Summa - Supplement 1965
Objection 1: It would seem that the damned do not hate God. For, according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv), "the beautiful and good that is the cause of all goodness and beauty is beloved of all." But this is God. Therefore God cannot be the object of anyone's hate.
Objection 2: Further, no one can hate goodness itself, as neither can one will badness itself since "evil is altogether involuntary," as Dionysius asserts (Div. Nom. iv). Now God is goodness itself. Therefore no one can hate Him.
On the contrary, It is written (Ps 73,23): "The pride of them that hate Thee ascendeth continually."
I answer that, The appetite is moved by good or evil apprehended. Now God is apprehended in two ways, namely in Himself, as by the blessed, who see Him in His essence; and in His effects, as by us and by the damned. Since, then, He is goodness by His essence, He cannot in Himself be displeasing to any will; wherefore whoever sees Him in His essence cannot hate Him. On the other hand, some of His effects are displeasing to the will in so far as they are opposed to any one: and accordingly a person may hate God not in Himself, but by reason of His effects. Therefore the damned, perceiving God in His punishment, which is the effect of His justice, hate Him, even as they hate the punishment inflicted on them [*Cf. Question , Article , ad 2; SS, Question , Article ].
Reply to Objection 1: The saying of Dionysius refers to the natural appetite. and even this is rendered perverse in the damned, by that which is added thereto by their deliberate will, as stated above (Article ) [*Cf. SS, Question , Article , ad 1 where St. Thomas gives another answer].
Reply to Objection 2: This argument would prove if the damned saw God in Himself, as being in His essence.
Objection 1: It would seem that the damned demerit. For the damned have an evil will, as stated in the last Distinction of Sentent. iv. But they demerited by the evil will that they had here. Therefore if they demerit not there, their damnation is to their advantage.
Objection 2: Further, the damned are on the same footing as the demons. Now the demons demerit after their fall, wherefore God inflicted a punishment on the serpent, who induced man to sin (Gn 3,14-15). Therefore the damned also demerit.
Objection 3: Further, an inordinate act that proceeds from a deliberate will is not excused from demerit, even though there be necessity of which one is oneself the cause: for the "drunken man deserves a double punishment" if he commit a crime through being drunk (Ethic. iii). Now the damned were themselves the cause of their own obstinacy, owing to which they are under a kind of necessity of sinning. Therefore since their act proceeds from their free will, they are not excused from demerit.
On the contrary, Punishment is contradistinguished from fault [*Cf. FP, Question , Article ]. Now the perverse will of the damned proceeds from their obstinacy which is their punishment. Therefore the perverse will of the damned is not a fault whereby they may demerit.
Further, after reaching the last term there is no further movement, or advancement in good or evil. Now the damned, especially after the judgment day, will have reached the last term of their damnation, since then there "will cease to be two cities," according to Augustine (Enchiridion cxi). Therefore after the judgment day the damned will not demerit by their perverse will, for if they did their damnation would be augmented.
I answer that, We must draw a distinction between the damned before the judgment day and after. For all are agreed that after the judgment day there will be neither merit nor demerit. The reason for this is because merit or demerit is directed to the attainment of some further good or evil: and after the day of judgment good and evil will have reached their ultimate consummation, so that there will be no further addition to good or evil. Consequently, good will in the blessed will not be a merit but a reward, and evil will in the damned will be not a demerit but a punishment only. For works of virtue belong especially to the state of happiness and their contraries to the state of unhappiness (Ethic. i, 9,10).
On the other hand, some say that, before the judgment day, both the good merit and the damned demerit. But this cannot apply to the essential reward or to the principal punishment, since in this respect both have reached the term. Possibly, however, this may apply to the accidental reward, or secondary punishment, which are subject to increase until the day of judgment. Especially may this apply to the demons, or to the good angels, by whose activities some are drawn to salvation, whereby the joy of the blessed angels is increased, and some to damnation, whereby the punishment of the demons is augmented [*Cf. FP, Question , Article , ad 3; SS, Question , Article , ad 2; where St. Thomas tacitly retracts the opinion expressed here as to merit or demerit.].
