Treatise on Habits (part 2b)

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Summa Theologica
by Thomas Aquinas, translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Treatise on Habits (part 2b), Part I of Second Part, QQ. 71-89
(c. 1274). Publisher: New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1915.

CONCISE TABLE OF CONTENTS[edit]

(II)(I) 3. TREATISE ON HABITS (PART 2B) (QQ 71-89)


<-- Treatise on Habits (part 1-2a) (QQ 49-70) --- Treatise on Law (QQ 90-108) -->


2. IN PARTICULAR
b. Evil Habits—that is, Vices

Q. 71: Of Vice and Sin Considered in Themselves

Q. 72: Of the Distinction of Sins

Q. 73: Of the Comparison of One Sin With Another

Q. 74: Of the Subject of Sin

Of the Causes of Sin

Q. 75: Of the Causes of Sin, In General
Of the Causes of Sin, In Particular
Of the Internal Causes of Sin
Q. 76: Of the Causes of Sin, In Particular
Q. 77: Of the Cause of Sin On the Part of the Sensitive Appetite
Q. 78: Of the Cause of Sin Which Is Malice
Q. 79: Of the External Causes of Sin
Q. 80: Of the Cause of Sin As Regards the Devil
Q. 81: Of the Cause of Sin On the Part of Man
Q. 82: Of Original Sin, As To Its Essence
Q. 83: Of the Subject of Original Sin
Q. 84: Of the Cause of Sin, In Respect of One Sin Being the Cause of Another

Of the Effects of Sin

Q. 85: Of the Effects of Sin
Q. 86: Of the Stain of Sin
Q. 87: Of the Debt of Punishment
Q. 88: Of Venial and Mortal Sin
Q. 89: Of Venial Sin In Itself


PROLOGUE[edit]

After treating of human acts and passions, we now pass on to the consideration of the principles of human acts, and first, of intrinsic principles, second of extrinsic principles (Treatise on Law). The intrinsic principle is power and habit; but as we have treated of powers in the First Part (Q. 77. sqq.), it remains for us to consider habits. And first we shall consider virtues and vices and other like habits, which are the principles of human acts (Q. 55).

HABITS IN PARTICULAR[edit]

^TOC

We come now to the consideration of habits individually....

EVIL HABITS—THAT IS, VICES[edit]

^TOC ^Habits in Particular

We have in the next place to consider vice and sin, about which six points have to be considered:

(1) Vice and sin considered in themselves (Q. 71);

(2) their distinction (Q. 72);

(3) their comparison with one another (Q. 73);

(4) the subject of sin (Q. 74);

(5) the cause of sin (QQ. 75-84);

(6) the effect of sin (QQ. 85-89);

QUESTION 71: OF VICE AND SIN CONSIDERED IN THEMSELVES[edit]

^TOC ^Evil Habits—that is, Vices

Under the first head there are six points of inquiry:

(1) Whether vice is contrary to virtue?

(2) Whether vice is contrary to nature?

(3) Which is worse, a vice or a vicious act?

(4) Whether a vicious act is compatible with virtue?

(5) Whether every sin includes action?

(6) Of the definition of sin proposed by Augustine (Contra Faust. xxii): "Sin is a word, deed, or desire against the eternal law."


Art. 1: Whether vice is contrary to virtue?[edit]

It would seem that vice is not contrary to virtue.

Obj. 1: For one thing has one contrary, as proved in Metaph. x, text. 17. Now sin and malice are contrary to virtue. Therefore vice is not contrary to it: since vice applies also to undue disposition of bodily members or of any things whatever.

Obj. 2: Further, virtue denotes a certain perfection of power. But vice does not denote anything relative to power. Therefore vice is not contrary to virtue.

Obj. 3: Further, Cicero (De Quaest. Tusc. iv) says that "virtue is the soul's health." Now sickness or disease, rather than vice, is opposed to health. Therefore vice is not contrary to virtue.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Perfect. Justit. ii) that "vice is a quality in respect of which the soul is evil." But "virtue is a quality which makes its subject good," as was shown above (Q. 55, AA. 3, 4). Therefore vice is contrary to virtue.

I answer that, Two things may be considered in virtue--the essence of virtue, and that to which virtue is ordained. In the essence of virtue we may consider something directly, and we may consider something consequently. Virtue implies directly a disposition whereby the subject is well disposed according to the mode of its nature: wherefore the Philosopher says (Phys. vii, text. 17) that "virtue is a disposition of a perfect thing to that which is best; and by perfect I mean that which is disposed according to its nature." That which virtue implies consequently is that it is a kind of goodness: because the goodness of a thing consists in its being well disposed according to the mode of its nature. That to which virtue is directed is a good act, as was shown above (Q. 56, A. 3).

Accordingly three things are found to be contrary to virtue. One of these is sin, which is opposed to virtue in respect of that to which virtue is ordained: since, properly speaking, sin denotes an inordinate act; even as an act of virtue is an ordinate and due act: in respect of that which virtue implies consequently, viz. that it is a kind of goodness, the contrary of virtue is malice: while in respect of that which belongs to the essence of virtue directly, its contrary is vice: because the vice of a thing seems to consist in its not being disposed in a way befitting its nature: hence Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. iii): "Whatever is lacking for a thing's natural perfection may be called a vice."

Reply Obj. 1: These three things are contrary to virtue, but not in the same respect: for sin is opposed to virtue, according as the latter is productive of a good work; malice, according as virtue is a kind of goodness; while vice is opposed to virtue properly as such.

Reply Obj. 2: Virtue implies not only perfection of power, the principle of action; but also the due disposition of its subject. The reason for this is because a thing operates according as it is in act: so that a thing needs to be well disposed if it has to produce a good work. It is in this respect that vice is contrary to virtue.

Reply Obj. 3: As Cicero says (De Quaest. Tusc. iv), "disease and sickness are vicious qualities," for in speaking of the body he calls it disease "when the whole body is infected," for instance, with fever or the like; he calls it sickness "when the disease is attended with weakness"; and vice "when the parts of the body are not well compacted together." And although at times there may be disease in the body without sickness, for instance, when a man has a hidden complaint without being hindered outwardly from his wonted occupations; "yet, in the soul," as he says, "these two things are indistinguishable, except in thought." For whenever a man is ill-disposed inwardly, through some inordinate affection, he is rendered thereby unfit for fulfilling his duties: since "a tree is known by its fruit," i.e. man by his works, according to Matt. 12:33. But "vice of the soul," as Cicero says (De Quaest. Tusc. iv), "is a habit or affection of the soul discordant and inconsistent with itself through life": and this is to be found even without disease and sickness, e.g. when a man sins from weakness or passion. Consequently vice is of wider extent than sickness or disease; even as virtue extends to more things than health; for health itself is reckoned a kind of virtue (Phys. vii, text. 17). Consequently vice is reckoned as contrary to virtue, more fittingly than sickness or disease.

^Q. 71


Art. 2: Whether vice is contrary to nature?[edit]

It would seem that vice is not contrary to nature.

Obj. 1: Because vice is contrary to virtue, as stated above (A. 1). Now virtue is in us, not by nature but by infusion or habituation, as stated above (Q. 63, AA. 1, 2, 3). Therefore vice is not contrary to nature.

Obj. 2: Further, it is impossible to become habituated to that which is contrary to nature: thus "a stone never becomes habituated to upward movement" (Ethic. ii, 1). But some men become habituated to vice. Therefore vice is not contrary to nature.

Obj. 3: Further, anything contrary to a nature, is not found in the greater number of individuals possessed of that nature. Now vice is found in the greater number of men; for it is written (Matt. 7:13): "Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat." Therefore vice is not contrary to nature.

Obj. 4: Further, sin is compared to vice, as act to habit, as stated above (A. 1). Now sin is defined as "a word, deed, or desire, contrary to the Law of God," as Augustine shows (Contra Faust. xxii, 27). But the Law of God is above nature. Therefore we should say that vice is contrary to the Law, rather than to nature.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. iii, 13): "Every vice, simply because it is a vice, is contrary to nature."

I answer that, As stated above (A. 1), vice is contrary to virtue. Now the virtue of a thing consists in its being well disposed in a manner befitting its nature, as stated above (A. 1). Hence the vice of any thing consists in its being disposed in a manner not befitting its nature, and for this reason is that thing "vituperated," which word is derived from "vice" according to Augustine (De Lib. Arb. iii, 14).

But it must be observed that the nature of a thing is chiefly the form from which that thing derives its species. Now man derives his species from his rational soul: and consequently whatever is contrary to the order of reason is, properly speaking, contrary to the nature of man, as man; while whatever is in accord with reason, is in accord with the nature of man, as man. Now "man's good is to be in accord with reason, and his evil is to be against reason," as Dionysius states (Div. Nom. iv). Therefore human virtue, which makes a man good, and his work good, is in accord with man's nature, for as much as it accords with his reason: while vice is contrary to man's nature, in so far as it is contrary to the order of reason.

Reply Obj. 1: Although the virtues are not caused by nature as regards their perfection of being, yet they incline us to that which accords with reason, i.e. with the order of reason. For Cicero says (De Inv. Rhet. ii) that "virtue is a habit in accord with reason, like a second nature": and it is in this sense that virtue is said to be in accord with nature, and on the other hand that vice is contrary to nature.

Reply Obj. 2: The Philosopher is speaking there of a thing being against nature, in so far as "being against nature" is contrary to "being from nature": and not in so far as "being against nature" is contrary to "being in accord with nature," in which latter sense virtues are said to be in accord with nature, in as much as they incline us to that which is suitable to nature.

Reply Obj. 3: There is a twofold nature in man, rational nature, and the sensitive nature. And since it is through the operation of his senses that man accomplishes acts of reason, hence there are more who follow the inclinations of the sensitive nature, than who follow the order of reason: because more reach the beginning of a business than achieve its completion. Now the presence of vices and sins in man is owing to the fact that he follows the inclination of his sensitive nature against the order of his reason.

Reply Obj. 4: Whatever is irregular in a work of art, is unnatural to the art which produced that work. Now the eternal law is compared to the order of human reason, as art to a work of art. Therefore it amounts to the same that vice and sin are against the order of human reason, and that they are contrary to the eternal law. Hence Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. iii, 6) that "every nature, as such, is from God; and is a vicious nature, in so far as it fails from the Divine art whereby it was made."

^Q. 71


Art. 3: Whether vice is worse than a vicious act?[edit]

It would seem that vice, i.e. a bad habit, is worse than a sin, i.e. a bad act.

Obj. 1: For, as the more lasting a good is, the better it is, so the longer an evil lasts, the worse it is. Now a vicious habit is more lasting than vicious acts, that pass forthwith. Therefore a vicious habit is worse than a vicious act.

Obj. 2: Further, several evils are more to be shunned than one. But a bad habit is virtually the cause of many bad acts. Therefore a vicious habit is worse than a vicious act.

Obj. 3: Further, a cause is more potent than its effect. But a habit produces its actions both as to their goodness and as to their badness. Therefore a habit is more potent than its act, both in goodness and in badness.

On the contrary, A man is justly punished for a vicious act; but not for a vicious habit, so long as no act ensues. Therefore a vicious action is worse than a vicious habit.

I answer that, A habit stands midway between power and act. Now it is evident that both in good and in evil, act precedes power, as stated in Metaph. ix, 19. For it is better to do well than to be able to do well, and in like manner, it is more blameworthy to do evil, than to be able to do evil: whence it also follows that both in goodness and in badness, habit stands midway between power and act, so that, to wit, even as a good or evil habit stands above the corresponding power in goodness or in badness, so does it stand below the corresponding act. This is also made clear from the fact that a habit is not called good or bad, save in so far as it induces to a good or bad act: wherefore a habit is called good or bad by reason of the goodness or badness of its act: so that an act surpasses its habit in goodness or badness, since "the cause of a thing being such, is yet more so."

Reply Obj. 1: Nothing hinders one thing from standing above another simply, and below it in some respect. Now a thing is deemed above another simply if it surpasses it in a point which is proper to both; while it is deemed above it in a certain respect, if it surpasses it in something which is accidental to both. Now it has been shown from the very nature of act and habit, that act surpasses habit both in goodness and in badness. Whereas the fact that habit is more lasting than act, is accidental to them, and is due to the fact that they are both found in a nature such that it cannot always be in action, and whose action consists in a transient movement. Consequently act simply excels in goodness and badness, but habit excels in a certain respect.

Reply Obj. 2: A habit is several acts, not simply, but in a certain respect, i.e. virtually. Wherefore this does not prove that habit precedes act simply, both in goodness and in badness.

Reply Obj. 3: Habit causes act by way of efficient causality: but act causes habit, by way of final causality, in respect of which we consider the nature of good and evil. Consequently act surpasses habit both in goodness and in badness.

^Q. 71


Art. 4: Whether sin is compatible with virtue?[edit]

It would seem that a vicious act, i.e. sin, is incompatible with virtue.

Obj. 1: For contraries cannot be together in the same subject. Now sin is, in some way, contrary to virtue, as stated above (A. 1). Therefore sin is incompatible with virtue.

Obj. 2: Further, sin is worse than vice, i.e. evil act than evil habit. But vice cannot be in the same subject with virtue: neither, therefore, can sin.

Obj. 3: Further, sin occurs in natural things, even as in voluntary matters (Phys. ii, text. 82). Now sin never happens in natural things, except through some corruption of the natural power; thus monsters are due to corruption of some elemental force in the seed, as stated in Phys. ii. Therefore no sin occurs in voluntary matters, except through the corruption of some virtue in the soul: so that sin and virtue cannot be together in the same subject.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 2, 3) that "virtue is engendered and corrupted by contrary causes." Now one virtuous act does not cause a virtue, as stated above (Q. 51, A. 3): and, consequently, one sinful act does not corrupt virtue. Therefore they can be together in the same subject.

I answer that, Sin is compared to virtue, as evil act to good habit. Now the position of a habit in the soul is not the same as that of a form in a natural thing. For the form of a natural thing produces, of necessity, an operation befitting itself; wherefore a natural form is incompatible with the act of a contrary form: thus heat is incompatible with the act of cooling, and lightness with downward movement (except perhaps violence be used by some extrinsic mover): whereas the habit that resides in the soul, does not, of necessity, produce its operation, but is used by man when he wills. Consequently man, while possessing a habit, may either fail to use the habit, or produce a contrary act; and so a man having a virtue may produce an act of sin. And this sinful act, so long as there is but one, cannot corrupt virtue, if we compare the act to the virtue itself as a habit: since, just as habit is not engendered by one act, so neither is it destroyed by one act as stated above (Q. 63, A. 2, ad 2). But if we compare the sinful act to the cause of the virtues, then it is possible for some virtues to be destroyed by one sinful act. For every mortal sin is contrary to charity, which is the root of all the infused virtues, as virtues; and consequently, charity being banished by one act of mortal sin, it follows that all the infused virtues are expelled as virtues. And I say [this] on account of faith and hope, whose habits remain unquickened after mortal sin, so that they are no longer virtues. On the other hand, since venial sin is neither contrary to charity, nor banishes it, as a consequence, neither does it expel the other virtues. As to the acquired virtues, they are not destroyed by one act of any kind of sin.

Accordingly, mortal sin is incompatible with the infused virtues, but is consistent with acquired virtue: while venial sin is compatible with virtues, whether infused or acquired.

Reply Obj. 1: Sin is contrary to virtue, not by reason of itself, but by reason of its act. Hence sin is incompatible with the act, but not with the habit, of virtue.

Reply Obj. 2: Vice is directly contrary to virtue, even as sin to virtuous act: and so vice excludes virtue, just as sin excludes acts of virtue.

Reply Obj. 3: The natural powers act of necessity, and hence so long as the power is unimpaired, no sin can be found in the act. On the other hand, the virtues of the soul do not produce their acts of necessity; hence the comparison fails.

^Q. 71


Art. 5: Whether every sin includes an action?[edit]

It would seem that every sin includes an action.

Obj. 1: For as merit is compared with virtue, even so is sin compared with vice. Now there can be no merit without an action. Neither, therefore, can there be sin without action.

Obj. 2: Further, Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. iii, 18) [*Cf. De Vera Relig. xiv.]: So "true is it that every sin is voluntary, that, unless it be voluntary, it is no sin at all." Now nothing can be voluntary, save through an act of the will. Therefore every sin implies an act.

Obj. 3: Further, if sin could be without act, it would follow that a man sins as soon as he ceases doing what he ought. Now he who never does something that he ought to do, ceases continually doing what he ought. Therefore it would follow that he sins continually; and this is untrue. Therefore there is no sin without an act.

On the contrary, It is written (James 4:17): "To him . . . who knoweth to do good, and doth it not, to him it is a sin." Now "not to do" does not imply an act. Therefore sin can be without act.

I answer that, The reason for urging this question has reference to the sin of omission, about which there have been various opinions. For some say that in every sin of omission there is some act, either interior or exterior—interior, as when a man wills not to go to church, when he is bound to go—exterior, as when a man, at the very hour that he is bound to go to church (or even before), occupies himself in such a way that he is hindered from going. This seems, in a way, to amount to the same as the first, for whoever wills one thing that is incompatible with this other, wills, consequently, to go without this other: unless, perchance, it does not occur to him, that what he wishes to do, will hinder him from that which he is bound to do, in which case he might be deemed guilty of negligence. On the other hand, others say, that a sin of omission does not necessarily suppose an act: for the mere fact of not doing what one is bound to do is a sin.

Now each of these opinions has some truth in it. For if in the sin of omission we look merely at that in which the essence of the sin consists, the sin of omission will be sometimes with an interior act, as when a man wills not to go to church: while sometimes it will be without any act at all, whether interior or exterior, as when a man, at the time that he is bound to go to church, does not think of going or not going to church.

If, however, in the sin of omission, we consider also the causes, or occasions of the omission, then the sin of omission must of necessity include some act. For there is no sin of omission, unless we omit what we can do or not do: and that we turn aside so as not to do what we can do or not do, must needs be due to some cause or occasion, either united with the omission or preceding it. Now if this cause be not in man's power, the omission will not be sinful, as when anyone omits going to church on account of sickness: but if the cause or occasion be subject to the will, the omission is sinful; and such cause, in so far as it is voluntary, must needs always include some act, at least the interior act of the will: which act sometimes bears directly on the omission, as when a man wills not to go to church, because it is too much trouble; and in this case this act, of its very nature, belongs to the omission, because the volition of any sin whatever, pertains, of itself, to that sin, since voluntariness is essential to sin. Sometimes, however, the act of the will bears directly on something else which hinders man from doing what he ought, whether this something else be united with the omission, as when a man wills to play at the time he ought to go to church—or, precede the omission, as when a man wills to sit up late at night, the result being that he does not go to church in the morning. In this case the act, interior or exterior, is accidental to the omission, since the omission follows outside the intention, and that which is outside the intention is said to be accidental (Phys. ii, text. 49, 50). Wherefore it is evident that then the sin of omission has indeed an act united with, or preceding the omission, but that this act is accidental to the sin of omission.

Now in judging about things, we must be guided by that which is proper to them, and not by that which is accidental: and consequently it is truer to say that a sin can be without any act; else the circumstantial acts and occasions would be essential to other actual sins.

Reply Obj. 1: More things are required for good than for evil, since "good results from a whole and entire cause, whereas evil results from each single defect," as Dionysius states (Div. Nom. iv): so that sin may arise from a man doing what he ought not, or by his not doing what he ought; while there can be no merit, unless a man do willingly what he ought to do: wherefore there can be no merit without act, whereas there can be sin without act.

Reply Obj. 2: The term "voluntary" is applied not only to that on which the act of the will is brought to bear, but also to that which we have the power to do or not to do, as stated in Ethic. iii, 5. Hence even not to will may be called voluntary, in so far as man has it in his power to will, and not to will.

Reply Obj. 3: The sin of omission is contrary to an affirmative precept which binds always, but not for always. Hence, by omitting to act, a man sins only for the time at which the affirmative precept binds him to act.

^Q. 71


Art. 6: Whether sin is fittingly defined as a word, deed, or desire contrary to the eternal law?[edit]

It would seem that sin is unfittingly defined by saying: "Sin is a word, deed, or desire, contrary to the eternal law."

Obj. 1: Because "word," "deed," and "desire" imply an act; whereas not every sin implies an act, as stated above (A. 5). Therefore this definition does not include every sin.

Obj. 2: Further, Augustine says (De Duab. Anim. xii): "Sin is the will to retain or obtain what justice forbids." Now will is comprised under desire, in so far as desire denotes any act of the appetite. Therefore it was enough to say: "Sin is a desire contrary to the eternal law," nor was there need to add "word" or "deed."

Obj. 3: Further, sin apparently consists properly in aversion from the end: because good and evil are measured chiefly with regard to the end as explained above (Q. 1, A. 3; Q. 18, AA. 4, 6; Q. 20, AA. 2, 3): wherefore Augustine (De Lib. Arb. i) defines sin in reference to the end, by saying that "sin is nothing else than to neglect eternal things, and seek after temporal things": and again he says (Qq. lxxxii, qu. 30) that "all human wickedness consists in using what we should enjoy, and in enjoying what we should use." Now the definition in question contains no mention of aversion from our due end: therefore it is an insufficient definition of sin.

Obj. 4: Further, a thing is said to be forbidden, because it is contrary to the law. Now not all sins are evil through being forbidden, but some are forbidden because they are evil. Therefore sin in general should not be defined as being against the law of God.

Obj. 5: Further, a sin denotes a bad human act, as was explained above (A. 1). Now man's evil is to be against reason, as Dionysius states (Div. Nom. iv). Therefore it would have been better to say that sin is against reason than to say that it is contrary to the eternal law.

On the contrary, the authority of Augustine suffices (Contra Faust. xxii, 27).

I answer that, As was shown above (A. 1), sin is nothing else than a bad human act. Now that an act is a human act is due to its being voluntary, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 1), whether it be voluntary, as being elicited by the will, e.g. to will or to choose, or as being commanded by the will, e.g. the exterior actions of speech or operation. Again, a human act is evil through lacking conformity with its due measure: and conformity of measure in a thing depends on a rule, from which if that thing depart, it is incommensurate. Now there are two rules of the human will: one is proximate and homogeneous, viz. the human reason; the other is the first rule, viz. the eternal law, which is God's reason, so to speak. Accordingly Augustine (Contra Faust. xxii, 27) includes two things in the definition of sin; one, pertaining to the substance of a human act, and which is the matter, so to speak, of sin, when he says "word, deed, or desire"; the other, pertaining to the nature of evil, and which is the form, as it were, of sin, when he says, "contrary to the eternal law."

Reply Obj. 1: Affirmation and negation are reduced to one same genus: e.g. in Divine things, begotten and unbegotten are reduced to the genus "relation," as Augustine states (De Trin. v, 6, 7): and so "word" and "deed" denote equally what is said and what is not said, what is done and what is not done.

Reply Obj. 2: The first cause of sin is in the will, which commands all voluntary acts, in which alone is sin to be found: and hence it is that Augustine sometimes defines sin in reference to the will alone. But since external acts also pertain to the substance of sin, through being evil of themselves, as stated, it was necessary in defining sin to include something referring to external action.

Reply Obj. 3: The eternal law first and foremost directs man to his end, and in consequence, makes man to be well disposed in regard to things which are directed to the end: hence when he says, "contrary to the eternal law," he includes aversion from the end and all other forms of inordinateness.

Reply Obj. 4: When it is said that not every sin is evil through being forbidden, this must be understood of prohibition by positive law. If, however, the prohibition be referred to the natural law, which is contained primarily in the eternal law, but secondarily in the natural code of the human reason, then every sin is evil through being prohibited: since it is contrary to natural law, precisely because it is inordinate.

Reply Obj. 5: The theologian considers sin chiefly as an offense against God; and the moral philosopher, as something contrary to reason. Hence Augustine defines sin with reference to its being "contrary to the eternal law," more fittingly than with reference to its being contrary to reason; the more so, as the eternal law directs us in many things that surpass human reason, e.g. in matters of faith.

^Q. 71


QUESTION 72: OF THE DISTINCTION OF SINS[edit]

^TOC ^Evil Habits—that is, Vices ^^1. Of Vice and Sin Considered in Themselves

We must now consider the distinction of sins or vices: under which head there are nine points of inquiry:

(1) Whether sins are distinguished specifically by their objects?

(2) Of the distinction between spiritual and carnal sins;

(3) Whether sins differ in reference to their causes?

(4) Whether they differ with respect to those who are sinned against?

(5) Whether sins differ in relation to the debt of punishment?

(6) Whether they differ in regard to omission and commission?

(7) Whether they differ according to their various stages?

(8) Whether they differ in respect of excess and deficiency?

(9) Whether they differ according to their various circumstances?


Art. 1: Whether sins differ in species according to their objects?[edit]

It would seem that sins do not differ in species, according to their objects.

Obj. 1: For acts are said to be good or evil, in relation, chiefly, to their end, as shown above (Q. 1, A. 3; Q. 18, AA. 4, 6). Since then sin is nothing else than a bad human act, as stated above (Q. 71, A. 1), it seems that sins should differ specifically according to their ends rather than according to their objects.

Obj. 2: Further, evil, being a privation, differs specifically according to the different species of opposites. Now sin is an evil in the genus of human acts. Therefore sins differ specifically according to their opposites rather than according to their objects.

Obj. 3: Further, if sins differed specifically according to their objects, it would be impossible to find the same specific sin with diverse objects: and yet such sins are to be found. For pride is about things spiritual and material as Gregory says (Moral. xxxiv, 18); and avarice is about different kinds of things. Therefore sins do not differ in species according to their objects.

On the contrary, "Sin is a word, deed, or desire against God's law." Now words, deeds, and desires differ in species according to their various objects: since acts differ by their objects, as stated above (Q. 18, A. 2). Therefore sins, also differ in species according to their objects.

I answer that, As stated above (Q. 71, A. 6), two things concur in the nature of sin, viz. the voluntary act, and its inordinateness, which consists in departing from God's law. Of these two, one is referred essentially to the sinner, who intends such and such an act in such and such matter; while the other, viz. the inordinateness of the act, is referred accidentally to the intention of the sinner, for "no one acts intending evil," as Dionysius declares (Div. Nom. iv). Now it is evident that a thing derives its species from that which is essential and not from that which is accidental: because what is accidental is outside the specific nature. Consequently sins differ specifically on the part of the voluntary acts rather than of the inordinateness inherent to sin. Now voluntary acts differ in species according to their objects, as was proved above (Q. 18, A. 2). Therefore it follows that sins are properly distinguished in species by their objects.

Reply Obj. 1: The aspect of good is found chiefly in the end: and therefore the end stands in the relation of object to the act of the will which is at the root of every sin. Consequently it amounts to the same whether sins differ by their objects or by their ends.

Reply Obj. 2: Sin is not a pure privation but an act deprived of its due order: hence sins differ specifically according to the objects of their acts rather than according to their opposites, although, even if they were distinguished in reference to their opposite virtues, it would come to the same: since virtues differ specifically according to their objects, as stated above (Q. 60, A. 5).

Reply Obj. 3: In various things, differing in species or genus, nothing hinders our finding one formal aspect of the object, from which aspect sin receives its species. It is thus that pride seeks excellence in reference to various things; and avarice seeks abundance of things adapted to human use.

^Q. 72


Art. 2: Whether spiritual sins are fittingly distinguished from carnal sins?[edit]

It would seem that spiritual sins are unfittingly distinguished from carnal sins.

Obj. 1: For the Apostle says (Gal. 5:19): "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts," etc. from which it seems that all kinds of sins are works of the flesh. Now carnal sins are called works of the flesh. Therefore carnal sins should not be distinguished from spiritual sins.

Obj. 2: Further, whosoever sins, walks according to the flesh, as stated in Rom. 8:13: "If you live according to the flesh, you shall die. But if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live." Now to live or walk according to the flesh seems to pertain to the nature of carnal sin. Therefore carnal sins should not be distinguished from spiritual sins.

Obj. 3: Further, the higher part of the soul, which is the mind or reason, is called the spirit, according to Eph. 4:23: "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind," where spirit stands for reason, according to a gloss. Now every sin, which is committed in accordance with the flesh, flows from the reason by its consent; since consent in a sinful act belongs to the higher reason, as we shall state further on (Q. 74, A. 7). Therefore the same sins are both carnal and spiritual, and consequently they should not be distinguished from one another.

Obj. 4: Further, if some sins are carnal specifically, this, seemingly, should apply chiefly to those sins whereby man sins against his own body. But, according to the Apostle (1 Cor. 6:18), "every sin that a man doth, is without the body: but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body." Therefore fornication would be the only carnal sin, whereas the Apostle (Eph. 5:3) reckons covetousness with the carnal sins.

On the contrary, Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 17) says that "of the seven capital sins five are spiritual, and two carnal."

I answer that, As stated above (A. 1), sins take their species from their objects. Now every sin consists in the desire for some mutable good, for which man has an inordinate desire, and the possession of which gives him inordinate pleasure. Now, as explained above (Q. 31, A. 3), pleasure is twofold. One belongs to the soul, and is consummated in the mere apprehension of a thing possessed in accordance with desire; this can also be called spiritual pleasure, e.g. when one takes pleasure in human praise or the like. The other pleasure is bodily or natural, and is realized in bodily touch, and this can also be called carnal pleasure.

Accordingly, those sins which consist in spiritual pleasure, are called spiritual sins; while those which consist in carnal pleasure, are called carnal sins, e.g. gluttony, which consists in the pleasures of the table; and lust, which consists in sexual pleasures. Hence the Apostle says (2 Cor. 7:1): "Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit."

Reply Obj. 1: As a gloss says on the same passage, these vices are called works of the flesh, not as though they consisted in carnal pleasure; but flesh here denotes man, who is said to live according to the flesh, when he lives according to himself, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 2, 3). The reason of this is because every failing in the human reason is due in some way to the carnal sense.

This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection.

Reply Obj. 3: Even in the carnal sins there is a spiritual act, viz. the act of reason: but the end of these sins, from which they are named, is carnal pleasure.

Reply Obj. 4: As the gloss says, "in the sin of fornication the soul is the body's slave in a special sense, because at the moment of sinning it can think of nothing else": whereas the pleasure of gluttony, although carnal, does not so utterly absorb the reason. It may also be said that in this sin, an injury is done to the body also, for it is defiled inordinately: wherefore by this sin alone is man said specifically to sin against his body. While covetousness, which is reckoned among the carnal sins, stands here for adultery, which is the unjust appropriation of another's wife. Again, it may be said that the thing in which the covetous man takes pleasure is something bodily, and in this respect covetousness is numbered with the carnal sins: but the pleasure itself does not belong to the body, but to the spirit, wherefore Gregory says (Moral. xxxi, 17) that it is a spiritual sin.

^Q. 72


Art. 3: Whether sins differ specifically in reference to their causes?[edit]

It would seem that sins differ specifically in reference to their causes.

Obj. 1: For a thing takes its species from that whence it derives its being. Now sins derive their being from their causes. Therefore they take their species from them also. Therefore they differ specifically in reference to their causes.

Obj. 2: Further, of all the causes the material cause seems to have least reference to the species. Now the object in a sin is like its material cause. Since, therefore, sins differ specifically according to their objects, it seems that much more do they differ in reference to their other causes.

Obj. 3: Further, Augustine, commenting on Ps. 79:17, "Things set on fire and dug down," says that "every sin is due either to fear inducing false humility, or to love enkindling us to undue ardor." For it is written (1 John 2:16) that "all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, or [Vulg.: 'and'] the concupiscence of the eyes, or [Vulg.: 'and'] the pride of life." Now a thing is said to be in the world on account of sin, in as much as the world denotes lovers of the world, as Augustine observes (Tract. ii in Joan.). Gregory, too (Moral. xxxi, 17), distinguishes all sins according to the seven capital vices. Now all these divisions refer to the causes of sins. Therefore, seemingly, sins differ specifically according to the diversity of their causes.

On the contrary, If this were the case all sins would belong to one species, since they are due to one cause. For it is written (Ecclus. 10:15) that "pride is the beginning of all sin," and (1 Tim. 6:10) that "the desire of money is the root of all evils." Now it is evident that there are various species of sins. Therefore sins do not differ specifically according to their different causes.

I answer that, Since there are four kinds of causes, they are attributed to various things in various ways. Because the formal and the material cause regard properly the substance of a thing; and consequently substances differ in respect of their matter and form, both in species and in genus. The agent and the end regard directly movement and operation: wherefore movements and operations differ specifically in respect of these causes; in different ways, however, because the natural active principles are always determined to the same acts; so that the different species of natural acts are taken not only from the objects, which are the ends or terms of those acts, but also from their active principles: thus heating and cooling are specifically distinct with reference to hot and cold. On the other hand, the active principles in voluntary acts, such as the acts of sins, are not determined, of necessity, to one act, and consequently from one active or motive principle, diverse species of sins can proceed: thus from fear engendering false humility man may proceed to theft, or murder, or to neglect the flock committed to his care; and these same things may proceed from love enkindling to undue ardor. Hence it is evident that sins do not differ specifically according to their various active or motive causes, but only in respect of diversity in the final cause, which is the end and object of the will. For it has been shown above (Q. 1, A. 3; Q. 18, AA. 4, 6) that human acts take their species from the end.

Reply Obj. 1: The active principles in voluntary acts, not being determined to one act, do not suffice for the production of human acts, unless the will be determined to one by the intention of the end, as the Philosopher proves (Metaph. ix, text. 15, 16), and consequently sin derives both its being and its species from the end.

Reply Obj. 2: Objects, in relation to external acts, have the character of matter "about which"; but, in relation to the interior act of the will, they have the character of end; and it is owing to this that they give the act its species. Nevertheless, even considered as the matter "about which," they have the character of term, from which movement takes its species (Phys. v, text. 4; Ethic. x, 4); yet even terms of movement specify movements, in so far as term has the character of end.

Reply Obj. 3: These distinctions of sins are given, not as distinct species of sins, but to show their various causes.

^Q. 72


Art. 4: Whether sin is fittingly divided into sin against God, against oneself, and against one's neighbor?[edit]

It would seem that sin is unfittingly divided into sin against God, against one's neighbor, and against oneself.

Obj. 1: For that which is common to all sins should not be reckoned as a part in the division of sin. But it is common to all sins to be against God: for it is stated in the definition of sin that it is "against God's law," as stated above (Q. 66, A. 6). Therefore sin against God should not be reckoned a part of the division of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, every division should consist of things in opposition to one another. But these three kinds of sin are not opposed to one another: for whoever sins against his neighbor, sins against himself and against God. Therefore sin is not fittingly divided into these three.

Obj. 3: Further, specification is not taken from things external. But God and our neighbor are external to us. Therefore sins are not distinguished specifically with regard to them: and consequently sin is unfittingly divided according to these three.

On the contrary, Isidore (De Summo Bono), in giving the division of sins, says that "man is said to sin against himself, against God, and against his neighbor."

I answer that, As stated above (Q. 71, AA. 1, 6), sin is an inordinate act. Now there should be a threefold order in man: one in relation to the rule of reason, in so far as all our actions and passions should be commensurate with the rule of reason: another order is in relation to the rule of the Divine Law, whereby man should be directed in all things: and if man were by nature a solitary animal, this twofold order would suffice. But since man is naturally a civic and social animal, as is proved in Polit. i, 2, hence a third order is necessary, whereby man is directed in relation to other men among whom he has to dwell. Of these orders the second contains the first and surpasses it. For whatever things are comprised under the order of reason, are comprised under the order of God Himself. Yet some things are comprised under the order of God, which surpass the human reason, such as matters of faith, and things due to God alone. Hence he that sins in such matters, for instance, by heresy, sacrilege, or blasphemy, is said to sin against God. In like manner, the first order includes the third and surpasses it, because in all things wherein we are directed in reference to our neighbor, we need to be directed according to the order of reason. Yet in some things we are directed according to reason, in relation to ourselves only, and not in reference to our neighbor; and when man sins in these matters, he is said to sin against himself, as is seen in the glutton, the lustful, and the prodigal. But when man sins in matters concerning his neighbor, he is said to sin against his neighbor, as appears in the thief and murderer. Now the things whereby man is directed to God, his neighbor, and himself are diverse. Wherefore this distinction of sins is in respect of their objects, according to which the species of sins are diversified: and consequently this distinction of sins is properly one of different species of sins: because the virtues also, to which sins are opposed, differ specifically in respect of these three. For it is evident from what has been said (Q. 62, AA. 1, 2, 3) that by the theological virtues man is directed to God; by temperance and fortitude, to himself; and by justice to his neighbor.

Reply Obj. 1: To sin against God is common to all sins, in so far as the order to God includes every human order; but in so far as order to God surpasses the other two orders, sin against God is a special kind of sin.

Reply Obj. 2: When several things, of which one includes another, are distinct from one another, this distinction is understood to refer, not to the part contained in another, but to that in which one goes beyond another. This may be seen in the division of numbers and figures: for a triangle is distinguished from a four-sided figure not in respect of its being contained thereby, but in respect of that in which it is surpassed thereby: and the same applies to the numbers three and four.

Reply Obj. 3: Although God and our neighbor are external to the sinner himself, they are not external to the act of sin, but are related to it as to its object.

^Q. 72


Art. 5: Whether the division of sins according to their debt of punishment diversifies their species?[edit]

It would seem that the division of sins according to their debt of punishment diversifies their species; for instance, when sin is divided into "mortal" and "venial."

Obj. 1: For things which are infinitely apart, cannot belong to the same species, nor even to the same genus. But venial and mortal sin are infinitely apart, since temporal punishment is due to venial sin, and eternal punishment to mortal sin; and the measure of the punishment corresponds to the gravity of the fault, according to Deut. 25:2: "According to the measure of the sin shall the measure be also of the stripes be." Therefore venial and mortal sins are not of the same genus, nor can they be said to belong to the same species.

Obj. 2: Further, some sins are mortal in virtue of their species [*Ex genere, genus in this case denoting the species], as murder and adultery; and some are venial in virtue of their species, as in an idle word, and excessive laughter. Therefore venial and mortal sins differ specifically.

Obj. 3: Further, just as a virtuous act stands in relation to its reward, so does sin stand in relation to punishment. But the reward is the end of the virtuous act. Therefore punishment is the end of sin. Now sins differ specifically in relation to their ends, as stated above (A. 1, ad 1). Therefore they are also specifically distinct according to the debt of punishment.

On the contrary, Those things that constitute a species are prior to the species, e.g. specific differences. But punishment follows sin as the effect thereof. Therefore sins do not differ specifically according to the debt of punishment.

I answer that, In things that differ specifically we find a twofold difference: the first causes the diversity of species, and is not to be found save in different species, e.g. "rational" and "irrational," "animate," and "inanimate": the other difference is consequent to specific diversity; and though, in some cases, it may [follow from the diversity of species], yet, in others, it may be found within the same species; thus "white" and "black" are consequent to the specific diversity of crow and swan, and yet this difference is found within the one species of man.

We must therefore say that the difference between venial and mortal sin, or any other difference is respect of the debt of punishment, cannot be a difference constituting specific diversity. For what is accidental never constitutes a species; and what is outside the agent's intention is accidental (Phys. ii, text. 50). Now it is evident that punishment is outside the intention of the sinner, wherefore it is accidentally referred to sin on the part of the sinner. Nevertheless it is referred to sin by an extrinsic principle, viz. the justice of the judge, who imposes various punishments according to the various manners of sin. Therefore the difference derived from the debt of punishment, may be consequent to the specific diversity of sins, but cannot constitute it.

Now the difference between venial and mortal sin is consequent to the diversity of that inordinateness which constitutes the notion of sin. For inordinateness is twofold, one that destroys the principle of order, and another which, without destroying the principle of order, implies inordinateness in the things which follow the principle: thus, in an animal's body, the frame may be so out of order that the vital principle is destroyed; this is the inordinateness of death; while, on the other hand, saving the vital principle, there may be disorder in the bodily humors; and then there is sickness. Now the principle of the entire moral order is the last end, which stands in the same relation to matters of action, as the indemonstrable principle does to matters of speculation (Ethic. vii, 8). Therefore when the soul is so disordered by sin as to turn away from its last end, viz. God, to Whom it is united by charity, there is mortal sin; but when it is disordered without turning away from God, there is venial sin. For even as in the body, the disorder of death which results from the destruction of the principle of life, is irreparable according to nature, while the disorder of sickness can be repaired by reason of the vital principle being preserved, so it is in matters concerning the soul. Because, in speculative matters, it is impossible to convince one who errs in the principles, whereas one who errs, but retains the principles, can be brought back to the truth by means of the principles. Likewise in practical matters, he who, by sinning, turns away from his last end, if we consider the nature of his sin, falls irreparably, and therefore is said to sin mortally and to deserve eternal punishment: whereas when a man sins without turning away from God, by the very nature of his sin, his disorder can be repaired, because the principle of the order is not destroyed; wherefore he is said to sin venially, because, to wit, he does not sin so as to deserve to be punished eternally.

Reply Obj. 1: Mortal and venial sins are infinitely apart as regards what they turn away from, not as regards what they turn to, viz. the object which specifies them. Hence nothing hinders the same species from including mortal and venial sins; for instance, in the species "adultery" the first movement is a venial sin; while an idle word, which is, generally speaking, venial, may even be a mortal sin.

Reply Obj. 2: From the fact that one sin is mortal by reason of its species, and another venial by reason of its species, it follows that this difference is consequent to the specific difference of sins, not that it is the cause thereof. And this difference may be found even in things of the same species, as stated above.

Reply Obj. 3: The reward is intended by him that merits or acts virtu[ous]ly; whereas the punishment is not intended by the sinner, but, on the contrary, is against his will. Hence the comparison fails.

^Q. 72


Art. 6: Whether sins of commission and omission differ specifically?[edit]

It would seem that sins of commission and omission differ specifically.

Obj. 1: For "offense" and "sin" are condivided with one another (Eph. 2:1), where it is written: "When you were dead in your offenses and sins," which words a gloss explains, saying: "'Offenses,' by omitting to do what was commanded, and 'sins,' by doing what was forbidden." Whence it is evident that "offenses" here denotes sins of omission; while "sin" denotes sins of commission. Therefore they differ specifically, since they are contrasted with one another as different species.

Obj. 2: Further, it is essential to sin to be against God's law, for this is part of its definition, as is clear from what has been said (Q. 71, A. 6). Now in God's law, the affirmative precepts, against which is the sin of omission, are different from the negative precepts, against which is the sin of omission. Therefore sins of omission and commission differ specifically.

Obj. 3: Further, omission and commission differ as affirmation and negation. Now affirmation and negation cannot be in the same species, since negation has no species; for "there is neither species nor difference of non-being," as the Philosopher states (Phys. iv, text. 67). Therefore omission and commission cannot belong to the same species.

On the contrary, Omission and commission are found in the same species of sin. For the covetous man both takes what belongs to others, which is a sin of commission; and gives not of his own to whom he should give, which is a sin of omission. Therefore omission and commission do not differ specifically.

I answer that, There is a twofold difference in sins; a material difference and a formal difference: the material difference is to be observed in the natural species of the sinful act; while the formal difference is gathered from their relation to one proper end, which is also their proper object. Hence we find certain acts differing from one another in the material specific difference, which are nevertheless formally in the same species of sin, because they are directed to the one same end: thus strangling, stoning, and stabbing come under the one species of murder, although the actions themselves differ specifically according to the natural species. Accordingly, if we refer to the material species in sins of omission and commission, they differ specifically, using species in a broad sense, in so far as negation and privation may have a species. But if we refer to the formal species of sins of omission and commission, they do not differ specifically, because they are directed to the same end, and proceed from the same motive. For the covetous man, in order to hoard money, both robs, and omits to give what he ought, and in like manner, the glutton, to satiate his appetite, both eats too much and omits the prescribed fasts. The same applies to other sins: for in things, negation is always founded on affirmation, which, in a manner, is its cause. Hence in the physical order it comes under the same head, that fire gives forth heat, and that it does not give forth cold.

Reply Obj. 1: This division in respect of commission and omission, is not according to different formal species, but only according to material species, as stated.

Reply Obj. 2: In God's law, the necessity for various affirmative and negative precepts, was that men might be gradually led to virtue, first by abstaining from evil, being induced to this by the negative precepts, and afterwards by doing good, to which we are induced by the affirmative precepts. Wherefore the affirmative and negative precepts do not belong to different virtues, but to different degrees of virtue; and consequently they are not, of necessity, opposed to sins of different species. Moreover sin is not specified by that from which it turns away, because in this respect it is a negation or privation, but by that to which it turns, in so far as sin is an act. Consequently sins do not differ specifically according to the various precepts of the Law.

Reply Obj. 3: This objection considers the material diversity of sins. It must be observed, however, that although, properly speaking, negation is not in a species, yet it is allotted to a species by reduction to the affirmation on which it is based.

^Q. 72


Art. 7: Whether sins are fittingly divided into sins of thought, word, and deed?[edit]

It would seem that sins are unfittingly divided into sins of thought, word, and deed.

Obj. 1: For Augustine (De Trin. xii, 12) describes three stages of sin, of which the first is "when the carnal sense offers a bait," which is the sin of thought; the second stage is reached "when one is satisfied with the mere pleasure of thought"; and the third stage, "when consent is given to the deed." Now these three belong to the sin of thought. Therefore it is unfitting to reckon sin of thought as one kind of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, Gregory (Moral. iv, 25) reckons four degrees of sin; the first of which is "a fault hidden in the heart"; the second, "when it is done openly"; the third, "when it is formed into a habit"; and the fourth, "when man goes so far as to presume on God's mercy or to give himself up to despair": where no distinction is made between sins of deed and sins of word, and two other degrees of sin are added. Therefore the first division was unfitting.

Obj. 3: Further, there can be no sin of word or deed unless there precede sin of thought. Therefore these sins do not differ specifically. Therefore they should not be condivided with one another.

On the contrary, Jerome in commenting on Ezech. 43:23, says: "The human race is subject to three kinds of sin, for when we sin, it is either by thought, or word, or deed."

