Of God and His Creatures

Thus the virulence of a fever is limited by the strength of the patient, a limited quantity: when that is exhausted, the patient dies, and the fever with him, -- or anyhow after him, when the microbes have devoured the whole man and then one another. But, St Thomas adds, there is no limit to the possible wickedness of a man, -- a question which may be debated. The reader may remember Sir James Mackintosh's celebrated epigram on Henry VIII: "He approached as near to the ideal standard of perfect wickedness as the finitudes of human nature will allow." St Thomas, always Aristotelian, seems to have had here in view Aristotle's saying in the Politics, II, vii: "The wickedness of mankind is insatiable: people will bargain for a certain allowance, but no sooner is this accorded than they ask for more, and so ad infinitum." Or was he haply thinking of the will set in evil, which is characteristic of the lost soul for all eternity (B. IV, Chap. XCIII)?

Of God and His Creatures: 3.12