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Nature And Grace by Aquinas

Article Three Whether there is Hope in the Damned

Whether there is Hope in the Damned

We proceed to the third article thus:

1. It seems that there is hope in the damned. For the devil is damned, and the prince of the damned, according to Matt.25:41: |Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.| Yet the devil has hope, according to Job 41:9: |Behold, the hope of him is in vain.| It seems, therefore, that the damned have hope.

2. Again, just as faith can be formed and unformed, so can hope. Now there can be unformed faith in devils and in the damned, according to James 2:19: |the devils also believe, and tremble.| It seems, therefore, that there can be unformed hope in the damned.

3. Again, no man after death is credited either with a merit or with a demerit which he did not have in life, according to Eccl.11:3: |and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.| But many of the damned had hope in this life, and never despaired. They will therefore have hope in the life to come.

On the other hand: hope causes joy, according to Rom.12:12: |Rejoicing in hope.| Now the damned do not have joy, but rather sorrow and grief, according to Isa.65:14: |Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.| There is therefore no hope in the damned.

I answer: it is of the essence of blessedness that the will should find rest in it. It is likewise of the essence of punishment that the will should find what is inflicted as punishment repugnant. Now when a thing is not known, the will can neither find rest in it nor find it repugnant. Hence Augustine says that the angels could not be perfectly content in their first state, before their confirmation or their lapse, because they were not aware of what was to happen to them (n De Gen. ad Lit.17, 19). For perfect and true blessedness, one must be certain of having it perpetually, since otherwise the will would not be at rest. Similarly, the eternity of damnation is part of the punishment of the damned, and it would not have the true nature of punishment unless it were repugnant to their will. Now the eternity of damnation would not be repugnant to their will unless the damned were aware that their punishment was everlasting. It is therefore a condition of their misery that they know that they can in no wise escape damnation and reach blessedness. As it is said in Job 15:22: |He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness.| It is clear, then, that the damned cannot look upon blessedness as a good which is possible, any more than the blessed can look upon it as a good which is future. Hence there is hope neither in the blessed nor in the damned. Wayfarers, however, can hope both in this life and in purgatory, since in either state they look upon blessedness as a future good which it is possible to obtain.

On the first point: Gregory says that this is said of the devil's members, whose hope will be frustrated (33 Moral.19). Or, if we take it as said of the devil himself, it may refer to the hope with which he hopes to vanquish the saints, in accordance with the preceding words: |he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan with his mouth| (Job 40:23). But this is not the hope of which we are speaking.

On the second point: as Augustine says: |faith is of things both bad and good, whether past, present, or future, whether pertaining to oneself or to another| (Enchirid.8). But hope is only of good things of the future which pertain to oneself. It is therefore more possible that there should be unformed faith in the damned than that there should be unformed hope in them, since the good things of God are not possibilities for them, but things which they do not have.

On the third point: the absence of hope in the damned does not alter their demerit, any more than the cessation of hope in the blessed increases their merit. Such absence and cessation is due to the change of state in either case.

Article Four

Whether the Hope of Wayfarers is Certain

We proceed to the fourth article thus:

1. It seems that the hope of wayfarers is not certain. For hope is in the will as its subject, and certainty does not pertain to the will, but to the intellect. It follows that hope cannot be certain.

2. Again, it was said in Q.17, Art.4, that hope is the result of grace and of merits. But it was also said in 12ae, Q.112, Art.5, that in this life we cannot know with certainty that we have grace. It follows that the hope of wayfarers is not certain.

3. Again, there cannot be certainty of that which can fail. Now many hopeful wayfarers fail to attain blessedness. It follows that the hope of wayfarers is not certain.

On the other hand: the Master says that |hope is the sure expectation of future blessedness| (3 Sent., Dist.26). This may also be taken to be the meaning of II Tim.1:12: |I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.|

I answer: there are two ways in which certainty is found in something; essentially, and by participation. It is found in a cognitive power essentially, and by participation in everything that is moved infallibly to its end by a cognitive power. It is in this latter way that nature is said to be certain, since everything in nature is moved infallibly to its end by the divine intellect. It is in this way also that the moral virtues are said to be more certain in their operation than art, since they are moved to their actions by reason, after the manner of nature. In this way also, hope tends to its end with certainty, since it participates in the certainty of faith which is in the cognitive power.

The answer to the first point is thus obvious.

On the second point: hope does not depend principally on the grace which one already possesses, but on the divine omnipotence and mercy, through which even those who do not have grace may receive it, and thereby attain eternal life. Whosoever has faith is certain of the divine omnipotence and mercy.

On the third point: the reason why some who have hope fail to attain blessedness is that the deficiency of their free will puts an obstacle of sin in the way. Their failure is not due to any defect of the divine power or mercy on which hope is founded, and does not prejudice the certainty of hope.

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