I answer that, Things differ specifically in two ways: first, when each has the complete species; thus a horse and an ox differ specifically: secondly, when the diversity of species is derived from diversity of degree in generation or movement: thus the building is the complete generation of a house, while the laying of the foundations, and the setting up of the walls are incomplete species, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. x, 4); and the same can apply to the generation of animals. Accordingly sins are divided into these three, viz. sins of thought, word, and deed, not as into various complete species: for the consummation of sin is in the deed, wherefore sins of deed have the complete species; but the first beginning of sin is its foundation, as it were, in the sin of thought; the second degree is the sin of word, in so far as man is ready to break out into a declaration of his thought; while the third degree consists in the consummation of the deed. Consequently these three differ in respect of the various degrees of sin. Nevertheless it is evident that these three belong to the one complete species of sin, since they proceed from the same motive. For the angry man, through desire of vengeance, is at first disturbed in thought, then he breaks out into words of abuse, and lastly he goes on to wrongful deeds; and the same applies to lust and to any other sin.

Reply Obj. 1: All sins of thought have the common note of secrecy, in respect of which they form one degree, which is, however, divided into three stages, viz. of cogitation, pleasure, and consent.

Reply Obj. 2: Sins of words and deed are both done openly, and for this reason Gregory (Moral. iv, 25) reckons them under one head: whereas Jerome (in commenting on Ezech. 43:23) distinguishes between them, because in sins of word there is nothing but manifestation which is intended principally; while in sins of deed, it is the consummation of the inward thought which is principally intended, and the outward manifestation is by way of sequel. Habit and despair are stages following the complete species of sin, even as boyhood and youth follow the complete generation of a man.

Reply Obj. 3: Sin of thought and sin of word are not distinct from the sin of deed when they are united together with it, but when each is found by itself: even as one part of a movement is not distinct from the whole movement, when the movement is continuous, but only when there is a break in the movement.

^Q. 72


Art. 8: Whether excess and deficiency diversify the species of sins?[edit]

It would seem that excess and deficiency do not diversify the species of sins.

Obj. 1: For excess and deficiency differ in respect of more and less. Now "more" and "less" do not diversify a species. Therefore excess and deficiency do not diversify the species of sins.

Obj. 2: Further, just as sin, in matters of action, is due to straying from the rectitude of reason, so falsehood, in speculative matters, is due to straying from the truth of the reality. Now the species of falsehood is not diversified by saying more or less than the reality. Therefore neither is the species of sin diversified by straying more or less from the rectitude of reason.

Obj. 3: Further, "one species cannot be made out of two," as Porphyry declares [*Isagog.; cf. Arist. Metaph. i]. Now excess and deficiency are united in one sin; for some are at once illiberal and wasteful--illiberality being a sin of deficiency, and prodigality, by excess. Therefore excess and deficiency do not diversify the species of sins.

On the contrary, Contraries differ specifically, for "contrariety is a difference of form," as stated in Metaph. x, text. 13, 14. Now vices that differ according to excess and deficiency are contrary to one another, as illiberality to wastefulness. Therefore they differ specifically.

I answer that, While there are two things in sin, viz. the act itself and its inordinateness, in so far as sin is a departure from the order of reason and the Divine law, the species of sin is gathered, not from its inordinateness, which is outside the sinner's intention, as stated above (A. 1), but one the contrary, from the act itself as terminating in the object to which the sinner's intention is directed. Consequently wherever we find a different motive inclining the intention to sin, there will be a different species of sin. Now it is evident that the motive for sinning, in sins by excess, is not the same as the motive for sinning, in sins of deficiency; in fact, they are contrary to one another, just as the motive in the sin of intemperance is love for bodily pleasures, while the motive in the sin of insensibility is hatred of the same. Therefore these sins not only differ specifically, but are contrary to one another.

Reply Obj. 1: Although more and less do not cause diversity of species, yet they are sometimes consequent to specific difference, in so far as they are the result of diversity of form; thus we may say that fire is lighter than air. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. viii, 1) that "those who held that there are no different species of friendship, by reason of its admitting of degree, were led by insufficient proof." In this way to exceed reason or to fall short thereof belongs to sins specifically different, in so far as they result from different motives.

Reply Obj. 2: It is not the sinner's intention to depart from reason; and so sins of excess and deficiency do not become of one kind through departing from the one rectitude of reason. On the other hand, sometimes he who utters a falsehood, intends to hide the truth, wherefore in this respect, it matters not whether he tells more or less. If, however, departure from the truth be not outside the intention, it is evident that then one is moved by different causes to tell more or less; and in this respect there are different kinds of falsehood, as is evident of the boaster, who exceeds in telling untruths for the sake of fame, and the cheat, who tells less than the truth, in order to escape from paying his debts. This also explains how some false opinions are contrary to one another.

Reply Obj. 3: One may be prodigal and illiberal with regard to different objects: for instance one may be illiberal [*Cf. II-II, Q. 119, A. 1, ad 1] in taking what one ought not: and nothing hinders contraries from being in the same subject, in different respects.

^Q. 72


Art. 9: Whether sins differ specifically in respect of different circumstances?[edit]

It would seem that vices and sins differ in respect of different circumstances.

Obj. 1: For, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv), "evil results from each single defect." Now individual defects are corruptions of individual circumstances. Therefore from the corruption of each circumstance there results a corresponding species of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, sins are human acts. But human acts sometimes take their species from circumstances, as stated above (Q. 18, A. 10). Therefore sins differ specifically according as different circumstances are corrupted.

Obj. 3: Further, diverse species are assigned to gluttony, according to the words contained in the following verse:

"Hastily, sumptuously, too much, greedily, daintily."

Now these pertain to various circumstances, for "hastily" means sooner than is right; "too much," more than is right, and so on with the others. Therefore the species of sin is diversified according to the various circumstances.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 7; iv, 1) that "every vice sins by doing more than one ought, and when one ought not"; and in like manner as to the other circumstances. Therefore the species of sins are not diversified in this respect.

I answer that, As stated above (A. 8), wherever there is a special motive for sinning, there is a different species of sin, because the motive for sinning is the end and object of sin. Now it happens sometimes that although different circumstances are corrupted, there is but one motive: thus the illiberal man, for the same motive, takes when he ought not, where he ought not, and more than he ought, and so on with the circumstances, since he does this through an inordinate desire of hoarding money: and in such cases the corruption of different circumstances does not diversify the species of sins, but belongs to one and the same species.

Sometimes, however, the corruption of different circumstances arises from different motives: for instance that a man eat hastily, may be due to the fact that he cannot brook the delay in taking food, on account of a rapid exhaustion of the digestive humors; and that he desire too much food, may be due to a naturally strong digestion; that he desire choice meats, is due to his desire for pleasure in taking food. Hence in such matters, the corruption of different circumstances entails different species of sins.

Reply Obj. 1: Evil, as such, is a privation, and so it has different species in respect of the thing which the subject is deprived, even as other privations. But sin does not take its species from the privation or aversion, as stated above (A. 1), but from turning to the object of the act.

Reply Obj. 2: A circumstance never transfers an act from one species to another, save when there is another motive.

Reply Obj. 3: In the various species of gluttony there are various motives, as stated.

^Q. 72


QUESTION 73: OF THE COMPARISON OF ONE SIN WITH ANOTHER[edit]

^TOC ^Evil Habits—that is, Vices ^^2. Of the Distinction of Sins

We must now consider the comparison of one sin with another: under which head there are ten points of inquiry:

(1) Whether all sins and vices are connected with one another?

(2) Whether all are equal?

(3) Whether the gravity of sin depends on its object?

(4) Whether it depends on the excellence of the virtue to which it is opposed?

(5) Whether carnal sins are more grievous than spiritual sins?

(6) Whether the gravity of sins depends on their causes?

(7) Whether it depends on their circumstances?

(8) Whether it depends on how much harm ensues?

(9) Whether on the position of the person sinned against?

(10) Whether sin is aggravated by reason of the excellence of the person sinning?


Art. 1: Whether all sins are connected with one another?[edit]

It would seem that all sins are connected.

Obj. 1: For it is written (James 2:10): "Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all." Now to be guilty of transgressing all the precepts of Law, is the same as to commit all sins, because, as Ambrose says (De Parad. viii), "sin is a transgression of the Divine law, and disobedience of the heavenly commandments." Therefore whoever commits one sin is guilty of all.

Obj. 2: Further, each sin banishes its opposite virtue. Now whoever lacks one virtue lacks them all, as was shown above (Q. 65, A. 1). Therefore whoever commits one sin, is deprived of all the virtues. Therefore whoever commits one sin, is guilty of all sins.

Obj. 3: Further, all virtues are connected, because they have a principle in common, as stated above (Q. 65, AA. 1, 2). Now as the virtues have a common principle, so have sins, because, as the love of God, which builds the city of God, is the beginning and root of all the virtues, so self-love, which builds the city of Babylon, is the root of all sins, as Augustine declares (De Civ. Dei xiv, 28). Therefore all vices and sins are also connected so that whoever has one, has them all.

On the contrary, Some vices are contrary to one another, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. ii, 8). But contraries cannot be together in the same subject. Therefore it is impossible for all sins and vices to be connected with one another.

I answer that, The intention of the man who acts according to virtue in pursuance of his reason, is different from the intention of the sinner in straying from the path of reason. For the intention of every man acting according to virtue is to follow the rule of reason, wherefore the intention of all the virtues is directed to the same end, so that all the virtues are connected together in the right reason of things to be done, viz. prudence, as stated above (Q. 65, A. 1). But the intention of the sinner is not directed to the point of straying from the path of reason; rather is it directed to tend to some appetible good whence it derives its species. Now these goods, to which the sinner's intention is directed when departing from reason, are of various kinds, having no mutual connection; in fact they are sometimes contrary to one another. Since, therefore, vices and sins take their species from that to which they turn, it is evident that, in respect of that which completes a sin's species, sins are not connected with one another. For sin does not consist in passing from the many to the one, as is the case with virtues, which are connected, but rather in forsaking the one for the many.

Reply Obj. 1: James is speaking of sin, not as regards the thing to which it turns and which causes the distinction of sins, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 1), but as regards that from which sin turns away, in as much as man, by sinning, departs from a commandment of the law. Now all the commandments of the law are from one and the same, as he also says in the same passage, so that the same God is despised in every sin; and in this sense he says that whoever "offends in one point, is become guilty of all," for as much as, by committing one sin, he incurs the debt of punishment through his contempt of God, which is the origin of all sins.

Reply Obj. 2: As stated above (Q. 71, A. 4), the opposite virtue is not banished by every act of sin; because venial sin does not destroy virtue; while mortal sin destroys infused virtue, by turning man away from God. Yet one act, even of mortal sin, does not destroy the habit of acquired virtue; though if such acts be repeated so as to engender a contrary habit, the habit of acquired virtue is destroyed, the destruction of which entails the loss of prudence, since when man acts against any virtue whatever, he acts against prudence, without which no moral virtue is possible, as stated above (Q. 58, A. 4; Q. 65, A. 1). Consequently all the moral virtues are destroyed as to the perfect and formal being of virtue, which they have in so far as they partake of prudence, yet there remain the inclinations to virtuous acts, which inclinations, however, are not virtues. Nevertheless it does not follow that for this reason man contracts all vices of sins--first, because several vices are opposed to one virtue, so that a virtue can be destroyed by one of them, without the others being present; secondly, because sin is directly opposed to virtue, as regards the virtue's inclination to act, as stated above (Q. 71, A. 1). Wherefore, as long as any virtuous inclinations remain, it cannot be said that man has the opposite vices or sins.

Reply Obj. 3: The love of God is unitive, in as much as it draws man's affections from the many to the one; so that the virtues, which flow from the love of God, are connected together. But self-love disunites man's affections among different things, in so far as man loves himself, by desiring for himself temporal goods, which are various and of many kinds: hence vices and sins, which arise from self-love, are not connected together.

^Q. 73


Art. 2: Whether all sins are equal?[edit]

It would seem that all sins are equal.

Obj. 1: Because sin is to do what is unlawful. Now to do what is unlawful is reproved in one and the same way in all things. Therefore sin is reproved in one and the same way. Therefore one sin is not graver than another.

Obj. 2: Further, every sin is a transgression of the rule of reason, which is to human acts what a linear rule is in corporeal things. Therefore to sin is the same as to pass over a line. But passing over a line occurs equally and in the same way, even if one go a long way from it or stay near it, since privations do not admit of more or less. Therefore all sins are equal.

Obj. 3: Further, sins are opposed to virtues. But all virtues are equal, as Cicero states (Paradox. iii). Therefore all sins are equal.

On the contrary, Our Lord said to Pilate (John 19:11): "He that hath delivered me to thee, hath the greater sin," and yet it is evident that Pilate was guilty of some sin. Therefore one sin is greater than another.

I answer that, The opinion of the Stoics, which Cicero adopts in the book on Paradoxes (Paradox. iii), was that all sins are equal: from which opinion arose the error of certain heretics, who not only hold all sins to be equal, but also maintain that all the pains of hell are equal. So far as can be gathered from the words of Cicero the Stoics arrived at their conclusion through looking at sin on the side of the privation only, in so far, to wit, as it is a departure from reason; wherefore considering simply that no privation admits of more or less, they held that all sins are equal. Yet, if we consider the matter carefully, we shall see that there are two kinds of privation. For there is a simple and pure privation, which consists, so to speak, in being corrupted; thus death is privation of life, and darkness is privation of light. Such like privations do not admit of more or less, because nothing remains of the opposite habit; hence a man is not less dead on the first day after his death, or on the third or fourth days, than after a year, when his corpse is already dissolved; and, in like manner, a house is no darker if the light be covered with several shades, than if it were covered by a single shade shutting out all the light. There is, however, another privation which is not simple, but retains something of the opposite habit; it consists in becoming corrupted rather than in being corrupted, like sickness which is a privation of the due commensuration of the humors, yet so that something remains of that commensuration, else the animal would cease to live: and the same applies to deformity and the like. Such privations admit of more or less on the part of what remains or the contrary habit. For it matters much in sickness or deformity, whether one departs more or less from the due commensuration of humors or members. The same applies to vices and sins: because in them the privation of the due commensuration of reason is such as not to destroy the order of reason altogether; else evil, if total, destroys itself, as stated in Ethic. iv, 5. For the substance of the act, or the affection of the agent could not remain, unless something remained of the order of reason. Therefore it matters much to the gravity of a sin whether one departs more or less from the rectitude of reason: and accordingly we must say that sins are not all equal.

Reply Obj. 1: To commit sin is unlawful on account of some inordinateness therein: wherefore those which contain a greater inordinateness are more unlawful, and consequently graver sins.

Reply Obj. 2: This argument looks upon sin as though it were a pure privation.

Reply Obj. 3: Virtues are proportionately equal in one and the same subject: yet one virtue surpasses another in excellence according to its species; and again, one man is more virtuous than another, in the same species of virtue, as stated above (Q. 66, AA. 1, 2). Moreover, even if virtues were equal, it would not follow that vices are equal, since virtues are connected, and vices or sins are not.

^Q. 73


Art. 3: Whether the gravity of sins varies according to their objects?[edit]

It would seem that the gravity of sins does not vary according to their objects.

Obj. 1: Because the gravity of a sin pertains to its mode or quality: whereas the object is the matter of the sin. Therefore the gravity of sins does not vary according to their various objects.

Obj. 2: Further, the gravity of a sin is the intensity of its malice. Now sin does not derive its malice from its proper object to which it turns, and which is some appetible good, but rather from that which it turns away from. Therefore the gravity of sins does not vary according to their various objects.

Obj. 3: Further, sins that have different objects are of different kinds. But things of different kinds cannot be compared with one another, as is proved in Phys. vii, text. 30, seqq. Therefore one sin is not graver than another by reason of the difference of objects.

On the contrary, Sins take their species from their objects, as was shown above (Q. 72, A. 1). But some sins are graver than others in respect of their species, as murder is graver than theft. Therefore the gravity of sins varies according to their objects.

I answer that, As is clear from what has been said (Q. 71, A. 5), the gravity of sins varies in the same way as one sickness is graver than another: for just as the good of health consists in a certain commensuration of the humors, in keeping with an animal's nature, so the good of virtue consists in a certain commensuration of the human act in accord with the rule of reason. Now it is evident that the higher the principle the disorder of which causes the disorder in the humors, the graver is the sickness: thus a sickness which comes on the human body from the heart, which is the principle of life, or from some neighboring part, is more dangerous. Wherefore a sin must needs be so much the graver, as the disorder occurs in a principle which is higher in the order of reason. Now in matters of action the reason directs all things in view of the end: wherefore the higher the end which attaches to sins in human acts, the graver the sin. Now the object of an act is its end, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 3, ad 2); and consequently the difference of gravity in sins depends on their objects. Thus it is clear that external things are directed to man as their end, while man is further directed to God as his end. Wherefore a sin which is about the very substance of man, e.g. murder, is graver than a sin which is about external things, e.g. theft; and graver still is a sin committed directly against God, e.g. unbelief, blasphemy, and the like: and in each of these grades of sin, one sin will be graver than another according as it is about a higher or lower principle. And forasmuch as sins take their species from their objects, the difference of gravity which is derived from the objects is first and foremost, as resulting from the species.

Reply Obj. 1: Although the object is the matter about which an act is concerned, yet it has the character of an end, in so far as the intention of the agent is fixed on it, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 3, ad 2). Now the form of a moral act depends on the end, as was shown above (Q. 72, A. 6; Q. 18, A. 6).

Reply Obj. 2: From the very fact that man turns unduly to some mutable good, it follows that he turns away from the immutable Good, which aversion completes the nature of evil. Hence the various degrees of malice in sins must needs follow the diversity of those things to which man turns.

Reply Obj. 3: All the objects of human acts are related to one another, wherefore all human acts are somewhat of one kind, in so far as they are directed to the last end. Therefore nothing prevents all sins from being compared with one another.

^Q. 73


Art. 4: Whether the gravity of sins depends on the excellence of the virtues to which they are opposed?[edit]

It would seem that the gravity of sins does not vary according to the excellence of the virtues to which they are opposed, so that, to wit, the graver sin is opposed to the greater virtue.

Obj. 1: For, according to Prov. 15:5, "In abundant justice there is the greatest strength." Now, as Our Lord says (Matt. 5:20, seqq.) abundant justice restrains anger, which is a less grievous sin than murder, which less abundant justice restrains. Therefore the least grievous sin is opposed to the greatest virtue.

Obj. 2: Further, it is stated in Ethic. ii, 3 that "virtue is about the difficult and the good": whence it seems to follow that the greater virtue is about what is more difficult. But it is a less grievous sin to fail in what is more difficult, than in what is less difficult. Therefore the less grievous sin is opposed to the greater virtue.

Obj. 3: Further, charity is a greater virtue than faith or hope (1 Cor. 13:13). Now hatred which is opposed to charity is a less grievous sin than unbelief or despair which are opposed to faith and hope. Therefore the less grievous sin is opposed to the greater virtue.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. 8:10) that the "worst is opposed to the best." Now in morals the best is the greatest virtue; and the worst is the most grievous sin. Therefore the most grievous sin is opposed to the greatest virtue.

I answer that, A sin is opposed to a virtue in two ways: first, principally and directly; that sin, to wit, which is about the same object: because contraries are about the same thing. In this way, the more grievous sin must needs be opposed to the greater virtue: because, just as the degrees of gravity in a sin depend on the object, so also does the greatness of a virtue, since both sin and virtue take their species from the object, as shown above (Q. 60, A. 5; Q. 72, A. 1). Wherefore the greatest sin must needs be directly opposed to the greatest virtue, as being furthest removed from it in the same genus. Secondly, the opposition of virtue to sin may be considered in respect of a certain extension of the virtue in checking sin. For the greater a virtue is, the further it removes man from the contrary sin, so that it withdraws man not only from that sin, but also from whatever leads to it. And thus it is evident that the greater a virtue is, the more it withdraws man also from less grievous sins: even as the more perfect health is, the more does it ward off even minor ailments. And in this way the less grievous sin is opposed to the greater virtue, on the part of the latter's effect.

Reply Obj. 1: This argument considers the opposition which consists in restraining from sin; for thus abundant justice checks even minor sins.

Reply Obj. 2: The greater virtue that is about a more difficult good is opposed directly to the sin which is about a more difficult evil. For in each case there is a certain superiority, in that the will is shown to be more intent on good or evil, through not being overcome by the difficulty.

Reply Obj. 3: Charity is not any kind of love, but the love of God: hence not any kind of hatred is opposed to it directly, but the hatred of God, which is the most grievous of all sins.

^Q. 73


Art. 5: Whether carnal sins are of less guilt than spiritual sins?[edit]

It would seem that carnal sins are not of less guilt than spiritual sins.

Obj. 1: Because adultery is a more grievous sin than theft: for it is written (Prov. 6:30, 32): "The fault is not so great when a man has stolen . . . but he that is an adulterer, for the folly of his heart shall destroy his own soul." Now theft belongs to covetousness, which is a spiritual sin; while adultery pertains to lust, which is a carnal sin. Therefore carnal sins are of greater guilt than spiritual sins.

Obj. 2: Further, Augustine says in his commentary on Leviticus [*The quotation is from De Civ. Dei ii, 4 and iv, 31.] that "the devil rejoices chiefly in lust and idolatry." But he rejoices more in the greater sin. Therefore, since lust is a carnal sin, it seems that the carnal sins are of most guilt.

Obj. 3: Further, the Philosopher proves (Ethic. vii, 6) that "it is more shameful to be incontinent in lust than in anger." But anger is a spiritual sin, according to Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 17); while lust pertains to carnal sins. Therefore carnal sin is more grievous than spiritual sin.

On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. xxxiii, 11) that carnal sins are of less guilt, but of more shame than spiritual sins.

I answer that, Spiritual sins are of greater guilt than carnal sins: yet this does not mean that each spiritual sin is of greater guilt than each carnal sin; but that, considering the sole difference between spiritual and carnal, spiritual sins are more grievous than carnal sins, other things being equal. Three reasons may be assigned for this. The first is on the part of the subject: because spiritual sins belong to the spirit, to which it is proper to turn to God, and to turn away from Him; whereas carnal sins are consummated in the carnal pleasure of the appetite, to which it chiefly belongs to turn to goods of the body; so that carnal sin, as such, denotes more a turning to something, and for that reason, implies a closer cleaving; whereas spiritual sin denotes more a turning from something, whence the notion of guilt arises; and for this reason it involves greater guilt. A second reason may be taken on the part of the person against whom sin is committed: because carnal sin, as such, is against the sinner's own body, which he ought to love less, in the order of charity, than God and his neighbor, against whom he commits spiritual sins, and consequently spiritual sins, as such, are of greater guilt. A third reason may be taken from the motive, since the stronger the impulse to sin, the less grievous the sin, as we shall state further on (A. 6). Now carnal sins have a stronger impulse, viz. our innate concupiscence of the flesh. Therefore spiritual sins, as such, are of greater guilt.

Reply Obj. 1: Adultery belongs not only to the sin of lust, but also to the sin of injustice, and in this respect may be brought under the head of covetousness, as a gloss observes on Eph. 5:5. "No fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person," etc.; so that adultery is so much more grievous than theft, as a man loves his wife more than his chattels.

Reply Obj. 2: The devil is said to rejoice chiefly in the sin of lust, because it is of the greatest adhesion, and man can with difficulty be withdrawn from it. "For the desire of pleasure is insatiable," as the Philosopher states (Ethic. iii, 12).

Reply Obj. 3: As the Philosopher himself says (Ethic. vii, 6), the reason why it is more shameful to be incontinent in lust than in anger, is that lust partakes less of reason; and in the same sense he says (Ethic. iii, 10) that "sins of intemperance are most worthy of reproach, because they are about those pleasures which are common to us and irrational animals": hence, by these sins man is, so to speak, brutalized; for which same reason Gregory says (Moral. xxxi, 17) that they are more shameful.

^Q. 73


Art. 6: Whether the gravity of a sin depends on its cause?[edit]

It would seem that the gravity of a sin does not depend on its cause.

Obj. 1: Because the greater a sin's cause, the more forcibly it moves to sin, and so the more difficult is it to resist. But sin is lessened by the fact that it is difficult to resist; for it denotes weakness in the sinner, if he cannot easily resist sin; and a sin that is due to weakness is deemed less grievous. Therefore sin does not derive its gravity from its cause.

Obj. 2: Further, concupiscence is a general cause of sin; wherefore a gloss on Rom. 7:7, "For I had not known concupiscence," says: "The law is good, since by forbidding concupiscence, it forbids all evils." Now the greater the concupiscence by which man is overcome, the less grievous his sin. Therefore the gravity of a sin is diminished by the greatness of its cause.

Obj. 3: Further, as rectitude of the reason is the cause of a virtuous act, so defect in the reason seems to be the cause of sin. Now the greater the defect in the reason, the less grievous the sin: so much so that he who lacks the use of reason, is altogether excused from sin, and he who sins through ignorance, sins less grievously. Therefore the gravity of a sin is not increased by the greatness of its cause.

On the contrary, If the cause be increased, the effect is increased. Therefore the greater the cause of sin, the more grievous the sin.

I answer that, In the genus of sin, as in every other genus, two causes may be observed. The first is the direct and proper cause of sin, and is the will to sin: for it is compared to the sinful act, as a tree to its fruit, as a gloss observes on Matt. 7:18, "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit": and the greater this cause is, the more grievous will the sin be, since the greater the will to sin, the more grievously does man sin.

The other causes of sin are extrinsic and remote, as it were, being those whereby the will is inclined to sin. Among these causes we must make a distinction; for some of them induce the will to sin in accord with the very nature of the will: such is the end, which is the proper object of the will; and by a such like cause sin is made more grievous, because a man sins more grievously if his will is induced to sin by the intention of a more evil end. Other causes incline the will to sin, against the nature and order of the will, whose natural inclination is to be moved freely of itself in accord with the judgment of reason. Wherefore those causes which weaken the judgment of reason (e.g. ignorance), or which weaken the free movement of the will, (e.g. weakness, violence, fear, or the like), diminish the gravity of sin, even as they diminish its voluntariness; and so much so, that if the act be altogether involuntary, it is no longer sinful.

Reply Obj. 1: This argument considers the extrinsic moving cause, which diminishes voluntariness. The increase of such a cause diminishes the sin, as stated.

Reply Obj. 2: If concupiscence be understood to include the movement of the will, then, where there is greater concupiscence, there is a greater sin. But if by concupiscence we understand a passion, which is a movement of the concupiscible power, then a greater concupiscence, forestalling the judgment of reason and the movement of the will, diminishes the sin, because the man who sins, being stimulated by a greater concupiscence, falls through a more grievous temptation, wherefore he is less to be blamed. On the other hand, if concupiscence be taken in this sense follows the judgment of reason, and the movement of the will, then the greater concupiscence, the graver the sin: because sometimes the movement of concupiscence is redoubled by the will tending unrestrainedly to its object.

Reply Obj. 3: This argument considers the cause which renders the act involuntary, and such a cause diminishes the gravity of sin, as stated.

^Q. 73


Art. 7: Whether a circumstance aggravates a sin?[edit]

It would seem that a circumstance does not aggravate a sin.

Obj. 1: Because sin takes its gravity from its species. Now a circumstance does not specify a sin, for it is an accident thereof. Therefore the gravity of a sin is not taken from a circumstance.

Obj. 2: Further, a circumstance is either evil or not: if it is evil, it causes, of itself, a species of evil; and if it is not evil, it cannot make a thing worse. Therefore a circumstance nowise aggravates a sin.

Obj. 3: Further, the malice of a sin is derived from its turning away (from God). But circumstances affect sin on the part of the object to which it turns. Therefore they do not add to the sin's malice.

On the contrary, Ignorance of a circumstance diminishes sin: for he who sins through ignorance of a circumstance, deserves to be forgiven (Ethic. iii, 1). Now this would not be the case unless a circumstance aggravated a sin. Therefore a circumstance makes a sin more grievous.

I answer that, As the Philosopher says in speaking of habits of virtue (Ethic. ii, 1, 2), "it is natural for a thing to be increased by that which causes it." Now it is evident that a sin is caused by a defect in some circumstance: because the fact that a man departs from the order of reason is due to his not observing the due circumstances in his action. Wherefore it is evident that it is natural for a sin to be aggravated by reason of its circumstances. This happens in three ways. First, in so far as a circumstance draws a sin from one kind to another: thus fornication is the intercourse of a man with one who is not his wife: but if to this be added the circumstance that the latter is the wife of another, the sin is drawn to another kind of sin, viz. injustice, in so far as he usurps another's property; and in this respect adultery is a more grievous sin than fornication. Secondly, a circumstance aggravates a sin, not by drawing it into another genus, but only by multiplying the ratio of sin: thus if a wasteful man gives both when he ought not, and to whom he ought not to give, he commits the same kind of sin in more ways than if he were to merely to give to whom he ought not, and for that very reason his sin is more grievous; even as that sickness is the graver which affects more parts of the body. Hence Cicero says (Paradox. iii) that "in taking his father's life a man commits many sins; for he outrages one who begot him, who fed him, who educated him, to whom he owes his lands, his house, his position in the republic." Thirdly, a circumstance aggravates a sin by adding to the deformity which the sin derives from another circumstance: thus, taking another's property constitutes the sin of theft; but if to this be added the circumstance that much is taken of another's property, the sin will be more grievous; although in itself, to take more or less has not the character of a good or of an evil act.

Reply Obj. 1: Some circumstances do specify a moral act, as stated above (Q. 18, A. 10). Nevertheless a circumstance which does not give the species, may aggravate a sin; because, even as the goodness of a thing is weighed, not only in reference to its species, but also in reference to an accident, so the malice of an act is measured, not only according to the species of that act, but also according to a circumstance.

Reply Obj. 2: A circumstance may aggravate a sin either way. For if it is evil, it does not follow that it constitutes the sin's species; because it may multiply the ratio of evil within the same species, as stated above. And if it be not evil, it may aggravate a sin in relation to the malice of another circumstance.

Reply Obj. 3: Reason should direct the action not only as regards the object, but also as regards every circumstance. Therefore one may turn aside from the rule of reason through corruption of any single circumstance; for instance, by doing something when one ought not or where one ought not; and to depart thus from the rule of reason suffices to make the act evil. This turning aside from the rule of reason results from man's turning away from God, to Whom man ought to be united by right reason.

^Q. 73


Art. 8: Whether sin is aggravated by reason of its causing more harm?[edit]

It would seem that a sin is not aggravated by reason of its causing more harm.

Obj. 1: Because the harm done is an issue consequent to the sinful act. But the issue of an act does not add to its goodness or malice, as stated above (Q. 20, A. 5). Therefore a sin is not aggravated on account of its causing more harm.

Obj. 2: Further, harm is inflicted by sins against our neighbor. Because no one wishes to harm himself: and no one can harm God, according to Job 35:6, 8: "If thy iniquities be multiplied, what shalt thou do against Him? . . . Thy wickedness may hurt a man that is like thee." If, therefore, sins were aggravated through causing more harm, it would follow that sins against our neighbor are more grievous than sins against God or oneself.

Obj. 3: Further, greater harm is inflicted on a man by depriving him of the life of grace, than by taking away his natural life; because the life of grace is better than the life of nature, so far that man ought to despise his natural life lest he lose the life of grace. Now, speaking absolutely, a man who leads a woman to commit fornication deprives her of the life of grace by leading her into mortal sin. If therefore a sin were more grievous on account of its causing a greater harm, it would follow that fornication, absolutely speaking, is a more grievous sin than murder, which is evidently untrue. Therefore a sin is not more grievous on account of its causing a greater harm.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. iii, 14): "Since vice is contrary to nature, a vice is the more grievous according as it diminishes the integrity of nature." Now the diminution of the integrity of nature is a harm. Therefore a sin is graver according as it does more harm.

I answer that, Harm may bear a threefold relation to sin. Because sometimes the harm resulting from a sin is foreseen and intended, as when a man does something with a mind to harm another, e.g. a murderer or a thief. In this case the quantity of harm aggravates the sin directly, because then the harm is the direct object of the sin. Sometimes the harm is foreseen, but not intended; for instance, when a man takes a short cut through a field, the result being that he knowingly injures the growing crops, although his intention is not to do this harm, but to commit fornication. In this case again the quantity of the harm done aggravates the sin; indirectly, however, in so far, to wit, as it is owing to his will being strongly inclined to sin, that a man does not forbear from doing, to himself or to another, a harm which he would not wish simply. Sometimes, however, the harm is neither foreseen nor intended: and then if this harm is connected with the sin accidentally, it does not aggravate the sin directly; but, on account of his neglecting to consider the harm that might ensue, a man is deemed punishable for the evil results of his action if it be unlawful. If, on the other hand, the harm follow directly from the sinful act, although it be neither foreseen nor intended, it aggravates the sin directly, because whatever is directly consequent to a sin, belongs, in a manner, to the very species of that sin: for instance, if a man is a notorious fornicator, the result is that many are scandalized; and although such was not his intention, nor was it perhaps foreseen by him, yet it aggravates his sin directly.

But this does not seem to apply to penal harm, which the sinner himself incurs. Such like harm, if accidentally connected with the sinful act, and if neither foreseen nor intended, does not aggravate a sin, nor does it correspond with the gravity of the sin: for instance, if a man in running to slay, slips and hurts his foot. If, on the other hand, this harm is directly consequent to the sinful act, although perhaps it be neither foreseen nor intended, then greater harm does not make greater sin, but, on the contrary, a graver sin calls for the infliction of a greater harm. Thus, an unbeliever who has heard nothing about the pains of hell, would suffer greater pain in hell for a sin of murder than for a sin of theft: but his sin is not aggravated on account of his neither intending nor foreseeing this, as it would be in the case of a believer, who, seemingly, sins more grievously in the very fact that he despises a greater punishment, that he may satisfy his desire to sin; but the gravity of this harm is caused by the sole gravity of sin.

Reply Obj. 1: As we have already stated (Q. 20, A. 5), in treating of the goodness and malice of external actions, the result of an action if foreseen and intended adds to the goodness and malice of an act.

Reply Obj. 2: Although the harm done aggravates a sin, it does not follow that this alone renders a sin more grievous: in fact, it is inordinateness which of itself aggravates a sin. Wherefore the harm itself that ensues aggravates a sin, in so far only as it renders the act more inordinate. Hence it does not follow, supposing harm to be inflicted chiefly by sins against our neighbor, that such sins are the most grievous, since a much greater inordinateness is to be found in sins which man commits against God, and in some which he commits against himself. Moreover we might say that although no man can do God any harm in His substance, yet he can endeavor to do so in things concerning Him, e.g. by destroying faith, by outraging holy things, which are most grievous sins. Again, a man sometimes knowingly and freely inflicts harm on himself, as in the case of suicide, though this be referred finally to some apparent good, for example, delivery from some anxiety.

Reply Obj. 3: This argument does not prove, for two reasons: first, because the murderer intends directly to do harm to his neighbors; whereas the fornicator who solicits the woman intends not harm but pleasure; secondly, because murder is the direct and sufficient cause of bodily death; whereas no man can of himself be the sufficient cause of another's spiritual death, because no man dies spiritually except by sinning of his own will.

^Q. 73


Art. 9: Whether a sin is aggravated by reason of the condition of the person against whom it is committed?[edit]

It would seem that sin is not aggravated by reason of the condition of the person against whom it is committed.

Obj. 1: For if this were the case a sin would be aggravated chiefly by being committed against a just and holy man. But this does not aggravate a sin: because a virtuous man who bears a wrong with equanimity is less harmed by the wrong done him, than others, who, through being scandalized, are also hurt inwardly. Therefore the condition of the person against whom a sin is committed does not aggravate the sin.

Obj. 2: Further, if the condition of the person aggravated the sin, this would be still more the case if the person be near of kin, because, as Cicero says (Paradox. iii): "The man who kills his slave sins once: he that takes his father's life sins many times." But the kinship of a person sinned against does not apparently aggravate a sin, because every man is most akin to himself; and yet it is less grievous to harm oneself than another, e.g. to kill one's own, than another's horse, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. v, 11). Therefore kinship of the person sinned against does not aggravate the sin.

Obj. 3: Further, the condition of the person who sins aggravates a sin chiefly on account of his position or knowledge, according to Wis. 6:7: "The mighty shall be mightily tormented," and Luke 12:47: "The servant who knew the will of his lord . . . and did it not . . . shall be beaten with many stripes." Therefore, in like manner, on the part of the person sinned against, the sin is made more grievous by reason of his position and knowledge. But, apparently, it is not a more grievous sin to inflict an injury on a rich and powerful person than on a poor man, since "there is no respect of persons with God" (Col. 3:25), according to Whose judgment the gravity of a sin is measured. Therefore the condition of the person sinned against does not aggravate the sin.

On the contrary, Holy Writ censures especially those sins that are committed against the servants of God. Thus it is written (3 Kings 19:14): "They have destroyed Thy altars, they have slain Thy prophets with the sword." Moreover much blame is attached to the sin committed by a man against those who are akin to him, according to Micah 7:6: "the son dishonoreth the father, and the daughter riseth up against her mother." Furthermore sins committed against persons of rank are expressly condemned: thus it is written (Job 34:18): "Who saith to the king: 'Thou art an apostate'; who calleth rulers ungodly." Therefore the condition of the person sinned against aggravates the sin.

I answer that, The person sinned against is, in a manner, the object of the sin. Now it has been stated above (A. 3) that the primary gravity of a sin is derived from its object; so that a sin is deemed to be so much the more grave, as its object is a more principal end. But the principal ends of human acts are God, man himself, and his neighbor: for whatever we do, it is on account of one of these that we do it; although one of them is subordinate to the other. Therefore the greater or lesser gravity of a sin, in respect of the person sinned against, may be considered on the part of these three.

First, on the part of God, to Whom man is the more closely united, as he is more virtuous or more sacred to God: so that an injury inflicted on such a person redounds on to God according to Zech. 2:8: "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of My eye." Wherefore a sin is the more grievous, according as it is committed against a person more closely united to God by reason of personal sanctity, or official station. On the part of man himself, it is evident that he sins all the more grievously, according as the person against whom he sins, is more united to him, either through natural affinity or kindness received or any other bond; because he seems to sin against himself rather than the other, and, for this very reason, sins all the more grievously, according to Ecclus. 14:5: "He that is evil to himself, to whom will he be good?" On the part of his neighbor, a man sins the more grievously, according as his sin affects more persons: so that a sin committed against a public personage, e.g. a sovereign prince who stands in the place of the whole people, is more grievous than a sin committed against a private person; hence it is expressly prohibited (Ex. 22:28): "The prince of thy people thou shalt not curse." In like manner it would seem that an injury done to a person of prominence, is all the more grave, on account of the scandal and the disturbance it would cause among many people.

Reply Obj. 1: He who inflicts an injury on a virtuous person, so far as he is concerned, disturbs him internally and externally; but that the latter is not disturbed internally is due to his goodness, which does not extenuate the sin of the injurer.

Reply Obj. 2: The injury which a man inflicts on himself in those things which are subject to the dominion of his will, for instance his possessions, is less sinful than if it were inflicted on another, because he does it of his own will; but in those things that are not subject to the dominion of his will, such as natural and spiritual goods, it is a graver sin to inflict an injury on oneself: for it is more grievous for a man to kill himself than another. Since, however, things belonging to our neighbor are not subject to the dominion of our will, the argument fails to prove, in respect of injuries done to such like things, that it is less grievous to sin in their regard, unless indeed our neighbor be willing, or give his approval.

Reply Obj. 3: There is no respect for persons if God punishes more severely those who sin against a person of higher rank; for this is done because such an injury redounds to the harm of many.

^Q. 73


Art. 10: Whether the excellence of the person sinning aggravates the sin?[edit]

It would seem that the excellence of the person sinning does not aggravate the sin.

Obj. 1: For man becomes great chiefly by cleaving to God, according to Ecclus. 25:13: "How great is he that findeth wisdom and knowledge! but there is none above him that feareth the Lord." Now the more a man cleaves to God, the less is a sin imputed to him: for it is written (2 Paral. 30: 18, 19): "The Lord Who is good will show mercy to all them, who with their whole heart seek the Lord the God of their fathers; and will not impute it to them that they are not sanctified." Therefore a sin is not aggravated by the excellence of the person sinning.

Obj. 2: Further, "there is no respect of persons with God" (Rom. 2:11). Therefore He does not punish one man more than another, for one and the same sin. Therefore a sin is not aggravated by the excellence of the person sinning.

Obj. 3: Further, no one should reap disadvantage from good. But he would, if his action were the more blameworthy on account of his goodness. Therefore a sin is not aggravated by reason of the excellence of the person sinning.

On the contrary, Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii, 18): "A sin is deemed so much the more grievous as the sinner is held to be a more excellent person."

I answer that, Sin is twofold. There is a sin which takes us unawares on account of the weakness of human nature: and such like sins are less imputable to one who is more virtuous, because he is less negligent in checking those sins, which nevertheless human weakness does not allow us to escape altogether. But there are other sins which proceed from deliberation: and these sins are all the more imputed to man according as he is more excellent. Four reasons may be assigned for this. First, because a more excellent person, e.g. one who excels in knowledge and virtue, can more easily resist sin; hence Our Lord said (Luke 12:47) that the "servant who knew the will of his lord . . . and did it not . . . shall be beaten with many stripes." Secondly, on account of ingratitude, because every good in which a man excels, is a gift of God, to Whom man is ungrateful when he sins: and in this respect any excellence, even in temporal goods, aggravates a sin, according to Wis. 6:7: "The mighty shall be mightily tormented." Thirdly, on account of the sinful act being specially inconsistent with the excellence of the person sinning: for instance, if a prince were to violate justice, whereas he is set up as the guardian of justice, or if a priest were to be a fornicator, whereas he has taken the vow of chastity. Fourthly, on account of the example or scandal; because, as Gregory says (Pastor. i, 2): "Sin becomes much more scandalous, when the sinner is honored for his position": and the sins of the great are much more notorious and men are wont to bear them with more indignation.

Reply Obj. 1: The passage quoted alludes to those things which are done negligently when we are taken unawares through human weakness.

Reply Obj. 2: God does not respect persons in punishing the great more severely, because their excellence conduces to the gravity of their sin, as stated.

Reply Obj. 3: The man who excels in anything reaps disadvantage, not from the good which he has, but from his abuse thereof.

^Q. 73


QUESTION 74: OF THE SUBJECT OF SIN[edit]

^TOC ^Evil Habits—that is, Vices ^^3. Of the Comparison of One Sin with Another

We must now consider the subject of vice or sin: under which head there are ten points of inquiry:

(1) Whether the will can be the subject of sin?

(2) Whether the will alone is the subject of sin?

(3) Whether the sensuality can be the subject of sin?

(4) Whether it can be the subject of mortal sin?

(5) Whether the reason can be the subject of sin?

(6) Whether morose delectation or non-morose delectation be subjected in the higher reason?

(7) Whether the sin of consent in the act of sin is subjected in the higher reason?

(8) Whether the lower reason can be the subject of mortal sin?

(9) Whether the higher reason can be the subject of venial sin?

(10) Whether there can be in the higher reason a venial sin directed to its proper object?


Art. 1: Whether the will is a subject of sin?[edit]

It would seem that the will cannot be a subject of sin.

Obj. 1: For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that "evil is outside the will and the intention." But sin has the character of evil. Therefore sin cannot be in the will.

Obj. 2: Further, the will is directed either to the good or to what seems good. Now from the fact that will wishes the good, it does not sin: and that it wishes what seems good but is not truly good, points to a defect in the apprehensive power rather than in the will. Therefore sin is nowise in the will.

Obj. 3: Further, the same thing cannot be both subject and efficient cause of sin: because "the efficient and the material cause do not coincide" (Phys. 2, text. 70). Now the will is the efficient cause of sin: because the first cause of sinning is the will, as Augustine states (De Duabus Anim. x, 10, 11). Therefore it is not the subject of sin.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Retract. i, 9) that "it is by the will that we sin, and live righteously."

I answer that, Sin is an act, as stated above (Q. 71, AA. 1, 6). Now some acts pass into external matter, e.g. to cut and to burn: and such acts have for their matter and subject, the thing into which the action passes: thus the Philosopher states (Phys. iii, text. 18) that "movement is the act of the thing moved, caused by a mover." On the other hand, there are acts which do not pass into external matter, but remain in the agent, e.g. to desire and to know: and such are all moral acts, whether virtuous or sinful. Consequently the proper subject of sin must needs be the power which is the principle of the act. Now since it is proper to moral acts that they are voluntary, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 1; Q. 18, A. 6), it follows that the will, which is the principle of voluntary acts, both of good acts, and of evil acts or sins, is the principle of sins. Therefore it follows that sin is in the will as its subject.

Reply Obj. 1: Evil is said to be outside the will, because the will does not tend to it under the aspect of evil. But since some evil is an apparent good, the will sometimes desires an evil, and in this sense is in the will.

Reply Obj. 2: If the defect in the apprehensive power were nowise subject to the will, there would be no sin, either in the will, or in the apprehensive power, as in the case of those whose ignorance is invincible. It remains therefore that when there is in the apprehensive power a defect that is subject to the will, this defect also is deemed a sin.

Reply Obj. 3: This argument applies to those efficient causes whose actions pass into external matter, and which do not move themselves, but move other things; the contrary of which is to be observed in the will; hence the argument does not prove.

^Q. 74


Art. 2: Whether the will alone is the subject of sin?[edit]

It would seem that the will alone is the subject of sin.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says (De Duabus Anim. x, 10) that "no one sins except by the will." Now the subject of sin is the power by which we sin. Therefore the will alone is the subject of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, sin is an evil contrary to reason. Now good and evil pertaining to reason are the object of the will alone. Therefore the will alone is the subject of sin.

