Summa Th. I-II EN Qu.79 a.4

Whether blindness and hardness of heart are directed to the salvation of those who are blinded and hardened?


Objection: 1. It would seem that blindness and hardness of heart are always directed to the salvation of those who are blinded and hardened. For Augustine says (Enchiridion xi) that "as God is supremely good, He would nowise allow evil to be done, unless He could draw some good from every evil." Much more, therefore, does He direct to some good, the evil of which He Himself is the cause. Now God is the cause of blindness and hardness of heart, as stated above (Article [3]). Therefore they are directed to the salvation of those who are blinded and hardened.
Further, it is written (Sg 1,13) that "God hath no pleasure in the destruction of the ungodly [*Vulg.: 'God made not death, neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living.']." Now He would seem to take pleasure in their destruction, if He did not turn their blindness to their profit: just as a physician would seem to take pleasure in torturing the invalid, if he did not intend to heal the invalid when he prescribes a bitter medicine for him. Therefore God turns blindness to the profit of those who are blinded.
3. Further, "God is not a respecter of persons" (Ac 10,34). Now He directs the blinding of some, to their salvation, as in the case of some of the Jews, who were blinded so as not to believe in Christ, and, through not believing, to slay Him, and afterwards were seized with compunction, and converted, as related by Augustine (De Quaest. Evang. iii). Therefore God turns all blindness to the spiritual welfare of those who are blinded.

On the contrary On the other hand, according to Rm 3,8, evil should not be done, that good may ensue. Now blindness is an evil. Therefore God does not blind some for the sake of their welfare.
I answer that Blindness is a kind of preamble to sin. Now sin has a twofold relation---to one thing directly, viz. to the sinner's damnation---to another, by reason of God's mercy or providence, viz. that the sinner may be healed, in so far as God permits some to fall into sin, that by acknowledging their sin, they may be humbled and converted, as Augustine states (De Nat. et Grat. xxii). Therefore blindness, of its very nature, is directed to the damnation of those who are blinded; for which reason it is accounted an effect of reprobation. But, through God's mercy, temporary blindness is directed medicinally to the spiritual welfare of those who are blinded. This mercy, however, is not vouchsafed to all those who are blinded, but only to the predestinated, to whom "all things work together unto good" (Rm 8,28). Therefore as regards some, blindness is directed to their healing; but as regards others, to their damnation; as Augustine says (De Quaest. Evang. iii).

Reply to Objection: 1. Every evil that God does, or permits to be done, is directed to some good; yet not always to the good of those in whom the evil is, but sometimes to the good of others, or of the whole universe: thus He directs the sin of tyrants to the good of the martyrs, and the punishment of the lost to the glory of His justice.
God does not take pleasure in the loss of man, as regards the loss itself, but by reason of His justice, or of the good that ensues from the loss.
That God directs the blindness of some to their spiritual welfare, is due to His mercy; but that the blindness of others is directed to their loss is due to His justice: and that He vouchsafes His mercy to some, and not to all, does not make God a respecter of persons, as explained in the I 23,5, ad 3.
4. Evil of fault must not be done, that good may ensue; but evil of punishment must be inflicted for the sake of good.



We must now consider the cause of sin, as regards the devil; and under this head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether the devil is directly the cause of sin?

(2) Whether the devil induces us to sin, by persuading us inwardly?

(3) Whether he can make us sin of necessity?

(4) Whether all sins are due to the devil's suggestion?

Whether the devil is directly the cause of man's sinning?


Objection: 1. It would seem that the devil is directly the cause of man's sinning. For sin consists directly in an act of the appetite. Now Augustine says (De Trin. iv, 12) that "the devil inspires his friends with evil desires"; and Bede, commenting on
Ac 5,3, says that the devil "draws the mind to evil desires"; and Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii, 41; iii, 5) that the devil "fills men's hearts with secret lusts." Therefore the devil is directly the cause of sin.
2. Further, Jerome says (Contra Jovin. ii, 2) that "as God is the perfecter of good, so is the devil the perfecter of evil." But God is directly the cause of our good. Therefore the devil is directly the cause of our sins.
Further, the Philosopher says in a chapter of the Eudemein Ethics (vii, 18): "There must needs be some extrinsic principle of human counsel." Now human counsel is not only about good things but also about evil things. Therefore, as God moves man to take good counsel, and so is the cause of good, so the devil moves him to take evil counsel, and consequently is directly the cause of sin.

