Whether Hope is a Theological Virtue
We proceed to the fifth article thus:
1. It seems that hope is not a theological virtue. A theological virtue is a virtue which has God as its object. But hope has not only God as its object, but other things also, which we hope to obtain from him. It follows that hope is not a theological virtue.
2. Again, it was said in 12ae, Q.64, Art.4, that a theological virtue is not a mean between two vices. But hope is a mean between presumption and despair. It is therefore not a theological virtue.
3. Again, expectation pertains to longanimity, which is a species of fortitude. Now hope is a kind of expectation. It seems, therefore, that hope is a moral virtue, not a theological virtue.
4. Again, the object of hope is the arduous. To aim at the arduous is magnanimous, and magnanimity is a moral virtue. Hope is therefore a moral virtue, not a theological virtue.
On the other hand: in I Cor., ch.13, hope is numbered together with faith and charity, which are theological virtues.
I answer: a genus is divided according to the natures which differentiate its species. In order to determine the division of virtue to which hope belongs, therefore, we must attend to the source from which it derives its character as a virtue. We said in the first article that hope has the character of a virtue because it attains the supreme rule of human actions. Hope attains this rule as its first efficient cause, in so far as it relies on its help. It also attains this rule as its ultimate final cause, in so far as it looks for blessedness in the enjoyment of it. This makes it plain that in so far as hope is a virtue, its principal object is God. Now it is the very meaning of a theological virtue, that it has God as its object, as we said in 12ae, Q.62, Art.1. It is obvious, then, that hope is a theological virtue.
On the first point: whatever else hope expects to obtain, it hopes for as subordinate to God as its final end, or to God as its first efficient cause, as we have said above.
On the second point: there is a mean in things which are ruled and measured, according to which they attain their proper rule and measure. Thus a thing is excessive if it exceeds its rule, and defective if it falls short of its rule. But there is neither a mean nor extremes in the rule or the measure itself. Now the proper object with which a moral virtue is concerned comprises things which are regulated by reason. It is therefore essentially the nature of a moral virtue to respect the mean in regard to its proper object. But the proper object with which a theological virtue is concerned is the first rule itself, which is not regulated by any other rule. It is consequently not essentially the nature of a theological virtue to respect a mean, although it may do so accidentally in regard to that which is subservient to its principal object. There can thus be neither a mean nor extremes in the trust of faith in the first truth, in which no man can trust too much, although there can be a mean and extremes in regard to the things which faith believes, since a truth is midway between two falsehoods. Similarly, there is neither a mean nor extremes in hope in regard to its principal object, since no man can trust too much in the help of God. There can be a mean and extremes, however, in regard to the things which one confidently expects to obtain, since one may either presume to obtain things which exceed what is proportionate to oneself, or despair of things which are proportionate to oneself.
On the third point: the expectation attributed to hope by definition does not imply deferment, as does the expectation of longanimity. It implies regard for divine help, whether what is hoped for be deferred or not.
On the fourth point: while magnanimity attempts what is arduous, it hopes to attain what is within one's own power. It is thus properly concerned in the doing of great things. But hope, as a theological virtue, looks upon the arduous as something to be attained through the help of another, as we said in the first article.