Obj. 3: Further, every sin is a voluntary act, because, as Augustine states (De Lib. Arb. iii, 18) [*Cf. De Vera Relig. xiv.], "so true is it that every sin is voluntary, that unless it be voluntary, it is no sin at all." Now the acts of the other powers are not voluntary, except in so far as those powers are moved by the will; nor does this suffice for them to be the subject of sin, because then even the external members of the body, which are moved by the will, would be a subject of sin; which is clearly untrue. Therefore the will alone is the subject of sin.

On the contrary, Sin is contrary to virtue: and contraries are about one same thing. But the other powers of the soul, besides the will, are the subject of virtues, as stated above (Q. 56). Therefore the will is not the only subject of sin.

I answer that, As was shown above (A. 1), whatever is the a principle of a voluntary act is a subject of sin. Now voluntary acts are not only those which are elicited by the will, but also those which are commanded by the will, as we stated above (Q. 6, A. 4) in treating of voluntariness. Therefore not only the will can be a subject of sin, but also all those powers which can be moved to their acts, or restrained from their acts, by the will; and these same powers are the subjects of good and evil moral habits, because act and habit belong to the same subject.

Reply Obj. 1: We do not sin except by the will as first mover; but we sin by the other powers as moved by the will.

Reply Obj. 2: Good and evil pertain to the will as its proper objects; but the other powers have certain determinate goods and evils, by reason of which they can be the subject of virtue, vice, and sin, in so far as they partake of will and reason.

Reply Obj. 3: The members of the body are not principles but merely organs of action: wherefore they are compared to the soul which moves them, as a slave who is moved but moves no other. On the other hand, the internal appetitive powers are compared to reason as free agents, because they both act and are acted upon, as is made clear in Polit.i, 3. Moreover, the acts of the external members are actions that pass into external matter, as may be seen in the blow that is inflicted in the sin of murder. Consequently there is no comparison.

^Q. 74


Art. 3: Whether there can be sin in the sensuality?[edit]

It would seem that there cannot be sin in the sensuality.

Obj. 1: For sin is proper to man who is praised or blamed for his actions. Now sensuality is common to us and irrational animals. Therefore sin cannot be in the sensuality.

Obj. 2: Further, "no man sins in what he cannot avoid," as Augustine states (De Lib. Arb. iii, 18). But man cannot prevent the movement of the sensuality from being inordinate, since "the sensuality ever remains corrupt, so long as we abide in this mortal life; wherefore it is signified by the serpent," as Augustine declares (De Trin. xii, 12, 13). Therefore the inordinate movement of the sensuality is not a sin.

Obj. 3: Further, that which man himself does not do is not imputed to him as a sin. Now "that alone do we seem to do ourselves, which we do with the deliberation of reason," as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix, 8). Therefore the movement of the sensuality, which is without the deliberation of reason, is not imputed to a man as a sin.

On the contrary, It is written (Rom. 7:19): "The good which I will I do not; but the evil which I will not, that I do": which words Augustine explains (Contra Julian. iii, 26; De Verb. Apost. xii, 2, 3), as referring to the evil of concupiscence, which is clearly a movement of the sensuality. Therefore there can be sin in the sensuality.

I answer that, As stated above (AA. 2, 3), sin may be found in any power whose act can be voluntary and inordinate, wherein consists the nature of sin. Now it is evident that the act of the sensuality, or sensitive appetite, is naturally inclined to be moved by the will. Wherefore it follows that sin can be in the sensuality.

Reply Obj. 1: Although some of the powers of the sensitive part are common to us and irrational animals, nevertheless, in us, they have a certain excellence through being united to the reason; thus we surpass other animals in the sensitive part for as much as we have the powers of cogitation and reminiscence, as stated in the First Part (Q. 78, A. 4). In the same way our sensitive appetite surpasses that of other animals by reason of a certain excellence consisting in its natural aptitude to obey the reason; and in this respect it can be the principle of a voluntary action, and, consequently, the subject of sin.

Reply Obj. 2: The continual corruption of the sensuality is to be understood as referring to the fomes, which is never completely destroyed in this life, since, though the stain of original sin passes, its effect remains. However, this corruption of the fomes does not hinder man from using his rational will to check individual inordinate movements, if he be presentient of them, for instance by turning his thoughts to other things. Yet while he is turning his thoughts to something else, an inordinate movement may arise about this also: thus when a man, in order to avoid the movements of concupiscence, turns his thoughts away from carnal pleasures, to the considerations of science, sometimes an unpremeditated movement of vainglory will arise. Consequently, a man cannot avoid all such movements, on account of the aforesaid corruption: but it is enough, for the conditions of a voluntary sin, that he be able to avoid each single one.

Reply Obj. 3: Man does not do perfectly himself what he does without the deliberation of reason, since the principal part of man does nothing therein: wherefore such is not perfectly a human act; and consequently it cannot be a perfect act of virtue or of sin, but is something imperfect of that kind. Therefore such movement of the sensuality as forestalls the reason, is a venial sin, which is something imperfect in the genus of sin.

^Q. 74


Art. 4: Whether mortal sin can be in the sensuality?[edit]

It would seem that mortal sin can be in the sensuality.

Obj. 1: Because an act is discerned by its object. Now it is possible to commit a mortal sin about the objects of the sensuality, e.g. about carnal pleasures. Therefore the act of the sensuality can be a mortal sin, so that mortal sin can be found in the sensuality.

Obj. 2: Further, mortal sin is opposed to virtue. But virtue can be in the sensuality; for temperance and fortitude are virtues of the irrational parts, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. iii, 10). Therefore, since it is natural to contraries to be about the same subject, sensuality can be the subject of mortal sin.

Obj. 3: Further, venial sin is a disposition to mortal sin. Now disposition and habit are in the same subject. Since therefore venial sin may be in the sensuality, as stated above (A. 3, ad 3), mortal sin can be there also.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Retract. i, 23): "The inordinate movement of concupiscence, which is the sin of the sensuality, can even be in those who are in a state of grace," in whom, however, mortal sin is not to be found. Therefore the inordinate movement of the sensuality is not a mortal sin.

I answer that, Just as a disorder which destroys the principle of the body's life causes the body's death, so too a disorder which destroys the principle of spiritual life, viz. the last end, causes spiritual death, which is mortal sin, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 5). Now it belongs to the reason alone, and not to the sensuality, to order anything to the end: and disorder in respect of the end can only belong to the power whose function it is to order others to the end. Wherefore mortal sin cannot be in the sensuality, but only in the reason.

Reply Obj. 1: The act of the sensuality can concur towards a mortal sin: yet the fact of its being a mortal sin is due, not to its being an act of the sensuality, but to its being an act of reason, to whom the ordering to the end belongs. Consequently mortal sin is imputed, not to the sensuality, but to reason.

Reply Obj. 2: An act of virtue is perfected not only in that it is an act of the sensuality, but still more in the fact of its being an act of reason and will, whose function it is to choose: for the act of moral virtue is not without the exercise of choice: wherefore the act of moral virtue, which perfects the appetitive power, is always accompanied by an act of prudence, which perfects the rational power; and the same applies to mortal sin, as stated (ad 1).

Reply Obj. 3: A disposition may be related in three ways to that to which it disposes: for sometimes it is the same thing and is in the same subject; thus inchoate science is a disposition to perfect science: sometimes it is in the same subject, but is not the same thing; thus heat is a disposition to the form of fire: sometimes it is neither the same thing, nor in the same subject, as in those things which are subordinate to one another in such a way that we can arrive at one through the other, e.g. goodness of the imagination is a disposition to science which is in the intellect. In this way the venial sin that is in the sensuality, may be a disposition to mortal sin, which is in the reason.

^Q. 74


Art. 5: Whether sin can be in the reason?[edit]

It would seem that sin cannot be in the reason.

Obj. 1: For the sin of any power is a defect thereof. But the fault of the reason is not a sin, on the contrary, it excuses sin: for a man is excused from sin on account of ignorance. Therefore sin cannot be in the reason.

Obj. 2: Further, the primary object of sin is the will, as stated above (A. 1). Now reason precedes the will, since it directs it. Therefore sin cannot be in the reason.

Obj. 3: Further, there can be no sin except about things which are under our control. Now perfection and defect of reason are not among those things which are under our control: since by nature some are mentally deficient, and some shrewd-minded. Therefore no sin is in the reason.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 12) that sin is in the lower and in the higher reason.

I answer that, The sin of any power is an act of that power, as we have clearly shown (AA. 1, 2, 3). Now reason has a twofold act: one is its proper act in respect of its proper object, and this is the act of knowing the truth; the other is the act of reason as directing the other powers. Now in both of these ways there may be sin in the reason. First, in so far as it errs in the knowledge of truth, which error is imputed to the reason as a sin, when it is in ignorance or error about what it is able and ought to know: secondly, when it either commands the inordinate movements of the lower powers, or deliberately fails to check them.

Reply Obj. 1: This argument considers the defect in the proper act of the reason in respect of its proper object, and with regard to the case when it is a defect of knowledge about something which one is unable to know: for then this defect of reason is not a sin, and excuses from sin, as is evident with regard to the actions of madmen. If, however, the defect of reason be about something which a man is able and ought to know, he is not altogether excused from sin, and the defect is imputed to him as a sin. The defect which belongs only to the act of directing the other powers, is always imputed to reason as a sin, because it can always obviate this defect by means of its proper act.

Reply Obj. 2: As stated above (Q. 17, A. 1), when we were treating of the acts of the will and reason, the will moves and precedes the reason, in one way, and the reason moves and precedes the will in another: so that both the movement of the will can be called rational, and the act of the reason, voluntary. Accordingly sin is found in the reason, either through being a voluntary defect of the reason, or through the reason being the principle of the will's act.

The Reply to the Third Objection is evident from what has been said (ad 1).

^Q. 74


Art. 6: Whether the sin of morose delectation is in the reason?[edit]

It would seem that the sin of morose delectation is not in the reason.

Obj. 1: For delectation denotes a movement of the appetitive power, as stated above (Q. 31, A. 1). But the appetitive power is distinct from the reason, which is an apprehensive power. Therefore morose delectation is not in the reason.

Obj. 2: Further, the object shows to which power an act belongs, since it is through the act that the power is directed to its object. Now a morose delectation is sometimes about sensible goods, and not about the goods of the reason. Therefore the sin of morose delectation is not in the reason.

Obj. 3: Further, a thing is said to be morose [*From the Latin mora--delay] through taking a length of time. But length of time is no reason why an act should belong to a particular power. Therefore morose delectation does not belong to the reason.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 12) that "if the consent to a sensual delectation goes no further than the mere thought of the pleasure, I deem this to be like as though the woman alone had partaken of the forbidden fruit." Now "the woman" denotes the lower reason, as he himself explains (De Trin. xii, 12). Therefore the sin of morose delectation is in the reason.

I answer that, As stated (A. 5), sin may be in the reason, not only in respect of reason's proper act, but sometimes in respect of its directing human actions. Now it is evident that reason directs not only external acts, but also internal passions. Consequently when the reason fails in directing the internal passions, sin is said to be in the reason, as also when it fails in directing external actions. Now it fails, in two ways, in directing internal passions: first, when it commands unlawful passions; for instance, when a man deliberately provokes himself to a movement of anger, or of lust: secondly, when it fails to check the unlawful movement of a passion; for instance, when a man, having deliberately considered that a rising movement of passion is inordinate, continues, notwithstanding, to dwell (immoratur) upon it, and fails to drive it away. And in this sense the sin of morose delectation is said to be in the reason.

Reply Obj. 1: Delectation is indeed in the appetitive power as its proximate principle; but it is in the reason as its first mover, in accordance with what has been stated above (A. 1), viz. that actions which do not pass into external matter are subjected in their principles.

Reply Obj. 2: Reason has its proper elicited act about its proper object; but it exercises the direction of all the objects of those lower powers that can be directed by the reason: and accordingly delectation about sensible objects comes also under the direction of reason.

Reply Obj. 3: Delectation is said to be morose not from a delay of time, but because the reason in deliberating dwells (immoratur) thereon, and fails to drive it away, "deliberately holding and turning over what should have been cast aside as soon as it touched the mind," as Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 12).

^Q. 74


Art. 7: Whether the sin of consent to the act is in the higher reason?[edit]

It would seem that the sin of consent to the act is not in the higher reason.

Obj. 1: For consent is an act of the appetitive power, as stated above (Q. 15, A. 1): whereas the reason is an apprehensive power. Therefore the sin of consent to the act is not in the higher reason.

Obj. 2: Further, "the higher reason is intent on contemplating and consulting the eternal law," as Augustine states (De Trin. xii, 7). [*Rationes aeternae, cf. I, Q. 15, AA. 2, 3, where as in similar passages ratio has been rendered by the English type, because St. Thomas was speaking of the Divine idea as the archetype of the creature. Hence the type or idea is a rule of conduct, and is identified with the eternal law, (cf. A. 8, Obj. 1; A. 9)]. But sometimes consent is given to an act, without consulting the eternal law: since man does not always think about Divine things, whenever he consents to an act. Therefore the sin of consent to the act is not always in the higher reason.

Obj. 3: Further, just as man can regulate his external actions according to the eternal law, so can he regulate his internal pleasures or other passions. But "consent to a pleasure without deciding to fulfil it by deed, belongs to the lower reason," as Augustine states (De Trin. xii, 2). Therefore the consent to a sinful act should also be sometimes ascribed to the lower reason.

Obj. 4: Further, just as the higher reason excels the lower, so does the reason excel the imagination. Now sometimes man proceeds to act through the apprehension of the power of imagination, without any deliberation of his reason, as when, without premeditation, he moves his hand, or foot. Therefore sometimes also the lower reason may consent to a sinful act, independently of the higher reason.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 12): "If the consent to the evil use of things that can be perceived by the bodily senses, so far approves of any sin, as to point, if possible, to its consummation by deed, we are to understand that the woman has offered the forbidden fruit to her husband."

I answer that, Consent implies a judgment about the thing to which consent is given. For just as the speculative reason judges and delivers its sentence about intelligible matters, so the practical reason judges and pronounces sentence on matters of action. Now we must observe that in every case brought up for judgment, the final sentence belongs to the supreme court, even as we see that in speculative matters the final sentence touching any proposition is delivered by referring it to the first principles; since, so long as there remains a yet higher principle, the question can yet be submitted to it: wherefore the judgment is still in suspense, the final sentence not being as yet pronounced. But it is evident that human acts can be regulated by the rule of human reason, which rule is derived from the created things that man knows naturally; and further still, from the rule of the Divine law, as stated above (Q. 19, A. 4). Consequently, since the rule of the Divine law is the higher rule, it follows that the ultimate sentence, whereby the judgment is finally pronounced, belongs to the higher reason which is intent on the eternal types. Now when judgment has to be pronounced on several points, the final judgment deals with that which comes last; and, in human acts, the action itself comes last, and the delectation which is the inducement to the action is a preamble thereto. Therefore the consent to an action belongs properly to the higher reason, while the preliminary judgment which is about the delectation belongs to the lower reason, which delivers judgment in a lower court: although the higher reason can also judge of the delectation, since whatever is subject to the judgment of the lower court, is subject also to the judgment of the higher court, but not conversely.

Reply Obj. 1: Consent is an act of the appetitive power, not absolutely, but in consequence of an act of reason deliberating and judging, as stated above (Q. 15, A. 3). Because the fact that the consent is finally given to a thing is due to the fact that the will tends to that upon which the reason has already passed its judgment. Hence consent may be ascribed both to the will and to the reason.

Reply Obj. 2: The higher reason is said to consent, from the very fact that it fails to direct the human act according to the Divine law, whether or not it advert to the eternal law. For if it thinks of God's law, it holds it in actual contempt: and if not, it neglects it by a kind of omission. Therefore the consent to a sinful act always proceeds from the higher reason: because, as Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 12), "the mind cannot effectively decide on the commission of a sin, unless by its consent, whereby it wields its sovereign power of moving the members to action, or of restraining them from action, it become the servant or slave of the evil deed."

Reply Obj. 3: The higher reason, by considering the eternal law, can direct or restrain the internal delectation, even as it can direct or restrain the external action: nevertheless, before the judgment of the higher reason is pronounced the lower reason, while deliberating the matter in reference to temporal principles, sometimes approves of this delectation: and then the consent to the delectation belongs to the lower reason. If, however, after considering the eternal law, man persists in giving the same consent, such consent will then belong to the higher reason.

Reply Obj. 4: The apprehension of the power of imagination is sudden and indeliberate: wherefore it can cause an act before the higher or lower reason has time to deliberate. But the judgment of the lower reason is deliberate, and so requires time, during which the higher reason can also deliberate; consequently, if by its deliberation it does not check the sinful act, this will deservedly be imputed to it.

^Q. 74


Art. 8: Whether consent to delectation is a mortal sin?[edit]

It would seem that consent to delectation is not a mortal sin.

Obj. 1: For consent to delectation belongs to the lower reason, which does not consider the eternal types, i.e. the eternal law, and consequently does not turn away from them. Now every mortal sin consists in turning away from the Divine law, as is evident from Augustine's definition of mortal sin, which was quoted above (Q. 71, A. 6). Therefore consent to delectation is not a mortal sin.

Obj. 2: Further, consent to a thing is not evil, unless the thing to which consent is given be evil. Now "the cause of anything being such is yet more so," or at any rate not less. Consequently the thing to which a man consents cannot be a lesser evil than his consent. But delectation without deed is not a mortal sin, but only a venial sin. Therefore neither is the consent to the delectation a mortal sin.

Obj. 3: Further, delectations differ in goodness and malice, according to the difference of the deeds, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. x, 3, 5). Now the inward thought is one thing, and the outward deed, e.g. fornication, is another. Therefore the delectation consequent to the act of inward thought, differs in goodness and malice from the pleasure of fornication, as much as the inward thought differs from the outward deed; and consequently there is a like difference of consent on either hand. But the inward thought is not a mortal sin, nor is the consent to that thought: and therefore neither is the consent to the delectation.

Obj. 4: Further, the external act of fornication or adultery is a mortal sin, not by reason of the delectation, since this is found also in the marriage act, but by reason of an inordinateness in the act itself. Now he that consents to the delectation does not, for this reason, consent to the inordinateness of the act. Therefore he seems not to sin mortally.

Obj. 5: Further, the sin of murder is more grievous than simple fornication. Now it is not a mortal sin to consent to the delectation resulting from the thought of murder. Much less therefore is it a mortal sin to consent to the delectation resulting from the thought of fornication.

Obj. 6: Further, the Lord's prayer is recited every day for the remission of venial sins, as Augustine asserts (Enchiridion lxxviii). Now Augustine teaches that consent to delectation may be driven away by means of the Lord's Prayer: for he says (De Trin. xii, 12) that "this sin is much less grievous than if it be decided to fulfil it by deed: wherefore we ought to ask pardon for such thoughts also, and we should strike our breasts and say: 'Forgive us our trespasses.'" Therefore consent to delectation is a venial sin.

On the contrary, Augustine adds after a few words: "Man will be altogether lost unless, through the grace of the Mediator, he be forgiven those things which are deemed mere sins of thought, since without the will to do them, he desires nevertheless to enjoy them." But no man is lost except through mortal sin. Therefore consent to delectation is a mortal sin.

I answer that, There have been various opinions on this point, for some have held that consent to delectation is not a mortal sin, but only a venial sin, while others have held it to be a mortal sin, and this opinion is more common and more probable. For we must take note that since every delectation results from some action, as stated in Ethic. x, 4, and again, that since every delectation may be compared to two things, viz. to the operation from which it results, and to the object in which a person takes delight. Now it happens that an action, just as a thing, is an object of delectation, because the action itself can be considered as a good and an end, in which the person who delights in it, rests. Sometimes the action itself, which results in delectation, is the object of delectation, in so far as the appetitive power, to which it belongs to take delight in anything, is brought to bear on the action itself as a good: for instance, when a man thinks and delights in his thought, in so far as his thought pleases him; while at other times the delight consequent to an action, e.g. a thought, has for its object another action, as being the object of his thought; and then his thought proceeds from the inclination of the appetite, not indeed to the thought, but to the action thought of. Accordingly a man who is thinking of fornication, may delight in either of two things: first, in the thought itself, secondly, in the fornication thought of. Now the delectation in the thought itself results from the inclination of the appetite to the thought; and the thought itself is not in itself a mortal sin; sometimes indeed it is only a venial sin, as when a man thinks of such a thing for no purpose; and sometimes it is no sin at all, as when a man has a purpose in thinking of it; for instance, he may wish to preach or dispute about it. Consequently such affection or delectation in respect of the thought of fornication is not a mortal sin in virtue of its genus, but is sometimes a venial sin and sometimes no sin at all: wherefore neither is it a mortal sin to consent to such a thought. In this sense the first opinion is true.

But that a man in thinking of fornication takes pleasure in the act thought of, is due to his desire being inclined to this act. Wherefore the fact that a man consents to such a delectation, amounts to nothing less than a consent to the inclination of his appetite to fornication: for no man takes pleasure except in that which is in conformity with his appetite. Now it is a mortal sin, if a man deliberately chooses that his appetite be conformed to what is in itself a mortal sin. Wherefore such a consent to delectation in a mortal sin, is itself a mortal sin, as the second opinion maintains.

Reply Obj. 1: Consent to delectation may be not only in the lower reason, but also in the higher reason, as stated above (A. 7). Nevertheless the lower reason may turn away from the eternal types, for, though it is not intent on them, as regulating according to them, which is proper to the higher reason, yet, it is intent on them, as being regulated according to them: and by turning from them in this sense, it may sin mortally; since even the acts of the lower powers and of the external members may be mortal sins, in so far as the direction of the higher reason fails in directing them according to the eternal types.

Reply Obj. 2: Consent to a sin that is venial in its genus, is itself a venial sin, and accordingly one may conclude that the consent to take pleasure in a useless thought about fornication, is a venial sin. But delectation in the act itself of fornication is, in its genus, a mortal sin: and that it be a venial sin before the consent is given, is accidental, viz. on account of the incompleteness of the act: which incompleteness ceases when the deliberate consent has been given, so that therefore it has its complete nature and is a mortal sin.

Reply Obj. 3: This argument considers the delectation which has the thought for its object.

Reply Obj. 4: The delectation which has an external act for its object, cannot be without complacency in the external act as such, even though there be no decision to fulfil it, on account of the prohibition of some higher authority: wherefore the act is inordinate, and consequently the delectation will be inordinate also.

Reply Obj. 5: The consent to delectation, resulting from complacency in an act of murder thought of, is a mortal sin also: but not the consent to delectation resulting from complacency in the thought of murder.

Reply Obj. 6: The Lord's Prayer is to be said in order that we may be preserved not only from venial sin, but also from mortal sin.

^Q. 74


Art. 9: Whether there can be venial sin in the higher reason as directing the lower powers?[edit]

It would seem that there cannot be venial sin in the higher reason as directing the lower powers, i.e. as consenting to a sinful act.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 7) that the "higher reason is intent on considering and consulting the eternal law." But mortal sin consists in turning away from the eternal law. Therefore it seems that there can be no other than mortal sin in the higher reason.

Obj. 2: Further, the higher reason is the principle of the spiritual life, as the heart is of the body's life. But the diseases of the heart are deadly. Therefore the sins of the higher reason are mortal.

Obj. 3: Further, a venial sin becomes a mortal sin if it be done out of contempt. But it would seem impossible to commit even a venial sin, deliberately, without contempt. Since then the consent of the higher reason is always accompanied by deliberate consideration of the eternal law, it seems that it cannot be without mortal sin, on account of the contempt of the Divine law.

On the contrary, Consent to a sinful act belongs to the higher reason, as stated above (A. 7). But consent to an act of venial sin is itself a venial sin. Therefore a venial sin can be in the higher reason.

I answer that, As Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 7), the higher reason "is intent on contemplating or consulting the eternal law"; it contemplates it by considering its truth; it consults it by judging and directing other things according to it: and to this pertains the fact that by deliberating through the eternal types, it consents to an act or dissents from it. Now it may happen that the inordinateness of the act to which it consents, is not contrary to the eternal law, in the same way as mortal sin is, because it does not imply aversion from the last end, but is beside that law, as an act of venial sin is. Therefore when the higher reason consents to the act of a venial sin, it does not turn away from the eternal law: wherefore it sins, not mortally, but venially.

This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.

Reply Obj. 2: Disease of the heart is twofold: one which is in the very substance of the heart, and affects its natural consistency, and such a disease is always mortal: the other is a disease of the heart consisting in some disorder either of the movement or of the parts surrounding the heart, and such a disease is not always mortal. In like manner there is mortal sin in the higher reason whenever the order itself of the higher reason to its proper object which is the eternal law, is destroyed; but when the disorder leaves this untouched, the sin is not mortal but venial.

Reply Obj. 3: Deliberate consent to a sin does not always amount to contempt of the Divine law, but only when the sin is contrary to the Divine law.

^Q. 74


Art. 10: Whether venial sin can be in the higher reason as such?[edit]

It would seem that venial sin cannot be in the higher reason as such, i.e. as considering the eternal law.

Obj. 1: For the act of a power is not found to fail except that power be inordinately disposed with regard to its object. Now the object of the higher reason is the eternal law, in respect of which there can be no disorder without mortal sin. Therefore there can be no venial sin in the higher reason as such.

Obj. 2: Further, since the reason is a deliberative power, there can be no act of reason without deliberation. Now every inordinate movement in things concerning God, if it be deliberate, is a mortal sin. Therefore venial sin is never in the higher reason as such.

Obj. 3: Further, it happens sometimes that a sin which takes us unawares, is a venial sin. Now a deliberate sin is a mortal sin, through the reason, in deliberating, having recourse to some higher good, by acting against which, man sins more grievously; just as when the reason in deliberating about an inordinate pleasurable act, considers that it is contrary to the law of God, it sins more grievously in consenting, than if it only considered that it is contrary to moral virtue. But the higher reason cannot have recourse to any higher tribunal than its own object. Therefore if a movement that takes us unawares is not a mortal sin, neither will the subsequent deliberation make it a mortal sin; which is clearly false. Therefore there can be no venial sin in the higher reason as such.

On the contrary, A sudden movement of unbelief is a venial sin. But it belongs to the higher reason as such. Therefore there can be a venial sin in the higher reason as such.

I answer that, The higher reason regards its own object otherwise than the objects of the lower powers that are directed by the higher reason. For it does not regard the objects of the lower powers, except in so far as it consults the eternal law about them, and so it does not regard them save by way of deliberation. Now deliberate consent to what is a mortal sin in its genus, is itself a mortal sin; and consequently the higher reason always sins mortally, if the acts of the lower powers to which it consents are mortal sins.

With regard to its own object it has a twofold act, viz. simple intuition, and deliberation, in respect of which it again consults the eternal law about its own object. But in respect of simple intuition, it can have an inordinate movement about Divine things, as when a man suffers a sudden movement of unbelief. And although unbelief, in its genus, is a mortal sin, yet a sudden movement of unbelief is a venial sin, because there is no mortal sin unless it be contrary to the law of God. Now it is possible for one of the articles of faith to present itself to the reason suddenly under some other aspect, before the eternal law, i.e. the law of God, is consulted, or can be consulted, on the matter; as, for instance, when a man suddenly apprehends the resurrection of the dead as impossible naturally, and rejects it, as soon as he had thus apprehended it, before he has had time to deliberate and consider that this is proposed to our belief in accordance with the Divine law. If, however, the movement of unbelief remains after this deliberation, it is a mortal sin. Therefore, in sudden movements, the higher reason may sin venially in respect of its proper object, even if it be a mortal sin in its genus; or it may sin mortally in giving a deliberate consent; but in things pertaining to the lower powers, it always sins mortally, in things which are mortal sins in their genus, but not in those which are venial sins in their genus.

Reply Obj. 1: A sin which is against the eternal law, though it be mortal in its genus, may nevertheless be venial, on account of the incompleteness of a sudden action, as stated.

Reply Obj. 2: In matters of action, the simple intuition of the principles from which deliberation proceeds, belongs to the reason, as well as the act of deliberation: even as in speculative matters it belongs to the reason both to syllogize and to form propositions: consequently the reason also can have a sudden movement.

Reply Obj. 3: One and the same thing may be the subject of different considerations, of which one is higher than the other; thus the existence of God may be considered, either as possible to be known by the human reason, or as delivered to us by Divine revelation, which is a higher consideration. And therefore, although the object of the higher reason is, in its nature, something sublime, yet it is reducible to some yet higher consideration: and in this way, that which in the sudden movement was not a mortal sin, becomes a mortal sin in virtue of the deliberation which brought it into the light of a higher consideration, as was explained above.

^Q. 74


OF THE CAUSES OF SIN[edit]

^TOC ^Evil Habits—that is, Vices ^^4. Of the Subject of Sin

We must now consider the causes of sin:

(1) in general [Q. 75];

(2) in particular [QQ. 76-84].

QUESTION 75: OF THE CAUSES OF SIN, IN GENERAL[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether sin has a cause?

(2) Whether it has an internal cause?

(3) Whether it has an external cause?

(4) Whether one sin is the cause of another?


Art. 1: Whether sin has a cause?[edit]

Obj. 1: It would seem that sin has no cause. For sin has the nature of evil, as stated above (Q. 71, A. 6). But evil has no cause, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv). Therefore sin has no cause.

Obj. 2: Further, a cause is that from which something follows of necessity. Now that which is of necessity, seems to be no sin, for every sin is voluntary. Therefore sin has no cause.

Obj. 3: Further, if sin has a cause, this cause is either good or evil. It is not a good, because good produces nothing but good, for "a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit" (Matt. 7:18). Likewise neither can evil be the cause of sin, because the evil of punishment is a sequel to sin, and the evil of guilt is the same as sin. Therefore sin has no cause.

On the contrary, Whatever is done has a cause, for, according to Job 5:6, "nothing upon earth is done without a cause." But sin is something done; since it a "word, deed, or desire contrary to the law of God." Therefore sin has a cause.

I answer that, A sin is an inordinate act. Accordingly, so far as it is an act, it can have a direct cause, even as any other act; but, so far as it is inordinate, it has a cause, in the same way as a negation or privation can have a cause. Now two causes may be assigned to a negation: in the first place, absence of the cause of affirmation; i.e. the negation of the cause itself, is the cause of the negation in itself; since the result of removing the cause is the removal of the effect: thus the absence of the sun is the cause of darkness. In the second place, the cause of an affirmation, of which a negation is a sequel, is the accidental cause of the resulting negation: thus fire by causing heat in virtue of its principal tendency, consequently causes a privation of cold. The first of these suffices to cause a simple negation. But, since the inordinateness of sin and of every evil is not a simple negation, but the privation of that which something ought naturally to have, such an inordinateness must needs have an accidental efficient cause. For that which naturally is and ought to be in a thing, is never lacking except on account of some impeding cause. And accordingly we are wont to say that evil, which consists in a certain privation, has a deficient cause, or an accidental efficient cause. Now every accidental cause is reducible to the direct cause. Since then sin, on the part of its inordinateness, has an accidental efficient cause, and on the part of the act, a direct efficient cause, it follows that the inordinateness of sin is a result of the cause of the act. Accordingly then, the will lacking the direction of the rule of reason and of the Divine law, and intent on some mutable good, causes the act of sin directly, and the inordinateness of the act, indirectly, and beside the intention: for the lack of order in the act results from the lack of direction in the will.

Reply Obj. 1: Sin signifies not only the privation of good, which privation is its inordinateness, but also the act which is the subject of that privation, which has the nature of evil: and how this evil has a cause, has been explained.

Reply Obj. 2: If this definition is to be verified in all cases, it must be understood as applying to a cause which is sufficient and not impeded. For it happens that a thing is the sufficient cause of something else, and that the effect does not follow of necessity, on account of some supervening impediment: else it would follow that all things happen of necessity, as is proved in Metaph. vi, text. 5. Accordingly, though sin has a cause, it does not follow that this is a necessary cause, since its effect can be impeded.

Reply Obj. 3: As stated above, the will in failing to apply the rule of reason or of the Divine law, is the cause of sin. Now the fact of not applying the rule of reason or of the Divine law, has not in itself the nature of evil, whether of punishment or of guilt, before it is applied to the act. Wherefore accordingly, evil is not the cause of the first sin, but some good lacking some other good.

^Q. 75


Art. 2: Whether sin has an internal cause?[edit]

It would seem that sin has no internal cause.

Obj. 1: For that which is within a thing is always in it. If therefore sin had an internal cause, man would always be sinning, since given the cause, the effect follows.

Obj. 2: Further, a thing is not its own cause. But the internal movements of a man are sins. Therefore they are not the cause of sin.

Obj. 3: Further, whatever is within man is either natural or voluntary. Now that which is natural cannot be the cause of sin, for sin is contrary to nature, as Damascene states (De Fide Orth. ii, 3; iv, 21); while that which is voluntary, if it be inordinate, is already a sin. Therefore nothing intrinsic can be the cause of the first sin.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Duabus Anim. x, 10, 11; Retract. i, 9) that "the will is the cause of sin."

I answer that, As stated above (A. 1), the direct cause of sin must be considered on the part of the act. Now we may distinguish a twofold internal cause of human acts, one remote, the other proximate. The proximate internal cause of the human act is the reason and will, in respect of which man has a free-will; while the remote cause is the apprehension of the sensitive part, and also the sensitive appetite. For just as it is due to the judgment of reason, that the will is moved to something in accord with reason, so it is due to an apprehension of the senses that the sensitive appetite is inclined to something; which inclination sometimes influences the will and reason, as we shall explain further on (Q. 77, A. 1). Accordingly a double interior cause of sin may be assigned; one proximate, on the part of the reason and will; and the other remote, on the part of the imagination or sensitive appetite.

But since we have said above (A. 1, ad 3) that the cause of sin is some apparent good as motive, yet lacking the due motive, viz. the rule of reason or the Divine law, this motive which is an apparent good, appertains to the apprehension of the senses and to the appetite; while the lack of the due rule appertains to the reason, whose nature it is to consider this rule; and the completeness of the voluntary sinful act appertains to the will, so that the act of the will, given the conditions we have just mentioned, is already a sin.

Reply Obj. 1: That which is within a thing as its natural power, is always in it: but that which is within it, as the internal act of the appetitive or apprehensive power, is not always in it. Now the power of the will is the potential cause of sin, but is made actual by the preceding movements, both of the sensitive part, in the first place, and afterwards, of the reason. For it is because a thing is proposed as appetible to the senses, and because the appetite is inclined, that the reason sometimes fails to consider the due rule, so that the will produces the act of sin. Since therefore the movements that precede it are not always actual, neither is man always actually sinning.

Reply Obj. 2: It is not true that all the internal acts belong to the substance of sin, for this consists principally in the act of the will; but some precede and some follow the sin itself.

Reply Obj. 3: That which causes sin, as a power produces its act, is natural; and again, the movement of the sensitive part, from which sin follows, is natural sometimes, as, for instance, when anyone sins through appetite for food. Yet sin results in being unnatural from the very fact that the natural rule fails, which man, in accord with his nature, ought to observe.


Art. 3: Whether sin has an external cause?[edit]

It would seem that sin has no external cause.

Obj. 1: For sin is a voluntary act. Now voluntary acts belong to principles that are within us, so that they have no external cause. Therefore sin has no external cause.

Obj. 2: Further, as nature is an internal principle, so is the will. Now in natural things sin can be due to no other than an internal cause; for instance, the birth of a monster is due to the corruption of some internal principle. Therefore in the moral order, sin can arise from no other than an internal cause. Therefore it has no external cause.

Obj. 3: Further, if the cause is multiplied, the effect is multiplied. Now the more numerous and weighty the external inducements to sin are, the less is a man's inordinate act imputed to him as a sin. Therefore nothing external is a cause of sin.

On the contrary, It is written (Num. 21:16): "Are not these they, that deceived the children of Israel by the counsel of Balaam, and made you transgress against the Lord by the sin of Phogor?" Therefore something external can be a cause of sin.

I answer that, As stated above (A. 2), the internal cause of sin is both the will, as completing the sinful act, and the reason, as lacking the due rule, and the appetite, as inclining to sin. Accordingly something external might be a cause of sin in three ways, either by moving the will itself immediately, or by moving the reason, or by moving the sensitive appetite. Now, as stated above (Q. 9, A. 6; Q. 10, A. 4), none can move the will inwardly save God alone, who cannot be a cause of sin, as we shall prove further on (Q. 79, A. 1). Hence it follows that nothing external can be a cause of sin, except by moving the reason, as a man or devil by enticing to sin; or by moving the sensitive appetite, as certain external sensibles move it. Yet neither does external enticement move the reason, of necessity, in matters of action, nor do things proposed externally, of necessity move the sensitive appetite, except perhaps it be disposed thereto in a certain way; and even the sensitive appetite does not, of necessity, move the reason and will. Therefore something external can be a cause moving to sin, but not so as to be a sufficient cause thereof: and the will alone is the sufficient completive cause of sin being accomplished.

Reply Obj. 1: From the very fact that the external motive causes of sin do not lead to sin sufficiently and necessarily, it follows that it remains in our power to sin or not to sin.

Reply Obj. 2: The fact that sin has an internal cause does not prevent its having an external cause; for nothing external is a cause of sin, except through the medium of the internal cause, as stated.

Reply Obj. 3: If the external causes inclining to sin be multiplied, the sinful acts are multiplied, because they incline to the sinful act in both greater numbers and greater frequency. Nevertheless the character of guilt is lessened, since this depends on the act being voluntary and in our power.


Art. 4: Whether one sin is a cause of another?[edit]

It would seem that one sin cannot be the cause of another.

Obj. 1: For there are four kinds of cause, none of which will fit in with one sin causing another. Because the end has the character of good; which is inconsistent with sin, which has the character of evil. In like manner neither can a sin be an efficient cause, since "evil is not an efficient cause, but is weak and powerless," as Dionysius declares (Div. Nom. iv). The material and formal cause seems to have no place except in natural bodies, which are composed of matter and form. Therefore sin cannot have either a material or a formal cause.

Obj. 2: Further, "to produce its like belongs to a perfect thing," as stated in Meteor. iv, 2 [*Cf. De Anima ii.]. But sin is essentially something imperfect. Therefore one sin cannot be a cause of another.

Obj. 3: Further, if one sin is the cause of a second sin, in the same way, yet another sin will be the cause of the first, and thus we go on indefinitely, which is absurd. Therefore one sin is not the cause of another.

On the contrary, Gregory says on Ezechiel (Hom. xi): "A sin that is not quickly blotted out by repentance, is both a sin and a cause of sin."

I answer that, Forasmuch as a sin has a cause on the part of the act of sin, it is possible for one sin to be the cause of another, in the same way as one human act is the cause of another. Hence it happens that one sin may be the cause of another in respect of the four kinds of causes. First, after the manner of an efficient or moving cause, both directly and indirectly. Indirectly, as that which removes an impediment is called an indirect cause of movement: for when man, by one sinful act, loses grace, or charity, or shame, or anything else that withdraws him from sin, he thereby falls into another sin, so that the first sin is the accidental cause of the second. Directly, as when, by one sinful act, man is disposed to commit more readily another like act: because acts cause dispositions and habits inclining to like acts. Secondly, after the manner of a material cause, one sin is the cause of another, by preparing its matter: thus covetousness prepares the matter for strife, which is often about the wealth a man has amassed together. Thirdly, after the manner of a final cause, one sin causes another, in so far as a man commits one sin for the sake of another which is his end; as when a man is guilty of simony for the end of ambition, or fornication for the purpose of theft. And since the end gives the form to moral matters, as stated above (Q. 1, A. 3; Q. 18, AA. 4, 6), it follows that one sin is also the formal cause of another: because in the act of fornication committed for the purpose of theft, the former is material while the latter is formal.

Reply Obj. 1: Sin, in so far as it is inordinate, has the character of evil; but, in so far as it is an act, it has some good, at least apparent, for its end: so that, as an act, but not as being inordinate, it can be the cause, both final and efficient, of another sin. A sin has matter, not of which but about which it is: and it has its form from its end. Consequently one sin can be the cause of another, in respect of the four kinds of cause, as stated above.

Reply Obj. 2: Sin is something imperfect on account of its moral imperfection on the part of its inordinateness. Nevertheless, as an act it can have natural perfection: and thus it can be the cause of another sin.

Reply Obj. 3: Not every cause of one sin is another sin; so there is no need to go on indefinitely: for one may come to one sin which is not caused by another sin.

^Q. 75


OF THE CAUSES OF SIN, IN PARTICULAR[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

We must now consider the causes of sin, in particular, and

(1) The internal causes of sin [QQ. 76-78];

(2) its external causes [QQ. 79-83]; and

(3) sins which are the causes of other sins [Q. 84].

OF THE INTERNAL CAUSES OF SIN[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

In view of what has been said above (A. 2), the first consideration will be threefold: so that

in the first place we shall treat of ignorance, which is the cause of sin on the part of reason [Q. 76];

secondly, of weakness or passion, which is the cause of sin on the part of the sensitive appetite [Q. 77];

thirdly, of malice, which is the cause of sin on the part of the will [Q. 78].

QUESTION 76: OF THE CAUSES OF SIN, IN PARTICULAR[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

Under the first head, there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether ignorance is a cause of sin?

(2) Whether ignorance is a sin?

(3) Whether it excuses from sin altogether?

(4) Whether it diminishes sin?


Art. 1: Whether ignorance can be a cause of sin?[edit]

It would seem that ignorance cannot be a cause of sin.

Obj. 1: Because a non-being is not the cause of anything. Now ignorance is a non-being, since it is a privation of knowledge. Therefore ignorance is not a cause of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, causes of sin should be reckoned in respect of sin being a turning to something, as was stated above (Q. 75, A. 1). Now ignorance seems to savor of turning away from something. Therefore it should not be reckoned a cause of sin.

Obj. 3: Further, every sin is seated in the will. Now the will does not turn to that which is not known, because its object is the good apprehended. Therefore ignorance cannot be a cause of sin.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Nat. et Grat. lxvii) "that some sin through ignorance."

I answer that, According to the Philosopher (Phys. viii, 27) a moving cause is twofold, direct and indirect. A direct cause is one that moves by its own power, as the generator is the moving cause of heavy and light things. An indirect cause, is either one that removes an impediment, or the removal itself of an impediment: and it is in this way that ignorance can be the cause of a sinful act; because it is a privation of knowledge perfecting the reason that forbids the act of sin, in so far as it directs human acts.

Now we must observe that the reason directs human acts in accordance with a twofold knowledge, universal and particular: because in conferring about what is to be done, it employs a syllogism, the conclusion of which is an act of judgment, or of choice, or an operation. Now actions are about singulars: wherefore the conclusion of a practical syllogism is a singular proposition. But a singular proposition does not follow from a universal proposition, except through the medium of a particular proposition: thus a man is restrained from an act of parricide, by the knowledge that it is wrong to kill one's father, and that this man is his father. Hence ignorance about either of these two propositions, viz. of the universal principle which is a rule of reason, or of the particular circumstance, could cause an act of parricide. Hence it is clear that not every kind of ignorance is the cause of a sin, but that alone which removes the knowledge which would prevent the sinful act. Consequently if a man's will be so disposed that he would not be restrained from the act of parricide, even though he recognized his father, his ignorance about his father is not the cause of his committing the sin, but is concomitant with the sin: wherefore such a man sins, not "through ignorance" but "in ignorance," as the Philosopher states (Ethic. iii, 1).

Reply Obj. 1: Non-being cannot be the direct cause of anything: but it can be an accidental cause, as being the removal of an impediment.

Reply Obj. 2: As knowledge, which is removed by ignorance, regards sin as turning towards something, so too, ignorance of this respect of a sin is the cause of that sin, as removing its impediment.

Reply Obj. 3: The will cannot turn to that which is absolutely unknown: but if something be known in one respect, and unknown in another, the will can will it. It is thus that ignorance is the cause of sin: for instance, when a man knows that what he is killing is a man, but not that it is his own father; or when one knows that a certain act is pleasurable, but not that it is a sin.

^Q. 76


Art. 2: Whether ignorance is a sin?[edit]

It would seem that ignorance is not a sin.

Obj. 1: For sin is "a word, deed or desire contrary to God's law," as stated above (Q. 71, A. 5). Now ignorance does not denote an act, either internal or external. Therefore ignorance is not a sin.

Obj. 2: Further, sin is more directly opposed to grace than to knowledge. Now privation of grace is not a sin, but a punishment resulting from sin. Therefore ignorance which is privation of knowledge is not a sin.

Obj. 3: Further, if ignorance is a sin, this can only be in so far as it is voluntary. But if ignorance is a sin, through being voluntary, it seems that the sin will consist in the act itself of the will, rather than in the ignorance. Therefore the ignorance will not be a sin, but rather a result of sin.

Obj. 4: Further, every sin is taken away by repentance, nor does any sin, except only original sin, pass as to guilt, yet remain in act. Now ignorance is not removed by repentance, but remains in act, all its guilt being removed by repentance. Therefore ignorance is not a sin, unless perchance it be original sin.

Obj. 5: Further, if ignorance be a sin, then a man will be sinning, as long as he remains in ignorance. But ignorance is continual in the one who is ignorant. Therefore a person in ignorance would be continually sinning, which is clearly false, else ignorance would be a most grievous sin. Therefore ignorance is not a sin.

On the contrary, Nothing but sin deserves punishment. But ignorance deserves punishment, according to 1 Cor. 14:38: "If any man know not, he shall not be known." Therefore ignorance is a sin.

