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Grace: Commentary on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas, Chapter Three

Rev. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.



After considering the necessity of grace for our final end, St. A Thomas passes to the treatment of its essence. This question is particularly concerned with habitual or sanctifying grace which, by antonomasia, is called “grace,” whereby man is made pleasing to God, His child and heir. Actual grace is reducible to this habitual grace in a certain sense, as a disposition to a form or a proportionate movement within the same order and species. This actual grace is considered by itself in question III on the divisions of grace. 

The present question (110) is divided into four articles which are arranged progressively, proceeding from the general to the particular, from the genus to the specific differences, as follows:

1. Whether grace posits something in the soul, or whether it is something existing in God outside of us.

2. Whether grace is a quality.

3. Whether grace differs from infused virtue, especially from charity.

4. Whether it resides in the essence of the soul as in a subject; this question presupposes the solution of article three.

We are therefore dealing both with the formal cause and with the quasi-material cause or subject in which grace is received.



State of the question. In the first objections, St. Thomas already set forth the arguments which were later proposed by the Lutherans and Calvinists, who hold that sanctifying grace is not a gift intrinsic to the soul, but an extrinsic designation, thanks to the imputation of the justice of Christ, out of regard for whom God loves the sinner and dissimulates his sin, as long as the sinner, with trusting faith, firmly believes and hopes that God will condone his sins to the end of his life for the sake of the merits of Christ. Hence the words of Luther: “Sin strongly, but believe still more strongly.” These words are not a direct exhortation to sin, but an indirect one. 

St. Thomas anticipated this pernicious doctrine to a certain extent by proposing three objections at the beginning of the article: 1) By the mere fact that a man is said to have the grace of the king, nothing is posited in him; it is only in the king that there resides an attitude of benevolence toward this man. 2) God vivifies the soul as the soul vivifies the body; but the soul vivifies the body immediately; therefore there is no medium between God who vivifies and the soul that is vivified. 3) Grace is the remission of sins; but this remission is effected according as God does not impute sin to us. Therefore grace does not posit anything in the soul. It is remarkable that the future doctrine of Protestants on grace should have been so explicitly formulated as early as the thirteenth century in such wise as to solve its difficulties.

In the same way, St. Thomas, treating of the Sacrifice of the Mass (IIIa, q. 83, a. I) under the title, “Whether in the celebration of this mystery Christ is immolated,” stated an objection (as did St. Albert also in his Sentences) in terms almost word for word as the Protestants would later express it: “The immolation of Christ was made on the cross. But in the celebration of the Mass, Christ is not crucified; therefore neither is He immolated”; consequently the Mass is not a true sacrifice, but only a memorial of the past sacrifice. 

From these examples it should be evident how excellent is this method of proposing difficulties at the beginning of any particularly fundamental question, difficulties opposed to the solution which one accepts or which, at least, seems to be proved the best. By this means, theology can more easily foresee errors and avoid them. For if the question is correctly stated, there cannot be many possible answers, but there are generally two opposite ones, affirmative and negative.  And before proving the affirmative, it is profitable to examine the arguments which can be adduced in support of the negative. Thus the crux of the problem to be solved will be brought to light. 

Reply. Habitual grace is a supernatural gift of God inhering in the soul.

1. Proof from Scripture. “I will pour upon you clean water” (Ezech. 36:25). (Grace is thus referred to metaphorically, in the New Testament as well: cf. John 4:13.) The following verse continues: “And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you” (Ezech.  36:26). “He hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4). “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. 5:3). “Neglect not the grace that is in thee” (I Tim. 4:14). “I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee” (II Tim. 1:6). “Whosoever is born of God, committeth not sin: for His seed abideth in him” (I John 3:9). “Who also hath sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts” (II Cor. 1:22). “Whosoever drinketh of this water, . . . the water . . . shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting” (John 4:13 f.).

As for the teaching of the Fathers, Rouet de Journel (Enchiridion patristicurn, theological index, nos. 354-65) sums up their testimony according to the writings of each of them: the abiding, supernatural gift of habitual grace is infused in justification; sins are really removed; man is interiorly renewed; the Holy Ghost dwells in him; he is made a partaker of the divine nature, an adopted son of God, an heir to the kingdom of heaven, a friend of God; habitual grace ejects mortal sin. Man can never be certain of being just or in the state of grace. The just can merit eternal life.

Hence the Council of Trent declares (Sess. VI, can. 11, Denz., no.  821): “If anyone should say that men are justified either by the imputation of Christ’s justice alone or by the remission of sins alone, exclusive of grace and charity, which are diffused in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and that it inheres in them, or even that grace, by which we are justified, is only a favor from God: let him be anathema.” Cf.  also Council of Trent (Denz., nos. 799 ff ., 809).1

2. The theological proof is presented by St. Thomas in the article, which should be read attentively; in it he begins with the definition of the word “grace” which, by analogy, has several meanings, even in its merely human signification. 1. Thus it means that by which someone is pleasing or gratifying to others; and in this sense it may be the beauty of the person, which is called grace of the countenance; or someone is said to be pleasing, for instance, to the king because of the king’s benevolence toward him; thus it is said that a man is in the king’s grace. 2. Grace means a gift gratuitously given to someone; for example: I grant you this grace. 3. It also signifies gratitude or the rendering of thanks.

In these human connotations the word “grace” is already applied analogically. With still greater reason is it used in an analogical sense of divine things, yet not metaphorically, but properly, as will presently appear. 1. It is applied to the love of God toward those who are pleasing to Him; 2. to the gift gratuitously bestowed upon the just; 3. to the thanksgiving for a benefit received. From God’s benevolent love proceeds the gratuitous gift, and thereupon, gratitude.

On this basis St. Thomas establishes the most sublime theological argument, connecting the treatise on created grace with that on uncreated grace, or the uncreated love of God “which infuses and creates goodness in things,” as explained in Ia, q. 20, a. 2. This line of reasoning can be reduced to the following.

What makes us pleasing to God is that which is really produced in us by the uncreated love of God for us. But grace is what makes us pleasing to God as children and heirs.  Therefore grace is that which is really produced in us by the uncreated love of God for us.

The major is proved in Ia, q. 20, a. 2, according as the uncreated love of God for us does not presuppose any lovableness in us, but bestows it upon us. In this respect it differs from created benevolence.  For it is briefly stated in this question of the First Part that, whereas our love is not the cause of the goodness of things, but rather presupposes it, the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things. And in the present article St. Thomas adds: “Hence it is clear that any degree whatever of God’s love is followed by some good caused in the creature. But God’s common love is commensurate with what is bestowed on all created things in the natural order; the other is a special love by which He draws the rational creature up above the condition of nature to a participation in the divine goodness.”

The minor is the nominal definition of the word “grace” with respect to us. Thus in Holy Scripture grace is said to be that by which we are pleasing to God, “graced” (Ephes. 1:6), “justified freely by His grace” (Rom. 3:24), His “beloved” (Ps. 107:7), not merely with a natural love from which proceed natural benefits, such as being, life, but with a supernatural love whereby we are called children of God, “born … of God” (John 1:13), “partakers of the divine nature” according to the expression of St. Peter: “He hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4). These texts are accepted by Protestants with respect to God’s uncreated love for us. 

Hence, in accordance with the aforesaid major, it follows that grace is in us a supernatural gift of God inhering in the soul, by which we are truly children of God, born of God, and participators in the divine nature. Thus the love of God is effective in the supernatural as it is in the natural order. And grace generally signifies this gift habitually abiding in the soul, as often referred to by St. Paul. 

Nevertheless, as St. Thomas observes in concluding the body of the article, grace sometimes denotes that very eternal, uncreated love of God, so that accordingly even predestination is called grace, “in that God predestined or elected some gratuitously and not because of merit, for it is said to the Ephesians (1:5): [He] ‘hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children . . . unto the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He hath graced us in His beloved Son’”; that is, unto the manifestation of the diffusion and splendor of His uncreated grace, by which we are made pleasing to God in His Son.

Thus “grace” is applied analogically both in the natural and in the supernatural orders, but analogically, in the strict sense, and not merely metaphorically.

In the first place, with respect to us, according to the application of the word, “grace” means that which is pleasing to others, for example, beauty of countenance or mental qualities; and to this grace, by which someone is pleasing to others, corresponds benevolence in others, which is present in a different mode in God and in men. Thereafter, from benevolence there arises some benefit and, thence, gratitude for the benefit received.

But in itself, grace means in the first place that uncreated grace from which all benefits proceed. Hence St. Thomas likewise declares (Ia, q. 13, a. 6): Paternity, from our standpoint, denotes primarily an earthly father; but in itself, it applies primarily to the heavenly Father, according to Ephes. 3:14f.: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”

In all these acceptations, “grace” is applied not metaphorically (as when God is said to be angry) but properly. However, this proper meaning remains analogical; the analogous significations are such as bear a common name, and the meaning signified by the name is absolutely diverse, but under a particular aspect it is the same (under the analogy of proportionality, it is proportionately the same). Thus the notion of grace is proportionately realized in both its human and its divine applications.

Reply to first objection. That which in us is pleasing to our friends is presupposed by their love, and is not in us as received from them, whereas that which in us is pleasing to God is caused by the divine love.