Reply to Objection 1: It is in the highest degree unprofitable to have reached the highest degree of evil, the result being that the damned are incapable of demerit. Hence it is clear that they gain no advantage from their sin.
Reply to Objection 2: Men who are damned are not occupied in drawing others to damnation, as the demons are, for which reason the latter demerit as regards their secondary punishment [*Cf. FP, Question , Article , ad 3; SS, Question  , Article , ad 2; where St. Thomas tacitly retracts the opinion expressed here as to merit or demerit].
Reply to Objection 3: The reason why they are not excused from demerit is not because they are under the necessity of sinning, but because they have reached the highest of evils.
However, the necessity of sinning whereof we are ourselves the cause, in so far as it is a necessity, excuses from sin, because every sin needs to be voluntary: but it does not excuse, in so far as it proceeds from a previous act of the will: and consequently the whole demerit of the subsequent sin would seem to belong to the previous sin.
Objection 1: It would seem that the damned are unable to make use of the knowledge they had in this world. For there is very great pleasure in the consideration of knowledge. But we must not admit that they have any pleasure. Therefore they cannot make use of the knowledge they had heretofore, by applying their consideration thereto.
Objection 2: Further, the damned suffer greater pains than any pains of this world. Now in this world, when one is in very great pain, it is impossible to consider any intelligible conclusions, through being distracted by the pains that one suffers. Much less therefore can one do so in hell.
Objection 3: Further, the damned are subject to time. But "length of time is the cause of forgetfulness" (Phys. lib. iv, 13). Therefore the damned will forget what they knew here.
On the contrary, It is said to the rich man who was damned (Lc 16,25): "Remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime," etc. Therefore they will consider about the things they knew here.
Further, the intelligible species remain in the separated soul, as stated above (Question , Article , ad 3; FP, Question , Articles ,6). Therefore, if they could not use them, these would remain in them to no purpose.
I answer that, Even as in the saints on account of the perfection of their glory, there will be nothing but what is a matter of joy so there will be nothing in the damned but what is a matter and cause of sorrow; nor will anything that can pertain to sorrow be lacking, so that their unhappiness is consummate. Now the consideration of certain things known brings us joy, in some respect, either on the part of the things known, because we love them, or on the part of the knowledge, because it is fitting and perfect. There may also be a reason for sorrow both on the part of the things known, because they are of a grievous nature, and on the part of the knowledge, if we consider its imperfection; for instance a person may consider his defective knowledge about a certain thing, which he would desire to know perfectly. Accordingly, in the damned there will be actual consideration of the things they knew heretofore as matters of sorrow, but not as a cause of pleasure. For they will consider both the evil they have done, and for which they were damned, and the delightful goods they have lost, and on both counts they will suffer torments. Likewise they will be tormented with the thought that the knowledge they had of speculative matters was imperfect, and that they missed its highest degree of perfection which they might have acquired.
Reply to Objection 1: Although the consideration of knowledge is delightful in itself, it may accidentally be the cause of sorrow, as explained above.
Reply to Objection 2: In this world the soul is united to a corruptible body, wherefore the soul's consideration is hindered by the suffering of the body. On the other hand, in the future life the soul will not be so drawn by the body, but however much the body may suffer, the soul will have a most clear view of those things that can be a cause of anguish to it.
Reply to Objection 3: Time causes forgetfulness accidentally, in so far as the movement whereof it is the measure is the cause of change. But after the judgment day there will be no movement of the heavens; wherefore neither will it be possible for forgetfulness to result from any lapse of time however long. Before the judgment day, however, the separated soul is not changed from its disposition by the heavenly movement.
Objection 1: It would seem that the damned will sometimes think of God. For one cannot hate a thing actually, except one think about it. Now the damned will hate God, as stated in the text of Sentent. iv, in the last Distinction. Therefore they will think of God sometimes.
Objection 2: Further, the damned will have remorse of conscience. But the conscience suffers remorse for deeds done against God. Therefore they will sometimes think of God.
