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Nature And Grace by Aquinas

Article Four Whether One may Lawfully Hope in Man

Whether One may Lawfully Hope in Man

We proceed to the fourth article thus:

1. It seems that one may lawfully hope in man. The object of hope is indeed eternal blessedness. But we are helped to attain eternal blessedness by the patronage of the saints, since Gregory says that |predestination is furthered by the prayers of the saints| (1 Dialog., cap.8). One may therefore hope in man.

2. Again, if it is not lawful to hope in man, it should not be regarded as a vice in a man, that one cannot hope in him. But this seems to have been regarded as a vice in some, as appears from Jer.9:4: |Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother.| It is therefore lawful that one should hope in man.

3. Again, it was said in Art.2 that petition is an expression of hope. Now a man may lawfully petition something of a man. It follows that he may lawfully hope in him.

On the other hand: it is said in Jer.17:5: |Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.|

I answer: as we said in 12ae, Q.40, Art.7, hope refers to two things, namely, to the good which one hopes to obtain, and to the help whereby one hopes to obtain it. The good which one hopes to obtain has the nature of a final cause. The help whereby one hopes to obtain it has the nature of an efficient cause. Now each of these types of cause contains what is principal and what is secondary. The principal end is the final end, while the secondary end is such good as leads to the final end. Similarly, the principal efficient causal agent is the first agent, while the secondary efficient cause is the secondary and instrumental agent.

Now hope refers to eternal blessedness as the final end, and refers to God's help as the first cause which leads to it. Hence just as it is unlawful to hope for any good other than blessedness as a final end, but lawful to hope for it only as a means to final blessedness, so is it unlawful to hope in any man or any creature as if it were the first cause which brings us to blessedness. But one may lawfully hope in a man or in a creature as a secondary and instrumental agent, which helps one to obtain such good things as serve as a means to blessedness. It is in this way that we turn to the saints, and in this way that we petition things of men. This also explains why those are blamed who cannot be trusted to help.

The answers to the objections are now obvious.

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