Reply to second objection. God does not vivify the soul as the soul does the body; for the soul is the form of the body and hence vivifies it immediately; on the contrary, God is not the form of the soul, but a separate agent; hence He vivifies the soul not immediately but by a form produced in the soul, that is, by grace, which is life in first act, while the vital operations are life in second act. 

Reply to third objection. As St. Augustine says (I Retract., chap.  23), to grace pertains not only the remission of sins, but also reconciliation and peace; moreover, the very remission of sins is itself accomplished by sanctifying grace received into the soul, as will be clear from what follows below (q.113, a. 2).

Other objections. According to Isa. 43:4, God proclaims: “Since thou becomest honorable in My eyes, thou art glorious: I have loved thee.”

Reply. The word “since” does not here signify cause, but concomitance, for “what hast thou that thou hast not received?” Moreover, one person may be more pleasing to God inasmuch as, receiving grace with more fidelity, he performs greater works.

I insist. God loves the predestinate. But this love does not posit anything supernatural in them when they are in sin. Therefore not all the love of God posits something in the person loved. 

Reply. God does not love the predestinate with a terminative efficacious love while he is in sin, but He decreed from all eternity to grant him efficacious graces at such and such a time toward his salvation.

I insist. Even if the love of God is eacacious, it suffices that it cause in man practical assistance.

Reply. This is true of the imperfect love whereby God disposes the sinner for justification, not of the perfect love whereby God loves man as a son and heir; hence man ought to participate in the divine nature, “made partaker of the divine nature.”

First corollary. A threefold love of God toward us wayfarers can be distinguished and designated by the effects of each.

1.  Merely natural love, which causes natural goods such as being, life, intelligence.

2.  Supernatural but imperfect love, which causes in the sinner supernatural faith, hope, and practical helps.

3. Supernatural and perfect love, which communicates habitual grace by which man is made absolutely pleasing to God, His friend, a partaker of the divine nature, and an heir to the kingdom of heaven. (Cf. below, what is said of justification in opposition to Protestantism.)

Second corollary. It is already vaguely apparent from the major premise (the love of God infuses and creates goodness in things), that grace is intrinsically efficacious, that is, because God wills, and not because man wills, to render it efficacious. “It is God who worketh in you both to will and to accomplish, according to His good will.” “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” (Cf. below, on efficacious grace.) From the foregoing it is evident that he who actually fulfills the commands of God is better than he who can fulfill them and, in fact, does not do so.

But no one would be in any respect better were he not more loved and assisted by God (Ia, q. 20, a. 3 f.). “What hast thou that thou hast not received?”

Therefore the grace whereby we actually fulfill the precepts of God contains more in itself than the sufficient grace whereby we can fulfill it, without however doing so in fact.



State of the question. Having established that habitual grace is something created inhering in the soul, we must discover to what category of created being it can be reduced, whether to the category of a quality rather than to a substance, a quantity, a relation, an action, or a passion. It seems that it is not a quality, for the following rea-sons.

1.Grace acts in the soul, justifying it; but a quality does not act upon its subject.

2. Grace is nobler than the soul, therefore it should not be an accident or quality, but a substance.

3. If grace were an accident or quality, it would be corrupted upon the entrance of mortal sin; this is unbecoming, since grace is the beginning of eternal life.

Note. The Nominalists, before Luther, declared that habitual grace is something ontologically natural, but something which bestows a moral right to eternal life, just as a bank note is physically, ontologically only a slip of paper, although its possession gives one a moral right to the equivalent gold.

On the contrary, certain Cartesian and Ontologist theologians said that grace and charity are the Holy Ghost Himself dwelling in the soul, as the Master of the Sentences might say. The Cartesians in particular maintained this, for they did not admit of a real distinction between substance and accident; hence grace could not be a real, supernatural accident distinct from the soul, but must be a substance, that is, God inhabiting it and impelling it to meritorious works availing to salvation.

Reply. St. Thomas replies to the question with a twofold conclusion regarding 1. actual grace and 2. habitual grace. 

First conclusion. Actual grace is not a quality but a certain motion of the soul.

Proof. Actual grace is a gratuitous effect of God by which the soul of man is impelled by God toward something which ought to be known or willed or done. But that by which the soul is thus moved is not a permanent quality, but something transient, that is, a certain motion of the soul quite distinct both from the uncreated action of God whence it proceeds and from our action thus produced. 

It should be noted that certain Molinists, misinterpreting St. Thomas, understand him thus: actual grace is a certain motion of the soul, that is, an indeliberate operation on our part which inclines toward a deliberate act, determinable by man alone. On the contrary, when St. Thomas says that actual grace is a certain motion of the soul, he does not say it is an operation of the soul, but, as he himself wrote, it is a motion whereby “the soul is moved by God toward something which is to be known or willed or done.” In other words, it is the application of the faculties that they may pass from potency to act and may elicit their operation; for an operation, immediately by God alone; but under the infusion of actual grace, the soul elicits vitally even indeliberate operations. On the other hand, actual grace is not elicited by us.

Hence St. Thomas says: “The act of a mover in the moved is a motion” according to Aristotle (III Physics). For, as Aristotle declares, motion, inasmuch as it is produced by an agent, is called action or motion, and motion, as it is in the one moved, is “passion.” But the action of a bodily agent is formally transitive and terminates in the “patient,” whereas the uncreated external action of God is formally immanent and only virtually transitive. Therefore actual grace is something created, as an effect of God, according to St. Thomas (he does not say that actual grace is our action, our vital operation), and it is in us as a motion-passion received in the will, by which the will is moved to elicit its operation.

Zigliara explains this well (Theol. nat., Bk. III, art. 4, & 5, p. 498) by the example of heat.


1. Heat is an action in the fire, or by the fire (formally transitive action);

2. Heat is a passion in the wood, in that the wood is heated;

3. Heat is an operation, since the wood, once heated, gives heat.

Likewise, with respect to divine motion.

1. Motion is an action in God, uncreated, formally immanent and virtually transient action.

2. Motion-passion by which the will is moved, or is made to pass from the potency of willing into the act of willing, is the completion of causality, referred to by St. Thomas (Contra Gentes, Bk. III, chap. 66).

3. The operation elicited by the will, even if indeliberately, is yet vitally elicited.

St. Thomas says (Contra Gentes, Bk. III, chap. 66): “For the completion of the power of the secondary agent comes from the first agent.” And again (De potentia, q. 3, a. 7 ad 7): “That which is made by God in the natural order, by which He may actually operate, is, as a mere intention He has, in a certain sense incomplete, in the way that colors exist in the air or the power of an art in the artist’s instrument”; hence the power of an art is distinguished from the action which proceeds from this power. (Cf. our Dieu, 8th ed., p. 480, and the Salmanticenses, De gratia, disp. 5, dub. 1-6, on actual grace as distinct from the uncreated action of God and from our indeliberate operation.)

Objection. An immanent action elicited by us is reduced, as immanent, to the category of quality,2 and consequently actual grace ordained toward this action may be reduced to a quality. 

Reply. Certainly thus actual grace reductively belongs to the category of quality, but not as something habitual and permanent. What St. Thomas is particularly insistent upon is that actual grace is not something habitual and abiding, as a quality properly so called, but something passing in a transitory manner.

Second conclusion. Sanctifying grace is a certain supernatural quality abiding in the soul.

1. Scriptural proof. Proof from the passages of Sacred Scripture quoted in the explanation of the preceding article wherein grace is referred to as the seed of glory, a pledge, a seal, a fountain; likewise from St. Augustine, here quoted in the argument Sed contra, who calls it the luster of the soul. But all these expressions signify something permanent in the soul, by reason of which God abides in the soul, according to the words of John 14:23: “We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.”

Similarly the Council of Trent (Denz., no. 821) speaks of grace as diffused and inhering in the soul; again (Denz., no. 809): “It is called our justice because by its inherence in us we are justified.” As Gonet observes in his commentary on this article (p. 87), the Council of Trent proscribes the error of the Master of the Sentences according to whom charity is the Holy Ghost Himself dwelling in us and moving us to the act of charity.

2. Theological proof. God does not provide less amply for our souls with respect to supernatural good than with respect to natural good.

But with respect to natural good He not only moves us actually, but gives us qualities or faculties, namely, principles, eliciting operations, so that these may be vital and connatural to us.

Therefore it is fitting that God should likewise not only move us to act, but should also give us a habitual principle of supernatural operation, that is, a certain quality, namely, grace itself. 

Thus has He disposed all things sweetly. St. Thomas here differentiates between habitual and actual grace more decidedly than does St. Augustine, since he considers the matter more deeply from the ontological aspect, and not merely from the psychological and moral point of view.

Again in IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 2, he makes it clear that charity is something created in the soul and not, as the Master of the Sentences would have it, the Spirit Himself moving us to an act of charity. In the latter case, the soul would not produce the act of charity connaturally or meritoriously; to do so requires an infused habit elevating the will. Otherwise the supernatural order would be less perfect than the natural order. At the same time, an infused habit is, as it were, a second nature in us, so that our supernatural acts are also connatural.

Confirmation from the reply to the objections.

1.  Grace, as a quality, acts in the soul not effectively but formally, justifying it or making it just, as whiteness makes a thing white and justice renders one just.

2. Grace cannot be the substance of God since it is the effect of the uncreated love of God (according to Article I); nor can it be the substance of the soul, since it would then be something natural, would be identified with nature, from which it is to be distinguished, according to revelation.

