Whether Faith is Infused into Man by God
We proceed to the first article thus:
1. It seems that faith is not infused into man by God. For Augustine says (14 De Trin.1): |by knowledge is faith begotten, nourished, defended, and strengthened in us.| Now what is begotten in us by knowledge would seem to be acquired, rather than infused. Thus it appears that faith is not in us by divine infusion.
2. Again, what a man attains through hearing and seeing would seem to be acquired. Now a man comes to believe both through seeing miracles and through hearing the doctrine of the faith. Thus it is said in John 4:53: |So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house,| and in Rom.10:17: |faith cometh by hearing.| Hence faith can be acquired.
3. Again, a man can acquire what depends on his will, and Augustine says that |faith depends on the will of those who believe| (De Praed. Sanct.5). It follows that a man can acquire faith.
On the other hand: it is said in Eph.2:8-9: |by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: . . . lest any man should boast.|
I answer: for faith, two things are required. In the first place, the things which a man is to believe must be proposed to him. This is necessary if anything is to be believed explicitly. Secondly, the believer must give his assent to what is proposed. Now faith is bound to be from God as regards the first of these conditions. For the things of faith are beyond human reason, so that a man cannot know them unless God reveals them. They are revealed by God immediately to some, such as the apostles and the prophets, and mediately to others, through preachers of the faith who are sent by God according to Rom.10:15: |And how shall they preach except they be sent?| The cause of the believer's assent to the things of faith is twofold. There is in the first place an external cause which induces him to believe, such as the sight of a miracle, or the persuasion of another who leads him to the faith. But neither of these is a sufficient cause. For of those who see one and the same miracle, or who hear the same prophecy, some will believe and others will not believe. We must therefore recognize that there is also an inward cause, which moves a man from within to assent to the things of faith.
The Pelagians attributed this inward cause solely to a man's own free will, and said accordingly that the beginning of faith lies with ourselves, since we prepare ourselves to assent to the things of faith, although the consummation of faith lies with God, who proposes to us such things as we ought to believe. But this is false. For when a man gives his assent to the things of faith, he is raised above his own nature, and this is possible only through a supernatural principle which moves him from within. This principle is God. The assent of faith, which is the principal act of faith, is therefore due to God, who moves us inwardly through grace.
On the first point: faith is begotten by knowledge, and is nourished by the external persuasion which knowledge provides. But the principal and proper cause of faith is that which inwardly moves us to give our assent.
On the second point: this reasoning argues from the cause whereby the things of faith are externally proposed, or whereby one is persuaded to believe them by means of word or deed.
On the third point: to believe does depend on the will of those who believe. But a man's will must be prepared by God through grace, in order that he may be raised to things which are above nature, as we have said, and as we said also in Q.2, Art.3.