Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.129 a.8
Objection: 1. It seems that goods of fortune do not conduce to magnanimity. For according to Seneca (De Ira i: De vita beata xvi): "virtue suffices for itself." Now magnanimity takes every virtue great, as stated above (Article , ad 3). Therefore goods of fortune do not conduce to magnanimity.
2. Further, no virtuous man despises what is helpful to him. But the magnanimous man despises whatever pertains to goods of fortune: for Tully says (De Offic. i) under the heading: "Magnanimity consists of two things," that "a great soul is commended for despising external things." Therefore a magnanimous man is not helped by goods of fortune.
3. Further, Tully adds (De Offic. i) that "it belongs to a great soul so to bear what seems troublesome, as nowise to depart from his natural estate, or from the dignity of a wise man." And Aristotle says (Ethic. iv, 3) that "a magnanimous man does not grieve at misfortune." Now troubles and misfortunes are opposed to goods of fortune, for every one grieves at the loss of what is helpful to him. Therefore external goods of fortune do not conduce to magnanimity.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 3) that "good fortune seems to conduce to magnanimity."
I answer that As stated above (Article ), magnanimity regards two things: honor as its matter, and the accomplishment of something great as its end. Now goods of fortune conduce to both these things. For since honor is conferred on the virtuous, not only by the wise, but also by the multitude who hold these goods of fortune in the highest esteem, the result is that they show greater honor to those who possess goods of fortune. Likewise goods of fortune are useful organs or instruments of virtuous deeds: since we can easily accomplish things by means of riches, power and friends. Hence it is evident that goods of fortune conduce to magnanimity.
Reply to Objection: 1. Virtue is said to be sufficient for itself, because it can be without even these external goods; yet it needs them in order to act more expeditiously.
2. The magnanimous man despises external goods, inasmuch as he does not think them so great as to be bound to do anything unbecoming for their sake. Yet he does not despise them, but that he esteems them useful for the accomplishment of virtuous deeds.
3. If a man does not think much of a thing, he is neither very joyful at obtaining it, nor very grieved at losing it. Wherefore, since the magnanimous man does not think much of external goods, that is goods of fortune, he is neither much uplifted by them if he has them, nor much cast down by their loss.
We must now consider the vices opposed to magnanimity; and in the first place, those that are opposed thereto by excess. These are three, namely, presumption, ambition, and vainglory. Secondly, we shall consider pusillanimity which is opposed to it by way of deficiency. Under the first head there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether presumption is a sin?
(2) Whether it is opposed to magnanimity by excess?
Objection: 1. It seems that presumption is not a sin. For the Apostle says: "Forgetting the things that are behind, I stretch forth [Vulg.: 'and stretching forth'] myself to those that are before." But it seems to savor of presumption that one should tend to what is above oneself. Therefore presumption is not a sin.
2. Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. i, 7) "we should not listen to those who would persuade us to relish human things because we are men, or mortal things because we are mortal, but we should relish those that make us immortal": and (Metaph. i) "that man should pursue divine things as far as possible." Now divine and immortal things are seemingly far above man. Since then presumption consists essentially in tending to what is above oneself, it seems that presumption is something praiseworthy, rather than a sin.
3. Further, the Apostle says (2Co 3,5): "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves." If then presumption, by which one strives at that for which one is not sufficient, be a sin, it seems that man cannot lawfully even think of anything good: which is absurd. Therefore presumption is not a sin.
On the contrary It is written (Si 37,3): "O wicked presumption, whence camest thou?" and a gloss answers: "From a creature's evil will." Now all that comes of the root of an evil will is a sin. Therefore presumption is a sin.
I answer that Since whatever is according to nature, is ordered by the Divine Reason, which human reason ought to imitate, whatever is done in accordance with human reason in opposition to the order established in general throughout natural things is vicious and sinful. Now it is established throughout all natural things, that every action is commensurate with the power of the agent, nor does any natural agent strive to do what exceeds its ability. Hence it is vicious and sinful, as being contrary to the natural order, that any one should assume to do what is above his power: and this is what is meant by presumption, as its very name shows. Wherefore it is evident that presumption is a sin.
