. V; J. Rickaby, S. J., Moral Philosophy, ch. VI-VIII, new ed., London 1908; R. F. Clarke, S. J., The Existence of God, pp. 56 sqq., London 1867; T. J. Gerrard, The Wayfarer s Vision, pp. 244 sqq., London 1909; B. Boedder,
S.
J.,

Natural
ed.,

Theology,

pp.

393

sqq.,

and

London

1899.

SECTION

3

GOD THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH

Truth being a "pure perfection/ its formal Now, concept must be applicable to God. truth" is threefold: ontological, logical, and
moral.

Consequently, too, God is called "Ab solute Truth" in a threefold sense: First, ab
3

1

solute ontological truth;
ical truth,

second, absolute log and third, absolute moral truth, 4 or

2

veracity (truthfulness).

ARTICLE

i

GOD AS ONTOLOGICAL TRUTH
i.

PREFATORY OBSERVATIONS.
it

Truth

is

not

only in the understanding,
(e.

g. y

true gold); and as

also in objects such is called on
is
is

tological truth. Ontological truth 5 of being to its concept.
Instead of
"

conformity

often say right," genuine," Thus a true, genuine friend is one who has correct." friend inall the perfections which the concept of
true,"
"
"
"

we

"

"

1

Veritas

in

essendo,

veritas

in

4 Veritas absoluta in dicendo.
5
"

cognoscendo, veritas in dicendo.
2

Veritas

Veritas absoluta in essendo.

quatio rei

cum

ontologica est idea eius."

adae-

3 Veritas absoluta in cognoscendo.

225

226
eludes.

ONTOLOGICAL TRUTH
Whence
itself
it

follows that ontological truth
it

is

the

thing
Since,

in

so far as
this

is

knowable
relation

(intclligibilc).

however,

intrinsic

to

(a

real

or

possible) knowledge adds the difference between ens
logical.

no new reality to the ens, and verum must be purely Hence the philosophical axiom Ens et verum
"

:

convert itntur."

If

we compare

the

intelligibility

of

a

thing with its being, we find that they are co-extensive, each being the measure of the other the measure of St. Augustine ad intelligibility is being, and vice versa.
;

verts to this transcendental character of ontological truth when he says: 6 Vc rum essc vidctur id quod est
"

That which
If all

is,

seems to be
is

true."

knowable, and consequently an object of cognition can be called false or untrue true, only in an analogous sense, namely inasmuch as some
being, as such,

feature of

mind

;

is apt to it produce logical falsity in our as when, for instance, we mistake a gold brick
"

"

the things we call false possess because they are what they are; thus, ontological truth, for example, false hair is a true wig, false butter may
for real gold.

Even

be

genuine

margarine,

a

spurious

Hector may be a

true tragedian, etc. 7
2.

THE DOGMA.
Revelation
of the

Whenever

the

sources

of

office

and the infallible teaching Church employ the term "one true God" (verus Dcus), they refer not to His log 8 ical, but to His ontological truth. While the "false gods" of the Gentiles are true and gen

Divine

uine idols,
6 Solil., II, 5.

Yahweh
De

alone
"

is

the true God,
"

i.

e.,

7 Cfr. S. Thorn.,

Verit., qu. i,

8 Cfr. Cone. Latcran. IV, cap. Firmitcr ; Cone. Vatican., Sess.

art.

10.

///,

De

Fide, can.

i.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
He Who
corresponds
9

227

in

every respect to

the

concept of Deity.

its

a) If we would resolve God s ontological truth into constituent momenta, we must first conceive it, as it
;

were, steeped in aseity

and consequently as

essential,

God is Pure primeval, primordial truth (veritas a se). Truth in virtue of His proper essence, not by any agency
extraneous to Himself.
noscibility,

Since ontological truth, or cogthe

increases

in

same

ratio
6 &v,

with being,
"

it

follows that

He who
"

Is
first

mrp, or

par excellence,
(veritas
"

must likewise be the
suprema,
17

avraA^eia).

and sovereign truth As St. Augustine puts

it,

Ubi

magnitude ipsa veritas est, quidquid plus habet magniWhere tudinis, nccesse est ut plus habcat vcritatis
greatness itself
ness,
is

truth,

whatsoever has more of great
9a

must needs have more of truth." b) But God is also the All-Truth
all

(-fj

TravaAr/foia),

i.

e.,

the creative cause of

truths derived

subject to

Him, and

their ideal (type,
all

from Him, and exemplary cause).
is

In these two propositions
as in a nutshell,
little

philosophy

contained

and we

shall

have to discuss them a

more

fully.

a)

God

the efficient cause, or Creator, of the universe, endows all creatures with whatever they have both

As

of being and of truth (intelligibility). All beings out side the Divine Essence owe their origin to that Essence, and are nothing but embodiments of divine ideas."
"

The world in us and around us is merely a reflex of the world of divine ideas. The things that exist are true
knowable) only in so far as there is perfect cor respondence between them and their archetypes in the
(i.
e.,

Cfr. Jer. X,

10;

John XVII,

3-

VIII,
202.)

i.

(Haddan

s

translation, p.

aCfr.

St.

Augustin.,

De

Trinit.,

228

ONTOLOGICAL TRUTH
of

Mind
"

God,

Who

planned and created them.
idea,"

The

conformity of things to the divine

therefore,

constitutes their ontological truth. tain that the world around us, which
real, is

We

know for cer we perceive as

an

not a surd, unintelligible aAoyof, but derived from This certitude Intellect, and therefore intelligible.

lays the foundation for all metaphysics and epistemology. It is only when viewed in the light of this overshadow

ing truth, that the universe appears to us as a rational

whole, apt to be conceived and appraised by our finite Pseudounderstanding. Truly, therefore, docs the

Dionysius
"

10

call

the creative logoi of
all

the ideas existing in the Divine Mind n and the exemplars things,"
"

according to which
created
existing

God, the WepouVios, designed and 12 substances." Aquinas with his
:

customary acuteness develops this thought as follows "Res naturalcs mcnsurant intellectual nostrum, sed
sunt mcnsuratae ab intcllcctu divino, in quo snnt omnia
creata, sicut
sic

omnia

drtificata [sunt] in intcllectu artificis:

ergo intcllcctus divinus est mcnsurans, non mcnsuratus, res autcm mensurans ct nicnsurata; sed intcllectus

nostcr est mcnsuratus, non mensurans quidem res na
turalcs,

sed

artificiales

tantum."

13

ft) God can communicate ontological truth to created eternal worldobjects only in accordance with the ideas existing within Himself; and here we have a second reason why He is the All-Truth He is the
""
"

"

"

:

exemplary cause of
of
all

all

things,

and therefore the
sin

ideal

derived truth.

Nothing exists

alone

ex-

cepted

God.
10

which cannot be traced to the eternal ideas of But what about the domain of the merely posDivin. Norn.,
c.

De

5,

8.

12
is

T

& VTa

Trdvra irpowpiffe
i,

/cat

11 ol

TU>V

tvTuv

ovffioTTOioi \6yoi.

Trapriyayev.

De

Verit., qu.

art, 2.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"

229

sible,
gible,"

the

the purely intelli sphere of the ideal world of metaphysical essences," in

supra-sensual

"

which the genius of Augustine delighted
too,

to soar?

This,

receives

all

its

truth,

i.

e.,

its

intelligibility,

from

God The

as

exemplary (though not as its creative) cause. archetype, basis, and measure of all (abstract)
its

truths

in

logic,
etc.,

mathematics,

metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, music, must be sought in God, the TravaA^cia,

Who drew forth from His own immutable Essence, where they had existed from all eternity, the unchange able norms of these sciences, and imposed them as in violable laws on the minds of His creatures. Even the sciences that deal with contingent and accidental things
(such as history) are but reflexes of the divine AllTruth, exponents of its imitability and its ability to pro As for the truth or untruth of moral ject itself outward.
actions, Scripture teaches that all morality is grounded in an eternal and unchangeable idea, the lex acterna,

with which our actions must conform in order to be eth
ically true,
i.

e.,

morally good.

Sin alone does not cor
"

respond to any exemplary idea or creative thought in the Divine Essence sin, therefore, is untruth," sin is
;

a

"

lie."

It
:

is
"

in

this

sense that

Ps.

CXVIII

All His

[God

s]

we must understand ways are truth (nog)"
;

and the prayer pronounced by Jesus as the High Priest of humanity: "Sanctify them in truth for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sancti fied in truth." 14 According to the Apocalypse no one that maketh a lie can enter into the heavenly Jeru
. .
.
"
"

salem.
c)

15

Truth, so
For,
14

As He is the Primordial Truth, and the AllGod is also the Super-Truth (^ vTrepaA^eta).
if

(ontological)
17

truth consists
15

in

conformity of

John XVII,

sqq.

Apoc. XXI, 27.

230

LOGICAL TRUTH

being to knowledge, it is quite plain that the concept which the Divine Essence conforms, must have its root in this very Essence. In other words, the type of
to

true Divinity
self

is

that infinite idea

which God has of

Him

from

all eternity,

and which

He

does not derive from

anything outside Himself, but carries within His own With this infinite idea the divine being Substance.

conforms to such a degree that there is substantial iden 10 While the tity between God s being and knowledge.
Divine All-Truth determines
all

derived truths, as their

canon and norm, it does not itself receive its measure and purpose from anything extraneous or superior to itself,
but as
"
"

Super-Truth
infinitely

finds

these in

its

own

essence,

which

surpasses everything that can be con ceived in the domain of created truth.
READINGS:
sqq.).

Alex.

Halens.,

Summa,
I,

la,

qu.

15.

S.

Thorn.,

S. Thcol., la, qu. 16 (Bonjoannes-Lescher,

IDEM, S. Contr. Gent.,
Ruiz,

Compendium, pp. 46 42 (Rickaby, Of God and His
Scientia Dei, disp. 88 sqq.
4.

Creatures, pp. 44 sq.).
Lessius,

De

De

Perfect. Divin., VI,

ARTICLE

2

GOD AS LOGICAL TRUTH OR ABSOLUTE REASON
i.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
(veritas in

By

"logical

truth"

cognoscqndo), or truth in
17

its

formal sense,

we understand conformity
Knowledge
its
is

of the

mind
far as

to
it

its

object.

true in so
is

conforms to

object; that

to say,

in so far as the object is conceived as
5: est 10 Cfr. 5. TheoL, la, qu. 16, art. Esse atitem Dei non solum
"

it is.
intelligere."

etiant

est
J

ipsum suiun
logica
re."

17

"

eritas

est

adaequatio

conforms

suo

intellect,

sed

intellectus

cum

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
As
truth

231

op or error, which must therefore be defined as a want of conformity between
posite of logical truth
is

ontological truth belongs to metaphysics, so logical appertains to logic and epistemology. The
falsity

cognition and its object. It is the business of logic to show that error originates in judgments and ratiocina
tions.
is
18

properly

tion. treat it here because it is inseparable from ontological truth, reserving a fuller discussion for a later article on the knowledge of God.

We

Since logical truth relates to cognition, its place among the attributes of divine life or opera

2.

THE DOGMA.
.

By

"absolute

reason"

we

mean, not
nition, but
intellect

spirituality, or a mere faculty of cog

pure intelligence (ipsum

intelligere,

that
in

God

In this sense the dogma subsistens). is absolute reason is formally included
of

the

dogma

His

19

simplicity.

A

deeper

analysis leads to the following conclusions:
a) The first truth that impresses itself upon us is that the Divine Knowledge is not a mere conformity or

of being and thought. While equation, but identity in the case of creatures every act of cognition proceeds as a (vital) accident from its faculty, and is supported
"

"

by

that faculty,
tributes.

God

s

knowledge
is

is

a substantial act, ab

solutely identical with the Divine Essence, life,

and

at

Therefore God
It is

above

all

things the

Sub

stantial Truth. 20
18 St. 61
:

but a step from this proposition
19 Supra, pp. 200 sqq.

Thomas, Contr. Gent., I, "The intellect does not err
i:

20 Cfr. S.
"

over first principles, but over reasoned conclusions from first principles." (Rickaby, Of God and His
Creatures,
p.

Deo
actus

vel

Theol., la, qu. 14, art. Scientia non est qualitas in habitus, sed substantia et
purus."

44).

232

LOGICAL TRUTH
"

to that other one, that
21

God

is

His own
of
logical

infinite

com
be
it

prehension."

remembered,
nizable

perfection depends on three

The

truth,

factors:

(i) a

cog

and (3) the (2) a cognitive power, The richer, the act of cognition. union of both in the an object is, the more the more
object;
clearer,
intelligible
is

powerful and penetrating

the

faculty

of

cognition,

the object the more intimate is the comprehension of the higher and the faculty in the act of cognition,

by

more perfect

is

the truth of the resulting knowledge.

Primal Truth, the All-Truth, and of all beings. the Super-Truth, is the most intelligible with His infinity; His cognitive power is commensurate can and the union of both is the most intimate that in an absolute because it results possibly be conceived,

Now God

as

the

and cognition. Con equation (identity) between being of Himself must culminate sequently God s knowledge in in an infinite comprehension of His own Essence, and by virtue of which He adequately and exhaustively Himself. understands Himself and all things external to
is a vital Since this absolute divine self -comprehension be the essentially subsisting, per operation, God must In subsistens, vitalis). Truth

sonal,

living

(intellectio

all

three of these respects

God

"

is

Absolute

Reason."

the Sacred Scripture accordingly loves to personify

Di
as a

of vine Wisdom and Truth, and often speaks

it

Personal Being (in the sense of absolute subsistence). of This is the case especially in the Sapiential Books The Fathers imitate this practice. the Old Testament.

Ego sum via et veritas (rj :Z2&Aqfaa) Jesus, in saying: clearly I am the way, the truth, and the life," et rita
"

means

logical truth, because
"

He
22

is

speaking of His mis

sion as the
21
"

Teacher

"

of mankind.
sui."

Deus

est

comprehensio

John XIV,

6.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
b) In the

233

foregoing paragraph

God

as Absolute

Reason per

se.

We

we have treated of now proceed to

Him as the Absolute Truth in relation to His rational creatures. The fate of Ontologism and Theosophy warns us that we are treading on danger
consider

ous ground.

St.

God

"

the

light

teaches that we may call Augustine of intelligent spirits (lumen mcn-

23

tium). He means to say that the Divine All-Truth is not only in itself purest light, depending for its bril liancy on none other, but that this light somehow
to

illuminates the created intellect, moving it intrinsically perform the act of cognition. It is here we reach that

half-obscure boundary line where truth easily becomes distorted, and incautious theologians are likely to go
astray.

here to

mark

Nowhere, therefore, is it more necessary than off the domain of natural cognition from
Reason
the
is

the realm of supernatural truth. a) In the natural order Absolute

the

Creator and Author of

all

intelligence

surging

from which all truth descends into created intellects. The Divine Truth rules all created intelligences by means of the (metaphysical) laws of being and the (logical) laws of thought, and bends them unconditionally under the iron law of evi And in so dence, which is the criterion of all truth.
light

and overflowing ocean of

far

as
"

the

created

intellect

is

an

"

image and

like

ness

the Prototype of all intelligences it is subject to the sway of the divine light of truth, which renders all being intelligible, and
is

of the Infinite Spirit

Who

endows

every

mind

with

intelligence.

Consequently,

every single act of truth-perception on the part of a finite intellect, and the created mind itself are but a

weak
16

reflex

of

the

Divine
23 Supra,
p.

Spirit
129.

and

the

Divine

234

LOGICAL TRUTH
God
thinks because
in

Knowledge.

He
its

is

thought

itself

;

the creature merely re-thinks

finite

fashion the

thoughts already spun out by the Divine Intellect. In this sense, and in this sense alone, 24 are we to un derstand the Scholastic formula of the participation of
the
finite

intellect

in

Divine
as

Knowledge,
follows:
in

Thomas Aquinas
et

res

aliae

explains vcrae guidon

"Sicut

which St. animac
naturis,

dicuntur
illius
it a

siiis

secundum
cognitum

quod
cst,

similitudinem

summae

naturae

habent, quae

cst ipsa vcritas;

id

quod per animam

vcrum est, inquantum illius diznnae veritaDeus cognoscit, similitudo quacdam existit in tis, quam Unde et Glossa (in Ps. XI, 2) dicit, quod sicut ipsa.
ab una facie resultant multae fades in specula, ita ab una prinia z critate resultant multae veritates in mcntibus hominum As the soul and other beings are called true in their natures, as bearing some likeness to the which is truth itself, as be supreme nature of God, its own fulness of actual understanding, so what ing
is

known by

the

soul

is

true

for

the

reason

that

there exists in the soul a likeness of that divine truth

which God knows. Hence on the text (Ps. XI, 2), Truths are diminished from the sons of men, the
Gloss
are
25
:

*

says illumined

:

The truth is one, whereby holy souls but since there are many souls, there

may
face

be said to be

in them many truths, as from one 28 many images may appear in many mirrors."
all

This excludes
terpretations.

Pantheistic and semi-Pantheistic in

ft) It is in the supernatural order that the participa tion of the created intellect in the truth-life of the God24

Not

in

the
it

ing given to
25 Cfr.
St.

Theosophic meanby Baader. August., Enarrationes

26 Contr. Gent., Ill, 47

(Rickaby,
p.

Of Cod and His Creatures,

127).

in h.

/.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
real;

235

head becomes most complete, most intimate, and most though here, again, we must guard against Theosophic and Pantheistic perversions. The supernatural
light

of truth, by which the germs of
"

"

conformity with
"

are implanted in the soul, first asserts itself in the act of faith. the life was the light of men For,
"

God
.
.

27

[the Logos] enlighteneth every man that
.

and

He

"

the dim light becomes perfect vision, which, in virtue of the below, light of glory, immerses the intellects of the Just into the Divine Essence and elevates them to an immediate 29 participation in the Trinitarian life of the Godhead.

In

Heaven

was the true light, which cometh into this world." 28 which faith imparts here

Lessius
in

30

gives a graphic description of the

manner

which truth flows forth from its heavenly Source and inundates the created universe. Gushing from its
divine fount, it first flows through the channel of crea tion into the forms of created things, imparting to them
their ontological truth (cognoscibility). Thence it forces its way into the intellect of those creatures who are en

dowed with reason (= logical truth), seeps through into the passions and moral actions of men, until finally, having lost much of its original impetus, it terminates in the truths that men speak and write. It finds a
inates in the infusion of

second channel in Supernatural Revelation, which orig faith and reaches its climax

we have

third channel, the one 31 in treating of God as the pointed out above causa exemplaris of created things, Lessius leaves un-

in the beatific vision of God.

A

mentioned.
27 Cfr. 2 Pet. I, 4: divinae consortes naturae." 28 John I, 4 sqq.; cfr. i Pet. II,
"

29 Cfr. supra, Part

I,

Chapter

2,

Section
30

2.

De

Divin. Perfect., VI, 4.
x,

9.

31 Article

No.

2.

236
READINGS
:

MORAL TRUTH
Scheeben, Dogmatik, Vol.
Lessius,
11.
I,

95.

Franzelin,
4.

De
*S.

Deo Uno,
Thorn.,
Majesty,"

thes. 28, 36.

De

Divin. Perfect., VI,
S.
J.,
"His

De

Verit., qu.

W. Humphrey,
1897.

Divine

pp.

89

sqq.,

London

ARTICLE

3

GOD AS MORAL TRUTH, OR HIS VERACITY AND

FAITHFULNESS
i.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
"moral truth"

The

attri
:

bute of

= racity (vcracitas
fulness (fidelitas

= veritas

comprises two elements ve veritas in diccndo) and faith
in

agenda).
tell

a) Veracity means
the

the firm purpose of

always and everywhere. It is ing opposed to mendaciousness, which disturbs the harmony between thought and language in order to deceive others, and thereby destroys Mendaciousness is habitual unconfidence. truthfulness, and is a proper attribute of the father Devil, whom Sacred Scripture calls
truth
"the

veracity in so far as it is a virtue, and mendaciousness in so far as it is a also vice, appertain formally to the will, they of
lies."

Though

bear an essential relation to the intellect, because an equa veracity must always be conceived as
tion

and speech (adaequatio intellectus cum sermone) while mendaciousness is a difformity between the two (difformitas in
between the
intellect

tellectus et

sermonis).

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

237

b) Akin to veracity, although not identical with it, is fidelity or faithfulness, which may be denned as "the firm purpose of keeping one s
promises or carrying out one
s
threats."

Like

veracity, faithfulness as a virtue appertains mediately to the will, though it too bears

im an
to

obvious relation to the

intellect,

inasmuch as

keep one

s

promises,

and

to

threats, postulates veracity.

He who

carry out one s breaks his

promise
clearly,

is

a

liar.

To

bring out these momenta
that
faithfulness
is

we may say

an

between speech and conduct (adac32 Opposed to quatio sermonis cum actione)
equation
contradictory is infidelity; its Both are vices, and as such contrary is deceit. inhere in the will. Yet, involving as they do a
faithfulness as
its

lack of

harmony between speech and conduct,
never

they

can

falsehood, lying,
c)

deny their relationship and error.
this
it

with

appears that veracity and faithfulness, considered as divine virtues, are not properly attributes of being, but rather
all

From

qualities

of

the

will.

have truth for their

But inasmuch as both taproot, it is meet that

they be treated in connection with the ontological and logical truth of God. Theologically God s veracity and faithfulness are very important at32 Cfr.
St.
2,

Thomas, In
lect.

Epist.

I
fi-

delitas)
ticipatio

nihil

aliud

est

quam

par-

Tim.,

c.

2

"

:

Fides

(=

sive adhaesio

veritati."

238

VERACITY

tributes, because they constitute the foundation

of two of the so-called theological virtues, ve racity being the formal motive of faith, while
faithfulness
2.
is

the formal motive of hope.

THE DOGMA OF GOD S
of
faith
lies

VERACITY.

It is

an

article

that

in

the present
lie.

Economy
lying ab

God

neither

nor can

But

is

Can solutely repugnant to the Divine Essence? no other order of the universe be imagined in
might be possible for God to lie? Some theologians, recalling the example of Jacob and Judith in the Old Testament, and the teaching of Gabriel Biel, 33 Pierre d Ailly, and others, see no more than a theological conclusion in the which
it

proposition that lying the Divine Essence.

is

absolutely repugnant to

Suarez, that

it

is

a

prefer to believe, with dogma clearly contained in

We

Divine Revelation.
Bible again and again asserts the ve racity of God, by declaring that in virtue of His very Essence it is impossible for Him to lie.

a)

The

"Qni

me
is

misit,

me
not."

34
true,"

verax (uAr/%) es t He that sent or God, who lieth
"<tywp

"Impossibile
is

(aSiWrw) est mentiri
3G

Deum

The mean impossible for God to lie." ing of the well-known antithesis in St. Paul s
-It
letter
S3

to

the
in

Romans
Libros
i.

3Ga
:

"Est

autem Deus
18.

Comment,

Quatuor

35 Tit.

I,

2.

Sent., Ill, dist. 38, qu.

36 Heb. VI,

34 John VIII, 26.

seaRom.

Ill, 4.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
verax, omnis autem homo mcndax God but every man a liar/ is evidently this:
is
is

239
true,

Man

capable of lying,

God

is

not.

37

b) While some tom and Jerome)
of lying on
its

of the Fathers (like Chrysosappear to base the immorality

ma than upon of St. Augustine, jority, under the leadership teach that mendaciousness is something so essen immoral in itself that it would be sinful
tially

positive prohibition by God, its intrinsic wrongfulness, the

rather

even

if

there were no specific divine
it.

command
and

ment forbidding

What

is

intrinsically

can never per essentially sinful, God s sanctity in any other con mit, either in the present or
ceivable

Economy.

Even

St.

Chrysostom, no
"white
"there

the little toriously so mild in condoning declares that of daily life, expressly lies"
deceived, to deceive,
3.

are certain things impossible to God, viz.: to be

THE DOGMA

and to OF GOD S FIDELITY.
lie."

Accord

of all theologians, ing to the consentient teaching that infidelity or deceit is absolutely it is de

Me

contrary to the Essence of God. is a) The Scriptural proof for this dogma texts which teach bottomed first upon those

God

39

s

faithfulness,

and secondly upon the re

of peatedly asserted impossibility
37Cfr. Numb. XXIII, 38 Horn, in Symb., i.
19.

God

s

breaking
"

39 Cfr. Ps.

CXLIV,

13:

Fideli*

Deus

in

omnibus verbis

SHIS."

24o

FIDELITY
faith,

the

because

if

He

broke the faith
40

He

Jesus Christ de scribes divine fidelity in these subtime terms: 41 "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my

would contradict Himself.

words
b)

shall not pass

42
away."

From

the

writings

of

the

Fathers

we

shall content ourselves with citing this one pas 43 nostra tarn sage of St. Augustine: "Spes

ccrta

est,

quasi iani

res

perfecta

sit.

Ncque
Vcritas
as cer

etiam

timcmns
as
if

ncc
tain

falli

promittcnte Our hope potest nee fallere
the

veritate.
is

promise were already fulfilled. Nor do we fear, seeing we have the promise of truth. Truth can neither be deceived nor de

argument rests upon He would not be veracious if veracity. He failed to keep His promises or to carry out His just threats. All those circumstances and motives which at various times induce men to become faithless or to deceive others (such as
ceive."

The

theological

God

s

forgetfulness, change of mind, impotence, malice, etc.) are formally excluded from God s Essence

by the divine
bility,

attributes of omniscience,
etc.

immuta

omnipotence, sanctity,
:

READINGS

Busano, ed. Graun, Oeniponte 1893.
40 Cfr.
2

Alb. a *Kleutgen, De Ipso Deo, pp. 397 sqq. Theol. Dogmat. Special., I, pp. 99 sqq.,

Tim.

II,

13:

"Si

non

continueth faithful, he cannot deny
Himself."

ille crcdimus, fidelis (iriffro^ pernianct [quia] negare seipsum non

41

Math.

potest

(dpvri<Taff0ai

yap favrov ov
believe
not,

If

we

he

i

4; VII. 9; Thess. V, 24; 2 Thess. Ill, 3; etc. isPraef. in Ps. t 123.

42 Cfr. Deut.

XXIV, 35. XXXII.

SECTION

4

GOD AS ABSOLUTE GOODNESS
pure perfection and there Like truth, formally predicable of God. goodness may be either ontological, ethical, or
Goodness,
fore
too, is a

moral (bonitas in essendo, in agenda, in communicando). From the notion of bonum, there fore, we can develop three other divine attributes which correspond to the attributes of truth,
viz.:

ontological

goodness,

ethical

goodness

(sanctity), and moral goodness (benevolence).

ARTICLE

i

GOD AS ONTOLOGICAL GOODNESS
i.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
goodness thus:

Aristotle defines on

tological

"Bonum est,

quod omnia ap1 desire."

petunt

The good

is

that

which

all

On

tological truth denotes objects inasmuch as they are in telligible; ontological goodness (bonitas) describes them as appetable, or desirable.

But
object
i

this definition is incomplete,
its
it

because
its

it

describes

goodness merely in
is

effects,
is

not in

essence.
is
it

An
ap-

good when
1.

appetable.
men, but
ever
is

But why
in

Ethics,

i.

This

is

not to be
if

understood, says St. Thomas, as every good were desired by

the sense that whatsodesired has in it the idea

all

of good.

241

242
petable
is
?

ABSOLUTE GOODNESS
It is

appetable because it is good. essential definition of goodness,

not good because it is appetable, but it In order to arrive at an
it

is first

of

all

necessary

to distinguish between absolute goodness (bonum in se s. bonnm quod}, and relative goodness (botmm altcri s.

bonum
a)

cni).

Both of these notes combined

will give us

the adequate definition

we

are in search of.

Now, what
its

is

absolute

goodness?
i.

A
it

thing
is
it

is

called absolutely

good (bonum quod) when
it

exactly

what

nature requires

to be,

e.,

when

has

all

the perfections due to, and demanded by, its essence. The notion of bonum quod, therefore, materially coin cides with that of perfcctum, with the sole difference
that the former connotes a relation to some (conscious or unconscious) appetency, which the notion of per
" "

fect
in
its

lacks.

Hence we may say
is

that

what

is

perfect

species

(absolutely)

good.

If

a being lacks

some perfection which it ought to possess (as, e. g., a deaf person lacks the sense of hearing), we have the which may consequently be defined evil," concept of
"

as the privation or absence of some perfection required 2 If an object lacks even one by the nature of a thing.

of those perfections which 3 evil." bad or
"
"

its

nature postulates,

it

is

"

(bonum cui) consists in the of that which is good (perfect) to some communicability other being or beings. As (ontological) truth tends to reveal itself to the intellect, so (ontological) goodness
b) Relative

goodness

tends to communicate itself to other beings, and thereby

This communicability formally to produce more good. 4 consists in the adaptability of one object to another, so
2
"

Malum

cst

privatio

perfec-

intcgra causa,
dcfectu."

in alum

ex quocunque
sui."

tionis

debitae."

3

Hence

the axiom:

"Bonum

ex

4

"

Bonum

cst

diffusivum

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
the

243

that the other has a motive for desiring or striving after

bonum with an

"

"

appetite

be either conscious or unconscious.
relative

(appetitus), and this It is easy to see
adaptability
finis,

may how

goodness, in virtue of its venientia), at once becomes bonitas
latter

(con-

and how the

spontaneously overflows,
all

goodness

the

The opposite of relative good utile}. which we obtain by a process of contrary conver ness, sion, is inadaptability (harmfulness) of one thing to another," irrespective of whether the harm is caused through the instrumentality of some positive perfection (e. g,, capital and labor), or by its absence (e. g., drunk enness in parents and spoilt children). c) By welding the essential marks of absolute and relative goodness into one concept, we obtain the fol That is lowing definition of goodness in general good which is perfect in itself and adapted to another."
"
"

municating to or utility (bonum

means them the

coloring with its that lead to the end, and

own
com

characteristic note of usefulness

:

Under either aspect goodness is evidently a trans cendental attribute of being. 5 For a thing is more or less good according to the measure of being which it
poem. Even good bread, a good bad things are good under at least one aspect, viz.:
" "

"

"

contains,
in

e.

g.,

as

much

as they are.
"In

Whence

the

dictum of
sumus."
.

St.

Augustine:

quantum sumus, boni

Rela

tively speaking every being as such is good, * e., adapted to every other being, because all things are related to one another either as substance to accident, or as a part to the whole, or as an effect to its cause or ^nce versa.
;

beings are constantly perfecting themselves and each other. 6 To a superficial observer it might seem as
all
6
"

Hence

Ens

et

bonum

convertuntur."
5, art.

^

6 Cfr. S. Theol,, la, qu.

1-3.

244

ABSOLUTE GOODNESS

if ontoiogical goodness had a wider scope than the con cept of being, inasmuch as it can be predicated, e. g., But this is a delusion. of phantoms, air-castles," etc.
"

In matter of fact the goodness of a thing is always and everywhere commensurate with the measure of its being, 7 even if it were only an ens rationis.

ontologically good, both in the absolute and in the relative sense of

2.

THE DOGMA.

God

is

the term.
is
8

of His absolute goodness clearly contained in that of His divine per

The dogma

fection.
in the

His relative goodness is implied partly condemnation of Dualism, 9 partly in the

10 goodness of the created universe.

a)
a

Considering
It
is,

God

s

absolute

ontoiogical

goodness we find that
)

in the first place,

closely

bound up

with aseity and primal goodness (bonitas a se).
their goodness (perfection), by participation (bonum ab alio s. per participationem) , God, and He alone, is orig inally good in Himself or, to express it substantively, He
all

While creatures have

as they have their being,

;

is

goodness

itself (ipsa bonitas,

77

avrayafldrr/s)

.

This can

"

be proved from Holy Scripture. St. Paul teaches: 11 O mtiis crcatura Dei bona cst Every creature of God
good."

is

12 Christ, on the other hand, emphasizes that

7 Cfr. A. H. Tombach, Untcrsuchungen iibcr das Wesen des Gut en. Bonn 1900.

dico,
9

cum TOCO Dcum bunum,
nigrum."

ac

si

album vocarem
10 Cfr.

8 Cfr.
"

Cone.

Vatican.,
i; c/r.

Sess.

HI,

Supra, pp. 221 sqq. Cone. Vatican.,
i

I.

c.;

Cone.

De

Fide,"

cap.

Propos. z8

Trident., Sess. VI, can.
11

6.

Ekkardi damn, a loanne XXII a. Deus non est bonus neque 1329: melior neque optimus; ita malt
"

Tim. IV,

4.

12

Luke XVIII,

19.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"

245

nemo bonus

alone."

None is good but God nisi solus Dens These two statements can be harmonized only

by attributing essential, aseitarian goodness to God alone, and conceiving the goodness predicated of His creatures as derived or participated goodness, which is as nothing
in

comparison to God

s.

It

is

in

this

sense
"Bonus

that

we
non

must interpret Tertullian s dictum: Deus solus; qui enim quod est sine
imtitutione

natitra

initio

habct,

alone
is

is

God [ab alio] habet, sed natura [a se] nature for He, who has that which He good by
;

without beginning, has it not by creation, but by na 13 Clement of Alexandria testifies to the belief ture."

The of the Greeks on this head when he writes: said to be good on account of its essential good is not but on account of its be being possessed of virtue,
"

.

.

.

ing in itself and by
13)

itself

14
good."

Since

all

goodness found

in

creatures

is

virtually

and eminently

contained in the

Divine

the universal good (bonum universale) or, more correctly, universal goodness

Essence,

God

is

(r;

Traraya&m;?).

While created goodness by its very nature can never be more than partial and particular, and is limited to certain definite stages of perfection, God s goodness com prehends within itself and is infinitely superior to all
particular goodness found elsewhere.
"

Cfr. Ex.
I

XXXIII,

19:
all

Ostendam omne bonum
(i. e.,

good,"

Him
good).
icaO

shew thee who contains within Himself
tibi

will

everything that
is Contr,

is

St.

Ambrose
St
I,
8.

tersely declares:
dyaBrjv chat.

Mar don.,

II, 6.

/cai

avrijv

14

AXXA rw

avTTjv

avrrjv

Paedag.,

246
"

ABSOLUTE GOODNESS

universitate bonus, homo ex partc" 15 St. Au gustine develops the notion of God s universal goodness trenchantly as follows: "Bonum hoc et bonum illud,
.
.
.

Dcus

tolle

hoc

et

illud

et

vide
alio

potes.

Ita

Dcum

indcbis
. . .

non

ipsum bonum, si bono bonum, sed

bonum omnis boni. Quid hoc nisi Deus? Non bonus animus aut bonus angelus aut bonum coeli, sed bonum Bonum This thing is good and that good, but take away this and that, and regard good itself if thou
canst; so wilt thou see God, not good by a good that is other than Himself, but the good of all good
.
.

except God? Not a good mind, or a good angel, or a good of heaven, but goodness itself." It is impossible for the mind of man to con
this be

and what can

ceive

the

universal

Augustine docs
y)

in this

good more profoundly luminous passage.

than

St.

inasmuch as all created goodness has its measure and goal in God alone, while the Divine Good, on the other hand, has its measure and end not above but within itself,
Lastly,

the concept of
urally expands ness transcends
this

God
all

s

universal goodness nat
|\
m9

into 4 Wepayatfo r^

His good
It
is

other goodness.

in

sense that the Church, without regard to the possible existence of rational creatures, re
fers to

God

as

"the

highest, the

most
in

beautiful,

the best

good"

(summum bonum
8.

cause

God knows and
15 in Luc.,
I,

Be sc). loves Himself as the Su(Haddan
s

Trinit.,

VIII,

3,

4

translation, p. 205).

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
preme and
Infinite

247

Good,

He

is

infinitely

happy

in the possession of

His own Essence. 17

The attribute of mrc/oaya&m;? implies that the Highest Good is not merely primus inter pares, but that It is
transcendental, and, therefore, beyond comparison with other things that are good, and not related to them as a 6v part to the whole, but as 6 on/ to

^

b)

It

remains for us to consider God

s

relative

goodness.

As the primordial, universal, and transcendental God possesses in a higher degree than any of His
tures the
ability

good, crea

to others, and to enrich

and desire to communicate Himself them with perfections drawn from the plenitude of His own essential goodness. Himself overflowing with goodness, He causes His crea
1
"

it by freely endowing them with being. This relative goodness (i. e., communicability) of God, may be traced in a fourfold direction, according as we make the exemplary, the efficient, the final, or the formal cause our point of departure.

tures to share

)

As exemplary
all

cause,

God

is

the ideal and

the archetype of

created goodness. Created is goodness, therefore, merely a faint imitation of the abounding goodness of the Divine Es
sence.
17 Cfr.
i

Tim. VI, 15:
is

"6

fcdptos 18 Cfr.

He who
S.

paart.

sit

in

eo

excellentissimo
dicitur

modo

et

the
la,

Blessed."

propter
num."

hoc

summum

bo-

TheoL,

qu.

6,

2:

"Cum

bonum

sit

in

Deo

sicut
"

19 Cfr.

Cone. Vatican., Sess. Ill,
cap.
i;

in causa

non univoca, oportet quod

De

Deo,"

can. 5.

248

ABSOLUTE GOODNESS

Created things are consequently good only in so far in as they resemble, and correspond to, the ideal good which never (t. e., things God. If the mere
possibles

can be said to possess a species of which their exemplary cause goodness distinct from derive that ideal misdoubt they can some

come

into being)

theologians their ideal being, solely from goodness, as they derive God, Who is the plenitude of goodness. or efficient cause, God endows His ft) As creative
creatures with
ness at the
all their (absolute and relative) good same time that He gives them being. It there can come is plain that from the hand of the Lord 20 Hence it is more than forth nothing but what is good.
"

a

mere phrase

to say

:

All creatures are an emanation

of

God
y)

s goodness."

the finis absolute ultimas of the whole created universe. He is the end of all for all, including His is things, because He rational creatures, "the highest, the most beau a good that is worthy of tiful, the best good

God

is

all

love

and honor
nobis).

for

its

own

sake"

(summum

bonum

Lessius proves this as follows: "Quod est summum bonum hominis, ncccssario est ultimus eius finis. Rurest summum bonum hominis, in eo nccesse sum

quod

est

consistere

eius

beatitudinem,

quae

nihil

est

aliud

quam summi boni mus finis dicitur et
bcati

posscssio. res ipsa, cuius possession et fruitione

Summum

bonum

et ulti

sumus,

Simili

modo
I,

et fruitio. ipsa huius rei possessio et beatitudo accipitur et pro ipsa re, cuius

et

20Cfr. Gen.

31:

"And God saw all the things and they were very good."

that

he had made,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

249

unione beati efficimur, et pro ipsa unione: ilia a doctoribus vocatur beatitudo objectiva, haec formalis That which is man s highest good, must necessarily be
last end. Again, man s beatitude, which is but possession of the supreme good, must be nothing identical with the highest good attainable by him.

also

his

We

supreme good and last end that particular ob whose possession and fruition we are rendered ject by happy, and the possession and fruition of that object
also call

Similarly the word beatitude designates both the object by the possession of which we are made happy, and the state of possession or union itself; the former
itself.
is

formal
so the

called objective beatitude, the latter beatitude in the 21 As veracity and faithfulness consti sense."

tute the

summum bonum

formal motive of theological faith and hope, is the formal motive of the

ological love (charity), and at the same time the founda tion and corner-stone of ethics, morality, and asceticism.

The terms

end, highest good, and beatitude, are furthermore organically related to a fourth, the glory of God (gloria, glorificatio) because the attainment of
final
,

end, by the creature that is to be endowed with beatific vision, necessarily tends to the glorification
the final

of the

summum
et

bonum.

Rom. XI, 36:

"Ex

ipsum

in ipsum) stint omnia: in ipso (ct? avrov For of him, and by him, and ipsi gloria in saecula The in him, are all things : to him be glory for ever."

=

ipso per

Schoolmen teach with
tend to their
final end,

St.
i.

Thomas
e.,

that

God

s

creatures

as their highest good, by the very fact that they labor at their own perfection. By seeking their own end they seek God, though not all in the same manner, some being endowed

seek

Him

with

life,

others

not;
21

some being
I,
i.

irrational,

others

De Summo Bono,

17

250

ABSOLUTE GOODNESS

creation tends, enjoying the use of reason. Thus all towards God. either unconsciously, consciously or While His irrational creatures objectively manifest His
that have the use glory by their very existence, those of reason are bound to glorify Him formally by know

Him, loving Him, and praising Him; and final destiny. glorifying God, work out their
ing 8)

thus,

by

not the formal cause of creatural be goodness in the strict sense of the term, with respect to its cause essential goodness, formal content, is quite as incommunicable as

God

is

Divine Being

itself.

it possi Only from the Pantheistic point of view is confound created goodness with the absolute ble to the goodness proper to the Creator, thereby merging in the finite, which reflects its splendor, infinite essence God s though inadequately. But when we consider and the graces with which supernatural manifestations He has whelmed mankind, we must conceive Him

philosophically

as

their

formal
that
in

cause,

because in the
so

supernatural
pletely

order

God
it

surrenders

Himself

com
be

to

His

creatures

created

goodness

comes merged as
ness.

were

His own

absolute good

exaggerating this truth Christian mysticism has more than once verged dangerously near the abyss 22 Without in the least identifying the of Pantheism. creature with God, St. Peter speaks of its formal par

By

ticipation in the divine nature,

23

and the Fathers speak
of the creature.

of a

"

"

deification
class

(0W, not diro0eW)
"

In

this

belongs the threefold elevation of
naturae."

man

22 Cfr. 5. TheoL, la, qu. 6, art. 4divinae consortes 23 Cfr. 2 Petr. I, 4:

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

251

through supernal grace: (i) The Hypostatic Union as the personal communication of the Divine Logos to the

humanity of Christ; (2) the state of sanctifying grace as the supernatural transfiguration of the soul, and (3) the beatific vision as the immersion of the soul in the life 2* of truth and love enjoyed by the Most Holy Trinity.
READINGS
:

Sch eeben, Dogmatik, Vol.
thes.
1.

I,

84.

Franzelin,
1.

De Deo

Uno,

29.

Lessius,

De Summo
TheoL,
sqq.).

Bono,

2;

De

Perfect. Div.,

7.

$. Thorn., S.

la, qu.

5-6 (Bonjoan-

nes-Lescher, Compendium, pp.

15

L. Janssens,

Uno,
t.

t.

I,

pp. 253 sqq., Friburgi

1900.

Lepicier,
1902.

De Deo De Deo Uno,
"His

I,

pp.

221

sqq.,

242

sqq.,

Parisiis

Humphrey,

Divine

Majesty,"

pp. 95 sqq.

ARTICLE
GOD
I.

2

S

ETHICAL GOODNESS, OR SANCTITY

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.

Men

attrib

ute sanctity (sanctitas) to those persons only who lead a life pleasing to God. The definition of sanctity varies according as we consider either
its

proximate or

its

more remote

elements.
pal

a)

To

begin with the most

common and most

pable notion, sanctity is freedom from sin, coupled with 25 Both these notes, the positive and purity of morals. the negative, belong together; for a being that is merely free from sin, as, e. g., a child that has not yet arrived at the use of reason, cannot be called holy, at least not
2*Cfr. 2 Cor. Ill, 18. Damascene sums up the dogmatic teachof the Church on the oning tological goodness of God in this
terse
trai>dya0os

Kal

6\wj &v
thod.,

dyados,"

VTrepdyaOos (De Fide

Kal Or-

IV, 4).

25

"

Immunitas a peccato cum pu-

sentence:

"

dya6t>s

Kal

ritate

morum

coniuncta."

252

ETHICAL GOODNESS, OR SANCTITY
even after
it

in the full sense of the term,

has received

the

sacrament of

Baptism.
"

identical with, this definition

by Pseudo-Dionysius
fLtV

:

to, practically the classical one given Sanctitas est ab omni scelere
is

Akin

and

libcra et perfecta et prorsus
OVV COTIV
7/

immaculata puritas (dytor^
Kttl

TTttVTO?
)."

ayOl>?

IhcvOtpO. KOI TTaVT\r]S

TTaVTTf

axpavros KaOaporrfi

b) If

we
we

munity from
implies,

enquire into the deeper reason for that im sin and purity of the will which sanctity
shall

find

that

both

are

conditioned

by

conformity of the will to the moral, which is ultimately Hence sanctity can be the eternal law (lex aeterna). defined as the ethical equation between the genetically
will
27 and the divine law of morals.

Thus conceived,

in sanctity runs exactly parallel to logical truth, except that it has an additional necessary element in persever ance. equation/ i. e. f the occa merely temporary

A

"

sional

performance of acts conforming to the moral law,

does not make a

man

holy

;

to rise to the level of sanc

be continuous, lasting, and tity, moral goodness must 28 based on principle. the love c) In its highest sense sanctity is charity or

of

God (amor
all

Dei, caritas).
things, will live

truly above

For whoever loves God in accordance with His

law and avoid sin. Obedience to the divine law here below has no other end than union with God in Heaven
in

inseparable

love.

Hence
it,

eternal

beatitude,

as

the

status in

which man enjoys the love of God without
represents the very high

est degree
26
27

danger of ever again losing of sanctity. 29
De
"

Dirin. Nomin., c. 12. voluntatis Adaequatio

videtur

cum

tiam,

lege
It.

aeterna."

28Cfr. S. Theol, 2-zae, qu. 81,
8:
"

\mportare: primo mundisecundo firmitatem." 2 Cfr. Saints. the 01 &yioi Lessius, De Perf. Divin., VIII, x.