On the contrary
Augustine proves (De Lib. Arb. i, 11) that "nothing else than his own will makes man's mind the slave of his desire." Now man does not become a slave to his desires, except through sin. Therefore the cause of sin cannot be the devil, but man's own will alone.
I answer that
Sin is an action: so that a thing can be directly the cause of sin, in the same way as anyone is directly the cause of an action; and this can only happen by moving that action's proper principle to act. Now the proper principle of a sinful action is the will, since every sin is voluntary. Consequently nothing can be directly the cause of sin, except that which can move the will to act.Now the will, as stated above (Question [9], Articles [3],4,6), can be moved by two things: first by its object, inasmuch as the apprehended appetible is said to move the appetite: secondly by that agent which moves the will inwardly to will, and this is no other than the will itself, or God, as was shown above (Question [9], Articles [3],4,6). Now God cannot be the cause of sin, as stated above (Question [79], Article [1]). Therefore it follows that in this respect, a man's will alone is directly the cause of his sin.As regards the object, a thing may be understood as moving the will in three ways. First, the object itself which is proposed to the will: thus we say that food arouses man's desire to eat. Secondly, he that proposes or offers this object. Thirdly, he that persuades the will that the object proposed has an aspect of good, because he also, in a fashion, offers the will its proper object, which is a real or apparent good of reason. Accordingly, in the first way the sensible things, which approach from without, move a man's will to sin. In the second and third ways, either the devil or a man may incite to sin, either by offering an object of appetite to the senses, or by persuading the reason. But in none of these three ways can anything be the direct cause of sin, because the will is not, of necessity, moved by any object except the last end, as stated above (Question [10], Articles [1],2). Consequently neither the thing offered from without, nor he that proposes it, nor he that persuades, is the sufficient cause of sin. Therefore it follows that the devil is a cause of sin, neither directly nor sufficiently, but only by persuasion, or by proposing the object of appetite.

Objection: 1. All these, and other like authorities, if we meet with them, are to be understood as denoting that the devil induces man to affection for a sin, either by suggesting to him, or by offering him objects of appetite.
This comparison is true in so far as the devil is somewhat the cause of our sins, even as God is in a certain way the cause of our good actions, but does not extend to the mode of causation: for God causes good things in us by moving the will inwardly, whereas the devil cannot move us in this way.
God is the universal principle of all inward movements of man; but that the human will be determined to an evil counsel, is directly due to the human will, and to the devil as persuading or offering the object of appetite.

Whether the devil can induce man to sin, by internal instigations?


Objection: 1. It would seem that the devil cannot induce man to sin, by internal instigations. Because the internal movements of the soul are vital functions. Now no vital functions can be exercised except by an intrinsic principle, not even those of the vegetal soul, which are the lowest of vital functions. Therefore the devil cannot instigate man to evil through his internal movements.
Further, all the internal movements arise from the external senses according to the order of nature. Now it belongs to God alone to do anything beside the order of nature, as was stated in the I 110,4. Therefore the devil cannot effect anything in man's internal movements, except in respect of things which are perceived by the external senses.
3. Further, the internal acts of the soul are to understand and to imagine. Now the devil can do nothing in connection with either of these, because, as stated in the I 111,2 I 111,3, ad 2, the devil cannot impress species on the human intellect, nor does it seem possible for him to produce imaginary species, since imaginary forms, being more spiritual, are more excellent than those which are in sensible matter, which, nevertheless, the devil is unable to produce, as is clear from what we have said in the I 110,2; I 111,2 I 111,3, ad 2. Therefore the devil cannot through man's internal movements induce him to sin.

