Of God and His Creatures

That Man stands in need of Divine Grace for the Gaining of Happiness

IT has already been shown (Chapp. CXI - [CXII] - CXIII) that divine providence disposes of rational creatures otherwise than of other things, inasmuch as their nature stands on a different footing from that of others. It remains to be shown that also in view of the dignity of their end divine providence employs a higher method of government in their regard. Their nature clearly fits them for a higher end. As being intelligent, they can attain to intelligible truth, which other creatures cannot. So far as they attain this truth by their own natural activity, God provides for them otherwise than for other creatures, giving them understanding and reason, and further the gift of speech, whereby they can aid one another in the knowledge of truth. But beyond this, the last end of man is fixed in a certain knowledge of truth which exceeds his natural faculties, so that it is given to him to see the First Truth in itself.* To creatures lower than man it is not given to arrive at an end exceeding the capacities of their natures. In view of this end, a method of government must be found for man, different from that which suffices for the lower creation. For the means must be proportionate to the end: if then man is ordained to an end transcending his natural capacities, he must be furnished with some supernatural assistance from heaven, enabling him to tend to that end.

2. A thing of inferior nature cannot be brought to that which is proper to a superior nature except by the virtue and action of the said superior nature. Thus the moon, which has no light of its own, is made luminous by the virtue and action of the sun.* But to behold the First Truth as it is in itself so transcends the capacity of human nature as to be proper to God alone (Chap. LII). Therefore man needs help of God to arrive at such an end.

5. There are many impediments in the way of man's arriving at his end. He is impeded by the weakness of his reason, which is easily dragged into error, and so erring he is thrown off the right way of arriving at his end. He is impeded by the passions of the sensitive portion of his nature, and by the tastes which drag him to sensible and inferior things. The more he clings to such things, the further he is separated from his last end: for these things are below man, whereas his end is high above him. He is impeded also very frequently by infirmity of body from the performance of the acts of virtue which carry him on to his end. Man therefore needs the divine assistance, lest with such impediments in his way, he fail altogether in the gaining of his last end.

Hence it is said: No man can come to me, unless the Father, who hath sent me, draw him (John vi, 44): As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, so neither can ye unless ye abide in me (John xv, 4).*

Hereby is excluded the error of the Pelagians, who said that man could merit the glory of God by sheer free will of his own.

3.147 : That it is Lawful for judges to inflict Punishments
3.149 : That the Divine Assistance does not compel a Man to Virtue