Reply to Objection: 1. Nothing hinders that which is above the active power of a natural thing, and yet not above the passive power of that same thing: thus the air is possessed of a passive power by reason of which it can be so changed as to obtain the action and movement of fire, which surpass the active power of air. Thus too it would be sinful and presumptuous for a man while in a state of imperfect virtue to attempt the immediate accomplishment of what belongs to perfect virtue. But it is not presumptuous or sinful for a man to endeavor to advance towards perfect virtue. In this way the Apostle stretched himself forth to the things that were before him, namely continually advancing forward.
2. Divine and immortal things surpass man according to the order of nature. Yet man is possessed of a natural power, namely the intellect, whereby he can be united to immortal and Divine things. In this respect the Philosopher says that "man ought to pursue immortal and divine things," not that he should do what it becomes God to do, but that he should be united to Him in intellect and will.
3. As the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 3), "what we can do by the help of others we can do by ourselves in a sense." Hence since we can think and do good by the help of God, this is not altogether above our ability. Hence it is not presumptuous for a man to attempt the accomplishment of a virtuous deed: but it would be presumptuous if one were to make the attempt without confidence in God's assistance.
Objection: 1. It seems that presumption is not opposed to magnanimity by excess. For presumption is accounted a species of the sin against the Holy Ghost, as stated above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ). But the sin against the Holy Ghost is not opposed to magnanimity, but to charity. Neither therefore is presumption opposed to magnanimity.
2. Further, it belongs to magnanimity that one should deem oneself worthy of great things. But a man is said to be presumptuous even if he deem himself worthy of small things, if they surpass his ability. Therefore presumption is not directly opposed to magnanimity.
3. Further, the magnanimous man looks upon external goods as little things. Now according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 3), "on account of external fortune the presumptuous disdain and wrong others, because they deem external goods as something great." Therefore presumption is opposed to magnanimity, not by excess, but only by deficiency.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. ii, 7; iv, 3) that the "vain man," i.e. a vaporer or a wind-bag, which with us denotes a presumptuous man, "is opposed to the magnanimous man by excess."
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article , ad 1), magnanimity observes the means, not as regards the quantity of that to which it tends, but in proportion to our own ability: for it does not tend to anything greater than is becoming to us.Now the presumptuous man, as regards that to which he tends, does not exceed the magnanimous, but sometimes falls far short of him: but he does exceed in proportion to his own ability, whereas the magnanimous man does not exceed his. It is in this way that presumption is opposed to magnanimity by excess.
Reply to Objection: 1. It is not every presumption that is accounted a sin against the Holy Ghost, but that by which one contemns the Divine justice through inordinate confidence in the Divine mercy. The latter kind of presumption, by reason of its matter, inasmuch, to wit, as it implies contempt of something Divine, is opposed to charity, or rather to the gift of fear, whereby we revere God. Nevertheless, in so far as this contempt exceeds the proportion to one's own ability, it can be opposed to magnanimity.
2. Presumption, like magnanimity, seems to tend to something great. For we are not, as a rule, wont to call a man presumptuous for going beyond his powers in something small. If, however, such a man be called presumptuous, this kind of presumption is not opposed to magnanimity, but to that virtue which is about ordinary honor, as stated above (Question , Article ).
3. No one attempts what is above his ability, except in so far as he deems his ability greater than it is. In this one may err in two ways. First only as regards quantity, as when a man thinks he has greater virtue, or knowledge, or the like, than he has. Secondly, as regards the kind of thing, as when he thinks himself great, and worthy of great things, by reason of something that does not make him so, for instance by reason of riches or goods of fortune. For, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 3), "those who have these things without virtue, neither justly deem themselves worthy of great things, nor are rightly called magnanimous."Again, the thing to which a man sometimes tends in excess of his ability, is sometimes in very truth something great, simply as in the case of Peter, whose intent was to suffer for Christ, which has exceeded his power; while sometimes it is something great, not simply, but only in the opinion of fools, such as wearing costly clothes, despising and wronging others. This savors of an excess of magnanimity, not in any truth, but in people's opinion. Hence Seneca says (De Quat. Virtut.) that "when magnanimity exceeds its measure, it makes a man high-handed, proud, haughty restless, and bent on excelling in all things, whether in words or in deeds, without any considerations of virtue." Thus it is evident that the presumptuous man sometimes falls short of the magnanimous in reality, although in appearance he surpasses him.
