Of God and His Creatures

Arguments seeming to prove that Sin is impossible to Spirits, with Solutions of the same

ARG. 1. Every other cognitive faculty but the understanding makes use of living bodily organs. In pure spirits therefore it is impossible for there to be any cognitive faculty but the understanding; and whatever they take cognisance of, they have understanding of.* But in so far as one has understanding, one does not err: for all error springs from lack of understanding. Therefore there can be no error in the apprehension of these spirits. But without such error there can be no sin in the will: because the will always tends to good as apprehended: hence unless there he a mistake in the apprehension of good, there can be no sin in the will.*

Arg. 2. In us there occurs sin of the will in respect of matters about which we have true knowledge of their general bearings, but on a particular point our judgement is hampered by some passion fettering the reason. But these passions cannot be in spiritual beings, because such passions belong to the sensitive part, and that has no action without a bodily organ. Having therefore a right knowledge in general, the will of a pure spirit cannot tend to evil by any defed of knowledge in particular.

Arg. 3. No cognitive faculty is deceived about its own proper object, but only about some object foreign to it: thus sight is not deceived in judging of colours, but when a man undertakes by sight to judge of tastes, then deception occurs. Now the proper object of understanding is the essence of a thing.* No deception then is incident to the apprehension of understanding, so long as it fixes upon the pure quiddities of things: but all intellectual deception, we may think, arises from the forms of things apprehended coming to be mixed up with phantasms,* as in our experience. But such a mode of cognition does not obtain in pure spirits, since phantasms cannot be without a body. To pure spirits therefore no error in cognition can possibly be incident, and consequently no sin in the will.

Reply to Arguments 1, 2, 3. We are not obliged to say that there was any error in the understanding of a pure spirit, in the shape of a false judgement, judging that to be good which is not good: the mistake, such as it was, lay in not attending to the higher good, to which the spirit's private good ought to have been referred: the reason of which inattention [read inconsiderationis ratio] may have been the inward turning of the will upon the spirit's private good:* for it is open to the will to turn more or less of its affection upon this object or upon that.*

Arg. 5. Since appetite or desire tends to nothing but its own proper good, it seems impossible for desire to go astray in the case when the person desiring has one only definite good to desire. The reason why sin is incident to our desire is the composition of our nature, a compound of the spiritual and the corporeal, occasioning a multiplicity of things to be good for us, one thing being good for us in mind and another in body. Of this variety of good things the less important has to be subordinated to the more important. Hence sin of the will arises in us when we neglect that order, and go after what is good for us under a certain qualification, discarding what is good for us absolutely. But in pure spirits there is no such composition, no diversity of things good for them; nay, all their good is intellectual. Hence it seems they are incapable of sin in the will.

Reply. The angel who sinned did not go after any other good than the one good that was proper to him: but his sin lay in this, that he dropped the higher good to which he should have subordinated himself As we sin by pursuing the lower goods of the body away from the order of reason, so the devil sinned by not referring his own excellence to the excellence of God.*

Arg. 6. In us, sin of the will arises out of excess or defect, while virtue lies in the mean between them. But pure spirits can pursue only intellectual good things, in which things no excess is possible, for of themselves they are in the mean between excess and defect, as truth is in the mean between two errors.

Reply. The devil passed the mean of virtue inasmuch as he did not submit himself to a superior order; and thus he gave himself more than his due, and to God less than His due.

3.109 : That in Spirits there may be Sin, and how
3.112 : That Rational Creatures are governed by Providence for their own sakes, and other Creatures in reference to them