=

Nomen

sanctitatis

duo

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
2.

253

THE DOGMA.

The Church has condemned

as heretical the teaching of Gottschalk, Scotus Eriugena, and Calvin, that God is the author
of sin.
"Si

quis dixerit,

non esse

in potentate

hominis, vias suas malas facere, sed mala it a ut bona Deum operari, non permissione tantum,

sed etiam proprie et per
If

se,
is

.

.

.

anathema

sit

any one saith that

it

not in

man

s

power
that

to

make
evil

his

ways

evil,

but that the works that
as

are

God worketh

well

as

those

are good, not permissibly only, but properly, 30 and of Himself, ... let him be anathema."

The
i.

essential sanctity of the Most Holy Trinity, e., the Godhead, is also implied in the dogma
Scientific theology develops the
s

which defines the personal holiness of the Holy
Ghost.
of

dogma
relation

God

sanctity in a

twofold manner, consid
its

ering it first by itself, and secondly in to created sanctity.
tion

a) According to the pseudo-Dionysian defini God s sanctity is in the first place
)

"Absolute

immunity from

sin,

and im

maculate
not only

The first (negative) note purity." implies that God does not sin (im.

peccantia), but also that
peccabilitas)
It

dissonance

in

a

(imis plain that there can be no Being Whose Will coincides
c.

He

cannot sin

30 Cone. Trident., Sess. VI,

6.

254

ETHICAL GOODNESS, OR SANCTITY
His
Essence.
is

with

Therefore

God

s

love

of

goodness synonymous with hatred of sin (infinitum odium peccati).
are
this.

moral

infinite

There
fi-

many

passages Deut. XXXII,

in

Holy Writ which prove
4,

we
31

read:

"Dens

delis et

absqne
a

ulla

iniqnitate

God

is
:

faithful
"Thou
.

and without any
art

iniquity."

Ps. V, 5

not

God
all

that

wiliest

iniquity.

.

.

Thou

hatest

wilt destroy all

the workers of iniquity; thou that speak a lie/ 32 The "mys
(pva-njpiov

tery of

iniquity"

d^o/was),
7,

of which St.

Paul speaks
in this that

in

2 Thess.

II,

does not consist

God

or as a

means

wills iniquity, either as an end to an end, but rather in that

He
it,

But although He permits permits it at all. He hates sin; and the sole reason why He

permits it is that it is objectively better to per mit it than to prevent it absolutely, in order that the divine attributes of love, mercy, and
justice may have their proper scope. The other (positive) note of sanctity, viz.: immaculate

purity,
ture.

is

frequently mentioned in Sacred Scrip
Ps.

Thus

CXLIV,

17:

"lustus

Dominus

in

omnibus viis snis et sanctus in omnibus operibus suis The Lord is just in all His ways, and holy in all His works." Deserving of special mention is the famous Is. VI, 3: "Sera"Trisagion,"
si Cfr.

Rom. IX,

14.

32Cfr. Ps.

XLIV,

8:

"

Dilgxisti

iustitiam et odisti

iniquitattm."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
phim clamabant
cituum
other,
alter

255

ad alterum

et

dicebant:

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus,

Dominus Dens
.
.

exer-

The Seraphims
and
said:
33
hosts."

.

cried one to an

God

of

Holy, holy, holy, the Lord In the Primitive Church the

Trisagion was seldom sung except at solemn Mass; since the sixth century it concludes the
daily Preface.
ifl

On Good
6
co?,

Friday the choir sings
ayios Ltrxvpos, ay 60? aOdvaros,

Greek

I

""Ayios

e\crj<rov

77/xas

Q

holy God, holy and strong, holy
us."

and immortal, have mercy on
)

If sanctity in general is

"the

ethical

equa
the

tion

between the
of

will

and the moral
essential
to

law,"

sanctity

God, being

Him and

deeply rooted in His divine nature, must be sub For as the will of God is absolutely one stantial. with His Essence, from which flows the lex

He acquire sanctity must be holy by His very nature and in His 35 Nor is sanctity an ethical proper Essence.
aeterna,

God cannot

34

;

perfection superadded to the Divine Essence
it is

36
;

absolutely identical with

God

s

Substance.

37

Therefore God

is Sanctity in the same way in which He is Absolute Reason. Holy Scripture adumbrates this aseitarian character of sanctity

when
15:

it

calls

God

"the

alone

holy."

Job

XV,

"Ecce

inter sanctos eius
ab
a/to.

nemo

immutabilis,

33 Cfr. Apoc. IV, 8. 34 Sanctitas participate
35 Sanctitas a se
s.

36 Sanctitas accidentalis.
s.

87 Sanctitas substantialis,

per essentiam.

256

ETHICAL GOODNESS, OR SANCTITY
[angeli]

ct coeli

non sunt mundi

in conspectu

among his saints none is un and the heavens [angels] are not changeable, pure in his sight." I Kings II, 2: "Non est There is none holy sanctns, nt cst Dominus as the Lord Consequently God alone is holy
eius
is."

Behold

as

He

"alone

is good."

38

y) penetrate even more deeply into the nature of divine sanctity when we define it as "the essential love that God has for His own

We

As identity of being and thought, goodness." of cognoscibility and cognition in God entails the highest form of truth-life, i. e., the most com plete comprehension of His own Essence (comprehensio sni), so absolute identity of being and

His amiability and His the highest form of volitional life,
willing,
39

love,
i.

involves

e.,

substan
it

subsisting sanctity. that the intrinsic product of God
tial,

living,

Hence
s
(i.

is

notional
e.,

un
the

derstanding Son of God,
product
of

is

"Hypostatic Wisdom"

or Logos) His notional
Love"

while
volition

the

intrinsic
is

and love

"Hypostatic

(i.

e.,

the

God

s sanctity,

conceived as charity,
life,

spring of His volitional
Luke
but

Holy Ghost). is the main just as wisdom is
In the
c.

the mainspring of His living knowledge.
38

XVIII,

19:

"None

is

good

God
6.

alone."

Cfr.

Ps.

XXXVIII,
89 Cfr.

the

the profound dictum of Pseudo-Dionysius (De Divin.

"Est Deus amor Nomin., 4): bonus boni propter bonum ( Effrlv 6 9e6j *pws dyaBbs dyaBov dia rb dyaBov)
"

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
light of these truths

257

we understand

the principle

of moral theology, that "Charity is the fulfilment of the whole law," and that love of God (caritas) must be considered as the and "queen"
"soul"

of

all

virtues,

and,

consequently,

as

absolute

sanctity.

This deeper conception of the divine

attribute of sanctity as an affective and effec tive transformation of the infinitely Loving One
into the infinitely

Lovable Good
is

rather than as

a merely

of the highest equation" importance in aiding us to understand the es sence of sanctifying grace as well as the Third
"ethical

Person of the Most Holy Trinity. 40
b) In its relation to those creatures which are endowed with intellect (angels and men) the sanctity of God, like His relative (ontological) goodness, is fourfold.

In the

first place,

God

is

the inaccessible ideal and ex
all

emplar (causa exemplaris) of
pecially
in

created sanctity, es

the

Secondly,
justice

He

41 supernatural life of faith and glory. is the fount (causa efficient) of natural
"

and of supernatural sanctity through sanctify ing grace." The Sacraments also derive their sanctify ing power ex opere operate from God s sanctity, or,
by appropriation, from the Holy Ghost.
Thirdly, di vine sanctity is the causa finalis of creatural sanctity, inasmuch as the latter constitutes the aptest and most excellent medium of the glorification of God. 42

Lastly, the divine sanctity must be called the quasi-formal cause
40Cfr. Scheeben, Dogmatik, Vol.
I

am
42

holy."

Cfr.

I

Pet.
9:

I,
"

15

L

sq.

P-

734"For

41 Lev. XI, 44:

I

am

the

Compare Math. VI, nomen tuum tificetur
be thy
name,"

Sane-

Hallowed

Lord your God: be holy because

with

i

Thess. IV, 3:

258

ETHICAL GOODNESS, OR SANCTITY

(causa quasi formalis, scd non informans) of creatural
sanctity,

inasmuch as sanctifying grace inheres in the soul as a formal principle, as the Holy Ghost indwells

43 personally in the just.

3.

THE OBJECTIVE SANCTITY
is

OF GOD.
in a

The

term sanctity
ical sense, to

sometimes employed

non-eth

denote the dignity, the inviolability,
f

or the sacredness of a person or thing

augustum,

a) This objective sanctity, which
ontological goodness (bonum both to persons and things.

closely related to quod), may be attributed But since it grows in pro
is

portion with dignity, it is in the very nature of things greater in persons than in objects (objccta sacra, o<na). Therefore the Schoolmen were wont to designate the
"

angels

as

hyposiascs

cum

dignitate."

Creatures en
sui iuris,

dowed with
It

intellect are persons,

and therefore

inviolable, venerable,

in

and deserving of particular honor. It is is for this reason that slavery is so damnable. His Holiness ; this sense, too, that the Pope is called
" "

that

an asylum, or the
"sacred,"

last

will

of a dying man,

is

termed

Palestine

"the

Holy

Land,"

and so

These persons or objects are sacred or holy in forth. so far as they are honorable, and venerable, and alto
gether inviolable.
b) Manifestly God, Who sans phrase, because of His
"

is

the

infinite

supreme Good dignity must be
"

absolutely honorable and venerable, and therefore objec"

Haec

est

autem

roluntas

Dei,

per
est

sanctificatio vestra
will

For

this is the
"

of God, your sanctification." 43 Cfr. Caritas Rom. V, 5 : Vei diffusa est in cordibus nostris

Spiritum sanctum, qui datus The charity of God is nobis poured forth in our hearts, by the
is

Holy Ghost, who

given to

us."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
lively sacred or holy, both to
tures.

259

Himself and to His crea

In fact,

He

is

the Absolute Majesty, any violation

of which by blasphemy, sacrilege, or formal hatred, is an awful crime. As God, out of respect for Himself, must needs honor His own dignity and majesty (i. e.,
objective sanctity), so the merest self-respect also com pels Him to demand that every rational creature should

honor and respect His absolute dignity and majesty by paying Him the highest possible form of worship,
viz.:

divine

adoration
s

(adoratio,

latria).

Under

this

aspect objective sanctity may regarded as the formal motive of the virtus religionist The Bible frequently alludes to this divine attribute, as when, e.

God

be

Holy One of Israel," that is, must venerate or in those texts where the name of God is spoken of as holy and ter 45 rible." Creatures derive their objective sanctity from God as their exemplary and efficient cause. The dig nity of civil rulers is sacred and inviolable, because civil authority comes from God. The Bible sometimes refers to prophets and kings as on account gods of the dignity they had received from the Almighty.
g., it

refers to

God

as

"

the

He Whom

the Israelites

;

"

"

"

We

often refer to churches, vestments, pictures, relics, sacred (in the objective sense of the term), because, and in so far as, they are consecrated
rosaries, etc., as

by God and to His
the
Israelites

use. 46

In the same manner
of
the

among

Covenant was called "Sanctum Sanctorum," the place where Moses beheld the burning bush, land," and so forth. holy
the
"

Ark

44Mazzella
fusis,
n.

(De

Virtutibus

In-

45 Cfr. Ps.
terribile

holds
Thorn.,
S(J

a

45, 4th ed., Rome 1894), different view. Cfr. S.

CX, nomen

"

9:

Sanctum
reddere,

et

eius."

46 Consecrare

= sacrum

$ TheoL,

2-2ae, qu. 81, art.

4

2<5o

MORAL GOODNESS, OR BENEVOLENCE
Heinrich,

READINGS:

Scheeben, Dogmatik, Vol. I, Scannell s Manual, pp. 205
348 sqq.
Lessius,

Dogmat. Theologie, Vol. 99, 104 (summarized
sq.).

I,

201.

in

WilhelmS.

De

Perfect. Div.,

Kleutgen, 1. VIII.

De
J.

Ipso Deo, pp.
Stufler,
"

J.,

Die Heiligkeit Gottcs und der eimge Tod, Innsbruck 1904. Humphrey, His Di Boedder, Natural Theology, pp. 304 sqq.
vine
Majesty,"

pp.

98 sqq.

ARTICLE
GOD
i.

3

S

MORAL GOODNESS, OR BENEVOLENCE

DEFINITION

OF
is

MORAL

sanctity refers to the
ness, or benevolence,

bonnm

GOODNESS. As quod, so moral good

related to the
is

bonnm

cui.

a gratuitous The 47 love which promotes the happiness of others It follows that benevo out of sheer kindliness.
basic note of benevolence
lence can be attributed only to intelligent, per sonal beings, whilst the simple bonitas altcri s.
relativa
g.,

predicable also of irrational things (e. The the sun is good for terrestrial life).
is

contradictory

of

benevolence

is

malevolence

in (malevolentia), a disposition or inclination to jure others and to deprive them of their belong

ings.

a moral attribute, i. e. a virtue inherent in the will, God s benevolence corresponds to His Like veracity and veracity and faithfulness.
faithfulness, benevolence cannot be detached
its ontological basis.
47

As

from

Amor

gratuitus, benevolentia.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
2.

261

THE DOGMA.
God
s

The Vatican Council has de
"Hie
.
.

fined

benevolence in these terms:
.

solus verus

ad manifesDens bonitatc sua tandam perfectionem suam per bona, quae creaturis impertitur,

liberrimo consilio
. .

.

.

.

utramtuetur

que de nihilo condidit creaturam.
verOj quae condidit,

.

Universa

Deus providentia sua

atque gubernat, attingens a fine usque ad finem This one fortiter et disponens omnia suaviter
only true God, of His own goodness ... to manifest His perfection by the blessings which He bestows on creatures, and with absolute free

dom

of counsel

.

.

.

created out of nothing

.

.

.

both the spiritual and corporal creature. God protects and governs by His Providence
.

.

.

all

things which
to
ly.
"

He hath made, reaching from end end mightily, and ordering all things sweet
48

a) In extension and essence God s benevolence may be the firm will which He has, out of characterized as
"

pure but free love to confer natural as well as super natural benefits upon His creatures, according to the nature and final destiny of each." Its root lies in His
Its ontological goodness. ous love for His creatures

motive is God s gener whatever contravenes this Hence the love, runs counter to His Divine Nature.
;

49

48 Cone.
n.

Vat.,

Sess.

Ill,

c.

i.

titate,

(Denzinger-Bannwart,
1783).

Enchiridion,

nem,

sicut

propendet ad sui communiovas perfect e plenum ad
liquoris."

effusionem sui
eo
sit
enim,"

(Dc Perf,

48
"

"

Ex

quod res

says Lessius, perfecta in sua en-

Divin., VIII, i.)

262
Bible
iarLv)

MORAL GOODNESS, OR BENEVOLENCE
"

says simply:

Dens

caritas est

(

O

0co

ayd-

God
est

is charity."

St. Ignatius of
"Amor

Antioch had
cruci-

a beautiful motto to this effect:
fixus
fied."

("Epox;

f.fjjbs

cVraupturai)

My

meus kove is

cruci

Pseudo-Dionysius, in calling God benevolent and not deliberately and by choice, but by His generous 51 did not mean to deny the freedom with very nature,"
"

which
that
it

He
is

dispenses His favors, but only to emphasize not a matter of free choice with God either

to be or not to be love.
acteristic,

In virtue of this essential char
is

Divine Love

creative; for,
rebus."

"Amor
R2

Dei

est

inf undcns ct crcans bonitatcm in

b) Considering the attribute of divine benevolence in
respect of
"

its

comprehension,

we must
and

say that
is

it

prises all created beings,
is

rational

irrational.

com God

the All-Good
all

One,"

His benevolence

universal.

To

begin with,

irrational creatures constantly receive

For not only does food to the young ravens, 53 but He clothes the give lilies of the field, and without His will not a sparrow 54 falls from the roof. Therefore there exists no more
innumerable favors at His hands.

He

beautiful

CXLIV,
ct
tit

formula for saying grace Ocnli omnium in 15 sq.
"

at

table

than Ps.

:

te sperant,

Domine,

das escam illorum in tempore opportune ; apcris tu manum tuam et imples omne animal bencdictione

The eyes of
them meat
fillest

all

in

hope in thee, O Lord, and thou givest due season. Thou openest thy hand, and

with blessing every living creature." It is char acteristic of Dante s profundity of conception that he
r.o i

61

De

John IV, 1 6. Div. Nomin.,
Thorn.,
2.

Dogmatik, Vol.
c.

Ill,

202,

and Lcs3.

4.

sius,

De

Perf. Dirin., IX,

52 S.
20,
ties
art.
"

5.

On

Thcol., la, qu. the eight quali"

53 Ps.

CXLVI,

9.

84 Math. VI, 28, X, 29.

of benevolence, cfr. Scheeben,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
closes his Paradiso with the line:
il
"

263
che muove

L amor

sole e

I

altre

55
stelle."

But nothing can equal God s love for man, both as a species and as an individual. The free creation of the human race and its immediate elevation to the supernatural plane, was the first and fundamental proof of divine benevolence towards man. Cfr. Ps. VIII, 6: Mimiisti eum paulo minus ab angclis, gloria et honore Thou hast made him a little less than coronasti eum the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and
"

honor.
did not

Even
fail

after

man had
The Lord
and

fallen,
"

God

s

benevolence

him.
r>G

and the
et

unjust,"
"

idolatrous gentiles,
tra

upon the just blessings upon the de coclo, dans plmias benefaciens
raineth

showers

tempora fructifera, implens cibo ct laetitia corda nosDoing good from heaven, giving rains and fruitful 57 seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."

The acme of His
"

love

for

humankind

is

reached in

the Incarnation, this mystery of love, in the light of which the mysterium iniquitatis literally pales into insignifi cance. John III, 16: "For God so loved the world,
"

In as to give his only begotten Son." gave us the most precious thing He had.
"

His Son
.

He

Rom. VIII, hath He that spared not even his own Son 32 With he not also, with him, given us all things ? kindly care He consults for each and every indi
:

.

.

"

vidual man.

Cfr.

forget her infant,

of her
I
66
"

womb?
thee.
will

"Can a woman XLIX, 15 sq. so as not to have pity on the son And if she should forget, yet will not

Is.

:

forget
like a

Behold,
roll

I

have

graven
and
all

thee

in

my

But yet the

d onward,

That moves the sun in heav n
the
stars."

wheel

In even motion, by the Love
impell

(Gary

s

Translation.)

56 Math. V, 4557 Acts XIV, 16.

264

MORAL GOODNESS, OR BENEVOLENCE
The
history of Divine Providence
"

hands."

is

an elo

Quam bonus quent commentary on Wisdom XII, I How et suavis est, Domine, spiritus tuns in omnibus and sweet is thy spirit, O Lord, in all things." Such good boundless love should elicit a strong and ardent affection
:
"

in

return.
first

Let us therefore love God, because
68
us."

God

hath

loved

202. READINGS: Heinrich, Dogmat. Theologie, Vol. Ill, *Lessius, De Perfect. Divin., Scheeben, Dogmatik, Vol. I, 98. IX. St. Thomas, Contr. Gent., I, 91 (Rickaby, Of God and 1.

His Creatures,

pp.

67

sq.).
&8
i

IDEM, S. Theol,
John IV,
19.

la,

qu. 20.

SECTION

5

GOD AS ABSOLUTE BEAUTY
I.

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.

The nature

of beauty has been the subject of much contro The safest thing for the theologian to versy. do is to adopt the Patristic, which is also the
Scholastic, view.
describes the beau Angel of the Schools Those Pulchra sunt, quac visa pla-cent tiful thus: are beautiful which please when seen." 1 Hence, things
"
"

a)

The

"

clearly,

aesthetic

pleasure or delectation

is is

of the es

sence
effectu,
"

of
as

beauty.

But

this

definition

merely

ex
:

was already observed by

St.

Augustine

pulchra sunt quia delectant, sed ideo dcThings are not beautiful be pulchra sunt cause they please, but they please because they are 2 To determine the essence of beauty we beautiful."
ideo
lectant, quia

Non

must therefore seek out the cause of
This cause, according 3 Unitas in variety
"

aesthetic pleasure.

Augustine, is unity amid multiplicitatc" but so that unity
to
St.

is

the

forma
to the
ject
15".

Omnis pulchritudinis Now, if unity is to give pure pleasure mind of him who contemplates it, the beautiful ob
determining
4

element:

"

unitas"

must needs be
TheoL,

visible
ad
59.

and evident.
i.
3"

A

hidden or im-

la, qu. 5, art. 4,

2

De Vera

Relig., c. 32, n.

4 S.

Unitas in multiplied ate." August., Ep. 18 ad Coelestin.

265
18

266

ABSOLUTE BEAUTY

pleasure.

perceptible unity, could not be productive of aesthetic B St. Thomas resolves the Augustinian con

cept of beauty into the

following three essential ele

ments: completeness of the whole (pcrfectio rci), har monious relation of its parts (proportio debita partium), and, shed over all, a certain definiteness, clearness, lustre
or
splendor
(claritas).
"

Claritas

renders
"

a

beautiful

object visible to the
is

the basis of
is

mind; the proportio debita partium and the perfectio unity in variety
;

rei

the necessary foundation of both, because that which is imperfect lacks both proportion and clearness. 8

b)
is

From what we have
related
to

said

it

follows that beauty

essentially also to truth

and will, and Truth and goodness are linked together by the notion of ens, with which they
the
intellect

and goodness.
;

are

both convertible but they are still more closely bound up with the concept of beauty, because Beauty as it were draws with one hand from the well of truth, and with the other from the fountain of goodness. It holds the middle between truth and goodness. St. Augustine
calls
it

brightness of reality," while St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that between beauty and goodness there is only a logical distinction. 8
"splendor

vcri

the

7

A

beautiful object

good (i. e., per fect) in order to be able to elicit from the beholder pure love of complacency (amor complaccntiae). But
6
5".

must above

all

else be

TheoL,

la,

qu.

39,
S.

art.
J.,

8.

tunt,

de ratione boni
pulchri
. . .

6 Cfr.

John Rickaby,
147 sqq. Ch. Coppens,
pp.

GenSe-

eo

quietetur appetitus.

eral
ries),

Metaphysics
pp.

(Stonyhurst
S.
sq.,
J.,

tionem

quod Sed ad pertinet, quod
est,

in
ra-

in

eius aspectu seu cognitione quietetur

7 Cfr.
lish

Eng~

Rhetoric,

98

3rd ed.,
qu.
est
17,

New York
8 Cfr.
art.
i,
5".

1887.

TheoL,

i-2ae,

Et sic patet, quod appetitus. pulchrum addit supra bonum quendam ordinem ad vim cognoscitivam, it a quod bonum dicatur id quod
simpliciter complacet appetitui, pulchrum autem id cuius ipsa appre-

ad 3:

"Pulchrum

idem

bono, sola ratione differens.

Quum

enim bonum

sit,

quod omnia appe-

hensio

placet."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
it

267
if
it

must

also be clear

and evident, because
easily

lacked

evidence, the

perceive the con formity and grouping of the various parts around the central point of unity. Whence follows the important deduction, that the intellect, and the intellect alone,
perceives beauty; while the will, and the will alone, is the seat of aesthetic pleasure. Beauty, therefore, is a supra-sensual quality; and this holds true not only with

mind could not

regard to spiritual beings, such as God, the angels, and the soul, but also in respect of material objects, such as

The irrational brute may painting, sculpture, music, etc. perceive a beautiful object, but it can not perceive its
(intelligible)

with Kleutgen

beauty. 9 as

We may
"

therefore define beauty

rei bonitas,

quatenns haec mente
object, in so far
pleasure."

cognita delectat

The goodness of an

as this, perceived by the mind, affords
c)

materially coincide, the former must be a transcendental attribute of being like the latter. 10 In matter of fact the elements of beauty, i. e., perfection, harmonious proportion, and clearness, or splendor, are proper to all objects in the same manner
in

As beauty and goodness

which being
2.

is

11 proper to them.

PLES.

DOGMATIC APPLICATION OF THESE PRINCI Though the Church has never defined it
and Tradition an attribute of

make

as of faith, yet Sacred Scripture it quite certain that beauty is
9 De Ipso Deo, p. 418. 10 Cfr. Pseudo-Dionysius,
"

Jungmann,

De

Div.

Eorum quae sunt, Nomin., c. 4: nullum est quin pulchri et boni particeps
sit

No

thing

exists

but

what partakes of beauty and goodness."

11

On

S. J., Asthetik, 3rd ed., Freiburg 1886; G. Gietmann, S. J., Allgemeine Asthetik, Freiburg 1899; John Rickaby, S. J., General Metaphysics, pp. 147 sqq.; Chas. Coppens, S. J., English Rhetoric, 3rd ed., pp. 98 sqq., New

Vol.

I,

the subdivisions of beauty,

York

1887.

sublimity, elegance, charm, etc., see

268

ABSOLUTE BEAUTY

Perhaps no divine attribute has been so generally neglected by theologians as this, owing
God.
probably to the circumstance that in the unsettled state of the science of aesthetics it was not easy to

determine whether beauty must be classed as a or as a "mixed" perfection of the Divine
"pure"

Essence.

We

claim that

it is

a pure perfection;

that the notion of

te

pulchrum is formally predica that beauty in its formal sense is God; proper to God that He is primordial beauty, allthan any beauty, and beautiful in a higher sense
of
;

creature,
is

and

that, precisely for this reason,

He

the exemplar

and the cause of

all

created

beauty.
for if a) Reason tells us that God must be beautiful; the elements of beauty He contains within His Essence the (perfection, harmonious proportion, and splendor), these elements attribute which necessarily results from

must

perfection His coalesce infinitely numerous good qualities (not parts) in His Divine Essence into a most intensive unity; and,
also be His.

Now, God

is infinite

;

finally,

He is all quently, He must
universe
that

and conse light, and pure clarity, be beautiful. The Book of Wisdom
Creator
"

concludes

from the beauty manifest
the
is

in the physical transcendently beautiful.
[i.

Wisdom
etc.]
si

XIII, 3

sq.

:

Quorum

e.,

ignis, coeli, solis,

specie [pulchritudine]

delectati deos putaverunt,

sdant quanta his dominator eorum speciasior [pulchrior] KaAAov? yawtapx7 5 ) est; speciei enim generator (6 With whose beauty [ris., that haec omnia constituit
ro\>

?

of

fire,

the sun, etc.],

if

they, being delighted, took

them

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
to be gods:

269

let them know how much the Lord of more beautiful than they: for the first author of beauty made all those things." Scripture frequently

them

is

compares the beauty of God to a garment wrapped about
the Divine Essence.
Cfr.

Prov.

XXXI,
"

tude

et

decor indumentum eius
clothing."

25: "Forti Strength and beauty

are her

Ps. CIII,

I

sq.

amictus lumine sicut vestimento

Decorem induisti, Thou ... art clothed
:

with
"

light as

with a
" "

garment."

Ecclesiasticus compares

Eternal
calls

Wisdom
it

and
ticle

to the splendor of exquisite flowers, mother of beautiful love." In the Can

of Canticles Divine Beauty appears in the guise of a charming bride-groom. 12 With the exception of St. Augustine, who has written on the subject with his usual

profundity, the Fathers seldom descant on this divine at
tribute.

b)

God

is

of beauty truth and goodness. And in the same manner that He is true in virtue of being Himself the Truth, He is beautiful in virtue of being Himself Beauty, because

not only beautiful, He is the very essence (pulchritudo a se), just as He is essential

beauty

is

His own Essence.

This proposition

is

demon
ele
claritas.

strable as a theological conclusion

from the three

ments of beauty: perfectio, proportio partium,
perfection itself. monas, comprising within Himself
is

God

infinite

13

He
all

is

the subsisting
14

being,

and

He

is light

Consequently, He is substantial, This becomes still clearer subsisting, aseitarian Beauty. if we apply to Him St. Augustine s definition of beauty,

and splendor.

15

viz.:

"Unity

in

variety."

There can be no greater

variety than that implied in
12 Cfr.
"

God

s

infinite

perfections;

Cant.

Cantic.,

I,

15:

Ecce tu pulcher es, dilecte mi, et decorus Behold thou art fair, my
beloved, and
comely."

13 Supra, pp. 180 sqq. 1* Supra, pp. 196 sqq. 15 Supra, pp. 225 sqq.

270

ABSOLUTE BEAUTY
its

nor a more intensive unity than the identity of the
Divine Essence with
attributes.

Consequently the
;

notion of beauty is realized in God absolutely and the more perfectly as the element of multiplicity

all
is

not confined to the virtually distinct properties of the Divine Essence, but applies in an even higher degree to the real distinction of the Divine Persons. Abso
lute

unity
16

in

real

trinity

must culminate

in

absolute

beauty.

Because God is Primordial Beauty, therefore He is All-Beauty, and excels every species of created beauty, as Nazianzen intimates when he says Who is all
"

:

17 We will not re beauty and far beyond all beauty." hearse the utterances of Pseudo-Dionysius, who has written so sublimely on the beauty of God, because we

know now
tles,"

that this

"

supposed

disciple of
in

the

Apos

such high esteem, was not the real Areopagite, but a Christian pupil of the Neo-Platonist philosopher Proclus (-(-485). The sooner theologians cease quoting Pseudo-Dionysius as
the

whom

Schoolmen held

an authority, the
of the
18

better.

He
it

can at most serve as a
existed in the latter part of the sixth cen

witness to Tradition such as
fifth

and

in

the

early part

tury.
c) How is Divine Beauty related to created beauty? Divine Beauty is the ideal and source of all created beauty, both in the spiritual and the material order.
16

Why

beauty

is

especially
is

propriated to the Logos, plained by St. Thomas, S.
ia, qu.

apex-

sius Areopagita in seinen Besiehungen sum Ncuplatonismus und Myarticle

TheoL,

30, art. 8.

17 Or.
Virginit.,

Theol., 2.
cap.

Cfr.
"No

n:

IDEM, De one is so

stcricnwcsen, Mainz 1900. Also the Dionysius, the Pseudo-Arein the Catholic Encycloopagite," pedia, Vol. V, pp. 13 sqq. and
"

obtuse as to be unable to see that God alone is beauty /car
e^ox^",

Bardenhewer-Shahan, Patrology, pp. 535 sqq. Freiburg and St. Louis
1908.

in the original and exclusive sense." is Cfr. H. Koch, Pseudo-Diony-

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
With reference
"

271

to

Wisdom

XIII, 3 sqq., St. Hilary

magnitudine enim operum et pulchritudine creaturarum consequenter generationum c auditor Magnorum Creator in maximis est, et pulconspicitur.
teaches:

De

cherrimorum conditor in pulcherrimis" Augustine con Nulla extra te pulchra essent, nisi essent abs fesses: te No beautiful objects would exist outside of Thee, 19 and deplores had they not received being from Thee,"
"

his
"

own
te
.

defection

from the Source of Beauty thus:
et tarn
te

Sero
.

amain, pulchritudo tarn antiqua
eras,
et

nova.

.

Et ecce intus
et

ego

foris,
fecisti,

et ibi

bam bam

in ista formosa,

quae

cient,

late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so new, too late have I loved Thee! And behold Thou wast within, and I was abroad, and there I sought Thee, and deformed as I was, ran after

Too

quaeredeformis irrueBeauty so an

O

those beauties which
for himself,

Thou

hast

made."

20

Unfortunately

the great Bishop of Hippo had not fol 21 lowed the advice of St. Isidore of Seville, who urged that fallen man should use the beauties of creation
as a ladder

whereby to ascend to Primordial Beauty. the beauty is most splendidly reflected, not by or the vegetable, or the animal kingdom, nor mineral, immortal soul of man, yet by the fine arts, but by the which presents a likeness and an image of Divine Beauty. in Origen says: "The human soul is most beautiful; for it possesses a beauty that is truly marvelous fact,

God

s

;

the

Artist

Who

created

it

said:

Let

according to

Our image and

likeness.

Us make man What can be
similitude?"

more
Let
it

beautiful

than such beauty and

22

be added, however, that the soul

is

capable of

10 Confess., IV. 10. 20 Confess., X, 27.

22 Horn, in Ezech., 7. (See S. Thorn., S. TheoL, la, qu. 3, art. i
I, 4.

2\De Summo Bono,

sqq.)

272

ABSOLUTE BEAUTY

various degrees of beauty according as it is consid ered as the natural or the supernatural image of its Creator. The infusion of sanctifying grace, the forma
tion in the soul of the

of the

image of Christ, the immersion into the beatific light of the Divine Sub spirit

stance produce in man a degree of beauty which no tongue can utter and no pen is able to describe. 23 Therefore ascetic writers justly claim that the attain

ment of moral perfection is the noblest of all arts, and no masterpiece of art can be compared to a holy soul. The most beautiful product of Divine Art is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in whose person innumerable privileges and perfections are harmoniously blended. Jesus Christ Himself the (as Aoyos evaapto? Word made Flesh) would have to be called the apex of creatural beauty, and therefore the most faithful image of Divine Beauty, were it not for the fact that we must admire in Him rather the Hypostatic Union
that

=

of created with Uncreated Beauty. For in His Divine Nature Christ is Substantial Beauty, while created beauty 24 shines forth in His human nature only.

Closely related to beauty
of sublimity

is

the divine attribute
t

(sublimitas,
s

/ieyoAoTrpcVcux)

which

is

rooted

in

God

infinity,

and omnipotence.
scribe
keiten
ed.

incomprehensibility, Several of the Psalms de
in

this

attribute

language of imposing
Cfr.
"

23Cfr. Scheeben, Die Herrlichder gdttlichen Gnade, 6th

Clem.

Alex.,

Strom.,
.

II,

5:

Rcdemptor
pulchritude,

nosier

Freiburg 1897.

nam

24 Cfr. Ps.

XLIV,
filiis

"

3:
tuis

Speciosus
diffusa

Our Saviour ...
ty,

vera erat lux vera is the true Beau. .

est

jorma prae
cst gratia

hominum,

because

in

labiis

beautiful

grace

is

above the poured abroad in thy

Thou art sons of men:
lips."

On
ben,

He was the true Light." the whole subject, cfr. J. SouLes
la

dans

Manifestations du Nature, Paffs 1901.

Bean

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
grandeur, and the famous has rightly been reckoned
cious
"Prayer

273
Habacuc"

of
25

among
Vol.
sqq.).

the most pre

gems
:

of the world
Scheeben,

s literature.

READINGS
Scannell
s

Dogmatik,
I,

I,

85

(Wilhelm-

Manual, Vol.

pp. 206

*Kleutgen,

De
VI,

Ipso
8.

Deo,
berg,

pp.

417 sqq. Franzelin, De Deo Uno, thes. 30. Delia Bellezsa di Dio Petavius, De Deo,
III,

Nierem-

Thomassin, De Deo, VII, Oeniponte 1895.
burgi 1902.

*Stentrup, De Deo Uno, cap. H. Krug, De Pulchritudine Divina, Fri19 sqq.
"His

Humphrey,

Divine

Majesty,"

pp. 113 sqq.,

Lon

don

1897.
25 Habacuc, Ch. III.

CHAPTER
GOD
S

II

CATEGORICAL ATTRIBUTES OF BEING
categories
(Karrjyopiai,

The
menta)

so-called
differ

pracdicaattributes

from the transcendental

of being in that they are not univocally predicable of all being, but of certain determined classes of

concrete beings to their highest genera, Aristotle arrived at the ten so-called categories: substance (owia) and the

being only.

By

reducing

all

nine accidents
tity
(irotroV),

:
(<n>/i/?c/V<>)

quality (woioV),

quan
time

relation

(*/*>

n), place

u/

(
t

),

(TroTe)^ position or attitude (situs, ^aOai) habitus or external belongings (e\w potency and fac 1 ulties), action (irouiv), and passion (Werxv, pati).

=

In entering upon the discussion of the remain ing attributes of God, we base the theological teaching concerning them

genera essendi,
of

i.

e.,

"the

upon these summa two all-embracing
to

classes (substance

and accident),

one or other

things capable of being do not, of conceived in thought belong." mean to apply the predicaments to God course,
all terrestrial

which

We

in their strict sense
i Cfr.

God

is

beyond and above

in the "Category" Clarke, Logic, pp. 187 Catholic Encyclopedia III, 433 sqq.

sqq., and the article

274

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
all

275

categories of being but we employ them merely as points of departure and development.
"Relation"

(irpfa

)

is

omitted

here,

because

plays Blessed Trinity, with which we are not specially concerned in this volume. 2 "Quality" and "habi

it

its

part chiefly in the doctrine of the

we have already done with. Hence there remain to be considered only two groups of
tus"

and categories: "action," (i) "Substance" which by the method of affirmative differentia
give us the two positive attributes of absolute substantiality and omnipotence; (2)
tion
"Quantity,"
"passion,"

and

Keio-tfai)^

and ( which by the method of negative
"time,"

"space,"

differentiation give us the four negative attri butes of incorporeity, unchangeableness, eternity,

and omnipresence.
2

Hence we
lish

shall divide this

chapter into six sections.
Pohle
s

treatise
v.,

Trinity will, D.

on the Divine appear in Eng-

as

a

separate

volume in the

near future.

SECTION
GOD
i.

i

S

ABSOLUTE SUBSTANTIALITY

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS. An accident by its very nature inheres in some other being as
while substance, on subject (esse in alio) the other hand, essentially connotes inseity (esse i. in se) e., it essentially excludes the notion
its
;
;

"Substance is of a subject in which to inhere. being, inasmuch as this being is by itself (per 1 accident is that whose being is to be in se)
;

2

something

else."

Inseity must not be confounded with aseity, and a sharp distinction must be drawn between ens a se and

ens in

se.

It

was because he confused these two no
"

tions, after the

example of Descartes, that Spinoza fell one sub into the error of teaching that there is but and exten stance with two attributes, z /s., spirituality
"

sion.

3

While

it

is
"

quite true that the ens

in

se,

like

the ens a se }
i

is
in

an independent
order
to

being,"

they

differ
alio,

The

Schoolmen,

accident,

which
least

exists

or

leave per se applicable to both uncreated and created substance, have chosen a se to signify the special character of the former. A sub-

which

at

naturally,

whatever

may happen

preternaturally, has its being only by inherence in a subCfr. Rickaby, General Metaject.
physics, p. 253. 2 S. Thorn., De Potentia, a.
3
7.

stance
or

is

that

which
its

exists

per

se,

which
("

has
cut

own proper
sui

be-

ing
esse,

id

rations

convenit

cui
;

alio

")

non in competit esse and thus it is opposed to

Spinoza, Ethic., p. I, def. Cfr. Descartes, De Princip., I, 5.

3.

276

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
essentially.

277

For, while the ens a se is independent not of any subject in which to inhere, but likewise of only all extrinsic factors, the ens in se- (i. e., substance)

has the first-mentioned kind of independence, but not the latter, except when it possesses at the same time
aseity.

Hence the ens
well
say,

in se, like the ens in alio

(i.

e.,

accident), may cause that is to
;

be

dependent upon
is

an
its

external

there

nothing in

essence
alia,

which would prevent
a contingent being.

it

from being an ens ab
it

or

The foregoing explanation makes
"
"

clear

that
in

the

its does not lie primarily substance quiddity of function of being the subject (Wo/cei/xevov) of accidents. On the contrary, substance is substance because it is

formally esse in

se,

no matter whether there are ac

cidents or not (though, of course, de facto, no created substance can exist without accidents). If we thus

eliminate

its

for accidents,

accessory function of furnishing a subject "substance" immediately becomes a sim

ple perfection predicable of
its

God

;

while

"

accident/

by

very nature, can connote only a mixed perfection, inasmuch as, in the words of St. Anselm, it is manifestly
"

better not to be an accident than to be an
2.

accident."

4

THE DOGMA.
God
is

It

is

an

article

of

faith

that

a substance:

"Una

essentia, sub-

stantia

natura simplex omnino One es 5 sence, an absolutely simple substance or. nature/
sen
singularis
6
S.
.
. .

"Una

substantia

One
Die

sole

.

.

.

substance."

*Cfr. John Rickaby,
eral

J.,

Gen-

K.

Ludewig,

Substanstheorie
"

sqq.; 245 K. Gutberlet, Allg. Metaphysik, 3rd i, Miinster 1897; ed., Chapter III,

Metaphysics,

pp.

bei Cartesius, Fulda 1893. 5 Cone. Lateran. IV, cap. ter
-"

FirmiI.

6 Cone. Vatican., Sess. Ill, cap.

278

ABSOLUTE SUBSTANTIALITY

The Scriptural proof for this dogma is based on God s aseity, from which His substan
a)

must of necessity follow, because the ens a se must necessarily also be ens in se; for, if the
tiality

ens a se

(

nw) were

a

mere

accident,

it

would

be intrinsically dependent upon some other being as its subject, and consequently would not be ens a se. In virtue of its self-existence,
therefore,

the Divine Substance necessarily se, and admits of no accidents. It

is

substantia a

is consequently pure inseity without depending upon accidents for any, even the In this slightest perfection.

Augustine teaches: "Alia quae dicuntnr essentiae sive snbstantiae, capiunt aecidentia, quibus in eis Hat vel magna vel quanta-

sense St.

cunque mutatio; Deo antem aliquid huinsmodi
accidere non potest, ideo sola est incommunicabilis substantia But other things that are called essences or substances admit of accidents, where

by a change, whether great or small, is produced in them. But there can be no accident of this
kind in respect of God and therefore He 7 only unchangeable substance or essence/
;

is

the

This

is

also the teaching of the Schoolmen.
b) Inasmuch, however, as God, being their exemplary efficient cause, comprises within Himself virtually

and

or eminently all finite substances, we might also desig nate Him as the universal substance (substantia univer1

De

Trinit.,

V,

2,

3.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
salis),

279

were

it

interpretation of

not for the danger of a pantheistic mis this term. To preclude any such mis

understanding, theology has recourse to a twofold method.

hand it proclaims God as dvovVtos (not-subwhile on the other it refers to Him as wrcpoiWx? stance), God as ens a se is a substance in a (super-substance).
the one
different
ovvla as
cally,

On

and higher sense than any creature.

Hence

a predicament cannot be applied to Him univobut only analogically, and we may truly say
is

that

He
is

not a substance in the sense in which the

term

applied to creatures.

On

the other hand,

how

ever, the concept of substance may be attributed to Him in a far deeper and truer meaning than to creature,

because

He

is

6

u>i/,

while they are
is

p-rj

ov\

any and from

this point of

view

it

correct to call

Him

the Super-

Substance, in the sense that He is indeed a true sub stance, but one which utterly transcends all categories.

This

is

the express teaching of the

Fathers and also

of Boethius. 8

the foregoing exposition flows an important corollary; namely, that the concepts of "super-substance" and "non-substance" pre
c)

From

clude the possibility of any commingling or com position of God s Essence with the essence of the created universe. The Church, therefore,
fatal blow when it defined, through the Council of Chalcedon, that "Christ is in both natures, the divine and the human,

dealt

Pantheism a

8 Cfr.

De
in

"

Trinit.,

c.

4:

Subsubis

Thomas
tiles, I,

in

h

3

Summa

Contra Gen19

stantia
stantia,

illo

non
ultra

est

vere

25 (summarized by Rickaby,

sed

substantiam."

Of God and His
sq.).

Creatures, pp.

The teaching
most

of

the
set

Schoolmen
forth

effectively

by

St.

28o
dtrvyxv

ABSOLUTE SUBSTANTIALITY
^
9
drpe7TTo>?

immutabilitcr) and through the Vatican Council [Dcus] "praedicandus cst re et cssentia a mundo distinctits
(incotifitse,
,"

:

.

.

.

ct

super omnia, quac praeter ipsum sunt et

concipi possunt, ineffabiliter cxcclsus [God] is to be declared as really and essentially distinct

all

from the world. things which
Himself."

.

.

and ineffably exalted above

is

except In the light of these definitions it inconceivable that God should become part of

exist, or are conceivable,

or that

some other substance, as the Pantheists allege, He should assume the role of "worldn soul."
e

Denzinger-Bannwarth,

Enchiri-

ben, Dogmatik, Vol.
rich,

dion, n. 148. 10 Ibid., n. 1782.

Dogm.
They

Schwetz,
15.
"

I, 76; HeinTheol., Vol. Ill, 173; Theol. Dogmat., Vol. I,

Christology to show that the Hypostatic Union does not neutralize this dogma, but rather postulates it. For a more detailed explanation, consult Schee-

11 It

belongs

to

all

treat

this

attribute

"

in

connection

On

unity, the teaching of St. Thomas, cfr.
t.

with

divine

L. Janssens, De Deo Uno, 214 sqq. Friburgi 1900.

I,

pp.

SECTION
GOD
I.

2

S

ABSOLUTE CAUSALITY, OR OMNIPOTENCE
OBSERVATIONS.
a)

PRELIMINARY

Power

or potency (potentia activa, &W/us) in its active sense signifies "the ability to make something"
Its contradictory is powerless(facere, n-owir). ness or impotency (impotentia) Omnipotence or almightiness, therefore, denotes God s ability
.

But this is merely a nomi things. nal definition and does not reach the proper es
to
all

make

1

sence of Almightiness, because the term is indefinite. Nor can this defect be cured by say ing, as do several of the Fathers and not a few
"all"

theologians,
wills";

that

"God

can do whatever
is liable

He
mis

because this proposition

to

omnipotence does not extend beyond His actual will, while in reality the Divine almightiness embraces also
interpretation

namely, that

God

s

such things as are de facto not willed by God, 2 While though He could will them if He would.