I answer that, Ignorance differs from nescience, in that nescience denotes mere absence of knowledge; wherefore whoever lacks knowledge about anything, can be said to be nescient about it: in which sense Dionysius puts nescience in the angels (Coel. Hier. vii). On the other hand, ignorance denotes privation of knowledge, i.e. lack of knowledge of those things that one has a natural aptitude to know. Some of these we are under an obligation to know, those, to wit, without the knowledge of which we are unable to accomplish a due act rightly. Wherefore all are bound in common to know the articles of faith, and the universal principles of right, and each individual is bound to know matters regarding his duty or state. Meanwhile there are other things which a man may have a natural aptitude to know, yet he is not bound to know them, such as the geometrical theorems, and contingent particulars, except in some individual case. Now it is evident that whoever neglects to have or do what he ought to have or do, commits a sin of omission. Wherefore through negligence, ignorance of what one is bound to know, is a sin; whereas it is not imputed as a sin to man, if he fails to know what he is unable to know. Consequently ignorance of such like things is called "invincible," because it cannot be overcome by study. For this reason such like ignorance, not being voluntary, since it is not in our power to be rid of it, is not a sin: wherefore it is evident that no invincible ignorance is a sin. On the other hand, vincible ignorance is a sin, if it be about matters one is bound to know; but not, if it be about things one is not bound to know.

Reply Obj. 1: As stated above (Q. 71, A. 6, ad 1), when we say that sin is a "word, deed or desire," we include the opposite negations, by reason of which omissions have the character of sin; so that negligence, in as much as ignorance is a sin, is comprised in the above definition of sin; in so far as one omits to say what one ought, or to do what one ought, or to desire what one ought, in order to acquire the knowledge which we ought to have.

Reply Obj. 2: Although privation of grace is not a sin in itself, yet by reason of negligence in preparing oneself for grace, it may have the character of sin, even as ignorance; nevertheless even here there is a difference, since man can acquire knowledge by his acts, whereas grace is not acquired by acts, but by God's favor.

Reply Obj. 3: Just as in a sin of transgression, the sin consists not only in the act of the will, but also in the act willed, which is commanded by the will; so in a sin of omission not only the act of the will is a sin, but also the omission, in so far as it is in some way voluntary; and accordingly, the neglect to know, or even lack of consideration is a sin.

Reply Obj. 4: Although when the guilt has passed away through repentance, the ignorance remains, according as it is a privation of knowledge, nevertheless the negligence does not remain, by reason of which the ignorance is said to be a sin.

Reply Obj. 5: Just as in other sins of omission, man sins actually only at the time at which the affirmative precept is binding, so is it with the sin of ignorance. For the ignorant man sins actually indeed, not continually, but only at the time for acquiring the knowledge that he ought to have.

^Q. 76


Art. 3: Whether ignorance excuses from sin altogether?[edit]

It would seem that ignorance excuses from sin altogether.

Obj. 1: For as Augustine says (Retract. i, 9), every sin is voluntary. Now ignorance causes involuntariness, as stated above (Q. 6, A. 8). Therefore ignorance excuses from sin altogether.

Obj. 2: Further, that which is done beside the intention, is done accidentally. Now the intention cannot be about what is unknown. Therefore what a man does through ignorance is accidental in human acts. But what is accidental does not give the species. Therefore nothing that is done through ignorance in human acts, should be deemed sinful or virtuous.

Obj. 3: Further, man is the subject of virtue and sin, inasmuch as he is partaker of reason. Now ignorance excludes knowledge which perfects the reason. Therefore ignorance excuses from sin altogether.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. iii, 18) that "some things done through ignorance are rightly reproved." Now those things alone are rightly reproved which are sins. Therefore some things done through ignorance are sins. Therefore ignorance does not altogether excuse from sin.

I answer that, Ignorance, by its very nature, renders the act which it causes involuntary. Now it has already been stated (AA. 1, 2) that ignorance is said to cause the act which the contrary knowledge would have prevented; so that this act, if knowledge were to hand, would be contrary to the will, which is the meaning of the word involuntary. If, however, the knowledge, which is removed by ignorance, would not have prevented the act, on account of the inclination of the will thereto, the lack of this knowledge does not make that man unwilling, but not willing, as stated in Ethic. iii, 1: and such like ignorance which is not the cause of the sinful act, as already stated, since it does not make the act to be involuntary, does not excuse from sin. The same applies to any ignorance that does not cause, but follows or accompanies the sinful act.

On the other hand, ignorance which is the cause of the act, since it makes it to be involuntary, of its very nature excuses from sin, because voluntariness is essential to sin. But it may fail to excuse altogether from sin, and this for two reasons. First, on the part of the thing itself which is not known. For ignorance excuses from sin, in so far as something is not known to be a sin. Now it may happen that a person ignores some circumstance of a sin, the knowledge of which circumstance would prevent him from sinning, whether it belong to the substance of the sin, or not; and nevertheless his knowledge is sufficient for him to be aware that the act is sinful; for instance, if a man strike someone, knowing that it is a man (which suffices for it to be sinful) and yet be ignorant of the fact that it is his father, (which is a circumstance constituting another species of sin); or, suppose that he is unaware that this man will defend himself and strike him back, and that if he had known this, he would not have struck him (which does not affect the sinfulness of the act). Wherefore, though this man sins through ignorance, yet he is not altogether excused, because, not withstanding, he has knowledge of the sin. Secondly, this may happen on the part of the ignorance itself, because, to wit, this ignorance is voluntary, either directly, as when a man wishes of set purpose to be ignorant of certain things that he may sin the more freely; or indirectly, as when a man, through stress of work or other occupations, neglects to acquire the knowledge which would restrain him from sin. For such like negligence renders the ignorance itself voluntary and sinful, provided it be about matters one is bound and able to know. Consequently this ignorance does not altogether excuse from sin. If, however, the ignorance be such as to be entirely involuntary, either through being invincible, or through being of matters one is not bound to know, then such like ignorance excuses from sin altogether.

Reply Obj. 1: Not every ignorance causes involuntariness, as stated above (Q. 6, A. 8). Hence not every ignorance excuses from sin altogether.

Reply Obj. 2: So far as voluntariness remains in the ignorant person, the intention of sin remains in him: so that, in this respect, his sin is not accidental.

Reply Obj. 3: If the ignorance be such as to exclude the use of reason entirely, it excuses from sin altogether, as is the case with madmen and imbeciles: but such is not always the ignorance that causes the sin; and so it does not always excuse from sin altogether.

^Q. 76


Art. 4: Whether ignorance diminishes a sin?[edit]

It would seem that ignorance does not diminish a sin.

Obj. 1: For that which is common to all sins does not diminish sin. Now ignorance is common to all sins, for the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 1) that "every evil man is ignorant." Therefore ignorance does not diminish sin.

Obj. 2: Further, one sin added to another makes a greater sin. But ignorance is itself a sin, as stated above (A. 2). Therefore it does not diminish a sin.

Obj. 3: Further, the same thing does not both aggravate and diminish sin. Now ignorance aggravates sin; for Ambrose commenting on Rom. 2:4, "Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance?" says: "Thy sin is most grievous if thou knowest not." Therefore ignorance does not diminish sin.

Obj. 4: Further, if any kind of ignorance diminishes a sin, this would seem to be chiefly the case as regards the ignorance which removes the use of reason altogether. Now this kind of ignorance does not diminish sin, but increases it: for the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 5) that the "punishment is doubled for a drunken man." Therefore ignorance does not diminish sin.

On the contrary, Whatever is a reason for sin to be forgiven, diminishes sin. Now such is ignorance, as is clear from 1 Tim. 1:13: "I obtained . . . mercy . . . because I did it ignorantly." Therefore ignorance diminishes or alleviates sin.

I answer that, Since every sin is voluntary, ignorance can diminish sin, in so far as it diminishes its voluntariness; and if it does not render it less voluntary, it nowise alleviates the sin. Now it is evident that the ignorance which excuses from sin altogether (through making it altogether involuntary) does not diminish a sin, but does away with it altogether. On the other hand, ignorance which is not the cause of the sin being committed, but is concomitant with it, neither diminishes nor increases the sin.

Therefore sin cannot be alleviated by any ignorance, but only by such as is a cause of the sin being committed, and yet does not excuse from the sin altogether. Now it happens sometimes that such like ignorance is directly and essentially voluntary, as when a man is purposely ignorant that he may sin more freely, and ignorance of this kind seems rather to make the act more voluntary and more sinful, since it is through the will's intention to sin that he is willing to bear the hurt of ignorance, for the sake of freedom in sinning. Sometimes, however, the ignorance which is the cause of a sin being committed, is not directly voluntary, but indirectly or accidentally, as when a man is unwilling to work hard at his studies, the result being that he is ignorant, or as when a man willfully drinks too much wine, the result being that he becomes drunk and indiscreet, and this ignorance diminishes voluntariness and consequently alleviates the sin. For when a thing is not known to be a sin, the will cannot be said to consent to the sin directly, but only accidentally; wherefore, in that case there is less contempt, and therefore less sin.

Reply Obj. 1: The ignorance whereby "every evil man is ignorant," is not the cause of sin being committed, but something resulting from that cause, viz. of the passion or habit inclining to sin.

Reply Obj. 2: One sin added to another makes more sins, but it does not always make a sin greater, since, perchance, the two sins do not coincide, but are separate. It may happen, if the first diminishes the second, that the two together have not the same gravity as one of them alone would have; thus murder is a more grievous sin if committed by a man when sober, than if committed by a man when drunk, although in the latter case there are two sins: because drunkenness diminishes the sinfulness of the resulting sin more than its own gravity implies.

Reply Obj. 3: The words of Ambrose may be understood as referring to simply affected ignorance; or they may have reference to a species of the sin of ingratitude, the highest degree of which is that man even ignores the benefits he has received; or again, they may be an allusion to the ignorance of unbelief, which undermines the foundation of the spiritual edifice.

Reply Obj. 4: The drunken man deserves a "double punishment" for the two sins which he commits, viz. drunkenness, and the sin which results from his drunkenness: and yet drunkenness, on account of the ignorance connected therewith, diminishes the resulting sin, and more, perhaps, than the gravity of the drunkenness implies, as stated above (ad 2). It might also be said that the words quoted refer to an ordinance of the legislator named Pittacus, who ordered drunkards to be more severely punished if they assaulted anyone; having an eye, not to the indulgence which the drunkard might claim, but to expediency, since more harm is done by the drunk than by the sober, as the Philosopher observes (Polit. ii).

^Q. 76

QUESTION 77: OF THE CAUSE OF SIN, ON THE PART OF THE SENSITIVE APPETITE[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

We must now consider the cause of sin, on the part of the sensitive appetite, as to whether a passion of the soul may be a cause of sin: and under this head there are eight points of inquiry:

(1) Whether a passion of the sensitive appetite can move or incline the will?

(2) Whether it can overcome the reason against the latter's knowledge?

(3) Whether a sin resulting from a passion is a sin of weakness?

(4) Whether the passion of self-love is the cause of every sin?

(5) Of three causes mentioned in 1 John 2:16: "Concupiscence of the eyes, Concupiscence of the flesh," and "Pride of life."

(6) Whether the passion which causes a sin diminishes it?

(7) Whether passion excuses from sin altogether?

(8) Whether a sin committed through passion can be mortal?


Art. 1: Whether the will is moved by a passion of the sensitive appetite?[edit]

It would seem that the will is not moved by a passion of the sensitive appetite.

Obj. 1: For no passive power is moved except by its object. Now the will is a power both passive and active, inasmuch as it is mover and moved, as the Philosopher says of the appetitive power in general (De Anima iii, text. 54). Since therefore the object of the will is not a passion of the sensitive appetite, but good defined by the reason, it seems that a passion of the sensitive appetite does not move the will.

Obj. 2: Further, the higher mover is not moved by the lower; thus the soul is not moved by the body. Now the will, which is the rational appetite, is compared to the sensitive appetite, as a higher mover to a lower: for the Philosopher says (De Anima iii, text. 57) that "the rational appetite moves the sensitive appetite, even as, in the heavenly bodies, one sphere moves another." Therefore the will cannot be moved by a passion of the sensitive appetite.

Obj. 3: Further, nothing immaterial can be moved by that which is material. Now the will is an immaterial power, because it does not use a corporeal organ, since it is in the reason, as stated in De Anima iii, text. 42: whereas the sensitive appetite is a material force, since it is seated in an organ of the body. Therefore a passion of the sensitive appetite cannot move the intellective appetite.

On the contrary, It is written (Dan. 13:56): "Lust hath perverted thy heart."

I answer that, A passion of the sensitive appetite cannot draw or move the will directly; but it can do so indirectly, and this in two ways. First, by a kind of distraction: because, since all the soul's powers are rooted in the one essence of the soul, it follows of necessity that, when one power is intent in its act, another power becomes remiss, or is even altogether impeded, in its act, both because all energy is weakened through being divided, so that, on the contrary, through being centered on one thing, it is less able to be directed to several; and because, in the operations of the soul, a certain attention is requisite, and if this be closely fixed on one thing, less attention is given to another. In this way, by a kind of distraction, when the movement of the sensitive appetite is enforced in respect of any passion whatever, the proper movement of the rational appetite or will must, of necessity, become remiss or altogether impeded.

Secondly, this may happen on the part of the will's object, which is good apprehended by reason. Because the judgment and apprehension of reason is impeded on account of a vehement and inordinate apprehension of the imagination and judgment of the estimative power, as appears in those who are out of their mind. Now it is evident that the apprehension of the imagination and the judgment of the estimative power follow the passion of the sensitive appetite, even as the verdict of the taste follows the disposition of the tongue: for which reason we observe that those who are in some kind of passion, do not easily turn their imagination away from the object of their emotion, the result being that the judgment of the reason often follows the passion of the sensitive appetite, and consequently the will's movement follows it also, since it has a natural inclination always to follow the judgment of the reason.

Reply Obj. 1: Although the passion of the sensitive appetite is not the direct object of the will, yet it occasions a certain change in the judgment about the object of the will, as stated.

Reply Obj. 2: The higher mover is not directly moved by the lower; but, in a manner, it can be moved by it indirectly, as stated.

The Third Objection is solved in like manner.

^Q. 77


Art. 2: Whether the reason can be overcome by a passion, against its knowledge?[edit]

It would seem that the reason cannot be overcome by a passion, against its knowledge.

Obj. 1: For the stronger is not overcome by the weaker. Now knowledge, on account of its certitude, is the strongest thing in us. Therefore it cannot be overcome by a passion, which is weak and soon passes away.

Obj. 2: Further, the will is not directed save to the good or the apparent good. Now when a passion draws the will to that which is really good, it does not influence the reason against its knowledge; and when it draws it to that which is good apparently, but not really, it draws it to that which appears good to the reason. But what appears to the reason is in the knowledge of the reason. Therefore a passion never influences the reason against its knowledge.

Obj. 3: Further, if it be said that it draws the reason from its knowledge of something in general, to form a contrary judgment about a particular matter--on the contrary, if a universal and a particular proposition be opposed, they are opposed by contradiction, e.g. "Every man," and "Not every man." Now if two opinions contradict one another, they are contrary to one another, as stated in Peri Herm. ii. If therefore anyone, while knowing something in general, were to pronounce an opposite judgment in a particular case, he would have two contrary opinions at the same time, which is impossible.

Obj. 4: Further, whoever knows the universal, knows also the particular which he knows to be contained in the universal: thus who knows that every mule is sterile, knows that this particular animal is sterile, provided he knows it to be a mule, as is clear from Poster. i, text. 2. Now he who knows something in general, e.g. that "no fornication is lawful," knows this general proposition to contain, for example, the particular proposition, "This is an act of fornication." Therefore it seems that his knowledge extends to the particular.

Obj. 5: Further, according to the Philosopher (Peri Herm. i), "words express the thoughts of the mind." Now it often happens that man, while in a state of passion, confesses that what he has chosen is an evil, even in that particular case. Therefore he has knowledge, even in particular.

Therefore it seems that the passions cannot draw the reason against its universal knowledge; because it is impossible for it to have universal knowledge together with an opposite particular judgment.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Rom. 7:23): "I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin." Now the law that is in the members is concupiscence, of which he had been speaking previously. Since then concupiscence is a passion, it seems that a passion draws the reason counter to its knowledge.

I answer that, As the Philosopher states (Ethic. vii, 2), the opinion of Socrates was that knowledge can never be overcome by passion; wherefore he held every virtue to be a kind of knowledge, and every sin a kind of ignorance. In this he was somewhat right, because, since the object of the will is a good or an apparent good, it is never moved to an evil, unless that which is not good appear good in some respect to the reason; so that the will would never tend to evil, unless there were ignorance or error in the reason. Hence it is written (Prov. 14:22): "They err that work evil."

Experience, however, shows that many act contrary to the knowledge that they have, and this is confirmed by Divine authority, according to the words of Luke 12:47: "The servant who knew that the will of his lord . . . and did not . . . shall be beaten with many stripes," and of James 4:17: "To him . . . who knoweth to do good, and doth it not, to him it is a sin." Consequently he was not altogether right, and it is necessary, with the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 3) to make a distinction. Because, since man is directed to right action by a twofold knowledge, viz. universal and particular, a defect in either of them suffices to hinder the rectitude of the will and of the deed, as stated above (Q. 76, A. 1). It may happen, then, that a man has some knowledge in general, e.g. that no fornication is lawful, and yet he does not know in particular that this act, which is fornication, must not be done; and this suffices for the will not to follow the universal knowledge of the reason. Again, it must be observed that nothing prevents a thing which is known habitually from not being considered actually: so that it is possible for a man to have correct knowledge not only in general but also in particular, and yet not to consider his knowledge actually: and in such a case it does not seem difficult for a man to act counter to what he does not actually consider. Now, that a man sometimes fails to consider in particular what he knows habitually, may happen through mere lack of attention: for instance, a man who knows geometry, may not attend to the consideration of geometrical conclusions, which he is ready to consider at any moment. Sometimes man fails to consider actually what he knows habitually, on account of some hindrance supervening, e.g. some external occupation, or some bodily infirmity; and, in this way, a man who is in a state of passion, fails to consider in particular what he knows in general, in so far as the passions hinder him from considering it. Now it hinders him in three ways. First, by way of distraction, as explained above (A. 1). Secondly, by way of opposition, because a passion often inclines to something contrary to what man knows in general. Thirdly, by way of bodily transmutation, the result of which is that the reason is somehow fettered so as not to exercise its act freely; even as sleep or drunkenness, on account of some change wrought on the body, fetters the use of reason. That this takes place in the passions is evident from the fact that sometimes, when the passions are very intense, man loses the use of reason altogether: for many have gone out of their minds through excess of love or anger. It is in this way that passion draws the reason to judge in particular, against the knowledge which it has in general.

Reply Obj. 1: Universal knowledge, which is most certain, does not hold the foremost place in action, but rather particular knowledge, since actions are about singulars: wherefore it is not astonishing that, in matters of action, passion acts counter to universal knowledge, if the consideration of particular knowledge be lacking.

Reply Obj. 2: The fact that something appears good in particular to the reason, whereas it is not good, is due to a passion: and yet this particular judgment is contrary to the universal knowledge of the reason.

Reply Obj. 3: It is impossible for anyone to have an actual knowledge or true opinion about a universal affirmative proposition, and at the same time a false opinion about a particular negative proposition, or vice versa: but it may well happen that a man has true habitual knowledge about a universal affirmative proposition, and actually a false opinion about a particular negative: because an act is directly opposed, not to a habit, but to an act.

Reply Obj. 4: He that has knowledge in a universal, is hindered, on account of a passion, from reasoning about that universal, so as to draw the conclusion: but he reasons about another universal proposition suggested by the inclination of the passion, and draws his conclusion accordingly. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 3) that the syllogism of an incontinent man has four propositions, two particular and two universal, of which one is of the son, e.g. No fornication is lawful, and the other, of passion, e.g. Pleasure is to be pursued. Hence passion fetters the reason, and hinders it from arguing and concluding under the first proposition; so that while the passion lasts, the reason argues and concludes under the second.

Reply Obj. 5: Even as a drunken man sometimes gives utterance to words of deep signification, of which, however, he is incompetent to judge, his drunkenness hindering him; so that a man who is in a state of passion, may indeed say in words that he ought not to do so and so, yet his inner thought is that he must do it, as stated in Ethic. vii, 3.

^Q. 77


Art. 3: Whether a sin committed through passion, should be called a sin of weakness?[edit]

It would seem that a sin committed through passion should not be called a sin of weakness.

Obj. 1: For a passion is a vehement movement of the sensitive appetite, as stated above (A. 1). Now vehemence of movements is evidence of strength rather than of weakness. Therefore a sin committed through passion, should not be called a sin of weakness.

Obj. 2: Further, weakness in man regards that which is most fragile in him. Now this is the flesh; whence it is written (Ps. 77:39): "He remembered that they are flesh." Therefore sins of weakness should be those which result from bodily defects, rather than those which are due to a passion.

Obj. 3: Further, man does not seem to be weak in respect of things which are subject to his will. Now it is subject to man's will, whether he do or do not the things to which his passions incline him, according to Gen. 4:7: "Thy appetite shall be under thee [*Vulg.: 'The lust thereof shall be under thee.'], and thou shalt have dominion over it." Therefore sin committed through passion is not a sin of weakness.

On the contrary, Cicero (De Quaest. Tusc. iv) calls the passions diseases of the soul. Now weakness is another name for disease. Therefore a sin that arises from passion should be called a sin of weakness.

I answer that, The cause of sin is on the part of the soul, in which, chiefly, sin resides. Now weakness may be applied to the soul by way of likeness to weakness of the body. Accordingly, man's body is said to be weak, when it is disabled or hindered in the execution of its proper action, through some disorder of the body's parts, so that the humors and members of the human body cease to be subject to its governing and motive power. Hence a member is said to be weak, when it cannot do the work of a healthy member, the eye, for instance, when it cannot see clearly, as the Philosopher states (De Hist. Animal. x, 1). Therefore weakness of the soul is when the soul is hindered from fulfilling its proper action on account of a disorder in its parts. Now as the parts of the body are said to be out of order, when they fail to comply with the order of nature, so too the parts of the soul are said to be inordinate, when they are not subject to the order of reason, for the reason is the ruling power of the soul's parts. Accordingly, when the concupiscible or irascible power is affected by any passion contrary to the order of reason, the result being that an impediment arises in the aforesaid manner to the due action of man, it is said to be a sin of weakness. Hence the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 8) compares the incontinent man to an epileptic, whose limbs move in a manner contrary to his intention.

Reply Obj. 1: Just as in the body the stronger the movement against the order of nature, the greater the weakness, so likewise, the stronger the movement of passion against the order of reason, the greater the weakness of the soul.

Reply Obj. 2: Sin consists chiefly in an act of the will, which is not hindered by weakness of the body: for he that is weak in body may have a will ready for action, and yet be hindered by a passion, as stated above (A. 1). Hence when we speak of sins of weakness, we refer to weakness of soul rather than of body. And yet even weakness of soul is called weakness of the flesh, in so far as it is owing to a condition of the flesh that the passions of the soul arise in us through the sensitive appetite being a power using a corporeal organ.

Reply Obj. 3: It is in the will's power to give or refuse its consent to what passion inclines us to do, and it is in this sense that our appetite is said to be under us; and yet this consent or dissent of the will is hindered in the way already explained (A. 1).

^Q. 77


Art. 4: Whether self-love is the source of every sin?[edit]

It would seem that self-love is not the source of every sin.

Obj. 1: For that which is good and right in itself is not the proper cause of sin. Now love of self is a good and right thing in itself: wherefore man is commanded to love his neighbor as himself (Lev. 19:18). Therefore self-love cannot be the proper cause of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, the Apostle says (Rom. 7:8): "Sin taking occasion by the commandment wrought in me all manner of concupiscence"; on which words a gloss says that "the law is good, since by forbidding concupiscence, it forbids all evils," the reason for which is that concupiscence is the cause of every sin. Now concupiscence is a distinct passion from love, as stated above (Q. 3, A. 2; Q. 23, A. 4). Therefore self-love is not the cause of every sin.

Obj. 3: Further, Augustine in commenting on Ps. 79:17, "Things set on fire and dug down," says that "every sin is due either to love arousing us to undue ardor or to fear inducing false humility." Therefore self-love is not the only cause of sin.

Obj. 4: Further, as man sins at times through inordinate love of self, so does he sometimes through inordinate love of his neighbor. Therefore self-love is not the cause of every sin.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 28) that "self-love, amounting to contempt of God, builds up the city of Babylon." Now every sin makes man a citizen of Babylon. Therefore self-love is the cause of every sin.

I answer that, As stated above (Q. 75, A. 1), the proper and direct cause of sin is to be considered on the part of the adherence to a mutable good; in which respect every sinful act proceeds from inordinate desire for some temporal good. Now the fact that anyone desires a temporal good inordinately, is due to the fact that he loves himself inordinately; for to wish anyone some good is to love him. Therefore it is evident that inordinate love of self is the cause of every sin.

Reply Obj. 1: Well ordered self-love, whereby man desires a fitting good for himself, is right and natural; but it is inordinate self-love, leading to contempt of God, that Augustine (De Civ. Dei xiv, 28) reckons to be the cause of sin.

Reply Obj. 2: Concupiscence, whereby a man desires good for himself, is reduced to self-love as to its cause, as stated.

Reply Obj. 3: Man is said to love both the good he desires for himself, and himself to whom he desires it. Love, in so far as it is directed to the object of desire (e.g. a man is said to love wine or money) admits, as its cause, fear which pertains to avoidance of evil: for every sin arises either from inordinate desire for some good, or from inordinate avoidance of some evil. But each of these is reduced to self-love, since it is through loving himself that man either desires good things, or avoids evil things.

Reply Obj. 4: A friend is like another self (Ethic. ix): wherefore the sin which is committed through love for a friend, seems to be committed through self-love.

^Q. 77


Art. 5: Whether concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes, and pride of life are fittingly described as causes of sin?[edit]

It would seem that "concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes, and pride of life" are unfittingly described as causes of sin.

Obj. 1: Because, according to the Apostle (1 Tim. 6:10), "covetousness [*Douay: 'The desire of money'] is the root of all evils." Now pride of life is not included in covetousness. Therefore it should not be reckoned among the causes of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, concupiscence of the flesh is aroused chiefly by what is seen by the eyes, according to Dan. 13:56: "Beauty hath deceived thee." Therefore concupiscence of the eyes should not be condivided with concupiscence of the flesh.

Obj. 3: Further, concupiscence is desire for pleasure, as stated above (Q. 30, A. 2). Now objects of pleasure are perceived not only by the sight, but also by the other senses. Therefore "concupiscence of the hearing" and of the other senses should also have been mentioned.

Obj. 4: Further, just as man is induced to sin, through inordinate desire of good things, so is he also, through inordinate avoidance of evil things, as stated above (A. 4, ad 3). But nothing is mentioned here pertaining to avoidance of evil. Therefore the causes of sin are insufficiently described.

On the contrary, It is written (1 John 2:16): "All that is in the world is concupiscence of the flesh, or [Vulg.: 'and'] pride of life." Now a thing is said to be "in the world" by reason of sin: wherefore it is written (1 John 5:19): "The whole world is seated in wickedness." Therefore these three are causes of sin.

I answer that, As stated above (A. 4), inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin. Now self-love includes inordinate desire of good: for a man desires good for the one he loves. Hence it is evident that inordinate desire of good is the cause of every sin. Now good is, in two ways, the object of the sensitive appetite, wherein are the passions which are the cause of sin: first, absolutely, according as it is the object of the concupiscible part; secondly, under the aspect of difficulty, according as it is the object of the irascible part, as stated above (Q. 23, A. 1). Again, concupiscence is twofold, as stated above (Q. 30, A. 3). One is natural, and is directed to those things which sustain the nature of the body, whether as regards the preservation of the individual, such as food, drink, and the like, or as regards the preservation of the species, such as sexual matters: and the inordinate appetite of such things is called "concupiscence of the flesh." The other is spiritual concupiscence, and is directed to those things which do not afford sustentation or pleasure in respect of the fleshly senses, but are delectable in respect of the apprehension or imagination, or some similar mode of perception; such are money, apparel, and the like; and this spiritual concupiscence is called "concupiscence of the eyes," whether this be taken as referring to the sight itself, of which the eyes are the organ, so as to denote curiosity according to Augustine's exposition (Confess. x); or to the concupiscence of things which are proposed outwardly to the eyes, so as to denote covetousness, according to the explanation of others.

The inordinate appetite of the arduous good pertains to the "pride of life"; for pride is the inordinate appetite of excellence, as we shall state further on (Q. 84, A. 2; II-II, Q. 162, A. 1).

It is therefore evident that all passions that are a cause of sin can be reduced to these three: since all the passions of the concupiscible part can be reduced to the first two, and all the irascible passions to the third, which is not divided into two because all the irascible passions conform to spiritual concupiscence.

Reply Obj. 1: "Pride of life" is included in covetousness according as the latter denotes any kind of appetite for any kind of good. How covetousness, as a special vice, which goes by the name of "avarice," is the root of all sins, shall be explained further on (Q. 84, A. 1).

Reply Obj. 2: "Concupiscence of the eyes" does not mean here the concupiscence for all things which can be seen by the eyes, but only for such things as afford, not carnal pleasure in respect of touch, but in respect of the eyes, i.e. of any apprehensive power.

Reply Obj. 3: The sense of sight is the most excellent of all the senses, and covers a larger ground, as stated in Metaph. i: and so its name is transferred to all the other senses, and even to the inner apprehensions, as Augustine states (De Verb. Dom., serm. xxxiii).

Reply Obj. 4: Avoidance of evil is caused by the appetite for good, as stated above (Q. 25, A. 2; Q. 39, A. 2); and so those passions alone are mentioned which incline to good, as being the causes of those which cause inordinately the avoidance of evil.

^Q. 77


Art. 6: Whether sin is alleviated on account of a passion?[edit]

It would seem that sin is not alleviated on account of passion.

Obj. 1: For increase of cause adds to the effect: thus if a hot thing causes something to melt, a hotter will do so yet more. Now passion is a cause of sin, as stated (A. 5). Therefore the more intense the passion, the greater the sin. Therefore passion does not diminish sin, but increases it.

Obj. 2: Further, a good passion stands in the same relation to merit, as an evil passion does to sin. Now a good passion increases merit: for a man seems to merit the more, according as he is moved by a greater pity to help a poor man. Therefore an evil passion also increases rather than diminishes a sin.

Obj. 3: Further, a man seems to sin the more grievously, according as he sins with a more intense will. But the passion that impels the will makes it tend with greater intensity to the sinful act. Therefore passion aggravates a sin.

On the contrary, The passion of concupiscence is called a temptation of the flesh. But the greater the temptation that overcomes a man, the less grievous his sin, as Augustine states (De Civ. Dei iv, 12).

I answer that, Sin consists essentially in an act of the free will, which is a faculty of the will and reason; while passion is a movement of the sensitive appetite. Now the sensitive appetite can be related to the free-will, antecedently and consequently: antecedently, according as a passion of the sensitive appetite draws or inclines the reason or will, as stated above (AA. 1, 2; Q. 10, A. 3); and consequently, in so far as the movements of the higher powers redound on to the lower, since it is not possible for the will to be moved to anything intensely, without a passion being aroused in the sensitive appetite.

Accordingly if we take passion as preceding the sinful act, it must needs diminish the sin: because the act is a sin in so far as it is voluntary, and under our control. Now a thing is said to be under our control, through the reason and will: and therefore the more the reason and will do anything of their own accord, and not through the impulse of a passion, the more is it voluntary and under our control. In this respect passion diminishes sin, in so far as it diminishes its voluntariness.

On the other hand, a consequent passion does not diminish a sin, but increases it; or rather it is a sign of its gravity, in so far, to wit, as it shows the intensity of the will towards the sinful act; and so it is true that the greater the pleasure or the concupiscence with which anyone sins, the greater the sin.

Reply Obj. 1: Passion is the cause of sin on the part of that to which the sinner turns. But the gravity of a sin is measured on the part of that from which he turns, which results accidentally from his turning to something else--accidentally, i.e. beside his intention. Now an effect is increased by the increase, not of its accidental cause, but of its direct cause.

Reply Obj. 2: A good passion consequent to the judgment of reason increases merit; but if it precede, so that a man is moved to do well, rather by his passion than by the judgment of his reason, such a passion diminishes the goodness and praiseworthiness of his action.

Reply Obj. 3: Although the movement of the will incited by the passion is more intense, yet it is not so much the will's own movement, as if it were moved to sin by the reason alone.

^Q. 77


Art. 7: Whether passion excuses from sin altogether?[edit]

It would seem that passion excuses from sin altogether.

Obj. 1: For whatever causes an act to be involuntary, excuses from sin altogether. But concupiscence of the flesh, which is a passion, makes an act to be involuntary, according to Gal. 5:17: "The flesh lusteth against the spirit . . . so that you do not the things that you would." Therefore passion excuses from sin altogether.

Obj. 2: Further, passion causes a certain ignorance of a particular matter, as stated above (A. 2; Q. 76, A. 3). But ignorance of a particular matter excuses from sin altogether, as stated above (Q. 6, A. 8). Therefore passion excuses from sin altogether.

Obj. 3: Further, disease of the soul is graver than disease of the body. But bodily disease excuses from sin altogether, as in the case of mad people. Much more, therefore, does passion, which is a disease of the soul.

On the contrary, The Apostle (Rom. 7:5) speaks of the passions as "passions of sins," for no other reason than that they cause sin: which would not be the case if they excused from sin altogether. Therefore passion does not excuse from sin altogether.

I answer that, An act which, in its genus, is evil, cannot be excused from sin altogether, unless it be rendered altogether involuntary. Consequently, if the passion be such that it renders the subsequent act wholly involuntary, it entirely excuses from sin; otherwise, it does not excuse entirely. In this matter two points apparently should be observed: first, that a thing may be voluntary either in itself, as when the will tends towards it directly; or in its cause, when the will tends towards that cause and not towards the effect; as is the case with one who wilfully gets drunk, for in that case he is considered to do voluntarily whatever he does through being drunk. Secondly, we must observe that a thing is said to be voluntary "directly" or "indirectly"; directly, if the will tends towards it; indirectly, if the will could have prevented it, but did not.

Accordingly therefore we must make a distinction: because a passion is sometimes so strong as to take away the use of reason altogether, as in the case of those who are mad through love or anger; and then if such a passion were voluntary from the beginning, the act is reckoned a sin, because it is voluntary in its cause, as we have stated with regard to drunkenness. If, however, the cause be not voluntary but natural, for instance, if anyone through sickness or some such cause fall into such a passion as deprives him of the use of reason, his act is rendered wholly involuntary, and he is entirely excused from sin. Sometimes, however, the passion is not such as to take away the use of reason altogether; and then reason can drive the passion away, by turning to other thoughts, or it can prevent it from having its full effect; since the members are not put to work, except by the consent of reason, as stated above (Q. 17, A. 9): wherefore such a passion does not excuse from sin altogether.

Reply Obj. 1: The words, "So that you do not the things that you would" are not to be referred to outward deeds, but to the inner movement of concupiscence; for a man would wish never to desire evil, in which sense we are to understand the words of Rom. 7:19: "The evil which I will not, that I do." Or again they may be referred to the will as preceding the passion, as is the case with the incontinent, who act counter to their resolution on account of their concupiscence.

Reply Obj. 2: The particular ignorance which excuses altogether, is ignorance of a circumstance, which a man is unable to know even after taking due precautions. But passion causes ignorance of law in a particular case, by preventing universal knowledge from being applied to a particular act, which passion the reason is able to drive away, as stated.

Reply Obj. 3: Bodily disease is involuntary: there would be a comparison, however, if it were voluntary, as we have stated about drunkenness, which is a kind of bodily disease.

^Q. 77


Art. 8: Whether a sin committed through passion can be mortal?[edit]

It would seem that sin committed through passion cannot be mortal.

Obj. 1: Because venial sin is condivided with mortal sin. Now sin committed from weakness is venial, since it has in itself a motive for pardon (venia). Since therefore sin committed through passion is a sin of weakness, it seems that it cannot be mortal.

Obj. 2: Further, the cause is more powerful than its effect. But passion cannot be a mortal sin, for there is no mortal sin in the sensuality, as stated above (Q. 74, A. 4). Therefore a sin committed through passion cannot be mortal.

Obj. 3: Further, passion is a hindrance to reason, as explained above (AA. 1, 2). Now it belongs to the reason to turn to God, or to turn away from Him, which is the essence of a mortal sin. Therefore a sin committed through passion cannot be mortal.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Rom. 7:5) that "the passions of the sins . . . work [Vulg.: 'did work'] in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." Now it is proper to mortal sin to bring forth fruit unto death. Therefore sin committed through passion may be mortal.

I answer that, Mortal sin, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 5), consists in turning away from our last end which is God, which aversion pertains to the deliberating reason, whose function it is also to direct towards the end. Therefore that which is contrary to the last end can happen not to be a mortal sin, only when the deliberating reason is unable to come to the rescue, which is the case in sudden movements. Now when anyone proceeds from passion to a sinful act, or to a deliberate consent, this does not happen suddenly: and so the deliberating reason can come to the rescue here, since it can drive the passion away, or at least prevent it from having its effect, as stated above: wherefore if it does not come to the rescue, there is a mortal sin; and it is thus, as we see, that many murders and adulteries are committed through passion.

Reply Obj. 1: A sin may be venial in three ways. First, through its cause, i.e. through having cause to be forgiven, which cause lessens the sin; thus a sin that is committed through weakness or ignorance is said to be venial. Secondly, through its issue; thus every sin, through repentance, becomes venial, i.e. receives pardon (veniam). Thirdly, by its genus, e.g. an idle word. This is the only kind of venial sin that is opposed to mortal sin: whereas the objection regards the first kind.

Reply Obj. 2: Passion causes sin as regards the adherence to something. But that this be a mortal sin regards the aversion, which follows accidentally from the adherence, as stated above (A. 6, ad 1): hence the argument does not prove.

Reply Obj. 3: Passion does not always hinder the act of reason altogether: consequently the reason remains in possession of its free-will, so as to turn away from God, or turn to Him. If, however, the use of reason be taken away altogether, the sin is no longer either mortal or venial.

^Q. 77


QUESTION 78: OF THAT CAUSE OF SIN WHICH IS MALICE[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

We must now consider the cause of sin on the part of the will, viz. malice: and under this head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether it is possible for anyone to sin through certain malice, i.e. purposely?

(2) Whether everyone that sins through habit, sins through certain malice?

(3) Whether every one that sins through certain malice, sins through habit?

(4) Whether it is more grievous to sin through certain malice, than through passion?


Art. 1: Whether anyone sins through certain malice?[edit]

It would seem that no one sins purposely, or through certain malice.

Obj. 1: Because ignorance is opposed to purpose or certain malice. Now "every evil man is ignorant," according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 1); and it is written (Prov. 14:22): "They err that work evil." Therefore no one sins through certain malice.

Obj. 2: Further, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that "no one works intending evil." Now to sin through malice seems to denote the intention of doing evil [*Alluding to the derivation of malitia (malice) from malum (evil)] in sinning, because an act is not denominated from that which is unintentional and accidental. Therefore no one sins through malice.

Obj. 3: Further, malice itself is a sin. If therefore malice is a cause of sin, it follows that sin goes on causing sin indefinitely, which is absurd. Therefore no one sins through malice.

On the contrary, It is written (Job 34:27): "[Who] as it were on purpose have revolted from God [Vulg.: 'Him'], and would not understand all His ways." Now to revolt from God is to sin. Therefore some sin purposely or through certain malice.

I answer that, Man like any other being has naturally an appetite for the good; and so if his appetite incline away to evil, this is due to corruption or disorder in some one of the principles of man: for it is thus that sin occurs in the actions of natural things. Now the principles of human acts are the intellect, and the appetite, both rational (i.e. the will) and sensitive. Therefore even as sin occurs in human acts, sometimes through a defect of the intellect, as when anyone sins through ignorance, and sometimes through a defect in the sensitive appetite, as when anyone sins through passion, so too does it occur through a defect consisting in a disorder of the will. Now the will is out of order when it loves more the lesser good. Again, the consequence of loving a thing less is that one chooses to suffer some hurt in its regard, in order to obtain a good that one loves more: as when a man, even knowingly, suffers the loss of a limb, that he may save his life which he loves more. Accordingly when an inordinate will loves some temporal good, e.g. riches or pleasure, more than the order of reason or Divine law, or Divine charity, or some such thing, it follows that it is willing to suffer the loss of some spiritual good, so that it may obtain possession of some temporal good. Now evil is merely the privation of some good; and so a man wishes knowingly a spiritual evil, which is evil simply, whereby he is deprived of a spiritual good, in order to possess a temporal good: wherefore he is said to sin through certain malice or on purpose, because he chooses evil knowingly.

Reply Obj. 1: Ignorance sometimes excludes the simple knowledge that a particular action is evil, and then man is said to sin through ignorance: sometimes it excludes the knowledge that a particular action is evil at this particular moment, as when he sins through passion: and sometimes it excludes the knowledge that a particular evil is not to be suffered for the sake of possessing a particular good, but not the simple knowledge that it is an evil: it is thus that a man is ignorant, when he sins through certain malice.

Reply Obj. 2: Evil cannot be intended by anyone for its own sake; but it can be intended for the sake of avoiding another evil, or obtaining another good, as stated above: and in this case anyone would choose to obtain a good intended for its own sake, without suffering loss of the other good; even as a lustful man would wish to enjoy a pleasure without offending God; but with the two set before him to choose from, he prefers sinning and thereby incurring God's anger, to being deprived of the pleasure.

Reply Obj. 3: The malice through which anyone sins, may be taken to denote habitual malice, in the sense in which the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 1) calls an evil habit by the name of malice, just as a good habit is called virtue: and in this way anyone is said to sin through malice when he sins through the inclination of a habit. It may also denote actual malice, whether by malice we mean the choice itself of evil (and thus anyone is said to sin through malice, in so far as he sins through making a choice of evil), or whether by malice we mean some previous fault that gives rise to a subsequent fault, as when anyone impugns the grace of his brother through envy. Nor does this imply that a thing is its own cause: for the interior act is the cause of the exterior act, and one sin is the cause of another; not indefinitely, however, since we can trace it back to some previous sin, which is not caused by any previous sin, as was explained above (Q. 75, A. 4, ad 3).

^Q. 78


Art. 2: Whether everyone that sins through habit, sins through certain malice?[edit]

It would seem that not every one who sins through habit, sins through certain malice.

Obj. 1: Because sin committed through certain malice, seems to be most grievous. Now it happens sometimes that a man commits a slight sin through habit, as when he utters an idle word. Therefore sin committed from habit is not always committed through certain malice.

Obj. 2: Further, "Acts proceeding from habits are like the acts by which those habits were formed" (Ethic. ii, 1, 2). But the acts which precede a vicious habit are not committed through certain malice. Therefore the sins that arise from habit are not committed through certain malice.

Obj. 3: Further, when a man commits a sin through certain malice, he is glad after having done it, according to Prov. 2:14: "Who are glad when they have done evil, and rejoice in most wicked things": and this, because it is pleasant to obtain what we desire, and to do those actions which are connatural to us by reason of habit. But those who sin through habit, are sorrowful after committing a sin: because "bad men," i.e. those who have a vicious habit, "are full of remorse" (Ethic. ix, 4). Therefore sins that arise from habit are not committed through certain malice.

On the contrary, A sin committed through certain malice is one that is done through choice of evil. Now we make choice of those things to which we are inclined by habit, as stated in Ethic. vi, 2 with regard to virtuous habits. Therefore a sin that arises from habit is committed through certain malice.

I answer that, There is a difference between a sin committed by one who has the habit, and a sin committed by habit: for it is not necessary to use a habit, since it is subject to the will of the person who has that habit. Hence habit is defined as being "something we use when we will," as stated above (Q. 50, A. 1). And thus, even as it may happen that one who has a vicious habit may break forth into a virtuous act, because a bad habit does not corrupt reason altogether, something of which remains unimpaired, the result being that a sinner does some works which are generically good; so too it may happen sometimes that one who has a vicious habit, acts, not from that habit, but through the uprising of a passion, or again through ignorance. But whenever he uses the vicious habit he must needs sin through certain malice: because to anyone that has a habit, whatever is befitting to him in respect of that habit, has the aspect of something lovable, since it thereby becomes, in a way, connatural to him, according as custom and habit are a second nature. Now the very thing which befits a man in respect of a vicious habit, is something that excludes a spiritual good: the result being that a man chooses a spiritual evil, that he may obtain possession of what befits him in respect of that habit: and this is to sin through certain malice. Wherefore it is evident that whoever sins through habit, sins through certain malice.

Reply Obj. 1: Venial sin does not exclude spiritual good, consisting in the grace of God or charity. Wherefore it is an evil, not simply, but in a relative sense: and for that reason the habit thereof is not a simple but a relative evil.

Reply Obj. 2: Acts proceeding from habits are of like species as the acts from which those habits were formed: but they differ from them as perfect from imperfect. Such is the difference between sin committed through certain malice and sin committed through passion.

Reply Obj. 3: He that sins through habit is always glad for what he does through habit, as long as he uses the habit. But since he is able not to use the habit, and to think of something else, by means of his reason, which is not altogether corrupted, it may happen that while not using the habit he is sorry for what he has done through the habit. And so it often happens that such a man is sorry for his sin not because sin in itself is displeasing to him, but on account of his reaping some disadvantage from the sin.

^Q. 78


Art. 3: Whether one who sins through certain malice, sins through habit?[edit]

It would seem that whoever sins through certain malice, sins through habit.

Obj. 1: For the Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 9) that "an unjust action is not done as an unjust man does it," i.e. through choice, "unless it be done through habit." Now to sin through certain malice is to sin through making a choice of evil, as stated above (A. 1). Therefore no one sins through certain malice, unless he has the habit of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, Origen says (Peri Archon iii) that "a man is not suddenly ruined and lost, but must needs fall away little by little." But the greatest fall seems to be that of the man who sins through certain malice. Therefore a man comes to sin through certain malice, not from the outset, but from inveterate custom, which may engender a habit.

Obj. 3: Further, whenever a man sins through certain malice, his will must needs be inclined of itself to the evil he chooses. But by the nature of that power man is inclined, not to evil but to good. Therefore if he chooses evil, this must be due to something supervening, which is passion or habit. Now when a man sins through passion, he sins not through certain malice, but through weakness, as stated (Q. 77, A. 3). Therefore whenever anyone sins through certain malice, he sins through habit.

