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History of the Christian Church, Volume V: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1049-1294.
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§ 120. Sin and Grace.


Sin.—The Schoolmen are unanimous in affirming that the infection of original sin has passed down upon all Adam’s descendants and involved them all in guilt and eternal death. Following Augustine, Anselm called the race a sinning mass—peccatrix massa. By the Fall, man’s body, or flesh, was made, like the beast, subject to carnal appetites and the mind, in turn, became infected with these appetites.17821782    Carnalibus appetitis infecta, de conceptu. II. Migne, 158. 434 his posterity.

Man does not secure his sinful nature by imitation of Adam, but by inheritance through generation from Adam. The flesh is tainted, being conceived in concupiscence, and concupiscence is both a taint and guilt. Nay, it is original sin, as the Lombard says.17831783    vitium concupiscentiae, quod est originale peccatum.17841784    Post peccatum non valet fieri carnalis copula absque libidinosa concupiscentia quae semper vitium est et etiam culpa. P. Lomb., Sent., II. 31, 3.f all the Schoolmen, yet they agree in rejecting the doctrine of traducianism.17851785    Etsi anima non traducatur, quia virtus seminis non potest causare animam rationalem. Th. Aquinas, Summa, II. 81, 1, Migne, II. 629.

Original sin is defined by Alexander of Hales and by Thomas Aquinas as the want or the "deficiency of original righteousness."17861786    Carentia ... defectus originalis justitiae estoriginal peccatum. Schwane, p. 401; Th. Aq., Summa, II. 81, 5.17871787    Spoliatio in gratuitis et vulneratio in naturalibus.rely a defect. It is a depraved tendency—inordinata dispositio. In another place, Thomas defines original sin to be in substance concupiscence or lust and in form a defect of original righteousness.17881788    Summa, II. 82, 3, materialiter quidem est concupiscentia, formaliter vero est defectus orig. just. Vitium and corruptio are the words most frequently used for the moral character of sin. Hugo of St. Victor, De sacr., I. 28, Migne, 176. 299.ence against order.

Thomas taught that the taint of original sin is inherited not from the mother but from the father who is the active agent in generation. If Eve only had sinned and not Adam, the children would not have inherited the taint. On the other hand, if Adam had sinned and Eve remained innocent, their descendants would have inherited original sin.17891789    Peccatum orig. non contrahitur a matre sed a patre, etc. Summa, II. 81, 5.17901790    P. Lomb., II. 42, 9; Alb. Magnus, Borgnet’s ed., XXVII. 663 sqq., etc.

At much length, the Schoolmen elaborate upon the sin against the Holy Ghost and the seven "capital or principal" offences,17911791    P. Lomb., II. 42, enumerates them as inanis gloria, ira, invidia, acedia vel tristitia, avaritia, gastrimargia, luxuria. Albertus Magnus skilfully discusses whether there could be any more than seven. In Sent., II. 42, Borgnet’s ed., XXVII. 662 sqq. any admixture of the sexes if Adam had not sinned was answered in the affirmative, in view of the command to be fruitful and to replenish the earth. Bonaventura also elaborately discussed the question whether the number of male and female descendants would have been equal had man not sinned. This he also answered in the affirmative, partly on the ground that no woman would have been without a husband and no husband without a wife, for in paradise there would be neither polygamy or polyandry. He also based his conclusion upon Aristotle’s reason for the unequal conception of male and female children which is now due to some weakness or other peculiarity on the part of one of the parents.17921792    Utrum aequalis fieret multiplicatio virorum et mulierum. In Sent., II. 20, 2, Peltier’s ed., III. 85. The three reasons which Bonaventura adduces to account for the differences in sex will have to be read in the original. He enters into the subject with the precision of statement and detail which is a characteristic of scholastic discussion. It is fair to say that he pronounced the question a difficult one and one upon which the physicians and natural philosophers of his day were much divided. remained innocent, was that they might fill up the number of the elect angels.

Another question which was discussed with much warmth was which of the two sinned the more grievously, Adam or Eve, a question Hugo of St. Victor, Peter the Lombard, Albertus Magnus, Bonaventura, and other great Schoolmen united in attempting to solve—a question which arose quite naturally from Paul’s statement, 1 Tim. 2:14, that the woman was beguiled and not the man. The conclusion reached was that the preponderance of guilt was with Eve. The Lombard is inclined to be lenient with Adam and makes out that when he yielded to the persuasions of his wife, he was actuated by sympathy and was unwilling to give her pain by refusing her request. He was inexperienced in the divine severity and his sin was a venial, not a mortal fault. In fact this theologian distinctly gives it as his belief that Adam would not have given way to the temptation of the devil.17931793    Sed dolo illo serpentino quo mulier seducta est, nullo modo arbitror illum potuisse seduci.he devil at all and had in mind the mercy of God and intended later to make confession of his sin, and secure absolution. Eve’s sin was the more grievous for she sinned against herself, against God, and against her neighbor. Adam sinned against himself and God, but not against his neighbor. Hugo of St. Victor said that the woman believed that God was moved by envy in forbidding them to eat the fruit of the tree. Adam knew this to be false. His sin was in consenting to his wife and not correcting her.17941794    De sacr., I. 7, Migne, 176. 290.bertus Magnus seems inclined to draw a more even balance. In that which pertained to the essence of sin, he said, Eve was the greater offender, but if we look at Adam’s endowment and at other circumstances, Adam was the greater offender.17951795    In Sent. II. 22, E. Borgnet’s ed., XXVII. 377.id down the proposition that the gravity of sin depends upon three things: ingratitude, lust, and the corruption which follows the sinful act.17961796    In Sent., II. 22, I. 3, Peltier’s ed., III. 123.d, so far as lust goes, the woman’s sin was the greater. As for the evil consequences flowing from the sin, Adam sinned the more grievously as the cause of damnation to his posterity and Eve the more grievously as the occasion of such damnation. But as Eve was also the occasion of Adam’s sinning, her sin and guilt must be pronounced the greater.

