Summa Th. I EN Qu.114 a.2

Article: 2 Whether to tempt is proper to the devil?

Objection: 1. It would seem that to tempt is not proper to the devil. For God is said to tempt, according to Gn 22,1, "God tempted Abraham." Moreover man is tempted by the flesh and the world. Again, man is said to tempt God, and to tempt man. Therefore it is not proper to the devil to tempt.

2. Further, to tempt is a sign of ignorance. But the demons know what happens among men. Therefore the demons do not tempt.

3. Further, temptation is the road to sin. Now sin dwells in the will. Since therefore the demons cannot change man's will, as appears from what has been said above (Question [111], Article [2]), it seems that it is not in their province to tempt.

On the contrary It is written (1Th 3,5): "Lest perhaps he that tempteth should have tempted you": to which the gloss adds, "that is, the devil, whose office it is to tempt."

I answer that To tempt is, properly speaking, to make trial of something. Now we make trial of something in order to know something about it: hence the immediate end of every tempter is knowledge. But sometimes another end, either good or bad, is sought to be acquired through that knowledge; a good end, when, for instance, one desires to know of someone, what sort of a man he is as to knowledge, or virtue, with a view to his promotion; a bad end, when that knowledge is sought with the purpose of deceiving or ruining him.

From this we can gather how various beings are said to tempt in various ways. For man is said to tempt, sometimes indeed merely for the sake of knowing something; and for this reason it is a sin to tempt God; for man, being uncertain as it were, presumes to make an experiment of God's power. Sometimes too he tempts in order to help, sometimes in order to hurt. The devil, however, always tempts in order to hurt by urging man into sin. In this sense it is said to be his proper office to tempt: for thought at times man tempts thus, he does this as minister of the devil. God is said to tempt that He may know, in the same sense as that is said to know which makes others to know. Hence it is written (Dt 13,3): "The Lord your God trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him."

The flesh and the world are said to tempt as the instruments or matter of temptations; inasmuch as one can know what sort of man someone is, according as he follows or resists the desires of the flesh, and according as he despises worldly advantages and adversity: of which things the devil also makes use in tempting.

Thus the reply to the first objection is clear.

2. The demons know what happens outwardly among men; but the inward disposition of man God alone knows, Who is the "weigher of spirits" (Pr 16,2). It is this disposition that makes man more prone to one vice than to another: hence the devil tempts, in order to explore this inward disposition of man, so that he may tempt him to that vice to which he is most prone.

3. Although a demon cannot change the will, yet, as stated above (Question [111], Article [3]), he can change the inferior powers of man, in a certain degree: by which powers, though the will cannot be forced, it can nevertheless be inclined.

Article: 3 Whether all sins are due to the temptation of the devil?

Objection: 1. It would seem that all sins are due to the temptation of the devil. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that "the multitude of demons is the cause of all evils, both to themselves and to others." And Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 4) that "all malice and all uncleanness have been devised by the devil."

2. Further, of every sinner can be said what the Lord said of the Jews (Jn 8,44): "You are of your father the devil." But this was in as far as they sinned through the devil's instigation. Therefore every sin is due to the devil's instigation.

3. Further, as angels are deputed to guard men, so demons are deputed to assail men. But every good thing we do is due to the suggestion of the good angels: because the Divine gifts are borne to us by the angels. Therefore all the evil we do, is due to the instigation of the devil.

On the contrary It is written (De Eccl. Dogmat. xlix): "Not all our evil thoughts are stirred up by the devil, but sometimes they arise from the movement of our free-will."

I answer that One thing can be the cause of another in two ways; directly and indirectly. Indirectly as when an agent is the cause of a disposition to a certain effect, it is said to be the occasional and indirect cause of that effect: for instance, we might say that he who dries the wood is the cause of the wood burning. In this way we must admit that the devil is the cause of all our sins; because he it was who instigated the first man to sin, from whose sin there resulted a proneness to sin in the whole human race: and in this sense we must take the words of Damascene and Dionysius.

But a thing is said to be the direct cause of something, when its action tends directly thereunto. And in this way the devil is not the cause of every sin: for all sins are not committed at the devil's instigation, but some are due to the free-will and the corruption of the flesh. For, as Origen says (Peri Archon iii), even if there were no devil, men would have the desire for food and love and such like pleasures; with regard to which many disorders may arise unless those desires are curbed by reason, especially if we presuppose the corruption of our natures. Now it is in the power of the free-will to curb this appetite and keep it in order. Consequently there is no need for all sins to be due to the instigation of the devil. But those sins which are due thereto man perpetrates "through being deceived by the same blandishments as were our first parents," as Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii).

Thus the answer to the first objection is clear.

2. When man commits sin without being thereto instigated by the devil, he nevertheless becomes a child of the devil thereby, in so far as he imitates him who was the first to sin.