On the contrary, Man's most perfect thoughts are those which are about God: whereas the damned will be in a state of the greatest imperfection. Therefore they will not think of God.
I answer that, one may think of God in two ways. First, in Himself and according to that which is proper to Him, namely that He is the fount of all goodness: and thus it is altogether impossible to think of Him without delight, so that the damned will by no means think of Him in this way. Secondly, according to something accidental as it were to Him in His effects, such as His punishments, and so forth, and in this respect the thought of God can bring sorrow, so that in this way the damned will think of God.
Reply to Objection 1: The damned do not hate God except because He punishes and forbids what is agreeable to their evil will: and consequently they will think of Him only as punishing and forbidding. This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection, since conscience will not have remorse for sin except as forbidden by the Divine commandment.
Objection 1: It would seem that the damned do not see the glory of the blessed. For they are more distant from the glory of the blessed than from the happenings of this world. But they do not see what happens in regard to us: hence Gregory commenting on Jb 14,21, "Whether his children come to honor," etc. says (Moral. xii): "Even as those who still live know not in what place are the souls of the dead; so the dead who have lived in the body know not the things which regard the life of those who are in the flesh." Much less, therefore, can they see the glory of the blessed.
Objection 2: Further, that which is granted as a great favor to the saints in this life is never granted to the damned. Now it was granted as a great favor to Paul to see the life in which the saints live for ever with God (2Co 12). Therefore the damned will not see the glory of the saints.
On the contrary, It is stated (Lc 16,23) that the rich man in the midst of his torments "saw Abraham . . . and Lazarus in his bosom."
I answer that, The damned, before the judgment day, will see the blessed in glory, in such a way as to know, not what that glory is like, but only that they are in a state of glory that surpasses all thought. This will trouble them, both because they will, through envy, grieve for their happiness, and because they have forfeited that glory. Hence it is written (Sg 5,2) concerning the wicked: "Seeing it" they "shall be troubled with terrible fear." After the judgment day, however, they will be altogether deprived of seeing the blessed: nor will this lessen their punishment, but will increase it; because they will bear in remembrance the glory of the blessed which they saw at or before the judgment: and this will torment them. Moreover they will be tormented by finding themselves deemed unworthy even to see the glory which the saints merit to have.
Reply to Objection 1: The happenings of this life would not, if seen, torment the damned in hell as the sight of the glory of the saints; wherefore the things which happen here are not shown to the damned in the same way as the saints' glory; although also of the things that happen here those are shown to them which are capable of causing them sorrow.
Reply to Objection 2: Paul looked upon that life wherein the saints live with God [*Cf. SS, Question , Article , ad 2], by actual experience thereof and by hoping to have it more perfectly in the life to come. Not so the damned; wherefore the comparison fails.
We must next consider God's justice and mercy towards the damned: under which head there are five points of inquiry:
(1) Whether by Divine justice an eternal punishment is inflicted on sinners?
(2) Whether by God's mercy all punishment both of men and of demons comes to an end?
(3) Whether at least the punishment of men comes to an end?
(4) Whether at least the punishment of Christians has an end?
(5) Whether there is an end to the punishment of those who have performed works of mercy?
[*Cf. FS, Question , Articles ,4]
Objection 1: It would seem that an eternal punishment is not inflicted on sinners by Divine justice. For the punishment should not exceed the fault: "According to the measure of the sin shall the measure also of the stripes be" (Dt 25,2). Now fault is temporal. Therefore the punishment should not be eternal.
Objection 2: Further, of two mortal sins one is greater than the other. and therefore one should receive a greater punishment than the other. But no punishment is greater than eternal punishment, since it is infinite. Therefore eternal punishment is not due to every sin; and if it is not due to one, it is due to none, since they are not infinitely distant from one another.
Objection 3: Further, a just judge does not punish except in order to correct, wherefore it is stated (Ethic. ii, 3) that "punishments are a kind of medicine." Now, to punish the wicked eternally does not lead to their correction, nor to that of others, since then there will be no one in future who can be corrected thereby. Therefore eternal punishment is not inflicted for sins according to Divine justice.