On the contrary, The good habit stands in the same relation to the choice of something good, as the bad habit to the choice of something evil. But it happens sometimes that a man, without having the habit of a virtue, chooses that which is good according to that virtue. Therefore sometimes also a man, without having the habit of a vice, may choose evil, which is to sin through certain malice.

I answer that, The will is related differently to good and to evil. Because from the very nature of the power, it is inclined to the rational good, as its proper object; wherefore every sin is said to be contrary to nature. Hence, if a will be inclined, by its choice, to some evil, this must be occasioned by something else. Sometimes, in fact, this is occasioned through some defect in the reason, as when anyone sins through ignorance; and sometimes this arises through the impulse of the sensitive appetite, as when anyone sins through passion. Yet neither of these amounts to a sin through certain malice; for then alone does anyone sin through certain malice, when his will is moved to evil of its own accord. This may happen in two ways. First, through his having a corrupt disposition inclining him to evil, so that, in respect of that disposition, some evil is, as it were, suitable and similar to him; and to this thing, by reason of its suitableness, the will tends, as to something good, because everything tends, of its own accord, to that which is suitable to it. Moreover this corrupt disposition is either a habit acquired by custom, or a sickly condition on the part of the body, as in the case of a man who is naturally inclined to certain sins, by reason of some natural corruption in himself. Secondly, the will, of its own accord, may tend to an evil, through the removal of some obstacle: for instance, if a man be prevented from sinning, not through sin being in itself displeasing to him, but through hope of eternal life, or fear of hell, if hope give place to despair, or fear to presumption, he will end in sinning through certain malice, being freed from the bridle, as it were.

It is evident, therefore, that sin committed through certain malice, always presupposes some inordinateness in man, which, however, is not always a habit: so that it does not follow of necessity, if a man sins through certain malice, that he sins through habit.

Reply Obj. 1: To do an action as an unjust man does, may be not only to do unjust things through certain malice, but also to do them with pleasure, and without any notable resistance on the part of reason, and this occurs only in one who has a habit.

Reply Obj. 2: It is true that a man does not fall suddenly into sin from certain malice, and that something is presupposed; but this something is not always a habit, as stated above.

Reply Obj. 3: That which inclines the will to evil, is not always a habit or a passion, but at times is something else. Moreover, there is no comparison between choosing good and choosing evil: because evil is never without some good of nature, whereas good can be perfect without the evil of fault.

^Q. 78


Art. 4: Whether it is more grievous to sin through certain malice than through passion?[edit]

It would seem that it is not more grievous to sin through certain malice than through passion.

Obj. 1: Because ignorance excuses from sin either altogether or in part. Now ignorance is greater in one who sins through certain malice, than in one who sins through passion; since he that sins through certain malice suffers from the worst form of ignorance, which according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 8) is ignorance of principle, for he has a false estimation of the end, which is the principle in matters of action. Therefore there is more excuse for one who sins through certain malice, than for one who sins through passion.

Obj. 2: Further, the more a man is impelled to sin, the less grievous his sin, as is clear with regard to a man who is thrown headlong into sin by a more impetuous passion. Now he that sins through certain malice, is impelled by habit, the impulse of which is stronger than that of passion. Therefore to sin through habit is less grievous than to sin through passion.

Obj. 3: Further, to sin through certain malice is to sin through choosing evil. Now he that sins through passion, also chooses evil. Therefore he does not sin less than the man who sins through certain malice.

On the contrary, A sin that is committed on purpose, for this very reason deserves heavier punishment, according to Job 34:26: "He hath struck them as being wicked, in open sight, who, as it were, on purpose, have revolted from Him." Now punishment is not increased except for a graver fault. Therefore a sin is aggravated through being done on purpose, i.e. through certain malice.

I answer that, A sin committed through malice is more grievous than a sin committed through passion, for three reasons. First, because, as sin consists chiefly in an act of the will, it follows that, other things being equal, a sin is all the more grievous, according as the movement of the sin belongs more to the will. Now when a sin is committed through malice, the movement of sin belongs more to the will, which is then moved to evil of its own accord, than when a sin is committed through passion, when the will is impelled to sin by something extrinsic, as it were. Wherefore a sin is aggravated by the very fact that it is committed through certain malice, and so much the more, as the malice is greater; whereas it is diminished by being committed through passion, and so much the more, as the passion is stronger. Secondly, because the passion which incites the will to sin, soon passes away, so that man repents of his sin, and soon returns to his good intentions; whereas the habit, through which a man sins, is a permanent quality, so that he who sins through malice, abides longer in his sin. For this reason the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 8) compares the intemperate man, who sins through malice, to a sick man who suffers from a chronic disease, while he compares the incontinent man, who sins through passion, to one who suffers intermittently. Thirdly, because he who sins through certain malice is ill-disposed in respect of the end itself, which is the principle in matters of action; and so the defect is more dangerous than in the case of the man who sins through passion, whose purpose tends to a good end, although this purpose is interrupted on account of the passion, for the time being. Now the worst of all defects is defect of principle. Therefore it is evident that a sin committed through malice is more grievous than one committed through passion.

Reply Obj. 1: Ignorance of choice, to which the objection refers, neither excuses nor diminishes a sin, as stated above (Q. 76, A. 4). Therefore neither does a greater ignorance of the kind make a sin to be less grave.

Reply Obj. 2: The impulse due to passion, is, as it were, due to a defect which is outside the will: whereas, by a habit, the will is inclined from within. Hence the comparison fails.

Reply Obj. 3: It is one thing to sin while choosing, and another to sin through choosing. For he that sins through passion, sins while choosing, but not through choosing, because his choosing is not for him the first principle of his sin; for he is induced through the passion, to choose what he would not choose, were it not for the passion. On the other hand, he that sins through certain malice, chooses evil of his own accord, in the way already explained (AA. 2, 3), so that his choosing, of which he has full control, is the principle of his sin: and for this reason he is said to sin "through" choosing.

^Q. 78


QUESTION 79: OF THE EXTERNAL CAUSES OF SIN[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

We must now consider the external causes of sin, and

(1) on the part of God [Q. 79];

(2) on the part of the devil [Q. 80];

(3) on the part of man [QQ. 81-83].


Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether God is a cause of sin?

(2) Whether the act of sin is from God?

(3) Whether God is the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart?

(4) Whether these things are directed to the salvation of those who are blinded or hardened?


Art. 1: Whether God is a cause of sin?[edit]

It would seem that God is a cause of sin.

Obj. 1: For the Apostle says of certain ones (Rom. 1:28): "God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not right [Douay: 'convenient']," and a gloss comments on this by saying that "God works in men's hearts, by inclining their wills to whatever He wills, whether to good or to evil." Now sin consists in doing what is not right, and in having a will inclined to evil. Therefore God is to man a cause of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, it is written (Wis. 14:11): "The creatures of God are turned to an abomination; and a temptation to the souls of men." But a temptation usually denotes a provocation to sin. Since therefore creatures were made by God alone, as was established in the First Part (Q. 44, A. 1), it seems that God is a cause of sin, by provoking man to sin.

Obj. 3: Further, the cause of the cause is the cause of the effect. Now God is the cause of the free-will, which itself is the cause of sin. Therefore God is the cause of sin.

Obj. 4: Further, every evil is opposed to good. But it is not contrary to God's goodness that He should cause the evil of punishment; since of this evil it is written (Isa. 45:7) that God creates evil, and (Amos 3:6): "Shall there be evil in the city which God [Vulg.: 'the Lord'] hath not done?" Therefore it is not incompatible with God's goodness that He should cause the evil of fault.

On the contrary, It is written (Wis. 11:25): "Thou . . . hatest none of the things which Thou hast made." Now God hates sin, according to Wis. 14:9: "To God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful." Therefore God is not a cause of sin.

I answer that, Man is, in two ways, a cause either of his own or of another's sin. First, directly, namely by inclining his or another's will to sin; secondly, indirectly, namely by not preventing someone from sinning. Hence (Ezech. 3:18) it is said to the watchman: "If thou say not to the wicked: 'Thou shalt surely die' [*Vulg.: "If, when I say to the wicked, 'Thou shalt surely die,' thou declare it not to him."] . . . I will require his blood at thy hand." Now God cannot be directly the cause of sin, either in Himself or in another, since every sin is a departure from the order which is to God as the end: whereas God inclines and turns all things to Himself as to their last end, as Dionysius states (Div. Nom. i): so that it is impossible that He should be either to Himself or to another the cause of departing from the order which is to Himself. Therefore He cannot be directly the cause of sin. In like manner neither can He cause sin indirectly. For it happens that God does not give some the assistance, whereby they may avoid sin, which assistance were He to give, they would not sin. But He does all this according to the order of His wisdom and justice, since He Himself is Wisdom and Justice: so that if someone sin it is not imputable to Him as though He were the cause of that sin; even as a pilot is not said to cause the wrecking of the ship, through not steering the ship, unless he cease to steer while able and bound to steer. It is therefore evident that God is nowise a cause of sin.

Reply Obj. 1: As to the words of the Apostle, the solution is clear from the text. For if God delivered some up to a reprobate sense, it follows that they already had a reprobate sense, so as to do what was not right. Accordingly He is said to deliver them up to a reprobate sense, in so far as He does not hinder them from following that reprobate sense, even as we are said to expose a person to danger if we do not protect him. The saying of Augustine (De Grat. et Lib. Arb. xxi, whence the gloss quoted is taken) to the effect that "God inclines men's wills to good and evil," is to be understood as meaning that He inclines the will directly to good; and to evil, in so far as He does not hinder it, as stated above. And yet even this is due as being deserved through a previous sin.

Reply Obj. 2: When it is said the "creatures of God are turned 'to' an abomination, and a temptation to the souls of men," the preposition "to" does not denote causality but sequel [*This is made clear by the Douay Version: the Latin "factae sunt in abominationem" admits of the translation "were made to be an abomination," which might imply causality.]; for God did not make the creatures that they might be an evil to man; this was the result of man's folly, wherefore the text goes on to say, "and a snare to the feet of the unwise," who, to wit, in their folly, use creatures for a purpose other than that for which they were made.

Reply Obj. 3: The effect which proceeds from the middle cause, according as it is subordinate to the first cause, is reduced to that first cause; but if it proceed from the middle cause, according as it goes outside the order of the first cause, it is not reduced to that first cause: thus if a servant do anything contrary to his master's orders, it is not ascribed to the master as though he were the cause thereof. In like manner sin, which the free-will commits against the commandment of God, is not attributed to God as being its cause.

Reply Obj. 4: Punishment is opposed to the good of the person punished, who is thereby deprived of some good or other: but fault is opposed to the good of subordination to God; and so it is directly opposed to the Divine goodness; consequently there is no comparison between fault and punishment.

^Q. 79


Art. 2: Whether the act of sin is from God?[edit]

It would seem that the act of sin is not from God.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says (De Perfect. Justit. ii) that "the act of sin is not a thing." Now whatever is from God is a thing. Therefore the act of sin is not from God.

Obj. 2: Further, man is not said to be the cause of sin, except because he is the cause of the sinful act: for "no one works, intending evil," as Dionysius states (Div. Nom. iv). Now God is not a cause of sin, as stated above (A. 1). Therefore God is not the cause of the act of sin.

Obj. 3: Further, some actions are evil and sinful in their species, as was shown above (Q. 18, AA. 2, 8). Now whatever is the cause of a thing, causes whatever belongs to it in respect of its species. If therefore God caused the act of sin, He would be the cause of sin, which is false, as was proved above (A. 1). Therefore God is not the cause of the act of sin.

On the contrary, The act of sin is a movement of the free-will. Now "the will of God is the cause of every movement," as Augustine declares (De Trin. iii, 4, 9). Therefore God's will is the cause of the act of sin.

I answer that, The act of sin is both a being and an act; and in both respects it is from God. Because every being, whatever the mode of its being, must be derived from the First Being, as Dionysius declares (Div. Nom. v). Again every action is caused by something existing in act, since nothing produces an action save in so far as it is in act; and every being in act is reduced to the First Act, viz. God, as to its cause, Who is act by His Essence. Therefore God is the cause of every action, in so far as it is an action. But sin denotes a being and an action with a defect: and this defect is from the created cause, viz. the free-will, as falling away from the order of the First Agent, viz. God. Consequently this defect is not reduced to God as its cause, but to the free-will: even as the defect of limping is reduced to a crooked leg as its cause, but not to the motive power, which nevertheless causes whatever there is of movement in the limping. Accordingly God is the cause of the act of sin: and yet He is not the cause of sin, because He does not cause the act to have a defect.

Reply Obj. 1: In this passage Augustine calls by the name of "thing," that which is a thing simply, viz. substance; for in this sense the act of sin is not a thing.

Reply Obj. 2: Not only the act, but also the defect, is reduced to man as its cause, which defect consists in man not being subject to Whom he ought to be, although he does not intend this principally. Wherefore man is the cause of the sin: while God is the cause of the act, in such a way, that nowise is He the cause of the defect accompanying the act, so that He is not the cause of the sin.

Reply Obj. 3: As stated above (Q. 72, A. 1), acts and habits do not take their species from the privation itself, wherein consists the nature of evil, but from some object, to which that privation is united: and so this defect which consists in not being from God, belongs to the species of the act consequently, and not as a specific difference.

^Q. 79


Art. 3: Whether God is the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart?[edit]

It would seem that God is not the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says (Qq. lxxxiii, qu. 3) that God is not the cause of that which makes man worse. Now man is made worse by spiritual blindness and hardness of heart. Therefore God is not the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.

Obj. 2: Further, Fulgentius says (De Dupl. Praedest. i, 19): "God does not punish what He causes." Now God punishes the hardened heart, according to Ecclus. 3:27: "A hard heart shall fear evil at the last." Therefore God is not the cause of hardness of heart.

Obj. 3: Further, the same effect is not put down to contrary causes. But the cause of spiritual blindness is said to be the malice of man, according to Wis. 2:21: "For their own malice blinded them," and again, according to 2 Cor. 4:4: "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers": which causes seem to be opposed to God. Therefore God is not the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.

On the contrary, It is written (Isa. 6:10): "Blind the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy," and Rom. 9:18: "He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth."

I answer that, Spiritual blindness and hardness of heart imply two things. One is the movement of the human mind in cleaving to evil, and turning away from the Divine light; and as regards this, God is not the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart, just as He is not the cause of sin. The other thing is the withdrawal of grace, the result of which is that the mind is not enlightened by God to see aright, and man's heart is not softened to live aright; and as regards this God is the cause of spiritual blindness and hardness of heart.

Now we must consider that God is the universal cause of the enlightening of souls, according to John 1:9: "That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world," even as the sun is the universal cause of the enlightening of bodies, though not in the same way; for the sun enlightens by necessity of nature, whereas God works freely, through the order of His wisdom. Now although the sun, so far as it is concerned, enlightens all bodies, yet if it be encountered by an obstacle in a body, it leaves it in darkness, as happens to a house whose window-shutters are closed, although the sun is in no way the cause of the house being darkened, since it does not act of its own accord in failing to light up the interior of the house; and the cause of this is the person who closed the shutters. On the other hand, God, of His own accord, withholds His grace from those in whom He finds an obstacle: so that the cause of grace being withheld is not only the man who raises an obstacle to grace; but God, Who, of His own accord, withholds His grace. In this way, God is the cause of spiritual blindness, deafness of ear, and hardness of heart.

These differ from one another in respect of the effects of grace, which both perfects the intellect by the gift of wisdom, and softens the affections by the fire of charity. And since two of the senses excel in rendering service to the intellect, viz. sight and hearing, of which the former assists "discovery," and the latter, "teaching," hence it is that spiritual "blindness" corresponds to sight, "heaviness of the ears" to hearing, and "hardness of heart" to the affections.

Reply Obj. 1: Blindness and hardheartedness, as regards the withholding of grace, are punishments, and therefore, in this respect, they make man no worse. It is because he is already worsened by sin that he incurs them, even as other punishments.

Reply Obj. 2: This argument considers hardheartedness in so far as it is a sin.

Reply Obj. 3: Malice is the demeritorious cause of blindness, just as sin is the cause of punishment: and in this way too, the devil is said to blind, in so far as he induces man to sin.

^Q. 79


Art. 4: Whether blindness and hardness of heart are directed to the salvation of those who are blinded and hardened?[edit]

It would seem that blindness and hardness of heart are always directed to the salvation of those who are blinded and hardened.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says (Enchiridion xi) that "as God is supremely good, He would nowise allow evil to be done, unless He could draw some good from every evil." Much more, therefore, does He direct to some good, the evil of which He Himself is the cause. Now God is the cause of blindness and hardness of heart, as stated above (A. 3). Therefore they are directed to the salvation of those who are blinded and hardened.

Obj. 2: Further, it is written (Wis. 1:13) that "God hath no pleasure in the destruction of the ungodly [*Vulg.: 'God made not death, neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living.']." Now He would seem to take pleasure in their destruction, if He did not turn their blindness to their profit: just as a physician would seem to take pleasure in torturing the invalid, if he did not intend to heal the invalid when he prescribes a bitter medicine for him. Therefore God turns blindness to the profit of those who are blinded.

Obj. 3: Further, "God is not a respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). Now He directs the blinding of some, to their salvation, as in the case of some of the Jews, who were blinded so as not to believe in Christ, and, through not believing, to slay Him, and afterwards were seized with compunction, and converted, as related by Augustine (De Quaest. Evang. iii). Therefore God turns all blindness to the spiritual welfare of those who are blinded.

Obj. 4: On the other hand, according to Rom. 3:8, evil should not be done, that good may ensue. Now blindness is an evil. Therefore God does not blind some for the sake of their welfare.

I answer that, Blindness is a kind of preamble to sin. Now sin has a twofold relation--to one thing directly, viz. to the sinner's damnation--to another, by reason of God's mercy or providence, viz. that the sinner may be healed, in so far as God permits some to fall into sin, that by acknowledging their sin, they may be humbled and converted, as Augustine states (De Nat. et Grat. xxii). Therefore blindness, of its very nature, is directed to the damnation of those who are blinded; for which reason it is accounted an effect of reprobation. But, through God's mercy, temporary blindness is directed medicinally to the spiritual welfare of those who are blinded. This mercy, however, is not vouchsafed to all those who are blinded, but only to the predestinated, to whom "all things work together unto good" (Rom. 8:28). Therefore as regards some, blindness is directed to their healing; but as regards others, to their damnation; as Augustine says (De Quaest. Evang. iii).

Reply Obj. 1: Every evil that God does, or permits to be done, is directed to some good; yet not always to the good of those in whom the evil is, but sometimes to the good of others, or of the whole universe: thus He directs the sin of tyrants to the good of the martyrs, and the punishment of the lost to the glory of His justice.

Reply Obj. 2: God does not take pleasure in the loss of man, as regards the loss itself, but by reason of His justice, or of the good that ensues from the loss.

Reply Obj. 3: That God directs the blindness of some to their spiritual welfare, is due to His mercy; but that the blindness of others is directed to their loss is due to His justice: and that He vouchsafes His mercy to some, and not to all, does not make God a respecter of persons, as explained in the First Part (Q. 23, A. 5, ad 3).

Reply Obj. 4: Evil of fault must not be done, that good may ensue; but evil of punishment must be inflicted for the sake of good.

^Q. 79

QUESTION 80: OF THE CAUSE OF SIN, AS REGARDS THE DEVIL[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

We must now consider the cause of sin, as regards the devil; and under this head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether the devil is directly the cause of sin?

(2) Whether the devil induces us to sin, by persuading us inwardly?

(3) Whether he can make us sin of necessity?

(4) Whether all sins are due to the devil's suggestion?


Art. 1: Whether the devil is directly the cause of man's sinning?[edit]

It would seem that the devil is directly the cause of man's sinning.

Obj. 1: For sin consists directly in an act of the appetite. Now Augustine says (De Trin. iv, 12) that "the devil inspires his friends with evil desires"; and Bede, commenting on Acts 5:3, says that the devil "draws the mind to evil desires"; and Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii, 41; iii, 5) that the devil "fills men's hearts with secret lusts." Therefore the devil is directly the cause of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, Jerome says (Contra Jovin. ii, 2) that "as God is the perfecter of good, so is the devil the perfecter of evil." But God is directly the cause of our good. Therefore the devil is directly the cause of our sins.

Obj. 3: Further, the Philosopher says in a chapter of the Eudeme[a]n Ethics (vii, 18): "There must needs be some extrinsic principle of human counsel." Now human counsel is not only about good things but also about evil things. Therefore, as God moves man to take good counsel, and so is the cause of good, so the devil moves him to take evil counsel, and consequently is directly the cause of sin.

On the contrary, Augustine proves (De Lib. Arb. i, 11) that "nothing else than his own will makes man's mind the slave of his desire." Now man does not become a slave to his desires, except through sin. Therefore the cause of sin cannot be the devil, but man's own will alone.

I answer that, Sin is an action: so that a thing can be directly the cause of sin, in the same way as anyone is directly the cause of an action; and this can only happen by moving that action's proper principle to act. Now the proper principle of a sinful action is the will, since every sin is voluntary. Consequently nothing can be directly the cause of sin, except that which can move the will to act.

Now the will, as stated above (Q. 9, AA. 3, 4, 6), can be moved by two things: first by its object, inasmuch as the apprehended appetible is said to move the appetite: secondly by that agent which moves the will inwardly to will, and this is no other than the will itself, or God, as was shown above (Q. 9, AA. 3, 4, 6). Now God cannot be the cause of sin, as stated above (Q. 79, A. 1). Therefore it follows that in this respect, a man's will alone is directly the cause of his sin.

As regards the object, a thing may be understood as moving the will in three ways. First, the object itself which is proposed to the will: thus we say that food arouses man's desire to eat. Secondly, he that proposes or offers this object. Thirdly, he that persuades the will that the object proposed has an aspect of good, because he also, in a fashion, offers the will its proper object, which is a real or apparent good of reason. Accordingly, in the first way the sensible things, which approach from without, move a man's will to sin. In the second and third ways, either the devil or a man may incite to sin, either by offering an object of appetite to the senses, or by persuading the reason. But in none of these three ways can anything be the direct cause of sin, because the will is not, of necessity, moved by any object except the last end, as stated above (Q. 10, AA. 1, 2). Consequently neither the thing offered from without, nor he that proposes it, nor he that persuades, is the sufficient cause of sin. Therefore it follows that the devil is a cause of sin, neither directly nor sufficiently, but only by persuasion, or by proposing the object of appetite.

Reply Obj. 1: All these, and other like authorities, if we meet with them, are to be understood as denoting that the devil induces man to affection for a sin, either by suggesting to him, or by offering him objects of appetite.

Reply Obj. 2: This comparison is true in so far as the devil is somewhat the cause of our sins, even as God is in a certain way the cause of our good actions, but does not extend to the mode of causation: for God causes good things in us by moving the will inwardly, whereas the devil cannot move us in this way.

Reply Obj. 3: God is the universal principle of all inward movements of man; but that the human will be determined to an evil counsel, is directly due to the human will, and to the devil as persuading or offering the object of appetite.

^Q. 80


Art. 2: Whether the devil can induce man to sin, by internal instigations?[edit]

It would seem that the devil cannot induce man to sin, by internal instigations.

Obj. 1: Because the internal movements of the soul are vital functions. Now no vital functions can be exercised except by an intrinsic principle, not even those of the vegetal soul, which are the lowest of vital functions. Therefore the devil cannot instigate man to evil through his internal movements.

Obj. 2: Further, all the internal movements arise from the external senses according to the order of nature. Now it belongs to God alone to do anything beside the order of nature, as was stated in the First Part (Q. 110, A. 4). Therefore the devil cannot effect anything in man's internal movements, except in respect of things which are perceived by the external senses.

Obj. 3: Further, the internal acts of the soul are to understand and to imagine. Now the devil can do nothing in connection with either of these, because, as stated in the First Part (Q. 111, AA. 2, 3, ad 2), the devil cannot impress species on the human intellect, nor does it seem possible for him to produce imaginary species, since imaginary forms, being more spiritual, are more excellent than those which are in sensible matter, which, nevertheless, the devil is unable to produce, as is clear from what we have said in the First Part (Q. 110, A. 2; Q. 111, AA. 2, 3, ad 2). Therefore the devil cannot through man's internal movements induce him to sin.

On the contrary, In that case, the devil would never tempt man, unless he appeared visibly; which is evidently false.

I answer that, The interior part of the soul is intellective and sensitive; and the intellective part contains the intellect and the will. As regards the will, we have already stated (A. 1; I, Q. 111, A. 1) what is the devil's relation thereto. Now the intellect, of its very nature, is moved by that which enlightens it in the knowledge of truth, which the devil has no intention of doing in man's regard; rather does he darken man's reason so that it may consent to sin, which darkness is due to the imagination and sensitive appetite. Consequently the operation of the devil seems to be confined to the imagination and sensitive appetite, by moving either of which he can induce man to sin. For his operation may result in presenting certain forms to the imagination; and he is able to incite the sensitive appetite to some passion or other.

The reason of this is, that as stated in the First Part (Q. 110, A. 3), the corporeal nature has a natural aptitude to be moved locally by the spiritual nature: so that the devil can produce all those effects which can result from the local movement of bodies here below, except he be restrained by the Divine power. Now the representation of forms to the imagination is due, sometimes, to local movement: for the Philosopher says (De Somno et Vigil.) [*De Insomn. iii, iv.] that "when an animal sleeps, the blood descends in abundance to the sensitive principle, and the movements descend with it, viz. the impressions left by the action of sensible objects, which impressions are preserved by means of sensible species, and continue to move the apprehensive principle, so that they appear just as though the sensitive principles were being affected by them at the time." Hence such a local movement of the vital spirits or humors can be procured by the demons, whether man sleep or wake: and so it happens that man's imagination is brought into play.

In like manner, the sensitive appetite is incited to certain passions according to certain fixed movements of the heart and the vital spirits: wherefore the devil can cooperate in this also. And through certain passions being aroused in the sensitive appetite, the result is that man more easily perceives the movement or sensible image which is brought in the manner explained, before the apprehensive principle, since, as the Philosopher observes (De Somno et Virgil.: De Insomn. iii, iv), "lovers are moved, by even a slight likeness, to an apprehension of the beloved." It also happens, through the rousing of a passion, that what is put before the imagination, is judged, as being something to be pursued, because, to him who is held by a passion, whatever the passion inclines him to, seems good. In this way the devil induces man inwardly to sin.

Reply Obj. 1: Although vital functions are always from an intrinsic principle, yet an extrinsic agent can cooperate with them, even as external heat cooperates with the functions of the vegetal soul, that food may be more easily digested.

Reply Obj. 2: This apparition of imaginary forms is not altogether outside the order of nature, nor is it due to a command alone, but according to local movement, as explained above.

Consequently the Reply to the Third Objection is clear, because these forms are received originally from the senses.

^Q. 80


Art. 3: Whether the devil can induce man to sin of necessity?[edit]

It would seem that the devil can induce man to sin of necessity.

Obj. 1: Because the greater can compel the lesser. Now it is said of the devil (Job 41:24) that "there is no power on earth that can compare with him." Therefore he can compel man to sin, while he dwells on the earth.

Obj. 2: Further, man's reason cannot be moved except in respect of things that are offered outwardly to the senses, or are represented to the imagination: because "all our knowledge arises from the senses, and we cannot understand without a phantasm" (De Anima iii, text. 30. 39). Now the devil can move man's imagination, as stated above (A. 2); and also the external senses, for Augustine says (Qq. lxxxiii, qu. 12) that "this evil," of which, to wit, the devil is the cause, "extends gradually through all the approaches to the senses, it adapts itself to shapes, blends with colors, mingles with sounds, seasons every flavor." Therefore it can incline man's reason to sin of necessity.

Obj. 3: Further, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix, 4) that "there is some sin when the flesh lusteth against the spirit." Now the devil can cause concupiscence of the flesh, even as other passions, in the way explained above (A. 2). Therefore he can induce man to sin of necessity.

On the contrary, It is written (1 Pet. 5:8): "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." Now it would be useless to admonish thus, if it were true that man were under the necessity of succumbing to the devil. Therefore he cannot induce man to sin of necessity.

Further, it is likewise written (Jam. 4:7): "Be subject . . . to God, but resist the devil, and he will fly from you," which would be said neither rightly nor truly, if the devil were able to compel us, in any way whatever, to sin; for then neither would it be possible to resist him, nor would he fly from those who do. Therefore he does not compel to sin.

I answer that, The devil, by his own power, unless he be restrained by God, can compel anyone to do an act which, in its genus, is a sin; but he cannot bring about the necessity of sinning. This is evident from the fact that man does not resist that which moves him to sin, except by his reason; the use of which the devil is able to impede altogether, by moving the imagination and the sensitive appetite; as is the case with one who is possessed. But then, the reason being thus fettered, whatever man may do, it is not imputed to him as a sin. If, however, the reason is not altogether fettered, then, in so far as it is free, it can resist sin, as stated above (Q. 77, A. 7). It is consequently evident that the devil can nowise compel man to sin.

Reply Obj. 1: Not every power that is greater than man, can move man's will; God alone can do this, as stated above (Q. 9, A. 6).

Reply Obj. 2: That which is apprehended by the senses or the imagination does not move the will, of necessity, so long as man has the use of reason; nor does such an apprehension always fetter the reason.

Reply Obj. 3: The lusting of the flesh against the spirit, when the reason actually resists it, is not a sin, but is matter for the exercise of virtue. That reason does not resist, is not in the devil's power; wherefore he cannot bring about the necessity of sinning.

^Q. 80


Art. 4: Whether all the sins of men are due to the devil's suggestion?[edit]

It would seem that all the sins of men are due to the devil's suggestion.

Obj. 1: For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that the "crowd of demons are the cause of all evils, both to themselves and to others."

Obj. 2: Further, whoever sins mortally, becomes the slave of the devil, according to John 8:34: "Whosoever committeth sin is the slave [Douay: 'servant'] of sin." Now "by whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave" (2 Pet. 2:19). Therefore whoever commits a sin, has been overcome by the devil.

Obj. 3: Further, Gregory says (Moral. iv, 10) the sin of the devil is irreparable, because he sinned at no other's suggestion. Therefore, if any men were to sin of their own free-will and without suggestion from any other, their sin would be irremediable: which is clearly false. Therefore all the sins of men are due to the devil's suggestion.

On the contrary, It is written (De Eccl. Dogm. lxxxii): "Not all our evil thoughts are incited by the devil; sometimes they are due to a movement of the free-will."

I answer that, the devil is the occasional and indirect cause of all our sins, in so far as he induced the first man to sin, by reason of whose sin human nature is so infected, that we are all prone to sin: even as the burning of wood might be imputed to the man who dried the wood so as to make it easily inflammable. He is not, however, the direct cause of all the sins of men, as though each were the result of his suggestion. Origen proves this (Peri Archon iii, 2) from the fact that even if the devil were no more, men would still have the desire for food, sexual pleasures and the like; which desire might be inordinate, unless it were subordinate to reason, a matter that is subject to the free-will.

Reply Obj. 1: The crowd of demons are the cause of all our evils, as regards their original cause, as stated.

Reply Obj. 2: A man becomes another's slave not only by being overcome by him, but also by subjecting himself to him spontaneously: it is thus that one who sins of his own accord, becomes the slave of the devil.

Reply Obj. 3: The devil's sin was irremediable, not only because he sinned without another's suggestion; but also because he was not already prone to sin, on account of any previous sin; which can be said of no sin of man.

^Q. 80


QUESTION 81: OF THE CAUSE OF SIN, ON THE PART OF MAN[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

We must now consider the cause of sin, on the part of man. Now, while man, like the devil, is the cause of another's sin, by outward suggestion, he has a certain special manner of causing sin, by way of origin. Wherefore we must speak about original sin, the consideration of which will be three-fold:

(1) Of its transmission [Q. 81];

(2) of its essence [Q. 82];

(3) of its subject [Q. 83].


Under the first head there are five points of inquiry:

(1) Whether man's first sin is transmitted, by way of origin to his descendants?

(2) Whether all the other sins of our first parent, or of any other parents, are transmitted to their descendants, by way of origin?

(3) Whether original sin is contracted by all those who are begotten of Adam by way of seminal generation?

(4) Whether it would be contracted by anyone formed miraculously from some part of the human body?

(5) Whether original sin would have been contracted if the woman, and not the man, had sinned?


Art. 1: Whether the first sin of our first parent is contracted by his descendants, by way of origin?[edit]

It would seem that the first sin of our first parent is not contracted by others, by way of origin.

Obj. 1: For it is written (Ezech. 18:20): "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father." But he would bear the iniquity if he contracted it from him. Therefore no one contracts any sin from one of his parents by way of origin.

Obj. 2: Further, an accident is not transmitted by way of origin, unless its subject be also transmitted, since accidents do not pass from one subject to another. Now the rational soul which is the subject of sin, is not transmitted by way of origin, as was shown in the First Part (Q. 118, A. 2). Therefore neither can any sin be transmitted by way of origin.

Obj. 3: Further, whatever is transmitted by way of human origin, is caused by the semen. But the semen cannot cause sin, because it lacks the rational part of the soul, which alone can be a cause of sin. Therefore no sin can be contracted by way of origin.

Obj. 4: Further, that which is more perfect in nature, is more powerful in action. Now perfect flesh cannot infect the soul united to it, else the soul could not be cleansed of original sin, so long as it is united to the body. Much less, therefore, can the semen infect the soul.

Obj. 5: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 5): "No one finds fault with those who are ugly by nature, but only those who are so through want of exercise and through carelessness." Now those are said to be "naturally ugly," who are so from their origin. Therefore nothing which comes by way of origin is blameworthy or sinful.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Rom. 5:12): "By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death." Nor can this be understood as denoting imitation or suggestion, since it is written (Wis. 2:24): "By the envy of the devil, death came into this world." It follows therefore that through origin from the first man sin entered into the world.

I answer that, According to the Catholic Faith we are bound to hold that the first sin of the first man is transmitted to his descendants, by way of origin. For this reason children are taken to be baptized soon after their birth, to show that they have to be washed from some uncleanness. The contrary is part of the Pelagian heresy, as is clear from Augustine in many of his books [*For instance, Retract. i, 9; De Pecc. Merit. et Remiss. ix; Contra Julian. iii, 1; De Dono Persev. xi, xii.]

In endeavoring to explain how the sin of our first parent could be transmitted by way of origin to his descendants, various writers have gone about it in various ways. For some, considering that the subject of sin is the rational soul, maintained that the rational soul is transmitted with the semen, so that thus an infected soul would seem to produce other infected souls. Others, rejecting this as erroneous, endeavored to show how the guilt of the parent's soul can be transmitted to the children, even though the soul be not transmitted, from the fact that defects of the body are transmitted from parent to child--thus a leper may beget a leper, or a gouty man may be the father of a gouty son, on account of some seminal corruption, although this corruption is not leprosy or gout. Now since the body is proportionate to the soul, and since the soul's defects redound into the body, and vice versa, in like manner, say they, a culpable defect of the soul is passed on to the child, through the transmission of the semen, albeit the semen itself is not the subject of the guilt.

But all these explanations are insufficient. Because, granted that some bodily defects are transmitted by way of origin from parent to child, and granted that even some defects of the soul are transmitted in consequence, on account of a defect in the bodily habit, as in the case of idiots begetting idiots; nevertheless the fact of having a defect by the way of origin seems to exclude the notion of guilt, which is essentially something voluntary. Wherefore granted that the rational soul were transmitted, from the very fact that the stain on the child's soul is not in its will, it would cease to be a guilty stain binding its subject to punishment; for, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 5), "no one reproaches a man born blind; one rather takes pity on him."

Therefore we must explain the matter otherwise by saying that all men born of Adam may be considered as one man, inasmuch as they have one common nature, which they receive from their first parents; even as in civil matters, all who are members of one community are reputed as one body, and the whole community as one man. Indeed Porphyry says (Praedic., De Specie) that "by sharing the same species, many men are one man." Accordingly the multitude of men born of Adam, are as so many members of one body. Now the action of one member of the body, of the hand for instance, is voluntary not by the will of that hand, but by the will of the soul, the first mover of the members. Wherefore a murder which the hand commits would not be imputed as a sin to the hand, considered by itself as apart from the body, but is imputed to it as something belonging to man and moved by man's first moving principle. In this way, then, the disorder which is in this man born of Adam, is voluntary, not by his will, but by the will of his first parent, who, by the movement of generation, moves all who originate from him, even as the soul's will moves all the members to their actions. Hence the sin which is thus transmitted by the first parent to his descendants is called "original," just as the sin which flows from the soul into the bodily members is called "actual." And just as the actual sin that is committed by a member of the body, is not the sin of that member, except inasmuch as that member is a part of the man, for which reason it is called a "human sin"; so original sin is not the sin of this person, except inasmuch as this person receives his nature from his first parent, for which reason it is called the "sin of nature," according to Eph. 2:3: "We . . . were by nature children of wrath."

Reply Obj. 1: The son is said not to bear the iniquity of his father, because he is not punished for his father's sin, unless he share in his guilt. It is thus in the case before us: because guilt is transmitted by the way of origin from father to son, even as actual sin is transmitted through being imitated.

Reply Obj. 2: Although the soul is not transmitted, because the power in the semen is not able to cause the rational soul, nevertheless the motion of the semen is a disposition to the transmission of the rational soul: so that the semen by its own power transmits the human nature from parent to child, and with that nature, the stain which infects it: for he that is born is associated with his first parent in his guilt, through the fact that he inherits his nature from him by a kind of movement which is that of generation.

Reply Obj. 3: Although the guilt is not actually in the semen, yet human nature is there virtually accompanied by that guilt.

Reply Obj. 4: The semen is the principle of generation, which is an act proper to nature, by helping it to propagate itself. Hence the soul is more infected by the semen, than by the flesh which is already perfect, and already affixed to a certain person.

Reply Obj. 5: A man is not blamed for that which he has from his origin, if we consider the man born, in himself. But it we consider him as referred to a principle, then he may be reproached for it: thus a man may from his birth be under a family disgrace, on account of a crime committed by one of his forbears.

^Q. 81


Art. 2: Whether also other sins of the first parent or of nearer ancestors are transmitted to their descendants?[edit]

It would seem that also other sins, whether of the first parent or of nearer ancestors, are transmitted to their descendants.

Obj. 1: For punishment is never due unless for fault. Now some are punished by the judgment of God for the sin of their immediate parents, according to Ex. 20:5: "I am . . . God . . . jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation." Furthermore, according to human law, the children of those who are guilty of high treason are disinherited. Therefore the guilt of nearer ancestors is also transmitted to their descendants.

Obj. 2: Further, a man can better transmit to another, that which he has of himself, than that which he has received from another: thus fire heats better than hot water does. Now a man transmits to his children, by the way, of origin, the sin which he has from Adam. Much more therefore should he transmit the sin which he has contracted of himself.

Obj. 3: Further, the reason why we contract original sin from our first parent is because we were in him as in the principle of our nature, which he corrupted. But we were likewise in our nearer ancestors, as in principles of our nature, which however it be corrupt, can be corrupted yet more by sin, according to Apoc. 22:11: "He that is filthy, let him be filthier still." Therefore children contract, by the way of origin, the sins of their nearer ancestors, even as they contract the sin of their first parent.

On the contrary, Good is more self-diffusive than evil. But the merits of the nearer ancestors are not transmitted to their descendants. Much less therefore are their sins.

I answer that, Augustine puts this question in the Enchiridion xlvi, xlvii, and leaves it unsolved. Yet if we look into the matter carefully we shall see that it is impossible for the sins of the nearer ancestors, or even any other but the first sin of our first parent to be transmitted by way of origin. The reason is that a man begets his like in species but not in individual. Consequently those things that pertain directly to the individual, such as personal actions and matters affecting them, are not transmitted by parents to their children: for a grammarian does not transmit to his son the knowledge of grammar that he has acquired by his own studies. On the other hand, those things that concern the nature of the species, are transmitted by parents to their children, unless there be a defect of nature: thus a man with eyes begets a son having eyes, unless nature fails. And if nature be strong, even certain accidents of the individual pertaining to natural disposition, are transmitted to the children, e.g. fleetness of body, acuteness of intellect, and so forth; but nowise those that are purely personal, as stated above.

Now just as something may belong to the person as such, and also something through the gift of grace, so may something belong to the nature as such, viz. whatever is caused by the principles of nature, and something too through the gift of grace. In this way original justice, as stated in the First Part (Q. 100, A. 1), was a gift of grace, conferred by God on all human nature in our first parent. This gift the first man lost by his first sin. Wherefore as that original justice together with the nature was to have been transmitted to his posterity, so also was its disorder. Other actual sins, however, whether of the first parent or of others, do not corrupt the nature as nature, but only as the nature of that person, i.e. in respect of the proneness to sin: and consequently other sins are not transmitted.

Reply Obj. 1: According to Augustine in his letter to Avitus [*Ep. ad Auxilium ccl.], children are never inflicted with spiritual punishment on account of their parents, unless they share in their guilt, either in their origin, or by imitation, because every soul is God's immediate property, as stated in Ezech. 18:4. Sometimes, however, by Divine or human judgment, children receive bodily punishment on their parents' account, inasmuch as the child, as to its body, is part of its father.

Reply Obj. 2: A man can more easily transmit that which he has of himself, provided it be transmissible. But the actual sins of our nearer ancestors are not transmissible, because they are purely personal, as stated above.

Reply Obj. 3: The first sin infects nature with a human corruption pertaining to nature; whereas other sins infect it with a corruption pertaining only to the person.

^Q. 81


Art. 3: Whether the sin of the first parent is transmitted, by the way of origin, to all men?[edit]

It would seem that the sin of the first parent is not transmitted, by the way of origin, to all men.

Obj. 1: Because death is a punishment consequent upon original sin. But not all those, who are born of the seed of Adam, will die: since those who will be still living at the coming of our Lord, will never die, as, seemingly, may be gathered from 1 Thess. 4:14: "We who are alive . . . unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who have slept." Therefore they do not contract original sin.

Obj. 2: Further, no one gives another what he has not himself. Now a man who has been baptized has not original sin. Therefore he does not transmit it to his children.

Obj. 3: Further, the gift of Christ is greater than the sin of Adam, as the Apostle declares (Rom. 5:15, seqq). But the gift of Christ is not transmitted to all men: neither, therefore, is the sin of Adam.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Rom. 5:12): "Death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned."

I answer that, According to the Catholic Faith we must firmly believe that, Christ alone excepted, all men descended from Adam contract original sin from him; else all would not need redemption [*Cf. Translator's note inserted before III, Q. 27] which is through Christ; and this is erroneous. The reason for this may be gathered from what has been stated (A. 1), viz. that original sin, in virtue of the sin of our first parent, is transmitted to his posterity, just as, from the soul's will, actual sin is transmitted to the members of the body, through their being moved by the will. Now it is evident that actual sin can be transmitted to all such members as have an inborn aptitude to be moved by the will. Therefore original sin is transmitted to all those who are moved by Adam by the movement of generation.

Reply Obj. 1: It is held with greater probability and more commonly that all those that are alive at the coming of our Lord, will die, and rise again shortly, as we shall state more fully in the Third Part (Suppl., Q. 78, A. 1, Obj. 1). If, however, it be true, as others hold, that they will never die, (an opinion which Jerome mentions among others in a letter to Minerius, on the Resurrection of the Body--Ep. cxix), then we must say in reply to the objection, that although they are not to die, the debt of death is none the less in them, and that the punishment of death will be remitted by God, since He can also forgive the punishment due for actual sins.

Reply Obj. 2: Original sin is taken away by Baptism as to the guilt, in so far as the soul recovers grace as regards the mind. Nevertheless original sin remains in its effect as regards the fomes, which is the disorder of the lower parts of the soul and of the body itself, in respect of which, and not of the mind, man exercises his power of generation. Consequently those who are baptized transmit original sin: since they do not beget as being renewed in Baptism, but as still retaining something of the oldness of the first sin.

Reply Obj. 3: Just as Adam's sin is transmitted to all who are born of Adam corporally, so is the grace of Christ transmitted to all that are begotten of Him spiritually, by faith and Baptism: and this, not only unto the removal of sin of their first parent, but also unto the removal of actual sins, and the obtaining of glory.

^Q. 81


Art. 4: Whether original sin would be contracted by a person formed miraculously from human flesh?[edit]

It would seem that original sin would be contracted by a person formed miraculously from human flesh.

Obj. 1: For a gloss on Gen. 4:1 says that "Adam's entire posterity was corrupted in his loins, because they were not severed from him in the place of life, before he sinned, but in the place of exile after he had sinned." But if a man were to be formed in the aforesaid manner, his flesh would be severed in the place of exile. Therefore it would contract original sin.

Obj. 2: Further, original sin is caused in us by the soul being infected through the flesh. But man's flesh is entirely corrupted. Therefore a man's soul would contract the infection of original sin, from whatever part of the flesh it was formed.

Obj. 3: Further, original sin comes upon all from our first parent, in so far as we were all in him when he sinned. But those who might be formed out of human flesh, would have been in Adam. Therefore they would contract original sin.

On the contrary, They would not have been in Adam according to seminal virtue, which alone is the cause of the transmission of original sin, as Augustine states (Gen. ad lit. x, 18, seqq.).

I answer that, As stated above (AA. 1, 3), original sin is transmitted from the first parent to his posterity, inasmuch as they are moved by him through generation, even as the members are moved by the soul to actual sin. Now there is no movement to generation except by the active power of generation: so that those alone contract original sin, who are descended from Adam through the active power of generation originally derived from Adam, i.e. who are descended from him through seminal power; for the seminal power is nothing else than the active power of generation. But if anyone were to be formed by God out of human flesh, it is evident that the active power would not be derived from Adam. Consequently he would not contract original sin: even as a hand would have no part in a human sin, if it were moved, not by the man's will, but by some external power.