God
1

s

omnipotence thus has a much wider exS.

Cfr.

Augustin.,

De
est,

Trinit.

vult,

nihil

autem

vult,

quod non
things

IV, 7:
nia
2 Cfr.
"

"Omnipotent

qui omc.

potest

God can do many

potest."

S.

Augustin.,

Enchir.,
et

95

:

Multa potest Deus

non

actually will; but He wills nothing that it is not in His power to do."

which

He

does not

281

282

OMNIPOTENCE
He
on

tension than His actual will, inasmuch as

can do whatever

He

can

will,

it

is

limited,

the other hand, by an insuperable barrier, in that God can neither will nor do that which is in
the Calvinist Vortrinsically impossible. stius undertook to include the impossible within

When

the concept of divine omnipotence, he failed to see that to exclude the impossible does not limit

but rather perfects God s almightiness, as Hugh of St. Victor explains: "Deus omnia potest ideo vere omnipotens quae posse potentia est, et
est,

quid impotcns esse non

3
potest."

God cannot do because
in

b) Theologians specify five classes of things which have they are impossible.

We

the
"

first

things
circle,

all place to exclude from the concept such contradictions as are involved in a square
"

All such notions

a created ens a sc, a dual God, and the like. embody mutually exclusive notes, and
"

therefore can denote no other object than pure noth and it is therefore plain that by their very na ing,"
ture they cannot be included in the concept of almighti ness. This concept, consequently, includes only what
is intrinsically possible. In the second place there is the impossibility of making past things undone, e. g., to delete the events recorded by history, or to turn
"

back the wheel of
Jerome,
4
"cum

"

time."

And enter

loquar"

says St.

omnia possit Deus, suscitare virginem I make bold to affirm that, ruinam non potest post God is omnipotent, He cannot restore virginity though
once
3
it

has been
I, 2,

destroyed."
22.

For, as Kleutgen poign* Ep. 22

De

Sacram.,

ad Eustoch.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

283

antly argues, "Facia infecta facere perinde est atque To facere, ut eadem sint et non sint, quod repugnat make a fact undone would, be tantamount to making a

thing to be and not to be, which Nor, in the third place, can God
to
sin

is

a

contradiction."

5

commit
"

sin,

because
that
is,

implies

not

"

"

facere

but

deficerc,"

a lack of perfection in action, which would annul His 6 omnipotence. Generally speaking, God can do nothing which would contradict His Essence or His attributes;
e.

g.,

to

change His substance, to
;

die,

or to

move from

place to place

Himself, and of His unchangeableness has once freely decreed,
as
to

for by any such action He would destroy therefore also His omnipotence. 7 Because

God cannot revoke what He
such decisions, for instance,
world,
to

create

a

visible,

redeem the human
though

race, to
it

is

permit Christ to die on the cross, etc. possible, of course, that some other

Economy

different

from the present might be governed by en

tirely different divine decrees.

The

latter, therefore, in

the language of the
tentid absoluta,

Schoolmen, are possible only pos.
ordinata."

not potentid ordinarid

8

Omnipotence may consequently be defined s power to do whatever He can will, in as far as it is not repugnant to His Essence. The moot question whether omnipotence as an
c)

as

God

5

De
"

Ipso Deo,
S.

p.

384.
ia,

test.

6 Cfr.

Theol.,

3:

Peccare

qu. 25, art. est posse deficere in

ista

tent, tent,

Et idea omnipotens est, quia non potest God is omnipo and because He is omnipo

agenda,
tiae."

quod repugnat
S.

omnipoten-

He
in

cannot
the
II,

die,

or err, or

lie,

and,

7

Cfr.

Augustin.,
"

Serm.
Detts

de

(2

Tim.

Symbol, ad Catech.,
nipotent,
et

I:
sit

om

words of the Apostle cannot deny 13), He
is

Himself.
precisely
8 Cfr.
5,

And He
for
S.

cum

omnipotent
that

omnipotens,

the

reason
ia,

mori non potest, falli non potest, mentiri non potest, et quod ait
Apostolus, seipsum negare non po

He

cannot do these

things."

Theol.,

qu. 25, art.

ad

i.

284
attribute
will of
will
is
(i.

OMNIPOTENCE
is

distinct
9

God,
e.,

from the intellect and the or whether it coincides with the
practical

the

knowledge of God),

of

no
in

dogmatic

importance.

We

follow

conceiving omnipotence as an at tribute of being, not of divine life; for it is per

Scheeben

se a quiescent attribute.
2.

THE DOGMA
is
"Credo

OF GOD
is

S

OMNIPOTENCE.
affirmed by
all

That God
the creeds.

almighty
in

a

dogma

Deiun Patron omnipotenalmighty,"

tcm
the
the

I

believe in God, the Father

Apostles

Creed.
defines:

The Fourth Council
"Dens
10
. . .

says of

Lateran
is

God ...
osition:

almighty."

omnipotens Abelard s prop
possit

"Quod

ea

solummodo
alio,"

Dcus
vel eo

facer e vcl dimittcre, vcl co tantnm

modo
11

tcmpore, quo facit ct non
as heretical by Innocent
tribute of

was condemned

II,

A. D. II4I.

a) Omnipotence may be called a standing at God for the Bible employs the epithet
;

"omnipotens"

more than seventy
is

times.

The

The way

and especially *1& names as which Holy Scripture paraphrases this attribute shows how we are to conceive it. Job XLII, 2: "Scio, quia omnia potes I know that thou canst do all things/ Mark
in
9 Cfr.

divine might tion of such

also the fundamental significa

^

V

S.

Thorn.,

1.

c.:

"Intel-

10 Cone. Lateran. IV,

c.

I.

ligentia dirigit, voluntas imperat, po-

n Denzinger-Bannwarth,
dion, n. 374.

Enchiri-

tentia

exequitur."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES XXXVI,
possible."

285

14:

"Father,

Luke

I,

37:

to thee all things are "No word shall be im

possible with

God."

men
are

this is impossible: but
possible."

Matth. XIX, 26: "With with God all things Christ Himself tells us that the
not limited to the things that "God is able of these stones to
to
I
Abraham."
12

divine

power

is

actually exist. raise up children
"Thinkest

Again,

thou that

cannot ask

and he

will give

me
"

presently
13

more

my Father, than twelve

legions of angels ?
According to the
self-existing

Scriptures

God

power (potentia a

se)

s omnipotence is which exceeds every
:

other
. .
.

"Solus power, i Tim. VI, 15 sq. potens qui solus habet immortalitatem" That is to say: as God alone has immortality, because He alone is
"
"

i. e., has His existence a se; so, too, He almighty, because His might is not derived from any other being, but a se. His power exceeds all other power because of the sublime manner in which

self-existing,
is

alone

it

sets

itself

in

mand
is;

of the Divine Will.
calls,

motion and operates by a mere com God wills, and the thing

and things are there. 14 A power which, by merely commanding, is able to summon into exist ence beings both natural and supernatural, must be an

He

infinite power. Therefore miracles, being the faithful exponents of an infinite potency, are called in Holy
"
"

Scripture
12 Matth. 13 Matth. 14 Cfr.
dixit
et

virtutes
g.

or

"

magnolia
et creata

15
Dei."

Ill,

XXVI,
sunt,

53.
"

Ps.

CXLVIII,
ipse

5:

Ipst

facia

mandavit

sunt He spoke, and they made: he commanded, and they were created." 15 AtW/.ets Hebrew

were

;

286

OMNIPOTENCE
The Tradition concerning
dates
as
this divine at
Creed"

b)

the "Apostles back, bears witness, to the Primitive Church.
testifies to its
"We

tribute

Origen
writes
:

Apostolic character

when he

confess that

God
10

is

mighty and

invisible."

that the belief in

God
17

s

incorporeal and al St. Augustine proves omnipotence was uni

versal in his day. St. Chrysostom character izes this attribute as infinite power, exceeding
"As a every other power, when he says painter who has painted a picture is able to make an
:

unlimited

number

of copies thereof, so

it

would

have been easy for God to create innumerable 18 worlds." It is for this reason that omnipo tence ranks among the incommunicable attri
butes of God, in which, even by favor of divine 19 grace, no creature can share.
3.

OMNIPOTENCE
"

AS

UNIVERSAL

DOMINION.
"

Do

minion, being power over persons and things," 20 is not identical with potency or might in the sense of ability to do something." Similarly, God s universal dominion must be distinguished from His omnipotence, as an

from its cause. God s universal dominion over His whole creation is based primarily upon His om
effect

nipotence
"

as

the

Creator

of

all

things.
of

The Latin

16 Horn, in Gen., 3. IT Non dico, da
tianuni,

mihi
dicat

mihi Chrisda mihi Judaeum, sed da idolorum cultorem, qui non

Deum
I

idols who will not worshipper admit that God is omnipotent." Serm. de Temp., 240, c. 2. 18 In i Cor., Horn. 17.
19 Cfr.
II,

Show me,
or

a Jew,

esse omnipotentem do not say a Christian but show me a pagan

S.

Thorn.,

Contr.

Gent.,

21.

20 Potentia

= potestas,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"

287

emphasizes His creative power, omnipotens term chiefly brings out while the Greek TravTOKpdp 22 To this distinction between His universal dominion. the two notions corresponds a contradistinction be tween omnipotence and impotence (impotentia) on the one hand, and the two different species of dominion, and passive ownership viz.: (subiectio) subjection on the other. God s universal dominion

term

"

21

"

"

comprises

(proprietas) the

two

parallel

elements

of

jurisdiction

and divine proprietorship (dommium Both are important enough proprietatis). (dominium to warrant us to devote a page or two to their dis
iurisdictionis)

cussion.

a) Jurisdiction

comprises
prohibit;

five

functions:

(i) to
(4) to
to

command;
punish,

(2) to

(3) to

permit;
entitled

and

ercise all

God is (5) to reward. of these functions to their fullest extent by
fact
)

ex

the very
Kvptos,
lords"

that

He
"

^yiK

and the

(Dominus, 6 King of kings and Lord of
is

the

"Lord"

(Rex regum
and

et

Dominus dominantium)
proper.
Ecclus.
et

.

The
I,

Bible draws

a well-defined distinction

between absolute
8:

sovereignty
"

omnipotence

est altissimus, creator omnipotens metuendus nimis, sedens super thronum illius et There is one most high Creator Al dominant Deus to be feared, mighty, and a powerful king, and greatly of dominion." who sitteth upon his throne, and is the God The extent of His sovereignty is brought out in the

Unus

rex potens

et

Domine Rex omnipotens, famous prayer of Esther in ditione enim tua cuncta sunt posita et non est, qui
23
"

:

possit

tuae

resistere
"

voluntati
irav-

O

Lord,

Lord,
He
all
is

alal-

2iCfr. Wisd. XVIII, 15:
"

roSvvafJLos 22 Cfr. St.

Cyril

of

Jerusalem,

TT&VTWV Kparwv mighty sovereign of 23 Esth. XIII, 9-

the

sovereigns."

Catech., 8

"

:

iravTOKpdTwp carlv A

288

OMNIPOTENCE
"

mighty king, for all things are in thy power, and there is none that can resist thy will and still more Omnem pointedly in the Apocalypse of St. John: creaturam, quae in coelo est et super terram et sub terra et quae sunt in mari, omnes audivi diceittes: Sedenti in throno et Agno [scil. benedictio et honor Christo] ct gloria ct potestas (*paTo) I M saecula sacculorum And every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them: I heard all saying: To him
;
"

that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction, and honor, and glory, and power, for ever and ever." 2 * God s sovereign dominion is unlimited both with re gard to place and time. Ps. CXLIV, 13: Regnum
"

tuum regnum omnium saeculorum kingdom of all ages." St. Paul 25 20 King of ages."
"

refers to

Thy kingdom is a God as the
"

Lessius

27

gives a vivid description of the

descent

of

all

jurisdiction"

(descensus

omnis

iurisdictionis)

from Heaven to
as
all

All secular sovereignty, as well spiritual jurisdiction, descends from God, the uni
earth.

versal

Lord, to the various rational creatures whom permits a share in His authority. So that a king in his kingdom, and a president in the republic over

He

which he presides, exercise their powers only by virtue of a certain limited participation in the overlordship of God. 28 In the supernatural order the divine sovereignty descends from the Most Holy Trinity upon the sacred humanity of Christ, thence to His immediate representa2*Apoc. V, 25 i Tim. I,
-6

13.

27

De

Perfect. Div., X,

2.
"

17.

28 Cfr.

Rom. XIII,
ft
/j.^

i:

Qu yap

For BacrtXeuj TUV aluvuv. the teaching of the Fathers on this topic, consult Petavius, 1. c.

forty

cov<rla,

For

there

is

no

Oeov power but from
VTT&

God."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
tive, the

289

Roman
29

Pontiff,

and from him to the bishops

and

priests.

b) The second note of universal dominion, the right of ownership (dominium proprietatis), belongs to God in a manner in which it cannot be claimed by even
the most exalted earthly sovereign, because God is the absolute owner not only of the material universe, but
also of the spiritual

world and the entire human

race.

Strictly speaking there is no ownership in persons ex All men are by nature cept that vested in God.
"

Theologians distinguish a four of divine ownership: (i) that of creation; 31 32 (2) that of preservation; (3) that of redemption, which is the most important of all, and may again
God."

servants of
title

30

fold

be subdivided into the right which the victor in battle has over the vanquished, 33 the right of a buyer to that

which he has bought, 34 the right to indemnification; (4) the title of the final end, which bends all cre ation under the yoke of the Creator. 35 The right by which man claims ownership in things movable and im
movable,
just as

a mere emanation from the divine superright, earthly jurisdiction, civil and spiritual, derives from the universal jurisdiction of God. Whence it is
is

all

29
"

C

f r.

Math.

XXVIII,

18:

Data

est
et

coelo

given
earth."

to

mi hi omnis potestas in terra All power me in heaven and

in
is

that are under the cope of heaven: Thou art the Lord of all." 32 Cf r. Hebr. I, 3: re
"

in

TO.

irdfra

ro>

pr/pari

rijs

0e dwdfieus
pw>

avrov
Ps.
et et

Upholding

all

things

by

so Cfr.
est

XXIII,
universi,

"

i

:

Domini
orbis

terra

plenitudo

eius,

the word of his power." 33 Cfr. Ps. LXVII, 19.
34 Cfr.
i

qui habitant The earth is the Lord s and the fulness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein." 31 Cfr. Esth. XIII, 10 sq.: Tu
in

terrarum
eo

Cor. VI, 20.
"

"

fecisti

cocli

coelum et terrain et quidquid ambitu continetur : Dominus
es

omnium
heaven

Universa XVI, 4: semetipsum operatus est Dominus, impiutn quoque ad diem malum The Lord hath made all things for himself: the wicked also for the evil day." For the teaching
propter
of the Fathers, consult Lessius,
1.

35 Cfr. Prov.

Thou
earth,

hast

made
things

c.

and

and

all

290

OMNIPOTENCE

of the Germanic nations

plain that the idea of ownership developed in the law is far more in harmony with

the spirit of Divine Revelation than that embodied in

the

Roman

pandects.
*S. Thorn.,
5".

READINGS:
sqq.).

Theol., la, qu. 25.

IDEM, Contr.

Gent., II, 7 sqq.

(Rickaby,

Of God and His
9.
1.

Creatures, pp. 80

Suarez,

De Deo,

III,

Petavius,

De Deo,

Lessins,
I,

De

Perfect.

Diznn.,

V.

Scheeben,

V, 6-9. Dogmatik, Vol.

*Stentrup,

(Wilhelm-Scannell s Manual, Vol. I, pp. 208 sqq.). De Deo Uno, thes. 52 sqq. Boedder, Natural The ology, pp. 319 sqq.
87

SECTION
GOD
S

3

INCORPOREITY
is

Although incorporeity

already included in
1

the divine attributes of invisibility and simplicity, the sources of revelation and the history of dogma

God s imma separately. teriality (conceived as the negation of quantum,
compel us to treat
it

Troffov^

can be traced through four stages, which

we

shall describe in the subjoined series of sys

tematic theses.
Thesis I:

God

is

not a body.

This proposition embodies an article of faith. Proof. None but adherents of the crudest

form of Materialism would assert that God

is

This teaching flatly contradicts the corporeal. For, concept of absolute being (ens a se).
2 Gregory of Nazianzus argues, the Absolute cannot possibly be conceived as something dis

as

matter.

soluble into parts and, therefore, perishable like Moreover, sense is superior to matter,

and

spirit is superior to sense.
if

St.

Thomas con

cludes that

God were

corporeal,
2 Or., 34.

He would

not

1 Supra, pp. 82 sqq.

291

292

INCORPOREITY
first

be the

and greatest Being. 3 Finally, the Absolute must be "actus punts," that is to say,
immaterial, pure actuality, without any admix 4 ture of potentiality. Consequently God cannot

be matter, nor of the nature of matter. 5
Thesis II:

God has no body.
to
this

This

is

also of faith.

Proof.

The heresy opposed

dogma

was championed by the pagan Epicureans, 6 by the so-called Audians of the fourth century (ad herents of the monastic founder Audius), and somewhat later by certain Egyptian monks called 7 Anthropomorphites, who were involved in the Origenistic controversy and imagined that, like man, the Godhead was a compound of soul and The Church has always looked upon this body.
error as heretical.
3
crit
"

Si igitur Deus

est corpus,

non

primum

ct

maximum

ens."

Gent. I, 20. (Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures, p. 16). 4 The use of the word potenin this sense may sound tiality
Contr.
"
"

harsh

in
is

English,
available.

but
Fr.

no
2

other
of
"

term

Rickaby
the
Al-

is any way in potentiality has something else prior to it. But God is the First Being and the First Cause, and therefore has not in Himself any admixture of poTo be in actuality," tentiality." as Fr. Rickaby points out in a note is (ibid.), something akin to the
"

translates

Ch.

XVI, No.

modern conception of
(See
also
"

"

energy."

Sumtna Contra Gentiles thus:

the

article

"Actus

though in order of time that which is sometimes in potentiality, sometimes in actuality,

Purus

in

Vol.

I

of the

Catholic

before

it

is

in

in potentiality actuality, yet, absois

Encyclopedia, pp. 125 sq.) 5 For the teaching of the Fathers

on
Deo,
17.

this

point,

see

Petavius,
Deor.,

De
I,

lutely speaking, actuality is prior to potentiality, because potentiality

II, i. o Cfr. Cicero,
7 Cfr.

De Nat.
in
I,

does not bring itself into actuality but is brought into actuality by which is already in something actuality. Everything therefore that

J.

J.

Fox

the
p.

Catholic

Encyclopedia, Vol.

559.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
a)

293

The

Bible teaches that

invisible after the

manner

Job X, 4: thou see as

"Hast

God is absolutely of pure spirits. Cfr. thou eyes of flesh; or shalt

man

seeth?"

Upon

this fact is

based

the impossibility of picturing God, so often in It is only the sisted on in the Old Testament. material which can be pictured hence that which
;

cannot be pictured must be absolutely immaterial,

and therefore incorporeal. b) The argument from Tradition presents some difficulty. While there can be no doubt that the majority of the Fathers adhered strictly

dogma, modern critics question the or thodoxy of such eminent writers as Melito of 8 Sardes, Tertullian, and Epiphanius.
to this

The accusation against Melito is based upon a pas 9 sage in Theodoretus, in which the Bishop of Sardes is charged with writing an essay in defence of the cor
poreity of God.
"

However,

this

seems

to be

a misun

Melito published a treatise, now lost, en derstanding. titled but it is safe to assume Hepl TOV cvo-co/uarou
cov,"

that
St.

it

dealt solely with the Incarnation of the Logos.

the excessive indulgence

Epiphanius was suspected of heresy on account of which he showed to the An;

thropomorphites neous teaching. 10
matter:
"

but he expressly refuted their erro Here is St. Augustine s account of the

Audianos,

quos

appellant,

alii

vacant

An-

thropomorphitas,

quoniam Denm

sibi fingunt cogitatione

8 Died about Cfr. Barden195. hewer-Shahan, Patrology, pp. 62 sq. Freiburg and St. Louis 1908.

9 Cfr.

Origen., Quaest. 2 in Gen. 10 Epiph., Haer., 70.

294

INCORPOREITY
imaginis corruptibilis ho minis,
tribuit
rusticitati

carnali in similitudinem

quod

eorum

Epiphaniiis,

greatest stumbling-block is Tertullian, whom modern writers on the history of philosophy class with such Materialists as Thales,

ne dicantur

haerctici."

n

parcens

eis

Our

Anaximenes, and Democritus. It is not an easy task to clear his skirts. On the one hand, Tertullian defends a crassly materialistic Traducianism, 12 and asserts tlie
soul to be material
"

13
;

nay, he even lays
ncgabit,

down

the prin
esse,
etsi

ciple

:

Quis
spirit us

cnim
sit?

Deum
cnim

corpus

Deus

Spiritus
will

corpus

sui

generis

in sua cffigic

For who
is

although God stance of its
other hand,

a spirit?
in

deny that God is a body, For spirit has a bodily sub
its

stoutly championing the ortho dox doctrine, for he defends the indivisibility of God 15 against Hermogenes, and rejects the suggestion of cor

own kind, we see him

own

form."

14

On

the

poreal generation in
spiritus est
in this

God by

"

retorting

:

Nam
16

et

Deus

For God,
is

too, is a

spirit."

Tertullian

a psychological enigma, a man seem ingly with two souls, a bundle of irreconcilable con It is perhaps fair to assume that, in de tradictions.

matter

of

fending the reality of the substance of the soul and the Divine Essence against the Stoics and the
Gnostics,
Stoics
17

he employed the term
o-oyia),

employed
"

in

(as the "corpus" the sense of concrete, real,

compact, substantial being, as opposed to formless air, Potuit propterea putari corpus Deum or nothing.
diccre,"

in the
50.

words of

St.

18

"

Augustine,
l* Contra

quia non est
c.
c.

llHaeres.,
12 Cfr.
S.

Prax.,
Carnis,

7.

Cfr.

Augustin., et eius Origine, c. 4.
13 Cfr. Tertull.,
c.

De Anima
Christi,

Resurrect.

17

and

De De

De Came
quod
est,

Anima, c. 5. IB Adv. Hermogen., ad
16 Apol., 21. 17 Adv. Hermogen., 18
35.

2.

n:

"

Otnne

corpus

est sui generis; nihil est incorporate
nisi

quod non

est."

De

Haer.,

c.

86.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
nihil,

295
s

non

est

inanitas."

At any

rate,

Tertullian

in

decision cannot reasonably be alleged as an argument either for or against the incorporeity of God. The
19 dogma can be proved from Tradition without him.

Thesis III:

God

is

a pure Spirit.
fide.

This

is

likewise de

Proof.
.
.
.

The Vatican Council
substantia
20

defines:
et

"Deus

una singularis, simplex ornnino
spiritualis

incomis

mutabilis
one, sole,

God

...

absolutely simple and immutable

spir

itual substance."

This truth flows as a cor
;

ollary from our two preceding theses for if God neither is a body, nor has a body, He must

be a pure spirit. It is furthermore clearly con firmed by the Saviour s own words to the Samar
itan

woman, John IV, 20
nor
in Jerusalem,
"But

sqq.

After explaining

that the Samaritans will
tain,

"neither

on

this

moun

adore the Father/

He
21
is,

continues:

the hour cometh,
22
.
. .

and now
is

when
spirit

the true adorers shall adore the Father in

and

in

truth.

God

a

25

spirit

and they that adore him, must adore him in 24 It is plain from the con spirit, and in truth/
text that Christ here does not
internal to external worship (as

mean
if

to oppose

internal

wor

ship were alone sufficient)
19 Cfr. G. Esser,

;

but that, replying to

Die Seelenlehre
c.
i.

22

&

we^futri *ai

Tertullians, Paderborn 1893. 20 Cone. Vatic., Sess. Ill,
21

23 Trveu/id 6 Oeos. 24 John IV, 23 sq.

Kal vvv Iffnv

296

INCORPOREITY

the query in the sense in which the

woman had

put it, He wishes to accentuate the spiritual character of the New Testament worship as op

posed to the corporeal worship in the Old; for
the internal, invisible, spiritual worship of the New, is the antithesis of the external, visible,

ceremonial law of the Old Testament.
"spiritual"

Now

this

and

"true"

worship
is

is

due to (God)
Surely, there

the Father, because

He

a spirit.

fore, since the supernatural life

and charity
life,

God
25

by faith, hope, a purely immaterial and spiritual Himself, being the object of such wor
is

ship,

must be a pure

spirit,

an immaterial be-

ing.

Thesis IV:
This
is
"

God

is

the Absolute Spirit.
"

also dc fide.

Proof.
finitely

By
perfect,

absolute spirit

we understand an

in

spiritual

tion

simple self-existing, metaphysically substance, in which cognition and truth, voli and goodness are identical. Now God, as we
"

have shown,
sisting Truth.

is

He

Absolute Intelligence/ that is, Sub is furthermore Absolute Goodness

and Sanctity attributes which coincide with His love of Himself as the Supreme Good. Therefore, God is
not only a spirit but the Absolute Spirit. He is more over the Creator of Angels and spiritual souls; as such He must be infinite in power and consequently abso
lute

also

in

the

Holy
Uno,

His Ghost
35.

spirituality.
in

Again, the existence of
postulates
"

the

Godhead
III,
<TTIV

Infinite
ri>

28 Cfr.

especially
thes.

Deo

Franzelin, De Cfr. 2 Cor.

17:

8f Kvpios
is

The Lord

a

Spirit."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Spirituality, in as far as the nature of the
is

297

Holy

Spirit

none other than the Divine Essence. Lastly, it is only in an infinitely spiritual Being that a real Trinity of Persons is possible. 26
READINGS
Kleutgen,
thes. 35.
:

Heinrich,

Dogmat.

Theol,

Vol.

Ill,

172.

De

Ipso Deo, pp. 135 sqq.
pp.

Franzelin,
I,

De Deo Una,
6.

Oswald, Dogmatische Theologie,
152 sqq., Paris 1902.
pp. 15-16.

2,

Lepicier,

DC Deo Uno,
His Creatures,
26 Cfr.

Rickaby,

Of God and
pp.

on the whole subject J. Uhlmann, Die Personlichkeit Gottes

und
sqq.,

Hire

modernen Gegner,

34

Freiburg 1906.

20

SECTION
GOD
1.

4

S

IMMUTABILITY
OBSERVATIONS.

PRELIMINARY

Change

(mutatio) means, generally speaking, a transi tion from one state to another.

A
from

called substantial

change which affects the substance of a thing is one which affects only its accidents,
;

accidental.

Substantial

change

is

either

a

transition

potentiality to actuality (gcnerari, fieri), or, vice Versa, from actuality to potentiality (corntmpi). An

accidental

change
g.,

is

a

transition

from

actuality

to
it

actuality (c. is limited to

in cognition, volition),

except where

mere privation

(privatio, cn-epi^is), as

when

one

loses

means

his eye-sight. Accidental change generally alteration or variation. Underlying every change,
it

especially if

Trdffxw), taking the

be a substantial change, is passio (pati, term in its widest bearing, viz., as

motion (mot us, ictnyaw), i. e., a transition from a terminus a quo to a terminus ad quern.

The concept
bility,

in

its

of tmchangeableness, or immuta excludes every mode of transition, and, absolute sense, even the possibility of

transition.

Such

is

the

unchangeableness
first

of

God.
2.

THE DOGMA.
A. D. 325)

The
298

General Council

(Nicaea,

anathematized the Arian

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
heresy that the Son of God is variabilis aut mutabilis (TPTTO). Later the dogma of

299

di

vine immutability was expressly defined by the Fourth Lateran Council (A. D. 1215) and by
the Council of the Vatican (A. D. 1870). a) The Scriptural text chiefly relied upon in
Ipsi [coeli] periEt omnes sicut vesbunt, tu aut em permanes. timentum veterascent et sicut opertorium mutabis
:

this

matter

is

Ps. CI, 27 sq.

eos et mutabuntur: tu aut em idem ipse es
n^i* )
.
/

(^ n

et

mini tui non
shall

deficient

The heavens

.

.

shall

of

them

perish but thou remainest: and all grow old like a garment: and as

be changed.

a vesture thou shalt change them, and they shall But thou art always the self-same,

and thy years shall not fail." That the attribute here applies absolutely is plain from the fact that the Immutable is described as the cause
of

creatural
to

changes

without

being
is

subject
patible

change. with even

The Godhead
the
slightest
I,

Himself incom
of

shadow
17:

alteration.

Epistle of St. James,

"Apud

quern non est transmutatio (TrapaAAay^) nee vicis-

obumbratio (rpoTr^? dTroova aoyxa) The Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration." Holy Scripture
situdinis

points to aseity as the ontological cause of

God

s

immutability.
!!!

Mai.

Ill,

6

:

"Ego

enim Dominus

et

[propterea] non mutor

I

am

the Lord,

300

IMMUTABILITY
I

and
it

change

not."

Nor

is

this

immutability

limited to the intrinsic essence of the

Godhead;

extends to the free counsels of God, of which the Bible tells us "Consilium autem Domini in
:

actcrnum

manct

The
"

counsel
St.

of

the

Lord

standeth for ever;
"immutability

1

and

Paul speaks of the
(immobilitas conavrov}
2

of his

counsel"
/foi A?)?

silH Slli

aptTaBtTov rip

b) Tradition assures us that belief in the un-

changeableness of
the Christian faith

God was
from the

part and parcel of
earliest days.

We
:

lieved by clares

have the testimony of Origen, 3 that it was be 4 Jews and Christians alike, and Tertullian de
"

Dcuni

imntutabilem

ct

informabilem

credi

necesse cst

must needs believe God to be un and incapable of being formed." 3 There are changeable a few difficult Scriptural texts with an anthropopathic tinge but the Fathers explain them in consonance with this dogma. Thus St. Jerome says Furorcm, ob;
"

We

:

livionem, iram, poenitudinem ita in

quomodo

Deo acciperc debcmus, pcdcs, mauus, oculos, aurcs ct cetera membra,

quae haberc dicitur incorporalis ct invisibilis Dcus." St. _ Augustine explains the profound expression of the 7 mobility of the Divine Wisdom," by saying that icinpn?
"

does not

mean

8 mutation, but purest activity, combined

with unchangeable repose. 9
2

IPs. XXXII, Heb. VI, 17.
"

ii.

TCfr. Wisdom VII, 24: Omnibus cnim mobilibus mobilior
"

3 Contr. Cels., I. 4

ludaeorum
27.

Christianorumque

(TrdoTjs Kivriffcws KivijTiKwrcpov) cst Wisdom is more Sapicntia

doctrina."

active than
8

all

active

Adv. Prax., eHieron., In
5

Mobile

= agile.

things."

Ps., 45.

De

Civ. Dei,

"

XII,

17.

Novit

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
c)

301

the

By developing certain arguments excogitated by Fathers and the Schoolmen, theologians demon strate the immutability of God from unaided human
reason.
It

has

its

roots, they say, in the divine aseity,

or autousia, which ex
potentiality,
fectibility,

vi

notionis

precludes not only

but

also
is

such as

any and every degree of per involved in a transition from po
10

tentiality to actuality.

Hence a mutable God, a God be God, but a mere crea subject to change, would not 11 The Aristotelian argument of the Prime Mover ture.
has ever occupied a prominent place among the proofs for the existence of God, because, starting from the it changes constantly taking place in the created universe,
leads directly to the

Motor immobilis
a notion rather

(TO KLVOVV d/ciVr/rov),

Who
but

moves
12

all

things, without
is

Himself suffering any
difficult

mutation.

This
it

to

grasp,
"

we meet

in the

Book of Wisdom, VII, 27:

Et

cum sit una [sapientia], amnia potcst et in sc pcrmancns And being but one, she [Wisdom] can omnia innovat do all things, and remaining in herself the same, she
reneweth
all
13
things."

The immutability of God, therefore, is an absolutely which is quite obvious when incommunicable attribute consider that mutability is the most salient charwe.
quicscens agere et agens quicsccre He can act while He reposes, and repose while He acts."

icCfr.
Cantic.)
:

St.
"

Bernard (Serm. 80 in

Omnis

mutatio
est

quac-

dam
of

mortis
is

imitatio

Every

Arias says that the Son of God is mutable; but how, if God were mutable, could He have spoken: I am, I am and change not?" 12 On this argument, see Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures, pp. u12,

change

in
S.

a sense an imitation

death."

note, is Cfr.

the
"

beautiful
Cfr.
I,

verse
also

of
St.

Ambros., De Fide, I, Arius dicit mutabilem Dei 9: Filium; quomodo ergo Deus, si
11 Cfr.
"

Boethius: dot cuncta

Immotusque
6;

manens
and De

moveri."

mutabilis,

sum,

ego

cum sum

ipse
et

di.rerit

:

Ego

Augustine, Confess. Trinit., V, 2.

non

mutorf

302

IMMUTABILITY

acteristic of creatures, and, consequently, really identical

with contingency. The fundamental cause of the incommunicability of this divine attribute lies in the es
sences of

God and

the creatures respectively
its

;

for creation

which drew the universe from
into the realm of existence,
all
is

original nothingness

the basis and fount of

other changes. 14
If

we

attempt

to

define

the

immutability

of

God

in its relation to

His outward
is

His absolute liberty, mystery, which philosophy
to

activity, and particularly we are confronted by a natural

able to elucidate to a certain

extent, but cannot

fully explain.

There

is

in the first

place this difficulty.

If

God performs some

external act,

such

as,

e. g.,

the creation of the universe, does

He

not,

by virtue of that very act, pass from the state of noncreator to that of creator, and consequently undergo a change? To solve this problem we have to distinguish between willing an effect to be produced in time, and will It is ing an effect intended to exist from all eternity.
quite plain that a temporal effect, calculated to occur at a certain specified time, can be willed by God from all
eternity with the

same immutable

will

with which

He

produces an effect destined to exist from all eternity (such as, e. g., an eternal world, the possibility of which is

defended
extra,

by
"

some theologians).
in the

we must remember,

God s operation ad words of the School

actus immancns ct virtualitcr transiens," men, is an which coincides with, and consequently is quite as immu table as, the divine Essence although, of course, the
effect itself
14 Cfr.
St.

is

produced neither sooner nor
De Natura
quae
fecit

later

than
St.
art.

Augustine,
"

made
2;
3.

out
S.

of

nothing."

Cfr.

Boni,

c.

I:

Omnia,

Thomas,

Theol.,

la,

qu.

9,

Deus, quia ex nihilo sunt, mutabilia sunt All things which the Creator has made are changeable, because

Lessius,

De

Perfect. Diirin., Ill,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
the eternal will of

303

God has decreed. This gives us the for the solution of another objection, viz., that the key

God, being eternally immutable, must needs invest the effects which it produces with the color of
activity of

of the world, so plainly eternity; so that the eternity
denied in Holy Scripture, would really be but a logical deduction from the eternity of God. This is a sophism. God wills to posit either an eternal or a temporal effect.
the external terminus only in the first case that of His action could be something eternal, as, e. g., an In the latter case, the effect, though de eternal world.
It
is

creed from eternity, is realized only at the precise 15 ment fixed by the immutable will of God.
It
is

mo

the considerably more difficult to demonstrate of divine unchangeablecompatibility of the attributes

ness

and absolute
is is

liberty.

We

have shown that the
its

created universe

not necessarily eternal because
;

but how shall we prove that God s does not imply necessary existence on the immutability is truly, in the phrase of part of His creatures? This the most intricate knot of all theology ("nodus Billuart, a veritable sacred intricatissimus totius

Creator

immutable

theologiae
("

"),

puzzle
the
that

aenigma
of the

sacrum").

state

question.

It

Let us an is

first

article

recapitulate of faith

God is absolutely free in His operation ad extra Now, either we can conceive God without this free act, or we cannot so conceive Him. If we cannot, He is The kernel of not free; if we can, He is mutable.
this

freedom which man thropomorphic conception of divine his own free will (liber um forms after the analogy of
that the liberty of arbitrium), without considering
15 Cfr.
Billuart,

difficulty

is

to

be

found

in

the

thoroughly

an

God

De Deo

Uno,

diss. 3, art. 7.

16 Billuart., /. c., diss. 7, art. 4. i. 1T vide in f ra Chapter 4,
>

304
is

IMMUTABILITY

something altogether different in kind. Human lib erty consists in an active indifference by which the will
is

enabled either to act or not to
or otherwise.
is

act,

or when

it

does

act, to act either so

The
It is

liberty of

God,

on the other hand,

not an active indifference with

respect to several subjective acts. ence peculiar to a single,

but the indiffer

absolutely simple, pure act, in relation to different objects. This divine act, being in

trinsically necessary,
sically free,

immutable, and eternal,
it

is

extrin-

implies a non-necessary, and therefore a free relation to the created universe. Volun"

inasmuch as

tas

"

Dei,"

says St.

Thomas,

uno

et

eodcm actu

vult se

scd habitudo cms ad se est necessaria et naturalis, scd habitudo eius ad alia est secundnm convenientiam
ct alia,

quondam, non quidem necessaria
by one and the same
but
its

et naturalis,

lenta ant innaturalis, sed voluntaria
act,

The

will

neque vioof God,

wills itself

its

habitude to

itself is

and other things, necessary and natural, while

certain fitness, which

habitude to other things is after the manner of a is not indeed necessary and nat 18 ural, nor yet violent or innatural, but
voluntary."

Hence we can formulate our answer
under consideration thus:

to

the

difficulty
is

The

liberty of

God

noth

ing else than the indifference of a most simple act to wards different objects an act which, despite its formal simplicity, is nevertheless virtually multiplex; that is to say, it is at the same time, though under
i8C0H/r. Gent.,
sage
I,

82.

The

pas-

is unfortunately not translated by Father Rickaby in his excellent, too much though perhaps translation abridged of the Summa Contra Gentiles, published
"

foot-note on page 61: "The necessary actuality is God. Though creatures are means to
in

a

one

"

God s end, they are not necessary means to any necessary end of
His: therefore their existence not necessarily willed by Him,
beit
is

under

the

Creaturcs.

Of God and His London 1905. But Fr.
title

al-

their

possibility

is

necessarily

Rickaby brings out the point tersely

discerned."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
different -aspects, both necessary
itself,

305

and free

as a divine act,

and free
If this

in its

necessary in external relation to
:

the created world.

explanation

is

transparent, we must attribute it to the fact liberty of God is a mystery which transcends
19 gories of our mortal mind.

not wholly that the
the cate

READINGS

:

St.

Thomas,
Lessius,

5.

Theol.,

la,

qu.
1.

g.

De Deo,
sqq.).

V, 6-10.

De

Perfect. Div.,

III.

Thomassin, Scheeben,

Dogmatik, Vol.
L.

I, 75 (Wilhelm-Scannell, Manual, pp. 188 Kleutgen, Thcologie dcr Vorzeit, Vol. I, nn. 382 sqq.

Janssens,

Lepicier,
19
this

De Deo Uno, DC Deo Uno, I,
t.

t.

I,

pp.

339

sqq.,

Friburgi
1002.

1900.

pp. 313 sqq., Parisiis

For

further

information
/.

on
c.;

ter
ful

acted
the

upon.

The more powerless

subject,

consult Billuart,

Heinrich,
III,

Dogmat.

Theologie,

Vol.

pp. 728 sqq., Mainz 1883; Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures, pp. 56 sqq. may be permitted, because of the importance of the

agent, the required, as when with little or no

change
lifts

is

a

strong

man
a

effort

We

weight, which a weaker one would have to strain himself to raise from
the ground.

Hence we may
in

faintly

subject and the

"

arguments

"

based

surmise

how
agent

the limit
act

an

al-

upon

by infidels, to quote a suggestion towards a solution from the last-mentioned work,
difficulty
p.

this

mighty
being
in

would

without

62,

n.:

"The

difficulty

has

its

foundation in

this,

that, within

our

experience, every new effect involves some antecedent change
either in

the least altered by his from the being that he wou ld have been, had he remained at rest. Not that I take this suggestion to remove the whole diffiact i

n

culty."

the agent or in the mat-

SECTION
GOD
i.

5

S

.ETERNITY

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
)
i

Our

concept

of time (tempus,

s

prior to our concept of

eternity (actcrnitas), and we acquire the latter by a negation of the former. As

space signifies

co-existence, so time signifies succession, or, in
its

widest sense, motion (jnotus).

a)
It

Hence

Aristotle

1

defines time as
its

"the

number of
*
after."

movement, estimated according to

before and

follows that the notion of time postulates mutability, Like space, time has three nay, even mutation (change).

being were, inheres in and endures with an object, so constant duration (perduratio) constitutes an element of time as well as of with this eternity,
rent, or flowing, as
it

dimensions: past, present, and future. It is to be ob served, however, that whatever actually exists, constitutes an ever current now for the past exists no longer, and the future not yet. As this cur quality of
"

"

;

difference, that in the
ter simultaneous.
is

former
it

it

is

successive, in the lat

Whence

follows that successiveness

the essential characteristic of time.

b) Eternity, being the direct contradictory of time, must not be conceived as "endless time"
iPhys.
KO.I

IV,

ii

:

X p6vos
ri>

effrlv

2 Cfr.

J.

dpi8/j.6s Kivriecus fcctTii

irp6repov

physics,

pp.

Rickaby. General Meta376 sqq.

VffTfpOV.

306

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
or
"absence

307
"limitless

duration,"

but as duration/ without beginning or end.
of
its
4

3

Eternity,

therefore, has
ciple

immediate and proximate prin
immutability,

in

absolute

and

is

conse

quently, like immutability,

incommunicable.

God
"

alone
If

is

eternal.
as
"

time be designated
"

an ever current now
"a

(nunc fluens), we must describe eternity as standing (nunc stans) that is, as pure presence without any admixture of past or future. Hence eternity and

now

;

time are related to each other, not as species of the same genus, but precisely as contingency is related to
self-existence,

or

the
It

creature

to

its

Creator.

They

are contradictories.

was

to eliminate succession not

only from the divine Essence but likewise from the operation of God, that Boethius introduced the concept of into his famous definition: 5 Aeternitas est
"

"life"

interminabilis vitae tota simul et perfccta possessio Eternity is the possession, perfect and all at once, of
life

without beginning or
full
T

6
end,"

or

"

Eternity

is

a

si

multaneously
life."

and perfect possession of interminable
or,

As God
His own

is

in eternity,
8

more

correctly, as

He

is

created beings exist in time, in eternity, so far as, and because, they are subject to incessant and real changes. These changes constitute what is so
all

called
trinsic
3 Klee,
5

"intrinsic

time"

(tempns intrinsecum)
is

.

"Ex

time

"

(tempns extrinsecum)
et al.
7

the external standII,
"

Oswald, 4 Supra, 4.

Hunter, Outlines,

78.

8 Cfr.

W. Humphrey,
pp. 120 sqq.

His Divine

De
195.

e Cfr.
p.

Consol. Phil., V, 6. Wilhelm-Scannell, Manual,

Majesty,"

3 o8
arc!

ETERNITY
or conventional unity of measurement
(e.
g.,

the

uniform motion of the heavens) for gauging succes sive duration (year, month, day, hour, minute, sec ond). The real mutation to which all creatures are subject is not necessarily constant and uninterrupted. There are creatures which are relatively immutable,
either in their essence (c. g., angels, the spiritual soul), or in their operation (the act of beatific vision). Such

a

state,
is

more or

time,

ternitas,

less exempt from the mutations of 9 by theologians called aevum, abstractly aeviin opposition and contradistinction to time

as well as to eternity proper.

Acvitcrnitas, therefore,

stands

midway

between

tctnpus

and

actcrnitas.

It

shares with actcrnitas the negation of constant fluctu ation, with tcnipus the possibility of fluctuation, i. c.,
real mutability.

Hence

aci
it

um

differs in principle

from

eternity just as

much

as

differs

from time.

creature, the ens aciitcrhum, too,

though it no end, must have had a beginning; while on the other hand, it always remains mutable and capable of being immersed as it were in the constantly flowing stream
of time. 10

Being a will have

Finally we have to distinguish and sempiternity. nity
c)

in

God

eter

Eternity as such abstracts from actual time, just as

immensity

abstracts

from

actual

space.

God would

be absolutely eternal and immense even if there were neither time nor space. However, just as, assuming that there is actual space, immensity becomes omnipresence;
so,

assuming that there
from dtl
lOCfr. 5. Theol.,
&v>

is

real time, eternity

must

co-

la,

qu.

10, art.

5.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
exist with every time or instant of time.
11

309

As

a coun

(hypothetical or terpart to omnipresence, this is has relative) attribute, for which unfortunately theology

a new

not yet coined a distinct term.
12
ternity."

We may
S

"

call

it

sempi-

2.

THE DOGMA
of
faith

OF GOD
the

ETERNITY.
alone
is

It is

an

article

that

God
first

eternal.

Already anathematized "those
time
?v)
;"

Council
say:

absolutely of Nicaea

who

There was a
re
(
"Ae

when
and

[the Son the Athanasian

of

God] was not

K

Creed teaches:

ternus Pater, aeternus Filius, aeternus Spiritus Sanctus, et tamcn non tres aeterni, sed units

aeternus

The Father

eternal, the
eternal,

and the Holy Ghost

Son eternal, and yet they are
Similarly
also that of the
that
is

not three Eternals but one Eternal/
the Fourth Lateran Council,
ll Cfr.
I,

and

St.