We must now consider ambition: and under this head there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether it is a sin?
(2) Whether it is opposed to magnanimity by excess?
Objection: 1. It seems that ambition is not a sin. For ambition denotes the desire of honor. Now honor is in itself a good thing, and the greatest of external goods: wherefore those who care not for honor are reproved. Therefore ambition is not a sin; rather is it something deserving of praise, in so far as a good is laudably desired.
2. Further, anyone may, without sin, desire what is due to him as a reward. Now honor is the reward of virtue, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. i, 12; iv, 3; viii, 14). Therefore ambition of honor is not a sin.
3. Further, that which heartens a man to do good and disheartens him from doing evil, is not a sin. Now honor heartens men to do good and to avoid evil; thus the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 8) that "with the bravest men, cowards are held in dishonor, and the brave in honor": and Tully says (De Tusc. Quaest. i) that "honor fosters the arts." Therefore ambition is not a sin.
On the contrary It is written (1Co 13,5) that "charity is not ambitious, seeketh not her own." Now nothing is contrary to charity, except sin. Therefore ambition is a sin.
I answer that As stated above (Question , Articles ,2), honor denotes reverence shown to a person in witness of his excellence. Now two things have to be considered with regard to man's honor. The first is that a man has not from himself the thing in which he excels, for this is, as it were, something Divine in him, wherefore on this count honor is due principally, not to him but to God. The second point that calls for observation is that the thing in which man excels is given to him by God, that he may profit others thereby: wherefore a man ought so far to be pleased that others bear witness to his excellence, as this enables him to profit others.Now the desire of honor may be inordinate in three ways. First, when a man desires recognition of an excellence which he has not: this is to desire more than his share of honor. Secondly, when a man desires honor for himself without referring it to God. Thirdly, when a man's appetite rests in honor itself, without referring it to the profit of others. Since then ambition denotes inordinate desire of honor, it is evident that it is always a sin.
Reply to Objection: 1. The desire for good should be regulated according to reason, and if it exceed this rule it will be sinful. In this way it is sinful to desire honor in disaccord with the order of reason. Now those are reproved who care not for honor in accordance with reason's dictate that they should avoid what is contrary to honor.
2. Honor is not the reward of virtue, as regards the virtuous man, in this sense that he should seek for it as his reward: since the reward he seeks is happiness, which is the end of virtue. But it is said to be the reward of virtue as regards others, who have nothing greater than honor whereby to reward the virtuous; which honor derives greatness from the very fact that it bears witness to virtue. Hence it is evident that it is not an adequate reward, as stated in Ethic. iv, 3.
3. Just as some are heartened to do good and disheartened from doing evil, by the desire of honor, if this be desired in due measure; so, if it be desired inordinately, it may become to man an occasion of doing many evil things, as when a man cares not by what means he obtains honor. Wherefore Sallust says (Catilin.) that "the good as well as the wicked covet honors for themselves, but the one," i.e. the good, "go about it in the right way," whereas "the other," i.e. the wicked, "through lack of the good arts, make use of deceit and falsehood." Yet they who, merely for the sake of honor, either do good or avoid evil, are not virtuous, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iii, 8), where he says that they who do brave things for the sake of honor are not truly brave.
Objection: 1. It seems that ambition is not opposed to magnanimity by excess. For one mean has only one extreme opposed to it on the one side. Now presumption is opposed to magnanimity by excess as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore ambition is not opposed to it by excess.
2. Further, magnanimity is about honors; whereas ambition seems to regard positions of dignity: for it is written (2M 2M 4,7) that "Jason ambitiously sought the high priesthood." Therefore ambition is not opposed to magnanimity.
3. Further, ambition seems to regard outward show: for it is written (Ac 25,27) that "Agrippa and Berenice . . . with great pomp [ambitione]. . . had entered into the hall of audience" [*'Praetorium.' The Vulgate has 'auditorium,' but the meaning is the same], and (2 Para. 16:14) that when Asa died they "burned spices and . . . ointments over his body" with very great pomp [ambitione]. But magnanimity is not about outward show. Therefore ambition is not opposed to magnanimity.
