Of God and His Creatures

Of the General Cause of Immutability in all Souls after their Separation from the Body

THE end is in matters of desire like the first principles of demonstration in the abstract sciences. These principles are naturally known, and any error concerning them could come only from a perversion of nature [verging on idiotcy]: hence a man could not be moved from a true understanding of such principles to a false one, or from a false to a true, except through some change in his nature. It is impossible for those who go wrong over first principles to be brought right by other and more certain principles; or for any one to be beguiled from a true understanding of such principles by other principles more plausible. So it is in regard of the last end. Every one has a natural desire of the last end; and the possession of a rational nature, generically as such, carries with it a craving for happiness: but the desire of happiness and the last end in this or that shape and aspect comes from a special disposition of nature: hence the Philosopher says that as the individual is himself, so does the end appear to him.* If then the frame of mind under which one desires a thing as his last end is fixed and immovable, the will of such a person is unchangeably fixed in the desire of that end. But these frames of mind, prompting such desires, can be removed from us so long as the soul is united with the body. Sometimes it is an impulse of passion that prompts us to desire a thing as our last end: but the impulse of passion quickly passes away, and with it is removed the desire of that end. In other cases the frame of mind, provocative of such desire, amounts to a habit; and that frame of mind is not so easily got rid of, and the desire of an end thence ensuing is consequently stronger and more lasting: yet even a habit is removable in this life. We have seen then that so long as the frame of mind lasts, which prompts us to desire a thing as our last end, the desire of that particular end is irremovable, because the last end, or whatever be taken for such, is desired above all things else; and no other object of greater desire can ever call us away from the desire of that which we take for our last end. Now the soul is in a changeable state so long as it is united with the body, but not after it is parted from the body.* Separated therefore from the body, the soul will be no longer apt to advance to any new end, but must rest for ever in the end already attained. The will then will be immovable in its desire of what it has taken for its last end. But on the last end depends all the goodness or wickedness of the will. Whatever good things one wills in view of a good end, he does well to will them,* as he does ill to will anything in view of an evil end. Thus the will of the departed soul is not changeable from good to evil, although it is changeable from one object of volition to another, its attitude to the last end remaining constant.

Nor is such fixedness of will inconsistent with free will. The act of free will is to choose, and choice is of means to the end, not of the last end.* As then there is nothing inconsistent with free choice in our will being immovably fixed in the desire of happiness and general abhorrence of misery, so neither will our faculty of free choice be set aside by our will being resistlessly carried to one definite object as its last end.* As at present our common nature is immovably fixed in the desire of happiness in general, so hereafter by one special frame of mind we shall be fixed in the desire of this or that particular object as constituting our last end. *

Nor is it to be thought that when souls resume their bodies at the resurrection, they lose the unchangeableness of their will, for in the resurrection bodies will be organised to suit the requirements of the soul (Chapp. LXXXVI, LXXXIX): souls then will not be changed by re-entering their bodies, but will remain permanently what they were.

4.94 : Of the Immutability of the Will of Souls detained in Purgatory
4.96 : Of the Last judgement