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Article Four

Whether Free Grace is Appropriately Divided by the Apostle

We proceed to the fourth article thus:

1. It seems that free grace is not appropriately distinguished by the apostle. For every gift which God freely gives us may be called a free grace, and the gifts which God freely give us, other than sanctifying gifts, are infinite in number. The free graces cannot then be comprehended under any precise division of grace.

2. Again, free grace is distinguished from sanctifying grace. Now faith pertains to sanctifying grace, since we are justified by it, according to Rom. 5:1: “being justified by faith.” It is therefore inappropriate to include faith among the free graces, especially when other virtues such as hope and charity are not included.

3. Again, the work of healing, and speaking with diverse kinds of tongues, are miracles. Further, the interpretation of tongues depends either on wisdom or on knowledge, according to Dan. 1:17: “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.” The gifts of healing and kinds of tongues are therefore inappropriately distinguished from the working of miracles, and likewise the interpretation of tongues from the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge.

4. Again, understanding, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear are gifts of the Holy Spirit no less than wisdom and knowledge, as we said in Q. 68, Art. 4. All of these should therefore be included among the free graces.

On the other hand: the apostle says (I Cor. 12:8-10): “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.”


I answer: as we said in the first article, free grace is given in order that one man may co-operate with another to lead him to God. Now a man cannot contribute to this end by moving another inwardly (only God can do this), but only by outwardly teaching or persuading him. Free grace accordingly contains all that a man requires in order to instruct another in divine things which transcend reason. Three things are required for this, i. He must have a full knowledge of divine things, so as to be able to teach others. 2. He must be able to verify or prove what he says, otherwise his teaching will be ineffective. 3. He must be able to convey his knowledge to others in a suitable manner.

1. We know from ordinary teaching that three things are essential for the first of these requirements. He who would instruct another in any science must first of all be firmly convinced of the principles of that science. Corresponding to this is faith, the certainty of the unseen things which are maintained as principles in catholic doctrine. Secondly, a teacher must have a correct knowledge of the principal conclusions of his science. Corresponding to this is the “word of wisdom,” which is the knowledge of divine things. Thirdly, he must have a wealth of examples, and must be thoroughly acquainted with the effects by means of which he will sometimes have to demonstrate causes. Corresponding to this is the “word of knowledge,” which is the knowledge of human things, since it is said in Rom. 1:20: “the invisible things of God . . . are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”

2. Such matters as are within the scope of reason are proved by means of argument. But divine revelations which transcend reason are proved by means peculiar to the divine power, and this in two ways. In one way, they are proved by the teacher of sacred doctrine carrying out what only God can do, in such miraculous works as healing the body, for which is given the “gift of healing”; or again in such as are intended solely to manifest the divine power, for example, that the sun should stand still or darken, or the sea be divided, for which the “working of miracles” is given. In another way, they are proved by his declaring things which only God can know, such as contingent events of the future, for which “prophecy” is given; or the hidden things of the heart, for which is given the “discerning of spirits.”

3. The capacity to speak may be concerned either with the idioms which enable one to be understood by others, for which 172are “kinds of tongues,” or with the sense of what is conveyed, for which is the “interpretation of tongues.”

On the first point: as we said in the first article, the blessings which are divinely bestowed upon us are not all called free graces, but only those which are beyond the power of nature, such as that a fisherman should be filled with the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge, and other things of the same kind. It is such that are here included under free grace.

On the second point: the faith which is here included among the free graces is not the virtue by which a man is himself justified, but the faith which possesses that supereminent certainty which makes him worthy to instruct others in matters pertaining to the faith. Hope and charity are concerned with the appetitive power by which it is ordained that a man shall seek God.

On the third point: the gift of healing is distinguished from the general working of miracles because it leads to faith in a special way. A man is more readily brought to faith if he acquires the blessing of bodily health through the power of faith. “Speaking with diverse tongues” and “interpretation of tongues” also lead to faith in special ways. They are accordingly regarded as free graces of a special kind.

On the fourth point: wisdom and knowledge are not included among the free graces on the ground that they are numbered with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, on the ground, that is, that men are readily brought by the Holy Spirit to matters of wisdom and knowledge. They are indeed gifts of the Holy Spirit, as we said in Q. 68, Arts, i and 4. But they are included among the free graces, because they provide a wealth of knowledge and wisdom which enables a man not only to discern divine things aright for himself, but also to instruct others and refute adversaries. The “word of wisdom” and the “word of knowledge” are therefore included with some point. As Augustine says, “It is one thing to know what a man must believe in order to attain to the life of the blessed. It is another thing to know how this helps the pious, and how it may be defended against the impious” (14 De Trin. 1).

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