On the contrary Tully says (De Offic. i) that "the more a man exceeds in magnanimity, the more he desires himself alone to dominate others." But this pertains to ambition. Therefore ambition denotes an excess of magnanimity.
I answer that As stated above (Article ), ambition signifies inordinate love of honor. Now magnanimity is about honors and makes use of them in a becoming manner. Wherefore it is evident that ambition is opposed to magnanimity as the inordinate to that which is well ordered.
Reply to Objection: 1. Magnanimity regards two things. It regards one as its end, in so far as it is some great deed that the magnanimous man attempts in proportion to his ability. In this way presumption is opposed to magnanimity by excess: because the presumptuous man attempts great deeds beyond his ability. The other thing that magnanimity regards is its matter, viz. honor, of which it makes right use: and in this way ambition is opposed to magnanimity by excess. Nor is it impossible for one mean to be exceeded in various respects.
2. Honor is due to those who are in a position of dignity, on account of a certain excellence of their estate: and accordingly inordinate desire for positions of dignity pertains to ambition. For if a man were to have an inordinate desire for a position of dignity, not for the sake of honor, but for the sake of a right use of a dignity exceeding his ability, he would not be ambitious but presumptuous.
3. The very solemnity of outward worship is a kind of honor, wherefore in such cases honor is wont to be shown. This is signified by the words of Jc 2,2-3: "If there shall come into your assembly a man having a golden ring, in fine apparel . . . and you . . . shall say to him: Sit thou here well," etc. Wherefore ambition does not regard outward worship, except in so far as this is a kind of honor.
We must now consider vainglory: under which head there are five points of inquiry:
(1) Whether desire of glory is a sin?
(2) Whether it is opposed to magnanimity?
(3) Whether it is a mortal sin?
(4) Whether it is a capital vice?
(5) Of its daughters.
Objection: 1. It seems that the desire of glory is not a sin. For no one sins in being likened to God: in fact we are commanded (Ep 5,1): "Be ye . . . followers of God, as most dear children." Now by seeking glory man seems to imitate God, Who seeks glory from men: wherefore it is written (Is 43,6-7): "Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth. And every one that calleth on My name, I have created him for My glory." Therefore the desire for glory is not a sin.
2. Further, that which incites a mar to do good is apparently not a sin. Now the desire of glory incites men to do good. For Tully says (De Tusc. Quaest. i) that "glory inflames every man to strive his utmost": and in Holy Writ glory is promised for good works, according to Rm 2,7: "To them, indeed, who according to patience in good work . . . glory and honor" [*Vulg.: 'Who will render to every man according to his works, to them indeed who . . . seek glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life.']. Therefore the desire for glory is not a sin.
3. Further, Tully says (De Invent. Rhet. ii) that glory is "consistent good report about a person, together with praise": and this comes to the same as what Augustine says (Contra Maximin. iii), viz. that glory is, "as it were, clear knowledge with praise." Now it is no sin to desire praiseworthy renown: indeed, it seems itself to call for praise, according to Si 41,15, "Take care of a good name," and Rm 12,17, "Providing good things not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men." Therefore the desire of vainglory is not a sin.
On the contrary Augustine says (De Civ. Dei v): "He is better advised who acknowledges that even the love of praise is sinful."
I answer that Glory signifies a certain clarity, wherefore Augustine says (Tract. lxxxii, c, cxiv in Joan.) that to be "glorified is the same as to be clarified." Now clarity and comeliness imply a certain display: wherefore the word glory properly denotes the display of something as regards its seeming comely in the sight of men, whether it be a bodily or a spiritual good. Since, however, that which is clear simply can be seen by many, and by those who are far away, it follows that the word glory properly denotes that somebody's good is known and approved by many, according to the saying of Sallust (Catilin.) [*The quotation is from Livy: Hist., Lib. XXII C, 39]: "I must not boast while I am addressing one man."But if we take the word glory in a broader sense, it not only consists in the knowledge of many, but also in the knowledge of few, or of one, or of oneself alone, as when one considers one's own good as being worthy of praise. Now it is not a sin to know and approve one's own good: for it is written (1Co 2,12): "Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God that we may know the things that are given us from God." Likewise it is not a sin to be willing to approve one's own good works: for it is written (Mt 5,16): "Let your light shine before men." Hence the desire for glory does not, of itself, denote a sin: but the desire for empty or vain glory denotes a sin: for it is sinful to desire anything vain, according to Ps 4,3, "Why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?"Now glory may be called vain in three ways. First, on the part of the thing for which one seeks glory: as when a man seeks glory for that which is unworthy of glory, for instance when he seeks it for something frail and perishable: secondly, on the part of him from whom he seeks glory, for instance a man whose judgment is uncertain: thirdly, on the part of the man himself who seeks glory, for that he does not refer the desire of his own glory to a due end, such as God's honor, or the spiritual welfare of his neighbor.