On the contrary In that case, the devil would never tempt man, unless he appeared visibly; which is evidently false.
I answer that
The interior part of the soul is intellective and sensitive; and the intellective part contains the intellect and the will. As regards the will, we have already stated (Article [1]; I 111,1) what is the devil's relation thereto. Now the intellect, of its very nature, is moved by that which enlightens it in the knowledge of truth, which the devil has no intention of doing in man's regard; rather does he darken man's reason so that it may consent to sin, which darkness is due to the imagination and sensitive appetite. Consequently the operation of the devil seems to be confined to the imagination and sensitive appetite, by moving either of which he can induce man to sin. For his operation may result in presenting certain forms to the imagination; and he is able to incite the sensitive appetite to some passion or other.The reason of this is, that as stated in the I 110,3, the corporeal nature has a natural aptitude to be moved locally by the spiritual nature: so that the devil can produce all those effects which can result from the local movement of bodies here below, except he be restrained by the Divine power. Now the representation of forms to the imagination is due, sometimes, to local movement: for the Philosopher says (De Somno et Vigil.) [*De Insomn. iii, iv.] that "when an animal sleeps, the blood descends in abundance to the sensitive principle, and the movements descend with it, viz. the impressions left by the action of sensible objects, which impressions are preserved by means of sensible species, and continue to move the apprehensive principle, so that they appear just as though the sensitive principles were being affected by them at the time." Hence such a local movement of the vital spirits or humors can be procured by the demons, whether man sleep or wake: and so it happens that man's imagination is brought into play.In like manner, the sensitive appetite is incited to certain passions according to certain fixed movements of the heart and the vital spirits: wherefore the devil can cooperate in this also. And through certain passions being aroused in the sensitive appetite, the result is that man more easily perceives the movement or sensible image which is brought in the manner explained, before the apprehensive principle, since, as the Philosopher observes (De Somno et Virgil.: De Insomn. iii, iv), "lovers are moved, by even a slight likeness, to an apprehension of the beloved." It also happens, through the rousing of a passion, that what is put before the imagination, is judged, as being something to be pursued, because, to him who is held by a passion, whatever the passion inclines him to, seems good. In this way the devil induces man inwardly to sin.

Reply to Objection: 1. Although vital functions are always from an intrinsic principle, yet an extrinsic agent can cooperate with them, even as external heat cooperates with the functions of the vegetal soul, that food may be more easily digested.
This apparition of imaginary forms is not altogether outside the order of nature, nor is it due to a command alone, but according to local movement, as explained above.
Consequently the Reply to the Third Objection is clear, because these forms are received originally from the senses.

Whether the devil can induce man to sin of necessity?


Objection: 1. It would seem that the devil can induce man to sin of necessity. Because the greater can compel the lesser. Now it is said of the devil (
Jb 41,24) that "there is no power on earth that can compare with him." Therefore he can compel man to sin, while he dwells on the earth.
2. Further, man's reason cannot be moved except in respect of things that are offered outwardly to the senses, or are represented to the imagination: because "all our knowledge arises from the senses, and we cannot understand without a phantasm" (De Anima iii, text. 30. 39). Now the devil can move man's imagination, as stated above (Article [2]); and also the external senses, for Augustine says (Qq. lxxxiii, qu. 12) that "this evil," of which, to wit, the devil is the cause, "extends gradually through all the approaches to the senses, it adapts itself to shapes, blends with colors, mingles with sounds, seasons every flavor." Therefore it can incline man's reason to sin of necessity.
Further, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix, 4) that "there is some sin when the flesh lusteth against the spirit." Now the devil can cause concupiscence of the flesh, even as other passions, in the way explained above (Article [2]). Therefore he can induce man to sin of necessity.

On the contrary
It is written (1P 5,8): "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." Now it would be useless to admonish thus, if it were true that man were under the necessity of succumbing to the devil. Therefore he cannot induce man to sin of necessity.Further, it is likewise written (Jam. 4:7): "Be subject . . . to God, but resist the devil, and he will fly from you," which would be said neither rightly nor truly, if the devil were able to compel us, in any way whatever, to sin; for then neither would it be possible to resist him, nor would he fly from those who do. Therefore he does not compel to sin.
I answer that The devil, by his own power, unless he be restrained by God, can compel anyone to do an act which, in its genus, is a sin; but he cannot bring about the necessity of sinning. This is evident from the fact that man does not resist that which moves him to sin, except by his reason; the use of which the devil is able to impede altogether, by moving the imagination and the sensitive appetite; as is the case with one who is possessed. But then, the reason being thus fettered, whatever man may do, it is not imputed to him as a sin. If, however, the reason is not altogether fettered, then, in so far as it is free, it can resist sin, as stated above (Question [77], Article [7]). It is consequently evident that the devil can nowise compel man to sin.