66,

His
the
fails,

(Rickaby, Creatures, p. being of the

Thomas, Contra Gent., Of God and
"

at gent therefore

in

Whatever point.] any portion of time,

48) eternal
:

Since never

co-exists with the eternal, as present to it, although in respect to anit be past or nothing can co-exist in presence with the eternal otherwise than with the whole of it, because it has no successive dura-

time
sort

eternity is present to time. of instant or
of

every

other portion of time,
future.

example

of

this

Some may be

But

seen in a circle: for a point taken on the circumference does not coincide with every other point; but the centre, lying away from the
directly opposite to every point of the circumference.

tion.

Whatever therefore

is

done
the
eter-

in

the

whole course of time,

circumference,

is

divine

mind beholds
whole

it

as

present
its

throughout the

of

[As between any two points you can draw a straight line, every
point
site

nity; and yet it cannot be said that what is done in a definite por-

in space is directly oppoevery other point. What St.
is

tion

of

time

has

always been an

Thomas means drawn from the

that

the

line

existing fact." 12 Cfr. Alcuin,

De

Differentia

centre of the circle to any point in the circumference makes a right angle, with the tan-

Aeterni

et

Sempiterni;
I, pp.

Oswald,
130 sqq.

Dogmat. TheoL, Vol.

310

ETERNITY
"eternity"

Vatican, enumerate
lute attributes of

among
the
13
end";

the abso

God.
often

a)

The

Bible

employs

predicate

"eternal"

to signify

"without

hence in
for

constructing the

Scriptural

argument

the

dogma under consideration, we shall have to be careful to adduce only such passages in which the term is strictly defined. However, it will not be
difficult to

show

to

God

all

that Scripture expressly ascribes three of the constitutive elements of

eternity, vis.,

no beginning, no end, no succes

sion
)

together with their root, self-existence.

That eternity has neither beginning nor end is often emphasized in Holy Writ. Cfr. Ps. LXXXIX, 2: "Priusquam monies fierent,
ct orbis, a saecido et usque saeculum tu es Dens Before the mountains were made, or the earth and the world was

ant formaretnr terra

in

formed; from eternity to eternity thou art
Ps.
art

God."

XCII, 2: "Ex tune a saeculo tit es Thou from everlasting." 14 In this connection we

can also adduce the expression "The Ancient of Days" (antiquus diennn} in Dan. VII, 9, which is not meant to express old age, but eter
nity.

attribute of
18
cfr.
.

0) Secondly, the Bible does not conceive the having neither beginning nor end as
g.,

eternal

fire,

eternal hills;

XXXII,

"

40:

Vivo ego in aeter.

14

XXI, 33; Is. XL, 28. Compare this text with Deut.

Gen.

num

I live

forever."

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
infinite

311

duration in time, but as a constant dura

tion without

any admixture of successiveness, i. e., Without insisting on the pre as "nunc stans." dilection which the Sacred Book, in referring to God, shows for the present tense, we merely observe that the texts we have already cited
to

prove the immutability of
St.

God

also prove

that time does not enter into His essence or
operation.
"Qui

Augustine acutely observes: sunt anni, qui non denciunt, nisi qui slant?

Si ergo ibi anni slant, el ipsi anni, qui slanl, unus annus esl; el ipse unus annus, qui stat, 15 sed stat semper ille dies." unus dies esl
. . .

Holy

Scripture, in
16

comparing time with
"one

eternity,

repeatedly speaks of
to-day."

day,"

of

"the

eternal

y) Immutability is the proximate and self-ex In istence the ultimate principle of eternity. of God, therefore, we im predicating aseity
plicitly

declare that

He

is

without beginning

and without end, and that there is in Him no succession of time. Holy Scripture leaves no
doubt about
this.

Apoc.

I,

8:

"I

am Alpha

and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is and who was, and who is
16 In Ps. 16 Cfr.
2

CXXI,
Petr.

n.

6.

LXXXIX,
8:
"Unus

4.)

Ps. II, 7:

"

Filius

Ill,

dies

apud

Dominum

sicut

mille

anni, et mille anni sicut unus dies One day with the Lord is as a

ego hodie genui te art my Son, this day I have VIII, 58: begotten thee." John Antequam Abraham fieret, ego
es
tu,
"

meus Thou

thousand
years
as

years,

and
day."

a

thousand
(Cfr.

sum
I
am."

Before Abraham was made,

one

Ps.

3 I2

ETERNITY

to come, the Almighty."
"

And

still

more preg
>xo/*vos

nantly ApOC.

He
Is.

that

is,

4: and that was,
I,
"Ego

<O

w

Kal

fy Kal 6
is

and that
n
!/?l,

to

come."

XLI,

4:

Dominus
I

primus

et

novissimns ego sum

the Lord,

I

am

the

first

and the
*.

last."

Holy Scripture likewise
e.,

attributes to

God
(i.

eternity in contact with actual time

sempiternity, e., with the

17 It calls Him "the King of Ages/ created universe). and here and there even speaks of eternity as if it were

In Cfr. Gen. I, i subject to the categories of time. In the begin creaznt Dens coelum et terram principle
:

"

ning
"

God

created heaven and
audiet, loquetur
shall

earth."

[the

Quaecunque Holy Ghost]

John XVI, 13: Whatsoever things he
shall
speak."

hear,

he
"

St.

Augustine appositely remarks:
defuit; erit, quia

Fuit,

quia

numquam
est."

nunquam

deerit; est, quia

semper

b) For

the

argument from Tradition, see

our thesis on Immutability. tavius and Thomassin, //. cc.

Compare

also Pe-

theological controversy has arisen over the re c) Cer lation of divine eternity to creatural co-existence.
tain

A

Thomists 19 hold that, because duration without be ginning or end implies absolute indivisibility, every creature must co-exist with, and consequently from, all
Alvarez attempts to prove
.
.

eternity.
"

this thesis as follows

:

Illud

coexistit.
17 Cfr.

quod aliquando Sed nato Antichristo verum
.

coexistit aeternitati,

semper
erit

illi

dicere:

Jer.
I,

X,
17:

10:

i

p^jy

E.
8;
3:

g.,

Alvarez,

-rj^p;

Cfr.

i

Tim.

"Sao-iXeu?

ruv

II,
rt -

Billuart,
Gotti,
2.

De Auxil. Grot., De Deo, diss. 6, De Deo, tr. 4, qu.

18 Tract, in loa.,

99.

4,

dub.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Antichristus
coexistit

313

Deo
ab

in

aeternitate

secundum
cocxi-

suum

esse

reale;

ergo

aeterno
It is

habct hanc

stentiam in ipsa
fallacy.

aeternitate."

easy to discover the

the

To co-exist with all eternity is by no means as to co-exist always with eternity. During the time of its physical life a creature truly co-exists with
same
because
it

all eternity,

co-exists with eternity,

and

eter

nity cannot be divided into parts.

But

it

is

manifestly

wrong
with
eternal.

to

all

eternity,

conclude from this that, because it co-exists a creature s physical co-existence is

This would be tantamount to asserting that all creatures are formally eternal, thus contradict existing ing the dogmatic teaching of the Church that no creature
exists from eternity. Misunderstanding can easily be avoided by keeping in mind the Scholastic formula Crcaturae coexistunt quidem toil aeternitati, sed non
:
"

20
totaliter,"

that

is

to say, All things which at any time

exist, co-exist, so far as the actual being of them is con cerned, with the whole of the divine eternity, although

not from eternity. 21
20 Cfr.

Chr.
II,

Pesch,
pp.

Praelect.
Fri-

Dogm.,
burgi
21
"

torn.

87 sqq.

eternity, at that time when they were in existence. Those things

1899.

Successive co-existence is not to be understood as if it implied succession in the eternal duration, but only as there is succession in

which are not yet in actual existence, but which will one day exist, will then co-exist with the same
in that day when they begin to exist, and so long as they continue to exist in their actual being. It is not as if the

eternity;
shall

The several co-existing time. parts of its duration co-exist in actual reality with the eternal durathe
tion,

for

that

time only
exist.

in

which
regards

past co-existed with one part, and as if the present co-existed with

they
actual

actually
reality,

As
things

those

which

another part, while the future coexisted with yet another part of
the
eternal

now
with

at

this

the

eternity

present exist, co-exist of God. Those

duration.
"

The

divine
parts."

eternity does not consist of

things which have passed away, and are now no more in existence, did co-exist with the same changeless

Humphrey,
ty,"

His Divine Majes-

pp. 122 sq.

21

3 i4

ETERNITY
*S. Thorn.,
5".

READINGS:
cher,

TheoL,

la, qu.

10 (Bonjoannes-LesII, 4.

Compendium,
t.

pp. 26 sqq.).

Suarez,

De Deo,
1.

Vas-

quez,

i,

disp. 31.

Petavius,

De Deo,

III, 3-6.

Thomassin,
IV.
Gillius,
thes.

Deo, V, 11-15.
32.

Lessius,
10, c.

De
17.

Perfect. Divin.,

De De
31-

Esscntia Dei, tract.

Franzelin,

De Deo Uno,
sqq.,
14,

Tepe,

Instit.

Rickaby,

Of God
119 sqq.

Theol, Vol. II, pp. 90 and His Creatures, pp.
195 sqq.

Paris
48.

1895.

Wilhelm-

Scannell, Manual, pp.
esty,"

Humphrey,

"His

Divine

Maj

pp.

SECTION
GOD
i.

6

S

IMMENSITY AND OMNIPRESENCE

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
eternity

We can con
of
time,

ceive

only

as

the

negation

and immensity only as the negation of space But what is space? 1 As time (spatium, ). is a (successive) before and after, so space is

Hence juxtapo extra paries) according (positio partium to length, breadth, and thickness, forms the characteristic note of space, as well as of matter.
(simultaneous)
juxtaposition.
sition

The modern theory

of

an nth dimension

is
2

merely a metaphysico-mathematical
a) Space and body differ in while space, as the container
"

gewgaw.
is

many

particulars.

For

"

of bodies,

conceived

as immovable, unlimited, uncreatable, and indestructible, bodies move about freely in space, are circumscribed by external surface, and susceptible both of being created and annihilated. Space as here described is usually called absolute or imaginary space. It must not be coni
"

Space
s

Thomas
discuss

scarcely engaged St. attention. Nor does he
as

immensity

an

attribute

He declares: say there was no place or space before the world was (Sum. Theol., ia, qu. 46, art. i, ad 4).
God.

We

God is everywhere where creatures are; but that, apart from creation there is no meaning in speaking of God as being everywhere." Rickaby,

that

Of God and His Creatures p
Die neue Raum-

239, n. 2 Cfr. Gutberlet,
theorie,

This

is

tantamount to saying that

Mainz

1882.

315

3 i6

IMMENSITY

founded with real space, which depends on the existence

Though this kind of space is does not extend beyond the limits of the physical universe. Outside of this there is no real, but only absolute or imaginary space. Real space began
also immovable,
it

of a real material world.

to exist simultaneously with the bodies

which

it

contains

;

and
Real

it

would disappear
space
is

if

these bodies ceased to exist.
"

real extension carried consequently to the utmost limits of the universe, combined with the

function

of

c., possible) space, Similarly we as the extension of merely possible bodies with regard

receiving and holding may define absolute (.

material

bodies."

to their position.

b) Place

(locus,

situs,
its

MiaBai)

differs
it

space as a part from a section of space. 3
ject,

whole.

It is as

from were

A

located or situated ob

occupies but a limited por tion of space, can move or be moved from place
it

inasmuch as

to place.

An

object
:

may
i

threefold

manner

(

)

space in a circumscriptively or by
exist
in

formal extension

when

to each separate portion of

(praesentia circumscriptiva) , its substance

(atoms, molecules) there corresponds a separate
part of space; (2) definitely (praesentia
tiva),
if

defiiii-

an object exists

in its entirety
all

through
its

out a given space (place) and in
as, e. g., the soul in the

parts,

body; (3) repletively if a being exists with the (praesentia rcpletiva), whole of its substance throughout a given space
3

Father

Rickaby

calls

"

it

the

outline

of

a

body."

(Of God and

shell of space

(-^upy)

marking the

His Creatures,

p.

100, n.)

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
and
in all of its parts,
in

317
it

such manner that

matter

cannot be circumscribed by any real space, no how vast; this kind of presence is pred-

icable of

God

alone.

Eternity, as we said before, must not be In like conceived as infinite duration in time.
c)

manner immensity must not be conceived
finite

as in

extension, expansion, or diffusion of the Divine Essence in space, because the Divine

Essence
St.

is

absolutely simple.

Augustine confesses that he entertained this mis 4 Newton committed a similar conception in his youth. blunder when, in his controversy with Leibniz, he con

founded the immensity of God with absolute (imaginary) The immensity of God cannot be measured space. with a yardstick in length, breadth, and depth. Lessius,
"

it

is

true, refers to this divine attribute as
5

uncreated

space."

But he merely wishes

to assert that the

im

mensity of

God
that

constitutes the foundation of space in the
eternity

same way
time.

constitutes

the

foundation of

In matter of fact immensity is the formal con tradictory of space, and therefore can be conceived only by the negation of its essential characteristic, /. e., juxta
position.

space

;

He

is

is not subject to space He is beyond has no extension, either formal or virtual This in no wise bound by the limits of space.

God

;

He

;

relation can be best understood

mode

in

which truth exists

in space.

by picturing the analogous It is everywhere

and nowhere; it is present in every portion of space, and yet not subject to space, because it is above space.
4 Confess.

VIII,

5.

6

"

Spatium

increatum."

De

Perfect. Divin., II, 2.

318

IMMENSITY

Now, God, being the subsisting, absolute, living Truth, can be immense and omnipresent only in the manner that
truth
is

immense and omnipresent.

d) Immensity (immensitas) and omnipres ence (omnipraesentia) are differentiated in the

same manner as
Immensity
is

eternity

and sempiternity.

God
other

regardless of existing space.

hand,

is

an absolute attribute, which belongs to Omnipresence, on the a relative and hypothetical attribute,

real extension. Is God, by virtue of His immensity, also present in absolute space? The query is futile, inasmuch as absolute space has no actual But we can and must say that existence, no reality. God is present even in possible space negative et fnnda-

contingent

on

mcntaUtcr, so that

if

new

space

came

into existence,

God

would not begin to exist there, but, conversely, the newly created world would find the Immense Being already
Since Divine present when it came into existence. Revelation itself discriminates between immensity and omnipresence, we shall consider them as two separate
attributes.

2.

THE DOGMA

OF GOD

S

IMMENSITY.

In re
"Im-

citing the Athanasian Creed

we

profess:

mensus Pater, imnwnsus
itns

Filius,
is

Sanctns

The Father

immensus Spirimmense, the Son is
immense."

immense, the Holy Ghost
c

is

The

the

In the English translation of Athanasian Creed, transcribed

J. Sullivan, S. J., in the J. Catholic Encyclopedia (Vol. II, p. this reads: "The 33), passage

by

and the Holy Incomprehensible, Ghost Incomprehensible." This is not a good rendition. Father Sullivan.

by
but

the
to

way,
the

ascribes

this

translation

Father

Incomprehensible,

the

Son

Bute,

the

Marquess of Marquess of Bute

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

319

Fourth Lateran and the Vatican Councils dis tinctly enumerate immensity among the divine
attributes.

a) Holy Scripture teaches the immensity of God in terms similar to those which it employs
in asserting

His

eternity.

As

eternity,

having

neither beginning nor end, extends beyond all time, both before and after; so immensity ex
limits of space. Cfr. 3 Kings VIII, 27: heaven and the heaven of heavens can not contain thee, how much less this house [i. e., temple] which I have built?" Job XI, 8 sq.
all
if
"For
:

ceeds

"Excelsior

coelo

est

et

quid fades?

.

.

.

lonis
. .

gior terra

mensura

eius et latior

mari

He
.

higher than heaven, and what wilt thou? The measure of him is longer than the earth,

and broader than the sea/

Because

He

is

be

yond

space, God, according to

Holy Scripture,

cannot be measured by the dimensions of space. He is without measure, immeasurable, immense. As eternity, which is duration without succes sion, combines the three measurements of time
in

one single
it,

"To-day,"

so with

God

the dimen-

merely took
alterations,

from
us

with a the
the

few

slight

Protestant

p.

Book
have
tion

of

Common

Prayer.

We
edi-

before
"

Oxford
"

The Being and Attributes of God, 263 n., New York 1909. On The Popular Use of the Athanasian Creed in the Catholic Church in
England
a

of 1834, where the Quicunvult immediately appears before the Litany, or General The pages are not Supplication."

subject

about

which

que

"

many more than dubious notions are current among Protestants cfr. J. W. Legg s pamphlet with the
above
title,

numbered.

Cfr.

also

F.

J.

Hall,

London

1909.

320

IMMENSITY

sions of space are reduced to one single point. Cf r. J.er. XXIII, 23: "Putasne, Deus e vicino ego

sum
I,

.

.

.

et

think

ye,

non [etiam] Deus de longe? Am a God at hand and not a
. .
.

God
nity,

afar

off?"

Is.

LXVI,

i:

"Heaven is

my
Cfr.

throne,

and the earth
is

my

footstool."

Like eter

immensity

rooted in self-existence.

Deut. IV, 39: corde tuo, quod

"Scito

ergo hodie
ipse sit

et cogitato in

Dominns

Deus

in coelo

sursum

Know

terra deorsum, et non sit alius therefore this day, and think in thy heart
et in

heaven above, and in and there is no other." b) The Fathers have developed this dogma scientifically, and their writings contain some
is

that the

Lord he

God

in

the earth beneath,

exquisitely poetical passages in relation to

it.

Before incorporeity of God they explain thus the creation of the world God was His own place or site." "Ante omnia crat Deus solus," Tertullian, says
"

The

:

"ipse

sibi

et

mundus
7

et

things

God

alone was;

He

and

everything."

And

omnia Before all Himself world, space, 8 eo ov xwpccrcu. Theophilus
locus et
is

to

"

:

dAA* avros eVrt roVo? oAwv, auros 8c eavrov TOTTOS

God
is

Can-

not be contained by space, for of everything and of Himself
the place of
is all

He
"

Himself
e.,

the place
is

[i.

He

Himself

His own

things, but with regard to Himself, He place] Augustine asks Antequam faceret
"

.

:

Deus coelum
Deus, apnd
7

et terram, ubi habitabat?

In se habitabat

se habitabat, et

apud
o

se est

Deus?
n.
4.

"

9

To

Adv.

Pra.v.
i.

In Ps., 122,

8

Ad

Autolyc., II,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

321

explain that God is beyond space, the Fathers say we must conceive Him not as surrounded by, but as sur

rounding space.
3.

10

THE DOGMA
is

OF GOD

S

Omnipresence

included in the

OMNIPRESENCE. dogma of God

s

immensity as a part is included in the whole. Assuming the existence of real space,

immensity

involves omnipresence. God s ubiquity must not be conceived either circumscriptive or definitive,

but strictly repletive. His praesentia repletiva in space is not merely intellectual (per praesentiam scientiae), or dynamic (per potentiam), but substantial (per essentiam sen substantial

The pagan philosophers of antiquity were in error when they limited the presence of God to this or that locality (e. g., Mount Olym pus, the Capitol). Equally erroneous was the
divinam).
belief of the Valentinian Gnostics, the Calvinist

Vorstius, and the Greek Steuchus Eugubinus, who held that God is substantially present no

where except
a)

in

Heaven. 11
locus
classicus
shall I
is

The
?

Scriptural
:

Ps.

CXXXVIII,
thy
If
spirit
I

7 sqq. or whither shall

"Whither

I flee

go from from thy face ?

ascend into Heaven, thou art there: if I descend into hell, thou art present. If I take
10 Cfr.
"

Pastor
(A6t>os

Hermae,
}

II,

i

:

gens,

deorsum continent, extra
penetrans."

cir-

EZs Qebs

6

fj.6vos

5e dxcipijTos
II,

wt>."
"

travra xwpwv, S. Greg.

cumdans, interius
11 Cfr.

Petavius,

De Deo,

III,

7.

M., Moral.,

12:

Sursum

re-

322

IMMENSITY
wings early
in the

my

morning and dwell

in the

uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold
:

me."

Here we have both an accurate and a
poetical
12

beautifully

description
is

of

the

divine

omnipresence to the God (which it, of power knowledge but expressly extends it to course, includes)
not
limit

omnipresence. Psalmist does
or

It

to be observed that the

of

;

the divine Essence itself:
Jer.

"Tu

illic

es,

ades."

removes every vestige of a doubt: "Numquid non coclum et terram ego impleof Do not I fill heaven and earth?" It is only on this assumption that St. Paul could

XXIII,

24,

12 Francis

Thompson
his
":

has

elabo"

"

All

rated

it

in

famous ode,

The

Hound
I

of

Heaven

To
fled

......
trayest
Me."

things

betray

thee,

who be

all

Him, down the nights and

I

down
I

the clays;
of the

Clung

swift things for swiftness did sue; to the whistling mane of

fled

Him, down the arches
years;

every wind.

But whether they swept, smoothly
fleet,

Him, down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the mist
I

fled

of tears
I hid

The long savannahs of the blue; Or whether, Thunder-driven, They clanged His chariot thwart a
heaven, Flashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o their feet: Fear wist not to evade as Love
wist to pursue.

from Him, and under running

Up

laughter. vistaed hopes, I sped;
of

And shot, precipitated Adown Titanic glooms
fears,

chasmed
Still

From

strong Feet that lowed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase,
those

fol-

And

with unhurrying chase, unperturbed pace, Deliberate majestic speed,

in-

And

unperturbed pace,
speed,

Deliberate
stancy, They beat

majestic

in"

stancy, Came on the following Feet, And a Voice above their beat

Naught

shelters

thee,

who

wilt

and a Voice beat

not shelter

Me."

More

instant than the Feet

(and so forth)

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
13

323
et

say:

"In

ipso
in

enim vivimus

et

movemur

sumus
14
are."

For

him we

live,

and move, and

b) Patristic theology not only re-echoed the

teaching of Holy Scripture in regard to God s omnipresence, but it engaged all the resources
of science to explain the concept

and

to safe

guard

it

against misinterpretation.

In this domain, as in so many others, the genius of Augustine shines with peculiar splendor. In his Con
fessions the Saint draws an impressive comparison be tween God s omnipresence and the waters which sur round and fill the sponges growing at the bottom of the At the same time, in order to sea (. e., the world).
forestall a purely material conception of the
"

"

diffusion

of the Divine Essence, the great Bishop of

Hippo en

deavors, with keen analytical acumen, to determine the true notion of God s omnipresence as accurately as is pos "Sic est Deus per cuncta sible for the mind ..of man.
ut non sit qualitas mundi, sed subhe says, stantia creatrix mundi, sine labore regens et sine onere continens mundum. Non tamen per spatia locorum
"

diffusus,"

quasi mole diffusa, ita ut in dimidio mundi corpore sit dimidius et in olio dimidio dimidius, atque ita per totum totus; sed in solo coelo totus, et in sola terra totus, et
in coelo et in terra totus, et nullo contentus loco, sed in

se ipso ubique
13 Acts

totus."

15

XVII,

28.
sq.

Trdpei,

ou fcdra

/te pos,

l*Cfr. Amos, IX, 2 15 Ep. c. i, 187, expresses Chrysostom
truth

5\ os
14.

Thou
all,

fillest

all,

dXXa iraffiv Thou art

n.

St.

present to

the
in

same
these
irdffi

[Thou

art present] to

not in part, but whole all." (In Ps.

more
"

succinctly

138, n. 2.)

words:

Hdi/ra

7r\7?potj,

324
c)

IMMENSITY
Scholastic
theology,

following
16

the

lead

and St. Thomas 17 Aquinas, goes a step farther and extends the substantial omnipresence of God to the world of spirits angels, demons, and the souls of men. The Schoolmen distinguish a threefold presence of God in His creatures. He is present in them
of

Peter

the

Lombard

(i) by essence (per essentiam s. substantiam); or (2) by power (per potentiam) or (3) by presence or inhabitation (per in
either
\

habit at ionem
a)
itual

s.

praesentiam specialem).

God

is

substantially present

beings with

when he is in spir His substance, totus ubique. Eras
the majesty the damned,

mus s objection, that it is derogatory to of God to be present in demons, the souls of

and other horrid creatures, had already been refuted 18 who com long before his time by St. Augustine,
pared
light,

God

s

which penetrates
If

presence in such beings to that of the sun filth without suffering contamina
is

tion.
ft)
"

God

by
in

essence," it is

present in all things substantially or evident that He must also be present
"

them dynamically or
it

by
is.

power";

for a substance

equally logical, con to infer that God is substantially present when versely, we know Him to be present dynamically? His dy

can operate wherever

Is

it

namic presence
bility

is

admitted by
"

all,

not so the possi
is

of
"

"

actio in

distans."

While the oft-quoted axiom
impossible
18

that

actio in distans
I,

is

not fully eviBoni,
c.

16 Liber Sent.,
17

dist.

37.

De Natura

29.

Summa

Theol., la, qu. 8, art. 3.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

325

dent, yet in respect of divine things its validity is un deniable for as God s power objectively coincides with
;

His Essence, His Essence His power is operative. It ing attributes of God must created being; and this is
niscience,
to
lies
19

must be present wherever follows that all the remain
likewise be present in every especially true of His om
20

which sees
s

all

point out,

however,

things. that an

We

must not omit
distinction

important

and His dynamic presence. between God an emanation from the Ab Substantial presence, being solute Essence, rests on metaphysical necessity, while dy namic presence, so far as it manifests itself actively, is
substantial

subject to the free will of the Almighty.

why God
creatures.

This explains manifests His power variously in His various
said towards the

y)

What we have
is

end of the above

true in an even higher degree of inhabitative presence, that is to say, His special

paragraph

God s mode

of indwelling in His creatures.
in

He

the

just,

in

sinners,
;

in
21

angels,

indwells differently in demons, in the
in

Church and
so forth.
"

in the State

on earth and

Heaven and
;
"

Therefore we pray in the

"

Our Father

:

"

Father, Who art in this truth when he says While we are in the body, we are absent from the but we are confident, and have a good will Lord;

Pater nosier, qui es in coelis Heaven." St. Paul alludes to

Our

:

.

.

.

to be absent rather

with the
"Licet

Lord/
esse
.
. .

ubique
ut

from the body, and to be present St. Bernard appositely observes Deus non dubitetur, sic tamen in
:

coelo
is Cfr.

est,
Ps.

nee
"

esse
Oculi

indeatnr

in

terris.
of

Propa
"

LXV,

7

:

ence by the symbol
eye."

seeing
20.

His super genie s respiciunt. eyes behold the nations." 20 This explains why artists love
eius
to

21 Cfr.

22 2 Cor.

Math. XXVIII, V, 6 sqq.

represent

the

divine

omnipres-

326
ter

IMMENSITY
quod
et

orantcs dicimus:

Pater nosier, qui es in
in toto

coelis.

Sicut enim anima,

cum
.

quoque
in

sit

cor-

pore, exccllentius

tamen

et singularius cst
. .

capite, in

it a si praesentiam illam quo sunt owucs scnsus, bcati angcli perfruuntur, vidcmur vix cogitamus, qua In aliquam Dei protectioncm et nomen habere."

Christ and in the Blessed Eucharist the Godhead, by
virtue of the Hypostatic Union, indwells in an altogether

singular manner, hence our churches are veritably and
"

literally

houses of
:

-*
God."

READINGS
Gent.,
sq.).
Ill,

S.

Thorn.,

S.

TheoL,
1.

la,

qu.

8.

IDEM, Contr.

68

(Rickaby,

Of God and His
II.

Lessius,
9.

DC
I,

Perfect. Dirin.,

Creatures, pp. 238 *Gillius, De Essentia

Dei, tract.

Franzclin,

De Deo Uno,
88

thes. 33-34.

Schceben,

Dogmatik, Vol.

(Wilhelm-Scannell, Manual, pp. Lepicier, De Deo Uno, t. I, pp. 286 sqq., 193 sqq., 211 sqq.). Parisiis 1902. Humphrey, His Dirine Majesty," pp. 124 sqq.
77,
"

Boedder, Natural Theology, pp. 249 sqq.
23
i,

Serm.
a

in

Ps.

"

Qui
of

habitat,"

the

treatise

on

Grace.

It

will

n. 4.

24 For

refutation of

the

false

teaching

God

s

Luther concerning ubiquity we must refer the

hardly be necessary to add anything to what we have said above, to explain such Scriptural phrases
as
the
"

coming
"

"

and
of

"

going
the

of

Christology. special indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just belongs to

reader to

The

God,"

the
etc.

descent

Holy

Ghost,"

CHAPTER

III

THE ATTRIBUTES OF DIVINE LIFE KNOWLEDGE

DIVINE

Considered dynamically, aseity, God s funda mental attribute, is purest activity; consequently
the attributes of Divine Activity must be deducible in the same manner as the attributes of

Divine Being; and, since immanent activity is synonymous with life, the attributes of Divine
Activity must be identical with the attributes of

Divine Life. 1

As God
utters

is

a pure
in

itself

and spiritual life and willing, it is knowing
spirit,

plain that God s vital activity can find expres sion only in cognition and volition. This fur nishes a natural division of the attributes of

divine

life, viz.,

attributes of the
2
:

Understanding

and
tur,

attributes of the Will.

In the words of the
credit et confiteet

Vatican Council

"Ecclesia

unum

esse

Deum verum
"

vivum

.

.

.

in-

tellectu

ac voluntate omnique perfectione
eral,

infini-

iCfr. Deut. XXXII, 40: Vivo I live forever." ego in acternum

consult
I,

Scheeben,
St.
8.

Vol.

89;

Dogmatik, Thomas, Summa

John XIV,
veritas
et

"

6: vita

Ego
(^

suto

via
I

et

the

way, and the

life."

On

and the the Divine Life in gen-

funj) truth,

am

Theol, la, qu. 2 Cone. Vatic., Sess. Ill,
cap.
z.

De

Fide,

327

328
turn

DIVINE
The
.

KNOWLEDGE

Church believes and confesses that there is one true and living God, ... in finite in intelligence, in will, and in all perfec
.
.

3
tion."

In respect of the divine understanding, we will discuss ( i ) the manner in which it is ex

medium. In treating of these three points we shall have to be very careful not to trench on the infinite Not only perfection of the Divine Knowledge.
ercised,

(2)

its

object,

and

(3)

its

must we conceive

it

as

self-existent,

but like

wise as blending with all the other attributes of Divine Being, especially the negative ones, sternly excluding from the Divine Understanding every
imaginable imperfection of human cognition, such as supposition, doubt, discursive reasoning, and so forth. It is with a view to emphasizing
the certainty and infallibility of Divine Cogni tion that theologians generally speak of it as
scicntia divina, for scicntia (science)
is

the cer
their

tain

and evident knowledge of things by
3 Cfr.

causes.
Denzinger-Bannwart, Enchiridion,
n.

1782.

SECTION

i

THE MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

From what we have
manner
tained
in

previously said about the in which created perfections are con

God,

it

follows
e.

that

every

mixed
to
a

perfection (such as, cursive reasoning),

g.,

the faculty of dis

must be subjected

process of logical refinement before it can be ap plied to the Deity; and further that when we

undertake to transfer a simple perfection, i. e., one formally capable of being predicated of the Divine Essence (e. g., intellect), from the crea
ture to the Creator, we must abstract from the mode in which that perfection exists in the
creature.
to

The following theses are calculated show how divine differs from human knowl
in

edge

regard to

its

mode.

Thesis I:

Because of the identity of being and

thought

in God, the Divine

Knowledge

is

a substan

tial act of

cognition, in which consciousness comprehension co-incide.

and

self-

Proof.

We

have already shown,
329

in treating

330

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
1

of the Absolute Truth,

that in

God being and

thinking really co-incide; that a notion which adequately comprehends its object, must be con
ceived as a substance
;

must culminate
sion

in a

and that this entire process most complete comprehen

All three of these

by God of His Essence, or of Himself. momenta are implicitly con tained in the decree of the Vatican Council, ac cording to which God is "infinite in intelligence, in will, and in all perfection," and, at the same u one time, absolutely simple and immuta
. . .

ble

spiritual

tity of

The absolute iden being and thinking in God is, indeed, an
substance/

2

immediate consequence of which altogether excludes
faculty to act.

His
a

self-existence,

transition

from

substantiality of the divine act of understanding is a corollary flowing from that metaphysical simplicity of the Divine Es

The

sence which does not admit of parts and ac cidents; and, finally, resulting from both, the

comprehension by God of His own Self or Es sence, is a consequence of the infinite, absolute spirituality, by virtue of which, in God, truth must co-incide with knowledge, goodness with
volition.
1 2

3

Supra, pp. 230 sqq. Cone. Vatican., Sess.
c.

et

incommutabilis
3 Cfr.

substantia

spir

Ill,

De

itualis."

Fide,
tate

/:

"

Intellectu

ac

volun-

Isidor.
"

Hispal.,

Etymol.

...

omnique

perfectione infinites (et simul) simplex omnino

VII, habet

i

:

Deus

habet

et

sapicntiam;

cssentiam, sed quod

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
The leading characteristic of God s doubtless His comprehension of Himself

331

knowledge is (comprehensio sui), which wholly governs and determines His intel lectual life in itself as well as in its relations ad extra. From this comprehensive knowledge which God has of Himself, flows, as from a fruitful idea matrix,
the knowledge of all truth and of all truths within and without the Divine Essence. The absolute incompre hensibility of the Divine Essence makes it

impossible

any created or creatable intellect, either in this life or in the life beyond, to form a comprehensive notion of God. God, and God alone, is able to compass Him self and to exhaust His Essence as the Infinite Truth. Sacred Scripture attributes this comprehensive knowl
edge to each of the three Divine Persons
Cfr. Math. XI, 27:
"Nemo

for

in particular.

novit (imyivwrKei) nisi Pater, neque Patrem novit nisi Filius quis knoweth the Son, but the Father neither doth
:

F ilium No one
any one
10
sq.
:

know
"

the

Father but the

Son."

i

Cor.

II,

Spiritus enim omnia scrutatur, etiam profunda Dei
ftdOr)

(TO,

rov

Oeov)
nisi

;

.

.

.

quae

Dei

sunt,

nemo
.

(lyvuKtv)

Spiritus Dei

things, yea, the deep things that are of God no man
God."

The of God

Spirit
. .

cognovit searcheth all

the things also

knoweth, but the Spirit of
especially St.

Among

the Fathers

it

is

Augustine

who

regards the Logos, or Son, as the adequately comprehen sive image of the Father. For God, he says, to speak (dicere) is the same as to comprehend Himself

(com-

"

prehendere).
habet, hoc et est, et

Tanquam seipsum
omnia unus
est

dicens Pater genuit
at-

have said .supra, on the divine
tributes

ac proinde simplex est, quia in eo non ahquid accidentis est." The reader is also referred to what we

of

substantiality

and

inv

mutability,

332

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
sibi

Verbum

aequalc per omnia; non enim seipsum in-

tegre perfectcque dixissct, si aliquid minus out amplius esset in eius Verbo, quam in ipso As though uttering Himself, the Father begat the word equal to Himself
in all things; for.

He would
if

not have uttered Himself

wholly and perfectly,
thing more or
If
less

there were in His
4

word any

than in Himself/

God comprehends Himself, He must be self-con Our inadequate human mode of conception dis tinguishes the two, by conceiving of God s self-compre
scious.

hension as directed to the Divine Essence (cognitio directa], and His self -consciousness as bearing on the
operation

of

the

Divine

Intellect

(cognitio

reftexa).

His Substance, His Essence, His Nature, and everything that pertains to His knowledge or the exercise of His intellect; and this self-knowledge
naturally
implies

God knows Himself

which needs to be emphasized
fallacy

a truth consciousness of the Ego, in view of the Pantheistic

that
s

the Divine

self-consciousness

is

enkindled

by God
verse.

(immanent) production of the created uni a gradual This absurd and heretical notion of
"
"

is incompat awakening of the divine consciousness ible with God s most fundamental attribute, i. e., selfexistence, and was already refuted by Aristotle when he God Himself defined the Divinity as voSyo-ts VOTJO-CWS." has revealed the reality of His consciousness by His
"

inimitable effatum
6
am."

I am who Ego sum qui sum Not only the Godhead in the oneness of Its
"

:

nature, but likewise each of the three Divine Persons

possesses self-consciousness and gives expression to it 6 However, we must beware of the by the word
"

I."

*De
dan
s

Trinit.,

XV,
p.

14,

23

(Had-

6

Thus
"Hie

the
cst

Father:
filius

Math.
This

Ill,

translation,
14.

407),

6 Ex. Ill,

17: in

meus

dilectus,
is

quo

mi hi

complacui

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

333

gross error which the school of Giinther at one time that propagated among the theologians of Germany, consciousness formally constitutes personality. If this

were
ness,

so,

Christ,

then we should have to who had both a divine and

distinguish in Jesus a human conscious

two separate persons, and

in the

Godhead

three

distinct Natures, because of the trinity of the (relative)

self-consciousness,

and but one Person on account of
s

the oneness of

God

(absolute)

consciousness.
;

This

would
other,

spell,

on the one hand, Nestorianism
In
in

on the
fact,

Tritheism or Sabellianism.
is

matter of

as there

God

but one Nature, so

He

one consciousness, which belongs to all Persons per modum identitatis, and by virtue of which each separate Hypostasis, and all three Hypostases to gether, are aware of their existence and their infinite
If, therefore, consciousness is multiplied ac perfection. to natures, not according to persons, it follows cording

has only three Divine

inevitably that consciousness and self-comprehension in God coincide in the same manner as being and cogni
tion.
7

Hence

in the

Godhead

:

prehensio sui

= consciousness.
By

being

= thought = com-

8

Thesis II
of

:

virtue of His infinite comprehension
in

and through Himself also knows all extra-divine truths, in such manner that truth is dependent on Him, not He on truth.
Proof.
parts.

His own Essence, God

This thesis consists of two distinct
first,

In the
Son,
et

God
I

s

self-comprehension
Separate
Cfr.

is

my
well
30:
I

beloved
"Ego

in

whom

am

bam
has."

me

Saul and Barna-

pleased."

The Son: John X, pater unum sumus

7

Franzelin,

and the Father are one." And Acts XIII, 2: the Holy Ghost:
"

carnato,

3rd

ed.,

De Verbo Rome 1881,

Inpp.

249 sqq.
8 Cfr. Otten, Apologie des gottlichen Bewusstseins, Paderborn 1897.

Segregate mihi Saulum

et

Barna-

334

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
to comprise within
its

made

radius the entire

domain of truth external

His Essence; while in the second, the relation of the former to the latter is denned more clearly by excluding all real dependency of God on the objects of His
to

knowledge.
The question here at issue, therefore, many and what classes of truths form
Divine Knowledge, but:
eral
is

not:

How

How

does

God

object of know the sev

the

truths, the possible

the future, etc.?

and the real, the present and Our thesis answers this question in a

(i) Positively: God knows all truths way. and through Himself, that is to say, by virtue of His own Essence and His self-comprehension; (2) neg atively: the truths which He knows do not really affect His knowledge. Inasmuch as the Church has never defined the mode of divine cognition, and her may istcrium ordinarium teaches nothing definite on this sub ject as of faith, we cannot assert our thesis to be de

twofold
in

fide,

though we can surely claim for
conclusion.
s

it

the value of a

theological

All

theological

schools

unani

absolute independence of the ob of His knowledge, as a corollary from the divine jects attributes of self-existence and infinite perfection.
I.

mously uphold God

It is

not

difficult to

demonstrate that God

must know all truths without exception by reason of His self-comprehension. According to the axiom: "Ens et verum convertuntur," truth is co-extensive with being. Now, what
ever
is,

is

either God, or

God.

The

things external to

something external to God can be di-

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
vided into two classes:
actually existing. thesis that God has

335

the

We know

possible and the from the preceding

an adequate knowledge of all divine being by reason of His comprehension As for the two classes of of His own Essence. extra-divine beings, the possibles depend on the
Divine Essence as their exemplary cause, while the actually existing things depend on the same
not only as their exemplary but also as their efficient and final cause. As, therefore, God His own Essence, which is the ex

comprehends
emplary, the

efficient,

and the

final

cause of

all

virtue of His things outside of Himself, so by must envisage these things comprehensio sui He one and all in His own Essence.

To prove this thesis from Revelation, we must fall back on the attribute of divine omnipotence. If God can do whatever does not imply an intrinsic contradiction, then His omnipotence is co-extensive with being, that is,
with the sphere of possible being.

now
or

actually exist, prior to the
realization

Even the things that moment of their creation were merely possible. Now, God en

visages His omnipotence in His

own

Essence, of which

it is an attribute; consequently he must also perceive in His Essence whatever comes within the scope of His Cfr. omnipotence, vis.: all real and all possible things.

XXIII, 29: "Domino Deo, antequam crearentur, omnia sunt agnita, sic et post perfectum respicit OVTWS /cat Omnia (irplv KTio-0?7rai TO, Travra eyvwo-rai were known to For all things /ura TO (TvvTtXrjvBijvai) the Lord God, before they were created, so also after
Ecclus.
rj
O,VTO>,

336
they

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
were perfected he beholdeth
all

things/
"

The

following quotation from St. Augustine s treatise De Genesi ad Lit., is often cited in this connection Sicut
:

vidit,

ita

seipso, ita
fecit,

Non practcr scipsum videns, sed in cnumeravit omnia, quae fecit. . Nota ergo non facta cognovit. Proindc antcquam fiercnt,
fecit.
. .

et erant et

non erant: erant
10

in

Dei

scientia,

twn erant

in

sua

natura."

of St.

The Schoolmen, under the leadership Dens intellects Thomas, defended the thesis
"

:

suo
alia

intelligit

se principalitcr,

et

in

se intelligit

omnia
in

God with His understanding knows Himself
first
11

the

place,

and

in

Himself

perceives

all

other

things."

2.

If

God, as

we have

just shown,

by virtue
all

of

extradivine things (or truths) in His Essence, it fol lows as a matter of course that He is nowise de

His

self-comprehension, knows

pendent on the ohjects of His knowledge.
created intellect cannot perceive an object without being influenced by it. The object, as the Scholastic

A

which, perceiving Itself as well as the things outside Itself, is determined only by Itself. Therefore no extra-divine truth in its relation to God
Intellect,

phrase Divine

runs,

determines
in

the

intellect.

Not

so

the

can ever be a causa dcterminans, though
conditio
sine

it

may
The

be a
things

qua non.
are

In other words:

outside
sense

of

God
cause

the

of
it
:

Scholastics
9 Cfr.

"

put

merely the terminus, but in no Divine Knowledge. Or, as the Objecta alia a Deo tenninant
sqq.;
3

Wisdom

VII,

21

10

Dl

Gen. ad
p.

Lit.,

V, 35

sq.

Prov.
sqq.,

VIII, 22 sqq.; John I, and other similar passages.

11 Cfr.

Rickaby, Of
57.

God and His

Creatures,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
quidem intellectum divinum, sed non determinant
objects existing outside of not determine, the Divine

337

The

God

terminate, but they do Intellect." To assume that

the Divine Intellect could be influenced by truths ex isting outside of Itself, would be tantamount to assert

ing that God is essentially dependent on the created universe, which would be to deny His self-existence. There is nothing outside the Divine Essence which

can determine God
ing external to

knowledge, just as there is noth that can determine His being; for both His knowledge and His being are self-existing. It follows that the Divine Intellect can be determined
s

Him

only from within, that
Itself.

is

to say,

by the Divine Essence

this process as a real influence exerted by God s Essence upon His Intellect, lest we fall into the mistake, already censured,

However, we must not conceive of

of taking aseitas to mean self-realization
sense of that term.

in

the strict

God, being pure actuality (actus purissimus), cannot in any sense be conceived as po tential. Deus lux est et tenebrae Cfr. i John I, 5
"

:

in eo
is

non sunt
darkness."

ullae

God

is

light,

and

in

Him

there

God is determined from mean that His knowl within, can, therefore, only edge is determined by His essence in the same way as His existence. 12 The doctrine we are here defend
no
say that
ing has found pointed, not to say drastic, expression in the writings of those Fathers of the Church who

To

hold that
self
"

God does

not

know

the things outside

Him

because they exist, but they exist because He knows them. Universas creaturas suas, et spirituales et cor-

non quia sunt ideo novit, sed ideo sunt quia novit; non enim nesciint quae fuerat And with respect to all His creatures, both creaturus
porales,"

"

says St. Augustine,

12 Cfr. Chr. Pesch, Praelect. Dogm., Vol. II,

p. 93.

338
spiritual

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
and corporeal,

He

does not

know them because
them.
to

they are, but they are because He was not ignorant of what He

He knows
was about
"

For

create."

Quae sunt, non in Similarly St. Gregory the Great aeternitate eins ideo vidcntur quia sunt; sed ideo sunt The things that are, are not seen in quia z identur
:

His eternity because they are, but they are because He 14 These authorities do not mean to deny sees them." that the things outside of God are actually the terminus
for there can be no knowledge of Divine knowledge without an object; but they certainly do deny that the exercise a causal influence upon objccta alia a Deo
;
"

"

the knowledge of

God

;

in other
its

words, that

God

s

knowl

edge

is

dependent upon

objects.