Therefore it can only be an accident and is thus inferior to the soul with respect to the mode of its being, that is, being in something else; but it is nobler than the soul according as it is a certain supernatural participation in the divine nature as it is divine, that is, in the intimate life of God. Deity is in a certain sense above being, above unity, above life, and above knowledge, for these are contained within it formally and eminently.

Corollary. The essentially supernatural cannot be in us or in the angels otherwise than as an accident; in God alone is it substance. 

Reply to third objection. Since grace is an accident, it is not that which is made or corrupted, but that by which someone is made pleasing, who may subsequently become unpleasing; in other words, grace is drawn forth from the obediential power of the soul, and after its loss nothing but the obediential power remains, that is, no repug-nance to receiving a return of grace.

The present conclusion may be confirmed by showing that sanctifying grace cannot be classified under any other category of created being. 1. Not under quantity, for quantity results from the composite nature of matter. 2. It is not a relation, since relation demands a foundation, and sanctifying grace is itself the foundation of the relationship by which we are called children of God and it ordains us to glory, inasmuch as it is the seed of glory. It is likewise the foundation or root of the infused virtues, wherein there is a transcendental relationship to our supernatural object. 3. It cannot be an action, not even an immanent action, but is the radical principle of immanent actions, such as acts of charity, faith, hope. 4. It is not a passion; in this it differs from actual grace, which is in us a motion of the soul, or a motion-passion. Finally, it is evident that habitual grace does not belong to any other categories which are found only in bodies, for instance, location, position, time, habit or adornment, although metaphorically it is called the adornment of the soul.

It should be remarked that theologians generally maintain, in opposition to Ripalda and, in a certain measure, to Scotus, not only that grace is not a substance but that God, even by His absolute power, cannot produce a created, supernatural substance to which the vision of the divine essence would be natural. (Cf. De revelatione, I, 364, and Billuart, De Deo, diss. 4, a. 54; Gonet, De gratia, disp. 11, a. 3.)

This would be incompatible from the standpoint of the object, since such a substance would have an intellect of the same nature as the divine intellect, for it would be specified by the same formal object; hence it would be a created divine nature, which is repugnant by its terms as is pantheism.

It would also be inconsistent on the part of the subject, for something created cannot be essentially supernatural without being essentially related to the Deity as such and specified by it, since only the essence of God is above all created nature. But no created substance can be essentially related to the Deity and specified by it, because substance is being in itself and for itself (in se et ad se), that is, it has within itself its own specification and cannot be defined with reference to anything else.

On the contrary, any accident, such as a power or habit, can be essentially related to something else; thus grace, which is the seed of glory, is specified by the essence of God, of which it is a participation and toward the vision of which it ordains us. But Scotus did not understand this well, for he held that grace and the light of glory are supernatural only in fact, because God so willed it, but that He could have willed them to be natural, so that there could be a creature to whom the beatific vision would be natural.

There are several problems to be examined in connection with this article on account of the errors of the Nominalists who came after St. Thomas and prepared the way for Lutheranism. 

First doubt. Is it of faith that sanctifying grace is a quality and a habit?

Reply. It is not a defined article of faith, for the Council of Trent as well as the Council of Vienne, refrained from using the words “quality” and “habit” so as not to define a question disputed among theologians. Hence it seems that the demands of faith would be satisfied by holding that sanctifying grace is a habitual gift, permanently inhering in the soul.

Second doubt. Is it, nevertheless, a certain theological conclusion that sanctifying grace is a quality and a habit, entitatively? 

Reply. Assuredly, on account of the argument given by St. Thomas and commonly accepted at present. For habitual grace cannot be conceived as belonging to any other category than that of a quality, as we have said; and within this category it is reducible to a habit. For a habit is a permanent quality, difficult to dislodge (at least by any internal cause), disposing the subject to a certain state, whether for good or evil, in regard to its being (an entitative habit, such as beauty, health) or in regard to its operation (an operative habit). 

But sanctifying grace is a permanent quality, as has been shown; moreover it is difficult to dislodge, as far as itself and its principles are concerned, supported as it is by the divine infusion, and indeed being in the spiritual soul the very seed of glory, or life eternal already begun; it is therefore difficult to dislodge, although accidentally, by reason of the subject and of the aberrations and caprices of its free will, it can be lost. “For we carry this treasure in fragile vessels.” (Cf. De veritate, q. 27, a. 1-9.)3 Finally it disposes the subject in a good, or favorable, state toward God and for avoidance of sin. But in the following article, where habitual grace is distinguished from charity, we shall see that the former is an entitative and not an operative habit, except radically.

Third doubt. Is habitual grace a habit univocally or only by ananlogy, properly speaking?

Reply. It is called a habit not only metaphorically, but properly. However, in agreememt with several Thomists (Gardeil, Billot, De virt. Inf., pp. 30, 33) it seems to us that it does not correspond univocally with habits of the natural order, by the very fact that it belongs to a higher order which surpasses all nature, created or capable of creation. Hence St. Thomas often speaks of it as a certain quality or as reducible to the genus: quality (cf. Ia IIae, q. 63, last article).

That this solution is indeed St. Thomas’ teaching can be proved from four arguments.

1. He observes (Ia IIae, q. 61, a. I ad I) that “virtue” is applied analogically even to the moral and intellectual virtues; hence, with still greater reason, to the supernatural virtues, the notion of virtue belongs casually by priority to prudence as directing, rather than to the other moral virtues.

2. St. Thomas declares (De veritate, q. 14, a.9, 2) that “belief, as it exists in the demons, is not conformable to infused faith, except equivocally”; the demons believe by acquired faith based on the evidence of miracles, forced, as it were, to accept this evidence.

3. St. Thomas maintains in several places that the infused virtues differ from the acquired inasmuch as they not only bestow the power to act rightly, but bestow it absolutely, according as they give the first upward impetus to a higher order; therefore they partake in a certain sense of the nature of a power and in a certain sense of that of a habit.

4.  St. Thomas states in various articles that “grace is reducible to the primary species of a quality” (habit); cf. Ia IIae, q. 110, a. 3 ad 3; De veritate, q. 27, a. 2 ad 7; 11, d. 26, q. I, a. 4 ad I. 

However, John of St. Thomas, commenting on De virtutibus, Ia IIae, disp. 16, a. 6, fol. 152, seems to hold that grace and the infused virtues are in accord univocally with the acquired virtues as classified by predicates and analogically as classified by their causative motive or regulative force.

But John of St. Thomas states in his Cursus Phil., dealing with the four causes, that they conform univocally in the general notion of cause, which seems to be false.

The argument which impels John of St. Thomas is that acquired virtue is logically univocal in kind, that is, in the order of logic; yet, causally, virtue is predicated of prudence in a prior sense to that of the virtues which are directed by it.

Fourth doubt. Whether habitual grace is a gift entitatively (that is, intrinsically, essentially) and supernaturally.

This is denied by Scotus (q. I of the introduction and 4, dist. 10, q. 8), where he says that if God so willed, He could give us grace and the light of glory as natural properties; and he maintains that the supernatural differs from the natural only on the part of the efficient cause, as sight supernaturally given to a man born blind differs from natural sight. Hence grace would not be something intrinsically and essentially supernatural; it would not be supernatural substantially or essentially, but only with respect to the mode of its production under present circumstances. Thus the distinction between the order of grace and the order of nature would not be necessary, in other words, not based upon its divine nature according to which it exceeds all nature, created or capable of creation, but would be a contingent distinction, founded upon the free will of God. This is “contingentism” and “libertism.”

The Nominalists, such as Ockham, followed, maintaining that grace should be looked upon as a bank note (cf. Salmanticenses, dub. II, 3, no. 34). For as this note, of its nature, before being issued by the government, has no monetary value, but subsequently is equal to gold; so sanctifying grace intrinsically is a certain entity, lacking sufficient value to render man acceptable to God, but by the accession of an extrinsic disposition of God, or by the favor of God, without any intrinsic transformation, this entity receives a moral value, comparable to that of the bank note. Such, according to the Salmanticenses, was the teaching of Ockham, Gabriel, and a disciple of Ailly (probably Gerson), Durandus (I, d. 17, q. I, nos. 7 and 8) and Scotus (ibid., q. 2) seem to agree with them. To the same effect, Ockham declared that man can merit eternal life by a natural act, if this act is accepted by God. This is absolute contingentism. Molina retains something of this Nominalism when he says that the theological virtues are supernatural modally, but not by virtue of their formal object. 

Thus the Nominalists denied the principles of traditional theology and prepared the way for Lutheranism, which holds that grace is only an extrinsic denomination; in other words, corruption remains in man, but sin is no longer imputed to him, as long as a man believes himself to be predestined. Therefore, “sin strongly, and believe even more strongly.”

This is the Nominalist tendency. On the contrary, immoderate realism would tend to identify being in general with the divine being, and to identify grace with God dwelling in us, as the Master of the Sentences maintained. Toward this latter error the Cartesian and ontologistic theologians inclined, refusing to admit that habitual grace is an accident, since they denied any real distinction between substance and accident.