Objection 4: Further, no one wishes that which is not desirable for its own sake, except on account of some advantage. Now God does not wish punishment for its own sake, for He delights not in punishments [*The allusion is to Sg 1,13: "Neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living," as may be gathered from FS, Question , Article , Objection ]. Since then no advantage can result from the perpetuity of punishment, it would seem that He ought not to inflict such a punishment for sin.
Objection 5: Further, "nothing accidental lasts for ever" (De Coelo et Mundo i). But punishment is one of those things that happen accidentally, since it is contrary to nature. Therefore it cannot be everlasting.
Objection 6: Further, the justice of God would seem to require that sinners should be brought to naught: because on account of ingratitude a person deserves to lose all benefits. and among other benefits of God there is "being" itself. Therefore it would seem just that the sinner who has been ungrateful to God should lose his being. But if sinners be brought to naught, their punishment cannot be everlasting. Therefore it would seem out of keeping with Divine justice that sinners should be punished for ever.
On the contrary, It is written (Mt 25,46): "These," namely the wicked, "shall go into everlasting punishment."
Further, as reward is to merit, so is punishment to guilt. Now, according to Divine justice, an eternal reward is due to temporal merit: "Every one who seeth the Son and believeth in Him hath [Vulg.: 'that everyone . . . may have'] life everlasting." Therefore according to Divine justice an everlasting punishment is due to temporal guilt.
Further, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5), punishment is meted according to the dignity of the person sinned against, so that a person who strikes one in authority receives a greater punishment than one who strikes anyone else. Now whoever sins mortally sins against God, Whose commandments he breaks, and Whose honor he gives another, by placing his end in some one other than God. But God's majesty is infinite. Therefore whoever sins mortally deserves infinite punishment; and consequently it seems just that for a mortal sin a man should be punished for ever.
I answer that, Since punishment is measured in two ways, namely according to the degree of its severity, and according to its length of time, the measure of punishment corresponds to the measure of fault, as regards the degree of severity, so that the more grievously a person sins the more grievously is he punished: "As much as she hath glorified herself and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her" (Ap 18,7). The duration of the punishment does not, however, correspond with the duration of the fault, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxi, 11), for adultery which is committed in a short space of time is not punished with a momentary penalty even according to human laws [*Cf. FS, Question , Article , ad 1]. But the duration of punishment regards the disposition of the sinner: for sometimes a person who commits an offense in a city is rendered by his very offense worthy of being cut off entirely from the fellowship of the citizens, either by perpetual exile or even by death: whereas sometimes he is not rendered worthy of being cut off entirely from the fellowship of the citizens. wherefore in order that he may become a fitting member of the State, his punishment is prolonged or curtailed, according as is expedient for his amendment, so that he may live in the city in a becoming and peaceful manner. So too, according to Divine justice, sin renders a person worthy to be altogether cut off from the fellowship of God's city, and this is the effect of every sin committed against charity, which is the bond uniting this same city together. Consequently, for mortal sin which is contrary to charity a person is expelled for ever from the fellowship of the saints and condemned to everlasting punishment, because as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxi, 11), "as men are cut off from this perishable city by the penalty of the first death, so are they excluded from that imperishable city by the punishment of the second death." That the punishment inflicted by the earthly state is not deemed everlasting is accidental, either because man endures not for ever, or because the state itself comes to an end. Wherefore if man lived for ever, the punishment of exile or slavery, which is pronounced by human law, would remain in him for ever. On the other hand, as regards those who sin in such a way as not to deserve to be entirely cut off from the fellowship of the saints, such as those who sin venially, their punishment will be so much the shorter or longer according as they are more or less fit to be cleansed, through sin clinging to them more or less: this is observed in the punishments of this world and of purgatory according to Divine justice.