Reply Obj. 1: Adam was not in the place of exile until after his sin. Consequently it is not on account of the place of exile, but on account of the sin, that original sin is transmitted to those to whom his active generation extends.

Reply Obj. 2: The flesh does not corrupt the soul, except in so far as it is the active principle in generation, as we have stated.

Reply Obj. 3: If a man were to be formed from human flesh, he would have been in Adam, "by way of bodily substance" [*The expression is St. Augustine's (Gen. ad lit. x). Cf. Summa Theologica, III, Q. 31, A. 6, Reply to First Objection.], but not according to seminal virtue, as stated above. Therefore he would not contract original sin.

^Q. 81


Art. 5: Whether if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would have contracted original sin?[edit]

It would seem that if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would have contracted original sin.

Obj. 1: Because we contract original sin from our parents, in so far as we were once in them, according to the word of the Apostle (Rom. 5:12): "In whom all have sinned." Now a man pre-exists in his mother as well as in his father. Therefore a man would have contracted original sin from his mother's sin as well as from his father's.

Obj. 2: Further, if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would have been born liable to suffering and death, since it is "the mother" that "provides the matter in generation" as the Philosopher states (De Gener. Animal. ii, 1, 4), when death and liability to suffering are the necessary results of matter. Now liability to suffering and the necessity of dying are punishments of original sin. Therefore if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would contract original sin.

Obj. 3: Further, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 3) that "the Holy Ghost came upon the Virgin," (of whom Christ was to be born without original sin) "purifying her." But this purification would not have been necessary, if the infection of original sin were not contracted from the mother. Therefore the infection of original sin is contracted from the mother: so that if Eve had sinned, her children would have contracted original sin, even if Adam had not sinned.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Rom. 5:12): "By one man sin entered into this world." Now if the woman would have transmitted original sin to her children, he should have said that it entered by two, since both of them sinned, or rather that it entered by a woman, since she sinned first. Therefore original sin is transmitted to the children, not by the mother, but by the father.

I answer that, The solution of this question is made clear by what has been said. For it has been stated (A. 1) that original sin is transmitted by the first parent in so far as he is the mover in the begetting of his children: wherefore it has been said (A. 4) that if anyone were begotten materially only, of human flesh, they would not contract original sin. Now it is evident that in the opinion of philosophers, the active principle of generation is from the father, while the mother provides the matter. Therefore original sin is contracted, not from the mother, but from the father: so that, accordingly, if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would not contract original sin: whereas, if Adam, and not Eve, had sinned, they would contract it.

Reply Obj. 1: The child pre-exists in its father as in its active principle, and in its mother, as in its material and passive principle. Consequently the comparison fails.

Reply Obj. 2: Some hold that if Eve, and not Adam, had sinned, their children would be immune from the sin, but would have been subject to the necessity of dying and to other forms of suffering that are a necessary result of the matter which is provided by the mother, not as punishments, but as actual defects. This, however, seems unreasonable. Because, as stated in the First Part (Q. 97, AA. 1, 2, ad 4), immortality and impassibility, in the original state, were a result, not of the condition of matter, but of original justice, whereby the body was subjected to the soul, so long as the soul remained subject to God. Now privation of original justice is original sin. If, therefore, supposing Adam had not sinned, original sin would not have been transmitted to posterity on account of Eve's sin; it is evident that the children would not have been deprived of original justice: and consequently they would not have been liable to suffer and subject to the necessity of dying.

Reply Obj. 3: This prevenient purification in the Blessed Virgin was not needed to hinder the transmission of original sin, but because it behooved the Mother of God "to shine with the greatest purity" [*Cf. Anselm, De Concep. Virg. xviii.]. For nothing is worthy to receive God unless it be pure, according to Ps. 92:5: "Holiness becometh Thy House, O Lord."

^Q. 81


QUESTION 82: OF ORIGINAL SIN, AS TO ITS ESSENCE[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

We must now consider original sin as to its essence, and under this head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether original sin is a habit?

(2) Whether there is but one original sin in each man?

(3) Whether original sin is concupiscence?

(4) Whether original sin is equally in all?


Art. 1: Whether original sin is a habit?[edit]

It would seem that original sin is not a habit.

Obj. 1: For original sin is the absence of original justice, as Anselm states (De Concep. Virg. ii, iii, xxvi), so that original sin is a privation. But privation is opposed to habit. Therefore original sin is not a habit.

Obj. 2: Further, actual sin has the nature of fault more than original sin, in so far as it is more voluntary. Now the habit of actual sin has not the nature of a fault, else it would follow that a man while asleep, would be guilty of sin. Therefore no original habit has the nature of a fault.

Obj. 3: Further, in wickedness act always precedes habit, because evil habits are not infused, but acquired. Now original sin is not preceded by an act. Therefore original sin is not a habit.

On the contrary, Augustine says in his book on the Baptism of infants (De Pecc. Merit. et Remiss. i, 39) that on account of original sin little children have the aptitude of concupiscence though they have not the act. Now aptitude denotes some kind of habit. Therefore original sin is a habit.

I answer that, As stated above (Q. 49, A. 4; Q. 50, A. 1), habit is twofold. The first is a habit whereby power is inclined to an act: thus science and virtue are called habits. In this way original sin is not a habit. The second kind of habit is the disposition of a complex nature, whereby that nature is well or ill disposed to something, chiefly when such a disposition has become like a second nature, as in the case of sickness or health. In this sense original sin is a habit. For it is an inordinate disposition, arising from the destruction of the harmony which was essential to original justice, even as bodily sickness is an inordinate disposition of the body, by reason of the destruction of that equilibrium which is essential to health. Hence it is that original sin is called the "languor of nature" [*Cf. Augustine, In Ps. 118, serm. iii].

Reply Obj. 1: As bodily sickness is partly a privation, in so far as it denotes the destruction of the equilibrium of health, and partly something positive, viz. the very humors that are inordinately disposed, so too original sin denotes the privation of original justice, and besides this, the inordinate disposition of the parts of the soul. Consequently it is not a pure privation, but a corrupt habit.

Reply Obj. 2: Actual sin is an inordinateness of an act: whereas original sin, being the sin of nature, is an inordinate disposition of nature, and has the character of fault through being transmitted from our first parent, as stated above (Q. 81, A. 1). Now this inordinate disposition of nature is a kind of habit, whereas the inordinate disposition of an act is not: and for this reason original sin can be a habit, whereas actual sin cannot.

Reply Obj. 3: This objection considers the habit which inclines a power to an act: but original sin is not this kind of habit. Nevertheless a certain inclination to an inordinate act does follow from original sin, not directly, but indirectly, viz. by the removal of the obstacle, i.e. original justice, which hindered inordinate movements: just as an inclination to inordinate bodily movements results indirectly from bodily sickness. Nor is it necessary to say that original sin is a habit "infused," or a habit "acquired" (except by the act of our first parent, but not by our own act): but it is a habit "inborn" due to our corrupt origin.

^Q. 82


Art. 2: Whether there are several original sins in one man?[edit]

It would seem that there are many original sins in one man.

Obj. 1: For it is written (Ps. 50:7): "Behold I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother conceive me." But the sin in which a man is conceived is original sin. Therefore there are several original sins in man.

Obj. 2: Further, one and the same habit does not incline its subject to contraries: since the inclination of habit is like that of nature which tends to one thing. Now original sin, even in one man, inclines to various and contrary sins. Therefore original sin is not one habit; but several.

Obj. 3: Further, original sin infects every part of the soul. Now the different parts of the soul are different subjects of sin, as shown above (Q. 74). Since then one sin cannot be in different subjects, it seems that original sin is not one but several.

On the contrary, It is written (John 1:29): "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sin of the world": and the reason for the employment of the singular is that the "sin of the world" is original sin, as a gloss expounds this passage.

I answer that, In one man there is one original sin. Two reasons may be assigned for this. The first is on the part of the cause of original sin. For it has been stated (Q. 81, A. 2), that the first sin alone of our first parent was transmitted to his posterity. Wherefore in one man original sin is one in number; and in all men, it is one in proportion, i.e. in relation to its first principle. The second reason may be taken from the very essence of original sin. Because in every inordinate disposition, unity of species depends on the cause, while the unity of number is derived from the subject. For example, take bodily sickness: various species of sickness proceed from different causes, e.g. from excessive heat or cold, or from a lesion in the lung or liver; while one specific sickness in one man will be one in number. Now the cause of this corrupt disposition that is called original sin, is one only, viz. the privation of original justice, removing the subjection of man's mind to God. Consequently original sin is specifically one, and, in one man, can be only one in number; while, in different men, it is one in species and in proportion, but is numerically many.

Reply Obj. 1: The employment of the plural--"in sins"--may be explained by the custom of the Divine Scriptures in the frequent use of the plural for the singular, e.g. "They are dead that sought the life of the child"; or by the fact that all actual sins virtually pre-exist in original sin, as in a principle so that it is virtually many; or by the fact of there being many deformities in the sin of our first parent, viz. pride, disobedience, gluttony, and so forth; or by several parts of the soul being infected by original sin.

Reply Obj. 2: Of itself and directly, i.e. by its own form, one habit cannot incline its subject to contraries. But there is no reason why it should not do so, indirectly and accidentally, i.e. by the removal of an obstacle: thus, when the harmony of a mixed body is destroyed, the elements have contrary local tendencies. In like manner, when the harmony of original justice is destroyed, the various powers of the soul have various opposite tendencies.

Reply Obj. 3: Original sin infects the different parts of the soul, in so far as they are the parts of one whole; even as original justice held all the soul's parts together in one. Consequently there is but one original sin: just as there is but one fever in one man, although the various parts of the body are affected.

^Q. 82

Art. 3: Whether original sin is concupiscence?[edit]

It would seem that original sin is not concupiscence.

Obj. 1: For every sin is contrary to nature, according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 4, 30). But concupiscence is in accordance with nature, since it is the proper act of the concupiscible faculty which is a natural power. Therefore concupiscence is not original sin.

Obj. 2: Further, through original sin "the passions of sins" are in us, according to the Apostle (Rom. 7:5). Now there are several other passions besides concupiscence, as stated above (Q. 23, A. 4). Therefore original sin is not concupiscence any more than another passion.

Obj. 3: Further, by original sin, all the parts of the soul are disordered, as stated above (A. 2, Obj. 3). But the intellect is the highest of the soul's parts, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. x, 7). Therefore original sin is ignorance rather than concupiscence.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Retract. i, 15): "Concupiscence is the guilt of original sin."

I answer that, Everything takes its species from its form: and it has been stated (A. 2) that the species of original sin is taken from its cause. Consequently the formal element of original sin must be considered in respect of the cause of original sin. But contraries have contrary causes. Therefore the cause of original sin must be considered with respect to the cause of original justice, which is opposed to it. Now the whole order of original justice consists in man's will being subject to God: which subjection, first and chiefly, was in the will, whose function it is to move all the other parts to the end, as stated above (Q. 9, A. 1), so that the will being turned away from God, all the other powers of the soul become inordinate. Accordingly the privation of original justice, whereby the will was made subject to God, is the formal element in original sin; while every other disorder of the soul's powers, is a kind of material element in respect of original sin. Now the inordinateness of the other powers of the soul consists chiefly in their turning inordinately to mutable good; which inordinateness may be called by the general name of concupiscence. Hence original sin is concupiscence, materially, but privation of original justice, formally.

Reply Obj. 1: Since, in man, the concupiscible power is naturally governed by reason, the act of concupiscence is so far natural to man, as it is in accord with the order of reason; while, in so far as it trespasses beyond the bounds of reason, it is, for a man, contrary to reason. Such is the concupiscence of original sin.

Reply Obj. 2: As stated above (Q. 25, A. 1), all the irascible passions are reducible to concupiscible passions, as holding the princip[al] place: and of these, concupiscence is the most impetuous in moving, and is felt most, as stated above (Q. 25, A. 2, ad 1). Therefore original sin is ascribed to concupiscence, as being the chief passion, and as including all the others, in a fashion.

Reply Obj. 3: As, in good things, the intellect and reason stand first, so conversely in evil things, the lower part of the soul is found to take precedence, for it clouds and draws the reason, as stated above (Q. 77, AA. 1, 2;Q. 80, A. 2). Hence original sin is called concupiscence rather than ignorance, although ignorance is comprised among the material defects of original sin.

^Q. 82


Art. 4: Whether original sin is equally in all?[edit]

It would seem that original sin is not equally in all.

Obj. 1: Because original sin is inordinate concupiscence, as stated above (A. 3). Now all are not equally prone to acts of concupiscence. Therefore original sin is not equally in all.

Obj. 2: Further, original sin is an inordinate disposition of the soul, just as sickness is an inordinate disposition of the body. But sickness is subject to degrees. Therefore original sin is subject to degrees.

Obj. 3: Further, Augustine says (De Nup. et Concep. i, 23) that "lust transmits original sin to the child." But the act of generation may be more lustful in one than in another. Therefore original sin may be greater in one than in another.

On the contrary, Original sin is the sin of nature, as stated above (Q. 81, A. 1). But nature is equally in all. Therefore original sin is too.

I answer that, There are two things in original sin: one is the privation of original justice; the other is the relation of this privation to the sin of our first parent, from whom it is transmitted to man through his corrupt origin. As to the first, original sin has no degrees, since the gift of original justice is taken away entirely; and privations that remove something entirely, such as death and darkness, cannot be more or less, as stated above (Q. 73, A. 2). In like manner, neither is this possible, as to the second: since all are related equally to the first principle of our corrupt origin, from which principle original sin takes the nature of guilt; for relations cannot be more or less. Consequently it is evident that original sin cannot be more in one than in another.

Reply Obj. 1: Through the bond of original justice being broken, which held together all the powers of the soul in a certain order, each power of the soul tends to its own proper movement, and the more impetuously, as it is stronger. Now it happens that some of the soul's powers are stronger in one man than in another, on account of the different bodily temperaments. Consequently if one man is more prone than another to acts of concupiscence, this is not due to original sin, because the bond of original justice is equally broken in all, and the lower parts of the soul are, in all, left to themselves equally; but it is due to the various dispositions of the powers, as stated.

Reply Obj. 2: Sickness of the body, even sickness of the same species, has not an equal cause in all; for instance if a fever be caused by corruption of the bile, the corruption may be greater or less, and nearer to, or further from a vital principle. But the cause of original sin is equal to all, so that there is no comparison.

Reply Obj. 3: It is not the actual lust that transmits original sin: for, supposing God were to grant to a man to feel no inordinate lust in the act of generation, he would still transmit original sin; we must understand this to be habitual lust, whereby the sensitive appetite is not kept subject to reason by the bonds of original justice. This lust is equally in all.

^Q. 82

QUESTION 83: OF THE SUBJECT OF ORIGINAL SIN[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin

We must now consider the subject of original sin, under which head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether the subject of original sin is the flesh rather than the soul?

(2) If it be the soul, whether this be through its essence, or through its powers?

(3) Whether the will prior to the other powers is the subject of original sin?

(4) Whether certain powers of the soul are specially infected, viz. the generative power, the concupiscible part, and the sense of touch?


Art. 1: Whether original sin is more in the flesh than in the soul?[edit]

It would seem that original sin is more in the flesh than in the soul.

Obj. 1: Because the rebellion of the flesh against the mind arises from the corruption of original sin. Now the root of this rebellion is seated in the flesh: for the Apostle says (Rom. 7:23): "I see another law in my members fighting against the law of my mind." Therefore original sin is seated chiefly in the flesh.

Obj. 2: Further, a thing is more in its cause than in its effect: thus heat is in the heating fire more than in the hot water. Now the soul is infected with the corruption of original sin by the carnal semen. Therefore original sin is in the flesh rather than in the soul.

Obj. 3: Further, we contract original sin from our first parent, in so far as we were in him by reason of seminal virtue. Now our souls were not in him thus, but only our flesh. Therefore original sin is not in the soul, but in the flesh.

Obj. 4: Further, the rational soul created by God is infused into the body. If therefore the soul were infected with original sin, it would follow that it is corrupted in its creation or infusion: and thus God would be the cause of sin, since He is the author of the soul's creation and fusion.

Obj. 5: Further, no wise man pours a precious liquid into a vessel, knowing that the vessel will corrupt the liquid. But the rational soul is more precious than any liquid. If therefore the soul, by being united with the body, could be corrupted with the infection of original sin, God, Who is wisdom itself, would never infuse the soul into such a body. And yet He does; wherefore it is not corrupted by the flesh. Therefore original sin is not in the soul but in the flesh.

On the contrary, The same is the subject of a virtue and of the vice or sin contrary to that virtue. But the flesh cannot be the subject of virtue: for the Apostle says (Rom. 7:18): "I know that there dwelleth not in me, that is to say, in my flesh, that which is good." Therefore the flesh cannot be the subject of original sin, but only the soul.

I answer that, One thing can be in another in two ways. First, as in its cause, either principal, or instrumental; secondly, as in its subject. Accordingly the original sin of all men was in Adam indeed, as in its principal cause, according to the words of the Apostle (Rom. 5:12): "In whom all have sinned": whereas it is in the bodily semen, as in its instrumental cause, since it is by the active power of the semen that original sin together with human nature is transmitted to the child. But original sin can nowise be in the flesh as its subject, but only in the soul.

The reason for this is that, as stated above (Q. 81, A. 1), original sin is transmitted from the will of our first parent to this posterity by a certain movement of generation, in the same way as actual sin is transmitted from any man's will to his other parts. Now in this transmission it is to be observed, that whatever accrues from the motion of the will consenting to sin, to any part of man that can in any way share in that guilt, either as its subject or as its instrument, has the character of sin. Thus from the will consenting to gluttony, concupiscence of food accrues to the concupiscible faculty, and partaking of food accrues to the hand and the mouth, which, in so far as they are moved by the will to sin, are the instruments of sin. But that further action is evoked in the nutritive power and the internal members, which have no natural aptitude for being moved by the will, does not bear the character of guilt.

Accordingly, since the soul can be the subject of guilt, while the flesh, of itself, cannot be the subject of guilt; whatever accrues to the soul from the corruption of the first sin, has the character of guilt, while whatever accrues to the flesh, has the character, not of guilt but of punishment: so that, therefore, the soul is the subject of original sin, and not the flesh.

Reply Obj. 1: As Augustine says (Retract. i, 27) [*Cf. QQ. lxxxiii, qu. 66], the Apostle is speaking, in that passage, of man already redeemed, who is delivered from guilt, but is still liable to punishment, by reason of which sin is stated to dwell "in the flesh." Consequently it follows that the flesh is the subject, not of guilt, but of punishment.

Reply Obj. 2: Original sin is caused by the semen as instrumental cause. Now there is no need for anything to be more in the instrumental cause than in the effect; but only in the principal cause: and, in this way, original sin was in Adam more fully, since in him it had the nature of actual sin.

Reply Obj. 3: The soul of any individual man was in Adam, in respect of his seminal power, not indeed as in its effective principle, but as in a dispositive principle: because the bodily semen, which is transmitted from Adam, does not of its own power produce the rational soul, but disposes the matter for it.

Reply Obj. 4: The corruption of original sin is nowise caused by God, but by the sin alone of our first parent through carnal generation. And so, since creation implies a relation in the soul to God alone, it cannot be said that the soul is tainted through being created. On the other hand, infusion implies relation both to God infusing and to the flesh into which the soul is infused. And so, with regard to God infusing, it cannot be said that the soul is stained through being infused; but only with regard to the body into which it is infused.

Reply Obj. 5: The common good takes precedence of private good. Wherefore God, according to His wisdom, does not overlook the general order of things (which is that such a soul be infused into such a body), lest this soul contract a singular corruption: all the more that the nature of the soul demands that it should not exist prior to its infusion into the body, as stated in the First Part (Q. 90, A. 4; Q. 118, A. 3). And it is better for the soul to be thus, according to its nature, than not to be at all, especially since it can avoid damnation, by means of grace.

^Q. 83


Art. 2: Whether original sin is in the essence of the soul rather than in the powers?[edit]

It would seem that original sin is not in the essence of the soul rather than in the powers.

Obj. 1: For the soul is naturally apt to be the subject of sin, in respect of those parts which can be moved by the will. Now the soul is moved by the will, not as to its essence but only as to the powers. Therefore original sin is in the soul, not according to its essence, but only according to the powers.

Obj. 2: Further, original sin is opposed to original justice. Now original justice was in a power of the soul, because power is the subject of virtue. Therefore original sin also is in a power of the soul, rather than in its essence.

Obj. 3: Further, just as original sin is derived from the soul as from the flesh, so is it derived by the powers from the essence. But original sin is more in the soul than in the flesh. Therefore it is more in the powers than in the essence of the soul.

Obj. 4: Further, original sin is said to be concupiscence, as stated (Q. 82, A. 3). But concupiscence is in the powers of the soul. Therefore original sin is also.

On the contrary, Original sin is called the sin of nature, as stated above (Q. 81, A. 1). Now the soul is the form and nature of the body, in respect of its essence and not in respect of its powers, as stated in the First Part (Q. 76, A. 6). Therefore the soul is the subject of original sin chiefly in respect of its essence.

I answer that, The subject of a sin is chiefly that part of the soul to which the motive cause of that sin primarily pertains: thus if the motive cause of a sin is sensual pleasure, which regards the concupiscible power through being its proper object, it follows that the concupiscible power is the proper subject of that sin. Now it is evident that original sin is caused through our origin. Consequently that part of the soul which is first reached by man's origin, is the primary subject of original sin. Now the origin reaches the soul as the term of generation, according as it is the form of the body: and this belongs to the soul in respect of its essence, as was proved in the First Part (Q. 76, A. 6). Therefore the soul, in respect of its essence, is the primary subject of original sin.

Reply Obj. 1: As the motion of the will of an individual reaches to the soul's powers and not to its essence, so the motion of the will of the first generator, through the channel of generation, reaches first of all to the essence of the soul, as stated.

Reply Obj. 2: Even original justice pertained radically to the essence of the soul, because it was God's gift to human nature, to which the essence of the soul is related before the powers. For the powers seem to regard the person, in as much as they are the principles of personal acts. Hence they are the proper subjects of actual sins, which are the sins of the person.

Reply Obj. 3: The body is related to the soul as matter to form, which though it comes second in order of generation, nevertheless comes first in the order of perfection and nature. But the essence of the soul is related to the powers, as a subject to its proper accidents, which follow their subject both in the order of generation and in that of perfection. Consequently the comparison fails.

Reply Obj. 4: Concupiscence, in relation to original sin, holds the position of matter and effect, as stated above (Q. 82, A. 3).

^Q. 83


Art. 3: Whether original sin infects the will before the other powers?[edit]

It would seem that original sin does not infect the will before the other powers.

Obj. 1: For every sin belongs chiefly to that power by whose act it was caused. Now original sin is caused by an act of the generative power. Therefore it seems to belong to the generative power more than to the others.

Obj. 2: Further, original sin is transmitted through the carnal semen. But the other powers of the soul are more akin to the flesh than the will is, as is evident with regard to all the sensitive powers, which use a bodily organ. Therefore original sin is in them more than in the will.

Obj. 3: Further, the intellect precedes the will, for the object of the will is only the good understood. If therefore original sin infects all the powers of the soul, it seems that it must first of all infect the intellect, as preceding the others.

On the contrary, Original justice has a prior relation to the will, because it is "rectitude of the will," as Anselm states (De Concep. Virg. iii). Therefore original sin, which is opposed to it, also has a prior relation to the will.

I answer that, Two things must be considered in the infection of original sin. First, its inherence to its subject; and in this respect it regards first the essence of the soul, as stated above (A. 2). In the second place we must consider its inclination to act; and in this way it regards the powers of the soul. It must therefore regard first of all that power in which is seated the first inclination to commit a sin, and this is the will, as stated above (Q. 74, AA. 1, 2). Therefore original sin regards first of all the will.

Reply Obj. 1: Original sin, in man, is not caused by the generative power of the child, but by the act of the parental generative power. Consequently, it does not follow that the child's generative power is the subject of original sin.

Reply Obj. 2: Original sin spreads in two ways; from the flesh to the soul, and from the essence of the soul to the powers. The former follows the order of generation, the latter follows the order of perfection. Therefore, although the other, viz. the sensitive powers, are more akin to the flesh, yet, since the will, being the higher power, is more akin to the essence of the soul, the infection of original sin reaches it first.

Reply Obj. 3: The intellect precedes the will, in one way, by proposing its object to it. In another way, the will precedes the intellect, in the order of motion to act, which motion pertains to sin.

^Q. 83


Art. 4: Whether the aforesaid powers are more infected than the others?[edit]

It would seem that the aforesaid powers are not more infected than the others.

Obj. 1: For the infection of original sin seems to pertain more to that part of the soul which can be first the subject of sin. Now this is the rational part, and chiefly the will. Therefore that power is most infected by original sin.

Obj. 2: Further, no power of the soul is infected by guilt, except in so far as it can obey reason. Now the generative power cannot obey reason, as stated in Ethic. i, 13. Therefore the generative power is not the most infected by original sin.

Obj. 3: Further, of all the senses the sight is the most spiritual and the nearest to reason, in so far "as it shows us how a number of things differ" (Metaph. i). But the infection of guilt is first of all in the reason. Therefore the sight is more infected than touch.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 16, seqq., 24) that the infection of original sin is most apparent in the movements of the members of generation, which are not subject to reason. Now those members serve the generative power in the mingling of sexes, wherein there is the delectation of touch, which is the most powerful incentive to concupiscence. Therefore the infection of original sin regards these three chiefly, viz. the generative power, the concupiscible faculty and the sense of touch.

I answer that, Those corruptions especially are said to be infectious, which are of such a nature as to be transmitted from one subject to another: hence contagious diseases, such as leprosy and murrain and the like, are said to be infectious. Now the corruption of original sin is transmitted by the act of generation, as stated above (Q. 81, A. 1). Therefore the powers which concur in this act, are chiefly said to be infected. Now this act serves the generative power, in as much as it is directed to generation; and it includes delectation of the touch, which is the most powerful object of the concupiscible faculty. Consequently, while all the parts of the soul are said to be corrupted by original sin, these three are said specially to be corrupted and infected.

Reply Obj. 1: Original sin, in so far as it inclines to actual sins, belongs chiefly to the will, as stated above (A. 3). But in so far as it is transmitted to the offspring, it belongs to the aforesaid powers proximately, and to the will, remotely.

Reply Obj. 2: The infection of actual sin belongs only to the powers which are moved by the will of the sinner. But the infection of original sin is not derived from the will of the contractor, but through his natural origin, which is effected by the generative power. Hence it is this power that is infected by original sin.

Reply Obj. 3: Sight is not related to the act of generation except in respect of remote disposition, in so far as the concupiscible species is seen through the sight. But the delectation is completed in the touch. Wherefore the aforesaid infection is ascribed to the touch rather than to the sight.

^Q. 83


QUESTION 84: OF THE CAUSE OF SIN, IN RESPECT OF ONE SIN BEING THE CAUSE OF ANOTHER[edit]

^TOC ^5. Of the Causes of Sin ↓6. Of the Effects of Sin


We must now consider the cause of sin, in so far as one sin can be the cause of another. Under this head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether covetousness is the root of all sins?

(2) Whether pride is the beginning of every sin?

(3) Whether other special sins should be called capital vices, besides pride and covetousness?

(4) How many capital vices there are, and which are they?


Art. 1: Whether covetousness is the root of all sins?[edit]

It would seem that covetousness is not the root of all sins.

Obj. 1: For covetousness, which is immoderate desire for riches, is opposed to the virtue of liberality. But liberality is not the root of all virtues. Therefore covetousness is not the root of all sins.

Obj. 2: Further, the desire for the means proceeds from desire for the end. Now riches, the desire for which is called covetousness, are not desired except as being useful for some end, as stated in Ethic. i, 5. Therefore covetousness is not the root of all sins, but proceeds from some deeper root.

Obj. 3: Further, it often happens that avarice, which is another name for covetousness, arises from other sins; as when a man desires money through ambition, or in order to sate his gluttony. Therefore it is not the root of all sins.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Tim. 6:10): "The desire of money is the root of all evil."

I answer that, According to some, covetousness may be understood in different ways. First, as denoting inordinate desire for riches: and thus it is a special sin. Secondly, as denoting inordinate desire for any temporal good: and thus it is a genus comprising all sins, because every sin includes an inordinate turning to a mutable good, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 2). Thirdly, as denoting an inclination of a corrupt nature to desire corruptible goods inordinately: and they say that in this sense covetousness is the root of all sins, comparing it to the root of a tree, which draws its sustenance from earth, just as every sin grows out of the love of temporal things.

Now, though all this is true, it does not seem to explain the mind of the Apostle when he states that covetousness is the root of all sins. For in that passage he clearly speaks against those who, because they "will become rich, fall into temptation, and into the snare of the devil . . . for covetousness is the root of all evils." Hence it is evident that he is speaking of covetousness as denoting the inordinate desire for riches. Accordingly, we must say that covetousness, as denoting a special sin, is called the root of all sins, in likeness to the root of a tree, in furnishing sustenance to the whole tree. For we see that by riches man acquires the means of committing any sin whatever, and of sating his desire for any sin whatever, since money helps man to obtain all manner of temporal goods, according to Eccles. 10:19: "All things obey money": so that in this desire for riches is the root of all sins.

Reply Obj. 1: Virtue and sin do not arise from the same source. For sin arises from the desire of mutable good; and consequently the desire of that good which helps one to obtain all temporal goods, is called the root of all sins. But virtue arises from the desire for the immutable God; and consequently charity, which is the love of God, is called the root of the virtues, according to Eph. 3:17: "Rooted and founded in charity."

Reply Obj. 2: The desire of money is said to be the root of sins, not as though riches were sought for their own sake, as being the last end; but because they are much sought after as useful for any temporal end. And since a universal good is more desirable than a particular good, they move the appetite more than any individual goods, which along with many others can be procured by means of money.

Reply Obj. 3: Just as in natural things we do not ask what always happens, but what happens most frequently, for the reason that the nature of corruptible things can be hindered, so as not always to act in the same way; so also in moral matters, we consider what happens in the majority of cases, not what happens invariably, for the reason that the will does not act of necessity. So when we say that covetousness is the root of all evils, we do not assert that no other evil can be its root, but that other evils more frequently arise therefrom, for the reason given.

^Q. 84


Art. 2: Whether pride is the beginning of every sin?[edit]

It would seem that pride is not the beginning of every sin.

Obj. 1: For the root is a beginning of a tree, so that the beginning of a sin seems to be the same as the root of sin. Now covetousness is the root of every sin, as stated above (A. 1). Therefore it is also the beginning of every sin, and not pride.

Obj. 2: Further, it is written (Ecclus. 10:14): "The beginning of the pride of man is apostasy [Douay: 'to fall off'] from God." But apostasy from God is a sin. Therefore another sin is the beginning of pride, so that the latter is not the beginning of every sin.

Obj. 3: Further, the beginning of every sin would seem to be that which causes all sins. Now this is inordinate self-love, which, according to Augustine (De Civ. Dei xiv), "builds up the city of Babylon." Therefore self-love and not pride, is the beginning of every sin.

On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 10:15): "Pride is the beginning of all sin."

I answer that, Some say pride is to be taken in three ways. First, as denoting inordinate desire to excel; and thus it is a special sin. Secondly, as denoting actual contempt of God, to the effect of not being subject to His commandment; and thus, they say, it is a generic sin. Thirdly, as denoting an inclination to this contempt, owing to the corruption of nature; and in this sense they say that it is the beginning of every sin, and that it differs from covetousness, because covetousness regards sin as turning towards the mutable good by which sin is, as it were, nourished and fostered, for which reason covetousness is called the "root"; whereas pride regards sin as turning away from God, to Whose commandment man refuses to be subject, for which reason it is called the "beginning," because the beginning of evil consists in turning away from God.

Now though all this is true, nevertheless it does not explain the mind of the wise man who said (Ecclus. 10:15): "Pride is the beginning of all sin." For it is evident that he is speaking of pride as denoting inordinate desire to excel, as is clear from what follows (verse 17): "God hath overturned the thrones of proud princes"; indeed this is the point of nearly the whole chapter. We must therefore say that pride, even as denoting a special sin, is the beginning of every sin. For we must take note that, in voluntary actions, such as sins, there is a twofold order, of intention, and of execution. In the former order, the principle is the end, as we have stated many times before (Q. 1, A. 1, ad 1; Q. 18, A. 7, ad 2; Q. 15, A. 1, ad 2; Q. 25, A. 2). Now man's end in acquiring all temporal goods is that, through their means, he may have some perfection and excellence. Therefore, from this point of view, pride, which is the desire to excel, is said to be the "beginning" of every sin. On the other hand, in the order of execution, the first place belongs to that which by furnishing the opportunity of fulfilling all desires of sin, has the character of a root, and such are riches; so that, from this point of view, covetousness is said to be the "root" of all evils, as stated above (A. 1).

This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.

Reply Obj. 2: Apostasy from God is stated to be the beginning of pride, in so far as it denotes a turning away from God, because from the fact that man wishes not to be subject to God, it follows that he desires inordinately his own excellence in temporal things. Wherefore, in the passage quoted, apostasy from God does not denote the special sin, but rather that general condition of every sin, consisting in its turning away from God. It may also be said that apostasy from God is said to be the beginning of pride, because it is the first species of pride. For it is characteristic of pride to be unwilling to be subject to any superior, and especially to God; the result being that a man is unduly lifted up, in respect of the other species of pride.

Reply Obj. 3: In desiring to excel, man loves himself, for to love oneself is the same as to desire some good for oneself. Consequently it amounts to the same whether we reckon pride or self-love as the beginning of every evil.

^Q. 84


Art. 3: Whether any other special sins, besides pride and avarice, should be called capital?[edit]

It would seem that no other special sins, besides pride and avarice, should be called capital.

Obj. 1: Because "the head seems to be to an animal, what the root is to a plant," as stated in De Anima ii, text. 38: for the roots are like a mouth. If therefore covetousness is called the "root of all evils," it seems that it alone, and no other sin, should be called a capital vice.

Obj. 2: Further, the head bears a certain relation of order to the other members, in so far as sensation and movement follow from the head. But sin implies privation of order. Therefore sin has not the character of head: so that no sins should be called capital.

Obj. 3: Further, capital crimes are those which receive capital punishment. But every kind of sin comprises some that are punished thus. Therefore the capital sins are not certain specific sins.

On the contrary, Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 17) enumerates certain special vices under the name of capital.

I answer that, The word capital is derived from caput (a head). Now the head, properly speaking, is that part of an animal's body, which is the principle and director of the whole animal. Hence, metaphorically speaking, every principle is called a head, and even men who direct and govern others are called heads. Accordingly a capital vice is so called, in the first place, from "head" taken in the proper sense, and thus the name "capital" is given to a sin for which capital punishment is inflicted. It is not in this sense that we are now speaking of capital sins, but in another sense, in which the term "capital" is derived from head, taken metaphorically for a principle or director of others. In this way a capital vice is one from which other vices arise, chiefly by being their final cause, which origin is formal, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 6). Wherefore a capital vice is not only the principle of others, but is also their director and, in a way, their leader: because the art or habit, to which the end belongs, is always the principle and the commander in matters concerning the means. Hence Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 17) compares these capital vices to the "leaders of an army."

Reply Obj. 1: The term "capital" is taken from caput and applied to something connected with, or partaking of the head, as having some property thereof, but not as being the head taken literally. And therefore the capital vices are not only those which have the character of primary origin, as covetousness which is called the "root," and pride which is called the beginning, but also those which have the character of proximate origin in respect of several sins.

Reply Obj. 2: Sin lacks order in so far as it turns away from God, for in this respect it is an evil, and evil, according to Augustine (De Natura Boni iv), is "the privation of mode, species and order." But in so far as sin implies a turning to something, it regards some good: wherefore, in this respect, there can be order in sin.

Reply Obj. 3: This objection considers capital sin as so called from the punishment it deserves, in which sense we are not taking it here.

^Q. 84


Art. 4: Whether the seven capital vices are suitably reckoned?[edit]

It would seem that we ought not to reckon seven capital vices, viz. vainglory, envy, anger, sloth, covetousness, gluttony, lust.

Obj. 1: For sins are opposed to virtues. But there are four principal virtues, as stated above (Q. 61, A. 2). Therefore there are only four principal or capital vices.

Obj. 2: Further, the passions of the soul are causes of sin, as stated above (Q. 77). But there are four principal passions of the soul; two of which, viz. hope and fear, are not mentioned among the above sins, whereas certain vices are mentioned to which pleasure and sadness belong, since pleasure belongs to gluttony and lust, and sadness to sloth and envy. Therefore the principal sins are unfittingly enumerated.

Obj. 3: Further, anger is not a principal passion. Therefore it should not be placed among the principal vices.

Obj. 4: Further, just as covetousness or avarice is the root of sin, so is pride the beginning of sin, as stated above (A. 2). But avarice is reckoned to be one of the capital vices. Therefore pride also should be placed among the capital vices.

Obj. 5: Further, some sins are committed which cannot be caused through any of these: as, for instance, when one sins through ignorance, or when one commits a sin with a good intention, e.g. steals in order to give an alms. Therefore the capital vices are insufficiently enumerated.

On the contrary, stands the authority of Gregory who enumerates them in this way (Moral. xxxi, 17).

I answer that, As stated above (A. 3), the capital vices are those which give rise to others, especially by way of final cause. Now this kind of origin may take place in two ways. First, on account of the condition of the sinner, who is disposed so as to have a strong inclination for one particular end, the result being that he frequently goes forward to other sins. But this kind of origin does not come under the consideration of art, because man's particular dispositions are infinite in number. Secondly, on account of a natural relationship of the ends to one another: and it is in this way that most frequently one vice arises from another, so that this kind of origin can come under the consideration of art.

Accordingly therefore, those vices are called capital, whose ends have certain fundamental reasons for moving the appetite; and it is in respect of these fundamental reasons that the capital vices are differentiated. Now a thing moves the appetite in two ways. First, directly and of its very nature: thus good moves the appetite to seek it, while evil, for the same reason, moves the appetite to avoid it. Secondly, indirectly and on account of something else, as it were: thus one seeks an evil on account of some attendant good, or avoids a good on account of some attendant evil.

Again, man's good is threefold. For, in the first place, there is a certain good of the soul, which derives its aspect of appetibility, merely through being apprehended, viz. the excellence of honor and praise, and this good is sought inordinately by vainglory. Secondly, there is the good of the body, and this regards either the preservation of the individual, e.g. meat and drink, which good is pursued inordinately by gluttony, or the preservation of the species, e.g. sexual intercourse, which good is sought inordinately by lust. Thirdly, there is external good, viz. riches, to which covetousness is referred. These same four vices avoid inordinately the contrary evils.

Or again, good moves the appetite chiefly through possessing some property of happiness, which all men seek naturally. Now in the first place happiness implies perfection, since happiness is a perfect good, to which belongs excellence or renown, which is desired by pride or vainglory. Secondly, it implies satiety, which covetousness seeks in riches that give promise thereof. Thirdly, it implies pleasure, without which happiness is impossible, as stated in Ethic. i, 7; x, 6, 7, 8 and this gluttony and lust pursue.

On the other hand, avoidance of good on account of an attendant evil occurs in two ways. For this happens either in respect of one's own good, and thus we have sloth, which is sadness about one's spiritual good, on account of the attendant bodily labor: or else it happens in respect of another's good, and this, if it be without recrimination, belongs to envy, which is sadness about another's good as being a hindrance to one's own excellence, while if it be with recrimination with a view to vengeance, it is anger. Again, these same vices seek the contrary evils.

Reply Obj. 1: Virtue and vice do not originate in the same way: since virtue is caused by the subordination of the appetite to reason, or to the immutable good, which is God, whereas vice arises from the appetite for mutable good. Wherefore there is no need for the principal vices to be contrary to the principal virtues.

Reply Obj. 2: Fear and hope are irascible passions. Now all the passions of the irascible part arise from passions of the concupiscible part; and these are all, in a way, directed to pleasure or sorrow. Hence pleasure and sorrow have a prominent place among the capital sins, as being the most important of the passions, as stated above (Q. 25, A. 4).

Reply Obj. 3: Although anger is not a principal passion, yet it has a distinct place among the capital vices, because it implies a special kind of movement in the appetite, in so far as recrimination against another's good has the aspect of a virtuous good, i.e. of the right to vengeance.

Reply Obj. 4: Pride is said to be the beginning of every sin, in the order of the end, as stated above (A. 2): and it is in the same order that we are to consider the capital sin as being principal. Wherefore pride, like a universal vice, is not counted along with the others, but is reckoned as the "queen of them all," as Gregory states (Moral. xxxi, 27). But covetousness is said to be the root from another point of view, as stated above (AA. 1, 2).

Reply Obj. 5: These vices are called capital because others, most frequently, arise from them: so that nothing prevents some sins from arising out of other causes. Nevertheless we might say that all the sins which are due to ignorance, can be reduced to sloth, to which pertains the negligence of a man who declines to acquire spiritual goods on account of the attendant labor; for the ignorance that can cause sin, is due to negligence, as stated above (Q. 76, A. 2). That a man commit a sin with a good intention, seems to point to ignorance, in so far as he knows not that evil should not be done that good may come of it.

^Q. 84


OF THE EFFECTS OF SIN[edit]

^TOC ^Evil Habits—that is, Vices ^^5. Of the Causes of Sin


We must now consider the effects of sin; and

(1) the corruption of the good of nature [Q. 85];

(2) the stain on the soul [Q. 86];

(3) the debt of punishment [Q. 87-89].


QUESTION 85: OF THE EFFECTS OF SIN[edit]

^TOC ^6. Of the Effects of Sin

Under the first head there are six points of inquiry:

(1) Whether the good of nature is diminished by sin?

(2) Whether it can be taken away altogether?

(3) Of the four wounds, mentioned by Bede, with which human nature is stricken in consequence of sin.

(4) Whether privation of mode, species and order is an effect of sin?

(5) Whether death and other bodily defects are the result of sin?

(6) Whether they are, in any way, natural to man?


Art. 1: Whether sin diminishes the good of nature?[edit]

It would seem that sin does not diminish the good of nature.

Obj. 1: For man's sin is no worse than the devil's. But natural good remains unimpaired in devils after sin, as Dionysius states (Div. Nom. iv). Therefore neither does sin diminish the good of human nature.

Obj. 2 : Further, when that which follows is changed, that which precedes remains unchanged, since substance remains the same when its accidents are changed. But nature exists before the voluntary action. Therefore, when sin has caused a disorder in a voluntary act, nature is not changed on that account, so that the good of nature be diminished.

Obj. 3: Further, sin is an action, while diminution is a passion. Now no agent is passive by the very reason of its acting, although it is possible for it to act on one thing, and to be passive as regards another. Therefore he who sins, does not, by his sin, diminish the good of his nature.

Obj. 4: Further, no accident acts on its subject: because that which is patient is a potential being, while that which is subjected to an accident, is already an actual being as regards that accident. But sin is in the good of nature as an accident in a subject. Therefore sin does not diminish the good of nature, since to diminish is to act.

On the contrary, "A certain man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho (Luke 10:30), i.e. to the corruption of sin, was stripped of his gifts, and wounded in his nature," as Bede [*The quotation is from the Glossa Ordinaria of Strabo] expounds the passage. Therefore sin diminishes the good of nature.

I answer that, The good of human nature is threefold. First, there are the principles of which nature is constituted, and the properties that flow from them, such as the powers of the soul, and so forth. Secondly, since man has from nature an inclination to virtue, as stated above (Q. 60, A. 1; Q. 63, A. 1), this inclination to virtue is a good of nature. Thirdly, the gift of original justice, conferred on the whole of human nature in the person of the first man, may be called a good of nature.

Accordingly, the first-mentioned good of nature is neither destroyed nor diminished by sin. The third good of nature was entirely destroyed through the sin of our first parent. But the second good of nature, viz. the natural inclination to virtue, is diminished by sin. Because human acts produce an inclination to like acts, as stated above (Q. 50, A. 1). Now from the very fact that thing becomes inclined to one of two contraries, its inclination to the other contrary must needs be diminished. Wherefore as sin is opposed to virtue, from the very fact that a man sins, there results a diminution of that good of nature, which is the inclination to virtue.

Reply Obj. 1: Dionysius is speaking of the first-mentioned good of nature, which consists in "being, living and understanding," as anyone may see who reads the context.

Reply Obj. 2: Although nature precedes the voluntary action, it has an inclination to a certain voluntary action. Wherefore nature is not changed in itself, through a change in the voluntary action: it is the inclination that is changed in so far as it is directed to its term.

Reply Obj. 3: A voluntary action proceeds from various powers, active and passive. The result is that through voluntary actions something is caused or taken away in the man who acts, as we have stated when treating of the production of habits (Q. 51, A. 2).

Reply Obj. 4: An accident does not act effectively on its subject, but it acts on it formally, in the same sense as when we say that whiteness makes a thing white. In this way there is nothing to hinder sin from diminishing the good of nature; but only in so far as sin is itself a diminution of the good of nature, through being an inordinateness of action. But as regards the inordinateness of the agent, we must say that such like inordinateness is caused by the fact that in the acts of the soul, there is an active, and a passive element: thus the sensible object moves the sensitive appetite, and the sensitive appetite inclines the reason and will, as stated above (Q. 77, AA. 1, 2). The result of this is the inordinateness, not as though an accident acted on its own subject, but in so far as the object acts on the power, and one power acts on another and puts it out of order.

^Q. 85


Art. 2: Whether the entire good of human nature can be destroyed by sin?[edit]

It would seem that the entire good of human nature can be destroyed by sin.

Obj. 1: For the good of human nature is finite, since human nature itself is finite. Now any finite thing is entirely taken away, if the subtraction be continuous. Since therefore the good of nature can be continually diminished by sin, it seems that in the end it can be entirely taken away.

