Whether the Object of Faith is the First Truth
We proceed to the first article thus:
1. It seems that the object of faith is not the first truth. For whatever is proposed for our belief would seem to be the object of faith, and there are proposed for our belief not only things pertaining to the Godhead, which is the first truth, but also things pertaining to the humanity of Christ, to the sacraments of the Church, and to the condition of creatures. Hence not only the first truth is the object of faith.
2. Again, faith and unbelief have the same object, since they are opposites. Now there can be unbelief concerning everything in sacred Scripture, since a man is called an unbeliever if he disbelieves anything which is therein contained. It follows that faith is likewise concerned with everything in sacred Scripture, which contains many things relating to men, and to other creatures also. Hence the object of faith is not only the first truth, but also the truth about creatures.
3. Again, it was said in 12ae, Q.62, Art.3, that faith is condivided with charity. Now by charity we not only love God, who is the supreme good, but love our neighbour also. Hence the object of faith is not only the first truth.
On the other hand: Dionysius says (7 Div. Nom., lect.5): |Faith is in the simple and eternal truth.| Now this is the first truth. The object of faith is therefore the first truth.
I answer: the object of any cognitive habit is twofold. It includes what is known materially as a material object, and also that through which it is known, this being the formal meaning of its object. In the science of geometry, for example, the conclusions are known materially, while the principles of demonstration whereby the conclusions are known are the formal meaning of the science. Now if we are thinking of the formal meaning of the object of faith, this is nothing other than the first truth. For the faith of which we are speaking does not assent to anything except on the ground that it is revealed by God. The ground upon which faith stands is therefore divine truth. But if we are thinking in a concrete way about the things to which faith gives its assent, these include not only God himself, but many other things. Such other things, however, are held in faith only because they relate to God in some way, that is to say, in so far as certain effects of the Godhead are an aid to man in his endeavour after the enjoyment of God. Thus the object of faith is still in a sense the first truth, since nothing is an object of faith unless it relates to God; just as the object of medicine is health, since nothing is considered to be medicine unless it relates to health.
On the first point: the things which pertain to the humanity of Christ, or to the sacraments of the Church, or to any creature whatsoever, are included in the object of faith in so far as we are directed by them to God, and in so far as we assent to them on account of the divine truth.
The second point, concerning all the matters related in sacred Scripture, is answered in the same way.
On the third point: by charity we love our neighbour for God's sake. Hence the object of charity is properly God, as we shall affirm later.