"Di3. The proposition of the Schoolmen: vina esscntia cst objcctum formale et primarium,

oinnia alia

z

cundariujn
ferent

dii

cra sunt objcctum materiale ct seinac cognitionis," is merely a dif

way

of formulating our thesis.
object of a vital
faculty
is

The formal
specific

that
it

which

determines the faculty to act and

imparts to

its

own
with

Such is, for instance, perfection. The material object is that which respect to the eye. is viewed in the light of the formal object, and comes

color

within the purview of a faculty only from that par ticular coign of vantage, as, e. g., bodily substance and which the eye can perceive only ratione

magnitude,

colons.

that which is Similarly the primary object is a faculty primo et per se, and to which apprehended by
13 S.
13,

Augustin.,

De
s

Trinit.,

XV,
p.

14 Greg.
63.

M., Moral.,

XX,

29,

n.

22.

Haddan

translation,

406.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
whatever
else
is

339

apprehended

(obiectum sccundarium)

must be referred as to its principle. Hence a formal object must always be primary a material object, sec ondary. Mutatis mutandis the same terminology may
;

as, for instance,

be employed in defining the object of any other science, geometry or metaphysics.

Now, if God s knowledge receives its peculiar form and perfection not from without, but from the Divine Essence itself, and if it is the Divine Essence alone which determines the Intellect of God and so renders His knowledge truly divine then the truths outside of God cannot possibly constitute the formal object of His knowledge hence they must be its material object, be
;

;

cause, being truths, they cannot be unknown to Him is All-Truth. say, material object, and nothing more; for, whether, e. g., the world exists or no, can

Who

We

not in any wise affect the perfection of God s knowl edge, because in neither case would God s knowledge

be increased or diminished, either materially or formally. 15 For precisely the same reason God s Essence is the

primary, and the things that exist outside of

it

are

merely secondary objects of His knowledge.
If we points out a beautiful parallel. take theology as the subjective knowledge of things di vine, he says, the most accomplished theologian can be

Kleutgen

16

none other than God Himself, whereas theological knowl edge on earth grows in nobility and perfection accord
ing as a
15 Cfr.

man
"

learns to consider

all

things in the light
still

St.

August.,

De
ea

Trinit.
scivit

way than He knew them when
to

XV,
creata
eius

13:

Non

aliter

quam

creanda;

non

enint

sapientiae aliquid accessit ex eis, sed illis existentibus sicut oportebat et quando oportebat, ilia pertnansit, ut erat

be created, for nothing accrued to His wisdom from them; but that wisdom remained as it was, while they came into existence as
fitting
it was and when it was fitting." 16 De Ipso Deo, p. 259.

Nor

did

He know

them when created in any other

340

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
its

of the Divine, and reaches
beatific vision

final

culmination in the

vouchsafed only
:

in

Heaven. 17

Thesis III God knows the things external to Him not only in His own Essence, but also as they are in themselves.
self

things outside of God have a two fold being, to wit ideal or eminent being, in the Essence and Knowledge of God, and real or
Proof.
:

The

formal being, in their
determination.

own

reality

and individual

I. Purely possible being (ens possibile) has objective existence only in the first-mentioned sense. It is some ideal, sans actual existence, though capable of be thing

ing conceived

as

existing

;

e.

g.,

a galloping centaur.

Actual being, on the other hand, besides ideal also has
real being, inasmuch as that which was merely possible has become actually existing. It is easy to see that the ideal being of the possibles objectively coincides with the Divine Essence itself. The infinitely variable imitability
infinite
lect

of

that

Essence

furnishes

the

basis

for

an

number of
as

prototypes, which the Divine

Intel

archetypes of creatable things, and which the Divine Will by its creative power is able to
conceives
posit outside of itself as so

many

ectypes.

It

must be

noted, however, that the
its

purely possible, even before

merely possess an indistinct sort as definitely stamped and as individually determined in its archetype as after it has become exist
realization, does not
is

of being, but

ent. Goethe was able with his eyes closed to summon before his imagination a full-blown rose and he derived as
17 Cfr.
also

Franzelin,

De Deo Una, thes. 38; Dogma*., Vol. II, thes. 33.

Chr.

Pesch,

Praelect.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
much

341

pleasure from contemplating its various beauties as though he held a real flower in his hand.

suggests itself, whether the knowl of the omniscient God is limited to the ideal or edge eminent being of extra-divine things as reflected in His Essence, or whether His intellectual vision can penetrate
to

The question next

the

real,

formal

or

individually

determined
in

which objects have, or can have,
formulating the question thus,

being In themselves.

mean
edge,

to

we do not, of course, the independence of the Divine Knowl deny which we have proved in the preceding thesis.

Like the individually determined being of the purely possible, the real or formal being of actually existing
things can be the terminus, but never the cause of divine cognition. Hence we have formulated our pres ent thesis in this wise God knows the things out
"

:

side

of Himself, not only in His
I
s

also as they are in themselves
selves)."

know

of

own Essence, but (not: but also in them but one theologian who denies
to

that

God

knowledge extends
Aureolus,
sic intelligat
[sit

things
says:
18

as

they
"Si

are

in themselves; viz.:

who

quae-

ratur,

an Dens

quod intuitum suum ferat
e.v

super essentiam
et

am]
ita

et

hoc procedat ulterius

usque ad creaturam,
creatura, sic nullo
creaturas."

quod
It is

sint

duo

intuita:

Deus

modo

18

intelligat

concedi potest, quod Deus not difficult to refute this

obviously false view.
2.

If

God knew

the things outside Himself

only in their ideal or eminent being,
really

He would

know nothing beyond His own Essence;
18 In Mag.
i,

the real, formal being of existing things, and
dist.

35, p. 2, art. 2.

342

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

the concretely individualized being of the purely possibles, as they are or can be in themselves,

would remain hidden from Him. Consequently, there would be something knowable which God did not know, and it would be precisely that which created intelligences are so well able to
know, because they direct their mind s eye to the real, formal, and determinate being as it exists
outside the Divine Essence.

Now,

the

assump

tion that anything knowable eludes the knowl edge of God, or that the created mind com

mands

a wider range than the infinite intellect of the Creator, is preposterous as well as de

rogatory

There
needs
in

is

dignity of the Most High. this further consideration. God must
to

the

know

which

He

created things in the same manner Now, creates, or can create, them.

the object and end of God s creative activity is not the ideally-eminent, but the really-formal

being
latter.

of

extra-divine

objects.

Consequently,

God not only knows
It is solely

the former but also the
this point of

from

view that

we can understand such
"For

revealed texts as these:

looketh on

he beholdeth the ends of the world, and all things that are under heaven, who

a weight for the winds, and weighed the waters by measure, when he gave a law for the Then rain, and a way for the sounding storms. he saw it, and declared, and prepared, and

made

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
searched
19
it."

343

"Who telleth the num Again ber of the stars, and calleth them by all their names and of his wisdom there is no num
:

.

.

.

20
ber."

A question quite apart from the one just treated is whether God perceives the real and formal being of the things outside His Essence immediately in these things
themselves, or mediately in and through His
sence.

We

shall treat this point later,

own Es when we come

to discuss the

medium

of divine cognition. 21

Thesis IV: God s knowledge of the things outside Himself is an adequately comprehensive knowledge, and is invested with that absolute infallibility which flows from metaphysical certainty.

This thesis enunciates an article of faith. Proof. God has an adequately comprehensive

knowledge not only of His own Essence, but of whatever exists or can exist. By an ade
quately comprehensive knowledge we mean one which exhausts its object so completely that the

becomes as were absorbed by cognition. A knowledge that is not adequately comprehensive always in cludes some remnant of uncomprehended being.
it

entire cognoscibility of that object

Thus
sive
19

a mathematician has no adequately comprehen knowledge of a triangle so long as he has not thorCfr.
I,
c.

Job XXVIII, 24 sqq.

also

S.

Thorn.,

Ccntr.

Gent.

20 Ps.

CXLVI,

4 sq.

Cfr. Hebr.

49 sqq.
3,

TV, 13. For the teaching of St. Augustine, see the preceding thesis.

21

infra.

344

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
and
their relations to parallel lines, the circle,

oughly mastered the geometrical propositions concerning
triangles

a mastery which, needless to say, can the square, etc., in this life. not be acquired

knowledge scientia, in order to indicate that it excludes, on the one hand, doubt, and on the other, mere opinion and suspicion. Doubt (diibiitm) is that state of the mind in which it hesitates
I.

We

call

God

s

between two contradictory members of a judgment, as, for instance, in trying to solve the question whether
the
is odd or even. Opinion which the mind accepts for judgment (opinio) weighty reasons, though unable to rid itself of the fear

number of
is

existing stars

a

that

its

contrary
to

may

be true

senting dimension.

judgment, grounds, to prefer one

proposition Suspicion (suspicio), like doubt, is no true but merely an inclination, based on weak

a

for instance, in as th regarding space in the
;

as,

member of an

alternative to the

other, as, for instance, that this particular person has committed a certain specified crime. Certitude (certi-

absolutely excludes the possibility of error, and hence spells the true ideal state of the intellect, as, for

tudo)

has concerning his own We cannot, consequently, conceive of real existence. knowledge except as based on certainty. Be it re marked, however, that subjective certitude does not of
instance, the

certainty a

man

engender knowledge, but must have a foundation in A man who is moved by prejudice, or swayed fact. his passions, may be subjectively certain, and yet err. by Subjective certitude must be based upon objective cer
itself

tainty,

because

it

is

for the

former.

It

the latter that furnishes the grounds follows from what we have said

that certainty

may

inhere not only in judgments and

conclusions, but also in the very objects themselves, as

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
when
is
"

345

I

say

:

The

fact

"

is

certain,"

This proposition
furnishes
the

sure."

It

is

objective

certainty that

basis

for knowledge and thereby

engenders true sub
It

jective certitude.
is

Now, what

is

objective certainty?

nothing else than the intestine necessity of a thing, or, in other words, the impossibility of its contradictory
being true,
as,
e.

g.,

2

X 2 = 4. When

this

necessity

remains hidden, there can be no certitude or true knowl
is

When perceived by the intellect, edge. called evidence, and the intellect must
2.

this

bow
:

necessity to it.

There are three kinds of certitude metaphysical, The first, which is the strongest, physical, and moral. rests upon the intrinsic impossibility of the contradictory proposition, and is often called mathematical. Physical
certitude
is

contingent laws of nature
is

based upon the necessary operation of the It (e. g., the sun is hot).
because the
(as,
e.

inferior to metaphysical certitude,

mo
g.,

mentary suspension of any law of nature
in

the

case

of

the

three

children

in

the

fiery

fur

nace), diminishes the impossibility. The weakest of the three is moral certitude, which rests merely on the con stancy and universality governing the conduct of free
beings,

who
their

follow

inborn

despite occasional exceptions inclinations (as, e.

as a rule
g.,

mothers

love their children). Though the necessity upon which moral certitude rests, and which may ultimately be
at

traced to the watchfulness of Divine Providence, may any moment be broken through by the free will of

yet the propositions derived from it remain cer tain in their moral generality, as, e. g., that the majority of mothers will always love their offspring. Verisimili

man,

tude,
fers

or

probability

(verisimilitude,
in
all

from certitude

of

its

probabilitas) dif three stages, though
it

we
23

often refer to a particularly high degree of

as

346
"

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
:

W =i
With

moral certitude." It lacks necessity there is no guaranty that the contradictory proposition may not be true. The mathematical formula for probability is
(/>

designating favorable, n possible instances).

instances (the denomina tor remaining the same), probability increases until, p becoming equal to n, it changes into certitude

the

number of favorable

:

W=

=
"

i.

The

figure

I

is

consequently

termed

symbol of certitude." Probability does not rest on necessity, and therefore does not per se engender certitude but it is to be noted that a mathematical
the
;

prob always metaphysically certain, even though concrete predictions based upon a probable calculation frequently miss the mark. Inasmuch as
ability

judgment

of

concerning an event

the

a

priori

degree

of

is

God knows all things with metaphysical certitude, it is not sufficient to attribute to His intellect the absolute
certainty proper to mathematical judgments.

He

has and

must have an absolutely

infallible

every individual event; else little more than a calculation based on probabilities. From 3. An intelligence is infallible if it cannot err.
this definition
it

knowledge of each and His knowledge would be

is

evident that the formal characteristic

of infallibility (infallibilitas) is not the mere fact of noterring (inerrantia) , just as the formal characteristic of
impeccability
(impeccabilitas)
is

not

actual

freedom

from
posse

sin

(impcccantia). Infallibility not only implies non errare, but non posse err arc. It may be

either absolute or relative, according as it is unlimited, comprising all truths without exception, or limited in

extension and derivative in regard to

its

contents.

Ab

solute infallibility postulates an infinite being, in whom truth and subsistent reason are identical. Relative
infallibility
is

proper to

the

human

intellect,

which,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
created as
it

347

is

for the truth,
criterion

is

infallible

when guided
this

by would

the

general

of
into

evidence.
scepticism.

To deny
Besides

plunge

mankind

the

which we have been considering, there is a supernatural infallibility, which is a gift of Divine Grace. Such was the prophetic and charismatic infallibility of the Old Testament seers, and of the
infallibility,

natural

such to-day is the infallibility of the ecclesias teaching office in matters of faith and morals, no matter whether it enunciates its decisions by the magisterium ordinarium of or in a solemn daily instruction, definition by an ecumenical council, or in an ex cathedra
Apostles
;

tical

pronouncement on the part of the

Roman

Pontiff.

This

explains the practical importance of divine, as the foun dation of derived, infallibility.

After the foregoing explanations it will not be difficult to prove our thesis, which not only avers that God knows all outside Him
4.

things

has an adequate globo^ comprehension of each one of them individually. If He had no such adequate comprehension,

self

in

2

but that

He

some things would be unknown to Him, and He would either remain in eternal ignorance
of them, or be compelled constantly to acquire

new knowledge.

assumption is repugnant to His infinite perfection, the lat ter to His absolute Cfr. Ecclus. immutability. XXXIX, 24 sqq. "The works of all flesh [i. e., all men] are before him, and there is nothing hid from his eyes he seeth from eternity to eternity,
:

The

former

;

22 Cfr. First Thesis, supra.

348

MODE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
nothing ivonderful before him." In innermost essence this comprehensive cog
is

and there
its

nition

is

true knowledge

exempt from doubt,
It
is

opinion,

and suspicion.
;

in

consequence

metaphysically certain for metaphysical certitude alone can wholly eliminate the possibility of

For the same reason the knowledge of God must ultimately culminate in absolute in fallibility, which positively excludes all possi
error.

Cfr. Hebr. IV, 13: "Xon est crcatura inrisibilis in conspcctu tins; onuria autcm nuda ct apcrta snnt ocnlis eius Neither
bility of error.
itlla

is

there any creature invisible in his sight; but

things are naked and open to his eyes." The possibility of erring would entail the possibility of correcting errors, and this could not be made
all

to square with the immutability of
23 edge and Essence.
23 Consult here the passages from Sacred Scripture and the Fathers
cited in
can.,
5
2.

God
Cfr.

s

knowl

also Cone.
"

VatvDeo."

Sess.

Ill,

cap.

l,

De

SECTION

2

THE OBJECTS OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
OMNISCIENCE
Being absolutely simple, and therefore
indivisi

ble, Knowledge can be distinguished only in respect of its objects. Inasmuch as, and be whatever is and can be, He cause, God knows
s
is

God

called the

Omniscient (omniscius).
division of the

A
its

common

Knowledge of God
lib era,

is

that

into scientia necessaria

and scientia

according as

object is something absolutely necessary (e. g., God, or the purely possible), or exists by virtue of the
free will of the Creator (e.
g.,
is

Of particular importance God s Knowledge of simple
plicis intelligentiae)
,

the physical universe). the distinction between
(scientia sim-

intelligence
its

which has for
metaphysical

possible

(i.
;

e.,

the

object the purely essences, abstract
(scientia visionis),

truths)

and His knowledge of vision
"

which, as a spiritual
actually
existing.
"

seeing,"

have placed a
holding the

Between famous scientia media, which, middle between the purely possible and
third, the
"

terminates on every thing these two, the Molinists

the really actual, is supposed to comprehend the free acts of the future which intelligent beings would perform under certain conditions, though as a matter of fact

many

of them never will be performed, because the con-

349

350
ditions will

OMNISCIENCE

not be realized. The Thomists refuse to admit the scientia media; but by disputing among them selves whether the conditionally future free actions of
creatures
(act us
liberi

rational

futuribilcs)

belong to
the
scientia
is

the
f

scientia

simplicis

intelligentiac

or

to

z isionis, 1 they seem virtually to admit that there for such a distinction.

room

A
and

scientia improbationis,

further distinction, between scientia approbationis is based upon the Will of God
all

rather than

proves

He

upon His Knowledge. God wills and ap good things and deeds which He sees, while or, in the language of Holy Scrip disapproves
"knows
not,"

ture,

"ignores"

the bad.

Cfr.

Math.
I

XXV,

12:

"Amen
I

dico

vobis, nescio vos
not."

Amen

say to you,

know you

Abstracting from the Divine Substance, which,
after what we have already said, we may leave out of consideration here, there are to be dis tinguished four groups of objects outside of God,
vis.:

(i) the purely possible; (2) those which actually exist, including the free actions of ra
tional creatures past and present; (3) the free future acts of these creatures; and (4) the free

acts conditionally future, which are held to the object of the scientia media.
i Billuart,

form

De Deo,

diss.

6,

art.s,

obj.

3.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
ARTICLE
OMNISCIENCE AS GOD
S
i

351

KNOWLEDGE OF THE PURELY

POSSIBLE
i.

THE TEACHING

OF DIVINE REVELATION.

Whatever has

real existence

was before

its

real

ization merely possible,

and after

will return to that state.

Hence

its disparition the possible is

co-extensive with truth or being.
predicable of the Di vine Essence, though, needless to insist, it nec essarily coincides with the existence of God.
Intrinsic possibility
is

From

these considerations

it is

manifest that the

possible constitutes the adequate and total object of the scientia simplicis intelligentiae. The as

sumption that any truth whatsoever can elude
the Divine Omniscience, has been
heretical.

condemned as
This

Consequently
easily

it

is

an
is

article of faith

that

God knows whatever
Job XIII, 9:
.

possible.

dogma can be
ture.

proved from Holy Scrip
"Deum

celare nihil potcst

God
cealed."

.

.

from

Ps.

whom nothing CXXXVIII, 5:
hast

can be con
cognovisti

"Tu

known all things/ Or the of Esther (Esth. XIV, 14): "Domine, prayer O Lord, who hast qui habes omnium scientiam
omnia

Thou

If these passages the knowledge of all things." left any doubt as to whether or not the knowl

edge of God includes the realm of the purely

352
possible,

OMNISCIENCE
such

doubt

would

be

dispelled

by

XXIII, 29: "Domino Deo, antequam For all things crearentur, omnia sunt agnita were known to the Lord God, before they were "Vocat ea quae created/ and Rom. IV, 17:
non
sunt,

Ecclus.

tainqnam

ea

quae sunt

God

.

.

.

calleth those things that are not, as those that

Moreover, it is plain that God s adequate conception of His own omnipotence must neces sarily exhaust the fullness of that attribute, i. c.,
are."

comprise everything possible.
26:
"Apud

Cfr. Matth.

Deum omnia

possibilia sunt

XIX, With

God
2.

all

things are

possible."

THE

INFINITE MULTITUDE OF POSSIBLE

THINGS.

a confusing multiplicity of possible things (species, individuals, series, ac tions, etc.), God s knowledge actually extends to
there
is

As

a multitude which
a)

is infinite.

Ruiz
3

calls
It
is

this

deduction

"

certissima

et

fidei

proximo."

obvious that the totality of possible
4

objects,

at

the attempted

human

intellect reels,
it

number, and that

contemplation of which the cannot be expressed by any finite must, therefore, be infinite. St.
"

Deus scit non solum expressly teaches this: ea quae actu sunt, sed etiam quae sunt in potentia vel sua vel creaturac ; haec autem constat esse infinita." *
our
2,

Thomas

For further information, consult chapter on the attribute of i, Omnipotence; also proposition
2

Deo,

IV,

3

sqq.)

and

Ruiz

(De
i.

Scicntia Dei, disp. 9, sect. 3). 3 De Scientia Dei, disp. 20, sect.
4

supra.

Many

pertinent quotations

Cfr.
2.

Lessius,

De

Perfect.
14, art.

Div.,
12.

from the writings of the Fathers have been collected by Petavius (De

VI,

5 S.

Theol., la, qu.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Long
before him St. Augustine had written
"

353
Infinitas

:

quamvis infinitorum numerorum nullus sit numerus, non est tamen incomprehensibilis ei, cuius 6 intelligentiae non est numerus/ Though it is impossible
itaque numeri,
that there should actually exist an infinite number of sub stances and accidents, yet their possible qualities and mutations, nay, even their real variations and actions in

the course of

destroys

an infinitely prolonged existence no essences cannot be expressed in

God
finite

numbers. 7
b) There is another question of a more philosophical character, which cannot be solved by theological argu ments namely, whether the multitude of objects com prised by the Knowledge of God is actually or merely
;

potentially

infinite.

8

The

older

school

of theologians,

headed by Aquinas, 9 and comprising the famous Jesuit writers Pallavicini, Suarez, De Lugo, etc., held that it is Of late years, however, it has actually infinite. become the fashion to deny that there can be such a the thing as an actually infinite multitude, because very term involves an intrinsic contradiction." Until
"

Msgr. Gutberlet and the author of this volume were probably the only theological writers among mod
lately

erns
finite

who defended
multitude. 10

the

possibility

of an
the

actually

in

To my mind

following

argu

ment is absolutely irrefutable: The possible things of which God has knowledge are either finite, or poten
tially
finite,
6

infinite,
is

or actually infinite. self-evident. They cannot
18.
"

That they are not
be potentially
p.

in-

De

Civitate Dei, XII,
St.

8

Vide supra,

190.
I,

7 Cfr.

Thorn.,

/.

c.

:

Deus
q.

9 Contr.

Gent.,
9.

69;

De

Verit.,

scit

etiam cogitationes ct affectiones cordium, quae in infinitum multiplicabuntur,
creaturis

n,

art.

10 Cfr.

Der

Katholik, Mainz 1880.

rationalibus
fine."

permanentibus absque

354
finite,

OMNISCIENCE
because

God

does not conceive an
creatures,
i.

infinite

multitude

after the
sive

manner of

e.,

by a series of succes
act.

concepts,

quently, they ascribe to the Divine Intellect a distributive, but deny it a collective, knowledge of all possibles, and who try to jus
tify this subtle distinction by pointing to the impossibility of the whole collection co-existing, confus.e the logical with the physical order. The possibility of co-existing in

but simultaneously in one must be actually infinite. 11

Conse Those who

in

the intellect does not argue the possibility of co-existing rerum nattira. The fact that God perceives an in
finite

multitude of things, does not argue that all these things, with their various contradictory determinations, can actually exist as an infinite multitude. Though

God might, for example, in His Divine Intellect com bine into one infinite multitude the future acts of Judas the traitor, nevertheless these acts in reality constitute
a series which
tentially
illi

is

always actually

infinite.

As Ruiz

and only po Actus pointedly puts it
finite
"

:

constituunt unum tqtum infinitum potentiate successivum quantum ad realem essentiam et existentiam; sed hoc tottini in scientia est sitnul infinitum actuale, quoniam simul totum cognoscitnr." 12 All these acts can be gath

ered into a logical whole, because they coincide in the general note of being, and also in another note, which

may
ad.
i :

be called

"

homogeneous psychic
ThcoL, I. c., non sic cogquasi
12
3.

coincidence."

13

11 Cfr. S. Thorn., S.
"

De

Scientia Dei, disp. 20, sect,

Dens

autctn
vcl

noscit

infinitum

infinita,

13 Cfr. Gutberlet,

Das

Unendliclie,
E.
Illigens,

enumcrando

cum

partem post partcm, cognoscat omnia simul, non

metaphysisch und mathcmatisch betrachtct,

Mainz

1878;

successive."

Die unendliche Zahl und die Mathematik, Miinster 1893.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
ARTICLE
2

355

OMNISCIENCE AS GOD S KNOWLEDGE OF VISION OF ALL CONTINGENT BEINGS CARDIOGNOSIS, OR SEARCHING OF HEARTS
i.

STATE OF THE QUESTION.

In the innumer

which the creative

able multitude of possible things there are some will of God has (either im

mediately or mediately) endowed with actual In so far as these exist, they form the being.
object of the scientia visionis.
a)

Contingent actuality, that

is

to

say,

the created

universe, consists of.

two

the

free

intelligences

large groups of beings, viz.: (angels, men), and the unfree

brute animals, inanimate matter). determined by intrinsic necessity, while the intelligent beings of the first-mentioned group gen erally speaking have free control over their actions. These actions cannot for this very reason be known a
(plants,

creatures

The

latter are

priori, as effects necessarily flowing

from a cause.

De

spite this

fact, however, the Omniscient

God

has just

as clear

a knowledge of the acts of such free beings, as he has of those of His unfree creatures, no matter whether these acts are past, present, or
definite

and

future. To Him time is not. In virtue of His un divided eternity, which co-exists with all three modes of time, He contemplates the past and the future as

though they were actually present. We, because of the imperfect character of our conception of divine things,
are compelled to

make

a distinction between the after
past, the

knowledge by which God knows the

knowledge

356

KNOWLEDGE OF VISION

whereby He contemplates the present (especially cardiognosis, so-called, whereby He knows the innermost secrets of the human mind and heart), and His knowl
rational creatures.

edge of the future, in particular of the free acts of His The last-mentioned mode, on account
its

of

importance and

difficulty,

we

shall treat in a series

of separate Articles. b) To our creatural knowledge of contingent beings it is by no means immaterial whether an event belongs to past history, or happens before our eyes, or will
take place in the future. God is by His very essence determined to the knowledge of all truths, including the future, but the created intellect is causally de

pendent upon the things themselves. reason that, while historical research
with
rolls

It

is

for

this

familiarizes

us

many
to

facts of the past, and daily experience un our gaze a great variety of contemporary

events, our predictions of the future are perforce

vague

guesses and uncertain

conjectures.
in

There

is

but one

extremely

limited

sphere

which men are able to

forecast future events, ins.: that division of astronomy which deals with eclipses of the sun and moon, to

which may be added meteorological forecasts of the weather for a few days ahead. Such predictions are sure only because, and in so far as, they are based upon laws of nature whose uniform and necessary ac
tion

we

fictitious

are able to some extent to gauge. Laplace s who by means of a magic world magician,
"

formula was able to control the course of events forward and backward, and to indicate the precise pos ture of all atoms at any given moment, was nothing
but a fine product of his author s imagination unless indeed we identify him with the Creator of the uni
;

verse,

though even the Creator Himself would

find the

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"

357
to

Laplacian

world

formula

"

utterly

inadequate

fathom the free decisions of intelligent beings. For where there is no necessary connexion between cause and effect, there can be no infallibly certain foreknowl

The free will of man, even when strongly in edge. clined to a certain decision, may yet, at the last mo
ment,

make

a

different

choice,

and

thus

belie

the

prognostication based on a knowledge of causes and motives. In considering the knowledge of
cleverest

God, therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we dis tinguish between free and necessary causes, since only the latter offer a sure basis of calculation. Nothing but the false theory of absolute determinism can disre gard this essential distinction, which is rooted in the very Essence of God. True, from the well known bent of a person a good judge of human nature can predict
his

free-will

actions

with more or

less

certainty; but

no such forecast is ever infallible, since even the most determined and obstinate person will sometimes sud denly and unaccountably change his mind." Further more, while we may form a fairly correct opinion of a man s character and ethical leanings from his known utterances and deeds, yet no mortal can penetrate the recesses of the human heart and gain an a priori knowl edge of its most intimate affections. Cardiognosis is a wonderful prerogative reserved to Almighty God alone.
"

OF REVELATION. a) Holy Scripture contains many and various passages which prove that the all-seeing eye of God pierces the whole universe, with all its attributes and relations, even the most hidden and minute.
2.

THE TEACHING

He

"telleth

the

number

of the stars/

He

"cov-

358

KNOWLEDGE OF VISION
the

ereth

Heaven with clouds/

.

He

"maketh
food"

grass to
(Ps.

He "giveth to beasts their CXLVI); He "beholde th the ends of
grow,"

the

world, and looketh on
heaven"

all

(Job XXVIII,

things that are under 24); things are
"all

naked and open to his eye" (Hebr. IV, 13), etc., Such providence, extending to the minut etc.
est details of

necessarily supposes a most comprehensive knowledge of all things. What is said Gen. I, 31: "And God saw all the things that he had made," is true of all time,

workaday

life,

past, present,

and

future.

Cfr.

8:
[/.

"And

if

a

man

desire

much

VIII, knowledge: she

Wisdom

Uncreated Wisdom] knoweth things past, and judgeth of things to come: she knoweth the subtilties of speeches, and the solutions of argu ments: she knoweth signs and wonders before they be done, and the events of times and ages." FROM TRADITION. It is 3. THE ARGUMENT not difficult to prove this truth from Tradition.
c.,

The reader
shalled

will find

the arguments well

mar

IV, 3, and Ruiz, De Scientia, de Ideis, de Veritate ac de Vita Dei, hermeneutic difficulty arises from a disp. 9.

by Petavius,

De Deo,

A

passage

spare "God s the task of regulating the number of majesty" their in gnats, fishes, etc., and of watching over
in St.

Jerome,

who would

dividual antics.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"

359

Absurdum

est,"

he

"

says,

ad hoc

dcducere

Dei

maiestatem, ut sciat per momenta singula, quot nascantur entices quotve moriantur ; quae cimicum et pulicum
sit in terra multitudo, quanti pisces in aqua (In Hab., I, 14). This phrase had perhaps better have remained unwritten, though it cannot justly

et

muscarum

natent."

be cited to impugn the universally accepted Catholic teaching, which St. Jerome himself defends in his com mentaries In ler., XXXII, 26, and In Math., X, 28.

No

cient,

doubt he did not wish to deny that God is omnis but merely meant to say that He consults with the
for

same paternal care
those

His irrational creatures as for

whom He

has endowed with reason and redeemed

14 by the Blood of His Son.

3.

CARDIOGNOSIS, OR SEARCHING OF HEARTS.

It is a separate and distinct part of the teaching of Divine Revelation that the knowledge of God

extends to the most secret thoughts and affec tions, the most hidden impulses, inclinations, and
decisions of the

human
is
1(*

heart.
15

"The

searcher
therefore

of hearts and reins
called
"o

God."

He

is

KopStoyvwcm;*."

This

hearts

is

His exclusive
"Tu

VIII, 39:

privilege. nosti solus cor omnium Uliorum

knowledge of Cfr. 3 Kings

hominum

Thou

the children of

men."

only knowest the heart of all Divine Revelation does
as a posteriori

not describe

"cardiognosis"

knowl
See

edge derived from external manifestations, such
14 Cfr.

Paul
de

in

the question asked by St. his First Epistle to the

God

take

care

for

oxen?"

Corinthians

bobus

(IX, 9): Numquid euro est Deo? Doth

"

also Suarez, De Deo, III, 3, 3. 15 Ps. VII, 10.

16 Acts

XV,

8.

3 6o

KNOWLEDGE OF VISION

as speech, facial expression, conduct; but as an a priori intuition, which enables God to pierce the innermost recesses of the human heart and
to

know man even more
Consequently
Cfr.

intimately than he
it is

knows

himself.
to

preposterous to refer
as

modern thought-reading
Ecclus.

an

analogous
:

phenomenon.
"And

he
of

his

[God

eyes

sinner] eye seeth the Lord are
[the
s]

27 sq. understandeth not that
things
. . .

XXIII,

all

that the

far

brighter than

the

sun, beholding round about all the ways of men, and the bottom of the deep, and looking into the hearts of men, into the most hidden parts." am the Lord who Cfr. also Jer. XVII, 10: search the heart and prove the reins." To illustrate the unanimous teaching of the Fathers it will suffice to quote the two oldest St. Ig extant texts bearing on our subject.
"I

natius Of Antiocll Says:
uAAa
Kai
TO,

"OuScv

Aa. 0dV

TOV Kvpiov,

Kpvrrra

7//iah

ey^i S

aural

ianv

Xotlllllg

is

hidden from the Lord, but even that which is hidden in us [i. e. our secret thoughts] are near
f

to

1T
Him."

St.

Polycarp expresses himself even
Harra
-fj^v o-KOTreirai Kal \e\rjOev avrov

more
ov8

Clearlv

ov8c. Aoyioyztiii

oi Se Ivvoitov

ov&c TI rtov KpvirTwv

T?/<J

xapSt as
is

He

clearly perceives all things,

and nothing
heart."

hid from

Him, neither reasonings, nor
XV,
3

reflections,
18

nor any one of the secret things of the
17

Ad

Eph.,

(ed.

Funk).

is

Ad

Phil.,

4.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

361

The divine searching of the heart and reins is defined by some theologians as supercomprehensio cor dis, that is, a full and "adequate knowl
edge of the nature and faculties of the free created being, and of all the attracting and re
pelling impulses to which 10 viously to its choice."
it

will be subjected pre

ARTICLE

3

OMNISCIENCE AS GOD S FOREKNOWLEDGE OF THE FREE ACTIONS OF THE FUTURE
i.

THE DOGMA.

The dogma

that

God

fore

knows the

free future actions of

His

intelligent

creatures comprises two momenta, both of which are de fide, viz.: (i) that His Knowledge is and (2) that it is infallible. Cfr. Cone. actual,
Vatic.,

Sess.

Ill,

cap.

i,

De Deo:

"Omnia

aperta sunt oculis eius, etiam ea, quae creaturarum actione futura sunt All things are naked and open to His eyes, even those which are yet to be by the free action of crea
et

nuda

libera

tures."

We
God
s

should deny this

dogma were we
presumptive.

to

hold that
Sixtus

foreknowledge
or
that
it

is

merely a morally certain knowl

edge,

is

purely

IV

condemned
19 Boedder,

a proposition put forth by Peter of Rivo,
Natural Theology,
p.

282.

For

the

ments th

philosophical argureader may consult St.

Thomas, Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 68 (summarized by Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures, p. 51).

362

FUTURE FREE ACTIONS
"

to the effect that
significato,
g.,

Dens non habet notitiam certam de
fidei

quod iwportat propositio
20

de futuro

(e.

Petrus negabit

Christum)."

The Socinians and

the

followers of Giinther trenched on this

dogma by

questioning the infallibility of

God

s

foreknowledge.

a) Holy Scripture not only ascribes to God 21 but a general foreknowledge of future things,

expressly declares that His prescience extends to the free acts of the future.
it

The

classical

passage
Pirno

in

Psalms

CXXXVIII,
cogitationes

(CXXXIX),
praei idisti. nia, noi issima
.

3 sqq.:

"Intellexisti
. .

meas de longe
.
.

omnes vias meas ( ) Ecce D online, tu cognovisti om.
.

[/

c.,

hast understood
. . .

my

futura] et antiqua Thou thoughts from afar off,
all

and thou hast forseen

my
all

ways.

.

.

.

Behold,
last
(i.

O
e.,

Lord, thou hast
truth,

known
the

things, the

convinced of this

Firmly Susanna, asserting her innocence against the two wicked eternal God, who knowelders, cried out: est hidden things, who knowest all things before aw-wi/), thou know they come to pass (V
old."

future) and those of

chaste

"O

1

"

y^w

est that they
22
me."

have borne

false witness against
"For

Cfr.

John VI, 65:

Jesus

knew

20
ter,

On Peter a Rivo, cfr. H. HurNomenclator Literarius TheoloCatholicae,
t.

giae
col.

II,

ed.

altera,
"

1034, Oeniponte 1906. 21 Cfr. Is. XLVI, 9 sq.:
.

ordio novissimum et ab initio quae I am God, necdum facta sunt who shew from ancient times . the things that as yet are not done."
.
.

Ego
ex-

22

Dan. XIII, 42

sq.

sum Deus

.

.

annuntians

ab

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
fy>

363

from the beginning (^a 7 # a/w), who they were that did not believe, and who he was that would betray him."
b) In confirmation of this

dogma

the Fathers

began early of the Old

to point to the fulfilled prophecies

and

New

Testament.

Prophecy

manifestly supposes a knowledge of the future actions of free agents, so that we may say with
Tertullian,
to

that

all

the prophets are witnesses
23
-4

St. Justin Martyr foreknowledge. emphasizes the fact that Christ Himself had

God

s

predicted the persecutions that

Church:
praedicere

"Dei

opus

est,

res

came upon His antequam fierent

praedictae fuerunt, ita facias this is the work of God, to foretell a thing before it hap pens, and as it was foretold so to show it hap

casque,

quemadmodum exhiberi And

Other Fathers infer God s fore from His providence, rightly hold knowledge ing that there could be no providentia" without
pening."
"

25

"praescientia"

St.

Jerome points out that

"Cui

praescientiam tollis, tollis et divinitatem If you take away God s foreknowledge, you deny His 26 and St. Augustine further empha divinity," sizes this truth when he writes "Confiteri esse
:

Deum

et

negare praescium futurorum, apertis"

23 Contra Marcion., II, De 5: vero praescientia dicam? quid Quae tantos habet testes, quantos
fecit
prophetas."

24 Apol., I, n. 12. 25 Cfr. S. Hilar.,
n.

De
1.

Trinit.,

IX,

59.

26

Adv. Pelag.

Dial.,

III.

364

FUTURE FREE ACTIONS
cst.
.

sima insania

.

.

Qui non

cst

praescius

omnium fntnrornm, non est ntiqnc Dens To confess that God exists, and at the same time to
deny that He has foreknowledge of future things, is the most manifest folly. ... He Who has
"no

foreknowledge of
-7

all

future things, can not

be

future, according to Augustine, is present to the Divine Intellect in the same manner as is the noiv: "Norit omnia ita, lit
God."

The

ncc ca qnac dicuntnr praetcrita, ibi practcrcant, ncc ca qnae dicuntnr fntura, quasi desint, exet fntura spcctcntnr nt rcniant, scd ct praetcrita

cum pracscntibns sint cnncta pracsentia God knows all things in such wise that neither what we call things past are past therein, nor what we call things future are therein waited for as
but both coming, as though they were absent, are all past and future with things present
28
present."

2.

GOD

S

FOREKNOWLEDGE IN
That
free
will
is

ITS

RELATION TO
a

FREE WILL. dowed with

intelligent creatures are en

as

much

revealed
future

dogma
conduct.

as

that

God foreknows

their

Hence there devolves upon speculative

two dog theology the duty of reconciling these mas. Does not an infallibly certain prescience on
27

28

De De

Civ. Dei,
Trinit.,

V,

9,
7,

n.

i,

4.

effective
ical

summary
in

XV,

13.

Oswald

sqq.,

(Dogmat. Theologie, Vol. I, pp. 168 Paderborn 1887) presents an

arguments dogma.

of the philosophproof of this

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

365

the part of the Almighty destroy, or at least di minish, the freedom of the created will with re

Future events must God foreknows them, else His would be fallible. knowledge

gard

to

its

future actions

?

occur just as

This objection clared that Jesus
at

the hands

raised by Celsus, who de the author of His own betrayal of Judas. 29 But if the free actions of
first

was was

the future are subject to the law of necessity, they are no longer free. Let us first remark that even were

human
this

would not be
these

reason unable to solve this apparent antinomy, sufficient cause to relinquish either
"

of

seemingly contradictory truths. Ignorantia modi non tollit certitudinem facti." In matter of fact,

however, the objection can be solved.

we must remembe.r that no more exercises a compulsory foreknowledge influence on the free acts of the future, than does the
a) In attempting a solution
s

God

contemporaneous

knowledge of any observer on an event happening at the present time. The future act is not the effect, but the terminus of the divine fore
which
cannot
therefore

knowledge,

be

regarded

as

the determining cause of such act, but is merely di rected to it as a faculty to its object. The foreknowl edge of a future act of the free will no more destroys

freedom than would the recollection of a past act or the witnessing of a present one. 30 Hence many of the Fathers, in attempting to solve the difficulty, pro
its

ceed from this principle
29 Cfr.
II,
fieri

"

:

The future

free acts of the
"

n.

Origen., Contr. Celsum, Praedixit et omnino debuit v (iravTus Te ~ XP"n

20:

"

Sicut tu memoria Arb., Ill, 4: tua non cogis facta esse, quae praeterierunt, sic

Deus

praescientia sua

veffOai."

non
St.

cogit

facienda,

quae

futura

30 Cfr.

Augustin.,

De

Lib.

sunt."

366
will
but,

FUTURE FREE ACTIONS
do not come
contrariwise,
to

pass because
"

God foreknows them;

God

foresees them because they will

happen
nit urn
tum;"

As Origen
cst,
31

puts

it:

Non

enim quia cogest,

idcirco fit; sed quia
"Non

or St. Jerome:

futurum enim ex

est cogni-

eo,

quod Deus
"

scit

futurum aliquid, idcirco futurum cst; sed quia S2 futurum est, Deus novit quasi praescius futurorum; or St. John of Damascus: "[God s] prescience is not the cause of future events; He merely foresees this or that act because we shall do
;

it."

solved the problem by distinguish The ing between antecedent and consequent necessity. annuls the freedom of the will, necessitas antecedens
b)
the necessitas consequens does not; it is merely that his torical necessity which constitutes a free act once per

The Schoolmen

formed as performed and incapable of being undone. Future events and acts are also subject in advance to this same consequent and historical necessity, because,
and
in as

much

as

it

is

infallibly certain that they will

occur,

either

freely

or of necessity.

The Portuguese

revolution of the year 1910 was as historically certain twenty years ago as now that it belongs to past history.

some divinely inspired seer had predicted it, would sane man have claimed that the psychological free any dom of the anti-clerical Republicans had thereby been annulled? The same distinction, though somewhat dif
Yet
if

ferently

worded, occurs

in

the

writings of

the

older

Schoolmen, when they speak of a necessitas consequcntis, which necessitates, and a necessitas cotisequcntiae,
31 Quoted by Eusebius, Praep. Evang., 1. VI, p. 287. 32 In ler., XXVI, 3. 33 Contr. Manich., n. 79. Similar passages might be quoted from Chrysostom (In Matth., Horn. 60,
n.
i),

6),

Cyril

Epiphanius (Haer. I, 38, n. of Alexandria (In loo.,

XI, 9), also St.
Divine

and
i,

many
2;

others.

Cfr.

Anselm, De Concordia Lib.
c.

Arb., qu.

Humphrey,
pp.

"His

Majesty,"

155 sqq.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
which does
not.

367

The
free

knowledge of
"

latter belongs to the divine fore 34 St. Thomas explains this acts.

in point very luminously

his
sit

treatise

De

Veritate:*

Quamvis

res

in

seipsa

futura,

tamen secundum

modum
est

[Dei]

dicendum:
erit.

hoc

ideo magis cognoscentis est praesens, et si Deus scit aliquid, illud est quain: Unde idem est indicium de ista: si Dens scit
erit et

aliquid,

hoc

de hac:

si

ego video Socratem

currere, Socrates currit;

sarium,
J.,

dum
it
:

est"
"

quorum utrumque est necesas Father Wm. Humphrey, S. Or,
foreknowledge stands to our
acts,

puts

God

s

as our knowledge stands to objects which are present His knowledge, therefore, is not antecedent but to us.
see things because they are. They do consequent. we see them. God knows our acts not exist because It is not because of the future, because they will be.

We

He knows them
34 S.

that they will be.
Gent.,
I,

They

are future as
against
the

Thorn.,

Contr.
"

67

these

objections

divine

(Rickaby,
tures,
pp.
is

Of God and His Crea49
sq.).

Since
as

thing

known by God

everyseen

in the present, of that being true which God knows, is like the necessity of Socrates s sitting from the fact of his This is not necesseated.

ky

Him

the neces-

knowledge of contingent facts are fallaciae compositions et divisionis." (Rickaby, Of God and His Crea adds 50.) tures, p. Fr.. Rickaby
this

sity

curious

foot-note:

being by necessity of sary absolutely, as the phrase is, the consequent, by necesbut conditionally, or For this sity of the consequence.
conditional
sary:seated.

appears in modern logic books as in sensu composite and It has its value in sensu diviso.
tinction
in the disputes

proposition
is

is

necesis

He

sitting,

if

he

seen

on efficacious grace, There is a tradition of Father Gregory de Valentia, S. J., fainting away when it was administered to him by a Dominican disputant, Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire was
built

Change
into

the

proposition
this
is

a

conditional of categorical

by
it

whom
never
ing.

was

the building, countess, of said that she woulc

form:

What

is
:

seen
it

sitting,
is

necessarily seated that the proposition
phrase,

clear

is

true

as

a

when
together a fact,

its

elements

are

taken
are

false as

(compositam), but when its elements
(divisam).
All

while she kept on buildin sensu composito only, In point of fact the lady died a great frost, which stopped her building and her breath together."
die,

True

m

35

De

Verit., qu. 2, art.

12,

ad

7-

separated

3 68

FUTURE FREE ACTIONS

regards passing time, but they are present to the divine 36 From what we have so far said, the reader eternity." infer how untenable is the opinion of may Johannes

Jahn, an otherwise praiseworthy writer, who says in his Introductio in Libros Vet. Test.* 1 that God was

compelled to veil the Old Testament prophecies, lest they should be crossed by the free action of men. The pagan oracles (c. g., the answers of the Pythian priestess

were couched in such indefinite, obscure, ambiguous phraseology that they were sure to come true in one sense or another. This cannot be
at

Delphi)

and

said of the divine prophecies recorded in the

Old Testa

ment, which contain so

many

well

defined details. 38

3. THE CAUSALITY OF GOD S KNOWLEDGE. But do not the two Patristic axioms we have

quoted
will

("God

come

foresees future things because they to pass," and: "Things are because
them"),

God knows

involve a contradiction?