Against Scotus and the Nominalists what is to be said? Gonet (a. 3) states that this opinion is commonly rejected because it does not distinguish between what is intrinsically or substantially supernatural, and what is extrinsically or modally supernatural. However, this distinction is generally accepted by theologians, especially since the Council of Trent’s condemnation of Protestantism, as Lichetto himself acknowledges, referring to Scotus. (Cf. Scotus, Opera, ed. Vives, XV, 200; and our De revelatione, I, 216.) Lichetto maintains, after Trent, that there are habits which of themselves are necessarily infused, such as the theological virtues. Moreover, the Church has always distinguished between the supernaturalness of miracles naturally intelligible, and the supernaturalness of grace and of mysteries which are naturally unintelligible even for the angels (Council of the Vatican).  Hence even the Molinists hold that, although the theological virtues are supernatural substantially, yet they are not supernatural by virtue of their formal object; and therein lies the inconsistency of their position.

At present theologians generally agree, in opposition to Scotus and Ripalda, that God, even by His absolute power, cannot create a supernatural substance or a substance to which the vision of the divine essence would be natural. (Cf. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. 7, Denz., no. 800.) In regard to the justification of sinners: “By it we are renewed in spirit . . . ; we are indeed called just and so we are. Hence in this same justification, together with the remission of sins, man receives simultaneously the infusion of all these: faith, hope, and charity.” Thus the virtues are, by their very nature, infused, not accidentally infused, as infused geometry would be. But we shall give the complete refutation of the foregoing theory of the Nominalists in the solution of the next problem.

Fifth doubt. Whether sanctifying grace is a formal and physical participation in the divine nature.

State of the question. In articles 3 and 4 of the present question, as well as in q. 112, a. I, St. Thomas says that grace is a participation in the divine nature, and St. Thomas was speaking formally; but later, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, there were great discussions between Thomists and Nominalists over that word “participation.” All Catholic theologians have certainly always held that sanctifying grace is in some sense a participation in the divine nature, on account of the express testimony of Sacred Scripture and the Fathers, to be quoted below, particularly on account of the words of St. Peter’s Second Epistle (1:4): “that by these [gifts] you may be made partakers of the divine nature.”

In the first place, the Nominalist definition of “participation” should be noted. The expression “to participate” means to take part; thus are distinguished the subject participating and the perfection participated. Cf. Tabula aurea of the works of St. Thomas, s.v. Participatio.

“Participate” means to take part; it is primarily applied to quantitative things which possess integral parts, for instance, to participate in this meal; subsequently it can be applied to qualities, for example, to participate in or partake of heat, light, whiteness, or to spiritual qualities, as a pupil participates in the knowledge of his master when he receives a share in it, or a soldier participates in the victory of his general.

Thus Plato often used this word in the philosophical order when, for instance, he stated that men participate in the idea of humanity, and bulls in the idea of bovinity; but he thought that these exemplary ideas had separate being. On the contrary, a separate man or bull cannot exist, since they would have to have bones and flesh, in other words, a common, not an individual material, and bones and flesh cannot exist without being these particular bones and flesh, as Aristotle maintained. But God is essential being, essential good, and essential truth.

It is commonly said that stones participate in being, plants and animals participate in life, men participate in intellect, and thus they are analogically like unto God with regard to being, life, and intellect respectively. Now it must be determined whether by habitual grace the just man participates in the divine nature, in the intimate life of God or in the Deity by which God is, properly speaking, God; in other words, whether he participates in the radical principle of operations which are properly divine, by which God knows and loves Himself immediately.

As the Salmanticenses here record (dub. III, no. 54), the Nominalists, consistently with their thesis, mentioned above, denied that sanctifying grace is a physical and formal participation in the divine nature. (Likewise Coninck, In Ilam Ilae, d. 21, no. 75, and Lessius Bk. II, Desummo bono.)

The Nominalists declare that sanctifying grace is a moral participation, consisting in a rectitude of the will and an imitation of the sanctity and justice of God, just as those who imitate the faith of Abraham are called sons of Abraham, and those who imitate the malice of the devil are called his sons, although physically they are not born of either. In accordance with this tendency, the Protestants held that man is by grace a son of God, since he believes his sins are externally removed or no longer imputed to him. And Baius, who was a moderate Protestant, denied the strict supernaturalness of sanctifying grace, which he limited to natural, Christian virtue.4

Other Catholic theologians maintained that sanctifying grace is a physical participation in the divine nature, not however formal, but virtual; that is, not formal, as the light of the air is a participation in the light of the sun, but virtual, as the seed is a participation in the procreator, by a power derived from it to produce a likeness of itself. (Cf. Gonet.)

Lastly, the Thomists hold that sanctifying grace is a physical and formal participation in the divine nature; but with respect to some secondary points they are not agreed. Cajetan, Ledesma, Martines, Gonet, and the Salmanticenses claim that it is even a physical, formal, analogical participation in the very infinity of God; others (Curiel, for example) declare that a participation in infinity is impossible.  But this minor disagreement seems to be a mere matter of terminology, for John of St. Thomas and Billuart reconcile these two opinions of Thomists, as will presently be explained (cf. below: the dignity of sanctifying grace).

The more general conclusion is that sanctifying grace is a participation in the divine nature, not only moral but physical, not only virtual but formal, analogical however, imperfectly imitating as an accident what, in God, is substance.

1.  This conclusion is based upon Sacred Scripture: “By whom [Christ] . . . hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet.  1:4). Likewise in Sacred Scripture it is attested in various places that the just are, by grace, generated, born, reborn, of God and made sons of God; but by generation and birth, nature is communicated. “Of His own will hath He begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of His creature” (Jas. 1:18). “He gave them power to be made sons of God, . . . who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, . . . but of God” (John 1:12 f.). What would remain of this text, according to Nominalism and Lutheranism? “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). “Whosoever is born of God committeth not sin: for His seed abideth in him” (I John 3:9). And again (ibid., 5:1): “Whosoever . . . is born of God” does not sin, but the grace of God preserves him; that is, he who remains in the state of grace, as a child of God, does not sin mortally. Thus it is proved from Sacred Scripture that grace is a participation in the divine nature.

Similarly this is the obvious meaning of the Church’s definitions which are thus brought together by Denzinger in his index (p. 598): “Habitual grace is distinct from actual grace (nos. 1064 ff.); it is an infused, inherent quality of the soul by which man is formally justified, made a partaker of the divine nature, regenerated, abides in Christ, puts on the new man, is made an heir to eternal life” (cf.  references according to Denz., ibid.).5


2. Theological proof. There are two arguments in particular: a) taken from the definition of nature; b) from the essential supernaturalness of grace itself.

The first argument is stated thus: By divine nature is meant the radical principle of the divine operations by which God sees Himself intuitively and loves Himself.

But sanctifying grace imitates physically and formally this radical principle of properly divine operations, for it radically disposes man to see God intuitively and to love Him with the beatific love. 

Therefore sanctifying grace is a physical and formal participation in the divine nature.

The major is based on the very definition of nature, which is the root of the properties and the radical principle of operations in any being. Thus analogically but according to the strict and not the metaphorical sense, nature is in God that which is conceived in Him as the root of the divine perfections and the radical principle of properly divine operations, which are specified by the very essence of God, seen and loved; whereas, on the contrary, the creative act proceeds, not from the divine nature, but from the divine liberty, for God does not operate outside of Himself from any necessity of nature. 

The minor is clear especially with regard to grace consummated, which is called glory, from which proceeds the light of glory in the intellect and the charity of beatitude in the will. Moreover, according to St. Paul, the charity of the wayfarer never falls away, but is the same as in heaven; and faith is the substance of things hoped for.  Hence grace is spoken of, in tradition, as the seed of glory, a certain beginning of eternal life, according to the words of Christ: “He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting” (John 3:36); “He that believeth in Me, hath everlasting life” (ibid., 6:47, also 6:40 and 6:55); “Every one that . . . believeth in Me, shall not die forever” (ibid., 11:26).

It is a question of grace, which establishes the adoptive sonship, which is a certain participated likeness in the sonship of the Word, for in natural filiation the whole undivided nature is communicated, essence and substance, as it is in the Father; but to us is communicated a participation in the divine nature by accidental gift. 

Objections. Adversaries of this conclusion raise the following objections.

First objection. It is said in the book of Job (38:28): “Who is the father of rain? or who begot the drops of dew?” That is, God; but the rain does not participate in the nature of God; therefore neither do the other texts quoted prove anything.

Reply. The language of the book of Job is frequently poetical in style, and in this text “the father of rain” is poetically used for the creator of rain. Likewise when it asks “who begot the drops of dew,” the word “begot” is taken in a broad and not a strict sense. But this is not so when it is declared of the just (II Pet. 1:4) that they are made “partakers of the divine nature.”

I insist. Sacred Scripture also calls “children of God” those who lead good lives and do the will of God; for example, “Do good to them that hate you . . . that you may be the children of your Father” (Matt. 5:44 f.). “But love ye your enemies . . . and you shall be the sons of the Highest” (Luke 6:35). In these texts only a moral relationship with God is meant, and we are made His sons morally, or by imitation of His ways.

Reply. To be sure, we are also made children of God, morally, by imitation of His ways, but this moral relationship does not exclude the other but rather, indeed, presupposes it. For God first infuses grace by which we are partakers of the divine nature and are made pleasing to God and His children, by a physical participation in His nature. Then man, by meritorious acts, also becomes a child of God morally, imitating the paternal manner of acting. Thus the child of any distinguished man, if he follows the practices of his father, is said to be made his son to that extent, and this is implied by the words of Christ: “Do good to them that hate you . . . that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven.” These words presuppose that God is already a father on some other account than that of the love of enemies.