We find also other reasons given by the saints why some are justly condemned to everlasting punishment for a temporal sin. One is because they sinned against an eternal good by despising eternal life. This is mentioned by Augustine (De Civ. Dei. xii, 12): "He is become worthy of eternal evil, who destroyed in himself a good which could be eternal." Another reason is because man sinned in his own eternity [*Cf. FS, Question , Article , ad 1]; wherefore Gregory says (Dial. iv), it belongs to the great justice of the judge that those should never cease to be punished, who in this life never ceased to desire sin. And if it be objected that some who sin mortally propose to amend their life at some time, and that these accordingly are seemingly not deserving of eternal punishment, it must be replied according to some that Gregory speaks of the will that is made manifest by the deed. For he who falls into mortal sin of his own will puts himself in a state whence he cannot be rescued, except God help him: wherefore from the very fact that he is willing to sin, he is willing to remain in sin for ever. For man is "a wind that goeth," namely to sin, "and returneth not by his own power" (Ps 77,39). Thus if a man were to throw himself into a pit whence he could not get out without help, one might say that he wished to remain there for ever, whatever else he may have thought himself. Another and a better answer is that from the very fact that he commits a mortal sin, he places his end in a creature; and since the whole of life is directed to its end, it follows that for this very reason he directs the whole of his life to that sin, and is willing to remain in sin forever, if he could do so with impunity. This is what Gregory says on Jb 41,23, "He shall esteem the deep as growing old" (Moral. xxxiv): "The wicked only put an end to sinning because their life came to an end: they would indeed have wished to live for ever, that they might continue in sin for ever for they desire rather to sin than to live." Still another reason may be given why the punishment of mortal sin is eternal: because thereby one offends God Who is infinite. Wherefore since punishment cannot be infinite in intensity, because the creature is incapable of an infinite quality, it must needs be infinite at least in duration. And again there is a fourth reason for the same: because guilt remains for ever, since it cannot be remitted without grace, and men cannot receive grace after death; nor should punishment cease so long as guilt remains.
Reply to Objection 1: Punishment has not to be equal to fault as to the amount of duration as is seen to be the case also with human laws. We may also reply with Gregory (Dial. xliv) that although sin is temporal in act, it is eternal in will.
Reply to Objection 2: The degree of intensity in the punishment corresponds to the degree of gravity in the sin; wherefore mortal sins unequal in gravity will receive a punishment unequal in intensity but equal in duration.
Reply to Objection 3: The punishments inflicted on those who are not altogether expelled from the society of their fellow-citizens are intended for their correction: whereas those punishments, whereby certain persons are wholly banished from the society of their fellow-citizens, are not intended for their correction; although they may be intended for the correction and tranquillity of the others who remain in the state. Accordingly the damnation of the wicked is for the correction of those who are now in the Church; for punishments are intended for correction, not only when they are being inflicted, but also when they are decreed.
Reply to Objection 4: The everlasting punishment of the wicked will not be altogether useless. For they are useful for two purposes. First, because thereby the Divine justice is safeguarded which is acceptable to God for its own sake. Hence Gregory says (Dial. iv): "Almighty God on account of His loving kindness delights not in the torments of the unhappy, but on account of His justice. He is for ever unappeased by the punishment of the wicked." Secondly, they are useful, because the elect rejoice therein, when they see God's justice in them, and realize that they have escaped them. Hence it is written (Ps 57,12): "The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge," etc., and (Is 66,24): "They," namely the wicked, "shall be a loathsome sight* to all flesh," namely to the saints, as a gloss says. [*"Ad satietatem visionis," which St. Thomas takes to signify being satiated with joy; Cf. Question , Article ]. Gregory expresses himself in the same sense (Dial. iv): "The wicked are all condemned to eternal punishment, and are punished for their own wickedness. Yet they will burn to some purpose, namely that the just may all both see in God the joys they receive, and perceive in them the torments they have escaped: for which reason they will acknowledge themselves for ever the debtors of Divine grace the more that they will see how the evils which they overcame by its assistance are punished eternally."
Reply to Objection 5: Although the punishment relates to the soul accidentally, it relates essentially to the soul infected with guilt. And since guilt will remain in the soul for ever, its punishment also will be everlasting.
