Whether Grace is appropriately divided into Sanctifying Grace and Free Grace
We proceed to the first article thus:
1. It seems that grace is not appropriately divided into sanctifying grace and free grace. What was said in Q. no makes it clear that grace is a gift of God. Now a man is not pleasing to God because God has given him something. On the contrary, God freely gives him something because he is pleasing to God. There is therefore no grace which sanctifies.
2. Again, whatever is not given on account of previous merit, is freely given. Now the good of nature is given to man without any previous merit, since merit presupposes nature. Nature is therefore a free gift of God, and it belongs to a different genus from grace. Since the character of gratuitousness thus occurs outside the genus of grace, it is an error to regard it as a character which distinguishes grace from grace.
3. Again, every division ought to be between opposites. But even the sanctifying grace by which we are justified is freely extended to us by God, according to Rom.3:24: |being justified freely by his grace.| Sanctifying grace should not then be contrasted with free grace.
On the other hand: the apostle attributes both things to grace, affirming that it sanctifies and also that it is freely given. In Eph.1:6 he affirms that it sanctifies: |he hath made us accepted in the beloved,| and in Rom.11:6 he affirms that it is freely given: |And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.| Grace may therefore be differentiated as either having one of these characters only, or having both characters.
I answer: as the apostle says in Rom.13:1, |the powers that be are ordained of God.| Now the order of things is such that some things are led to God by means of others, as Dionysius says [Coel. Hier.6, 7, 8). Hence grace, which is ordained to lead men to God, works in accordance with a certain order, in such a way that some men are led to God by means of other men. Grace is therefore twofold. There is grace through which a man is himself united to God, which is called sanctifying grace. There is also grace whereby one man co-operates with another to lead him to God. This latter gift is called |free grace,| since it is beyond the capacity of nature to give, and beyond the merit of him to whom it is given. But it is not called sanctifying grace, since it is not given in order that a man may himself be justified by it, but in order that he may co-operate towards the justification of another. It is of such grace that the apostle speaks in I Cor.12:7: |But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal,| that is, for the benefit of others.
On the first point: grace is said to make one pleasing, not efficiently, but formally, since one is justified by it, and so made worthy to be called pleasing to God. As it is said in Col.1:12: |which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.|
On the second point: since grace is freely given, it excludes the idea of debt. Now debt can be understood in two ways. In one sense it is the correlative of merit, applicable to a person upon whom it is incumbent to achieve works of merit, as in Rom.4:4: |Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.| In a second sense it refers to the condition which is natural to one, as when we say that a man |ought| to have reason, and other things pertaining to human nature. In neither sense, however, does debt imply that God owes anything to a creature. Rather does it mean that a creature ought to be subject to God, so that there may be realized within it the divine order according to which a given nature has certain conditions and properties, and attains certain ends by means of certain activities. It follows that the gifts of nature exclude debt in the first sense. But they do not exclude debt in the second sense. Supernatural gifts, on the other hand, exclude debt in both senses, and thus warrant the title of grace in a manner peculiar to themselves.
On the third point: sanctifying grace adds to the notion of free grace something integral to the meaning of grace itself, in that it makes a man pleasing to God. Free grace does not do this, but nevertheless retains the common name, as often happens. The two parts of the division thus stand in contrast, as grace which sanctifies and grace which does not sanctify.