I insist. By grace we are made only adoptive sons of God. However, adoption does not communicate nature, but only a moral right to an inheritance. Therefore grace is only a moral participation in the divine nature by imitation of the divine ways.

Reply. Adoption communicates only a moral right to an inheritance in human affairs: granted; in divine things: denied. In human affairs this is true for two reasons: 1) because human adoption presupposes in the child adopted the same nature specifically as in the person adopting; it is otherwise in divine adoption; 2) because the love of the man adopting is only affective, and produces no physical effect in the child adopted, but only a moral right to an inheritance; on the contrary, “the love of God infuses and creates goodness in things.”

First confirmation. Grace partakes of the divine nature as charity and the light of glory partake of the divine attributes. But charity participates strictly and physically in the divine love as divine, since it is specified by the same formal object; and the light of glory participates in the same way in the divine light as divine. Thus Christ says: “The glory which thou hast given Me, I have given to them” (John 17:22). Therefore habitual grace partakes of the divine nature as divine, that is, in the Deity itself, not only with reference to being, but to Deity as such.

Second confirmation. A cause the effects of which are real and physical is itself real and physical. But the effects of sanctifying grace, as a participation in the divine nature, are real and physical, namely, the supernatural virtues which follow upon it as properties. For, according to the Council of Trent, charity is something diffused and inhering in our hearts. The end of sanctifying grace is also something real and physical, that is, the beatific vision. Therefore sanctifying grace itself, as a participation in the divine nature, is something real and physical, not something merely moral as an imitation of the divine ways.

It must, however, be termed an analogical, not a univocal, participation, since it is something created; moreover it is an accident. The Fourth Lateran Council (Denz., no. 432), explaining the words, “Be ye perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect,” declares that it is “as if our Lord were to say: Be perfect, with the perfection of grace, as your heavenly Father is perfect, with the perfection of nature; manifestly, each in his own mode, since between the Creator and the creature such a similarity cannot be acknowledged, without acknowledging that the dissimilarity between them is even greater.” Therefore it is only an analogy, not however a mere metaphor, but strictly speaking, according as grace properly ordains us to the operations of beatitude which are properly divine and have the same formal object as the uncreated operations of God Himself. Thus grace is more than a virtual participation in Deity; it is participation as a permanent form and by reason of the specifying, connatural formal object.6That which can be called a virtual participation in the divine nature is the instrumental power residing in the sacraments for the production of grace and likewise the actual grace which disposes one for habitual grace. 

Second theological argument. Following this first argument with its confirmations, another can thus be proposed which is drawn from the essential supernaturalness of grace.

Sanctifying grace, in both men and angels, is, according to the Church, an essentially supernatural gift, exceeding any nature created or capable of being created.

But sanctifying grace cannot thus exceed any nature capable of creation unless it is a formal and physical participation in the divine nature.

Therefore sanctifying grace is a formal and physical participation in the divine nature.

It should be remarked that this argument can be inverted and proposed as a corollary of the preceding argument, to prove against the Nominalists that grace is intrinsically supernatural since it is a physical participation in the divine nature. This is done by Billuart.

But our major can be proved from the authority of the councils, for, according to the Vatican Council (Denz., 1796): “divine mysteries (among which is sanctification by grace) by their very nature so exceed the created intellect that even when transmitted by revelation and received by faith, they yet remain covered over by the veil of faith itself and enshrouded in a certain darkness, as long as we are making our way in this life toward God.” Similarly with respect to the essential supernaturalness of grace, according as it surpasses the powers and merits of nature (cf. the condemnation of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism by the Second Council of Orange) and according as it exceeds the requirements of our nature (cf. the condemnation of Baius, especially Denz., nos. 1021, 1023, and the reference just quoted). Moreover, the Vatican Council (Denz., no. 1813),

teaching that “miracles can certainly be known” even naturally, distinguishes expressly between the supernaturalness of miracles, which exceeds our efficient created powers but not our cognoscitive powers, and the supernaturalness of mysteries and of grace, which exceed the powers of understanding of any intellect capable of being created.  Thus without a special revelation no one is absolutely certain of being in the state of grace.

Our minor is thus proved: natures created or capable of being created have a participated likeness to God with respect to being, life, and intellect, but not with respect to Deity as such. For God exceeds all nature created or capable of being created by reason of the radical principle of properly divine operations which have God Himself for specifying object. This is the intimate life of God, belonging to God by the very strict, intimate reason of His Deity, which is in a certain sense above being, unity, life, and intellect, because it contains formally and eminently these absolutely simple perfections.  Therefore grace, according as it exceeds all nature created or indeed capable of creation, is a formal and physical participation in the divine nature, or Deity as such.

Objection. But even a stone is a certain physical participation in the divine nature inasmuch as it is substantial, and so is a plant inasmuch as it has life in first act and second act; with still greater reason the intellectual soul is a physical participation in the divine nature with respect to intellectual life at least in first act and our understanding with respect to life in second act; cf. Gardeil, O.P., Structure de l’âme et experience mystique, 1927, I, 373.

Reply. The stone does not participate in the divine nature. It participates in being, being in general, not divine being; and thus it is an anological likeness of the divine being since it is being, not as being God. Likewise the plant participates in life in general, not divine life; and in the same way the rational soul participates in intellectual life in general and thus has a participated likeness of the divine intellect on the general analogical basis of intellection. In all of these there is present the common resemblance (being, life, intellect) which God and the creature share analogically.

On the other hand, sanctifying grace as such is not a participation in being in general, nor in life in general, nor in intellectuality in general, but a participation in Deity, which is found naturally only in God. Thus only grace is called a participation in the divine nature according as it is in us the radical principle of operations strictly divine, of which the formal object is (in heaven, at least) absolutely the same as the formal object of the uncreated operations of God.

All of this may be diagrammed as follows: 

Thus the stone participates in being and has a likeness to God on the basis of being; grace, on the contrary, is directly and immediately a participation in the divine nature, not in any perfection analogically shared by God and the creature.

Therefore Deity as such cannot be partaken of except by some essentially supernatural gift. And, conversely, grace cannot be essentially supernatural unless it is a formal and physical participation in the divine nature as divine, that is, in the intimate life of God, or Deity as Deity, ordaining us to the knowledge of God as He Himself knows Himself immediately and to the love of God as He loves Himself. 

Furthermore, sanctifying grace is a participation in Deity as it is in itself and not merely as it is known to us. For it is produced in our soul by an immediate infusion altogether independently of our knowledge of the Deity; and just as Deity as such is communicated to the Son by eternal generation, so Deity as such is partaken of by the just, especially by the blessed, through divine adoption.7

Hence, materially, grace is a finite accident, an entitative habit, but formally it is a formal participation in Deity as it is in itself, as it subsists in the three persons. Thus it is clearly evident that Deity as such in a certain sense surpasses being and intellection, since all absolutely simple perfections are identified in the eminence of Deity and can be naturally participated in, but Deity cannot be participated in naturally. (Cf. below, pp. 138 ff.: The dignity of sanctifying grace.)

First corollary. Our adoptive sonship is formally and physically a participated likeness of the eternal sonship of the Son of God. (Cf. St. Thomas on Rom. 8:29: “He . . . predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son”; the Tabula aurea, “Adoptio,” 21; Ia, 9.93, a. 4, 2; IIa IIae, q.45, a.6; IIIa, q.3, a. 8; q. 23, a. 1, 2, 3, 4.) The reason is that, just as the Father communicates to His only-begotten Son the whole of His nature, without multiplication or division of this nature, so He communicates to us physically and formally, by an accidental gift, a participation in this divine nature, or in His intimate life, that we may see Him as He sees Himself immediately, although in a finite manner; for to participate is to take a part and to leave a part; Deity is substance in God, its participation is an accident in us.

The principal texts of Holy Scripture on the divine adoption are the following: “For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also” (Rom. 8:14-17). “For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son; that He might be the first-born among many brethren” (ibid., 8:29). “God hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the purpose of His will” (Ephes. 1:5). “God sent His son . . . that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son; and if a son, an heir also through God” (Gal. 4:47).

St. Thomas treats of our adoptive sonship particularly in IIIa, q. 23, a. I, 2, 3, 4. He shows how divine adoption differs from human adoption (inasmuch as God by the gift of grace makes the man or angel whom He adopts fit for his inheritance). He shows especially how adoptive sonship through grace is a participated likeness of natural sonship: as the only-begotten Son of God receives eternally the whole divine nature from His Father, the adoptive son of God receives, in time, a participation of the divine nature, or grace, the seed of glory, the beginning of eternal life.

Adoption belongs to the whole Trinity, but is appropriated to the Father as its author, to the Son as its exemplar, to the Holy Ghost as engraving upon us the likeness of this exemplar. 

Second corollary. The existence and actual possibility of grace cannot be strictly proved by reason alone, since the supernatural substantially, taken formally, is also supernatural with respect to intelligibility; truth and being are convertible. For that which is essentially supernatural has no necessary, evident connection with things of the natural order; otherwise it would be reduced to the philosophical order, as is the existence of God as author of nature. 