Reply to Objection: 1. As Augustine says on Jn 13,13, "You call Me Master and Lord; and you say well" (Tract. lviii in Joan.): "Self-complacency is fraught with danger of one who has to beware of pride. But He Who is above all, however much He may praise Himself, does not uplift Himself. For knowledge of God is our need, not His: nor does any man know Him unless he be taught of Him Who knows." It is therefore evident that God seeks glory, not for His own sake, but for ours. In like manner a man may rightly seek his own glory for the good of others, according to Mt 5,16, "That they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven."
2. That which we receive from God is not vain but true glory: it is this glory that is promised as a reward for good works, and of which it is written (2Co 10,17-18): "He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord, for not he who commendeth himself is approved, but he whom God commendeth." It is true that some are heartened to do works of virtue, through desire for human glory, as also through the desire for other earthly goods. Yet he is not truly virtuous who does virtuous deeds for the sake of human glory, as Augustine proves (De Civ. Dei v).
3. It is requisite for man's perfection that he should know himself; but not that he should be known by others, wherefore it is not to be desired in itself. It may, however, be desired as being useful for something, either in order that God may be glorified by men, or that men may become better by reason of the good they know to be in another man, or in order that man, knowing by the testimony of others' praise the good which is in him, may himself strive to persevere therein and to become better. In this sense it is praiseworthy that a man should "take care of his good name," and that he should "provide good things in the sight of God and men": but not that he should take an empty pleasure in human praise.
Objection: 1. It seems that vainglory is not opposed to magnanimity. For, as stated above (Article ), vainglory consists in glorying in things that are not, which pertains to falsehood; or in earthly and perishable things, which pertains to covetousness; or in the testimony of men, whose judgment is uncertain, which pertains to imprudence. Now these vices are not contrary to magnanimity. Therefore vainglory is not opposed to magnanimity.
2. Further, vainglory is not, like pusillanimity, opposed to magnanimity by way of deficiency, for this seems inconsistent with vainglory. Nor is it opposed to it by way of excess, for in this way presumption and ambition are opposed to magnanimity, as stated above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ): and these differ from vainglory. Therefore vainglory is not opposed to magnanimity.
3. Further, a gloss on Ph 2,3, "Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vainglory," says: "Some among them were given to dissension and restlessness, contending with one another for the sake of vainglory." But contention [*Cf. Question ] is not opposed to magnanimity. Neither therefore is vainglory.
On the contrary Tully says (De Offic. i) under the heading, "Magnanimity consists in two things: We should beware of the desire for glory, since it enslaves the mind, which a magnanimous man should ever strive to keep untrammeled." Therefore it is opposed to magnanimity.
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article , ad 3), glory is an effect of honor and praise: because from the fact that a man is praised, or shown any kind of reverence, he acquires charity in the knowledge of others. And since magnanimity is about honor, as stated above (Question , Articles ,2), it follows that it also is about glory: seeing that as a man uses honor moderately, so too does he use glory in moderation. Wherefore inordinate desire of glory is directly opposed to magnanimity.
Reply to Objection: 1. To think so much of little things as to glory in them is itself opposed to magnanimity. Wherefore it is said of the magnanimous man (Ethic. iv) that honor is of little account to him. In like manner he thinks little of other things that are sought for honor's sake, such as power and wealth. Likewise it is inconsistent with magnanimity to glory in things that are not; wherefore it is said of the magnanimous man (Ethic. iv) that he cares more for truth than for opinion. Again it is incompatible with magnanimity for a man to glory in the testimony of human praise, as though he deemed this something great; wherefore it is said of the magnanimous man (Ethic. iv), that he cares not to be praised. And so, when a man looks upon little things as though they were great, nothing hinders this from being contrary to magnanimity, as well as to other virtues.