Obj. 2: Further, in a thing of one nature, the whole and the parts are uniform, as is evidently the case with air, water, flesh and all bodies with similar parts. But the good of nature is wholly uniform. Since therefore a part thereof can be taken away by sin, it seems that the whole can also be taken away by sin.

Obj. 3: Further, the good of nature, that is weakened by sin, is aptitude for virtue. Now this aptitude is destroyed entirely in some on account of sin: thus the lost cannot be restored to virtue any more than the blind can to sight. Therefore sin can take away the good of nature entirely.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Enchiridion xiv) that "evil does not exist except in some good." But the evil of sin cannot be in the good of virtue or of grace, because they are contrary to it. Therefore it must be in the good of nature, and consequently it does not destroy it entirely.

I answer that, As stated above (A. 1), the good of nature, that is diminished by sin, is the natural inclination to virtue, which is befitting to man from the very fact that he is a rational being; for it is due to this that he performs actions in accord with reason, which is to act virtuously. Now sin cannot entirely take away from man the fact that he is a rational being, for then he would no longer be capable of sin. Wherefore it is not possible for this good of nature to be destroyed entirely.

Since, however, this same good of nature may be continually diminished by sin, some, in order to illustrate this, have made use of the example of a finite thing being diminished indefinitely, without being entirely destroyed. For the Philosopher says (Phys. i, text. 37) that if from a finite magnitude a continual subtraction be made in the same quantity, it will at last be entirely destroyed, for instance if from any finite length I continue to subtract the length of a span. If, however, the subtraction be made each time in the same proportion, and not in the same quantity, it may go on indefinitely, as, for instance, if a quantity be halved, and one half be diminished by half, it will be possible to go on thus indefinitely, provided that what is subtracted in each case be less than what was subtracted before. But this does not apply to the question at issue, since a subsequent sin does not diminish the good of nature less than a previous sin, but perhaps more, if it be a more grievous sin.

We must, therefore, explain the matter otherwise by saying that the aforesaid inclination is to be considered as a middle term between two others: for it is based on the rational nature as on its root, and tends to the good of virtue, as to its term and end. Consequently its diminution may be understood in two ways: first, on the part of its root, secondly, on the part of its term. In the first way, it is not diminished by sin, because sin does not diminish nature, as stated above (A. 1). But it is diminished in the second way, in so far as an obstacle is placed against its attaining its term. Now if it were diminished in the first way, it would needs be entirely destroyed at last by the rational nature being entirely destroyed. Since, however, it is diminished on the part of the obstacle which is placed against its attaining its term, it is evident that it can be diminished indefinitely, because obstacles can be placed indefinitely, inasmuch as man can go on indefinitely adding sin to sin: and yet it cannot be destroyed entirely, because the root of this inclination always remains. An example of this may be seen in a transparent body, which has an inclination to receive light, from the very fact that it is transparent; yet this inclination or aptitude is diminished on the part of supervening clouds, although it always remains rooted in the nature of the body.

Reply Obj. 1: This objection avails when diminution is made by subtraction. But here the diminution is made by raising obstacles, and this neither diminishes nor destroys the root of the inclination, as stated above.

Reply Obj. 2: The natural inclination is indeed wholly uniform: nevertheless it stands in relation both to its principle and to its term, in respect of which diversity of relation, it is diminished on the one hand, and not on the other.

Reply Obj. 3: Even in the lost the natural inclination to virtue remains, else they would have no remorse of conscience. That it is not reduced to act is owing to their being deprived of grace by Divine justice. Thus even in a blind man the aptitude to see remains in the very root of his nature, inasmuch as he is an animal naturally endowed with sight: yet this aptitude is not reduced to act, for the lack of a cause capable of reducing it, by forming the organ requisite for sight.

^Q. 85


Art. 3: Whether weakness, ignorance, malice and concupiscence are suitably reckoned as the wounds of nature consequent upon sin?[edit]

It would seem that weakness, ignorance, malice and concupiscence are not suitably reckoned as the wounds of nature consequent upon sin.

Obj. 1: For one same thing is not both effect and cause of the same thing. But these are reckoned to be causes of sin, as appears from what has been said above (Q. 76, A. 1; Q. 77, AA. 3, 5; Q. 78, A. 1). Therefore they should not be reckoned as effects of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, malice is the name of a sin. Therefore it should have no place among the effects of sin.

Obj. 3: Further, concupiscence is something natural, since it is an act of the concupiscible power. But that which is natural should not be reckoned a wound of nature. Therefore concupiscence should not be reckoned a wound of nature.

Obj. 4: Further, it has been stated (Q. 77, A. 3) that to sin from weakness is the same as to sin from passion. But concupiscence is a passion. Therefore it should not be condivided with weakness.

Obj. 5: Further, Augustine (De Nat. et Grat. lxvii, 67) reckons "two things to be punishments inflicted on the soul of the sinner, viz. ignorance and difficulty," from which arise "error and vexation," which four do not coincide with the four in question. Therefore it seems that one or the other reckoning is incomplete.

On the contrary, The authority of Bede suffices [*Reference not known].

I answer that, As a result of original justice, the reason had perfect hold over the lower parts of the soul, while reason itself was perfected by God, and was subject to Him. Now this same original justice was forfeited through the sin of our first parent, as already stated (Q. 81, A. 2); so that all the powers of the soul are left, as it were, destitute of their proper order, whereby they are naturally directed to virtue; which destitution is called a wounding of nature.

Again, there are four of the soul's powers that can be subject of virtue, as stated above (Q. 61, A. 2), viz. the reason, where prudence resides, the will, where justice is, the irascible, the subject of fortitude, and the concupiscible, the subject of temperance. Therefore in so far as the reason is deprived of its order to the true, there is the wound of ignorance; in so far as the will is deprived of its order of good, there is the wound of malice; in so far as the irascible is deprived of its order to the arduous, there is the wound of weakness; and in so far as the concupiscible is deprived of its order to the delectable, moderated by reason, there is the wound of concupiscence.

Accordingly these are the four wounds inflicted on the whole of human nature as a result of our first parent's sin. But since the inclination to the good of virtue is diminished in each individual on account of actual sin, as was explained above (AA. 1, 2), these four wounds are also the result of other sins, in so far as, through sin, the reason is obscured, especially in practical matters, the will hardened to evil, good actions become more difficult and concupiscence more impetuous.

Reply Obj. 1: There is no reason why the effect of one sin should not be the cause of another: because the soul, through sinning once, is more easily inclined to sin again.

Reply Obj. 2: Malice is not to be taken here as a sin, but as a certain proneness of the will to evil, according to the words of Gen. 8:21: "Man's senses are prone to evil from his youth" [*Vulgate: 'The imagination and thought of man's heart are prone to evil from his youth.'].

Reply Obj. 3: As stated above (Q. 82, A. 3, ad 1), concupiscence is natural to man, in so far as it is subject to reason: whereas, in so far as it is goes beyond the bounds of reason, it is unnatural to man.

Reply Obj. 4: Speaking in a general way, every passion can be called a weakness, in so far as it weakens the soul's strength and clogs the reason. Bede, however, took weakness in the strict sense, as contrary to fortitude which pertains to the irascible.

Reply Obj. 5: The "difficulty" which is mentioned in this book of Augustine, includes the three wounds affecting the appetitive powers, viz. "malice," "weakness" and "concupiscence," for it is owing to these three that a man finds it difficult to tend to the good. "Error" and "vexation" are consequent wounds, since a man is vexed through being weakened in respect of the objects of his concupiscence.

^Q. 85


Art. 4: Whether privation of mode, species and order is the effect of sin?[edit]

It would seem that privation of mode, species and order is not the effect of sin.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says (De Natura Boni iii) that "where these three abound, the good is great; where they are less, there is less good; where they are not, there is no good at all." But sin does not destroy the good of nature. Therefore it does not destroy mode, species and order.

Obj. 2: Further, nothing is its own cause. But sin itself is the "privation of mode, species and order," as Augustine states (De Natura Boni iv). Therefore privation of mode, species and order is not the effect of sin.

Obj. 3: Further, different effects result from different sins. Now since mode, species and order are diverse, their corresponding privations must be diverse also, and, consequently, must be the result of different sins. Therefore privation of mode, species and order is not the effect of each sin.

On the contrary, Sin is to the soul what weakness is to the body, according to Ps. 6:3, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak." Now weakness deprives the body of mode, species and order.

I answer that, As stated in the First Part, Q. 5, A. 5, mode, species and order are consequent upon every created good, as such, and also upon every being. Because every being and every good as such depends on its form from which it derives its species. Again, any kind of form, whether substantial or accidental, of anything whatever, is according to some measure, wherefore it is stated in Metaph. viii, that "the forms of things are like numbers," so that a form has a certain mode corresponding to its measure. Lastly owing to its form, each thing has a relation of order to something else.

Accordingly there are different grades of mode, species and order, corresponding to the different degrees of good. For there is a good belonging to the very substance of nature, which good has its mode, species and order, and is neither destroyed nor diminished by sin. There is again the good of the natural inclination, which also has its mode, species and order; and this is diminished by sin, as stated above (AA. 1, 2), but is not entirely destroyed. Again, there is the good of virtue and grace: this too has its mode, species and order, and is entirely taken away by sin. Lastly, there is a good consisting in the ordinate act itself, which also has its mode, species and order, the privation of which is essentially sin. Hence it is clear both how sin is privation of mode, species and order, and how it destroys or diminishes mode, species and order.

This suffices for the Replies to the first two Objections.

Reply Obj. 3: Mode, species and order follow one from the other, as explained above: and so they are destroyed or diminished together.

^Q. 85


Art. 5: Whether death and other bodily defects are the result of sin?[edit]

It would seem that death and other bodily defects are not the result of sin.

Obj. 1: Because equal causes have equal effects. Now these defects are not equal in all, but abound in some more than in others, whereas original sin, from which especially these defects seem to result, is equal in all, as stated above (Q. 82, A. 4). Therefore death and suchlike defects are not the result of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, if the cause is removed, the effect is removed. But these defects are not removed, when all sin is removed by Baptism or Penance. Therefore they are not the effect of sin.

Obj. 3: Further, actual sin has more of the character of guilt than original sin has. But actual sin does not change the nature of the body by subjecting it to some defect. Much less, therefore, does original sin. Therefore death and other bodily defects are not the result of sin.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Rom. 5:12), "By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death."

I answer that, One thing causes another in two ways: first, by reason of itself; secondly, accidentally. By reason of itself, one thing is the cause of another, if it produces its effect by reason of the power of its nature or form, the result being that the effect is directly intended by the cause. Consequently, as death and such like defects are beside the intention of the sinner, it is evident that sin is not, of itself, the cause of these defects. Accidentally, one thing is the cause of another if it causes it by removing an obstacle: thus it is stated in Phys. viii, text. 32, that "by displacing a pillar a man moves accidentally the stone resting thereon." In this way the sin of our first parent is the cause of death and all such like defects in human nature, in so far as by the sin of our first parent original justice was taken away, whereby not only were the lower powers of the soul held together under the control of reason, without any disorder whatever, but also the whole body was held together in subjection to the soul, without any defect, as stated in the First Part (Q. 97, A. 1). Wherefore, original justice being forfeited through the sin of our first parent; just as human nature was stricken in the soul by the disorder among the powers, as stated above (A. 3; Q. 82, A. 3), so also it became subject to corruption, by reason of disorder in the body.

Now the withdrawal of original justice has the character of punishment, even as the withdrawal of grace has. Consequently, death and all consequent bodily defects are punishments of original sin. And although the defects are not intended by the sinner, nevertheless they are ordered according to the justice of God Who inflicts them as punishments.

Reply Obj. 1: Causes that produce their effects of themselves, if equal, produce equal effects: for if such causes be increased or diminished, the effect is increased or diminished. But equal causes of an obstacle being removed, do not point to equal effects. For supposing a man employs equal force in displacing two columns, it does not follow that the movements of the stones resting on them will be equal; but that one will move with greater velocity, which has the greater weight according to the property of its nature, to which it is left when the obstacle to its falling is removed. Accordingly, when original justice is removed, the nature of the human body is left to itself, so that according to diverse natural temperaments, some men's bodies are subject to more defects, some to fewer, although original sin is equal in all.

Reply Obj. 2: Both original and actual sin are removed by the same cause that removes these defects, according to the Apostle (Rom. 8:11): "He . . . shall quicken . . . your mortal bodies, because of His Spirit that dwelleth in you": but each is done according to the order of Divine wisdom, at a fitting time. Because it is right that we should first of all be conformed to Christ's sufferings, before attaining to the immortality and impassibility of glory, which was begun in Him, and by Him acquired for us. Hence it behooves that our bodies should remain, for a time, subject to suffering, in order that we may merit the impassibility of glory, in conformity with Christ.

Reply Obj. 3: Two things may be considered in actual sin, the substance of the act, and the aspect of fault. As regards the substance of the act, actual sin can cause a bodily defect: thus some sicken and die through eating too much. But as regards the fault, it deprives us of grace which is given to us that we may regulate the acts of the soul, but not that we may ward off defects of the body, as original justice did. Wherefore actual sin does not cause those defects, as original sin does.

^Q. 85


Art. 6: Whether death and other defects are natural to man?[edit]

It would seem that death and such like defects are natural to man.

Obj. 1: For "the corruptible and the incorruptible differ generically" (Metaph. x, text. 26). But man is of the same genus as other animals which are naturally corruptible. Therefore man is naturally corruptible.

Obj. 2: Further, whatever is composed of contraries is naturally corruptible, as having within itself the cause of corruption. But such is the human body. Therefore it is naturally corruptible.

Obj. 3: Further, a hot thing naturally consumes moisture. Now human life is preserved by hot and moist elements. Since therefore the vital functions are fulfilled by the action of natural heat, as stated in De Anima ii, text. 50, it seems that death and such like defects are natural to man.

On the contrary, (1) God made in man whatever is natural to him. Now "God made not death" (Wis. 1:13). Therefore death is not natural to man.

(2) Further, that which is natural cannot be called either a punishment or an evil: since what is natural to a thing is suitable to it. But death and such like defects are the punishment of original sin, as stated above (A. 5). Therefore they are not natural to man.

(3) Further, matter is proportionate to form, and everything to its end. Now man's end is everlasting happiness, as stated above (Q. 2, A. 7; Q. 5, AA. 3, 4): and the form of the human body is the rational soul, as was proved in the First Part (Q. 75, A. 6). Therefore the human body is naturally incorruptible.

I answer that, We may speak of any corruptible thing in two ways; first, in respect of its universal nature, secondly, as regards its particular nature. A thing's particular nature is its own power of action and self-preservation. And in respect of this nature, every corruption and defect is contrary to nature, as stated in De Coelo ii, text. 37, since this power tends to the being and preservation of the thing to which it belongs.

On the other hand, the universal nature is an active force in some universal principle of nature, for instance in some heavenly body; or again belonging to some superior substance, in which sense God is said by some to be "the Nature Who makes nature." This force intends the good and the preservation of the universe, for which alternate generation and corruption in things are requisite: and in this respect corruption and defect in things are natural, not indeed as regards the inclination of the form which is the principle of being and perfection, but as regards the inclination of matter which is allotted proportionately to its particular form according to the discretion of the universal agent. And although every form intends perpetual being as far as it can, yet no form of a corruptible being can achieve its own perpetuity, except the rational soul; for the reason that the latter is not entirely subject to matter, as other forms are; indeed it has an immaterial operation of its own, as stated in the First Part (Q. 75, A. 2). Consequently as regards his form, incorruption is more natural to man than to other corruptible things. But since that very form has a matter composed of contraries, from the inclination of that matter there results corruptibility in the whole. In this respect man is naturally corruptible as regards the nature of his matter left to itself, but not as regards the nature of his form.

The first three objections argue on the side of the matter; while the other three argue on the side of the form. Wherefore in order to solve them, we must observe that the form of man which is the rational soul, in respect of its incorruptibility is adapted to its end, which is everlasting happiness: whereas the human body, which is corruptible, considered in respect of its nature, is, in a way, adapted to its form, and, in another way, it is not. For we may note a twofold condition in any matter, one which the agent chooses, and another which is not chosen by the agent, and is a natural condition of matter. Thus, a smith in order to make a knife, chooses a matter both hard and flexible, which can be sharpened so as to be useful for cutting, and in respect of this condition iron is a matter adapted for a knife: but that iron be breakable and inclined to rust, results from the natural disposition of iron, nor does the workman choose this in the iron, indeed he would do without it if he could: wherefore this disposition of matter is not adapted to the workman's intention, nor to the purpose of his art. In like manner the human body is the matter chosen by nature in respect of its being of a mixed temperament, in order that it may be most suitable as an organ of touch and of the other sensitive and motive powers. Whereas the fact that it is corruptible is due to a condition of matter, and is not chosen by nature: indeed nature would choose an incorruptible matter if it could. But God, to Whom every nature is subject, in forming man supplied the defect of nature, and by the gift of original justice, gave the body a certain incorruptibility, as was stated in the First Part (Q. 97, A. 1). It is in this sense that it is said that "God made not death," and that death is the punishment of sin.

This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.

^Q. 85


QUESTION 86: OF THE STAIN OF SIN[edit]

^TOC ^6. Of the Effects of Sin

We must now consider the stain of sin; under which head there are two points of inquiry:

(1) Whether an effect of sin is a stain on the soul?

(2) Whether it remains in the soul after the act of sin?

Art. 1: Whether sin causes a stain on the soul?[edit]

It would seem that sin causes no stain on the soul.

Obj. 1: For a higher nature cannot be defiled by contact with a lower nature: hence the sun's ray is not defiled by contact with tainted bodies, as Augustine says (Contra Quinque Haereses v). Now the human soul is of a much higher nature than mutable things, to which it turns by sinning. Therefore it does not contract a stain from them by sinning.

Obj. 2: Further, sin is chiefly in the will, as stated above (Q. 74, AA. 1, 2). Now the will is in the reason, as stated in De Anima iii, text. 42. But the reason or intellect is not stained by considering anything whatever; rather indeed is it perfected thereby. Therefore neither is the will stained by sin.

Obj. 3: Further, if sin causes a stain, this stain is either something positive, or a pure privation. If it be something positive, it can only be either a disposition or a habit: for it seems that nothing else can be caused by an act. But it is neither disposition nor habit: for it happens that a stain remains even after the removal of a disposition or habit; for instance, in a man who after committing a mortal sin of prodigality, is so changed as to fall into a sin of the opposite vice. Therefore the stain does not denote anything positive in the soul. Again, neither is it a pure privation. Because all sins agree on the part of aversion and privation of grace: and so it would follow that there is but one stain caused by all sins. Therefore the stain is not the effect of sin.

On the contrary, It was said to Solomon (Ecclus. 47:22): "Thou hast stained thy glory": and it is written (Eph. 5:27): "That He might present it to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle": and in each case it is question of the stain of sin. Therefore a stain is the effect of sin.

I answer that, A stain is properly ascribed to corporeal things, when a comely body loses its comeliness through contact with another body, e.g. a garment, gold or silver, or the like. Accordingly a stain is ascribed to spiritual things in like manner. Now man's soul has a twofold comeliness; one from the refulgence of the natural light of reason, whereby he is directed in his actions; the other, from the refulgence of the Divine light, viz. of wisdom and grace, whereby man is also perfected for the purpose of doing good and fitting actions. Now, when the soul cleaves to things by love, there is a kind of contact in the soul: and when man sins, he cleaves to certain things, against the light of reason and of the Divine law, as shown above (Q. 71, A. 6). Wherefore the loss of comeliness occasioned by this contact, is metaphorically called a stain on the soul.

Reply Obj. 1: The soul is not defiled by inferior things, by their own power, as though they acted on the soul: on the contrary, the soul, by its own action, defiles itself, through cleaving to them inordinately, against the light of reason and of the Divine law.

Reply Obj. 2: The action of the intellect is accomplished by the intelligible thing being in the intellect, according to the mode of the intellect, so that the intellect is not defiled, but perfected, by them. On the other hand, the act of the will consists in a movement towards things themselves, so that love attaches the soul to the thing loved. Thus it is that the soul is stained, when it cleaves inordinately, according to Osee 9:10: "They . . . became abominable as those things were which they loved."

Reply Obj. 3: The stain is neither something positive in the soul, nor does it denote a pure privation: it denotes a privation of the soul's brightness in relation to its cause, which is sin; wherefore diverse sins occasion diverse stains. It is like a shadow, which is the privation of light through the interposition of a body, and which varies according to the diversity of the interposed bodies.

^Q. 86


Art. 2: Whether the stain remains in the soul after the act of sin?[edit]

It would seem that the stain does not remain in the soul after the act of sin.

Obj. 1: For after an action, nothing remains in the soul except habit or disposition. But the stain is not a habit or disposition, as stated above (A. 1, Obj. 3). Therefore the stain does not remain in the soul after the act of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, the stain is to the sin what the shadow is to the body, as stated above (A. 1, ad 3). But the shadow does not remain when the body has passed by. Therefore the stain does not remain in the soul when the act of sin is past.

Obj. 3: Further, every effect depends on its cause. Now the cause of the stain is the act of sin. Therefore when the act of sin is no longer there, neither is the stain in the soul.

On the contrary, It is written (Jos. 22:17): "Is it a small thing to you that you sinned with Beelphegor, and the stain of that crime remaineth in you [Vulg.: 'us'] to this day?"

I answer that, The stain of sin remains in the soul even when the act of sin is past. The reason for this is that the stain, as stated above (A. 1), denotes a blemish in the brightness of the soul, on account of its withdrawing from the light of reason or of the Divine law. And therefore so long as man remains out of this light, the stain of sin remains in him: but as soon as, moved by grace, he returns to the Divine light and to the light of reason, the stain is removed. For although the act of sin ceases, whereby man withdrew from the light of reason and of the Divine law, man does not at once return to the state in which he was before, and it is necessary that his will should have a movement contrary to the previous movement. Thus if one man be parted from another on account of some kind of movement, he is not reunited to him as soon as the movement ceases, but he needs to draw nigh to him and to return by a contrary movement.

Reply Obj. 1: Nothing positive remains in the soul after the act of sin, except the disposition or habit; but there does remain something privative, viz. the privation of union with the Divine light.

Reply Obj. 2: After the interposed body has passed by, the transparent body remains in the same position and relation as regards the illuminating body, and so the shadow passes at once. But when the sin is past, the soul does not remain in the same relation to God: and so there is no comparison.

Reply Obj. 3: The act of sin parts man from God, which parting causes the defect of brightness, just as local movement causes local parting. Wherefore, just as when movement ceases, local distance is not removed, so neither, when the act of sin ceases, is the stain removed.

^Q. 86


QUESTION 87: OF THE DEBT OF PUNISHMENT[edit]

^TOC ^6. Of the Effects of Sin

We must now consider the debt of punishment. We shall consider

(1) the debt itself [Q. 87];

(2) mortal and venial sin, which differ in respect of the punishment due to them [QQ. 88-89].


Under the first head there are eight points of inquiry:

(1) Whether the debt of punishment is an effect of sin?

(2) Whether one sin can be the punishment of another?

(3) Whether any sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment?

(4) Whether sin incurs a debt of punishment that is infinite in quantity?

(5) Whether every sin incurs a debt of eternal and infinite punishment?

(6) Whether the debt of punishment can remain after sin?

(7) Whether every punishment is inflicted for a sin?

(8) Whether one person can incur punishment for another's sin?


Art. 1: Whether the debt of punishment is an effect of sin?[edit]

It would seem that the debt of punishment is not an effect of sin.

Obj. 1: For that which is accidentally related to a thing, does not seem to be its proper effect. Now the debt of punishment is accidentally related to sin, for it is beside the intention of the sinner. Therefore the debt of punishment is not an effect of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, evil is not the cause of good. But punishment is good, since it is just, and is from God. Therefore it is not an effect of sin, which is evil.

Obj. 3: Further, Augustine says (Confess. i) that "every inordinate affection is its own punishment." But punishment does not incur a further debt of punishment, because then it would go on indefinitely. Therefore sin does not incur the debt of punishment.

On the contrary, It is written (Rom. 2:9): "Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil." But to work evil is to sin. Therefore sin incurs a punishment which is signified by the words "tribulation and anguish."

I answer that, It has passed from natural things to human affairs that whenever one thing rises up against another, it suffers some detriment therefrom. For we observe in natural things that when one contrary supervenes, the other acts with greater energy, for which reason "hot water freezes more rapidly," as stated in Meteor. i, 12. Wherefore we find that the natural inclination of man is to repress those who rise up against him. Now it is evident that all things contained in an order, are, in a manner, one, in relation to the principle of that order. Consequently, whatever rises up against an order, is put down by that order or by the principle thereof. And because sin is an inordinate act, it is evident that whoever sins, commits an offense against an order: wherefore he is put down, in consequence, by that same order, which repression is punishment.

Accordingly, man can be punished with a threefold punishment corresponding to the three orders to which the human will is subject. In the first place a man's nature is subjected to the order of his own reason; secondly, it is subjected to the order of another man who governs him either in spiritual or in temporal matters, as a member either of the state or of the household; thirdly, it is subjected to the universal order of the Divine government. Now each of these orders is disturbed by sin, for the sinner acts against his reason, and against human and Divine law. Wherefore he incurs a threefold punishment; one, inflicted by himself, viz. remorse of conscience; another, inflicted by man; and a third, inflicted by God.

Reply Obj. 1: Punishment follows sin, inasmuch as this is an evil by reason of its being inordinate. Wherefore just as evil is accidental to the sinner's act, being beside his intention, so also is the debt of punishment.

Reply Obj. 2: Further, a just punishment may be inflicted either by God or by man: wherefore the punishment itself is the effect of sin, not directly but dispositively. Sin, however, makes man deserving of punishment, and that is an evil: for Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that "punishment is not an evil, but to deserve punishment is." Consequently the debt of punishment is considered to be directly the effect of sin.

Reply Obj. 3: This punishment of the inordinate affection is due to sin as overturning the order of reason. Nevertheless sin incurs a further punishment, through disturbing the order of the Divine or human law.

^Q. 87


Art. 2: Whether sin can be the punishment of sin?[edit]

It would seem that sin cannot be the punishment of sin.

Obj. 1: For the purpose of punishment is to bring man back to the good of virtue, as the Philosopher declares (Ethic. x, 9). Now sin does not bring man back to the good of virtue, but leads him in the opposite direction. Therefore sin is not the punishment of sin.

Obj. 2: Further, just punishments are from God, as Augustine says (Qq. lxxxiii, qu. 82). But sin is not from God, and is an injustice. Therefore sin cannot be the punishment of sin.

Obj. 3: Further, the nature of punishment is to be something against the will. But sin is something from the will, as shown above (Q. 74, AA. 1, 2). Therefore sin cannot be the punishment of sin.

On the contrary, Gregory speaks (Hom. xi in Ezech.) that some sins are punishments of others.

I answer that, We may speak of sin in two ways: first, in its essence, as such; secondly, as to that which is accidental thereto. Sin as such can nowise be the punishment of another. Because sin considered in its essence is something proceeding from the will, for it is from this that it derives the character of guilt. Whereas punishment is essentially something against the will, as stated in the First Part (Q. 48, A. 5). Consequently it is evident that sin regarded in its essence can nowise be the punishment of sin.

On the other hand, sin can be the punishment of sin accidentally in three ways. First, when one sin is the cause of another, by removing an impediment thereto. For passions, temptations of the devil, and the like are causes of sin, but are impeded by the help of Divine grace which is withdrawn on account of sin. Wherefore since the withdrawal of grace is a punishment, and is from God, as stated above (Q. 79, A. 3), the result is that the sin which ensues from this is also a punishment accidentally. It is in this sense that the Apostle speaks (Rom. 1:24) when he says: "Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart," i.e. to their passions; because, to wit, when men are deprived of the help of Divine grace, they are overcome by their passions. In this way sin is always said to be the punishment of a preceding sin. Secondly, by reason of the substance of the act, which is such as to cause pain, whether it be an interior act, as is clearly the case with anger or envy, or an exterior act, as is the case with one who endures considerable trouble and loss in order to achieve a sinful act, according to Wis. 5:7: "We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity." Thirdly, on the part of the effect, so that one sin is said to be a punishment by reason of its effect. In the last two ways, a sin is a punishment not only in respect of a preceding sin, but also with regard to itself.

Reply Obj. 1: Even when God punishes men by permitting them to fall into sin, this is directed to the good of virtue. Sometimes indeed it is for the good of those who are punished, when, to wit, men arise from sin, more humble and more cautious. But it is always for the amendment of others, who seeing some men fall from sin to sin, are the more fearful of sinning. With regard to the other two ways, it is evident that the punishment is intended for the sinner's amendment, since the very fact that man endures toil and loss in sinning, is of a nature to withdraw man from sin.

Reply Obj. 2: This objection considers sin essentially as such: and the same answer applies to the Third Objection.

^Q. 87


Art. 3: Whether any sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment?[edit]

It would seem that no sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment.

Obj. 1: For a just punishment is equal to the fault, since justice is equality: wherefore it is written (Isa. 27:8): "In measure against measure, when it shall be cast off, thou shalt judge it." Now sin is temporal. Therefore it does not incur a debt of eternal punishment.

Obj. 2: Further, "punishments are a kind of medicine" (Ethic. ii, 3). But no medicine should be infinite, because it is directed to an end, and "what is directed to an end, is not infinite," as the Philosopher states (Polit. i, 6). Therefore no punishment should be infinite.

Obj. 3: Further, no one does a thing always unless he delights in it for its own sake. But "God hath not pleasure in the destruction of men" [Vulg.: 'of the living']. Therefore He will not inflict eternal punishment on man.

Obj. 4: Further, nothing accidental is infinite. But punishment is accidental, for it is not natural to the one who is punished. Therefore it cannot be of infinite duration.

On the contrary, It is written (Matt. 25:46): "These shall go into everlasting punishment"; and (Mk. 3:29): "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, shall never have forgiveness, but shall be guilty of an everlasting sin."

I answer that, As stated above (A. 1), sin incurs a debt of punishment through disturbing an order. But the effect remains so long as the cause remains. Wherefore so long as the disturbance of the order remains the debt of punishment must needs remain also. Now disturbance of an order is sometimes reparable, sometimes irreparable: because a defect which destroys the principle is irreparable, whereas if the principle be saved, defects can be repaired by virtue of that principle. For instance, if the principle of sight be destroyed, sight cannot be restored except by Divine power; whereas, if the principle of sight be preserved, while there arise certain impediments to the use of sight, these can be remedied by nature or by art. Now in every order there is a principle whereby one takes part in that order. Consequently if a sin destroys the principle of the order whereby man's will is subject to God, the disorder will be such as to be considered in itself, irreparable, although it is possible to repair it by the power of God. Now the principle of this order is the last end, to which man adheres by charity. Therefore whatever sins turn man away from God, so as to destroy charity, considered in themselves, incur a debt of eternal punishment.

Reply Obj. 1: Punishment is proportionate to sin in point of severity, both in Divine and in human judgments. In no judgment, however, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxi, 11) is it requisite for punishment to equal fault in point of duration. For the fact that adultery or murder is committed in a moment does not call for a momentary punishment: in fact they are punished sometimes by imprisonment or banishment for life--sometimes even by death; wherein account is not taken of the time occupied in killing, but rather of the expediency of removing the murderer from the fellowship of the living, so that this punishment, in its own way, represents the eternity of punishment inflicted by God. Now according to Gregory (Dial. iv, 44) it is just that he who has sinned against God in his own eternity should be punished in God's eternity. A man is said to have sinned in his own eternity, not only as regards continual sinning throughout his whole life, but also because, from the very fact that he fixes his end in sin, he has the will to sin, everlastingly. Wherefore Gregory says (Dial. iv, 44) that the "wicked would wish to live without end, that they might abide in their sins for ever."

Reply Obj. 2: Even the punishment that is inflicted according to human laws, is not always intended as a medicine for the one who is punished, but sometimes only for others: thus when a thief is hanged, this is not for his own amendment, but for the sake of others, that at least they may be deterred from crime through fear of the punishment, according to Prov. 19:25: "The wicked man being scourged, the fool shall be wiser." Accordingly the eternal punishments inflicted by God on the reprobate, are medicinal punishments for those who refrain from sin through the thought of those punishments, according to Ps. 59:6: "Thou hast given a warning to them that fear Thee, that they may flee from before the bow, that Thy beloved may be delivered."

Reply Obj. 3: God does not delight in punishments for their own sake; but He does delight in the order of His justice, which requires them.

Reply Obj. 4: Although punishment is related indirectly to nature, nevertheless it is essentially related to the disturbance of the order, and to God's justice. Wherefore, so long as the disturbance lasts, the punishment endures.

^Q. 87


Art. 4: Whether sin incurs a debt of punishment infinite in quantity?[edit]

It would seem that sin incurs a debt of punishment infinite in quantity.

Obj. 1: For it is written (Jer. 10:24): "Correct me, O Lord, but yet with judgment: and not in Thy fury, lest Thou bring me to nothing." Now God's anger or fury signifies metaphorically the vengeance of Divine justice: and to be brought to nothing is an infinite punishment, even as to make a thing out of nothing denotes infinite power. Therefore according to God's vengeance, sin is awarded a punishment infinite in quantity.

Obj. 2: Further, quantity of punishment corresponds to quantity of fault, according to Deut. 25:2: "According to the measure of the sin shall the measure also of the stripes be." Now a sin which is committed against God, is infinite: because the gravity of a sin increases according to the greatness of the person sinned against (thus it is a more grievous sin to strike the sovereign than a private individual), and God's greatness is infinite. Therefore an infinite punishment is due for a sin committed against God.

Obj. 3: Further, a thing may be infinite in two ways, in duration, and in quantity. Now the punishment is infinite in duration. Therefore it is infinite in quantity also.

On the contrary, If this were the case, the punishments of all mortal sins would be equal; because one infinite is not greater than another.

I answer that, Punishment is proportionate to sin. Now sin comprises two things. First, there is the turning away from the immutable good, which is infinite, wherefore, in this respect, sin is infinite. Secondly, there is the inordinate turning to mutable good. In this respect sin is finite, both because the mutable good itself is finite, and because the movement of turning towards it is finite, since the acts of a creature cannot be infinite. Accordingly, in so far as sin consists in turning away from something, its corresponding punishment is the pain of loss, which also is infinite, because it is the loss of the infinite good, i.e. God. But in so far as sin turns inordinately to something, its corresponding punishment is the pain of sense, which is also finite.

Reply Obj. 1: It would be inconsistent with Divine justice for the sinner to be brought to nothing absolutely, because this would be incompatible with the perpetuity of punishment that Divine justice requires, as stated above (A. 3). The expression "to be brought to nothing" is applied to one who is deprived of spiritual goods, according to 1 Cor. 13:2: "If I . . . have not charity, I am nothing."

Reply Obj. 2: This argument considers sin as turning away from something, for it is thus that man sins against God.

Reply Obj. 3: Duration of punishment corresponds to duration of fault, not indeed as regards the act, but on the part of the stain, for as long as this remains, the debt of punishment remains. But punishment corresponds to fault in the point of severity. And a fault which is irreparable, is such that, of itself, it lasts for ever; wherefore it incurs an everlasting punishment. But it is not infinite as regards the thing it turns to; wherefore, in this respect, it does not incur punishment of infinite quantity.

^Q. 87


Art. 5: Whether every sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment?[edit]

It would seem that every sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment.

Obj. 1: Because punishment, as stated above (A. 4), is proportionate to the fault. Now eternal punishment differs infinitely from temporal punishment: whereas no sin, apparently, differs infinitely from another, since every sin is a human act, which cannot be infinite. Since therefore some sins incur a debt of everlasting punishment, as stated above (A. 4), it seems that no sin incurs a debt of mere temporal punishment.

Obj. 2: Further, original sin is the least of all sins, wherefore Augustine says (Enchiridion xciii) that "the lightest punishment is incurred by those who are punished for original sin alone." But original sin incurs everlasting punishment, since children who have died in original sin through not being baptized, will never see the kingdom of God, as shown by our Lord's words (John 3:3): "Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Much more, therefore, will the punishments of all other sins be everlasting.

Obj. 3: Further, a sin does not deserve greater punishment through being united to another sin; for Divine justice has allotted its punishment to each sin. Now a venial sin deserves eternal punishment if it be united to a mortal sin in a lost soul, because in hell there is no remission of sins. Therefore venial sin by itself deserves eternal punishment. Therefore temporal punishment is not due for any sin.

On the contrary, Gregory says (Dial. iv, 39), that certain slighter sins are remitted after this life. Therefore all sins are not punished eternally.

I answer that, As stated above (A. 3), a sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment, in so far as it causes an irreparable disorder in the order of Divine justice, through being contrary to the very principle of that order, viz. the last end. Now it is evident that in some sins there is disorder indeed, but such as not to involve contrariety in respect of the last end, but only in respect of things referable to the end, in so far as one is too much or too little intent on them without prejudicing the order to the last end: as, for instance, when a man is too fond of some temporal thing, yet would not offend God for its sake, by breaking one of His commandments. Consequently such sins do not incur everlasting, but only temporal punishment.

Reply Obj. 1: Sins do not differ infinitely from one another in respect of their turning towards mutable good, which constitutes the substance of the sinful act; but they do differ infinitely in respect of their turning away from something. Because some sins consist in turning away from the last end, and some in a disorder affecting things referable to the end: and the last end differs infinitely from the things that are referred to it.

Reply Obj. 2: Original sin incurs everlasting punishment, not on account of its gravity, but by reason of the condition of the subject, viz. a human being deprived of grace, without which there is no remission of sin.

The same answer applies to the Third Objection about venial sin. Because eternity of punishment does not correspond to the quantity of the sin, but to its irremissibility, as stated above (A. 3).

^Q. 87


Art. 6: Whether the debt of punishment remains after sin?[edit]

It would seem that there remains no debt of punishment after sin.

Obj. 1: For if the cause be removed the effect is removed. But sin is the cause of the debt of punishment. Therefore, when the sin is removed, the debt of punishment ceases also.

Obj. 2: Further, sin is removed by man returning to virtue. Now a virtuous man deserves, not punishment, but reward. Therefore, when sin is removed, the debt of punishment no longer remains.

Obj. 3: Further, "Punishments are a kind of medicine" (Ethic. ii, 3). But a man is not given medicine after being cured of his disease. Therefore, when sin is removed the debt of punishment does not remain.

On the contrary, It is written (2 Kings xii. 13, 14): "David said to Nathan: I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said to David: The Lord also hath taken away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Nevertheless because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme . . . the child that is born to thee shall die." Therefore a man is punished by God even after his sin is forgiven: and so the debt of punishment remains, when the sin has been removed.

I answer that, Two things may be considered in sin: the guilty act, and the consequent stain. Now it is evident that in all actual sins, when the act of sin has ceased, the guilt remains; because the act of sin makes man deserving of punishment, in so far as he transgresses the order of Divine justice, to which he cannot return except he pay some sort of penal compensation, which restores him to the equality of justice; so that, according to the order of Divine justice, he who has been too indulgent to his will, by transgressing God's commandments, suffers, either willingly or unwillingly, something contrary to what he would wish. This restoration of the equality of justice by penal compensation is also to be observed in injuries done to one's fellow men. Consequently it is evident that when the sinful or injurious act has ceased there still remains the debt of punishment.

But if we speak of the removal of sin as to the stain, it is evident that the stain of sin cannot be removed from the soul, without the soul being united to God, since it was through being separated from Him that it suffered the loss of its brightness, in which the stain consists, as stated above (Q. 86, A. 1). Now man is united to God by his will. Wherefore the stain of sin cannot be removed from man, unless his will accept the order of Divine justice, that is to say, unless either of his own accord he take upon himself the punishment of his past sin, or bear patiently the punishment which God inflicts on him; and in both ways punishment avails for satisfaction. Now when punishment is satisfactory, it loses somewhat of the nature of punishment: for the nature of punishment is to be against the will; and although satisfactory punishment, absolutely speaking, is against the will, nevertheless in this particular case and for this particular purpose, it is voluntary. Consequently it is voluntary simply, but involuntary in a certain respect, as we have explained when speaking of the voluntary and the involuntary (Q. 6, A. 6). We must, therefore, say that, when the stain of sin has been removed, there may remain a debt of punishment, not indeed of punishment simply, but of satisfactory punishment.

Reply Obj. 1: Just as after the act of sin has ceased, the stain remains, as stated above (Q. 86, A. 2), so the debt of punishment also can remain. But when the stain has been removed, the debt of punishment does not remain in the same way, as stated.

Reply Obj. 2: The virtuous man does not deserve punishment simply, but he may deserve it as satisfactory: because his very virtue demands that he should do satisfaction for his offenses against God or man.

Reply Obj. 3: When the stain is removed, the wound of sin is healed as regards the will. But punishment is still requisite in order that the other powers of the soul be healed, since they were so disordered by the sin committed, so that, to wit, the disorder may be remedied by the contrary of that which caused it. Moreover punishment is requisite in order to restore the equality of justice, and to remove the scandal given to others, so that those who were scandalized at the sin many be edified by the punishment, as may be seen in the example of David quoted above.

^Q. 87


Art. 7: Whether every punishment is inflicted for a sin?[edit]

It would seem that not every punishment is inflicted for a sin.

Obj. 1: For it is written (John 9:3, 2) about the man born blind: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents . . . that he should be born blind." In like manner we see that many children, those also who have been baptized, suffer grievous punishments, fevers, for instance, diabolical possession, and so forth, and yet there is no sin in them after they have been baptized. Moreover before they are baptized, there is no more sin in them than in the other children who do not suffer such things. Therefore not every punishment is inflicted for a sin.

Obj. 2: Further, that sinners should thrive and that the innocent should be punished seem to come under the same head. Now each of these is frequently observed in human affairs, for it is written about the wicked (Ps. 72:5): "They are not in the labor of men: neither shall they be scourged like other men"; and (Job 21:7): "[Why then do] the wicked live, are [they] advanced, and strengthened with riches" (?)[*The words in brackets show the readings of the Vulgate]; and (Hab. 1:13): "Why lookest Thou upon the contemptuous [Vulg.: 'them that do unjust things'], and holdest Thy peace, when the wicked man oppresseth [Vulg.: 'devoureth'], the man that is more just than himself?" Therefore not every punishment is inflicted for a sin.

Obj. 3: Further, it is written of Christ (1 Pet. 2:22) that "He did no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth." And yet it is said (1 Pet. 2:21) that "He suffered for us." Therefore punishment is not always inflicted by God for sin.

On the contrary, It is written (Job 4:7, seqq.): "Who ever perished innocent? Or when were the just destroyed? On the contrary, I have seen those who work iniquity . . . perishing by the blast of God"; and Augustine writes (Retract. i) that "all punishment is just, and is inflicted for a sin."

I answer that, As already stated (A. 6), punishment can be considered in two ways--simply, and as being satisfactory. A satisfactory punishment is, in a way, voluntary. And since those who differ as to the debt of punishment, may be one in will by the union of love, it happens that one who has not sinned, bears willingly the punishment for another: thus even in human affairs we see men take the debts of another upon themselves. If, however, we speak of punishment simply, in respect of its being something penal, it has always a relation to a sin in the one punished. Sometimes this is a relation to actual sin, as when a man is punished by God or man for a sin committed by him. Sometimes it is a relation to original sin: and this, either principally or consequently--principally, the punishment of original sin is that human nature is left to itself, and deprived of original justice: and consequently, all the penalties which result from this defect in human nature.

Nevertheless we must observe that sometimes a thing seems penal, and yet is not so simply. Because punishment is a species of evil, as stated in the First Part (Q. 48, A. 5). Now evil is privation of good. And since man's good is manifold, viz. good of the soul, good of the body, and external goods, it happens sometimes that man suffers the loss of a lesser good, that he may profit in a greater good, as when he suffers loss of money for the sake of bodily health, or loss of both of these, for the sake of his soul's health and the glory of God. In such cases the loss is an evil to man, not simply but relatively; wherefore it does not answer to the name of punishment simply, but of medicinal punishment, because a medical man prescribes bitter potions to his patients, that he may restore them to health. And since such like are not punishments properly speaking, they are not referred to sin as their cause, except in a restricted sense: because the very fact that human nature needs a treatment of penal medicines, is due to the corruption of nature which is itself the punishment of original sin. For there was no need, in the state of innocence, for penal exercises in order to make progress in virtue; so that whatever is penal in the exercise of virtue, is reduced to original sin as its cause.

Reply Obj. 1: Such like defects of those who are born with them, or which children suffer from, are the effects and the punishments of original sin, as stated above (Q. 85, A. 5); and they remain even after baptism, for the cause stated above (Q. 85, A. 5, ad 2): and that they are not equally in all, is due to the diversity of nature, which is left to itself, as stated above (Q. 85, A. 5, ad 1). Nevertheless, they are directed by Divine providence, to the salvation of men, either of those who suffer, or of others who are admonished by their means--and also to the glory of God.

Reply Obj. 2: Temporal and bodily goods are indeed goods of man, but they are of small account: whereas spiritual goods are man's chief goods. Consequently it belongs to Divine justice to give spiritual goods to the virtuous, and to award them as much temporal goods or evils, as suffices for virtue: for, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. viii), "Divine justice does not enfeeble the fortitude of the virtuous man, by material gifts." The very fact that others receive temporal goods, is detrimental to their spiritual good; wherefore the psalm quoted concludes (verse 6): "Therefore pride hath held them fast."

Reply Obj. 3: Christ bore a satisfactory punishment, not for His, but for our sins.

^Q. 87


Art. 8: Whether anyone is punished for another's sin?[edit]

It would seem that one may be punished for another's sin.

Obj. 1: For it is written (Ex. 20:5): "I am . . . God . . . jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me"; and (Matt. 23:35): "That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth."

Obj. 2: Further, human justice springs from Divine justice. Now, according to human justice, children are sometimes punished for their parents, as in the case of high treason. Therefore also according to Divine justice, one is punished for another's sin.