3. Man can of his own accord fall into sin: but he cannot advance in merit without the Divine assistance, which is borne to man by the ministry of the angels. For this reason the angels take part in all our good works: whereas all our sins are not due to the demons' instigation. Nevertheless there is no kind of sin which is not sometimes due to the demons' suggestion.

Article: 4 Whether demons can lead men astray by means of real miracles?

Objection: 1. It would seem that the demons cannot lead men astray by means of real miracles. For the activity of the demons will show itself especially in the works of Antichrist. But as the Apostle says (2Th 2,9), his "coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders." Much more therefore at other times do the demons perform lying wonders.

2. Further, true miracles are wrought by some corporeal change. But demons are unable to change the nature of a body; for Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xviii, 18): "I cannot believe that the human body can receive the limbs of a beast by means of a demon's art or power." Therefore the demons cannot work real miracles.

3. Further, an argument is useless which may prove both ways. If therefore real miracles can be wrought by demons, to persuade one of what is false, they will be useless to confirm the teaching of the faith. This is unfitting; for it is written (Mc 16,20): "The Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed."

On the contrary Augustine says (Question [83]; [*Lib. xxi, Sent. sent 4, among the supposititious works of St. Augustine]): "Often by means of the magic art miracles are wrought like those which are wrought by the servants of God."

I answer that As is clear from what has been said above (Question [110], Article [4]), if we take a miracle in the strict sense, the demons cannot work miracles, nor can any creature, but God alone: since in the strict sense a miracle is something done outside the order of the entire created nature, under which order every power of a creature is contained. But sometimes miracle may be taken in a wide sense, for whatever exceeds the human power and experience. And thus demons can work miracles, that is, things which rouse man's astonishment, by reason of their being beyond his power and outside his sphere of knowledge. For even a man by doing what is beyond the power and knowledge of another, leads him to marvel at what he has done, so that in a way he seems to that man to have worked a miracle.

It is to be noted, however, that although these works of demons which appear marvelous to us are not real miracles, they are sometimes nevertheless something real. Thus the magicians of Pharaoh by the demons' power produced real serpents and frogs. And "when fire came down from heaven and at one blow consumed Job's servants and sheep; when the storm struck down his house and with it his children---these were the work of Satan, not phantoms"; as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 19).

Reply to Objection: 1. As Augustine says in the same place, the works of Antichrist may be called lying wonders, "either because he will deceive men's senses by means of phantoms, so that he will not really do what he will seem to do; or because, if he work real prodigies, they will lead those into falsehood who believe in him."

2. As we have said above (Question [110], Article [2]), corporeal matter does not obey either good or bad angels at their will, so that demons be able by their power to transmute matter from one form to another; but they can employ certain seeds that exist in the elements of the world, in order to produce these effects, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 8,9). Therefore it must be admitted that all the transformation of corporeal things which can be produced by certain natural powers, to which we must assign the seeds above mentioned, can alike be produced by the operation of the demons, by the employment of these seeds; such as the transformation of certain things into serpents or frogs, which can be produced by putrefaction. On the contrary, those transformations which cannot be produced by the power of nature, cannot in reality be effected by the operation of the demons; for instance, that the human body be changed into the body of a beast, or that the body of a dead man return to life. And if at times something of this sort seems to be effected by the operation of demons, it is not real but a mere semblance of reality.

Now this may happen in two ways. Firstly, from within; in this way a demon can work on man's imagination and even on his corporeal senses, so that something seems otherwise that it is, as explained above (Question [111], Articles [3],4). It is said indeed that this can be done sometimes by the power of certain bodies. Secondly, from without: for just as he can from the air form a body of any form and shape, and assume it so as to appear in it visibly: so, in the same way he can clothe any corporeal thing with any corporeal form, so as to appear therein. This is what Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xviii, 18): "Man's imagination, which whether thinking or dreaming, takes the forms of an innumerable number of things, appears to other men's senses, as it were embodied in the semblance of some animal." This not to be understood as though the imagination itself or the images formed therein were identified with that which appears embodied to the senses of another man: but that the demon, who forms an image in a man's imagination, can offer the same picture to another man's senses.

3. As Augustine says (Questions. 83, qu. 79): "When magicians do what holy men do, they do it for a different end and by a different right. The former do it for their own glory; the latter, for the glory of God: the former, by certain private compacts; the latter by the evident assistance and command of God, to Whom every creature is subject."

Article: 5 Whether a demon who is overcome by man, is for this reason hindered from making further assaults?

Objection: 1. It would seem that a demon who is overcome by a man, is not for that reason hindered from any further assault. For Christ overcame the tempter most effectively. Yet afterwards the demon assailed Him by instigating the Jews to kill Him. Therefore it is not true that the devil when conquered ceases his assaults.