Third corollary. Grace is nobler than all other created being, since it participates more perfectly in the divine good than any nature capable of being created. Hence St. Thomas says (below, Ia IIae, q. 113, a. 9 ad 2): “The goodness of the grace of one (man) is greater than the goodness of the nature of the whole universe.” (Cf. Cajetan’s Commentary on this, and Gonet.)

Confirmation. That is better which is loved more by God. But, as the Apostle says, God did all things for the sake of the elect (II Tim. 2:10), and therefore He loves the just more than all creatures of the natural order, as a father loves his son more than his fields, his house, and his cattle. (Cf. Salmanticenses.)

Fourth corollary. For perfect knowledge of the value of grace we would need to know glory itself experimentally, just as the knowledge of the value of an infant’s intelligence requires a knowledge of intellectual life in its full evolution. How great, then, is the evil of mortal sin! “If thou didst know the gift of God.” Thus the three orders of sensitive life, natural life, intellectual life, and the life of grace were clearly distinguished long before Pascal. 

Final doubt. Whether sanctifying grace of itself alone ensures one’s being formally the adopted son of God. State of the question. Adoption is generally defined as “a gratuitous admission of a stranger into the inheritance of another.” According to revelation, God adopts men as children, as is evident from the Epistle to the Romans (8:15): “You have received the spirit of adoption”; from Galatians (4:5): “that we might receive the adoption of sons”; and from Ephesians (1:5): “Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ.” And this definition of adoption is, in fact, verified according as God gratuitously admits and elevates an alien into a beatitude which exceeds the natural requirements or rights of this person. This is generally accepted by the Fathers, especially Cyprian, Pope Leo, and Augustine.8

Moreover, adoptive sonship is taken either formally, as it consists in a relationship, or fundamentally, as the foundation of the aforesaid relationship. We are now inquiring what this fundation is. In the natural order natural sonship is formally the relationship, and fundamentally it is passive generation or nature received through generation. Hence, proportionately, the primary formal effect of sanctifying grace is the deification of the soul; the secondary formal effect is adoptive sonship.9

To the question thus stated the Nominalists replied, with Scotus and Durandus, that through sanctifying grace we are adopted sons of God, not on account of the very nature of grace, but because God wished to concede this by way of an extrinsic favor.

The Thomists maintain, on the contrary, that we are adoptive sons of God through sanctifying grace on account of its very nature, without looking for any extrinsic favor. To understand this teaching the difference between human and divine adoption must be kept well in mind. It is twofold: 1. Human adoption presupposes in the one adopted the same nature specifically as in the one adopting; it is otherwise in divine adoption. 2. The love which the man adopting bears toward the one adopted produces no physical effect in the latter, but only something moral and civil, that is, the right of inheritance.  On the contrary, the love of God whereby He adopts men through grace is effective and efficacious, and by it He effects a participation in the divine nature, or sanctifying grace. Therefore this sanctifying grace of itself is the foundation of the relationship of adoptive sonship; just as the communication of the whole divine nature, by eternal, quasi-passive generation of the Second Person of the Trinity, is the foundation of the relationship of natural sonship. Hence, as sanctifying grace is not merely a moral, but also a physical and formal, participation in the divine nature, it lays the foundation of adoptive sonship immediately, without the need of looking for any extrinsic favor.

Confirmation. Habitual grace is nature proportioned to the beatific vision, that is, to the eternal inheritance. Likewise, we maintain, in opposition to Lessius, that the divinity of the Holy Ghost intrinsically united to us or assisting and dwelling in us does not produce, by way of form, adoptive sonship, since the form terminating spiritual generation is that by which the generated term lives, spiritually. But God is our life not formally, but only effectively. (Cf. IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 2 ad 2, against the Master of the Sentences.)

We also hold, contrary to the opinion of Suarez, that to be the adopted son of God without habitual grace implies a contradiction.  For there is required by this sonship at least an analogical conformity with God in His nature; but this is brought about only by habitual grace whereby man is spiritually begotten by God. Thus to live the divine life radically without grace implies a contradiction; without it man would have only natural justice, and not even that, since in the present state healing grace is required for the observance of the whole natural law.

Whether sanctifying grace is formally and physically a participation in infinite pure Act.

This is a disputed question among Thomists. Cajetan, Gonet, and the Salmanticenses answer in the affirmative, since it is a participation in Deity. Curiel and certain others deny it, since, as they say, the infinite as such cannot be participated in, for it is always received in a finite way. John of St. Thomas, Billuart, and also the Salmanticenses reconcile these two opinions thus: Grace participates in the nature of infinite, pure Act not adequately and subjectively (since whoever receives it does so in a finite way) but objectively and inadequately, for he participates in what is proper to God, or Deity itself, as the root of strictly divine operations which terminate objectively in the Deity itself clearly seen and loved. The disagreement is rather a matter of terms than of ideas.

John of St. Thomas says that grace is a participation in infinity objectively, as it is the likeness and splendor of the divine intellect; elevating the rational creature so that he may receive, as specifying, connatural object, God in His infinity, or rather we should say, in that He is God, according to the most eminent and proper reason of Deity. Deity as such, of which grace is a participation, in a certain sense surpasses infinity, which is a mode, as it were, of the attributes of God which are identified in the eminence of the Deity. 

As Gonet declares (De essentia gratiae, no. 52): “The beatific vision, which is the operation of consummated grace, corresponds to God as He is the infinite being and in His essence. Therefore consummated grace participates in the divine nature as it is an infinite being,” for it is the connatural principle of the beatific vision. 

Sanctifying grace does not take unto itself the whole infinity of God, but infinity in a certain manner, or inadequately; that is, it has the divine essence for its connatural, immediate object; but it is not identified with this infinite object, nor does it comprehend it as God does. For this reason grace, like charity, can be increased infinitely (cf. IIa IIae, q. 24, a. 7; Gonet, op. cit., for the solution of objections). 

First corollary. Habitual grace is a participation in the divine nature as a nature, just as charity is a participation in divine love as being its operation. But both are participations of the intimate life of God. In contrast to natural vegetative, sensitive, or intellectual life, it is said of grace that it is a participation in the divine nature or life as divine. 

Second corollary. Sanctifying grace is, through itself, directly, but secondarily, a participation in the nature of God as it is in the three persons; for the nature of God as such subsists as such in three persons and has an infinite inward fecundity by way of the divine processions.  Hence from grace rises charity, which is an inclination toward God as He subsists in three persons, and also from grace, in heaven, rises the light of glory and the vision of the Trinity itself. 

However, grace is not a participation in the personal divine fatherhood, since the adoptive sonship which follows from grace is a participated likeness in the eternal sonship of the Word; even by the eternal generation of the Word the divine nature is indeed communicated, but not the paternity. Therefore by divine adoption a participation of the divine nature is communicated, but not of the personal fatherhood. But from the infusion of grace there does follow the adoptive sonship which renders us like the Word, who is the image of the Father, and from grace flows that charity which produces in us a likeness to the Holy Ghost.

Third corollary. The infused virtues flow from sanctifying grace physically, as properties of the soul. (Cf. Salmanticenses.)

Fourth corollary. From the absolute power of God several kinds of sanctifying grace, essentially differing among themselves, cannot be bestowed, whatever some modern theologians may assert, for grace is a formal participation in the divine nature which is absolutely simple, nor can anything higher be conceived in which it would participate. Hence, whatever Father Billot may hold (De Verbo incarnato, thes. XVII, 6th ed., p. 208), not even in the most holy soul of Christ is habitual grace of a higher species than in any just man, although it is much more intense and extensive. Moreover, in Christ this habitual grace is derived from the uncreated grace of union or from the Word terminating the human nature; but considered intrinsically, habitual grace is not of a higher species in Christ than in us: it is always and everywhere a formal and physical participation of the divine nature; nor is it possible to conceive of anything higher in which it could participate than the Deity itself as such. If habitual grace in Christ were of a higher kind, so also would be His beatific vision, as Father Billot declares (ibid.), and then the following principle would not be observed: habit and act are specified by their formal object, for the formal object of the beatific vision of Christ is identical with that of the beatific vision of all the other blessed in heaven.

And on account of the absolute power, habitual grace, charity, and the light of glory, even in the most holy soul of Christ, could always be increased. We cannot conceive of the highest possible degree of this participation, for between any degree, even the highest, and the Deity itself, there is always an infinite distance, as there is between the incomprehensive beatific vision on the one hand, and the uncreated, comprehensive vision on the other. (Cf. IIIa, q. 10, a. 4 ad 3, and q. 7, a.12 ad 2.)

Confirmation. If there were two graces of essentially different kinds, there would likewise be two charities of essentially different kinds and two lights of glory essentially distinct. But this is impossible, for the essential reason of charity is to tend supernaturally toward God as He is in Himself, to be loved with a love of esteem above all things, and the light of glory is terminated in God as He is. No higher specifying object can be conceived, and habits are specified by their formal object.

Fifth corollary. Hence in Adam before the fall and in Christ sanctifying grace was not of another kind than in us; but it did have other effects10 in them, however; in fact, even in the natural order the same human species has different effects in man and in woman.  Thus grace causes repentance in us, but not in Christ since He was impeccable; in us it caused adoptive sonship, but not in Christ, for He was already the natural Son of God and therefore incapable of adoption. Likewise in the innocent Adam grace was the root of original justice which involves integrity of nature; this is not true in us.  In the angels it does not produce the virtues of temperance and fortitude, since the angels have no passions.