Reply to Objection: 1.
Not every power that is greater than man, can move man's will; God alone can do this, as stated above (Question [9], Article [6]).
That which is apprehended by the senses or the imagination does not move the will, of necessity, so long as man has the use of reason; nor does such an apprehension always fetter the reason.
The lusting of the flesh against the spirit, when the reason actually resists it, is not a sin, but is matter for the exercise of virtue. That reason does not resist, is not in the devil's power; wherefore he cannot bring about the necessity of sinning.

Whether all the sins of men are due to the devil's suggestion?


Objection: 1. It would seem that all the sins of men are due to the devil's suggestion. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that the "crowd of demons are the cause of all evils, both to themselves and to others."
Further, whoever sins mortally, becomes the slave of the devil, according to Jn 8,34: "Whosoever committeth sin is the slave [Douay: 'servant'] of sin." Now "by whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave" (2P 2,19). Therefore whoever commits a sin, has been overcome by the devil.
3. Further, Gregory says (Moral. iv, 10) the sin of the devil is irreparable, because he sinned at no other's suggestion. Therefore, if any men were to sin of their own free-will and without suggestion from any other, their sin would be irremediable: which is clearly false. Therefore all the sins of men are due to the devil's suggestion.

On the contrary
It is written (De Eccl. Dogm. lxxxii): "Not all our evil thoughts are incited by the devil; sometimes they are due to a movement of the free-will."
I answer that
the devil is the occasional and indirect cause of all our sins, in so far as he induced the first man to sin, by reason of whose sin human nature is so infected, that we are all prone to sin: even as the burning of wood might be imputed to the man who dried the wood so as to make it easily inflammable. He is not, however, the direct cause of all the sins of men, as though each were the result of his suggestion. Origen proves this (Peri Archon iii, 2) from the fact that even if the devil were no more, men would still have the desire for food, sexual pleasures and the like; which desire might be inordinate, unless it were subordinate to reason, a matter that is subject to the free-will.

Reply to Objection: 1.
The crowd of demons are the cause of all our evils, as regards their original cause, as stated.
A man becomes another's slave not only by being overcome by him, but also by subjecting himself to him spontaneously: it is thus that one who sins of his own accord, becomes the slave of the devil.
The devil's sin was irremediable, not only because he sinned without another's suggestion; but also because he was not already prone to sin, on account of any previous sin; which can be said of no sin of man.



We must now consider the cause of sin, on the part of man. Now, while man, like the devil, is the cause of another's sin, by outward suggestion, he has a certain special manner of causing sin, by way of origin. Wherefore we must speak about original sin, the consideration of which will be three-fold: (1) Of its transmission; (2) of its essence; (3) of its subject.

Under the first head there are five points of inquiry:

(1) Whether man's first sin is transmitted, by way of origin to his descendants?

(2) Whether all the other sins of our first parent, or of any other parents, are transmitted to their descendants, by way of origin?

(3) Whether original sin is contracted by all those who are begotten of Adam by way of seminal generation?

(4) Whether it would be contracted by anyone formed miraculously from some part of the human body?

(5) Whether original sin would have been contracted if the woman, and not the man, had sinned?

Whether the first sin of our first parent is contracted by his descendants, by way of origin?


Objection: 1. It would seem that the first sin of our first parent is not contracted by others, by way of origin. For it is written (
Ez 18,20): "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father." But he would bear the iniquity if he contracted it from him. Therefore no one contracts any sin from one of his parents by way of origin.
2. Further, an accident is not transmitted by way of origin, unless its subject be also transmitted, since accidents do not pass from one subject to another. Now the rational soul which is the subject of sin, is not transmitted by way of origin, as was shown in the I 118,2. Therefore neither can any sin be transmitted by way of origin.
3. Further, whatever is transmitted by way of human origin, is caused by the semen. But the semen cannot cause sin, because it lacks the rational part of the soul, which alone can be a cause of sin. Therefore no sin can be contracted by way of origin.
Further, that which is more perfect in nature, is more powerful in action. Now perfect flesh cannot infect the soul united to it, else the soul could not be cleansed of original sin, so long as it is united to the body. Much less, therefore, can the semen infect the soul.
Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 5): "No one finds fault with those who are ugly by nature, but only those who are so through want of exercise and through carelessness." Now those are said to be "naturally ugly," who are so from their origin. Therefore nothing which comes by way of origin is blameworthy or sinful.

