Whether a Man is required to Believe Anything Explicitly
We proceed to the fifth article thus:
1. It seems that a man is not required to believe anything explicitly. For no man is required to do what is not within his power, and it is not within a man's power to believe anything explicitly, since it is said in Rom.10:14-15: |how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?| Hence a man is not required to believe anything explicitly.
2. Again, just as we are directed to God by faith, so are we directed to him by charity. Now a man is not required to fulfil the precepts of charity. It is enough that he should be mentally prepared to fulfil them. This is clear from our Lord's commandment in Matt.5:39: |whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,| and from other similar passages, as Augustine observes (Sermo. Dom. in monte, 19). Neither then is a man required to believe anything explicitly. It is enough that he should be mentally prepared to believe such things as are proposed by God.
3. Again, the good of faith consists in obedience, according to Rom.1:5: |for obedience to the faith among all nations.| But obedience to the faith does not require that a man should obey any particular precept. It is enough that he should be ready to obey, in accordance with Ps.119:60: |I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.| Hence it seems to be enough for faith that a man should have a mind ready to believe whatever may be divinely proposed to him, without believing anything explicitly.
On the other hand: it is said in Heb.11:6: |he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.|
I answer: the precepts of the law, which a man is required to fulfil, are concerned with the acts of the virtues, which are a way of attaining salvation. Now as we said in 12ae, Q.60, Art.9, the act of a virtue depends on the relation of its habit to its object. But there are two things to be considered concerning the object of any virtue: first, that which in itself is properly the object of the virtue, and which is essential to its every act; second, whatever attaches accidentally or consequentially to what we mean by its proper object. To face the danger of death, and to attack the enemy in spite of danger for the common good, in itself belongs to the proper object of fortitude. But that a man should be armed, or that he should smite another with his sword in a just war, or do something of the kind, is related to the proper object of fortitude accidentally only.
Now a precept requires that a virtuous action should terminate in its essential and proper object, just as it requires the virtuous action itself. But it is only at given times, and in given circumstances, that a precept requires that a virtuous action should terminate in what belongs to its object accidentally or secondarily. We must therefore observe that, as we said in Q. i, Art.8, what helps a man to attain blessedness belongs to the object of faith by reason of what it is in itself, whereas all things divinely revealed to us in sacred Scripture belong to its object accidentally or secondarily, such as that Adam had two sons, that David was the son of Jesse, and other things of this kind.
Accordingly, a man is required to believe explicitly such primary matters as are articles of faith, just as he is required to have faith. He is not however required to believe other matters explicitly, but only implicitly, or by preparedness of mind, that is, by being prepared to believe whatever sacred Scripture contains. He is required to believe such things explicitly only when he is aware that they are included in the doctrine of the faith.
On the first point: if a thing is said to be within a man's power when he can do it without the aid of grace, then there are many things required of him which are not within his power, unless he is healed by grace, such as to love God and his neighbour, and likewise to believe the articles of faith. But he can do these things through the aid of grace, of which Augustine says: |to whomsoever it is given, it is given in mercy; from whomsoever it is withheld, it is withheld in justice, in consequence of previous sins, or at least in consequence of original sin| (De Corrept. et Grat.5 and 6).
On the second point: a man is required to love explicitly that which properly and in itself is the object of charity, namely, God and his neighbour. This objection argues from the precepts of charity which pertain to the object of charity consequentially.
On the third point: the virtue of obedience properly resides in the will. Readiness of will to obey one who commands is therefore sufficient for obedience, since this is properly and in itself the object of obedience. But one precept or another is accidental or consequential to its proper object.