By the same token, sanctifying grace remaining but one in species has nevertheless two states, that of the present life and that of heaven. In the former it requires faith and hope connaturally, but not in the latter, which, in turn, demands the light of glory and, after the resurrection, the glorification of the body. Nor is it to be wondered at, considering the diversity of these states, that the same grace is the root of different virtues.

Sixth corollary. Sanctifying grace is absolutely more perfect than charity, the light of glory, or the beatific vision, which have their source in it, as an essence is more perfect than any of its properties; for grace participates in the divine nature, under the concept of nature, not under the concept of intellectual power or intellection or love. However, the beatific vision is more perfect, under a certain aspect, than grace, as second act is more perfect than first act. Thus a tree is something more perfect than its fruit, but the tree is rendered still more perfect when it bears fruit.

Seventh corollary. Specifically, sanctifying grace is absolutely more noble than the substance of any soul, even the soul of Christ, more noble than any angelic substance created or capable of being created; accidentally, however, according to its mode of being, that is, under a particular aspect, it may be less noble. With respect to the soul of Christ, cf. De verit., q. 27, a. 1 ad 6; and IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 3: “Charity is absolutely more perfect than the essence of the soul,” lust as the intellectual faculty, although an accident, is more noble than a stone. Grace is, then, more spiritual and incorruptible in itself than the human soul; “we have this treasure in fragile vessels.” However, sanctifying grace is absolutely less noble than the divine motherhood of the Word incarnate, for this motherhood by reason of its term belongs to the order of the hypostatic union, and this order surpasses not only the order of nature, but also the order of grace and glory.

St. Thomas says (Ia, q. 25, a. 6 ad 4): “The Blessed Virgin, because she is the Mother of God, has a certain infinite dignity deriving from the infinite good which is God; and because of this nothing better than this can be made.” On this account the cult of hyperdulia is due to her (cf. IIIa, q. 25, a. 5); for, as Cajetan declares, her “dignity borders upon the confines of divinity.”

Doubt. Whether actual grace disposing toward justification is a physical and formal participation of the divine nature. I reply that it is a physical, virtual, but not formal participation, as the seed is a participation in the generator as a power derived from it to produce a likeness of itself. It is not a formal participation, however, since it does not yet confer the power of eliciting connaturally supernatural operations of the order of grace. It is, as it were, a supernatural regeneration in process only, as we should say, referring to justification. 

Second doubt. Whether sanctifying grace formally procures the adoptive sonship of God and whether it alone can bring about such an effect (cf. Gonet, loc. cit.). Adoption is usually defined as a gratuitous admission of a stranger into the inheritance of another. Thus an adopted son is distinguished from a son by nature in both human and divine applications. It is assumed as certain from faith that the just man is an adopted son of God: “That we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:5); “You have received the spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:15); “Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ” (Ephes. 1:5).

To the question as stated the reply is more commonly in the affirmative, since, just as natural sonship is a formally real relationship based on passive generation, or on nature received through generation, in like manner adoptive sonship is formally a real relationship based on a passive participation of the divine nature received through regeneration. This is true even independently of the subsequent acceptation of God, in opposition to the Nominalists, Durandus, and Scotus.  This is confirmed by the fact that no other reality can be the foundation of this real relationship: 1) not indeed the Holy Ghost, whatever Lessius may say, since He assists us as an extrinsic cause, and is not the form by which anyone is regenerated as a child of God; 2) nor charity, which presupposes habitual grace as its root, as will be more clearly demonstrated later.

First corollary. Hence, contrary to the followers of Suarez, Thomists hold that there is a contradiction implied in being the adoptive son of God without habitual grace. For this sonship requires an analogical conformity to God in the divine nature; and it implies a contradiction that the creature be conformed analogically to God in His nature without a participation of the divine nature by grace. Thus by the very fact that the just man possesses grace he is the adoptive son of God and has a right to be received into glory. (Cf. Gonet, op. cit., no. 136)

Second corollary. The adoption of man as a son is common to the three persons, in that the act of infusing grace, since it is a free, external operation, is common to the whole Trinity as omnipotence is.

However, as stated in IIIa, q. 23, a. 2, active adoption is appropriated to the Father, according as adoptive sonship is a certain participated likeness in the eternal sonship. Moreover, to the extent that this adoption is brought about through grace, which is the work of divine love, it is appropriated to the Holy Ghost, the sanctifier.

Third corollary. During the time that he is in the state of grace, the reprobate is an adopted son of God; and when the predestinate is not in the state of grace, he is not an adopted son of God.  136.)

State of the question. We are not considering whether grace is identical with the acquired virtues, nor with faith or hope, for these can be possessed in the state of mortal sin, that is, without sanctifying grace. But since the state of grace is inseparable from charity, some were of the opinion that sanctifying grace was not really distinguished from charity. According to the Master of the Sentences, as quoted in the article, they seem to be distinguished only as concepts, since, for him, both grace and charity are the Holy Ghost indwelling and moving to the act of love.

In the opinion of Durandus, they are distinguished in name only (Nominalism removes almost all real distinctions); Scotus declares them to be formally distinguished; according to certain others, they are distinguished virtually by reason of a diversity of functions. St.  Thomas, those of his school, and many outside of it maintain that they are really distinct. (Cf. De veritate, q. 27, a. 2.)

St. Thomas’ conclusion is that sanctifying grace is something beyond the infused virtues which are derived from it, just as the natural light of reason is something beyond the acquired virtues derived from that light.

1 . Scriptural proof. Holy Scripture speaks of grace and of charity as of two separate things. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God” (II Cor. 13:13). “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us” (Rom. 5:5); but He is given to us through grace, by reason of which He dwells in us. “The grace of our Lord hath abounded exceedingly with faith and love” (I Tim.1:14).

Likewise the Council of Vienne (Denz., no. 483) speaks of the baptized as those to whom “grace and the virtues” were imparted.  The Council of Trent (Sess. VI, can. 7, Denz., no. 799) declares that “the renewal of the inner man is brought about by the voluntary acceptance of grace and the gifts”; canon II (Denz., 821) defines “man as not justified without grace and charity.” Moreover, in this sense the mind of the Council is interpreted by the Catechism of the Council (part 2, “Baptism,” chap. 38) wherein sanctifying grace is described, while not yet speaking of charity, and then (chap. 39) it is declared: “To this is added the most noble train of all the virtues, which are infused in the soul together with grace.”

St. Augustine speaks in the same strain as quoted in the argument Sed contra (De dono persever., chap. 16): “Grace precedes charity.” But no reason can be adduced to explain why Holy Scripture, the Councils, and the Fathers, referring to a matter of dogma, should always understand one and the same thing under diverse names; it would be, at least, useless repetition; and since it occurs frequently, we may draw from these authorities, at least as more probable, the opinion that grace and charity are really distinct.

2. Theological proof, based on the definition of virtue and on a parallelism between the natural and supernatural orders. 

Virtue is really distinct from the proportionate nature which it presupposes; as the acquired virtues from the nature of the soul.

But the supernatural virtues presuppose nature elevated by sanctifying grace.

Therefore the supernatural virtues, even charity, are really distinct from sanctifying grace.

The major is based on the Aristotelian definition of virtue, namely, “a disposition of a perfect thing is that which is best”; in other words, virtue presupposes a nature proportioned to itself, is a perfection of a power corresponding to that nature, and hence is really distinct from nature as already constituted. Thus the acquired virtues, such as wisdom and prudence, are really distinguished from the light of reason which they presuppose and which existed before the acquisition of these virtues.

Regarding the minor: As human virtue presupposes human nature which it disposes in the direction of its natural end, so does supernatural virtue presuppose nature elevated to supernatural being, which it disposes aptly toward its consequent supernatural end. Moreover, there is no doubt but that charity is a supernatural virtue and that it is supernaturally communicated by grace.

Therefore charity is really distinguished from sanctifying grace which it presupposes, as a habit which is immediately operative is differentiated from an entitative habit by which the essence of the soul is itself elevated, as will be made more evident in Article 4. But even here in the reply to the third objection it is declared: “Grace is reducible to the primary species of a quality [that is, of a habit]; nor is it indeed the same as a virtue, but rather a certain habit [entitative habit] which is presupposed by the infused virtues as their principle and root.”

Opponents object: But the same accidental form can simultaneously elevate a nature and dispose it to operate, as heat causes wood both to be hot and to give off heat.

Reply. 1. The same accidental form cannot be received by two really distinct subjects; but the elevation of a nature must be effected in the essence of the soul, while charity, as a virtue, must be in some faculty, that is, the will. Therefore.

2. By the same token one and the same accidental form would be capable of producing the effects of all the virtues and gifts. And hence there would be no distinction between the three theological virtues, the four infused cardinal virtues, and the seven gifts, a distinction which is made by the whole of tradition on the basis of Holy Scripture itself.

3.  In any order, operation follows being; especially does connatural operation presuppose a proportionate principle of being. The answer to the example of heat in the wood is: the disparity arises from the fact that heat is not a virtue in the wood, but a simple sensible quality.11

Confirmation of the conclusion. 

1. God hath first loved us (I John 4:10); but the effect of this love is grace; but charity is the proximate principle by which we love God. 