Grace.—In the doctrine of grace, the mediaeval theology used the terminology of Augustine but makes the impression of departing from him in the direction of semi-Pelagianism.17971797    Man hatte Augustinische Formeln und gregorianische Gedanken. Loofs, p. 291. Schwane, p. 455, praises Thomas’ clear treatment of the doctrines of grace, and says he taught them as they are taught in the Catholic systems of dogmatics to-day. Loofs, Harnack, and Seeberg seem to me to go too far in ascribing to Thomas a de-Augustinianizing tendency. His plain statements of the necessity of divine grace and human inability are Augustinian enough. Passing from the study of Thomas’ theory of the sacraments, it is easy to put upon the statements about grace a Pelagian interpretation. The fairer way is to interpret his theory of the sacraments in the light of his teachings on the doctrine of grace.aught that all that is good in man is from God and he can have no merit before God except by the prearrangement of a divine decree.17981798    meritum apud deum esse non potest, nisisecundum praesuppositionem divinae ordinationis. Summa, II. 114, I. Migne, II. 960.he grace of the Holy Spirit it is not possible to merit eternal life. Man is not even able to make the preparation necessary to receive the light of grace. Prevenient grace is essential to beget in him the disposition to holiness,—interior voluntas. The number of the elect is fixed even to the persons of the saved, and persevering grace is given to those who remain steadfast to the end. Man cannot even know the truth without help from above.17991799    Verum non potest cognosecre sine auxilio divino. Summa, II. 109, 2, 6, 7, Migne, II. 907 sqq.

Thomas distinguished two kinds of merit or meritorious works: the merit which comes by the proper use of our natural gifts, — meritum de congruo,—and the merit which comes from the proper use of the gifts of grace,—meritum de condigno. In his original state, man was enabled by the superadded gift of grace to love God above all things. In the fallen state, grace is required to restore this ability, and no works of this second sort can be done without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Such statements as these could be multiplied almost indefinitely. There is, however, notwithstanding these clear statements, a tone in Thomas’ treatment which makes the impression that he modified strict Augustinianism and made a place for the real merit of works, and in this the Catholic Church follows him.

As for the satisfaction of Christ, Thomas Aquinas followed Anselm in holding that Christ’s death was not a price paid to the devil.18001800    Sanguis qui est pretium nostrae redemptionis non dicitur obtulisse diabolo sed deo. Summa, III. 48, 4, Migne, III. 44.ous; but he laid stress upon the merit which Christ won by the assent of his own will to the will of God. He does not speak of the propitiation of Christ in the way Abaelard and Peter the Lombard18011801    Mors Christi nos justificat, dum per eam charitas excitatur in cordibus nostris. Sent., III. 19, 1. and obedience of Christ are efficient, through the sufferings he endured on the cross, in reconciling man to God and redeeming man from the power of the devil.

Thomas very clearly states the consequences of Christ’s atonement. The first is that thereby man comes to know how great the love of God is, and is provoked to love God in return.18021802    Per passionem Christi homo cognoscit quantum deus hominem diligat et per hoc provocatur ad eumdiligendum. Summa, III. 46, 3, Migne, III. 417.onquering death by dying to sin and the world. God might have pardoned man without the satisfaction of the cross, for all things are possible with Him. This was in opposition to Anselm’s position that God could have redeemed man in no other way than by the cross.

Bonaventura went further in opposition to Anselm and distinctly asserted that God could have liberated and saved the race otherwise than He did. He might have saved it by the way of pity—per viam misericordiae —in distinction from the way of justice. And in choosing this way he would have done no injury to the claims of justice.18031803    In Sent., III. 20, Peltier’s ed., IV. 439. He attempts to show that he is not out of accord with Anselm, but he makes poor work of it. Anselm’s statement is absolute. Cur deus homo, II. 10. to think."