Obj. 3: Further, if it be replied that the son is punished, not for the father's sin, but for his own, inasmuch as he imitates his father's wickedness; this would not be said of the children rather than of outsiders, who are punished in like manner as those whose crimes they imitate. It seems, therefore, that children are punished, not for their own sins, but for those of their parents.

On the contrary, It is written (Ezech. 18:20): "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father."

I answer that, If we speak of that satisfactory punishment, which one takes upon oneself voluntarily, one may bear another's punishment, in so far as they are, in some way, one, as stated above (A. 7). If, however, we speak of punishment inflicted on account of sin, inasmuch as it is penal, then each one is punished for his own sin only, because the sinful act is something personal. But if we speak of a punishment that is medicinal, in this way it does happen that one is punished for another's sin. For it has been stated (A. 7) that ills sustained in bodily goods or even in the body itself, are medicinal punishments intended for the health of the soul. Wherefore there is no reason why one should not have such like punishments inflicted on one for another's sin, either by God or by man; e.g. on children for their parents, or on servants for their masters, inasmuch as they are their property so to speak; in such a way, however, that, if the children or the servants take part in the sin, this penal ill has the character of punishment in regard to both the one punished and the one he is punished for. But if they do not take part in the sin, it has the character of punishment in regard to the one for whom the punishment is borne, while, in regard to the one who is punished, it is merely medicinal (except accidentally, if he consent to the other's sin), since it is intended for the good of his soul, if he bears it patiently.

With regard to spiritual punishments, these are not merely medicinal, because the good of the soul is not directed to a yet higher good. Consequently no one suffers loss in the goods of the soul without some fault of his own. Wherefore Augustine says (Ep. ad Avit.) [*Ep. ad Auxilium, ccl.], such like punishments are not inflicted on one for another's sin, because, as regards the soul, the son is not the father's property. Hence the Lord assigns the reason for this by saying (Ezech. 18:4): "All souls are Mine."

Reply Obj. 1: Both the passages quoted should, seemingly, be referred to temporal or bodily punishments, in so far as children are the property of their parents, and posterity, of their forefathers. Else, if they be referred to spiritual punishments, they must be understood in reference to the imitation of sin, wherefore in Exodus these words are added, "Of them that hate Me," and in the chapter quoted from Matthew (verse 32) we read: "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." The sins of the fathers are said to be punished in their children, because the latter are the more prone to sin through being brought up amid their parents' crimes, both by becoming accustomed to them, and by imitating their parents' example, conforming to their authority as it were. Moreover they deserve heavier punishment if, seeing the punishment of their parents, they fail to mend their ways. The text adds, "to the third and fourth generation," because men are wont to live long enough to see the third and fourth generation, so that both the children can witness their parents' sins so as to imitate them, and the parents can see their children's punishments so as to grieve for them.

Reply Obj. 2: The punishments which human justice inflicts on one for another's sin are bodily and temporal. They are also remedies or medicines against future sins, in order that either they who are punished, or others may be restrained from similar faults.

Reply Obj. 3: Those who are near of kin are said to be punished, rather than outsiders, for the sins of others, both because the punishment of kindred redounds somewhat upon those who sinned, as stated above, in so far as the child is the father's property, and because the examples and the punishments that occur in one's own household are more moving. Consequently when a man is brought up amid the sins of his parents, he is more eager to imitate them, and if he is not deterred by their punishments, he would seem to be the more obstinate, and, therefore, to deserve more severe punishment.

^Q. 87


QUESTION 88: OF VENIAL AND MORTAL SIN[edit]

^TOC ^6. Of the Effects of Sin

In the next place, since venial and mortal sins differ in respect of the debt of punishment, we must consider them.

First, we shall consider venial sin as compared with mortal sin [Q. 88];

secondly, we shall consider venial sin in itself [Q. 89].


Under the first head there are six points of inquiry:

(1) Whether venial sin is fittingly condivided with mortal sin?

(2) Whether they differ generically?

(3) Whether venial sin is a disposition to mortal sin?

(4) Whether a venial sin can become mortal?

(5) Whether a venial sin can become mortal by reason of an aggravating circumstance?

(6) Whether a mortal sin can become venial?


Art. 1: Whether venial sin is fittingly condivided with mortal sin?[edit]

It would seem that venial sin is unfittingly condivided with mortal sin.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 27): "Sin is a word, deed or desire contrary to the eternal law." But the fact of being against the eternal law makes a sin to be mortal. Consequently every sin is mortal. Therefore venial sin is not condivided with mortal sin.

Obj. 2: Further, the Apostle says (1 Cor. 10:31): "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever else you do; do all to the glory of God." Now whoever sins breaks this commandment, because sin is not done for God's glory. Consequently, since to break a commandment is to commit a mortal sin, it seems that whoever sins, sins mortally.

Obj. 3: Further, whoever cleaves to a thing by love, cleaves either as enjoying it, or as using it, as Augustine states (De Doctr. Christ. i, 3, 4). But no person, in sinning, cleaves to a mutable good as using it: because he does not refer it to that good which gives us happiness, which, properly speaking, is to use, according to Augustine (De Doctr. Christ. i, 3, 4). Therefore whoever sins enjoys a mutable good. Now "to enjoy what we should use is human perverseness," as Augustine again says (Qq. lxxxiii, qu. 30). Therefore, since "perverseness" [*The Latin 'pervertere' means to overthrow, to destroy, hence 'perversion' of God's law is a mortal sin.] denotes a mortal sin, it seems that whoever sins, sins mortally.

Obj. 4: Further, whoever approaches one term, from that very fact turns away from the opposite. Now whoever sins, approaches a mutable good, and, consequently turns away from the immutable good, so that he sins mortally. Therefore venial sin is unfittingly condivided with mortal sin.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Tract. xli in Joan.), that "a crime is one that merits damnation, and a venial sin, one that does not." But a crime denotes a mortal sin. Therefore venial sin is fittingly condivided with mortal sin.

I answer that, Certain terms do not appear to be mutually opposed, if taken in their proper sense, whereas they are opposed if taken metaphorically: thus "to smile" is not opposed to "being dry"; but if we speak of the smiling meadows when they are decked with flowers and fresh with green hues this is opposed to drought. In like manner if mortal be taken literally as referring to the death of the body, it does not imply opposition to venial, nor belong to the same genus. But if mortal be taken metaphorically, as applied to sin, it is opposed to that which is venial.

For sin, being a sickness of the soul, as stated above (Q. 71, A. 1, ad 3; Q. 72, A. 5; Q. 74, A. 9, ad 2), is said to be mortal by comparison with a disease, which is said to be mortal, through causing an irreparable defect consisting in the corruption of a principle, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 5). Now the principle of the spiritual life, which is a life in accord with virtue, is the order to the last end, as stated above (Q. 72, A. 5; Q. 87, A. 3): and if this order be corrupted, it cannot be repaired by any intrinsic principle, but by the power of God alone, as stated above (Q. 87, A. 3), because disorders in things referred to the end, are repaired through the end, even as an error about conclusions can be repaired through the truth of the principles. Hence the defect of order to the last end cannot be repaired through something else as a higher principle, as neither can an error about principles. Wherefore such sins are called mortal, as being irreparable. On the other hand, sins which imply a disorder in things referred to the end, the order to the end itself being preserved, are reparable. These sins are called venial: because a sin receives its acquittal (veniam) when the debt of punishment is taken away, and this ceases when the sin ceases, as explained above (Q. 87, A. 6).

Accordingly, mortal and venial are mutually opposed as reparable and irreparable: and I say this with reference to the intrinsic principle, but not to the Divine power, which can repair all diseases, whether of the body or of the soul. Therefore venial sin is fittingly condivided with mortal sin.

Reply Obj. 1: The division of sin into venial and mortal is not a division of a genus into its species which have an equal share of the generic nature: but it is the division of an analogous term into its parts, of which it is predicated, of the one first, and of the other afterwards. Consequently the perfect notion of sin, which Augustine gives, applies to mortal sin. On the other hand, venial sin is called a sin, in reference to an imperfect notion of sin, and in relation to mortal sin: even as an accident is called a being, in relation to substance, in reference to the imperfect notion of being. For it is not against the law, since he who sins venially neither does what the law forbids, nor omits what the law prescribes to be done; but he acts beside the law, through not observing the mode of reason, which the law intends.

Reply Obj. 2: This precept of the Apostle is affirmative, and so it does not bind for all times. Consequently everyone who does not actually refer all his actions to the glory of God, does not therefore act against this precept. In order, therefore, to avoid mortal sin each time that one fails actually to refer an action to God's glory, it is enough to refer oneself and all that one has to God habitually. Now venial sin excludes only actual reference of the human act to God's glory, and not habitual reference: because it does not exclude charity, which refers man to God habitually. Therefore it does not follow that he who sins venially, sins mortally.

Reply Obj. 3: He that sins venially, cleaves to temporal good, not as enjoying it, because he does not fix his end in it, but as using it, by referring it to God, not actually but habitually.

Reply Obj. 4: Mutable good is not considered to be a term in contraposition to the immutable good, unless one's end is fixed therein: because what is referred to the end has not the character of finality.

^Q. 88


Art. 2: Whether mortal and venial sin differ generically?[edit]

It would seem that venial and mortal sin do not differ generically, so that some sins be generically mortal, and some generically venial.

Obj. 1: Because human acts are considered to be generically good or evil according to their matter or object, as stated above (Q. 18, A. 2). Now either mortal or venial sin may be committed in regard to any object or matter: since man can love any mutable good, either less than God, which may be a venial sin, or more than God, which is a mortal sin. Therefore venial and mortal sin do not differ generically.

Obj. 2: Further, as stated above (A. 1; Q. 72, A. 5; Q. 87, A. 3), a sin is called mortal when it is irreparable, venial when it can be repaired. Now irreparability belongs to sin committed out of malice, which, according to some, is irremissible: whereas reparability belongs to sins committed through weakness or ignorance, which are remissible. Therefore mortal and venial sin differ as sin committed through malice differs from sin committed through weakness or ignorance. But, in this respect, sins differ not in genus but in cause, as stated above (Q. 77, A. 8, ad 1). Therefore venial and mortal sin do not differ generically.

Obj. 3: Further, it was stated above (Q. 74, A. 3, ad 3; A. 10) that sudden movements both of the sensuality and of the reason are venial sins. But sudden movements occur in every kind of sin. Therefore no sins are generically venial.

On the contrary, Augustine, in a sermon on Purgatory (De Sanctis, serm. xli), enumerates certain generic venial sins, and certain generic mortal sins.

I answer that, Venial sin is so called from venia (pardon). Consequently a sin may be called venial, first of all, because it has been pardoned: thus Ambrose says that "penance makes every sin venial": and this is called venial "from the result." Secondly, a sin is called venial because it does not contain anything either partially or totally, to prevent its being pardoned: partially, as when a sin contains something diminishing its guilt, e.g. a sin committed through weakness or ignorance: and this is called venial "from the cause": totally, through not destroying the order to the last end, wherefore it deserves temporal, but not everlasting punishment. It is of this venial sin that we wish to speak now.

For as regards the first two, it is evident that they have no determinate genus: whereas venial sin, taken in the third sense, can have a determinate genus, so that one sin may be venial generically, and another generically mortal, according as the genus or species of an act is determined by its object. For, when the will is directed to a thing that is in itself contrary to charity, whereby man is directed to his last end, the sin is mortal by reason of its object. Consequently it is a mortal sin generically, whether it be contrary to the love of God, e.g. blasphemy, perjury, and the like, or against the love of one's neighbor, e.g. murder, adultery, and such like: wherefore such sins are mortal by reason of their genus. Sometimes, however, the sinner's will is directed to a thing containing a certain inordinateness, but which is not contrary to the love of God and one's neighbor, e.g. an idle word, excessive laughter, and so forth: and such sins are venial by reason of their genus.

Nevertheless, since moral acts derive their character of goodness and malice, not only from their objects, but also from some disposition of the agent, as stated above (Q. 18, AA. 4, 6), it happens sometimes that a sin which is venial generically by reason of its object, becomes mortal on the part of the agent, either because he fixes his last end therein, or because he directs it to something that is a mortal sin in its own genus; for example, if a man direct an idle word to the commission of adultery. In like manner it may happen, on the part of the agent, that a sin generically mortal because venial, by reason of the act being imperfect, i.e. not deliberated by reason, which is the proper principle of an evil act, as we have said above in reference to sudden movements of unbelief.

Reply Obj. 1: The very fact that anyone chooses something that is contrary to divine charity, proves that he prefers it to the love of God, and consequently, that he loves it more than he loves God. Hence it belongs to the genus of some sins, which are of themselves contrary to charity, that something is loved more than God; so that they are mortal by reason of their genus.

Reply Obj. 2: This argument considers those sins which are venial from their cause.

Reply Obj. 3: This argument considers those sins which are venial by reason of the imperfection of the act.

^Q. 88


Art. 3: Whether venial sin is a disposition to mortal sin?[edit]

It would seem that venial sin is not a disposition to mortal sin.

Obj. 1: For one contrary does not dispose to another. But venial and mortal sin are condivided as contrary to one another, as stated above (A. 1). Therefore venial sin is not a disposition to mortal sin.

Obj. 2: Further, an act disposes to something of like species, wherefore it is stated in Ethic. ii, 1, 2, that "from like acts like dispositions and habits are engendered." But mortal and venial sin differ in genus or species, as stated above (A. 2). Therefore venial sin does not dispose to mortal sin.

Obj. 3: Further, if a sin is called venial because it disposes to mortal sin, it follows that whatever disposes to mortal sin is a venial sin. Now every good work disposes to mortal sin; wherefore Augustine says in his Rule (Ep. ccxi) that "pride lies in wait for good works that it may destroy them." Therefore even good works would be venial sins, which is absurd.

On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 19:1): "He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little." Now he that sins venially seems to contemn small things. Therefore by little and little he is disposed to fall away together into mortal sin.

I answer that, A disposition is a kind of cause; wherefore as there is a twofold manner of cause, so is there a twofold manner of disposition. For there is a cause which moves directly to the production of the effect, as a hot thing heats: and there is a cause which moves indirectly, by removing an obstacle, as he who displaces a pillar is said to displace the stone that rests on it. Accordingly an act of sin disposes to something in two ways. First, directly, and thus it disposes to an act of like species. In this way, a sin generically venial does not, primarily and of its nature, dispose to a sin generically mortal, for they differ in species. Nevertheless, in this same way, a venial sin can dispose, by way of consequence, to a sin which is mortal on the part of the agent: because the disposition or habit may be so far strengthened by acts of venial sin, that the lust of sinning increases, and the sinner fixes his end in that venial sin: since the end for one who has a habit, as such, is to work according to that habit; and the consequence will be that, by sinning often venially, he becomes disposed to a mortal sin. Secondly, a human act disposes to something by removing an obstacle thereto. In this way a sin generically venial can dispose to a sin generically mortal. Because he that commits a sin generically venial, turns aside from some particular order; and through accustoming his will not to be subject to the due order in lesser matters, is disposed not to subject his will even to the order of the last end, by choosing something that is a mortal sin in its genus.

Reply Obj. 1: Venial and mortal sin are not condivided in contrariety to one another, as though they were species of one genus, as stated above (A. 1, ad 1), but as an accident is condivided with substance. Wherefore an accident can be a disposition to a substantial form, so can a venial sin dispose to mortal.

Reply Obj. 2: Venial sin is not like mortal sin in species; but it is in genus, inasmuch as they both imply a defect of due order, albeit in different ways, as stated (AA. 1, 2).

Reply Obj. 3: A good work is not, of itself, a disposition to mortal sin; but it can be the matter or occasion of mortal sin accidentally; whereas a venial sin, of its very nature, disposes to mortal sin, as stated.

^Q. 88


Art. 4: Whether a venial sin can become mortal?[edit]

It would seem that a venial sin can become a mortal sin.

Obj. 1: For Augustine in explaining the words of John 3:36: "He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life," says (Tract. xii in Joan.): "The slightest," i.e. venial, "sins kill if we make little of them." Now a sin is called mortal through causing the spiritual death of the soul. Therefore a venial sin can become mortal.

Obj. 2: Further, a movement in the sensuality before the consent of reason, is a venial sin, but after consent, is a mortal sin, as stated above (Q. 74, A. 8, ad 2). Therefore a venial sin can become mortal.

Obj. 3: Further, venial and mortal sin differ as curable and incurable disease, as stated above (A. 1). But a curable disease may become incurable. Therefore a venial sin may become mortal.

Obj. 4: Further, a disposition may become a habit. Now venial sin is a disposition to mortal, as stated (A. 3). Therefore a venial sin can become mortal.

I answer that, The fact of a venial sin becoming a mortal sin may be understood in three ways. First, so that the same identical act be at first a venial, and then a mortal sin. This is impossible: because a sin, like any moral act, consists chiefly in an act of the will: so that an act is not one morally, if the will be changed, although the act be continuous physically. If, however, the will be not changed, it is not possible for a venial sin to become mortal.

Secondly, this may be taken to mean that a sin generically venial, becomes mortal. This is possible, in so far as one may fix one's end in that venial sin, or direct it to some mortal sin as end, as stated above (A. 2).

Thirdly, this may be understood in the sense of many venial sins constituting one mortal sin. If this be taken as meaning that many venial sins added together make one mortal sin, it is false, because all the venial sins in the world cannot incur a debt of punishment equal to that of one mortal sin. This is evident as regards the duration of the punishment, since mortal sin incurs a debt of eternal punishment, while venial sin incurs a debt of temporal punishment, as stated above (Q. 87, AA. 3, 5). It is also evident as regards the pain of loss, because mortal sins deserve to be punished by the privation of seeing God, to which no other punishment is comparable, as Chrysostom states (Hom. xxiv in Matth.). It is also evident as regards the pain of sense, as to the remorse of conscience; although as to the pain of fire, the punishments may perhaps not be improportionate to one another.

If, however, this be taken as meaning that many venial sins make one mortal sin dispositively, it is true, as was shown above (A. 3) with regard to the two different manners of disposition, whereby venial sin disposes to mortal sin.

Reply Obj. 1: Augustine is referring to the fact of many venial sins making one mortal sin dispositively.

Reply Obj. 2: The same movement of the sensuality which preceded the consent of reason can never become a mortal sin; but the movement of the reason in consenting is a mortal sin.

Reply Obj. 3: Disease of the body is not an act, but an abiding disposition; wherefore, while remaining the same disease, it may undergo change. On the other hand, venial sin is a transient act, which cannot be taken up again: so that in this respect the comparison fails.

Reply Obj. 4: A disposition that becomes a habit, is like an imperfect thing in the same species; thus imperfect science, by being perfected, becomes a habit. On the other hand, venial sin is a disposition to something differing generically, even as an accident which disposes to a substantial form, into which it is never changed.

^Q. 88


Art. 5: Whether a circumstance can make a venial sin to be mortal?[edit]

It would seem that a circumstance can make a venial sin mortal.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says in a sermon on Purgatory (De Sanctis, serm. xli) that "if anger continue for a long time, or if drunkenness be frequent, they become mortal sins." But anger and drunkenness are not mortal but venial sins generically, else they would always be mortal sins. Therefore a circumstance makes a venial sin to be mortal.

Obj. 2: Further, the Master says (Sentent. ii, D, 24) that delectation, if morose [*See Q. 74, A. 6], is a mortal sin, but that if it be not morose, it is a venial sin. Now moroseness is a circumstance. Therefore a circumstance makes a venial sin to be mortal.

Obj. 3: Further, evil and good differ more than venial and mortal sin, both of which are generically evil. But a circumstance makes a good act to be evil, as when a man gives an alms for vainglory. Much more, therefore, can it make a venial sin to be mortal.

On the contrary, Since a circumstance is an accident, its quantity cannot exceed that of the act itself, derived from the act's genus, because the subject always excels its accident. If, therefore, an act be venial by reason of its genus, it cannot become mortal by reason of an accident: since, in a way, mortal sin infinitely surpasses the quantity of venial sin, as is evident from what has been said (Q. 72, A. 5, ad 1; Q. 87, A. 5, ad 1).

I answer that, As stated above (Q. 7, A. 1; Q. 18, A. 5, ad 4; AA. 10, 11), when we were treating of circumstances, a circumstance, as such, is an accident of the moral act: and yet a circumstance may happen to be taken as the specific difference of a moral act, and then it loses its nature of circumstance, and constitutes the species of the moral act. This happens in sins when a circumstance adds the deformity of another genus; thus when a man has knowledge of another woman than his wife, the deformity of his act is opposed to chastity; but if this other be another man's wife, there is an additional deformity opposed to justice which forbids one to take what belongs to another; and accordingly this circumstance constitutes a new species of sin known as adultery.

It is, however, impossible for a circumstance to make a venial sin become mortal, unless it adds the deformity of another species. For it has been stated above (A. 1) that the deformity of a venial sin consists in a disorder affecting things that are referred to the end, whereas the deformity of a mortal sin consists in a disorder about the last end. Consequently it is evident that a circumstance cannot make a venial sin to be mortal, so long as it remains a circumstance, but only when it transfers the sin to another species, and becomes, as it were, the specific difference of the moral act.

Reply Obj. 1: Length of time is not a circumstance that draws a sin to another species, nor is frequency or custom, except perhaps by something accidental supervening. For an action does not acquire a new species through being repeated or prolonged, unless by chance something supervene in the repeated or prolonged act to change its species, e.g. disobedience, contempt, or the like.

We must therefore reply to the objection by saying that since anger is a movement of the soul tending to the hurt of one's neighbor, if the angry movement tend to a hurt which is a mortal sin generically, such as murder or robbery, that anger will be a mortal sin generically: and if it be a venial sin, this will be due to the imperfection of the act, in so far as it is a sudden movement of the sensuality: whereas, if it last a long time, it returns to its generic nature, through the consent of reason. If, on the other hand, the hurt to which the angry movement tends, is a sin generically venial, for instance, if a man be angry with someone, so as to wish to say some trifling word in jest that would hurt him a little, the anger will not be mortal sin, however long it last, unless perhaps accidentally; for instance, if it were to give rise to great scandal or something of the kind.

With regard to drunkenness we reply that it is a mortal sin by reason of its genus; for, that a man, without necessity, and through the mere lust of wine, make himself unable to use his reason, whereby he is directed to God and avoids committing many sins, is expressly contrary to virtue. That it be a venial sin, is due some sort of ignorance or weakness, as when a man is ignorant of the strength of the wine, or of his own unfitness, so that he has no thought of getting drunk, for in that case the drunkenness is not imputed to him as a sin, but only the excessive drink. If, however, he gets drunk frequently, this ignorance no longer avails as an excuse, for his will seems to choose to give way to drunkenness rather than to refrain from excess of wine: wherefore the sin returns to its specific nature.

Reply Obj. 2: Morose delectation is not a mortal sin except in those matters which are mortal sins generically. In such matters, if the delectation be not morose, there is a venial sin through imperfection of the act, as we have said with regard to anger (ad 1): because anger is said to be lasting, and delectation to be morose, on account of the approval of the deliberating reason.

Reply Obj. 3: A circumstance does not make a good act to be evil, unless it constitute the species of a sin, as we have stated above (Q. 18, A. 5, ad 4).

^Q. 88


Art. 6: Whether a mortal sin can become venial?[edit]

It would seem that a mortal sin can become venial.

Obj. 1: Because venial sin is equally distant from mortal, as mortal sin is from venial. But a venial sin can become mortal, as stated above (A. 5). Therefore also a mortal sin can become venial.

Obj. 2: Further, venial and mortal sin are said to differ in this, that he who sins mortally loves a creature more than God, while he who sins venially loves the creature less than God. Now it may happen that a person in committing a sin generically mortal, loves a creature less than God; for instance, if anyone being ignorant that simple fornication is a mortal sin, and contrary to the love of God, commits the sin of fornication, yet so as to be ready, for the love of God, to refrain from that sin if he knew that by committing it he was acting counter to the love of God. Therefore his will be a venial sin; and accordingly a mortal sin can become venial.

Obj. 3: Further, as stated above (A. 5, Obj. 3), good is more distant from evil, than venial from mortal sin. But an act which is evil in itself, can become good; thus to kill a man may be an act of justice, as when a judge condemns a thief to death. Much more therefore can a mortal sin become venial.

On the contrary, An eternal thing can never become temporal. But mortal sin deserves eternal punishment, whereas venial sin deserves temporal punishment. Therefore a mortal sin can never become venial.

I answer that, Venial and mortal differ as perfect and imperfect in the genus of sin, as stated above (A. 1, ad 1). Now the imperfect can become perfect, by some sort of addition: and, consequently, a venial sin can become mortal, by the addition of some deformity pertaining to the genus of mortal sin, as when a man utters an idle word for the purpose of fornication. On the other hand, the perfect cannot become imperfect, by addition; and so a mortal sin cannot become venial, by the addition of a deformity pertaining to the genus of venial sin, for the sin is not diminished if a man commit fornication in order to utter an idle word; rather is it aggravated by the additional deformity.

Nevertheless a sin which is generically mortal, can become venial by reason of the imperfection of the act, because then it does not completely fulfil the conditions of a moral act, since it is not a deliberate, but a sudden act, as is evident from what we have said above (A. 2). This happens by a kind of subtraction, namely, of deliberate reason. And since a moral act takes its species from deliberate reason, the result is that by such a subtraction the species of the act is destroyed.

Reply Obj. 1: Venial differs from mortal as imperfect from perfect, even as a boy differs from a man. But the boy becomes a man and not vice versa. Hence the argument does not prove.

Reply Obj. 2: If the ignorance be such as to excuse sin altogether, as the ignorance of a madman or an imbecile, then he that commits fornication in a state of such ignorance, commits no sin either mortal or venial. But if the ignorance be not invincible, then the ignorance itself is a sin, and contains within itself the lack of the love of God, in so far as a man neglects to learn those things whereby he can safeguard himself in the love of God.

Reply Obj. 3: As Augustine says (Contra Mendacium vii), "those things which are evil in themselves, cannot be well done for any good end." Now murder is the slaying of the innocent, and this can nowise be well done. But, as Augustine states (De Lib. Arb. i, 4, 5), the judge who sentences a thief to death, or the soldier who slays the enemy of the common weal, are not murderers.

^Q. 88


QUESTION 89: OF VENIAL SIN IN ITSELF[edit]

^6. Of the Effects of Sin

We must now consider venial sin in itself, and under this head there are six points of inquiry:

(1) Whether venial sin causes a stain in the soul?

(2) Of the different kinds of venial sin, as denoted by "wood," "hay," "stubble" (1 Cor. 3:12);

(3) Whether man could sin venially in the state of innocence?

(4) Whether a good or a wicked angel can sin venially?

(5) Whether the movements of unbelievers are venial sins?

(6) Whether venial sin can be in a man with original sin alone?


Art. 1: Whether venial sin causes a stain on the soul?[edit]

It would seem that venial sin causes a stain in the soul.

Obj. 1: For Augustine says (De Poenit.) [*Hom. 50, inter. L., 2], that if venial sins be multiplied, they destroy the beauty of our souls so as to deprive us of the embraces of our heavenly spouse. But the stain of sin is nothing else but the loss of the soul's beauty. Therefore venial sins cause a stain in the soul.

Obj. 2: Further, mortal sin causes a stain in the soul, on account of the inordinateness of the act and of the sinner's affections. But, in venial sin, there is an inordinateness of the act and of the affections. Therefore venial sin causes a stain in the soul.

Obj. 3: Further, the stain on the soul is caused by contact with a temporal thing, through love thereof as stated above (Q. 86, A. 1). But, in venial sin, the soul is in contact with a temporal thing through inordinate love. therefore, venial sin brings a stain on the soul.

On the contrary, it is written, (Eph. 5:27): "That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle," on which the gloss says: "i.e., some grievous sin." Therefore it seems proper to mortal sin to cause a stain on the soul.

I answer that as stated above (Q. 86, A. 1), a stain denotes a loss of comeliness due to contact with something, as may be seen in corporeal matters, from which the term has been transferred to the soul, by way of similitude. Now, just as in the body there is a twofold comeliness, one resulting from the inward disposition of the members and colors, the other resulting from outward refulgence supervening, so too, in the soul, there is a twofold comeliness, one habitual and, so to speak, intrinsic, the other actual like an outward flash of light. Now venial sin is a hindrance to actual comeliness, but not to habitual comeliness, because it neither destroys nor diminishes the habit of charity and of the other virtues, as we shall show further on (II-II, Q. 24, A. 10; Q. 133, A. 1, ad 2), but only hinders their acts. On the other hand a stain denotes something permanent in the thing stained, wherefore it seems in the nature of a loss of habitual rather than of actual comeliness. Therefore, properly speaking, venial sin does not cause a stain in the soul. If, however, we find it stated anywhere that it does induce a stain, this is in a restricted sense, in so far as it hinders the comeliness that results from acts of virtue.

Reply Obj. 1: Augustine is speaking of the case in which many venial sins lead to mortal sin dispositively: because otherwise they would not sever the soul from its heavenly spouse.

Reply Obj. 2: In mortal sin the inordinateness of the act destroys the habit of virtue, but not in venial sin.

Reply Obj. 3: In mortal sin the soul comes into contact with a temporal thing as its end, so that the shedding of the light of grace, which accrues to those who, by charity, cleave to God as their last end, is entirely cut off. On the contrary, in venial sin, man does not cleave to a creature as his last end: hence there is no comparison.

^Q. 89


Art. 2: Whether venial sins are suitably designated as "wood, hay, and stubble"?[edit]

It would seem that venial sins are unsuitably designated as "wood, hay, and stubble."

Obj. 1: Because wood, hay, and stubble are said (1 Cor. 3:12) to be built on a spiritual foundation. Now venial sins are something outside a spiritual foundation, even as false opinions are outside the pale of science. Therefore, venial sins are not suitably designated as wood, hay, and stubble.

Obj. 2: Further, he who builds wood, hay, and stubble, "shall be saved yet so as by fire" (1 Cor. 3:15). But sometimes the man who commits a venial sin, will not be saved, even by fire, e.g. when a man dies in mortal sin to which venial sins are attached. Therefore, venial sins are unsuitably designated by wood, hay, and stubble.

Obj. 3: Further, according to the Apostle (1 Cor. 3:12) those who build "gold, silver, precious stones," i.e. love of God and our neighbor, and good works, are others from those who build wood, hay, and stubble. But those even who love God and their neighbor, and do good works, commit venial sins: for it is written (1 John 1:8): "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." Therefore venial sins are not suitably designated by these three.

Obj. 4: Further, there are many more than three differences and degrees of venial sins. Therefore they are unsuitably comprised under these three.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Cor. 3:15) that the man who builds up wood, hay and stubble, "shall be saved yet so as by fire," so that he will suffer punishment, but not everlasting. Now the debt of temporal punishment belongs properly to venial sin, as stated above (Q. 87, A. 5). Therefore these three signify venial sins.

I answer that, Some have understood the "foundation" to be dead faith, upon which some build good works, signified by gold, silver, and precious stones, while others build mortal sins, which according to them are designated by wood, hay and stubble. But Augustine disapproves of this explanation (De Fide et Oper. xv), because, as the Apostle says (Gal. 5:21), he who does the works of the flesh, "shall not obtain the kingdom of God," which signifies to be saved; whereas the Apostle says that he who builds wood, hay, and stubble "shall be saved yet so as by fire." Consequently wood, hay, stubble cannot be understood to denote mortal sins.

Others say that wood, hay, stubble designate good works, which are indeed built upon the spiritual edifice, but are mixed with venial sins: as, when a man is charged with the care of a family, which is a good thing, excessive love of his wife or of his children or of his possessions insinuates itself into his life, under God however, so that, to wit, for the sake of these things he would be unwilling to do anything in opposition to God. But neither does this seem to be reasonable. For it is evident that all good works are referred to the love of God, and one's neighbor, wherefore they are designated by "gold," "silver," and "precious stones," and consequently not by "wood," "hay," and "stubble."

We must therefore say that the very venial sins that insinuate themselves into those who have a care for earthly things, are designated by wood, hay, and stubble. For just as these are stored in a house, without belonging to the substance of the house, and can be burnt, while the house is saved, so also venial sins are multiplied in a man, while the spiritual edifice remains, and for them, man suffers fire, either of temporal trials in this life, or of purgatory after this life, and yet he is saved for ever.

Reply Obj. 1: Venial sins are not said to be built upon the spiritual foundation, as though they were laid directly upon it, but because they are laid beside it; in the same sense as it is written (Ps. 136:1): "Upon the waters of Babylon," i.e. "beside the waters": because venial sins do not destroy the edifice.

Reply Obj. 2: It is not said that everyone who builds wood, hay and stubble, shall be saved as by fire, but only those who build "upon" the "foundation." And this foundation is not dead faith, as some have esteemed, but faith quickened by charity, according to Eph. 3:17: "Rooted and founded in charity." Accordingly, he that dies in mortal sin with venial sins, has indeed wood, hay, and stubble, but not built upon the spiritual edifice; and consequently he will not be saved so as by fire.

Reply Obj. 3: Although those who are withdrawn from the care of temporal things, sin venially sometimes, yet they commit but slight venial sins, and in most cases they are cleansed by the fervor of charity: wherefore they do not build up venial sins, because these do not remain long in them. But the venial sins of those who are busy about earthly things remain longer, because they are unable to have such frequent recourse to the fervor of charity in order to remove them.

Reply Obj. 4: As the Philosopher says (De Coelo i, text. 2), "all things are comprised under three, the beginning, the middle, the end." Accordingly all degrees of venial sins are reduced to three, viz. to "wood," which remains longer in the fire; "stubble," which is burnt up at once; and "hay," which is between these two: because venial sins are removed by fire, quickly or slowly, according as man is more or less attached to them.

^Q. 89


Art. 3: Whether man could commit a venial sin in the state of innocence?[edit]

It would seem that man could commit a venial sin in the state of innocence.

Obj. 1: Because on 1 Tim. 2:14, "Adam was not seduced," a gloss says: "Having had no experience of God's severity, it was possible for him to be so mistaken as to think that what he had done was a venial sin." But he would not have thought this unless he could have committed a venial sin. Therefore he could commit a venial sin without sinning mortally.

Obj. 2: Further Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xi, 5): "We must not suppose that the tempter would have overcome man, unless first of all there had arisen in man's soul a movement of vainglory which should have been checked." Now the vainglory which preceded man's defeat, which was accomplished through his falling into mortal sin, could be nothing more than a venial sin. In like manner, Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xi, 5) that "man was allured by a certain desire of making the experiment, when he saw that the woman did not die when she had taken the forbidden fruit." Again there seems to have been a certain movement of unbelief in Eve, since she doubted what the Lord had said, as appears from her saying (Gen. 3:3): "Lest perhaps we die." Now these apparently were venial sins. Therefore man could commit a venial sin before he committed a mortal sin.

Obj. 3: Further, mortal sin is more opposed to the integrity of the original state, than venial sin is. Now man could sin mortally notwithstanding the integrity of the original state. Therefore he could also sin venially.

On the contrary, Every sin deserves some punishment. But nothing penal was possible in the state of innocence, as Augustine declares (De Civ. Dei xiv, 10). Therefore he could not commit a sin that would not deprive him of that state of integrity. But venial sin does not change man's state. Therefore he could not sin venially.

I answer that, It is generally admitted that man could not commit a venial sin in the state of innocence. This, however, is not to be understood as though on account of the perfection of his state, the sin which is venial for us would have been mortal for him, if he had committed it. Because the dignity of a person is circumstance that aggravates a sin, but it does not transfer it to another species, unless there be an additional deformity by reason of disobedience, or vow or the like, which does not apply to the question in point. Consequently what is venial in itself could not be changed into mortal by reason of the excellence of the original state. We must therefore understand this to mean that he could not sin venially, because it was impossible for him to commit a sin which was venial in itself, before losing the integrity of the original state by sinning mortally.

The reason for this is because venial sin occurs in us, either through the imperfection of the act, as in the case of sudden movements, in a genus of mortal sin or through some inordinateness in respect of things referred to the end, the due order of the end being safeguarded. Now each of these happens on account of some defect of order, by reason of the lower powers not being checked by the higher. Because the sudden rising of a movement of the sensuality in us is due to the sensuality not being perfectly subject to reason: and the sudden rising of a movement of reason itself is due, in us, to the fact that the execution of the act of reason is not subject to the act of deliberation which proceeds from a higher good, as stated above (Q. 74, A. 10); and that the human mind be out of order as regards things directed to the end, the due order of the end being safeguarded, is due to the fact that the things referred to the end are not infallibly directed under the end, which holds the highest place, being the beginning, as it were, in matters concerning the appetite, as stated above (Q. 10, AA. 1, 2, ad 3; Q. 72, A. 5). Now, in the state of innocence, as stated in the First Part (Q. 95, A. 1), there was an unerring stability of order, so that the lower powers were always subjected to the higher, so long as man remained subject to God, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 13). Hence there can be no inordinateness in man, unless first of all the highest part of man were not subject to God, which constitutes a mortal sin. From this it is evident that, in the state of innocence, man could not commit a venial sin, before committing a mortal sin.

Reply Obj. 1: In the passage quoted, venial is not taken in the same sense as we take it now; but by venial sin we mean that which is easily forgiven.

Reply Obj. 2: This vainglory which preceded man's downfall, was his first mortal sin, for it is stated to have preceded his downfall into the outward act of sin. This vainglory was followed, in the man, by the desire to make and experiment, and in the woman, by doubt, for she gave way to vainglory, merely through hearing the serpent mention the precept, as though she refused to be held in check by the precept.

Reply Obj. 3: Mortal sin is opposed to the integrity of the original state in the fact of its destroying that state: this a venial sin cannot do. And because the integrity of the primitive state is incompatible with any inordinateness whatever, the result is that the first man could not sin venially, before committing a mortal sin.

^Q. 89


Art. 4: Whether a good or a wicked angel can sin venially?[edit]

It seems that a good or wicked angel can sin venially.

Obj. 1: Because man agrees with the angels in the higher part of his soul which is called the mind, according to Gregory, who says (Hom. xxix in Evang.) that "man understands in common with the angels." But man can commit a venial sin in the higher part of his soul. Therefore an angel can commit a venial sin also.

Obj. 2: Further, He that can do more can do less. But an angel could love a created good more than God, and he did, by sinning mortally. Therefore he could also love a creature less than God inordinately, by sinning venially.

Obj. 3: Further, wicked angels seem to do things which are venial sins generically, by provoking men to laughter, and other like frivolities. Now the circumstance of the person does not make a mortal sin to be venial as stated above (A. 3), unless there is a special prohibition, which is not the case in point. Therefore an angel can sin venially.

On the contrary, The perfection of an angel is greater than that of man in the primitive state. But man could not sin venially in the primitive state, and much less, therefore, can an angel.

I answer that, An angel's intellect, as stated above in the First Part (Q. 58, A. 3; Q. 79, A. 8), is not discursive, i.e. it does not proceed from principles to conclusions, so as to understand both separately, as we do. Consequently, whenever the angelic intellect considers a conclusion, it must, of necessity, consider it in its principles. Now in matters of appetite, as we have often stated (Q. 8, A. 2; Q. 10, A. 1; Q. 72, A. 5), ends are like principles, while the means are like conclusions. Wherefore, an angel's mind is not directed to the means, except as they stand under the order to the end. Consequently, from their very nature, they can have no inordinateness in respect of the means, unless at the same time they have an inordinateness in respect of the end, and this is a mortal sin. Now good angels are not moved to the means, except in subordination to the due end which is God: wherefore all their acts are acts of charity, so that no venial sin can be in them. On the other hand, wicked angels are moved to nothing except in subordination to the end which is their sin of pride. Therefore they sin mortally in everything that they do of their own will. This does not apply to the appetite for the natural good, which appetite we have stated to be in them (I, Q. 63, A. 4; Q. 64, A. 2, ad 5).

Reply Obj. 1: Man does indeed agree with the angels in the mind or intellect, but he differs in his mode of understanding, as stated above.

Reply Obj. 2: An angel could not love a creature less than God, without, at the same time, either referring it to God, as the last end, or to some inordinate end, for the reason given above.

Reply Obj. 3: The demons incite man to all such things which seem venial, that he may become used to them, so as to lead him on to mortal sin. Consequently in all such things they sin mortally, on account of the end they have in view.

^Q. 89


Art. 5: Whether the first movements of the sensuality in unbelievers are mortal sin?[edit]

It would seem that the first movements of the sensuality in unbelievers are mortal sins.

Obj. 1: For the Apostle says (Rom. 8:1) that "there is . . . no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh": and he is speaking there of the concupiscence of the sensuality, as appears from the context (Rom. 7). Therefore the reason why concupiscence is not a matter of condemnation to those who walk not according to the flesh, i.e. by consenting to concupiscence, is because they are in Christ Jesus. But unbelievers are not in Christ Jesus. Therefore in unbelievers this is a matter of condemnation. Therefore the first movements of unbelievers are mortal sins.

Obj. 2: Further Anselm says (De Gratia et Lib. Arb. vii): "Those who are not in Christ, when they feel the sting of the flesh, follow the road of damnation, even if they walk not according to the flesh." But damnation is not due save to mortal sin. Therefore, since man feels the sting of the flesh in the first movements of the concupiscence, it seems that the first movements of concupiscence in unbelievers are mortal sins.

Obj. 3: Further, Anselm says (De Gratia et Lib. Arb. vii): "Man was so made that he was not liable to feel concupiscence." Now this liability seems to be remitted to man by the grace of Baptism, which the unbeliever has not. Therefore every act of concupiscence in an unbeliever, even without his consent, is a mortal sin, because he acts against his duty.

On the contrary, It is stated in Acts 10:34 that "God is not a respecter of persons." Therefore he does not impute to one unto condemnation, what He does not impute to another. But he does not impute first movements to believers, unto condemnation. Neither therefore does He impute them to unbelievers.

I answer that, It is unreasonable to say that the first movements of unbelievers are mortal sins, when they do not consent to them. This is evident for two reasons. First, because the sensuality itself could not be the subject of mortal sin, as stated above (Q. 79, A. 4). Now the sensuality has the same nature in unbelievers as in believers. Therefore it is not possible for the mere movements of the sensuality in unbelievers, to be mortal sins.

Secondly, from the state of the sinner. Because excellence of the person never diminishes sin, but, on the contrary, increases it, as stated above (Q. 73, A. 10). Therefore a sin is not less grievous in a believer than in an unbeliever, but much more so. For the sins of an unbeliever are more deserving of forgiveness, on account of their ignorance, according to 1 Tim. 1:13: "I obtained the mercy of God, because I did it ignorantly in my unbelief": whereas the sins of believers are more grievous on account of the sacraments of grace, according to Heb. 10:29: "How much more, do you think, he deserveth worse punishments . . . who hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified?"

Reply Obj. 1: The Apostle is speaking of the condemnation due to original sin, which condemnation is remitted by the grace of Jesus Christ, although the fomes of concupiscence remain. Wherefore the fact that believers are subject to concupiscence is not in them a sign of the condemnation due to original sin, as it is in unbelievers.

In this way also is to be understood the saying of Anselm, wherefore the Reply to the Second Objection is evident.

Reply Obj. 3: This freedom from liability to concupiscence was a result of original justice. Wherefore that which is opposed to such liability pertains, not to actual but to original sin.

^Q. 89


Art. 6: Whether venial sin can be in anyone with original sin alone?[edit]

It would seem that venial sin can be in a man with original sin alone.

Obj. 1: For disposition precedes habit. Now venial sin is a disposition to mortal sin, as stated above (Q. 88, A. 3). Therefore in an unbeliever, in whom original sin is not remitted, venial sin exists before mortal sin: and so sometimes unbelievers have venial together with original sin, and without mortal sins.

Obj. 2: Further, venial sin has less in common, and less connection with mortal sin, than one mortal sin has with another. But an unbeliever in the state of original sin, can commit one mortal sin without committing another. Therefore he can also commit a venial sin without committing a mortal sin.

Obj. 3: Further, it is possible to fix the time at which a child is first able to commit an actual sin: and when the child comes to that time, it can stay a short time at least, without committing a mortal sin, because this happens in the worst criminals. Now it is possible for the child to sin venially during that space of time, however short it may be. Therefore venial sin can be in anyone with original sin alone and without mortal sin.

On the contrary, Man is punished for original sin in the children's limbo, where there is no pain of sense as we shall state further on (II-II, Q. 69, A. 6): whereas men are punished in hell for no other than mortal sin. Therefore there will be no place where a man can be punished for venial sin with no other than original sin.

I answer that, It is impossible for venial sin to be in anyone with original sin alone, and without mortal sin. The reason for this is because before a man comes to the age of discretion, the lack of years hinders the use of reason and excuses him from mortal sin, wherefore, much more does it excuse him from venial sin, if he does anything which is such generically. But when he begins to have the use of reason, he is not entirely excused from the guilt of venial or mortal sin. Now the first thing that occurs to a man to think about then, is to deliberate about himself. And if he then direct himself to the due end, he will, by means of grace, receive the remission of original sin: whereas if he does not then direct himself to the due end, as far as he is capable of discretion at that particular age, he will sin mortally, through not doing that which is in his power to do. Accordingly thenceforward there cannot be venial sin in him without mortal, until afterwards all sin shall have been remitted to him through grace.

Reply Obj. 1: Venial sin always precedes mortal sin not as a necessary, but as a contingent disposition, just as work sometimes disposes to fever, but not as heat disposes to the form of fire.

Reply Obj. 2: Venial sin is prevented from being with original sin alone, not on account of its want of connection or likeness, but on account of the lack of use of reason, as stated above.

Reply Obj. 3: The child that is beginning to have the use of reason can refrain from other mortal sins for a time, but it is not free from the aforesaid sin of omission, unless it turns to God as soon as possible. For the first thing that occurs to a man who has discretion, is to think of himself, and to direct other things to himself as to their end, since the end is the first thing in the intention. Therefore this is the time when man is bound by God's affirmative precept, which the Lord expressed by saying (Zech. 1:3): "Turn ye to Me . . . and I will turn to you."

^Q. 89