On the contrary
The Apostle says (Rm 5,12): "By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death." Nor can this be understood as denoting imitation or suggestion, since it is written (Sg 2,24): "By the envy of the devil, death came into this world." It follows therefore that through origin from the first man sin entered into the world.
I answer that According to the Catholic Faith we are bound to hold that the first sin of the first man is transmitted to his descendants, by way of origin. For this reason children are taken to be baptized soon after their birth, to show that they have to be washed from some uncleanness. The contrary is part of the Pelagian heresy, as is clear from Augustine in many of his books [*For instance, Retract. i, 9; De Pecc. Merit. et Remiss. ix; Contra Julian. iii, 1; De Dono Persev. xi, xii.]In endeavoring to explain how the sin of our first parent could be transmitted by way of origin to his descendants, various writers have gone about it in various ways. For some, considering that the subject of sin is the rational soul, maintained that the rational soul is transmitted with the semen, so that thus an infected soul would seem to produce other infected souls. Others, rejecting this as erroneous, endeavored to show how the guilt of the parent's soul can be transmitted to the children, even though the soul be not transmitted, from the fact that defects of the body are transmitted from parent to child---thus a leper may beget a leper, or a gouty man may be the father of a gouty son, on account of some seminal corruption, although this corruption is not leprosy or gout. Now since the body is proportionate to the soul, and since the soul's defects redound into the body, and vice versa, in like manner, say they, a culpable defect of the soul is passed on to the child, through the transmission of the semen, albeit the semen itself is not the subject of the guilt.But all these explanations are insufficient. Because, granted that some bodily defects are transmitted by way of origin from parent to child, and granted that even some defects of the soul are transmitted in consequence, on account of a defect in the bodily habit, as in the case of idiots begetting idiots; nevertheless the fact of having a defect by the way of origin seems to exclude the notion of guilt, which is essentially something voluntary. Wherefore granted that the rational soul were transmitted, from the very fact that the stain on the child's soul is not in its will, it would cease to be a guilty stain binding its subject to punishment; for, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 5), "no one reproaches a man born blind; one rather takes pity on him."Therefore we must explain the matter otherwise by saying that all men born of Adam may be considered as one man, inasmuch as they have one common nature, which they receive from their first parents; even as in civil matters, all who are members of one community are reputed as one body, and the whole community as one man. Indeed Porphyry says (Praedic., De Specie) that "by sharing the same species, many men are one man." Accordingly the multitude of men born of Adam, are as so many members of one body. Now the action of one member of the body, of the hand for instance, is voluntary not by the will of that hand, but by the will of the soul, the first mover of the members. Wherefore a murder which the hand commits would not be imputed as a sin to the hand, considered by itself as apart from the body, but is imputed to it as something belonging to man and moved by man's first moving principle. In this way, then, the disorder which is in this man born of Adam, is voluntary, not by his will, but by the will of his first parent, who, by the movement of generation, moves all who originate from him, even as the soul's will moves all the members to their actions. Hence the sin which is thus transmitted by the first parent to his descendants is called "original," just as the sin which flows from the soul into the bodily members is called "actual." And just as the actual sin that is committed by a member of the body, is not the sin of that member, except inasmuch as that member is a part of the man, for which reason it is called a "human sin"; so original sin is not the sin of this person, except inasmuch as this person receives his nature from his first parent, for which reason it is called the "sin of nature," according to Ep 2,3: "We . . . were by nature children of wrath."

