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Article One

Whether Grace denotes Something in the Soul

We proceed to the first article thus:

1. It seems that grace does not denote anything in the soul. One is said to have the grace3434The Latin words for “grace,” “favour,” “freely,” “thanks,” “gratitude,” all have the same root—gratia, gratis, gratias agere, gratiarum actio. of a man, just as one is said to have the grace of God. Thus it is said in Gen. 39:21: “the Lord gave Joseph favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Now to say that one man has the favour of another is not to denote anything in him who has the favour, but to denote acceptance in him whose favour he enjoys. To say that a man has the grace of God, therefore, is not to denote anything in his soul, but merely to affirm that God accepts him.


2. Again, God enlivens the soul in the same way as the soul enlivens the body. Thus it is said Deut. 30:20: “He is thy life.” Now the soul enlivens the body immediately. Hence there is nothing which stands as a medium between God and the soul. It follows that grace does not denote anything created in the soul.

3. Again, the gloss on Rom. 1:7, “Grace to you and peace . . .,” says: “grace, i.e., the remission of sins.” But the remission of sins does not denote anything in the soul. It signifies only that God does not impute sin, in accordance with Ps. 32:2: “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.” Neither then does grace denote anything in the soul.

On the other hand: light denotes something in what is illumined, and grace is a light of the soul. Thus Augustine says (De Nat. et Grat. 22): “The light of truth rightly deserts him who falsifies the law, and he who is thus deserted is left blind.” Hence grace denotes something in the soul.

I answer: there are three things commonly meant by grace, as the word is used in ordinary speech. First, it means someone’s love, as when we say that a certain soldier has the king’s favour, i.e., that the king holds him in favour. Secondly, it means a gift freely given, as when we say: “I do you this favour.” Thirdly, it means the response to a gift freely given, as when we are said to give thanks for benefits received. The second of these depends on the first, since it is out of love for another whom one holds in favour that one freely bestows a gift upon him. The third likewise depends on the second, since gratitude is due to gifts freely given.

Now if grace is understood according to either of the two latter meanings, it is obvious that it leaves something in the recipient of grace—the gift freely given, or the acknowledgment of it. But if grace means someone’s love, we must observe the difference between the grace of God and the favour of a man. For the good which is in a creature is due to the will of God, and therefore some of the good in a creature is due to the love of God, who wills the good of the creature. The will of a man, on the other hand, is moved by good which already exists in things, so that his approval does not wholly cause the good in a thing, but presupposes it, partially or wholly. It is plain, then, that God’s love invariably causes some good to be in the creature at some time, although such good is not co-eternal with his eternal love. God’s love to creatures has then two 158aspects, on account of this special kind of good. It is universal, in so far as God gives to created things their natural being. As it is said in Wisdom, ch. 11: “He loves all things that are.” It is also special, in so far as God raises a rational creature above its natural state, to share in divine good. It is in this special sense of love that God is said to love someone absolutely, since it is by this special love that he wills for a creature, absolutely, the eternal good which is himself. To say that a man has the grace of God, therefore, is to say that there is something supernatural in him, which God bestows.

Sometimes, however, the grace of God means God’s eternal love, as it does when we speak of the grace of predestination, which signifies that God predestines or elects some by grace, and not on account of merit, as according to Eph. 1:5-6: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children . . . to the praise of the glory of his grace.”

On the first point: even when a man is said to have the favour of another man, something is understood to be in him which pleases the other. So also when one is said to have the grace of God, but with this difference, that whereas a man’s approval presupposes that which pleases him in another, God’s love causes that which pleases him in a man, as we have said.

On the second point: God is the life of the soul as its efficient cause, whereas the soul is the life of the body as its formal cause.3535For the distinction between final, formal, efficient, and material cause, see 22ae, Q. 27, Art. 3; cf. Aristotle’s Physics, bk. 2, ch. 3 (194b), ch. 7 (198a); also Metaph. A, ch. 3 (983a), D, ch. 2 (1013a-b). There is no medium between a form and its matter, because a form determines the formation of its matter, or subject, by means of itself. But an agent does not determine a subject by means of its own substance. It does so by means of the form which it causes to be in the matter.

On the third point: Augustine says (1 Retract. 5): “when I say that grace is for the remission of sins, and peace for reconciliation to God, I do not mean that peace and reconciliation are outside the scope of grace, but that the name of grace signifies the remission of sins especially.” There are thus many other gifts of God which pertain to grace, besides the remission of sins. Indeed there is no remission of sin without some effect divinely caused within us, as will be explained in Q. 113, Art. 2.

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