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Nature And Grace by Aquinas

Article Four Whether Presumption is Caused by Vainglory

Whether Presumption is Caused by Vainglory

We proceed to the fourth article thus:

1. It seems that presumption is not caused by vainglory. For presumption appears to trust especially in the divine mercy, and mercy relates to misery, which is the opposite of glory. Hence presumption is not the result of vainglory.

2. Again, presumption is the opposite of despair, and despair is caused by sadness, as was said in Q.20, Art.4, ad 2. Now the causes of opposites are themselves opposite. Hence it appears that presumption is due to pleasure, and therefore to carnal vices, which are more voluptuous than others.

3. Again, the vice of presumption consists in aiming at an impossible good as if it were possible. But it is due to ignorance that one thinks a thing to be possible when it is impossible. Hence presumption is the result of ignorance, rather than of vainglory.

On the other hand: Gregory says (31 Moral.17): |the presumption of novelties is the child of vainglory.|

I answer: as we said in the first article, there are two kinds of presumption. There is the presumption which trusts in one's own power, and which attempts what transcends one's power as if it were possible for oneself to attain it. Such presumption is obviously due to vainglory. For it is because a man has a great desire for glory that he attempts things beyond his power, especially novelties, which command more admiration. Hence Gregory says with point that the presumption of novelties is the child of vainglory. There is also the presumption which trusts inordinately in the divine mercy, or in the divine power, and by which one hopes to obtain glory without merit, or pardon without penitence. Presumption of this kind seems to arise directly out of pride. It is as if a man esteemed himself so highly as to think that God would neither punish him nor exclude him from glory, even though he should sin.

The answers to the objections are now obvious.

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