No distinction was made by the mediaeval theologians between the doctrine of justification and the doctrine of sanctification, such as is made by Protestant theologians. Justification was treated as a part of the process of making the sinner righteous, and not as a judicial sentence by which he was declared to be righteous. Sanctification was so thoroughly involved in the sacramental system that we must look for its treatment in the chapters on the seven sacraments, the instrumentalities of sanctification; or under the head of the Christian virtues, faith, hope, and love, as in Bonaventura’s treatment.18041804    Peltier’s ed., IV. 474 sqq.18051805    De divisione gratiae. Summa, Migne, II. 927-960. distinction between prevenient, or preparatory, and cooperant grace,—gratia gratis data, or the grace which is given freely, and the gratis gratum faciens, or the grace which makes righteous.

Justification, says Thomas, is an infusion of grace.18061806    Tota justificatio impii consistit in infusione gratiae ... justif. fit, deo movente hominem ad justitiam. Summa, II. 113, 3, 7, Migne, II. 946. 952.hings are required for the justification of the sinner: the infusion of grace, the movement of the freewill to God in faith, the act of the freewill against sin, and the remission of sins. As a person, turning his back upon one place and receding from it, reaches another place, so in justification the will made free at once hates sin and turns itself to God.

Setting aside the distinction between justification and sanctification, there seems to be complete religious accord between Thomas Aquinas, the prince of the Schoolmen, and our Protestant view of redeeming grace as being from beginning to end the gracious act of God in view of the death of Christ. His theory of the sacraments, it is true, seems to modify this position. But this is an appearance rather than a reality. For the sacraments have their efficacious virtue by reason of God’s prior and gracious enactment attaching efficacy to them.

Faith.—In its definition of faith, the mediaeval theology came far short of the definition given by the Reformers. The Schoolmen18071807    Hugo of St. Victor, Desacr. I. 10, 9, Migne, 176. 341 sqq.; P. Lombardus, Sent., III. 23, 24, Migne, pp. 295 sqq.; Bonavent., In Sent., III. 23, 24, Peltier’s ed., IV. 475 sqq.; Th. Aquinas, IV. 1-5, Migne, IV. 12 sqq; Alb. Magnus, In Sent., III. 23, 24, Borgnet’s ed., XXVIII. 408 sqq.nition. Although several of Paul’s statements in the Epistle to the Romans are quoted by Thomas Aquinas, neither he nor the other Schoolmen rise to the idea that it is upon the basis of faith that a man is justified. Faith is a virtue, not a justifying principle, and is treated at the side of hope and love. These are called the "theological virtues" because they relate immediately to God and are founded ultimately upon the testimony of His Word alone. Christian faith works by love and is not a grace unless it be conjoined with love. The devils have intellectual faith without love, for they believe and tremble.

Faith manifests itself in three ways, in believing God, in trusting God, and believing in God.18081808    Aliud credere deo, aliud credere deum, aliud credere in deum. P. Lomb., III. 23, 4.od is to accept what He says as true. These two kinds of faith the devils have. To believe in God is to love God in believing, to go to Him believing, to be devoted to Him in believing, and to be incorporated with His members. This knowledge of faith is more certain than other knowledge because it is based upon God’s Word and is enlightened by the light which proceeds from the Word.

The Schoolmen insist that without faith it is impossible to please God, and preachers, like Honorius of Autun, declared that as a fish cannot live without water, so no one can be saved without faith.18091809    Spec. eccles., Migne, 172. 823.18101810    Summa, IV. 4, 2, Migne, IV. 14, quoting 1 Cor. 13:12.njoined that love may be called a form of faith, a mode of its expression,18111811    Charitas dicitur forma fidei, etc., IV. 4, 3. Such faith which is without love fides informis. judgment.18121812    P. Lomb., III. 25, 3, Migne, p. 300.n without belief in the Trinity. Faith ceases when the mind disbelieves a single article of the faith.18131813    Fides non remanet in homine postquam discredit unum articulum fidei. Summa, IV. 5. 3, I. 7 sqq., Migne, III. 63 sq.18141814    In heretico discredente unum articulum fidei, non manet fides neque formata neque informis. IV. 5, 3, Migne, p. 63. Rom. 4:5, this great theologian stops with saying, that, in justification, an act of faith is required to the extent that a man believe that God is the justifier of men through the atonement of Christ.18151815    Summa, II. 113, 4, Migne, II. 948.

The Schoolmen did not understand Paul. The Reformers were obliged to re-proclaim the doctrine of justifying faith as taught in the epistles to the Romans and the Galatians. On the other hand, it is the merit of the Schoolmen that they emphasize the principle, that true faith worketh by love and that all other faith is vain, inanis. The failure of Protestant theologians always to set this forth distinctly has exposed the Protestant doctrine to the charge that faith is sufficient, even if it be unaccompanied by good works, or works of love towards God and man.18161816    This is one of the charges brought with great vehemence against Luther and the Reformation by Denifle, Luther und Lutherthum, I. 374-456. He misunderstood or willfully misrepresented Luther, who never intended to detach a life of good works from faith as its necessary consequence.



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