Reply to Objection: 1. The son is said not to bear the iniquity of his father, because he is not punished for his father's sin, unless he share in his guilt. It is thus in the case before us: because guilt is transmitted by the way of origin from father to son, even as actual sin is transmitted through being imitated.
Although the soul is not transmitted, because the power in the semen is not able to cause the rational soul, nevertheless the motion of the semen is a disposition to the transmission of the rational soul: so that the semen by its own power transmits the human nature from parent to child, and with that nature, the stain which infects it: for he that is born is associated with his first parent in his guilt, through the fact that he inherits his nature from him by a kind of movement which is that of generation.
Although the guilt is not actually in the semen, yet human nature is there virtually accompanied by that guilt.
The semen is the principle of generation, which is an act proper to nature, by helping it to propagate itself. Hence the soul is more infected by the semen, than by the flesh which is already perfect, and already affixed to a certain person.
A man is not blamed for that which he has from his origin, if we consider the man born, in himself. But it we consider him as referred to a principle, then he may be reproached for it: thus a man may from his birth be under a family disgrace, on account of a crime committed by one of his forbears.

Whether also other sins of the first parent or of nearer ancestors are transmitted to their descendants?


Objection: 1. It would seem that also other sins, whether of the first parent or of nearer ancestors, are transmitted to their descendants. For punishment is never due unless for fault. Now some are punished by the judgment of God for the sin of their immediate parents, according to
Ex 20,5: "I am . . . God . . . jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation." Furthermore, according to human law, the children of those who are guilty of high treason are disinherited. Therefore the guilt of nearer ancestors is also transmitted to their descendants.
2. Further, a man can better transmit to another, that which he has of himself, than that which he has received from another: thus fire heats better than hot water does. Now a man transmits to his children, by the way, of origin, the sin which he has from Adam. Much more therefore should he transmit the sin which he has contracted of himself.
Further, the reason why we contract original sin from our first parent is because we were in him as in the principle of our nature, which he corrupted. But we were likewise in our nearer ancestors, as in principles of our nature, which however it be corrupt, can be corrupted yet more by sin, according to Apoc. 22:11: "He that is filthy, let him be filthier still." Therefore children contract, by the way of origin, the sins of their nearer ancestors, even as they contract the sin of their first parent.

On the contrary
Good is more self-diffusive than evil. But the merits of the nearer ancestors are not transmitted to their descendants. Much less therefore are their sins.
I answer that
Augustine puts this question in the Enchiridion xlvi, xlvii, and leaves it unsolved. Yet if we look into the matter carefully we shall see that it is impossible for the sins of the nearer ancestors, or even any other but the first sin of our first parent to be transmitted by way of origin. The reason is that a man begets his like in species but not in individual. Consequently those things that pertain directly to the individual, such as personal actions and matters affecting them, are not transmitted by parents to their children: for a grammarian does not transmit to his son the knowledge of grammar that he has acquired by his own studies. On the other hand, those things that concern the nature of the species, are transmitted by parents to their children, unless there be a defect of nature: thus a man with eyes begets a son having eyes, unless nature fails. And if nature be strong, even certain accidents of the individual pertaining to natural disposition, are transmitted to the children, e.g. fleetness of body, acuteness of intellect, and so forth; but nowise those that are purely personal, as stated above.Now just as something may belong to the person as such, and also something through the gift of grace, so may something belong to the nature as such, viz. whatever is caused by the principles of nature, and something too through the gift of grace. In this way original justice, as stated in the I 100,1, was a gift of grace, conferred by God on all human nature in our first parent. This gift the first man lost by his first sin. Wherefore as that original justice together with the nature was to have been transmitted to his posterity, so also was its disorder. Other actual sins, however, whether of the first parent or of others, do not corrupt the nature as nature, but only as the nature of that person, i.e. in respect of the proneness to sin: and consequently other sins are not transmitted.

Reply to Objection: 1. According to Augustine in his letter to Avitus [*Ep. ad Auxilium ccl.], children are never inflicted with spiritual punishment on account of their parents, unless they share in their guilt, either in their origin, or by imitation, because every soul is God's immediate property, as stated in Ez 18,4. Sometimes, however, by Divine or human judgment, children receive bodily punishment on their parents' account, inasmuch as the child, as to its body, is part of its father.
2. A man can more easily transmit that which he has of himself, provided it be transmissible. But the actual sins of our nearer ancestors are not transmissible, because they are purely personal, as stated above.
The first sin infects nature with a human corruption pertaining to nature; whereas other sins infect it with a corruption pertaining only to the person.

Summa Th. I-II EN Qu.79 a.4