2. Grace is a participation in the divine nature; charity is a participation in the divine will.

3. Every inclination follows upon form; but charity is an inclination of the supernatural order; therefore it presupposes the super-natural form upon which it follows.

4. God makes no less provision for the soul in the supernatural order than in the natural order; but in the natural order the faculties follow upon the essence of the soul; therefore in the supernatural order the infused virtues follow upon grace.

And what we have said applies also to the angels, since their essence is not immediately operative, and thus differs from the divine essence which alone is its own being and act.

Objection. But then faith and hope could not exist without habitual grace, as properties cannot exist without essence.

Reply. Faith and hope remain in the sinner as in a subject to which they are not connatural, but praeternatural. And they do not have the element of virtue except with grace. A sinner can indeed believe, but not so well as one ought to believe. Thus, in the natural order, heat is in fire as in a connatural subject, but in water as in a subject under compulsion, for heat is not a property of water, which is naturally cold.

However, the same effects are often attributed to both grace and charity, since they are inseparably connected. The proper effects of charity thus proceed from grace as from a root. (See Billuart for less important objections.)


State of the question. Those who say that grace is identical with charity hold grace to be attributable to the will and not immediately to the essence of the soul. Thus Scotus (II Sent., dist. 26), who adopted as his own doctrine St. Thomas’ objections, as he frequently did. 

St. Thomas’ conclusion: Habitual grace, inasmuch as it is presupposed by the infused virtues, is in the essence of the soul as in a subject, and not in any faculty.

Proof 1. Commonly, as found in the argument Sed contra: grace we are regenerated as children of God, according to Holy Scripture.” But generation has its term first in the essence and then in the powers. It is so in the natural order; why not in the supernatural order?

Proof 2. In particular, as a corollary of the preceding article, thus:

Every perfection of a rational faculty is a virtue or good operative habit.

But habitual grace is not a virtue, but is presupposed by the infused virtues (cf. preceding article).

Therefore habitual grace is not in the faculties of the soul but in the very essence of the soul presupposed by the faculties. 

Hence it is a participation in the divine nature by a certain regeneration or recreation, whereas charity is a participation by the will in divine love, and faith a participation of divine knowledge in the intellect, although all these infused habits are formally participations in the intimate life of God. But we are now considering them rather under their material aspect, that is, on the part of the subject in which they reside.

Reply to third objection. The soul is the subject of grace, since it resides in a species of intellectual nature, or in the intelligent soul, although the infused virtue of chastity is in the sensitive appetite. 

Confirmation. It would be unbecoming for the essence of the soul to be less perfected Supernaturally than its own faculties. The whole man would not be supernaturally complete, with respect both to being and to operation; and its radical vitality would not be elevated.  Such would be the result if Scotus’ teaching were true.

First corollary. Glory, taken as the root of the light of glory and of charity, is likewise in the essence of the soul; for it is grace consummated. It is also an entitative habit, for St. Thomas says in several places that habitual grace, the seed of glory, is a certain beginning of eternal life, for it is the same habit. On the contrary, infused faith, which is obscure, is not a certain beginning of the beatific vision. 

Second corollary. Grace is the radical principle of merit, but charity is its proximate principle.

Third corollary. Mortal sin, being the privation of sanctifying grace, is death to the soul in the essence of the soul, and in that it is a vicious habit or act it is in the will, or in some other faculty under the command of the will.As a complement to this question of the essence of grace, two articles in the treatise De lege nova (Ia IIae, q. 106, a. I) should be read on whether the new law is written or set in the heart. The reply is as follows: “That which is most powerful in the law of the New Testament, and in which all its virtue consists, is the grace of the Holy Ghost, which is given through the faith of Christ. Therefore the new law is principally that very grace of the Holy Ghost, which is given to the faithful of Christ . . . Hence St. Paul declares that ‘the law of the spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, hath delivered me from the law of sin and of death’ (Rom. 8:2). . . . Therefore it may be said that the new law is primarily a law set in the heart, but secondarily it is a written law.”

Likewise the Summa (Ia IIae, q. 106, a. 2) declares that “the law of the Gospel (by means of what is primary in it) justifies.” And in the answer to the second objection (ibid.), St. Thomas states: “On account of what it is of itself [as habitual grace] it gives sufficient help to avoid sin,” that is, of itself it bestows the power not to sin, although as long as we are wayfarers the power to do the opposite remains in us. Again (IIIa, q. 8, a. 1, 2, 5), Christ as man merited for us all the graces we receive and He communicates them to us now as instrumental, physical cause of our divinization. (Cf. IIIa, q. 62, a. 5; q. 43, a. 2; q.48, a. 6.)

According to IIIa, q.62, a.2: “Sacramental grace adds, over and above [habitual] grace generally so called and above the virtues and gifts, a certain divine help toward the attainment of the end of the sacrament.” In the reply to the first objection of the same article St. Thomas maintains that “the grace of the virtues and gifts perfects the essence and powers of the soul sufficiently with respect to the general ordering of the acts of the soul (so it was in Adam before the Fall and in the angels in whom did not reside Christian grace strictly speaking, which was conferred upon men by Christ the Redeemer). But with respect to certain special effects which are demanded by a Christian life, sacramental grace is required.” Thus it may also be said that in the angels and in Adam before the Fall there resided supernatural grace, as a participation of the divine nature, but not however as Christian grace proceeding from Christ the Redeemer and forming souls in the image of Christ crucified. 

Sacramental grace is not a new infused habit really distinct from habitual grace, but it adds over and above ordinary grace a certain right to actual graces to be received at the appropriate time and corresponding to the special end of the sacraments; for example, the grace of holy orders confers the right to the actual graces necessary to celebrate Mass. And this moral right is a relationship which requires a real basis; the real basis is sacramental grace, properly speaking, inasmuch as it is really permanent in the soul. And the more probable opinion, as Thomists assert, is that it is a special mode and a special force of sanctifying grace, which overflow into the acts of the virtue. (Cf. St. Thomas, De veritate, q. 27, a. 5 ad 12.) Thus we speak of priestly charity, of priestly prudence. John of St. Thomas, the Salmanticenses, Contenson, Hugon, Merkelbach, and several other Thomists accept this explanation.

Accordingly, as sanctifying grace is the principle of the sanctification of the just, whether men or angels, so is the sacramental grace of baptism the principle of Christian sanctification, and the sacramental grace of holy orders the principle of sanctification of priests, who are the ministers of Christ.

We must now compare habitual grace with the graces gratis datae and with actual graces.

1Catechismus romanus, Pius V , Part II, no. 185: “But grace is a divine quality inhering in the soul, as a certain brilliance and light which removes all the stains from our souls and renders these souls more beautiful and dazzling.”

2 Cf. St. Thomas, Contra Gentes, Bk. I, chap. 100, and John of St. Thomas, Phil. nut., q.4, a.4: action, which properly belongs to the category of action, is transitive actionproducing a correlative passion in the patient; immanent action is reducible to the category of quality.

3 St. Thomas says (De verit., q.27, a.I ad 9): “Although by one act of mortal sin grace may be expelled, grace is not, however, expelled easily; for it is not easy for one who possesses grace to perform such an act, on account of the inclination in a contrary direction; thus the Philosopher says in his Ethics, Bk. V, chap. 6, that it is difficult for the just man to commit an injustice.”

4 Cf. Denz., no. 1021: “The elevation and exaltation of human nature to a participation in the divine nature was due to the integrity of its primary state and accordingly is called natural and not supernatural.” No. 1023: “Absurd is the opinion of those who say that man, from the beginning, was exalted by certain supernatural and gratuitous gifts above the condition of his nature, that he might seek God supernaturally by faith, hope, and charity.”

5 With regard to the testimony of the Fathers, cf. Rouet de Journel, Enchirid.  patristicum, index theologicus, no. 358.

6 0ur supernatural operations are said to be connatural inasmuch as they proceed from grace and the infused virtues as from a second nature in which we participate as in the manner of a permanent form.

7 Cf. on this subject our article: “La grâce est-elle une participation de la Déité telle qu’elle est en soi?” Revue thomiste, July, 1936, pp. 470-85. The reply is in the affirmative. Thus, in this question it is not necessary to ask what the formal constituent of divine nature is according to our way of conceiving it; whether it is subsistent being itself or intelligence itself, we are concerned with Deity as it is in itself, which is in some ways above being and above intelligence, according as it eminently and formally contains these simple perfections absolutely. Cf. Cajetan In lam, q.1, a.3, no. 4; q.1, a, 7, no. 1; q.13, a.5, nos. 7, 10ff.; q. 39, a.1, no. 7.

8 Rouet de Journel, Enchir. patristicum, index theologicus, no. 359

9 This secondary effect is not present in Christ, since He is already the natural Son of God. Cf. Ma. 9.23, a.4.

10 For an accidental form (as grace) perfects the subject into which it is received according to the mode and requirements of the latter, and in a diversity of subjects it produces diverse effects occasionally differing in species Thus grace does not produce in the angels virtues which moderate the passions, as it does in us.

11 Nor is Scotus’ distinction, “formal-actual,” admissible, which would be a medium between a real distinction and a rational distinction based on the reality, for there cannot be given a medium between a distinction existing before being considered by our mind and one which does not exist before being considered by the mind; there is no medium between two opposites. And the distinction which existed before being considered by our minds, however slight it may be, is nevertheless real.