Reply to Objection 6: Punishment corresponds to fault, properly speaking, in respect of the inordinateness in the fault, and not of the dignity in the person offended: for if the latter were the case, a punishment of infinite intensity would correspond to every sin. Accordingly, although a man deserves to lose his being from the fact that he has sinned against God the author of his being, yet, in view of the inordinateness of the act itself, loss of being is not due to him, since being is presupposed to merit and demerit, nor is being lost or corrupted by the inordinateness of sin [*Cf. FS, Question , Article ]: and consequently privation of being cannot be the punishment due to any sin.
Objection 1: It would seem that by God's mercy all punishment of the damned, both men and demons, comes to an end. For it is written (Sg 11,24): "Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, because Thou canst do all things." But among all things the demons also are included, since they are God's creatures. Therefore also their punishment will come to an end.
Objection 2: Further, "God hath concluded all in sin [Vulg.: 'unbelief'], that He may have mercy on all" (Rm 11,32). Now God has concluded the demons under sin, that is to say, He permitted them to be concluded. Therefore it would seem that in time He has mercy even on the demons.
Objection 3: Further, as Anselm says (Cur Deus Homo ii), "it is not just that God should permit the utter loss of a creature which He made for happiness." Therefore, since every rational creature was created for happiness, it would seem unjust for it to be allowed to perish altogether.
On the contrary, It is written (Mt 25,41): "Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels." Therefore they will be punished eternally.
Further, just as the good angels were made happy through turning to God, so the bad angels were made unhappy through turning away from God. Therefore if the unhappiness of the wicked angels comes at length to an end, the happiness of the good will also come to an end, which is inadmissible.
I answer that, As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxi) Origen [*Cf. FP, Question , Article ] "erred in maintaining that the demons will at length, through God's mercy, be delivered from their punishment." But this error has been condemned by the Church for two reasons. First because it is clearly contrary to the authority of Holy Writ (Ap 20,9-10): "The devil who seduced them was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where both the beasts and the false prophets [*Vulg.: 'the beast and false prophet,' etc.] shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever," which is the Scriptural expression for eternity. Secondly, because this opinion exaggerated God's mercy in one direction and depreciated it in another. For it would seem equally reasonable for the good angels to remain in eternal happiness, and for the wicked angels to be eternally punished. Wherefore just as he maintained that the demons and the souls of the damned are to be delivered at length from their sufferings, so he maintained that the angels and the souls of the blessed will at length pass from their happy state to the unhappiness of this life.
Reply to Objection 1: God, for His own part, has mercy on all. Since, however, His mercy is ruled by the order of His wisdom, the result is that it does not reach to certain people who render themselves unworthy of that mercy, as do the demons and the damned who are obstinate in wickedness. And yet we may say that even in them His mercy finds a place, in so far as they are punished less than they deserve condignly, but not that they are entirely delivered from punishment.
Reply to Objection 2: In the words quoted the distribution (of the predicate) regards the genera and not the individuals: so that the statement applies to men in the state of wayfarer, inasmuch as He had mercy both on Jews and on Gentiles, but not on every Gentile or every Jew.
Reply to Objection 3: Anselm means that it is not just in the sense of becoming God's goodness, and is speaking of the creature generically. For it becomes not the Divine goodness that a whole genus of creature fail of the end for which it was made: wherefore it is unbecoming for all men or all angels to be damned. But there is no reason why some men or some angels should perish for ever, because the intention of the Divine will is fulfilled in the others who are saved.
Objection 1: It would seem that God's mercy does not suffer at least men to be punished eternally. For it is written (Gn 6,3): "My spirit shall not remain in man for ever because he is flesh"; where "spirit" denotes indignation, as a gloss observes. Therefore, since God's indignation is not distinct from His punishment, man will not be punished eternally.
Objection 2: Further, the charity of the saints in this life makes them pray for their enemies. Now they will have more perfect charity in that life. Therefore they will pray then for their enemies who are damned. But the prayers of the saints cannot be in vain, since they are most acceptable to God. Therefore at the saints' prayers the Divine mercy will in time deliver the damned from their punishment.