The apparent discrepancy is all the greater because both phrases occur in the writings of the same Father. 39 have too much respect for the Fathers of the

We

Church
pen
to

to follow certain Thomists,
"

who
it

reject the first-

mentioned axiom as
fit

false,"

because
40

does not hap
"

into

their

system.

The axiom
Ruiz

:

God
does

foresees future -things because they will
30
*<!
"

happen,"

His Divine
II,

Majesty,"

pp.

174

authority disp. 22
39 St.
6;

is
",(j

De

Scientia Dei,
Trinit.,
10,

37 L.

sect.

2,

80.

Augustine,
Civit.

De
V,

X,
2;

38Cfr. Matth. XXVII, 35, and other well-known passages. On this whole subject the reader may profitably

De
Lib.

Dei,

n.

consult
thes.

Uno,
wise

Franzelin, De Deo 42 and thes. 44. Like-

Arb., Ill, 4, et passim. 40 Cfr. Alvarez, De Aux., disp. Causalis ista: quia XVI, n. 6: res futurae sunt, idea cognoscuntur
"

De

Schwane,

Das

gdttliche

I

or-

a

Deo,

est

herwissvn, Minister 1885.

The

best

vero:

quia

falsa; Detts

haec autem
scientia

est

libero

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

369

not square with the Thomist teaching on grace, which holds that the free actions of the future are subject to
the divine foreknowledge only in so far as God, by an
decree, has physically prede termined the will to perform this or that free act (prae-

antecedent and absolute

determinatio physic a). prefer to solve the apparent contradiction by distinguishing a speculative and a prac
tical
tic

We

knowledge of God, applying the first-quoted Patris
to the scientia speculative,, the second to the

axiom

scientia practica.

edge,
"

God may
"

In regard of His speculative knowl be compared to a savant and is called

the

in regard to His practical knowledge, on hand, He rather resembles an artist who has knowledge of that which he is to produce before he

omniscient
other

;

makes
"

knowledge God is called He knows whatever is knowable (scibile) being all-wise, He knows whatever is feasible (operabile). Having established this funda mental distinction, we proceed to lay down the follow
it
;

and

in respect of this

all-wise."

Being omniscient,
;

ing principles.

41

an

a) In the first place we must firmly hold as article of faith, that the practical knowl
it

edge of God, when
it,

has the Divine Will with

operates creatively and thus, as sapientia Cfr. Wisdom creans, is the cause of all things. 21 "Omnium enini arttfex docuit me VII,
:

sapientia

Wisdom, which
me."

is

the worker of
"Omnia

all

things, taught

Ps. CIII, 24:

in

sapientia fecisti
Wisdom."
scivit

Thou
I,

hast

made
St.
ta,

all

things in
Aoyov]

John
esse

3

:

"IlaW 8i

avrov

[/. e.,

aliquid
est."

futurum,

ideo

41 Cfr.

Thomas,
qu.

Summa The
16.

futurum

ologica,

14, art.

370
c ycVero

FUTURE FREE ACTIONS
All things were

made by him

[/

.

c.,

the

Logos]"

The Sapiential books of the Old Testament furnish a running commentary on this important truth. 42 But it is also in its role of sapicntia disponens that the
knowledge of the Most High exercises a upon the various contingent beings, to them intrinsic order, harmony, and a imparting suitable organization," and uniting them all in one harmonious whole." It is to this specific feature of
practical

causal

influence

"

"

God s when

practical
it

knowledge that Holy Scripture alludes
of

speaks

Him
and

as

That legislative measure, number, weight." wisdom, on the other hand, which imposes upon irra tional creatures the immanent laws of their being and
operation, while it inscribes into the hearts of rational 44 is merely beings the natural law of right and wrong, a separate function of the sapicntia disponens. The

"ordering 43

all

things

in

wisdom which, as doc45 tri.v disciplinae Dei et clectrix operum guides intelligent creatures (angels and men) to their super natural end. Viewed from still another point of vantage,
is

same

true of that educative

"

illius,"

sal

the practical knowledge of influence, inasmuch as

God
it

acts

exercises a truly cau as governing Wis

dom
"

(sapicntia gubcrnans) and, objectively, as Divine Providence, rules the universe. Cfr. Wisd. VIII, I Attingit a fine usque ad finem fortiter ct disponit omnia suavitcr She reacheth from end to (SioiKct)
:

end mightily, and ordereth
42 Cfr. St.

all

46

things
44

sweetly."
II,
15.
4.
I

Sup-

Thomas,
21:
et

5. Thcol.,

la,

Rom.

qu. 14, art. 8. 43 Wisdom XI,

"Omnia

in
dis-

45 Wisd. VIII, 46 Cfr. Cone.
cap.
I,

atic.,

Sess.

Ill,

mcnsura
posuisti."

ct

numero
Cfr. Job

pondcre

De Deo

(Denzinger-Bann1785).

XXVIII,

20 sqq.

wart, Enchiridion, n.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

371

ported as it were by holiness and benevolence, God s wise Providence reaches the apex of its glory in the But we cannot hope to supernatural order of grace.
the depth of the riches of penetrate its depths. the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How in are his judgments, and how unsearch comprehensible
able his
"
"

O

ways

47

!

In

all
s

three of the respects

we have

indicated above,
especially

practical knowledge, as creative wisdom, is in the fullest

God

considered more

and truest sense

From this particular point of things. we may unconditionally assent to the view, therefore, proposition that God knows things not because they are, but, conversely, things are because God knows
the cause of
all

them.
St.

It

was thus understood by
is

49 Gregory the Great, as

that

whenever they quote

this

48 and Augustine quite plain from the fact axiom these Fathers ex

St.

pressly treat of creation in general, not of the free ac tions of rational beings. 50

b)

The

case

is

quite different

when we con

sider the speculative knowledge of God, whether as scientia simplicis intelligentiae or as scientia visionis. In neither of these two relations can
it

be strictly designated as the cause of things. Being the intellectual expression of a perceived
reproductive rather than productive; does not create, but presupposes its object.
it

object
it

is

47 Rom. XI, 33. On the attribute of wisdom, cf. Scheeben, Dogmatik, Vol. I, 93 and 94; Heinrich, Dogm. Theologie, Vol. Ill, 205; Vigener, De Ideis Divinis,

48

De

Trinit.,

XV,

13.

49 Moral., XX, 32. 50 Cfr. Greg. M., Moral.,
6:
"

XXXII,
creat,

Non

existentia videndo

existentia
also St.

videndo

continet."

Cfr.

Monast. 1869.

Anselm, Monol.,

c.

33 sqq.

372

FUTURE FREE ACTIONS
this not so,

Were
because

God
"

in creating

would co ipso
all
"

sin,

He

has a speculative knowledge of

creatable

Scicntia," says Aquinas, signifithings including sin. catur per hoc, quod est aliquid in sciente, ct ideo a

scicntia
51
tatc."

nunquam

procedit cffectus nisi mediante volun-

after being duly purged, of This principle also applies to of all creatural imperfections course, the Divine Intelligence. Although things outside the Divine Essence would be neither possible nor real

without
reason

God
that

s

scicntia

sitnplicis

intclligcntiac,

they

constitute a part of the divine

knowledge only for the

types in His
all

God has previously beheld their proto own Essence as the exemplary cause of

things.

His knowledge does not create the possibles,

but rather supposes them. Similarly, too, the scientia risionis, like the scicntia simplicis intclligcntiac, can see
contingent beings only on the supposition that they exist in rcrnm natura. It does not follow that in this hy
pothesis God would derive His knowledge from existing The distinc objects rather than from His own Essence.
62 will already noted, between causa and terminus, us from falling into this error. By way of preserve

tion,

illustration let

scribed in the first chapter of Genesis.

us consider the creation of light as de In this act God s

speculative co-operated with His practical knowledge. In virtue of His (speculative) scicntia sitnplicis intcl

perceived in His own Essence the intrinsic possibility (creatability) of light; thereupon His creative Will united with His Wisdom in uttering the com
ligcntiac,

He

mand

"

:

Let there be
it

light."

As soon

as
53

light

had

sprung into being,

became the terminus
is

(not the
.

01 De Verit. t qu. 2, art. 14. 52 Supra, pp. 336 sqq. 63 The terminus of knowledge
"

The that which is known. . . Divine Knowledge is changeless, as God outside all regards things

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"

373
the

cause)

of

the

scientia

visionis.
54

And God saw

light, that

it was good." Not a few of the Fathers, on
"

the other hand,

cham

Things do pioned the principle that God knows them, but God knows them because they In doing this they had in view solely His spec exist."
ulative

not exist because

knowledge.

It

cannot

be

too

often

nor

too

strongly insisted that, like the Molinists, these Fathers never meant to assert that the free acts of the future

are the cause or the determinant of divine foreknowl
edge, but rather
its
55 terminus or indispensible condition.

ARTICLE

4

OMNISCIENCE AS GOD S FOREKNOWLEDGE OF THE CONDI TIONALLY FREE ACTS OF THE FUTURE; OR THE SCIENTIA MEDIA 5G
" "

i.

STATE OF THE QUESTION.

The knowledge

not only comprises those future free acts which rational creatures will some day actually
of

God

perform, but likewise those which they would
which
is

are

knowable.

All

change

things,
5,

see
3.

in the termination of the Divine
"

Knowledge in the objects known." His Divine Majesty," (Humphrey,
164 sq.) 64 Gen.
55 Cfr.
"

Kleutgen, De Ipso Deo, pp. 290 sqq., Ratisbonae 1881; Chr. Pesch, De Deo Una, 2nd ed., pp. 153 sqq., Friburgi 1899.
art.

Billuart, Cfr. also

De Deo,

diss.

I,

3.
/.

66
c.:

"

Middle

knowledge
"

"

would
for

Ac

vis

Damasc., quidem Dei praescia
ut

loan.

be
"

the

English
media,"

a

scientia
use."

equivalent but it is

not

nobis

causam

haudquaquam habet ;

in

at vero,

praesciat,

ea quae facturi sumus id a nobis proficiscitur."

Cfr. Sylvester J. Hunter, Outlines of Dogmatic The ology, Vol. II (and ed.), p. 90.
S.
J.,
"

Thomist view, according to which the knowledge of vision in union with (scientia visionis*)
the

On

Humphrey
edge."

employs the term

His Divine Majesty mediate knowl
"

"

the Divine Will

is

the cause of

all

374

GOD S FOREKNOWLEDGE
if

perform

certain circumstances

certain conditions

would concur or were fulfilled. Acts of the

first-mentioned order are called free acts abso lutely future (act us liberi absolute futuri) Such an act was Judas s of our Lord. Acts of betrayal the latter group we term free acts conditionally future (act us liberi hypothcticc futiiri sen futur.

ibiles).

of

Such an act was, e. g., the conversion Tyre and Sidon, which Jesus said would cer
have ensued if the inhabitants of those had witnessed His miracles.
question here at issue

tainly
cities

a)

The

may

Does God foreknow every single free (or semi-free) act which some particular student would perform if he were to spend the present semester at the
Catholic University of America rather than at Harvard? can be no foreseeing a conditionated future event 57 except on the basis of an actually existing rela tion between the condition and the conditioned (ratio conditions ct conditional), so that from the positing of the one the positing of the other may somehow be inferred. Where there is no such relation, we have two

mulated thus:

be concretely for

There

incoherent events, ontologically independent and there fore also logically unconnected. On the other hand, however, the connexion existing
57 Conditionated events of the future are those which will occur, given certain adjuncts. Those adjuncts are the circumstances of the thing or action -who?

or concurrence in order to the doing of the action as a physical act. This is a condition which is

where?

-with what
and

aids?

how?

-what?-why?
Under

when?

always required, and which is therefore, always supposed, in every act of creature." every (Humphrey,
175,
"His

the

Divine
1897.)

circumstance with what aids, is to be included the divine co-operation

Majesty"

p

London

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
between the condition and the conditioned
sary
is
;

375
not neces

if it were (either metaphysically or physically) necessary we should not be dealing with a free but with

a predetermined process appear on this sheet, the

"

;

e.

g.,

If
its
"

a

triangle

would

sum
;

of
"

be equal to two right angles

or,

three angles would If it were to rain
there can be

now, the ground would get
question

wet."

Hence
in

only

of

a

condition
"

which

some manner
the
free

(hypothetically) moves, will as, for instance
;
:

without

compelling

Had

Jesus given to

Judas the

gave Peter, Judas too would have experienced a change of heart."
b) of
Special emphasis
s

look

He

God

must be laid on the infallibility foreknowledge. It would be manifestly un
to

becoming

ascribe to. the

Omniscient God a merely

probable or presumptive knowledge of the conditionally future. True, some of the older Thomists taught:

Potest quidem Deus iudicarc, quid foret verisimilius vel probabilius in tali eventu, non tamen potest definitum

"

hoc esset ant erit, si illud fiat sen This teaching is excusable only on the sup position made by the Thomist system, that God can
ferre:
]

indicium

fieret."

the contingent events of the future solely through (dccreta praedeterminantia). The Thomists felt the ridiculousness of indefinitely multiplying the number of hypothetical determinations, and therefore were logically led to deny the truth, and hence also the

know
His

will

knowableness, of conditional future events. For that which is not, God cannot know. And yet, rather than deny Him an infallible knowledge of all these one
things,

would prefer with the Salmanticenses 59 to have recourse to the ridiculous assumption of an infinite number of
"

"

58
pp.

Ledesma, De Div. Grat. Aux., 574 sqq., Salmant. 1611.

59
5,

De
4.

Deo, Tr.

Ill, disp. 9, dub.

376
hypothetical
"

GOD S FOREKNOWLEDGE
decrees.
If

the

Almighty Himself were

questioned about these things, would He perhaps an I do not know, for I have not made any de swer crees with respect thereto"? The later Thomists, be
:

it

remarked, are unanimous

that
bilia)

God knows
without
60

all

in holding with the Molinists conditioned future actions (futuri-

tainty.

While

exception, and with metaphysical cer the Church has not yet dogmatized

this teaching,
it is

it must be regarded as doctrina ccrta, since contained both in Sacred Scripture and Tra clearly

dition.

2.

THE TEACHING
to be
I

OF DIVINE REVELATION.^

a)

A

thoroughly conclusive passage from

Writ seems

caping from Saul,
life.

Holy 61 In es XXIII, I-I3Kings David had fled to Ceila, whither
seeking his

his royal persecutor followed him,

to

Thereupon David got Abiathar, the priest, bring him the ephod; and he interrogated

Jehovah: "Will the men of Ceila deliver me And will Saul come down, as into his hands? And the Lord an thy servant hath heard
?"

swered:
TLI),

"He

will

come

down"

(descendet
up"

=

=

and:
).

"They

will deliver thee

(tradent

^p:

Then David arose and departed
his six

from Ceila with

hundred men.

In con

sequence, of course, Saul did not come down to Ceila, nor did the Ceilaites deliver up David.
60 Cfr.
6,

Billuart,
"

De Deo,
to
be,"

diss.

certain
lation.

difficulties

as

to

the

trang-

art.
i

5.

See

We

say,

seems
is

be-

Dogmatic
ed.), p. 91.

Hunter, Outlines of Theology, Vol. II (and

cause the passage

not free from

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
The Lord
s

377

reply

referred

to

a

conditionate

futurum, something which would have happened had David tarried in Ceila, instead of leaving that city. God must have had infallible knowl edge of what the men of Ceila would have done had Saul remained; else He could not have de
clared so positively:
"descendet"
"tradcnt"

Another Scriptural proof for our thesis may be drawn from Matth. XI, 21 Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes." As a matter of fact, no such miracles were wrought in 62 nor did these cities do penance in Tyre and Sidon, sackcloth and ashes. Hence we have here again a mere a contingent future event which Jesus fore futuribile, saw as clearly and definitely as if it had really come to 63 Other pertinent Scriptural texts are Wisd. IV, pass. 1 1 He was taken away lest wickedness should alter
"

:

"

:

his

understanding,

or

deceit

beguile

his

soul."

Jer.
:

XXXVIII, 19: "And King Sedecias said I am afraid because of the Jews that are
the

to

Jeremias fled over to
into

Chaldeans,

lest

I

should

be

delivered

their

But Jeremias an hands, and they should abuse me. swered shall not deliver thee." 4 They 05 Vainly do the Socinians and Ledesma pretend that the particles and which the Vul forte fortasse,"
:
"

"

"

gate occasionally

prefixes

to

the

divine
also

prediction
Gen.
XI,
6;

of
Acts
590

82Cfr. Luke X, 13. 63 The commentaries of the Pathers on these various passages are
reproduced by Ruiz, op.
62, sect.
i.

64 Cfr.

XXII,
65
sqq.

17 sq.

De

Div.

Grat.

Aux.,

pp.

cit.,

disp.

25

378
futuribilia,

GOD S FOREKNOWLEDGE
furnish

that

God

s

Scriptural basis for the theory foreknowledge of conditioned free acts of
uncertain.
is

a

the future

is

The only passage
Jer.

that seems

to support their claim

XXVI,
et

"

3

:

si

forte

[

=

if

not

= perhaps]
is
"I

^K
But
as
St.

audiant

convertantur."

this

whole passage

the expression

manifestly anthropomorphic, may repent me" (ibid.) shows.
this

68

Jerome commentates

verse as follows

"

:

Verbum

forsitan potest consed nostro loquitur affectu, ut liberum homini venire; servetur arbitrinm, ne ex praescientia eius quasi necessi
tate vel faccre quid vel non facere cogatur" In all the other texts which Ledesma and the Socinians allege, the ne forte of the Vulgate is a somewhat too free
"

ambiguum

maiestati

Domini non

"

rendition of the

Hebrew
"

|B

= nc,

"

in order that

not,"

while where the Vulgate has the Hebrew forte," text reads DK =: si, In neither case does the He
"si
if."

brew
the

67 Where the Vulgate ver particle connote doubt. sion of the New Testament in such instances has forte,"
"

Greek nearly always has
c.

av,

indicating an impossible
"

condition, as,
(t/xcivev

g.,

Matth. XI, 23
diem."

;

forte mansissent
9
"forte"*

av)

usque in hanc

Elsewhere the Vul
"

gate employs the word "utique" instead of or, where the conditional clause is negative, OVK Cfr. also equivalent to the Greek
"

nunquam,"

"

av."

Luke VII,

39:
a?)."

"Hie

si

esset

prophcta,
it

From
and
Bible

all

of which

is

(cyivuaKcv quite obvious that Holy
67 Cfr.

sciret

utique

similar expressions are called anthropobecause morphic, they represent God under the form of a man
in

68 This

Gesenius

s

Hebrew
XIV,

Lexi-

the

con, C8
"

j.

h. v.

Compare
with
i

John

"Utique

cognovissetis

= tyvuKetrt
"

7:

Hunter, Theology, Vol. II (2nd ed.), pp. 63 sqq. Pe(&vOpuTros Outlines of
t
pop<t>rj\

Cfr.

4
y>

Dogmatic
II,
x.

sitan sciretis
e

John VIII, = &y
8.

19:

For-

Cor. II,

tavius,

De Deo,

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
fallibility

379

Scripture does not countenance any doubt as to the in of God s foreknowledge of the futuribilia.

b)

The Fathers,

in

their

controversies with

heretics, expressly recognize the scicntia fnturibilium and treat it as an undoubted ingredient

of the revealed faith.
a)

To
the

establish their heretical theory of the creation

through the instrumentality of a Demiurge, the Manicheans, the Gnostics, and the Marcionites argued thus Either God foresaw that angels and men would sin, or He did not foresee it; if He foresaw it, He is not good; if He did not foresee it,
"

of

universe

:

He is not omniscient." In solving this difficulty not one of the Fathers, from Irenaeus down to St. John Damas cene, dreamed of denying that God foresaw the sin of
angels and

men

in the event of

their creation.

Their

argument

is

that,

although

God

clearly

foresaw that

millions of angels would become devils, and that Adam by transgressing the divine command would involve his

He nevertheless created those particular angels and this particular human race. Sicut praescivit Deus lapFor, as St. Isidore says
entire posterity in original sin,
"

:

sum, ita praescivit, quomodo posset illi subvenire." 70 That the sin of angels and men was a mere futuribile, which did not become a futurum until God had decreed
the creation of the universe, is made evident by a con sideration of the eternal plan of creation. If God

would create these angels and those men, then many of the former would fall away, and all of the latter would
sin.
71

70 Quoted by Suarez, Scientia Div., II, 2.

Opusc.

De

71

Ruiz gives numerous Patristic

quotations bearing on this topic in

380

GOD S FOREKNOWLEDGE

(3) Thomassin claimed that the scicntia futuribilium was an invention of the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, and that it was on this account that St. Augustine

fought

it

so bitterly.

assertion.

Replying to

not take from
sin

this is an altogether gratuitous does God the question, this life the just before they fall into
"

But

Why
of

(which

He

foresees)?"

the

"Doctor

Grace"

ex

pressly declares that this omission
"

is

not due to nescience.

possunt, cur illos Deus, cunt fidcliter non tune dc vitae huius periculis rapuit, Utntm hoc nc malitia mutarct intcllcctum conun. estate non habuit, an corum mala futura ncscivitf in pot

Respondeant,

si

et pie vii crcnt,

.

.

.

.

.

.

Nempe

nihil

horum

nisi pervcrsissime
if

ct

insanis-

sime dicitur
did not,

Let them answer,

they can,

why God

when

these were living faithfully

and piously,

snatch them from the perils of this life, lest wickedness Had He not this in should change their minds.
. .

.

His power or was

... To

ignorant of their future sins? assert either the one or the other would be
foolish."
"

He

most wicked and
another work
esse lapsitros,
:

72

And
fieret,

still

more

clearly in

Ccrtc potcrat

illos

antcquam id

Deus, praesciens aufcrre dc hoc vita
fall,

Assuredly God, foreknowing that they would
able to take
occurred."

was

73

them away from this life before Thomassin mistook the point

that fall
at

issue

in St. Augustine s controversy with the Semi-Pelagians. Semi-Pclagianism taught that infants who die unbap-

tized

are held

responsible
their

would
so
bis

have
so

committed
that

by God for the sins they had they reached maturity
;

much
famous

dying
dc
n.

without
De
Corrept.

the
et

grace
Grat.,

of
9,

work De

Scientia,

72 73
9,

cap.

dc Vcritate ac de Vita Dei, See also Petavius, De disp. 65-67. Deo, IV, 8.
Ideis,

19.

De Dono
22.

Perseverantiae,

C.

n.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Baptism
ical
is

381

sins

these hypothet really a punishment for never committed; which in reality they had

while on the other hand the salvation of those who were baptized is attributable to the good deeds which

God foresaw they would have performed in after life had they continued in this world. Augustine rightly Unde hoc talibus protested against this absurdity.
"

viris in

mentem

venerit, nescio, ut futura,

quae non sunt
74

futura, puniantur aut honorentur merita parvulorum." He did not deny God s scientia futuribilium as such, but protested against its being put on the same level

with His scientia futurorum.
"

Cfr.

De Anima

ct

eius

Orig., I, 12, n. 15:
tia,
si,

Ipsa exinanitur omnino praescien-

quod

praescitur,

non

crit.

Quomodo enim
non
est

recte

dicitur

praesciri
s

futurum,

quod

futurum?"

point of view, therefore, there is, be sides the scientia futurorum visionis) and the scientia

From Augustine

(=

mere possibilium
scientia

(= simplicis

intelligentiae),

another

intermediate species of Divine Knowledge, namely, the

media
c)

futuribilium, which by the Molinists.

was

later

called

scientia

theological argument for our thesis is the partly based on the intrinsic perfection of Divine Knowledge, partly on the indispensable-

The

ness of the scientia futuribilium for the purposes of providence.

To know precisely what circumstances, conditions, and situations the created will can encounter, and how it would conduct itself in each and every possible junc ture, is doubtless a wonderful prerogative of the Divine Intellect, which it could not relinquish without ceasing to
74

De

Praedest. SS.,

c.

12, n. 24.

382
be divine.
toll is,

GOD S FOREKNOWLEDGE
As
St.

Jerome says

aufers et

divinitatem."

Cui praescientiam In matter of fact nescience
:

"

of conditionally future acts would entail a woful igno rance of many important truths that are essential to
that infinite

confusion.
as yet

possible

knowledge which evolves harmony out of Even a mere doubt as to how free creatures uncreated would deport themselves under all combinations of circumstances, would be utterly

incompatible with God s Knowledge and destructive of His Providence. If such a doubt were possible, the

Creator could not consistently carry out any fixed plan
of governing the universe.
"

trust to

good

luck,"

of their free will,

He would simply have to because His creatures, by reason would be in a position to disturb all
" "

His calculations. Like the best laid plans of mice and men," His most wise counsels would gang aft Unable to provide against unforeseen surprises, aglee." Divine Providence would be fated to grope in the dark and to steer an ever-changing zigzag course. The Lord
of the universe would be dependent on the moods of mortal men, and oftentimes could not set the machinery of His omnipotence in motion until it was too late to accomplish

His

designs.
all

What an
implies!

utterly

unworthy
75

conception of

God

this

Cicero

denied

foreknowledge, because he saw no other way of preserving the liberty of man. A convinced theist would,
s

God

on the contrary, sacrifice the doctrine of free-will rather than attenuate the divine omniscience. The Christian Church has always clung to the conviction, so beautifully
voiced in her liturgical prayers, that Divine Providence (providcrc pracvidcrc) not only knows what will actually happen in the future, but also what would

=

happen

if

individuals
76

were placed
De
Divinat., II, 7.

in

different circum-

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
stances.

383

ward

off injury

Imbued with this persuasion we pray God to from our souls and to afford us op

console the Christian portunities for doing good. mother who has buried a beloved child, by telling her
that Providence disposes
is

We

all

things wisely, that her child

suffering and would perhaps, had God permitted him to live, have wrought his own destruc tion and broken the hearts of his parents. 76 The Jesuit Ferdinand Bastida very eloquently set forth theologian these and similar considerations in the presence of Pope Clement VIII, at one of the meetings of the famous

spared

much

"

Congregatio de

Auxiliis."

77

Molina has unfolded the

divine plan of governing the universe in the light of the scientia media, in language which may truly be called sublime. 78

3) THE MOLINIST THEORY OF THE SCIENTIA MEDIA. The historic controversy between Thornism and Molinism, which is latterly showing signs
of a revival, has its proper place in the treatise on Grace rather than in that part of dogmatic the ology which deals with God and His attributes.

Nevertheless, the contending parties rightly feel that the roots of their respective systems reach deep down into the dogma of the divine omnis76

Thus

says
"

St. Gregory of Nyssa (De Morte Praemat. Infant.,

which the prescient Intellect foresees should come about in him,
should his
c.

circa finem [Migne, P. G. 46, 184]): It belongs to the perfection of Di-

life

be

prolonged."

Cfr.

also St. Aug.,
8,

De

Corrept. et Gratia,

vine Providence, not merely to heal diseases, but also to prevent them. It is fitting that He, to whom the future is no less known than the past, should stay the child s ad-

n.

19.

77 Cfr.

Livinus

Meyer,

Historia

Congr. de Anx., V, 43 sqq. 78 Concordia, etc., qu. 23, art. 45,

disp.

i.

vance

to

his full

age, lest the evil

384
cience.

THE MOLLXIST THEORY
As
the

a matter of fact the doctrine of the

scientia

media marks the very heart of Molinism,
Thomistic system centres
in

just

as

the

theory of the praemotio physica.
a) Scientia media, as the very term indicates, has reference solely to the Knowledge of God, while prae

motio physica primarily regards the Divine Will; though, of course, ultimately there can be no physical premotion without the action of the Divine Intellect. This explains
the transparent endeavor of both parties in the very vestibule of dogmatic theology so to adjust the teaching

of the causal influence of
it
fit

God

s

knowledge, as to make

and furnish a basis for, their respective sys tems of grace, and so to interpret the Patristic sayings
into,

about
I

God
it

s

knowledge, as to support those systems.
it

Both
from

parties,

is

true, are

on common ground

in ac

cepting
all

as a revealed

dogma

that the omniscient

God

eternity definitely foresaw whether His free crea tures would co-operate or refuse to co-operate with His grace, and that He disposed His eternal scheme of with grace, salvation, and reprobation in accordance
this foreknowledge.

They have

also

come

to an agree

ment on

the proposition that God foresees the condi future acts of His free creatures as infallibly tionally as He foreknows their absolutely future acts (actus ab

solute fntitri), and both schools consequently employ the term scientia conditionate futurorum seu futuribilinm in
precisely the

same
so,

sense.

the Thomists so which the Molinists hotly reject the term scientia media, have coined for the purpose of designating that scientia 79 Is the whole futuribilium which both schools admit?

^This being

how

is

it

that

7Cfr.

Billuart,

De Deo,

diss.

6, art.

6.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

385

controversy a mere war of words? The character and ability of the theologians engaged on both sides com Or is the Thomist pels us to reject this assumption.
opposition to the scientia media perhaps due to the novelty of the term? It is true, scientia media, as a
technical term for

God

s

scientia futuribilium,

was un

known
J.,

before Molina, whose teacher, Peter Fonseca, S. stead the expression scientia still employed in its

mixta. 80

But

is

not

the

Thomistic

term

praemotio

physica, or praedeterminatio physica, likewise a coin of comparatively recent mintage? Who ever heard of it

before Banez? And does not the gradual development of dogma, which results from the action of the ecclesias tical magisterium and the discussions of the theological
schools, necessitate the adoption every now and then of some new dogmatic term to give accurate and precise 81 Nor expression to a more clearly defined concept ?

wanting instances in the history of dogma where a middle term was invented to bridge a chasm between two extremes. While the ancient creeds, for example, divide all created beings into visibilia and invisibilia, the Fourth Lateran Council saw fit to insert between these two a third category, which it designates as humana creatnra quasi communis ex spiritu et corNow, the division into things visible and invisible pore.
fully as adequate as the division of the divine Knowl edge into scientia simpticis intelligcntiae and scientia visionis. If, therefore, it was possible to find middle
is

are there

ground between the two first-mentioned extremes, there is no reason why middle ground should not be found between God s knowledge of simple intelligence and
80 Metaph.,
sect.
8.
1. VI, c. 2, qu. 4, Ed. Colon. 1615, Vol. Ill,

81 E.

"

g.,

b^oovffiov"
"

transsuboperato,"

stantiatio,"

ex

opere

pp.

119 sqq.

etc.

386

THE MOLINIST THEORY

His knowledge of vision. 82 The sharp rejection of the media by the Thomists, therefore, must be due to some strong objective motive. This motive is that the Molinists have loaded the term scientia media with a number of connotations which extend its meaning far
scicntia

beyond that of simple knowledge.
b) If we review the history of the long and acrimo nious dispute, we find that both parties, in attacking the problem under consideration, forthwith went to the root of the matter by searching for the medium in which
perceives the infallible connexion of the efficacy of His grace with the free consent of the created will. Ac cording to the Thomists, this medium is found in the eternal decrees of His Divine Will, or in His natural or supernatural predeterminations, which in time, as pracmotioncs physicae, physically predetermine the created
will freely to perform the action willed (or, in case of sin: permitted) by God. Therefore God knows the ra tional creature s free decisions, which He has

God

predeter mined, as infallibly as He knows His own will and its de crees. Molinism, on the other hand, regarding physical premotion, or predetermination, as a grave peril to free
will, nay as its absolute negation, rejects the Thomist hy pothesis and seeks to explain God s infallible foreknowl edge of creatural concurrence with His grace the

by

scientia media, in virtue of

which God, before
possible)
in

He

utters

His decrees, and altogether independently of them, fore
sees

how

each

(actual

or
itself

rational

creature

would

freely conduct

any conceivable junc

ture of circumstances, were He to offer this or that grace to the supernaturally equipped will. Hence con

currence

or

refusal,

virtuous

or

sinful

conduct,

are
s

known

to

His omniscience, not only before the creature
Kleutgen,

82 Cf r.

De

Ipso

Deo, pp. 284 sqq.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
free will has
self

387

begun to

exist,

but even before

He Him

has formed any decree (be it positive or merely per missive) with regard to it. According to this theory,
therefore, the proper object of the scientia media are the conditionally future free actions of all rational crea tures in so far as they are still absolutely free and un

influenced by any antecedent decrees of the Divine Will. These explanations will enable the reader to grasp the
full

significance
est scientia

of

media

Tournely s definition: "Scientia conditionatorum independens ab omni

et eiHcaci eoque anterior." 83 This of the scientia conditionatorum con peculiar concept tains the very quintessence of Molinism, and also its

decreto

absolute

Thomism. This fundamental divergence widens into an abysmal chasm when the ological speculation arrives at the doctrine of divine con currence and the efficacy of grace. While Thomism ad mits merely a concursus pracvius and a gratia ab intrinseco efficax, Molinism insists on a concursus simultaneus and
antithesis

to

at the outset

a gratia ab extrinseco efficax. c) It will be helpful to illustrate the difference be tween the two systems by a concrete example. We
choose for this purpose the conversion of
St. Paul.

Ac

cording to the Thomist view, God (supposing for a moment that He reasoned humanwise), would put
I will absolutely, from all eternity, that at a certain time Saul shall be physically predetermined

the case thus:

of his

by the efficaciousness of my grace to become converted own free will; and in this predetermination I
foresee his actual conversion as infallibly certain. Ac to the Molinist theory, God would argue in this cording

wise:

Independently of any decree of
infallible certitude
83

my

will, I
if I

know
give

with

from

all

eternity that,
5.

De

Deo, qu.

16, art.

3 88

THE MOLINIST THEORY

Saul this particular grace of conversion, he will freely co-operate with it, and thus become transformed into Paul on the basis of this previous knowledge ( scicntia I now decree to give him this particular media) grace,
;

and no other, and by means of creation, preservation, concurrence, and providence, in course of time to posit all those conditions which are requisite to bring about that end. Thus the scientia media becomes scientia visionis, i. e., infallible knowledge of an actual event,
only
after

God

s

consequent

decree

has

supervened.

Whereas Thomism,
Bafiez,

therefore, under the leadership of

the knowability truth) of both the future and the conditionally future free acts absolutely of rational creatures in the Essence, or, more proximately, in the Will of God; Molinism holds that it does
posits

(=

not but

lie

proximately and primarily
the
historical

in

the Divine Will,

in

truth
the
is

of

the

absolute

or
of

con

ditioned
truth

future,
s

for

God

Intellect

which eternally determined by His
certain

cognition

own

Essence,

as

the

faithful

mirror

of

all

truths.

Others give still other explanations. 84 From what we have so far said it is plain that both systems aim at a scientific conciliation of the seemingly contradictory

dogmas of grace and
It is as

free will.

It

is

a sublime aim,
!

though perhaps beyond the reach of human ingenuity
important that the

as that the

dogma

of grace be kept intact of free-will be safeguarded and de

dogma

fended to

its

fullest extent.

While Thomism, with due

regard to the absolute sovereignty, causality, and om nipotence of God, erects a mighty bulwark for the de
fense of grace, Molinism is busily at work throwing a stiff rampart around the equally important dogma of the free will of man. It was for this reason that
84 Cfr. supra,
3.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Molina
Arbitrii
entitled
his

389

epochal

work Concordantia Liberi

cum

Gratiae Donis, Divina Praescientia, Provi-

Re probationer Molina (+ 1600) had cherished the hope that his scheme of harmonizing the two dogmas in question (grace and free-will, providence and predestination), would deal a death blow to all heresies and put an end to controversy. History shows this expectation to have
dentia, Praedestinationc et

d)

been unfounded.

Molinism did not succeed

in

over

throwing Bajanism, nor did it avail against Jansenism, which arose soon after, and joined forces with the heret in a ical determinism of the Protestant Reformers
terrible onslaught
it

on the dogma of free-will; nor was able to bridge the deep chasm which separated the adherents of Banez from those of Molina, the Domini cans from the Jesuits. The battle is still on, though for
tunately the combatants engaged in
it

at present evince far

more humility and moderation than
This gratifying development

we

their protagonists. are inclined to attribute

largely to the conviction, which is steadily growing on both sides, that if pushed to its extreme logical con clusions, either system is certain to arrive at a point

where human reason

able mystery. 86 Molinism, while strenuously upholding the scientia media, admit that it is a hopeless undertaking to try to explain How and Why." In this they follow Billuart, its
" " "

confronted by an unfathom Several eminent champions of the newer
is

who
the

replied to the question
"

:

How

are
87

we

to conceive

harmony between praemotio and
:

free-will?

by say
these
pp.

ing

Respondeo,

mysterium
1876.

esse."

Under
Molina,

85 Olyssipone 1588; Parisiis 86 Notably (De Kleutgen

non
sqq.,

(Banes

et

113
2,

Deo,
Liberia

p.

319),

Cornoldi

Ipso (Delia

Paris 1883.)

87
6.

De Deo,

diss. 8, art. 4,

ad

Umana, Roma

1884),

Reg-

390

THE MOLINIST THEORY V

circumstances the paternal admonition which was uttered in 1607, when he closed the sessions of the by Paul Congregatio de Auxiliis (1598-1607), before that
" "

famous body had arrived at a final conclusion, may be said to be doubly important to-day. He counselled the defenders of both systems Ut vcrbis aspcrioribus, amariticm animi significantibus, inviccm abstineant." 88
"

88
those

The

following

bibliographical

may prove useful to who wish to go into the subject more deeply: Platel, AucPracdeterminationem Physicam fro Scientia Media, Duaci Henao, Scientia Media His1669. torice Propugnata, Lugd. 1655. ID., Scientia Media Theologicc Defensa, I and II, Lugd. 1674-76. De Aranda, De Deo Scicnte, Praedestinante et Attxiliante, seu Schola Scientiae Mediae, Caesaraug. 1693. Of modern authors we mention: Schnccmann, S. J., Controv. de
toritas

references

5".

Divinac Gratiae Liberique Arbitrii Concordia Initia et Progresses, Frib. 1881; Dummermuth, O. P., Thomas et Doctrina Praemotionis
Parisiis
et

contra

Physicae,

Thomisme
1890.

Cfr.

1886; Gayraud, Paris Molinisme, also Ude, Doctrina

Caprcoli dc Influxu Dei in Actus Voluntatis Humanae secundunt Principia
lata,

Thomismi
Graecii

et

Molinismi

Col-

1905.
in

On

the
see

gregatio
train,
S.

de
J.,

Auxiliis,"

iCoS3 A. As-l
"

the Catholic Ency-\
sq.

dopedia, Vol. IV, pp. 238

SECTION

3

THE MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
there are three different media of higher cognition.
I.

According

to St.

Thomas Aquinas,

1

sub quo intellects* videt, quod disponit eum ad videndum, et hoc est jiobis lumen intellectus agentis. Aliud medium est, quo videt, et hoc est species intelligibilis. Tertium medium est, in quo aliquid videtur, et hoc
"Unum,
. . . . . .

est res aliqua,

per

quam

devenimus,

sicut in

in cognitionem alterius effectu videmus causam."

Applying
as

this

medium sub quo

theory to bodily vision, we have light, which renders a body

proximately visible; as
sensibilis

medium quo

the species

through which the eye sees; and, as medium in quo the mirror which reflects lastly, material objects to the eye. The medium quo is also called medium incognitum, because the
intellect is

impression or concept received into the eye or the not perceived qua species, but merely
it

conveys a knowledge of that which

represents.
is

The medium
variably also

in quo,

on the other hand,

in

medium cognitum, because
i Quodlib., VII, art.
i.

in this

391

392

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
medium
(e. g. f

case the

a mirror, a cause), must first be perceived before the mind can apprehend that which it reflects (e. g., a tree, an effect).

Such a cognition

is

by

its

very nature not

imme

diate but mediate.
In turning our attention to the Divine Understanding that none of its three media can first recall
outside the Divine Essence. God, in the first place, His own medium sub quo, that is to say, He is Himself the clearest and purest light of truth and
"

we must
lie
is

in

understanding, the infinite lumen intcllcctuale for Him O 00? can KCU oxon a ev avrai self as for Others.
</><o

OVK lanv ouSc/xt a
darkness."
3

God

is

light,

and
"

in

him there

is

no

Ecclus.

XXIII, 28:

Oculi Domini multo
"

The eyes of the Lord plus lucidiorcs sunt super solem are far brighter than the sun." "Lumen de lumine God is likewise His own medium quo, in so (Creed). far as only by His own Essence can His Intellect be
determined
to

the

intellectual

expression

(yerbum,
:

4 species intclligibilis) of Himself and of all other truths. 6 Chr. Pesch rightly insists that the technical phrase

Dii ina essentia ipsa est species dh ini seu medium quo Deus

"

intclligibilis
cognoscit"

intellects

a

phrase

which has been adopted by
out exception
sons.

all

theological schools with

Up

to

produced. quo, because

now no such Lastly, God is

be not sacrificed without stringent rea stringent reasons have been
also
all

His own medium
truths,

in

He

perceives

extra-divine

in

cluding the actus liberi futuri et futuribiles, in Himself alone as the faithful mirror reflecting all things possible
2

See supra, i. i John I, 5. 4 Supra, i, prop. 1-3.
8

B Praelect.

Dogmat., II (and ed.),

pp.

in

sqq.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
and
ate
actual.

393

created intellect, in acquiring its medi of things, proceeds from truth to truth, knowledge either by a mere transition, as in the case of antitheses,

The

or by the aid of a middle term, as in the case of syl

But Almighty God, in the words of knows all things with a sim John of Damascus, ple and inscrutable knowledge simplici et inscrutabili G His cognition, therefore, cognitione cognoscit omnia." 7 is immediate or intuitive, not mediate or discursive, ex
logistic reasoning.
St.
"
"

cept perhaps in this sense that it has for its sole and necessary medium the Divine Essence, c., God s knowl edge of Himself. Considered in itself, God s knowledge
/
.

is

a calm, simple, immediate intuition of things.
2.

There

is

no noteworthy difference of opin

theologians as to the medium sub quo and the medium quo of divine cognition. With regard, however, to the medium in quo of
ion

among

understanding of the truths external to Here Himself, there are decided divergencies. we have to deal with a most complicated, diffi
s

God

and obscure problem. Leaving aside all useless subtleties, and adhering to the familiar classification of extra-divine things which we have adopted in 2, we will confine ourselves to
cult,

the subjoined theses
Thesis
I
:

:

Although God perceives the purely pos

sibles exactly as they are in themselves, He does not know them immediately in themselves, but mediately

in

His

own Essence
I,

as

medium
7

in quo.
13.

QDe
26

Fide Orth.,

19.

Cfr. Hebr. IV,

394

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
is

This teaching
schools.
Proofs.
3,
i,

common
is

to

all

theological

Our

thesis

supra, where it the extra-divine things
existence

was shown

a development of proposition that God perceives

including those that have actual not only in His own Essence, that is to say, merely according to their ideal-eminent being, but like wise as they are in themselves, i. e., according to their
real

and formal being.

We

have now to consider the

question whether God perceives this real and formal a being in which the possibles, too, participate being,
as

soon as they become actual

immediately

in

the

things themselves, or mediately in and through His own In the I7th Either view has its defenders. Essence.

century
at

another solution was suggested which aims combining both modes of cognition.
still

Bccanus, Vasquez, and others hold that, as there no ontological, so there can be no logical nexus be tween the Divine Essence and purely possible beings, for the reason that God must be conceived as "res plane
a)
is

absoluta, sine
"

ulla

connc.rione

cum

creatiiris

possibiliall

things outside of Himself immediately and without the agency It will ap of any medium in quo (prius cognitum).
that,

bus;

and

consequently,

He knows

pear from our subsequent explanation that this view
untenable.
8

is

b) A second view, which is defended by all Thomists and leading Molinists, regards the Divine Essence as the sole medium of God s cognition, and holds that so far
as
this

cognition
St.

comprises

the

purely
it

possible

(and

also the actually existing)

beings,

is

not immediate,
the
5,

but mediate.

Thomas formulates
Billuart,

main argu4.

8 Cfr. also

De Deo Uno,

diss.

art.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
ment
"

395

for this thesis succinctly as follows Deus seipvidet in seipso, sed seipsum videt per essentiam suam; alia autem a se videt non in ipsis, sed in seipso,
:

sum

inquantum essentia sua continet similitudinem aliorum
ab
9
ipso."

The Divine Essence being
possibles,

the

cause of

all

and likewise the

efficient

exemplary and final

cause of whatever actually exists, it is impossible to assume that God, in directing His vision to the things outside His Essence, should so to speak overlook His Essence and apprehend those extraneous objects directly and immediately. Only in His own Essence, which most clearly reflects all beings possible and actual,
does

He

understand

all

that

is

not

Himself.
10

The

position of

most of the

later

Molinists

was outlined

by Molina, when he wrote: "Deus cognoscit alia a se non in rebus ipsis, sed in seipso, h. e. intuitus divini intellectus non fertur aeque primo in suam essentiam ut
in rem cognitam et in naturas, quas aliae res scipsis habent ; sed primo fertur in suam essentiam ut in obiec tum primarium, in quo virtute continentur naturae aliarum rerum, et. mediante essentia ita cognita illo

eodem intuitu cognoscit ac intuetur ulterius ut obiectum secundarium naturam cuiusque aliarum rerum propriam. Itaque cum dicimus Deum non cognoscere alia a se in
ipsismet
esse

rebus,

non negamus

Deum

cognoscere
"

illud

res habent in seipsis, sed negamus cognoscere illud immediate atque ut obiectum primarium." This

quod

argument gains strength from the consideration that the divine Intellect must needs possess the most perfect knowledge which it is possible to have. Now, the most perfect knowledge is that which is drawn from the
9
5".