2. He that is desirous of vainglory does in truth fall short of being magnanimous, because he glories in what the magnanimous man thinks little of, as stated in the preceding Reply. But if we consider his estimate, he is opposed to the magnanimous man by way of excess, because the glory which he seeks is something great in his estimation, and he tends thereto in excess of his deserts.
3. As stated above (Question , Article , ad 2), the opposition of vices does not depend on their effects. Nevertheless contention, if done intentionally, is opposed to magnanimity: since no one contends save for what he deems great. Wherefore the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 3) that the magnanimous man is not contentious, because nothing is great in his estimation.
Objection: 1. It seems that vainglory is a mortal sin. For nothing precludes the eternal reward except a mortal sin. Now vainglory precludes the eternal reward: for it is written (Mt 6,1): "Take heed, that you do not give justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father Who is in heaven." Therefore vainglory is a mortal sin.
2. Further, whoever appropriates to himself that which is proper to God, sins mortally. Now by desiring vainglory, a man appropriates to himself that which is proper to God. For it is written (Is 42,8): "I will not give My glory to another," and (1Tm 1,17): "To . . . the only God be honor and glory." Therefore vainglory is a mortal sin.
3. Further, apparently a sin is mortal if it be most dangerous and harmful. Now vainglory is a sin of this kind, because a gloss of Augustine on 1 Thess. 2:4, "God, Who proveth our hearts," says: "Unless a man war against the love of human glory he does not perceive its baneful power, for though it be easy for anyone not to desire praise as long as one does not get it, it is difficult not to take pleasure in it, when it is given." Chrysostom also says (Hom. xix in Matth.) that "vainglory enters secretly, and robs us insensibly of all our inward possessions." Therefore vainglory is a mortal sin.
On the contrary Chrysostom says [*Hom. xiii in the Opus Imperfectum falsely ascribed to St. John Chrysostom] that "while other vices find their abode in the servants of the devil, vainglory finds a place even in the servants of Christ." Yet in the latter there is no mortal sin. Therefore vainglory is not a mortal sin.
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ; Question , Article ), a sin is mortal through being contrary to charity. Now the sin of vainglory, considered in itself, does not seem to be contrary to charity as regards the love of one's neighbor: yet as regards the love of God it may be contrary to charity in two ways. In one way, by reason of the matter about which one glories: for instance when one glories in something false that is opposed to the reverence we owe God, according to Ez 28,2, "Thy heart is lifted up, and Thou hast said: I am God," and 1Co 4,7, "What hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" Or again when a man prefers to God the temporal good in which he glories: for this is forbidden (Jr 9,23-24): "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, and let not the strong man glory in his strength, and let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me." Or again when a man prefers the testimony of man to God's; thus it is written in reproval of certain people (Jn 12,43): "For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God."In another way vainglory may be contrary to charity, on the part of the one who glories, in that he refers his intention to glory as his last end: so that he directs even virtuous deeds thereto, and, in order to obtain it, forbears not from doing even that which is against God. In this way it is a mortal sin. Wherefore Augustine says (De Civ. Dei v, 14) that "this vice," namely the love of human praise, "is so hostile to a godly faith, if the heart desires glory more than it fears or loves God, that our Lord said (Jn 5,44): How can you believe, who receive glory one from another, and the glory which is from God alone, you do not seek?"If, however, the love of human glory, though it be vain, be not inconsistent with charity, neither as regards the matter gloried in, nor as to the intention of him that seeks glory, it is not a mortal but a venial sin.
Reply to Objection: 1. No man, by sinning, merits eternal life: wherefore a virtuous deed loses its power to merit eternal life, if it be done for the sake of vainglory, even though that vainglory be not a mortal sin. On the other hand when a man loses the eternal reward simply through vainglory, and not merely in respect of one act, vainglory is a mortal sin.
2. Not every man that is desirous of vainglory, desires the excellence which belongs to God alone. For the glory due to God alone differs from the glory due to a virtuous or rich man.
3. Vainglory is stated to be a dangerous sin, not only on account of its gravity, but also because it is a disposition to grave sins, in so far as it renders man presumptuous and too self-confident: and so it gradually disposes a man to lose his inward goods.
Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.129 a.8