Objection 3: Further, God's foretelling of the punishment of the damned belongs to the prophecy of commination. Now the prophecy of commination is not always fulfilled: as appears from what was said of the destruction of Nineve (Jon 3); and yet it was not destroyed as foretold by the prophet, who also was troubled for that very reason (Jon 4,1). Therefore it would seem that much more will the threat of eternal punishment be commuted by God's mercy for a more lenient punishment, when this will be able to give sorrow to none but joy to all.
Objection 4: Further, the words of Ps 76,8 are to the point, where it is said: "Will God then be angry for ever? [*Vulg.: 'Will God then cast off for ever?']" But God's anger is His punishment. Therefore, etc.
Objection 5: Further, a gloss on Is 14,19, "But thou art cast out," etc. says: "Even though all souls shall have rest at last, thou never shalt": and it refers to the devil. Therefore it would seem that all human souls shall at length have rest from their pains.
On the contrary, It is written (Mt 25,46) of the elect conjointly with the damned: "These shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting." But it is inadmissible that the life of the just will ever have an end. Therefore it is inadmissible that the punishment of the damned will ever come to an end.
Further, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii) "death is to men what their fall was to the angels." Now after their fall the angels could not be restored [*Cf. FP, Question , Article ]. Therefore neither can man after death: and thus the punishment of the damned will have no end.
I answer that, As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xxi, 17,18), some evaded the error of Origen by asserting that the demons are punished everlastingly, while holding that all men, even unbelievers, are at length set free from punishment. But this statement is altogether unreasonable. For just as the demons are obstinate in wickedness and therefore have to be punished for ever, so too are the souls of men who die without charity, since "death is to men what their fall was to the angels," as Damascene says.
Reply to Objection 1: This saying refers to man generically, because God's indignation was at length removed from the human race by the coming of Christ. But those who were unwilling to be included or to remain in this reconciliation effected by Christ, perpetuated the Divine anger in themselves, since no other way of reconciliation is given to us save that which is through Christ.
Reply to Objection 2: As Augustine (De Civ. Dei xxi, 24) and Gregory (Moral. xxxiv) say, the saints in this life pray for their enemies, that they may be converted to God, while it is yet possible for them to be converted. For if we knew that they were foreknown to death, we should no more pray for them than for the demons. And since for those who depart this life without grace there will be no further time for conversion, no prayer will be offered for them, neither by the Church militant, nor by the Church triumphant. For that which we have to pray for them is, as the Apostle says (2Tm 2,25-26), that "God may give them repentance to know the truth, and they may recover themselves from the snares of the devil."
Reply to Objection 3: A punishment threatened prophetically is only then commuted when there is a change in the merits of the person threatened. Hence: "I will suddenly speak against a nation and against a kingdom, to root out and to pull down and to destroy it. If that nation . . . shall repent of their evil, I also will repent of the evil that I have thought to do to them" (Jr 18,7). Therefore, since the merits of the damned cannot be changed, the threatened punishment will ever be fulfilled in them. Nevertheless the prophecy of commination is always fulfilled in a certain sense, because as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei. xxi, 24): "Nineve has been overthrown, that was evil, and a good Nineve is built up, that was not: for while the walls and the houses remained standing, the city was overthrown in its wicked ways."
Reply to Objection 4: These words of the Psalm refer to the vessels of mercy, which have not made themselves unworthy of mercy, because in this life (which may be called God's anger on account of its unhappiness) He changes vessels of mercy into something better. Hence the Psalm continues (Ps 76,11): "This is the change of the right hand of the most High." We may also reply that they refer to mercy as granting a relaxation but not setting free altogether if it be referred also to the damned. Hence the Psalm does not say: "Will He from His anger shut up His mercies?" but "in His anger," because the punishment will not be done away entirely; but His mercy will have effect by diminishing the punishment while it continues.
Reply to Objection 5: This gloss is speaking not absolutely but on an impossible supposition in order to throw into relief the greatness of the devil's sin, or of Nabuchodonosor's.
Summa - Supplement 1965