Theol.
g.,

i

a,

qu. 14, art.

5.

11
art.

Com.
5-6,

in S.
concl.

Suarez, Petavius, Franzelin.

10 E.

Lessius,

Ruiz,

TheoL, la, qu. 2, Lugd. 1593,

14,
p.

165.

396

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

is

deepest depths and ascends to the highest cause, which God Himself. Consequently the Divine Intellect can

not possibly draw its knowledge from any other source than the Divine Essence, which is de facto the supreme

and ultimate cause of

all

things.
"In

Wherefore, as

St.

comparatione lucis Augustine beautifully remarks, illius, qnae in Verbo Dei conspicitur, omnis cognitio qua

crcaturarum quamlibet in seipsa [sc. cognitione vespcrIn com tiiia] norimus, non immcrito no.v did potest
parison with that light which
is

seen in the

Word

of

God,

all

knowledge by which we know any whatever
in
itself,

creature

may
is

The Holy Doctor
Cognition,
besides

night. rightly be called careful not to posit in the Divine in matutina (sc. the cognitio
"

J crbo"), that cognitio vespertina ("in rebus"), which he ascribes to the angels. 13 c) What we have said above is sufficient to disprove

14 and Molinists the opinion of certain Scotists hold that God s understanding of the possible
ir>

who
and
not

the actual

is

both mediate and immediate.

Is this

equivalent to saying that He simultaneously possesses both the most perfect and a less perfect knowledge of
16 things? No wonder St. Thomas rejects such teaching. In view of the fact that Molinist theologians are among the most ardent defenders of the mediateness of divine

cognition, Billuart

must have been

ill-advised
alia

when he
nisi

wrote:

"Si

Dens non cognoscat

a sc
si

in se

ut causa, corruit scicntia

media: e contra

Deus cog

noscat alia a se immediate in seipsis, locus erit scientiae mediae" No Molinist would dream of denying the
Lit., IV, 23. arguments in support of this view the reader is referred to * Kleutgen, De Jpso Deo.

12

De

Gen. ad
other

1*

.

g.,

Henno, Poncius.
Arriga,
I,

13

For

15 E.

g.,

Viva,
48.

Carleton,

Platel, Mayr. 16 Contr. Gent.,

pp. 300 sqq.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
principle that there
is,

397

and that there can

be,

no truth

independently of God.

Thesis II:

God

perceives

the

actually

existing

things, including free actions, present own Essence as medium in quo.

and

past, in

His

This thesis also embodies a teaching
to all theological schools.
Proof.

common
established

The argument by which we have

the preceding thesis applies with equal force to this one, so far as it embraces actually existing beings that are as inanimate matter and brute animals) not free

(such

and likewise
so

free intellectual creatures

(men and angels)

far

trinsic

happiness.

determined by in as, e. g., in their tendency towards necessity, The threefold division of time makes no
forth
as
their

actions

are

essential difference, because the free will of the Creator

univocally determines all operations of the past, present, and future in the necessary causes that depend on God
alone,

and

is

The only
arises

real difficulty in connection

consequently knowable in God. with our thesis

not so much from those which from free actions, are past, as from those which occur hie ct mine in the (The free actions of the future we shall con present.
sider separately farther on).

Free and necessary actions

manifestly stand in an altogether different relation respec as a medium of cog tively to the Divine Essence regarded For while necessary causes have a sufficient medi nition.

um

are quo in the decree of the Creator by which they and all their effects are minutely determined ad unum, free-will actions are neither necessarily con
in

predefined tained in,
"

;

nor

a
est

priori

cognoscible

by,

their

causes.

Quia voluntas

activum principium non determinatum

398

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

ad unum, sed indiffcrenter se habens ad multa," says St. Thomas, "sic Deus ipsam movet, quod non ex necessi tate ad unum determinat, scd remanet niotus cius contingens ct non neccssarius, nisi in his ad quac naturalitcr
"

movctur."

Whence

"

it

follows that

noscit effect um contingcntcm in causa

quicunque cogsua tantum, non

nisi coniecturalem cognitionem; Deus autem onmia contingentia, non solum prout sunt in cognoscit suis causis, sed etiam prout unutnquodque corum est

habct de eo

actu in

18
seipso."

Now,

if

free acts cannot be

known
whence

from
does

their cause

(i. c.,

the will of the free agent),

He

derive His infallible knowledge of them? wait till the free will has made a decision, and

God

Must
is
?

He

compelled
a)

like

mortal

men

to learn

by observation

Thomist solution appears simple enough. God in His physically predetermining decrees, that is to say, in His absolute Will, knows the actions of free agents with the same mathematical certitude with which He knows those of necessary agents. Bound and directed by the decrees of His Will, His Essence becomes the sure medium in quo of His cognition.

The

However, this solution is not altogether satisfactory. For does not such absolute predetermination derogate
from, not to say destroy, the
of free will?
ings of
10

self-determining power

St.

Again, several passages from the writ Thomas are distinctly unfavorable to this

theory.
if S. TheoL, ia sac, qu. ic, art.
4.

185. TheoL,
10

ia, qu.

14, art.
"

13.

To quote but one:
quantum
est

tentia voluntatis,

Ipso poin se est,

determinate ad hunc actum non cst ab agente, sed ab eo [sc. Deo}, qui agenti talem naturam dcdit, per quam ad hunc actum determinatum
est:
et

ad plura; sed quod in hunc actum vel ilium, non est ab a/to determiScd nante, scd ab ipsa voluntatc. in nzi:irzlibv.s [sc. non libcris] actits progrcditur ab agente, sed tame
indifferens

idea
a

determinate

exeat

Juntatis

propriissime actus vovoluntate csse dicitur.

Unde
eius,

si

if>si

aliquis defectus sit in actu volttntati in culpam et
impittatur."

peccaium
39,

qu. it art.

/.)

Cfr.

(In I Di^t. Frins s ob-

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Cardinal Bellarmine tried to
"

399
difficulty

solve

the

by

Deus, quid cardiognosis siones et totum ingenium
:

cognoscit

omnes propen.
.

animi

nostri

.

infalli-

biliter colligit,

quam

in par tern sit

animus

inclinaturus."

But the real crux is not whether God, by means of His supercomprehensio cordis, can calculate with moral certitude at what free decisions the creature will arrive but whether He can foreknow these decisions with that after they metaphysical certainty which they possess to know an effect with have once been made. Now, is to know a nec metaphysical certainty from its cause, In this case, therefore, the will would effect.
;

essary

no longer be

free,

a flaw which has led theologians

to relinquish this hypothesis, though it had the support 21 of such authorities as Molina and Becanus. To the Molinist, on account of the peculiar char

b)

s acter of the free-will actions of rational creatures, God as causally not understanding of these actions appears here that the is It but as consequent. antecedent, famous axiom of the Fathers is brought into play:
"

Actus

liberi

non sunt

vel erunt quiet

e contra vidct, quia sunt vel erunt." actions of creatures perceives the free secunnot only because, as obiectum materiale ct sence, are merely the terminus and not the cause darium, they of the divine cognition; but especially because, (pre the scientia media), they are contained in,

Dens vidct, scd However, God in His own Es

supposing and hence
creation,

knowable through, the divine concurrence. preservation, and

decrees
If
this

of

ex

the as clear as it might be, this is due to planation is not the or, which comes to concept of the scientia media,
servations

on

sage

in

De

this important pasActibus Hvmanis, nn.

2oDeCrat.etUb.Arto.,IV,*S.
21

For

further

detiuls,

consult
sqq.

93 sqq., Friburgi 1897.

Kleutgen,

De

Ip*o Deo, pp. 3

400

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
thing, to the knotty

same

the futuribilia, which

we

problem of the knowability of defer to a future chapter.

Thesis III: The free actions of the future God foresees not in His physical predeterminations, but in His concurring will, which is directed by the scientia media.
Proof.

This

thesis,

which

is

defended by numerous
;

Molinist theologians, consists of two parts one polemical, directed against the Thomist view the other positive, in
;

support of Molinism. Both schools agree that the will of God is the medium of His foreknowledge of the free acts of the future. They differ in this that Molinism

assumes a

"

decreeless

"

scientia

media as a sort of torch
;

preceding the decree of the divine Will while Thomism vigorously rejects the theory of a scientia media or mid
dle knowledge,

and bases the

reality

and

cognoscibility

of the free actions of the future solely and entirely on the absolute Will of God.
a)

We

prescind

from a detailed refutation of the
in

volume, because the matter the treatise on Grace. Let us properly merely observe that the logic of the Thomistic system - we do not impugn the intentions of its thoroughly
this

Thomistic position

belongs

to

honorable and orthodox defenders

is

sure to lead to

the destruction of free-will and to a conception of the origin of sin which it would be difficult to harmonize

two

with the sanctity of the Most High. Compare these utterances. Alvarez, one of the ablest among
"

the Thomist theologians, says:
biliter

Dcus

certo et infalli-

cognoscit omnia peccata futura in decreto [absoluto, antecedente], quo statuit praedcterminare voluntatcm crcatam ad cntitatem actns peccati, in quantum
actio ct ens est, et permit t ere malitiam

moralem peccati

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
ut

401
illud vitan-

peccatum

est,

non dando au.vilium efhcax ad
"

dum."

Bariez

:

Voluntas creata
virtutis,

infallibiliter deftciet

circa

quamcunque materiam

nisi

efUcaciter de23

terminetur a divina voluntate ad bene
in a

operandum."

Between these two determinations the will finds itself quandary from which there is no escape. Assum

ing that it is absolutely predetermined to the entity of the sinful act, how can the will escape formal sin,
if to resist temptation it needs a new predetermination, over whose existence or non-existence it has no more con
its premotion to the positive entity of sin? because they dread this logical consequence of their 24 restrict theory, that several of the followers of Baiiez

trol

than over

It is

the praedetcrminatio voluntatis crcatae ad entitatem actus to such actions as are morally good. Before Banez s time, by the way, Thomists generally did not explain God s foreknowledge of the free actions of

the future on the theory of deer eta praedeterminantia. 25

Among modern

Thomists Cardinal Zigliara deviates from what is called pure Thomism. 20 If these and other grave objections (to be treated in the volume on Grace), could be satisfactorily solved, the
the beaten track of

praemotio physica would afford a sure and infallible me dium of divine knowledge, and we could confidently say with Billuart Deus cognoscit futura absoluta contin"

:

gcntia et liber a in suo decreto eorum futuritionem determinante, sive in essentia sua huiusmodi decreto determinata."

27

b)
22

One might
in S.

be tempted to seek a
n. 3.

way out

of the

De Aux.
Com.
.

Grat, disp. XI,
Theol.,
la,

23
art.

qu.

14,

Dei cum Omni Natura, praesertim Libera, pp. 344 sqq., Parisiis
tione
1892. 26 Theol. Nat., \. Ill, c. 4, art. 3. 27 Op. cit., diss. 6, art. 4. For a

13, concl. 2,
g.,

ad

2.

24

Mendoza and Zumel.
Schneemann,
Frins,

25 Cfr.

Control .,
Coopera-

pp. 98 sqq.; V.

De

refutation of the theory, see G. B.

402

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
attribute
in

by regarding eternity, i. e., that virtue of which God coexists with the past, future, as the medium of His cognition actions of the future, and to say that to
difficulty

present, and

of

the

free

the Eternal

God

the future as well as the past

is

present.

As God

truly intues the present, with all events occurring therein, so by virtue of His eternity or, more correctly, sempiternity,

He

sees

the
if

past and the

future as
St.

clearly

and

distinctly

as

they

were present.

Thomas
28

employs a beautiful simile to illustrate this truth. Take an army corps marching past a given point. Those who are in line see each only a few individuals But an observer stationed on a high coign of ahead. vantage outside, would be able to take in the whole
Similarly, God is not carried away corps at a glance. He exists outside of, and above the current of time. by
time, because
will

He

is

eternal.

"Whatever

has occurred or

course of time, past and future, He views from His sempiternal coign of vantage as if it were happening hie ct mine. In the more accurate lan

occur

in the

guage of theology, therefore, we ought not to speak of God s /oroknowledge or a/Vrr-knowledge, but rather of His unchanging co-knowledge, based on an immutable and immediate intuition of actuality.

The explanation
solve

the

question
All
it it

just suggested, however, fails to as to the medium of God s fore

knowledge of the future free actions of His rational
creatures.
is

enables us to say

is

that,

because

He

an

cannot be more difficult for Him to have knowledge of the past and future, than of But beyond this many questions remain the present.
eternal,
infallible
S.
J.,

Tepe,
pp.

Instil.

Theol.,

t.

II,

Chr.

Pesch.

S.

J.,

Praelect.

Dog-

177

sqq.,

Parisiis

1895;

and

mat., II (ed. 23), pp. 125 sqq. 28 De Verit., qu. 2, art. 12.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

403

open and unsolved. Eternity (sempiternity) can no more be the proper medium of God s knowledge of the
free
acts
is

of the
often

future,

than can His omnipresence,

emblemed by an all-seeing eye. Both sempiternity and omnipresence presuppose the physical world with its temporal succession and local juxtaposi
which
tion, just as the scientia visionis

has for

its

necessary

That which actually exists God can see as actually existing only on condition that it exists. Speculative knowledge
condition
actual

existence

in

time

and

space.

is

necessarily a scientia consequens,

i.

e.,

a knowledge

which follows things actually existing
visions of time
;

in the various di

them, either

not a scientia antecedent, which precedes nature or causally. Sin in particular, as by St. Augustine insists, must be conceived as an object
"

of consequent knowledge:

Neque enim ideo peccat homo, quia Deus ilium peccaturum praescivit, qui si nolit, utique non peccat, sed si pec care noluerit, ctiam hoc ille praescivit For a man does not therefore sin, because God foreknew that he would sin,
.

.

.

.

.

.

man,
will

if

to

he wills not, sins not; but if he shall not 29 It is sin, even this did God foreknow."
if God s (speculative) eternity a real object in time, this can only be for the reason that

furthermore
space and

easy

to

see

that
all

scientia visionis has

from

God had determined from all eternity to create such an object. Consequently the speculative knowledge of God, which assumes things as existing, has for its nec essary antecedent His practical knowledge, which is the
cause of
all

termining that

come

into

the free Will of God, de and such a time there shall being such and such an intelligent crea
being,
at
i.

e. }

such

ture, privileged

to
29

shape
De

its

own conduct
V,
10, n. 2.

freely with

Civ. Dei,

404

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
Hence
free
it

the concurrence of the Prime Cause.
fest

is

mani
of

that

God foreknows

the

future

actions

His

intelligent creatures not in

but in
divine

His quiescent eternity, His operative knowledge, i. c., in an act of His
Will
decreeing to create
beings endowed

with

free will, to preserve their free will, and at all times 30 to co-operate with it, either positively or permissively.

c)

It is
its

on the conclusion just
contention that the
the
free

set forth that

bases

medium

of

God

Molinism s knowl

edge

of

actions
in

sought for, remotely

of the future must be His creative and preservative

Will, pro.rimatcly in His will of co-operating or con curring with His rational creatures. The whole question at issue is thereby transferred to the domain of the

concursus dirinus,
enter.
31

into
to

which we cannot
the

According

Molinist

cursus divinus does not cause the

present theory, the con free determination

at

of the will promovendo, but rather includes it per modiim conditionis else the will would not be free and
hence,
in

order to

safeguard

the

infallibility

of

the

knowledge which God draws from His concursus, Molin
ism finds
itself

the scicntia

media as with a torch,

constrained to supply the latter with in the light of which

the Almighty, even before He offers and confers His co operation is enabled to know how under existing cir

cumstances the free will of the creature will receive it, and also how it would receive it under all conceivable cir
cumstances.
30
tion,
"

Dcus

c.r

i i

suae esscntiae,

says Lessius,

The terms

creation,

preserva-

and co-operation, or concur-

rence, are more fully explained in the dogmatic treatise on God the

cursus simultancus, and likewise on the distinction between concursus oblatus and concursus collatus, the student will find it profitable to
consult
stit.

Creator.
31

On

the

between the pracvius and the

important distinction (Thomistic) concursus
(Molinistic)

Jos. Hontheim, S. J., InTlieodicaeae, pp. 621 sqq., 731

sqq.,

Friburgi 1893.

con-

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"

405

ante

omne decretmn liberum

.

.

.

omnia ex hypothesi

cognoscit [= scientia media], qua cognitione posita accedente decreto liber o quo vult ere arc causas liberas et pcrmittere eas suis motibus in talibus circum-

futura

stantiis,

statim in suo

illo

indet,

quid absolute

sit

manifestly owes safeguard the freedom of the will, is tenable only on the assumption that the free actions of rational crea
tures are
in

which

et permissivo This hypothesis, futurum." its existence to a desire to
32

decreto effcctivo

from everlasting univocally true, or knowable themselves objectively and independently of any de cree of the Divine Will. Hence the eager efforts of the Molinists to establish the determinata veritas of the free acts of the future (absolutely and conditionally), and
also the equally transparent endeavor of the Thomists to deny the existence of such a determinata veritas, except on the assumption of absolute and hy Molinists pothetical predeterminations. Later argue

hence

something

like this

:

d) When Christ said to Peter in the night of His sacred Passion: "In hac nocte ter me negabis," and

Peter obstinately insisted Non te negabo," 33 it is quite plain that one of these contradictory propositions was certainly and eternally true, while the other was
"

:

The outcome might have been logically equally false. formulated thus: (i) Peter will either deny Jesus, or he will not deny him; (2) Peter will not
Jesus;
(3)

Peter

will

propositions the first, tion of the principle of contradiction, true, is so indefinite as to be valueless.

deny deny Jesus. Of these three being merely a concrete applica

As

while evidently the Molinist

Martinez told Gonet
esset

"

:

omnibus

innatus."
7.

34

32 De Perf. Div., VI, i, n. 88 Math. XXVI, 34 sq.

Si hoc csset, spiritus propheticus The second proposition, on 34 De Scientia Dei Controv., 3,
disp.
3,

sect.

5.

406

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
is

the other hand,

as certainly false as the third
"

is

true.

For if Christ had prophesied: Non me negabis/ He would have uttered a definite untruth, just as He uttered
a definite truth
assert,

when He
that

said

"

:

Ter me

negabis."

To

therefore,

before

its

actual

occurrence,

denial of the Saviour was neither definitely true, nor definitely untrue, but at best indefinitely true, after the manner of a disjunctive proposition, would be
s

Peter

tantamount to giving the lie to divine Revelation, which foretells definite truths, and to denying the eternal co existence of God with His free creatures in the past, Xor could this condition of af present, and future.
fairs be altered by a decree of the Divine Will, be cause even omnipotence cannot reconcile contradictories. When Peter was called upon to declare himself either

for or against His Divine Master, the circumstances of the case (which God had foreseen from all eternity) were such that he had either to take His part or deny

Him.
nitely,

To do both indefinitely, or to do neither defi would have been as contradictory as it would be

or color.

body to exist without definite quantity This contradiction not only reaches back into the past, but it also reaches forward into the future, for time especially in relation to the Eternal Godcannot alter an objective truth. The indefiniteness which
attaches
is

for a material

to the free actions of the future, therefore, not inherent in these actions themselves, but only in our knowledge of them, which must await the fact in

order to have a determinant. Consequently, all abso lute future events are just as definitely determined
therefore
if they were present or past, and belong to the category of definite truths, which must be knoivable as such. And even though
all

from

eternity as

God

in

some other Economy could have preserved Peter

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
from
his fall
in

407

by giving him an efficacious grace, never
last-mentioned
hypothesis
his

theless,

this

loyalty

would not have been less definitely true than his dis loyalty and sin are now; and God would have fore known the former as definitely from all eternity as He foreknew the latter. While God s decision to create the present Economy, in preference to any other which

He might have chosen, simply resulted in Peter s denial of Christ becoming an historical fact, in some other Economy this crime would have been just as much a
definite

objective

truth,

though, of course, only as a
conditionally

futuribile or

futurum sub hypothesi.
of
fact

e)

In

matter

future

actions

(liberum futuribile} are in the same category with ab solutely future actions (liberum vere futurum), inas much as God has revealed truths of either class in the

most

definite

manner,

e.

g.,

the conversion of Tyre and

Sidon, the surrender of David to Saul by the inhabitants of Ceifa, 35 etc. For God foresees the future free actions
ratlonis

of His rational creatures precisely in the same signum by which they assume the shape of definite truths, namely, through the self-determination of the
free will.

Before the existence of

St.

Peter, nay even

before the making of the divine decree to which He owed his existence, it was definitely true that he would betray Christ if, furnished with no more than sufficient grace, he would be exposed to this definite temptation

under the particular circumstances with which we are acquainted from the Gospel; for even in the merely imaginary order of the futuribilitas it would be im possible to conceive Peter as acting under the indefinite
or. disjunction either Consequently, God s free cree to create and preserve Peter, and to allow
35 Supra,
p.

de

him

376.

4o8
to
fall

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
into sin, presupposes

on the Creator

s

part an
(i.
e.,

infallible

foreknowledge of the conditional future

scicntia media).

What

applies likewise to all There remains the question:
.

true of this typical example, others.
is

What

is

the

medium

of

that

cognition by which God

infallibly

foreknows the

Are conditionally future free actions of His creatures/ these actions themselves, as the Thomists assert, true
and cognoscible only
in

consequence and by virtue of

the hypothetical decrees of the Divine Will which pre

cede and determine them?

Or

does

God know them

without the agency of such decreta praedctcrminantia, and quite independently of His determining Will, as
the Molinists allege? These are questions which lead us into the innermost sanctuary of His Divine Majesty,

and no matter how we may answer them, we

shall find

ourselves in the long run enveloped by a mystic dark ness such as that which obtains in the mighty vestibule

of some great cathedral, into which only a little win dow shaped like a mystic rose admits a few subdued
" "

rays of
divine
36

light.

Human
its

theology seems

doomed

to disap

pointment
light.

in

efforts to glimpse the

mystery of the
inaccessible

knowledge of

Him Who

dwells in

Thesis IV:
of

God does

free actions of the future in

not foresee the conditionally any hypothetical decrees
truth,

His divine Will, but in their own objective univocally determined from all eternity.
Proof.

better understanding of the" Thomistic doctrine expressed in the first part of this thesis we will

For a

premise the following explanations. There are two kinds of decrees of the will, absolute and hypothetical.
30
i

Tim. VI,

1

6.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
a)

409

An

absolute decree
its

is

one which

is

unconditional,
its

both on the part of
"

subject and on the part of

I will create." hypothetical decree, object, as e. g., on the other hand, is dependent upon some previous condition, either on the part of the determining sub
ject,

A

or

on the part of the determined object.

We

have to do with a conditional decree of the first kind if the law-giver has no real will (voluntas) to act, but would have it (velleitas) in case some condition were
fulfilled;

for example,

"I

would

fly,

if

I

had

wings."

We
kind,

should have a conditional

decree

of the

second

if the lawgiver had a real will to act, but was determined to await the fulfilment of some objective
;

condition
just

for

"

instance,

I

will

spare

Sodom,

if

ten

a

men can be found condition may lie in

therein."

The

fulfilment of such

the

power

either of the

one mak

ing the decree, or of some other independent will. God s will that all men should be saved is of the last-men

tioned species
will

"

:

I will

that

all

men

be saved,

if

they
the

co-operate with my grace." Thomists a conditional decree of

According
the

to

first-mentioned
"

order

I regarding the conversion of Tyre decree to predetermine the inhabitants of Tyre to do is

that

:

that

penance, the
infallibly

if

I

send them the
of
the

Messias."

Thomism
in

holds

decrees

Divine

Will

which God

foresees the conditionally free actions of the future, are subjectively absolute, in so far as God makes a real decision but objectively conditioned, in so far
;

as they depend on a condition the fulfilment of which
in God s power. Moreover of themselves have a predetermining power, which, however, they cannot produce its effect because the requisite condition is Inasmuch as the determinatio ad unum wanting.
lies

solely

is

not
27

dependent

on

the

free

self-determination

of

4io
the

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
conditionally future will of the creature, but on the predetermining will of the Creator, the

solely
latter

must be the sure and

infallible

medium

of divine

cognition for which we are seeking. This solution of a much mooted difficulty was unknown to the older

Thomists, such as Ledesma, Curiel, etc. it was excogi tated and developed by such later Thomists as Alvarez,
;

Gonet, Joannes a S. Thoma, Gotti, Billuart, etc. The theory just developed has one weak point, how ever. It seems to involve the inevitable, though alto
gether unintentional and expressly disavowed inference that the freedom of both the conditional and the abso
future actions of rational creatures is destroyed the Thomistic assumption of subjectively absolute by and objectively conditioned predeterminations on the
lutely

part of God.
is

Another, even more serious consequence

that according to this theory all conditionally future sins seem to fall back upon God as their author. Both

these conclusions appear to flow with irresistible logic from the very notion of pracmotio physica, which Molinism therefore sharply combats, in order to preserve the

freedom of the

will.

If

we admit them

as

logically

flowing from the Thomistic premises, we must reject these premises. Then such predetermining decrees do not, nay cannot, exist in God, and consequently cannot serve Him as the medium for knowing the conditionally
future free actions of His creatures.

Even aside from the two capital objections just indi cated, there are other serious difficulties that can be urged
their

decrees. What could be Their only conceivable purpose could be to insure to the omniscient Creator an infallible knowl edge of the conditionally free acts of the future, for the ends and purposes of His wise Providence. For, as

against

these

hypothetical

purpose?

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
we have
the futuribilia

411

already pointed out, without a knowledge of God could not rule and govern the actual

world which He has created. But besides the present universe and Economy, there are conceivable innumer able others, which eternally remain in a state of pure
possibility and in the contemplation of which there can be question solely of hypothetical acts performed by hy The dilemma arises: Either God pothetical creatures. has uttered subjectively absolute and objectively con

ditional decrees with respect to all possible rational crea

tures in

all

possible

Economies; or

He

has not.

If

He

has not, then His omniscience is limited proportionately to the absence of such decrees for without decrees He can have no foreknowledge. If we choose the other
;

horn of the dilemma, then we must assume that there exists in God an actually infinite number of decrees of His Divine Will, which have no other purpose than to
enlarge and to safeguard His knowledge. This assump tion seemed indecens et superfluum even to some Thomist
37

theologians,

who

preferred to hold with John a
illis

S.

[combinationibus possibilibus] decernere, sed sub sola possibilitate concludere, utramque contingentiae partem aestimans pro:

Thoma

"

Deum

statuisse nihil de

to and fro be tween an altogether incongruous conception of God and a very serious limitation of His omniscience. There is furthermore something unbecoming and un intelligible in the Thomistic system, because, according
babilem."

38

Thus Thomism pendulates

to

its tenets, most, if not all, decrees of the Divine Will seem to lack a rational and wise motive. Once

God had determined
37 Cfr.

absolutely not to send the Messias
Grat.,
2.

Gonet,
2,

De Aux.
8.

Cfr.
5,

Billuart,

De

Deo,

diss.

6,

disp. 5, art.

art.

sub finem.

38

De

Scientia Dei, disp. 20, art.

412

MEDIUM OF DIVIXE KNOWLEDGE

to Tyre and Sidon, the matter must have been at an end, so far as the Divine Will was concerned. Why,
then, shall

we assume
"Had

the existence of a second decree
I

to this

effect:

not decreed not to send the

Messias to Tyre and Sidon, then I would decree to send Him thither (but I will not send Him thither),

and to predetermine the inhabitants of these cities to do penance ? Perhaps a Thomist theologian will answer: With out some such decree God would lack that knowl edge which is absolutely requisite to govern the uni But this only verse under the present Economy. that the Thomistic theory, which derives God s proves scicntia futuribilinm entirely from the decrees of His
"

Will,
"

moves

in

a

vicious
I

circle,

something

like
I

this

:

I

decree in order that

may know what

decree."

Nor can Thomism be spared
for

the reproach of innovation

;

nowhere

in

Thomas do we
decrees.

the writings of the Fathers or of St. find mention made of such hypothetical

Had

they

believed

in

their

existence,
in

these
their

authors would surely have adverted to them writings on the sanctity of God and on sin.

do not mean to convey the idea that the b) Molinist position is quite satisfactory. On the contrary, when its defenders proceed from criticism to posi tive construction, the difficulties of their system grow
apace.
Strictly speaking the Molinists are fully agreed

We

only on theory
of

two cardinal

points:

(i)

In

opposing

the

pracmotio physica, and
of

upholding the doctrine

(2) in scicntia media.

unalterably

Both aim

As solely at preserving free-will. arises: Whence does the scicntia
fallibility?

soon as the question media derive its in
is

or,

in

other words,
infallibly

What

the

objective

medium

in

which God

foreknows the condi-

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
tionally

413

free acts of

the

future?

this school forthwith part

company.

the theologians of The inherent diffi

culties of their position are

such that some later Molin-

to plead ignorance as ists, notably P. Kleutgen, prefer to the medium of God s knowledge of the futiiribilia.

They draw

a

sharp line of demarcation between the

and its actuality of the scientia media on the one side, of operation on the other, insisting origin and mode
solely
tion.

too,

and leaving the second an open ques This is tantamount to admitting that Molinism, in its last deductions arrives at the door of that
on the
first

great temple of mystery to which God alone holds the In view of these facts we need hardly say that the key. explanation contained in the following paragraphs can

not claim to be a way.

more than

a diffident attempt at groping

the manifold and apparently contra explanations given by different Molinist the dictory ologians, it will be useful to follow the example of
reconcile
39 who shows their objective agreement by Hontheim, them as different stages in the development of treating From this point of view we the same fundamental idea. four stages of Molinism, each of which may distinguish

To

attempts a deeper explanation than the preceding. It is certain beyond a doubt, first, that First Stage.
the divine Intellect
the
is

infinite,

absolute

or

conditional

and, secondly, that all future actions of free

creatures are univocally determined from all eternity, and are consequently cognoscible. An infinite intellect

must needs know
creatures.

all

truth.

Hence God knows
actions

all

absolutely or conditionally

future

of His

free

But how?

Surely not through the mediation
decrees
of

of absolute or

hypothetical

predetermining

39 Institutivnes Thcodicacac, pp. 640 sqq.

4H
effect.

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
for the determinatio

will;

Such decrees would destroy the freedom of the ad unum must rest on the
of
the

self-determination

the

free

will.

It

follows

that

absolutely and conditionally fu ture actions of His free creatures in these actions them

God must know

those Molinists

selves; or, in other words, in their objective truth. If who halt here be asked: How, then,

can

God know all free actions in His own Essence as medium in quo? they will return the unsatisfactory an
:

That is a mystery. Second Stage. To clear up this mystery other Molinist theologians go a little farther. They begin by lay ing down two principles: First, God perceives all the truths which He knows immediately in His own Es
sence as the
is

swer

medium

of cognition

;

the

absolutely

faithful

mirror of

second, His Essence all truth Deus
("

speculum absolutum omnis vcritatis"). Now, inas much as the absolutely and conditionally future ac tions of free creatures are objectively true, and there
est

must be vitally represented in the Essence, and consequently form part of the knowledge of God. Accordingly, while God perceives the free acts of the future terminatively in themselves,
fore knowable, they

divine

dcterminatively He perceives them in His own Essence as medium in quo. Divinus intellects ab aetcrno cog"

non solum secundum esse quod habcnt in suis, scd etiam secundum esse quod habent in Nihil igitur prohibet ipsum habere aeternam seipsis. cognitionem de contingentibus infallibilcm." 40 But the manner in which those free actions of the future are rep
noscit
res,

catisis

resented in the divine Essence

darkness; except that
physica.

we may

is wrapt in mysterious not assume a praemotio

40 S. Thorn., Contr. Gent., I, 67.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Third Stage.
"

4*5 ex

We

can best realize the

difficulty of

mode of reflection," if we turn our at plaining this tention to the relation of the futura and futuribilia to
the divine Essence as the
"

mirror of

all

truth."

The

future actions of free creatures can become an object

of cognition only
tion in reality.
if

if,

like all truth,

they have a founda

Where

are

we

to find this foundation

we

determinantia?

reject the Thomistic hypothesis of decreta praeAre we to find it in the actuality of the

free act itself?

But
it

this free act does not yet exist; in
it

deed, in the case

of most futuribilia,

never will

exist.

Or

are

we

to find

in the creatural cause of the future

But not even the will as cause exists as yet; it will not exist till later; and even if it did already exist, it would not necessarily contain the free effect. DefiFrom all of which ciente fundamento deficit veritas.")
act?
("

it

would appear that the divine Essence

is

an inadequate
St.

mirror of the free actions of the future.

He helps us to solve this difficulty. it eternity reflects the future as clearly and distinctly as of the The free self-determination reflects the present.
teaches that
will,

Thomas God s

even

if it still lies
is

the future,

(absolutely or conditionally) in continually present to the eternal Essence

of God.

does not foresee, He sees always. The fact not their co of His co-existence with His creatures

He

existence with

Him
"
"

raises

Him

above and beyond

all

divisions of time.

says St. Thomas.

Futurum dupliciter potest cognosci," Uno mo do in causa sua, et sic futura
.
.

quae ex necessitate ex causis suis proveniunt, per certain Alio scientiam cognoscuntur, ut solem oriri eras.
.

modo cognoscuntur futura
est
.
. .

in seipsis.

Et

sic solius

Dei

futura cognoscere, non solum quae ex

necessitate

sed etiam casualia et fortuita, quia proveniunt, Deus videt omnia in sua aeternitate, quae cum sit sim~

416
plex,

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

toti tempori adcst ct ipsum concludit. Et ideo unius Dei intuitus fertur in onunia quae aguntur per totum tempus, sicut in praesentia, ct lidet omnia, ut in 41 This agrees perfectly with the teach scipsis sunt." ing of St. Augustine: "Deo, qui omnia supergreditur

tcmpora,
all

niliil

est

futurum
is

To God, Who
42

transcends

time,

nothing

future."

beautifully expresses the same thought
e.vpectat, practcrita

non

recogitat,

Bernard Futura non praesentia non experiOr,
as
:

St.

"

[God] does not expect the future, He does not re member the past, He does not experience the present." 4S
tnr

From

this

important truth

it

follows that the absolutely

and conditionally future actions of free creatures are a dcterminata veritas from all eternity, not indeed by any
divine predetermination, but in virtue of the free-will of the creatures themselves. Let us again St. Thomas: Dcus est omnino extra ordinem quote
decisions
"

temporis, quasi in arce aeternitatis constitutus, quae est temporis decursus secundion unum et simplicem eius intuitum; et ideo uno intot a simul, cui subiacet totius

tuitu

I idet

omnia
.

quae

aguntur,

(unumquodque)
futurum,
. .

est in seipso

c.ristens,

secundum quod non quasi sibi
sic videt

scd omnino actcrnalitcr

unum

quae sunt in quocunque sicut oculus Jiumanus vidct Socratem seder e

quodque

corum

temporc,
in seipso,
est

non
in

in

causa sua,

.

.

.

quia

unumquodque, pront
est.

seipso,

iam

determinatum
et

Sic

igitur

relin-

quitur,

quod Deus certissimc

infaUibilitcr
.

omnia, quae Hunt in tempore; et tamen vel fiunt ex necessitate, sed contingenter."
eternal

.

.

cognoscat non sunt
It
is

44

the

power of reflexion inherent in the Divine EsThomas, S. Theol.,
1.

41 Cfr. S.

ia,

qu. 57, art. 3. 42 Ad Simplic.,

43 Serm. in Cant., Bo. 44 Comment, in Aristot. 4e Interpret.,
lib.

2, qu. 2.

I,

lect.

14.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
sence,
tion

417

which in conjunction with the self-determina of the creatures free will a self-determination
temporal but always present to the eternal
truth-reality of the absolutely future acts of free creatures. Thus

in itself

God
and

constitutes

the

the conditionally Molinist theologians, at this third stage, by calling to their aid the mystery of eternity, succeed in securing

a real basis for the truth of the free acts of the future. But there remains an unexplained residuum, viz.: the

concept of vis repraesentativa aeterna.

Fourth Stage. To resolve this residuum other the ologians of the same school have shaped a still subtler
argument. They proceed from the principle that with out the active co-operation of God as the prime mover of all things, no free act of any sort is possible nor consequently true and knowable. According to this
;

theory God foreknows the absolutely future actions of His free creatures in His Essence (Will) as the medium
in quo, in so far as,
is

by virtue of His co-operation, He the cause of every free act. As to the conditionally future acts of His free creatures, which chiefly concern

us here, their knowability, or truth, must consequently depend on God s hypothetical will of concurrence, and it is the latter which constitutes the medium of His
45 This brings us to the final cognition of the futuribilia. terminus of the Molinist system, where we again find ourselves on the brink of an impassable For abyss.

as the hypothetical concursus divinus, like the real concursus, according to Molinist teaching does not causally

produce but merely presupposes the hypothetical selfdetermination of the will; so at bottom it also pre supposes that God has an infallible knowledge of this
hypothetically free act by virtue of the scientia media,
45 Cfr.

Chr. Pesch,

I.

c.,

pp.

118 sqq.

4i8

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

without basing the explanation of the latter on the concursns hypotheticus. Hence the scientia media in the
Molinistic sense
is

a valuable and,
it

if

you

will,

indis

pensable postulate, though
it

defies every attempt to

prove

by

strictly scientific

argumentation.

Thus

the famous

controversy, which was at one time carried on with so much acrimony, lands us in an impenetrable mystery. Mirabilis facta est scientia tua ex me; confortata est,
"

non potero ad earn." 46 Having reviewed both systems at some length, we are now prepared to give a brief characterization of Thomism and Molinism. Thomism is undeniably a grand and strictly logical system, which conveys an im
et

posing conception of the omnipotence, the omni-causality, and the sovereignty of God. But in ruthlessly driving
its
is

led to enunciate

fundamental principles to their ultimate conclusions, it some harsh propositions which un

pleasantly disturb the

harmony of

the

Thomist system.

Its psychological effects are great

moral earnestness and

a fearsome conception of God, which, while it deeply impresses persons of strong faith, easily drives weak
natures into a slough of despair. Hence Thomism as a theological system is adapted to the professor s chair rather than to purposes of popular exhortation. Molin
ism, on the other hand,
gentle
features,
is characterized by its mild and an exalted conception of the loving Providence of God, His merciful will to save all men,

His encompassing grace, His condescension to the weak
nesses

of

human

nature.

trust in

God, strengthens

man

Psychologically it produces s confidence in his own

power of co-operation, spurs him on to work out his salvation, engenders peace of mind and joy of heart. These qualities make it the natural language of the
46 Ps.

CXXXVIII,

6.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
instructor
in

419

preacher and the unconscious idiom of the catechetical
addressing
little

children.

There

are

ample indications in his writings that the holy Bishop Francis de Sales, one of the most amiable Saints in
the Church
in
s

calendar,

was a

Molinist.

Irreconcilable

leading principles, far-reaching in their prac tical consequences, yet based equally on the orthodox

their

teaching of the Church, the two systems are likely to
retain their recruiting power. They will continue to have their adherents and defenders among theologians, and

to exercise a benign influence each within its own circle so long as blind passion and a spirit of disastrous par

tween

tisanship do not disturb the good relations existing be their respective champions. 47

READINGS:

S.

Thorn.,

Summa

Theol., la, qu.

14 sq.

(Bon-

In elucidation joannes-Lescher, Compendium, pp. 39 sqq.) thereof especially Didacus Ruiz, De Scientia, de Ideis, de Veritate ac de Vita Dei, Parisiis 1629. Summa Contr, Gent., I, 66, 70

(Rickaby, Of God and His Creatures, pp. 36 n., 48 sqq.). Suarez, Opusc. II De Scientia Dei, Matr. 1599. Ramirez, De Scientia Of later authors: *Kleutgen, De Ipso Deo, Dei, Matr. 1708.
pp.

251

sqq.,

Ratisbon

1881.
ed.,

Chr.

Pesch,

Praelect.

Dogmat.,

Vol.

II, pp.

91 sqq.,

2nd

Friburgi 1899.

Franzelin,

De Deo

L. Janssens, De Deo Uno, pp. 375 sqq., 3rd ed., Romae 1883. Ceslaus Schneider, Das Wissen Uno, t. II, Friburgi 1900. Gottes nach der Lehre des heiligen Thomas von Aquin, 4 vols.,

Ratisbon 1884-1886. Wilhelm-Scannell, Manual, I, pp. 214 sqq. Boedder, Natural Theology, pp. 262 sqq. Hunter, Outlines, II, pp. 81 sqq. Humphrey, His Divine Majesty," pp. 130 sqq.
"

47

On

the

position

of

St.

operatione
Creata,

Dei cum

Omni Natura

Thomas,
muth,
trina

consult
5".

A.

O. P., Praemotionis Physicae, Responsio ad R. P. Schneemann Aliasque Doctrinae Thomisticae Impugnatores, Paris 1886; Viet. Frins, S. J., S. Thomae Doctrina de Co-

M. DummerThomas et Doc-

Praesertim Liber a; seu S. Thomas Praedeterminationis Phy-

sicae Adversaries, Paris 1892; against

him:
trinae

Dummermuth, Defensio DocS. Thomae de Praemotione

Physica, Paris 1896.

420

MEDIUM OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE

Jos. Rickaby, S.

J., Free Will and Four English Philosophers, pp. 166 sqq., London 1906. Also Billuart, De Deo, dissert. 5 sq. For the literature on Thomism and Molinism, we must refer the

student to the treatise on Grace.

Other references

in the text.

CHAPTER
WILL

IV
THE DIVINE

THE ATTRIBUTES OF DIVINE LIFE

a logical de pure spirituality, the concept of which, besides cognition, includes also voli tion. It can furthermore be proved from a
is

That there

a Divine Will
s

is

duction from

God

number

XXVI,
Not

of Scriptural passages, such as Matth. "Non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu 39:
I

but as thou wilt/ and Matth. XXVI, 42 (VI, 10): "Fiat voluntas tua ( 0e Ai7/*a erov) Thy will be done." The dogma was
as
will,

formally defined by the Vatican Council.

1

objective parallelism existing between the Divine Understanding and the Divine Will jus

The

a division of the subject-matter of the pres ent chapter into three sections, of which the first
tifies

inquires into the mode of divine volition, the second into its objects, and the third into its at
tributes (virtutes). As in connection with the knowledge of God, so here the chief point to be

emphasized is the infinite perfection of the Divine Will, at which we arrive partly by the threefold
l

Cone. Vatican., Sess. Ill, cap. i, De Deo; quoted by Denzinger-Bannwart, Enchiridion, n. 1782.

42I

422

THE DIVINE WILL

of affirmative differentiation, negative dif 2 ferentiation, and intensification partly by a con

way

;

sideration of the divine attributes of being,
particularly self-existence, simplicity,
tability.
2 Supra, pp. 67 sqq.

more

and immu

SECTION

i

THE MODE OF DIVINE VOLITION NECESSITY AND LIBERTY OF THE DIVINE WILL
Analogously
the

mode

by the

to the mode of divine cognition, of divine volition can be established aid of certain fundamental or

principles.

Our most important
Charity.

leading task will be to

prove the freedom of the Divine Will, whose
basic act
is

love

Thesis I: Like God s conception of Himself, the He has for Himself is really identical with His Essence.

This thesis embodies an article of faith. i. Proof. As with mortal men, so too with Almighty God, all volition culminates in love. Therefore the basic act of the Divine Will is

God

s

Love of Himself.
good,

Being the supreme and
infinitely

infinite

God

is

lovable.

This

lovability

must be adequately exhausted by an

equally infinite act of love. Consequently, God is pure substantial Love. Cfr. i John IV, 8:
"God

is

charity."

Now,

since the

Supreme Good

nothing but the Divine Essence considered sub ratione bonitatis, Substantial Charity must
is

423

424

MODE OF DIVINE VOLITION
1

coincide with the Divine Essence.
"

Following

the analogy of Aristotle s famous axiom: ecm voijm? SOIHC of tllC Schoolmen
}>or}<reoxs

f

justly called

God

dilectio dilectionis.

We
is

need

hardly point out that the relation between
self-comprehension and His
self-love

God

s

a relation

of absolute identity: Infinitum 2 tnm vclle infinitum esse.

=

nosse

=

infini-

2.

Several

important conclusions flow spontaneously
stated.

from the truths above
volition
is

identical with all other divine attributes,

Inasmuch as the divine and

consequently admits of neither composition nor poten tiality, the Will of God cannot be conceived as a fac

must be purest act. This one substantial act, which the loving subject (i. e., God), ade quately encompasses and apprehends the loved object e., (i. God) is both immutable and eternal, not
ulty
;

it

by virtue of

only as considered in
to creatures.
fore,

itself,

but likewise

in

relation

A

transition

from love to hatred, there

can not

take place in
it

ture, in so far as

God, but solely in the crea sometimes renders itself deserving

of
II

God
"

:

and sometimes of His hatred. Ps. XXXII, The Consilium Domini in aeternum manet
s

love,

counsel of the Lord standeth for

ever."

Furthermore,

the Divine Will, being absolutely independent because
self-existent,

does not strive
sense

for,

object whatsoever. desire in the strict

Hence there

or aspire after, any exists in God neither
term,
is

of that

nor love of
re-

concupiscence.
i

In other words,
5.

He

pure Love
ita
et

Cfr.

S.

Thorn.,
"

Theol.,
in
sit

la,

qu. 19, art. i: esse voluntatem,
tellcctus.

Oportet

Deo
in-

cst suum esse, suum vclle."
2 Cfr.

suum

esse est

Et

sicut

cum in suum

eo

intelligere

plicity of

our remarks on the sini God, supra, pp. 200 sqq.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
Only
in

425

posing in Himself, without any admixture of desire.
so
far as

He

desires

the

creatures,

can

we

metaphorically
3

well-being of ascribe to Him

His an

amor quasi

concupiscentiae.

Lastly, the

Divine Will,

being infinitely perfect, is susceptible only of such de terminations as do not essentially involve an imperfec tion, such as is implied in some affections (e. g., sad
ness), and in

some virtues Holy Scripture sometimes
the Divine Will, but they

(e. g,, obedience, contrition). attributes such predicates to

must be understood as tropes
anthropomorphically.
4

or

metaphors,

or

taken
:

Our

guiding principle
will exist in

Only pure perfections of the God formaliter; mixed perfections exist in
et

must be

Him
3.

merely virtualiter

eminent cr.

This important axiom affords us a sure

criterion for valuing rightly the so-called affec tions of the divine Will.
a) After the analogy of the so-called passions (passiones) of the sensitive appetency, we may distinguish in intelligent creatures (angels and men) eleven affec tions of the will, viz.: love and hatred, joy (or de light) and sadness, desire and aversion (or abhorrence),

hope and despair, courage and
In their

fear,

and

lastly anger.

5

last analysis they are all reducible to love. these eleven affections those only can be formally applied to God which contain no admixture of im-

Of

3 Cfr.

S.

Thomas,
2,

6".

Theol.,
"

IE,

qu.

20,

art.

proprie loquendo turas irrationales sed amore quasi concupiscentiae, inquantum ordinal eas ad rationales creaturas et etiam ad seipsum, non

Deus 3: non amat crcaamorc amicitiac,

ad

bo nit at em et nostrum iitilitatem. Concupiscimus enim aliquid et nobis
et
aliis."

on p. 378. Maher, Psychology: Empirical and Rational, 4th ed., pp. 426 sqq. London and New York
5 Cfr.

4 Cfr. the note

quasi eis indigeat, sed propter

suam

1900.

28

426
perfection.

MODE OF DIVINE VOLITION
"

of their

the pure perfections must be purged creatural mode by the process of negative
"

Even

differentiation before they

can be formally predicated

of the Creator.

There

is

some divergency among the

ologians with regard to the application of certain of these affections to God; but this is due solely to a

be

difference of opinion as to whether or not they are to regarded as pcrfcctioncs simplices. The following

principles are pretty generally accepted: b) The affections proper before all
divine- Will are love

others

to

the

(amor) and joy (gaudium), for 6 the reason that love really constitutes Its essence, and
joy
is

what is good. and sadness
fections

nothing but complacency in the possession of Of the contrary emotions, hatred (odium) (tristitia), the last-mentioned being the
evil,

involuntary sufferance of present

are mixed per

(pcrfcctioncs mi.vtac) and must therefore be formally excluded from the Divine Will, to which we

may

displeasure/ but not sadness in the strict The moral emotion of hatred is either sense of the term.
"

attribute

a hatred of abomination

(odium abominationis) or a
inimicitiae),

hatred of enmity

according as it or against persons. It such, is certain that the Divine Will bears an infinite hatred against the evil of sin, first, because the concept of such hatred implies a pure perfection, and, secondly, be

(odium

is directed against evil as

cause

it

constitutes an essential element of

God

s

sanc

As to whether God hates the person of the sin tity. Some take Wisd. XI, ner, theologians are not agreed.
"

25

:

Diligis
fecisti

omnia, quae sunt,

ct

nihil

odisti

quae
hatest
erally,

Thou

lovest

all

things

that

are,

eorum and
lit

none of the things which thou hast

made,"

while others point to such texts as Ps. V, 7:
6 Cfr.
i

John IV,

8.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
"

427

all

Odisti omnes, qui operantur iniquitatem Thou hatest the workers of iniquity," as opposed to this view.
correct interpretation of these apparently contra texts probably is, that God loves the sin
-far as

The

dictory
so
far

ner in so

he

as

he

transgresses

prohibet"

says St.

His creature, and hates Him in His commands. Nihil unum ct idem secundmn Thomas,
is
"

"

sccundum aliquid odio habcri. Dens autem peccatorcs, inqiiantum sunt naturae quaedam, amat; sic enim et sunt et ab ipso sunt. Inqiiantum vero peccatores sunt, non sunt et ab esse deficiunt, et hoc in eis a Deo non est; unde secundum hoc ab ipso odio 7 habentur" The affections of desire (desiderium) and aversion (fuga) may be ranged in the same class with
aliquid amari, et

concupiscible love (amor concupisccntiae), because cannot desire any created good for Himself,

God
nor
pre of

from approaching evil. There vent us from assuming, however,
flee

is

nothing to

that,

(without

course experiencing anything like human emotion), He ardently desires the happiness of His creatures, and has

an aversion to that which
them.
Cfr. Ez.

is

XXXIII,

11:

apt to hurt or destroy desire not the death
"I

of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." On account of the imperfections they imply,
affections known as hope (spes), courage (audacia), desperation (desperatio), and fear (timor), must likewise be excluded from the Divine Will.

the

four

Neither the notion of difficulty implied in the first-men tioned two, nor that of danger connoted by the others,
is

compatible with

God
it

s

(ira), if

we

define

as

"the

omnipotence. As for anger determination to avenge
suffered,"

wrong from which one has
for
it

there

is

no room

in the
7

Divine Will, and the Fathers and theologians
5".

Theol., ia, qu. 20, art. 2, ad

2.

428

MODE OF DIVINE VOLITION

are perfectly right in interpreting the respective pas as ex sages of Holy Scripture anthropomorphically, i. c.,

pressing merely

God

s will

to punish evil.

8

Thesis II

:

By

virtue of His infinite love
;

God

loves

whatever is good Himself as the supreme good He loves with absolute necessity, whatever is good in His creatures He loves with a free will.

This

is

also de fide.

Both parts of this thesis have been 9 "Deus formally defined by the Vatican Council
Proof.
:

libcrrimo consilio ittramque de nihilo conwith absolute free God didit creaturam out of nothing both dom of counsel, created
. .
.
. . .

[the
"Si

spiritual
qiiis

and

Dcum

corporeal] creature." di.vcrit non volnntate ab omni

the

necessitate

libera,

sed tarn necessario creasse,
aniat
shall

quam
sit

necessario

scipsum
say
that

.

.

.

anathema
created,

If

any one

God

not by His will, free from all necessity, but by a necessity equal to the necessity whereby He Himself ... let him be anathema." loves

Freedom here means not merely freedom from restraint (libertas a coactione), but more par
ticularly tas a necessitate),

freedom from intrinsic necessity (liber which is also called freedom
n.

of indifference (libertas indifferentiae).
8

For a more detailed treatment

quoted
1783i

by
the

Denzinger-Bannwart,
liberty

of this subject, see Suarez,
tract,

De Deo,

i, lib. Ill, c. 7; Gonet, Clyp. Thomist., tract. 4, disp. 6; Kleutgen, De ipso Deo, pp. 343 SQQDe Deo; Sess. HI, cap. I,

On
in

of

the

Divine
see

Will

creating

the

universe,

the dogmatic treatise on God as the Author of Nature and the Super
natural.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
I.

429

is Substantial Love, and love by its nature tends to that which is good, in so very

God

far as

it is

good.

as the Infinite
intrinsic

Hence God must Good, and must do
of

love Himself so

from the

necessity

matter of moral duty. of the Divine Will to created good?
the answer to this question we Whatever there a distinction.
sides God,

His nature, not as a But what is the relation

To
first

find

must
is

draw

of

good be

may be considered either as actually or as merely possible, that is, as not existing, yet existing, or as something that will never
exist.

Once God by an

act of

His free

will

has

called creatures into being, He cannot but love whatever is good in them with the same love

Himself as the highest good; for whatever is good besides Himself is so by participation in His Divine Essence.
with which
loves
Cfr.
et nihil odisti
all

He

Wisd. XI, 25: "Diligis oninia, quae sunt, eorum, quae fecisti Thou lovest things that are and hatest none of the things
Prov. VIII, 31
filiis
:

which thou hast made/
liciae

"De-

meae

esse

cum

hominum

And my
men."

delights were
St.

to be with the children of

Thomas offers this beautiful drawn from unaided human reason:

argument
"Quicun-

que enim amat aliquid secundum se et propter ipsum, amat per consequens oninia, in quibus illud invenitur: ut qui amat dnlccdinem propter ipsani;

430

FREEDOM OF WILL
Quiiin igitur

oportet omnia dulcia a met.

Dens

amet bonitatem suam propter ipsam, omnia autem quac snnt hanc aliqua ratione participcnt, ex hoc ipso quod vult ct amat se, vult et amat alia Whoever loves anything in itself and for itself, wills consequently all things in which that thing is found as he who loves sweetness in itself must But God wills and loves love all sweet things. in itself and for itself; and all His own goodness
:

other heing
of His
2.

is

a sort of participation by likeness

n

being."

In the actual outpouring of Its goodness ad extra (as in the processes of Creation, Re demption, and Sanctification), the Divine Will

Such absolutely free. of Holy Scripture. teaching
is

is

the

unmistakable

Cfr. Ps.

CXXXIV,
fecit in

6:

"Omnia

qnaecunque

voluit

Dominus

coclo, in terra, in niari ct in

omnibus abyssis

Whatsoever the Lord pleased he hath done, in heaven, in earth, in the sea, and in all the depths/ Paul teaches that redemption, too, and St.
the
call

of

the
s

human

race

to

salvation,

are

effects of
I,

God

absolutely free will.

Cfr. Eph.

5-11

:

"Qui

praedestinavit nos in adoptionem
in

filiorum per
avroi

lesum Christum
),
.
.

ipsum secundum
?v
a>8o/aav

prOpOSltum VOlimtatis SUae
6c\r)tw.ro<i
.

rov

(*<*ra

ut

cr amentum voluntatis
11 Contr. Gent.,
I,

notum faceret nobis sasuae secundum bcncplaci"
(Rickaby
s

75

translation).

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
turn
eius
et

431
.

etiam

quo nos sorte vocati sunius, praedestinati

quod proposuit

in

eo,

.

.

in

secundum propositum eius, qui operatur omnia TrpoBccnv secundum consilium voluntatis suae (
TOV
TCL

TrdvTa Ivtpyovvros Kara TTJV /3ovXrjv TOV ^cA^/xaros avTov)

hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself:

Who

That according to the purpose of his will: he might make known unto us the mystery of
. . .

his will according to his good pleasure, which he had purposed in him, ... in whom we

also are called

by

lot,

being predestinated ac

purpose of him who worketh all In things according to the counsel of his will." the outpouring of the is the same manner
cording to the
charismata, which is ascribed to the Holy Ghost, due to the free will of God. Cfr. i Cor. XII, 1 1
:

"Hacc

autem omnia operatur unus atque idem
dividens
singulis,
(*a0<k

prout vult But all these things one and the same /?ovAerai) one according Spirit worketh, dividing to every
Spiritus,

as

Adhering closely to these and the similar passages from Holy Scripture, Fathers unanimously defended the liberty of
he
will."

the Divine Will in

its

external operations.

St.

Ambrose, e. g., says: "Apostolus quoque dicit, idem Spiritus, quia omnia operatur unus atque
dividens singulis, prout milt,
i.

e.,

pro libero vo-

432

FREEDOM OF WILL
non pro
necessitates
l2

luntatis arbitrio,
St.

obsequio."

John of Damascus voices the belief of the Greek Fathers when he writes: "The Divine Nature is endowed with will and freedom, upon which there falls neither sin nor change/ 13
Hippolytus expresses himself tersely and accu
rately as follows:
ore
tfc Aei."

"Hdvra

woiuv ws

fle

Aei,

Katfws 0c

A,

u
doctrine
set

3.

The revealed
the

forth
this

above was con

densed by
bonitas

Scholastics

[=

csscntia] est

bonitas rerum out cm
z

Divina obicctum formalc ct primarium, obicctum materialc ct secundarium
into
:

axiom

"

oluntatis
(i.

divinae."

Indeed, as none but an infinite ob
itself)

ject

c.,

the

Divine Essence

can be propor

tionate to the Divine Will, the formal and primary ob ject of God s love can be none other than the Divine

Essence
of which
self.

itself.

But God
;

s

love of Himself

is

no
is

cold,

calculating egoism

it

is

an intestine

vital law, in virtue

God must

love the Infinite Good, that

Him

regards the nature of this divine Self-love, being a truly divine love it cannot be amor concupi
scent iac in the strict sense, but
centiac, and, in
its

As

must be amor compla-

also

amor

relation to the three Divine Persons, amicitiac. This can be proved a posteriori
virtue.

from the character of love as a theological
if

For

Christian charity loves the highest, best, and most beautiful Good for His own sake, it does so for the sole

reason that
ticipation
12
13
8-

it

is

in its very essence a supernatural par
s
48.

in

God

divine

Self-love.
fuller

Consequently,
consult
pp.

a

De Fide, II. 6, n. DC Duab. Christ.
Noet.,
c.

treatment,

Kleutgen.
sqq.,
I,

Volunt.,
8.

n.

De
sqq.,

7/.

Deo.

Simar,

UContr.

For

a

Dogmatik, Freiburg 1899.

333 Vol.

and
181

pp.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
fortiori,

433

for His

God must love Himself as the own sake. This conclusion runs
not the

Infinite

Good

counter to the

assertion of Durandus, that the formal object of divine

Love

is

bonum

infinitum taken concretely, but

a teaching which is an abstract bonum in communi, analogous to another error, viz.: that the formal object of

God s knowledge is not His Essence, or infinite Truth, 15 The second part of but being in its abstract sense. bonitas rcrum antem obiectum the above-quoted axiom
("

materiale et sccundarium voluntatis a
corollary from the
first.

divinae")

flows as

If

God

s

own Goodness

the determining and specificatory formal of the Divine Will, then He cannot love His object creatures for their sake, but must love them for His own
constitutes
sake.

Hence

nor the
final

final goal

creatural goodness can be neither the motive of the Divine Will, because in either

The case the latter would be indigent and perfectible. end of the created universe consists solely in
o>,

Cfr. Apoc. XXI, the glorification of the Infinite Good. I am Alpha initium et finis sum a et 6: "Ego and the end." I Cor. VIII, and Omega, the beginning

6:

"Ex

quo omnia

et
all

nos in ilium
things,

(ets

avroV)
him."

[The
Prov.

Father] of
,

whom are
"

and we unto

XVI, 4: Dominus
Cfr.

Universa propter semetipsum operatus est The Lord hath made all things for himself."
Vatican., Sess.
Ill,

Cone.

De Deo,

can.

5:

"Si

quis

ad Dei gloriam esse conditam ncgaverit, If any one shall deny that the world was made for the glory of God, let him be anathema." From these considerations it also follows that the Divine

mundum
sit

anathema

Will
thus
:

is

free, as St.
"

Thomas shows
bonitas

briefly but convincingly

Quum

divina

sine

aliis

esse

possit,

quinimo nee per alia ci aliquid accrescat, nulla inest ei
15 Cfr.

Gonet, Clyp.

Thomist., tract.

4,

disp.

2,

art.

i,

4.

434

GOD S LOVE OF CREATURES
ex hoc, qifod vult snam bonitatem

iiecessittis, ut alia vclit

Since the divine Goodness can be without other be
ings,
is

nay, other beings

make no

addition to

it,

God

under no necessity of willing other things from the fact of His willing His own Goodness." 16 Consequently,

whatever good exists external to God, can be only a secondary and material object of His Divine Will.

Although God loves His creatures un each according to the measure of its good equally, ness, He does not love them for their sake, but solely because of His own goodness.
Thesis III
:

Proof.

This

thesis,

which embodies the com

mon

teaching of theologians, is a pendant to the one regarding the mode of God s cognition. God
extra-divine things in themselves, but only through the medium of His own Essence. In like manner, though He loves His creatures un
all

knows

equally, according to the degree of their intrinsic goodness, yet His love for them is such that His

own goodness
i.

(= Essence)

is

the sole formal

motive of His Will.
In saying that God loves different creatures un we do not wish to imply that there are de

equally,

This is impossible, grees in the operation of divine Love. because the act of divine Love is immutable, eternal, in

The expression has tensively infinite, and uniform. reference solely to the objects of divine Love. God cannot but love His creatures unequally, that is accord ing to the degree of goodness which each contains, be
cause
it

was He

as

Creator

who imparted
I,

to

them

16 Contr. Gent.,

81.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

435

varying degrees of goodness by endowing them with 17 Therefore, to deny that varying degrees of being. loves one creature more than another, would be God

tantamount to asserting that all creatures are equally good, which is repugnant to both right reason and ex It plainly appears from various texts of the perience.
Bible that
tures
:

God makes

a distinction in loving His crea

that

He

loves those

endowed with reason more
18
;

than those which are destitute of intelligence

that

prefers the goods of the supernatural to those of the natural order; that He prefers the just to the sin ner that He looks with particular favor upon the Blessed full of grace," and so forth. Virgin Mary
;
"

He

2.

In spite of

all this,

however, even the best beloved

and most favored of God s creatures are no more than material objects and mere termini of divine Love, in asmuch as they do not incite or determine the divine Will to love, but merely constitute its aim or object. The controverted question whether God could love His creatures on account of the excellencies they bear within themselves, must therefore be answered in the negative.

Assuming

that

God

could love a creature

(even one

endowed by Him as was the Blessed because of its immanent creatural beauty, Virgin Mary), this creatural goodness would sanctity, or benevolence,
so magnificently

eo ipso be absorbed into the formal object of the divine
Will,

and the

latter

would
in
its

in

consequence become at

least partly

dependent

operation upon something
is

existing outside Itself, which
IT Cfr. St.

repugnant to the divine
amor
Dei
cst

Thomas, 5. TheoL,
".Amor

la,

Scd

infundcns
"

et

qu. 20, art. 2:

nosier, quo

alicui volumus, non est causa bonitatis ipsius, sed e converso bonitas eius vel vera vel aestimata amor em. ... provocat

bonum

creans bonitatem in rebus." 18 Cfr. i NumCor. IX, 9: quid de bobus euro cst Deo? Doth God take care for oxen?
Cfr. St.

"

Thomas,

/.

c. t art. 4.

436
Essence.

SANCTITY OF WILL
Therefore, while

precisely the

measure

in

God loves His creatures in. which each deserves to be loved,

according to the degree of its intrinsic amiability, He loves them not for their sake, but for His own sake. 19

Thesis IV:

As

infallibility is the

fundamental and

distinguishing characteristic of God s knowledge, so the operation of His Will is governed by sanctity.

Proof.

To

infallibility in the

sphere of knowl
in

edge corresponds impeccability
of the will.

the

domain

Impeccability

is

the negative ele

ment of holiness. The infallibility of that cog nition which is based upon the ultimate causes of
things,

culminates

in

divine

Wisdom

(in

the

larger sense of the term), which rules and domi nates the entire domain of divine knowledge.

The
Will

impeccability
its

of

the

will

culminates
the

in

that sanctity which gives to the

life

of the divine

intrinsic peculiar stamp. the product of God s notional cognition (t. of God" or "Logos"), is also called "Word
<?.,

Hence

sapicntia genita, while the intrinsic product of His notional volition (i. e., the Holy Ghost),
is

described as
20

amor personate and
It

sanctitas

hypostatica.
itf

follows

that

infallibility

and

Cfr. St.
19,

Thomas,
2:

5. Theol., la,

igitur vult Deus et se et alia; sed se ut finem, alia vero ut ad finem." Idem, ibid.,

qu.

art.

"Sic

existence on the part of God of a love of benevolence and friendship

towards His rational creatures; on which point consult Lessius, De
Perfect. Div., XIV, 3. 20 For further information on this subject the reader is referred to
the dogmatic treatise on the Divine
Trinity.

ad

2:

"

Sicut

alia

a

se

intclligit

intelligcndo esscntiam suam, ita alia a se vult I olendo bonitatcm suam."
Tliis

either

does not exclude leaching the possibility or the actual

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

437

impeccability, considered as modes of the divine Understanding and the divine Will, stand in the

same

relation to each other as

wisdom and

holi

Holiness is the fundamental virtue of ness. God and love is His fundamental affection. But
the
in

two are not only

concept, in so analysis coincides with

related, they are identical far as holiness in its last

the

Love which God
concatena

has for Himself.
tion of love

From

this peculiar

and holiness
spring*

in

God we must con

clude that
virtues of
their
21

all

the so-called moral attributes or

God

common

from His holy Love as are completely dominated root, and
21 Cfr.

by

it.

supra,

3.

SECTION

2

THE OBJECTS OF THE DIVINE WILL
I.

We

have shown that God

s

Will

is

a most

simple, immutable, eternal act, which cannot be It is manifest, then, that split up or divided. division we may make must be based any

upon

the objects to which the Will

is

directed.

Aside from God s necessary will (voluntas necessaria), His free will (voluntas libera) can be conceived either
as voluntas bencplaciti or voluntas signi, according as
it

remains an intrinsic act or
externally.

is

by some

sign manifested

There are

five

such signs, which are enu

merated

in the Scholastic

hexameter:

Praccipit ct prohibet, pcrmittit, consulit, implet.
It is possible, by misunderstanding one of these signs, to mistake the will of God, as Abraham did when he

proceeded to sacrifice his son Isaac, or Jonas in view of the presumptive destruction of Nineveh. An almost equipollent division is that into voluntas arcana and voluntas revelata, both of which Calvin so
shamefully
distorted

by

declaring

the

former to

be

God

s

secret will to

nified

His

false

and

the latter sig hypocritical determination that they
division

condemn men, while

be saved. 1

The most common
1 Cfr.

of the
I,

divine

Will

is

Calvini Instit.,

18,

4.

438

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
that into voluntas

439

conditionata

and volant as dbsoluta,

according as It appears bound to the fulfilment of a condition, or not.
Closely related to this division is that into voluntas antecedent sen prima and voluntas consequent sen, sccunda, which has been the provocative of some sharp controversies in regard to predestination. According to Molinism the antecedent or first will originates im
" "

2 mediately in the love of God (e. g., the will to save) while the accommodates consequent or second will itself entirely to the behavior of the creatures them
;
" "

selves,

tion to

and consequently coincides with God s determina reward the just and punish the wicked. 3 This
St.

was no doubt the meaning of
first

John Damascene, who
the
divine
iiro^vov

introduced the
*/

division
Trpurov

of

Will
ry

into
.

BiXr^a irporjyov^vov

and

OeXrj/Jia

vore/ooi

Thomas Aquinas, who writes in his little work De Veritatc: Aliqucm hominem vult Dens salvari voluntate antcccdcnte ratione humanae na turae, quam ad saint em fecit; sed vult eum damnari
followed by St.
"

He was

veniuntur."

voluntate consequente propter peccata quae in co in4 is It to be noted, however, that the under the leadership of Alvarez, 5 interpret Thomists,
this

manner which leads to the theological passage doctrine of absolute predestination and negative repro
in a

bation. 6

Lastly,
efficient

we may

divide the divine Will into voluntas

and voluntas permittens, a distinction important for clearing up God s relation to sin. The will of God
"
"

is
2

efficient
Tim. II, 3Cfr. Math.
i

only in regard to the naturally or super34 sqq.
art.
2,

4.

XXV,

5

4De Verit., qu. 23, De Aux. Cratiae,

ad

2.

This point will receive a more treatment in the treatise on Grace.
detailed

disp.

24.

440

THE OBJECTS OF THE DIVINE WILL
" "

Sin

naturally good or indifferent actions of His creatures. He merely permits by shielding the freedom of
It is

the will, without which there could be neither sin nor
virtue.

for this reason that

some theologians

7

cor
(jus-

relate the voluntas pcrmittens with divine justice
titia
t

permissiva) which not only renders to every one his own, but also leaves every one in possession of his
liberty.

As regards the special objects of the Will, we can distinguish as many decrees
2.
c.

divine
of the

Will as there are external operations of God,
g. f

the will to create, the will to save, etc.
will all be

They

places.

duly considered in their proper Here we must confine ourselves to the

exposition of certain general principles which govern the divine Will and shadow forth its in
trinsic

perfection.

These principles

all

apper

tain

to

the

material and

secondary object of

divine volition.
highly probable that God loves the merely possible good with the love of simple com

Thesis

I

:

It is

placence.

Proof.

While some theologians,
Gotti,

like

Suarez

8

and Cardinal
loves

willingly

admit that God
others,
like

the
9

merely

possible

good,
this

on the ground that the possibles, coinciding as they do with the divine Essence, can have no independent
7

Gonet

and Oswald, 10 deny

E.

g..

Scheeben.
Ill,
6.

9 Clyp. Thomist., disp. 2, art. 4.

Attrib. Posit.,

10

Dogmat.

Tlieol., Vol. I, p. 213.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

441

goodness or amiability of their own. This lastmentioned reason, however, is not well chosen.
For, as the divine Intellect perceives the pure possibles in their ideal-eminent being as extradivine truths, so the divine Will can love these in the same way, provided only that possibles they possess a certain degree of goodness
11

which they undoubtedly do;

else

how

should

we

Creator

explain the fact of Creation had not the previously taken delight in contem

was merely possible? must be added the consideration that the pure possibles, holding as they do mid dle ground between nothing and that which
plating a universe which

To

this

has actual existence, possess true, even though only ideal, being, which being as such is not
only true,
i.
i.

e.,

cognoscible, but likewise good,
et

e.,

lovable.

("Ens

bonuni
is

convertuntur")

Now, God

loves whatever

good; therefore
is

He

also loves the purely possible. It conceivable that God should take

indeed in

the infinite

no delight in number of possible things which He
12

comprehensively understands,

seeing that even

the created intellect takes profound pleasure in contemplating the purely ideal order of meta
physical, aesthetic,
this

and mathematical truths. To not a few Thomists object that Aquinas,
12 Supra, pp. 351 sqq.

following the example of his master Aristotle,
11 Supra, p. 340.

29

442

THE OBJECTS OF THE DIVINE WILL

seems to deny the existence of goodness in the domain of mathematics. 13 Explain this as we
will,
it is

certain that St.

Thomas nowhere

denies

the principle that goodness is a transcendental attribute of being, which, qua being, includes the realm of the purely possible. 14 As for purely
possible evil, it is most difficult to decide whether the divine Will remains absolutely motionless in

the presence of

it,

or

is

affected

by displeasure.

15

Thesis II: God loves all existing creatures with the love of simple complacency; those endowed with intelligence He also loves with the love of benevo
lence.

This thesis embodies a certain truth. The ar guments for it will be found in the chapter which
treats of the divine attribute of

moral goodness

or benevolence. 10
Thesis III:

Regarding God

s relation to evil,

we

and evil in flicted as a punishment, only per accidens; and that He can never will sin, but merely permits it.
will natural evil,

must hold that He can

Proof.

Evil

is

twofold: the moral evil of sin

(malum
can
be

cnlpae) and physical evil, which latter subdivided into natural evil (malum

naturae)
ad 4
14 Cfr.
16

and the

evil

of punishment
wards

(malum
evil,

13 Cfr. S. Theol., la, qu. 5, art. 3,

De

Verit.,

Regarding

God

s

qu. 21, art. 2. attitude to-

actually existing infra, third thesis. 1C Supra, pp. 260 sqq.
i,

see
also

Cfr.

thesis 2.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
17

443

may take one of three at It may either will evil as an end in itself (velle malum per se, sen ut finem) or it may will evil as a means to an end (velle malum per accidens) or it may will
poenae).
titudes
will

The

towards

evil.

;

;

evil

not at

all,

but merely permit

it

(mere perto

mitt ere
the

malum).
Will,

Applying

this

distinction

divine

we can

infer

the

following

propositions, which embody both revealed truths and deductions of human reason.
i.

The

divine

Will cannot will
its
is

evil,

either

physical or moral, per se for as an end in itself. For God

own

sake, or

the Substantial

of goodness, and His volition is dominated the attribute of sanctity. But can He will by evil as a means to an end, or per accidens? In

Love

answering
sin,

this question
it

we must

first

eliminate

quite manifest that with God no end, no matter how noble or sublime, can For the holi possibly justify sin as a means.
is

because

ness of

God

no matter whether
21
"He

involves an infinite hatred of sin, it be considered as an end
Cfr.

or as a means to an end.
:

Ecclus.

XV,

hath commanded no man to do wick edly, and he hath given no man license to sin: for he desireth not a multitude of faithless and
unprofitable
17 Cfr. A. B.

children."

Epistle of St.

James
"

I,

Sharpe in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. V,

art.

Evil."

444
13:
.
.
.

GOD S RELATION TO EVIL
autcm nemincm tcntat For God tempteth no man." The Church has in
"Ipse

dignantly repudiated the contrary teaching of Calvin as heretical and blasphemous. Now as to physical evil. God can will phys
only as a means to an end, and only in so far as it can be subordinated to a higher purpose, the attainment of which completely out
ical evil

weighs the evil means. Physical evil, as we have already pointed out, is twofold, penal (pun ishment for sin) and natural (c. g., pain, illness, God owes it to His punitive justice to death).
physical evil upon sinners, for the reason that justice is a greater good than the happiness
inflict

of the sinner, which punishment destroys.
clus.

Ec-

35: "Ignis, grando, fames ct mors, omnia haec ad vindictam crcata sunt
Fire,
hail,

XXXIX,

famine,

and death,

all

these

were
evil,

created for

vengeance."

As

for

natural

the general order of nature is a higher good than, e. g., the life of an individual transgres
sor,

which

is

sometimes sacrificed to

it.

It

is

in this light that the so-called cruelties of nature must be viewed. Cfr. Ecclus. XI, 14: "Good

things and evil, are from God/
of the

and death, poverty and riches Wisd. I, 13: "God made not death, neither hath he pleasure in the destruction
life
living."

God, therefore, cannot will sin (malum culpae),

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
either as

445
to

an end

in itself or as a
it

means
Gen.

an
of

end.

He

merely permits

with

a view
L,

deriving
"You

good therefrom.
evil

Cfr.

20:

against me: but God turned thought it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present you see, and might save many people." It is an article of faith that sin can happen only with
the permission of God.
2.
19

These considerations on the

relation of

God

to evil

could easily be spun out into a brilliant apology for divine Providence against Deism. They also furnish
the outlines
for

an effective refutation of Pessimism,
evil

which exaggerates
a)

beyond
to

all

reasonable bounds. 20

The

existence

of

would be repugnant
it

physical evil in the universe the Christian idea of God if

shown, first, that the ills in question absolute, and not merely relative, and, secondly, that God wills them as an end rather than as a means to an end, or merely the sequel of a higher good, by which they are more than counterbalanced. But it
could

be

are

impossible to establish either of these propositions. All physical evils are intrinsically so constituted that
is

they do not disfigure the heart of creation, but only
is Cfr. Ecclus.
10 Supra,

XXXIX,
251
sqq.
la,

35.

mits
St.
art.

it

only in the justice of His

pp.

Cfr.
19,

judgment.
just
is

And
und

Thomas, S. Theol.,
9.
c.

qu.

good."

surely all that is Cfr. Jos. Nirschl,

Also
46:

St.
"Nee

Augustine,

Enchir.,
est,

Ursprung

Wesen
hi.

des

Bosen

dubitandum
bene
etiam

Deum
fieri,

facere

sinendo

nach dcr Lehre des Ratisbon 1854.
20 Respecting
"

Augnstinus,

quaecunque
hoc
est

enim
et

nisi

Non fiunt male. iusto iudicio sinit;

Deism

and

Pessi-

profecto

iustum

bonum est omne quod Nor can we doubt that
even in the permisis

Cod does

well

mism, consult the dogmatical treatise on God, the Author of Nature and the Supernatural," which will form the third volume of this series.

sion of what

evil.

For

He

per-

446

GOD S RELATION TO EVIL

certain portions thereof along its outer fringe; they have their seat not in the nobler parts, but in a lower and subordinate realm, where they serve the higher pur

poses of Creation. Consequently they are not absolute, but merely relative defects. Thus corporeal pain and disease are a necessary concomitant of the sensitive fac
ulties, whose purpose it is as a minor good to serve the higher good of intellectual knowledge; at the same time they are useful signals of warning, since suffering and disease frequently herald death. Conflagrations and

inundations, with

all

their disastrous consequences, are

merely
ical

accidental

forces of nature

combustion
structure

of essentially benign such as specific gravity and chem which, as such, are indispensable to

concomitants

the

Nor do malformations,

and existence of the physical universe. deformities, and abortions in

the realm of organic living beings disprove this argu ment, because they are intended neither by Nature nor by the Author of Nature, but have their origin in acci dental obstacles in the
structive

powers

of
is

proper end, but
extrinsic

the formative and con which ever aims at its Nature, sometimes disturbed in its course

way of

The so-called cruelties of by nature appear to offer a serious difficulty. Especially do the bloody encounters of predatory animals seem in
vicissitudes.

compatible with God s goodness. Yet Nature with all her cruelties aims at higher ends, viz., the stability of the universe and the harmonious equilibrium of all its
parts.

The

bloodthirsty

disposition

of

certain

wild

presupposes cunning, artifice, rapacity, and to eliminate it from nature would mean the destruction of many of the finest and most useful species of our fauna.

beasts

There

is

ample

justification

pertinent critics of His

for enquiring how the im Divine Majesty would recon-

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
struct the physical universe,

447

had they the power to carry

out their crude notions.
herbivorous,
in

they make all beasts order to preserve animal life? This

Would

would compel men to practice vegetarianism, and perhaps even something more extreme for do not some of
;

plants, too, have a which must not be injured? Thus ulti mately both men and beasts would develop into geofrom the mineral phagi," drawing their nourishment solely kingdom. Meanwhile, what would be the lot of animals?

these

smart

criticules

assert

that

sentient

soul

"

Would
tation,

they not multiply beyond

all

bounds, destroy vege
fail to

and poison the atmosphere with the stench of

their carcasses?

No

sane observer can

perceive

that the existing order of the cosmos is the product of a marvellous wisdom, which automatically sustains its equilibrium and subordinates the lower forces of na

ture to the higher ones, which center in man, the king For the rest it may be well of the physical universe.
to call attention to the fact that the
"

wasteful cruelty of
writers,

nature

"

is

exaggerated by many modern

who

overlook the circumstance that carnivorous and other
brute animals almost invariably, either by the fright they inspire, or by stinging or biting, stupefy or hypnotize
their intended victims, thus rendering
21

them incapable of

suffering protracted pain.

But what of human ignorance and poverty ?
21
is

Are they

The wasteful cruelty of nature thus described by Tennyson:
at strife,
evil

She
I

"

cries,

A

thousand types are
all

gone, care for

nothing,

shall

go."

Are God and Nature then
lends

That Nature dreams? careful of the type she seems, So So careless of the single life. So careful of the type ? but no, From scarped cliff and quarried
such
"
"

The obvious reply that this process, of struggle and survival of the few, in fact works for the peris

fecting of things; and this is a higher end than the momentary hapSee piness of individual beings.

stone

Butler

s

Analogy,

Pt.

I,

ch.

V.

448

GOD S RELATION TO EVIL
We

as

not absolute evils, even though the Creator employ them means to a higher end? do not think so. Lack of

knowledge spurs humanity on to diligent study, prompts the erection of schools and other institutions of learn ing, and brings about a general improvement of social
conditions; while poverty
tives to
is

one of the strongest incen
development

work and

self-help, to the cultural

of the slumbering energies of the masses, entailing the progress of industry, craftsmanship, and art, inspiring
charitable undertakings of every kind. If these factors remained latent, the human race would soon decay. Imagine a world into which all men were born as mil
lionaires or savants The blessings of hard labor and the law of progressive development would be unknown. Ethnologists point out that the belt of civilization which
!

girdles the globe coincides with the snow zone, and claim that this is due to the circumstance that the ever-

recurring combat with severe cold compels men to exert themselves to the utmost, thereby keeping the human

mind must

inventive,

active,

we

overlook

buoyant, and another important

elastic.

Nor

consideration.

The

man
yond

existence of physical evil is designed to remind constantly that his final aim and happiness lie be this terrestrial sphere, and that he must labor and

suffer, battle

and endure

like

one

who may
It
is

not snatch
divinely-ap attain to

the palm of victory

unearned.
his

his

pointed
eternal

lot,

amid manifold
by dint of

hindrances,

to

felicity

own
all

efforts,

journeying

through a vale of tears, where
There is abundant reason," says for doubting the possibility Hall, of constituting a world which shall
"
"

the hardships of a
meaningless when applied
impossible."

all

limited by the nature of power,
is

which
to

the

(F.

J.

Hall,

be suited for free and progressive creatures and be perfect
at

once

The Being and Attributes of God, pp. 163 sq., New York 1909.)

in

itself.

Infinite

power

is

after

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
moment
not,

449

laborious pilgrimage weigh upon him. Imagine for a that men enjoyed pure happiness here below and lived beyond the reach of physical evil would they
;

even the best of them, lose sight of their true Such a universe, destiny and miss their highest end?
forsooth, though free from poverty, disease, ignorance, and misfortune, could not justly be considered a mas terpiece of divine Wisdom, unless indeed men were

permanently constituted
cence.

in a state of paradisaical inno

that
finite

it

In the light of these reflexions we must admit would not be incompatible with either the in

wisdom or

create a world in

ways relative, means to higher

the holiness of God, purposely to which physical evils (which are al never absolute) would either serve as

ends, or occurred accidentally as con comitants of higher goods. In matter of fact, we know from Revelation that God in creating the world intended it to be free from suffering and merely permitted phys
ical
is

evil

to

supervene

as

a

characteristic of

His
22

infinite

into

good even those

evils

punishment for sin. It goodness that He turns which man has incurred

through his
b)
It
is

own
more
in

fault.

difficult

to

explain

God

s

relation

to
evil

moral
is

physical as nothing, because sin alone is evil in the absolute sense of the term. The mystery of sin lies in this that

evil,

comparison

with

which

God permits
for
it

is

it despite the fact that self-evident that He who

it

is

absolute evil;

will sin either as
22 Cfr.
St.

All-Holy cannot an end or as a means to an end. In
is
in

Aug.,

n:
modo
tn
cssct

"

Deus
sineret

omnipotent

c. Enchir., . . nullo
.

Keppler, dcr

Das Problem des Leidens

malum

aliquod

esse

B.

suis, nisi usque adeo omnipotent et bonus, ut bona facer ct etiarn de malo." Cfr. P.

operibus

Moral, Freiburg 1904; Boedder, Natural Theology, pp. 398 sqq.; Th. J. Gerrard, The WayVision, pp.

farcr s
1909.

44 sqq., London

450

GOD S RELATION TO EVIL
God
the
for
wills

permitting sin tures, while in
to

that

His
state,

intelligent

crea
free

wayfaring

should

be

decide either

commit
of

He

or against Him. The sins they subsequently, by the external governance

His Providence, converts into a source of good which amply compensates for, nay, exceeds the evil that sin necessarily entails. 23 There are goods of which, on the one hand, sin is an indispensable condition (such
as
contrition, penance, redemption, martyrdom), and which, on the other hand, in their tout ensemble out

weigh the
that

evil

some theologians

existing in the world to such a degree assert that a world full of sins

permitted by God is more perfect than would be a world without sin. 24 St. Thomas teaches: "Si enim
ornnia mala impedirentur, multa bona deessent universo; non enim esset vita leonis, si non esset occisio animalium,

nee esset

patientia

tyrannorum."

martyrum, Hold what we
it

si

will

non esset perseeutio on the controverted

point just mentioned,
sin

God does
or

ness,

certain that in permitting not contradict His wisdom, or His good His sanctity. He does not contradict His
is

wisdom and His goodness;
trary, be

for

it

would, on the con

most unwise for

rational creatures
will,

His by obstructing the exercise of their free

Him

to offer violence to

especially since

He

proves it by strengthening and testing the virtues of the just by the misdeeds of the wicked. As St. Augustine says:
"

conscience, which loudly protests against sin. not contradict His goodness, but rather

has given them the voice of He does

Prosunt
23 Cfr.

ista

mala, quae fideles pie perferunt, vel ad
Comment,
velle
fieri,

Toletus,

in

S.
2,

2* Cfr.
sect.
2.

Ruiz,
Theol.,

De
la,

Provid.,
qu.
22,

disp.

Theol.,
"

I, p.

264 (ed. Romae, 1869):
dicitur

Deus
nee

non
fieri."

fieri

relle

non

peccata scd per-

25

5".

art.

2,

ad

2.

mittere

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES
iustitiam vel

451,

emendanda peccata vel ad exercendam probandamque ad demonstrandam vitae huius miseriam,

ut ilia, ubi erit beatitudo vera atque perpetua, et desideretur ardentius et instantius Those evils inquiratur which the faithful endure piously, are profitable either for the correction of sin, or for the exercising and proving of righteousness, or to manifest the misery of this life, in order that the life of perpetual blessed ness may be desired more ardently, and sought more
:

earnestly."

Lastly,

in

contradict
sin,
it

His
it

sanctity.

permitting sin God does not He never ceases to forbid
infinite hatred,

to detest

with an
severity

and to punish

with

the

full

of His

be objected: If God has constrained to punish it He not leave the present sinful world deep down in the abyss of its original nothingness and in its place create one of which He foresaw that it would never devi

may
and

is

It punitive justice. such a hatred of sin, so severely, why did

ate

from the path of rectitude and virtue ? By refraining from the creation of sinful beings He could have pre
sin.

vented

This objection

is

as temerarious as

it

is

To carry out the implied suggestion would mean silly. to limit God s omnipotence by making the Creator de
pendent upon His creatures, because in that hypothesis He could not create the universe, and would simply cease to be God. Furthermore, those who urge it forget that God is not for the sake of the world, but the world exists for the sake of God. No mat

how we poor creatures employ the free will which God has given us, to glorify Him or to dishonor Him, we cannot possibly rob Him of His extrinsic
ter

For whoever obstinately
will

glory.
love,

rejects

God

s

mercy and
to

sooner

or

later
29

be

compelled
XIII,
16, 20.

proclaim

His

De

Trinit.,

452
justice.
artist.
27

GOD S RELATION TO EVIL
We
It is

are

clay in the hands of not for the Sovereign Lord,
like

a

divine
is

Who

the

The inquire into our preferences. to do the will of the Creator, not the Creator the will of the creature. human superior,
Supreme Good, to creature is bound
is

A

it

true,

nates.

exists

must prevent sin on the part of his subordi He has no right to permit it, because a superior for the good of the community which he is

called to govern, not vice versa.

The

case

is

different

with God.

can permit sin without detriment to His holiness, in order that good may come therefrom, because He is Himself the ultimate end of all Creation, and all
It cannot, how things have their final goal in Him. be said that with God the end justifies the means, ever, because in permitting sin God does not choose a bad

He

means to attain a good end, but with the power of an absolute sovereign disposes of the universe for His own
glory.
is no argument against Theism, a proof for the existence of a but, on the contrary, rules the uni supreme and infinitely good God, verse wisely and disposes all things so that they ulti

Consequently sin

Who

mately converge

in

Him.
will with regard to

Thesis IV:
is intrinsically

God has no
impossible.

what

This thesis voices the

common

teaching of the

ologians of all schools. Proof. Every act of the will tends either to

a good end or to a bad.
sible
is

(c. g. f

a

man-ape or

Now, what is impos a wooden steel-pen),

not good, because the impossible, being pure nothing, has no be
neither

good nor bad.

It is

ar Cfr. Rom. IX, 20 sqq.

THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES

453

ing, and therefore cannot possess goodness, which is a transcendental attribute of being. It

not bad, because badness or evil, being a negation, can inhere only in a positive entity as
is

in

a

subject
to

ought

which lacks some perfection it Pure nothingness cannot be possess.

the subject of a privation. 28
READINGS
:

Cfr.

S.

Thomas,

S.

Theol., la, qu.
cc.

19 sqq.,

and

the Commentators.

ID.,

De

be found in *Ruiz, complete treatment of Voluntate Divina. Of the later dogmaticians the student is advised to consult especially Scheeben, Dogmatik, Vol. I, 96104

Contr. Gent., I, the subject will

72-96.

The most

(Wilhelm-Scannell

s

Manual,

I,

pp.

227
1881
;

sqq.)
L.

;

Kleutgen,

De

Ipso Deo, pp. 326 Deo Uno, t. II, pp. 228
ical

sqq.,

Ratisbonae

sqq., Friburgi 1900. questions involved, see *Jos. Hontheim, Instit. Theodicaeae, pp. 661 sqq., Friburgi 1893.

Janssens, De For the philosoph

28 Cfr.
"

S.

I,

84:

Secundum

Thomas, Contr. Gent., quod unum-

quodque habet ad
bilia

se

habet ad csse, ita se bonitatcm. Scd impossi-

nee volita a Deo, qui non vult nisi ea, quae sunt vel possunt esse bona." Cfr. also what has been said above in connection with divine Omnipotence, pp. 281 sqq.

sunt

ergo

quae non possunt esse; non possunt esse bona, ergo

SECTION

3

THE VIRTUES OF THE DIVINE WILL, AND IN PAR TICULAR, JUSTICE AND MERCY
habit Virtue (virtus, is defined as man