2. Further, to inflict punishment on one who has been worsted in a fight, is to incite him to a sharper attack. But this is not befitting God's mercy. Therefore the conquered demons are not prevented from further assaults.

On the contrary It is written (Mt 4,11): "Then the devil left Him," i.e. Christ Who overcame.

I answer that Some say that when once a demon has been overcome he can no more tempt any man at all, neither to the same nor to any other sin. And others say that he can tempt others, but not the same man. This seems more probable as long as we understand it to be so for a certain definite time: wherefore (Lc 4,13) it is written: "All temptation being ended, the devil departed from Him for a time." There are two reasons for this. One is on the part of God's clemency; for as Chrysostom says (Super Matt. Hom. v) [*In the Opus Imperfectum, among his supposititious works], "the devil does not tempt man for just as long as he likes, but for as long as God allows; for although He allows him to tempt for a short time, He orders him off on account of our weakness." The other reason is taken from the astuteness of the devil. As to this, Ambrose says on Lc 4,13: "The devil is afraid of persisting, because he shrinks from frequent defeat." That the devil does nevertheless sometimes return to the assault, is apparent from Mt 12,44: "I will return into my house from whence I came out."

From what has been said, the objections can easily be solved.


We have now to consider the action of the corporeal creature; and fate, which is ascribed to certain bodies. Concerning corporeal actions there are six points of inquiry:

(1) Whether a body can be active?

(2) Whether there exist in bodies certain seminal virtues?

(3) Whether the heavenly bodies are the causes of what is done here by the inferior bodies?

(4) Whether they are the cause of human acts?

(5) Whether demons are subject to their influence?

(6) Whether the heavenly bodies impose necessity on those things which are subject to their influence?

Article: 1 Whether a body can be active?

Objection: 1. It would seem that no bodies are active. For Augustine says (De Civ. Dei v, 9): "There are things that are acted upon, but do not act; such are bodies: there is one Who acts but is not acted upon; this is God: there are things that both act and are acted upon; these are the spiritual substances."

2. Further, every agent except the first agent requires in its work a subject susceptible of its action. But there is not substance below the corporeal substance which can be susceptible of the latter's action; since it belongs to the lowest degree of beings. Therefore corporeal substance is not active.

3. Further, every corporeal substance is limited by quantity. But quantity hinders substance from movement and action, because it surrounds it and penetrates it: just as a cloud hinders the air from receiving light. A proof of this is that the more a body increases in quantity, the heavier it is and the more difficult to move. Therefore no corporeal substance is active.

4. Further, the power of action in every agent is according to its propinquity to the first active cause. But bodies, being most composite, are most remote from the first active cause, which is most simple. Therefore no bodies are active.

5. Further, if a body is an agent, the term of its action is either a substantial, or an accidental form. But it is not a substantial form; for it is not possible to find in a body any principle of action, save an active quality, which is an accident; and an accident cannot be the cause of a substantial form, since the cause is always more excellent than the effect. Likewise, neither is it an accidental form, for "an accident does not extend beyond its subject," as Augustine says (De Trin. ix, 4). Therefore no bodies are active.

On the contrary Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. xv) that among other qualities of corporeal fire, "it shows its greatness in its action and power on that of which it lays hold."

I answer that It is apparent to the senses that some bodies are active. But concerning the action of bodies there have been three errors. For some denied all action to bodies. This is the opinion of Avicebron in his book on The Fount of Life, where, by the arguments mentioned above, he endeavors to prove that no bodies act, but that all the actions which seem to be the actions of bodies, are the actions of some spiritual power that penetrates all bodies: so that, according to him, it is not fire that heats, but a spiritual power which penetrates, by means of the fire. And this opinion seems to be derived from that of Plato. For Plato held that all forms existing in corporeal matter are participated thereby, and determined and limited thereto; and that separate forms are absolute and as it were universal; wherefore he said that these separate forms are the causes of forms that exist in matter. Therefore inasmuch as the form which is in corporeal matter is determined to this matter individualized by quantity, Avicebron held that the corporeal form is held back and imprisoned by quantity, as the principle of individuality, so as to be unable by action to extend to any other matter: and that the spiritual and immaterial form alone, which is not hedged in by quantity, can issue forth by acting on something else.

But this does not prove that the corporeal form is not an agent, but that it is not a universal agent. For in proportion as a thing is participated, so, of necessity, must that be participated which is proper thereto; thus in proportion to the participation of light is the participation of visibility. But to act, which is nothing else than to make something to be in act, is essentially proper to an act as such; wherefore every agent produces its like. So therefore to the fact of its being a form not determined by matter subject to quantity, a thing owes its being an agent indeterminate and universal: but to the fact that it is determined to this matter, it owes its being an agent limited and particular. Wherefore if the form of fire were separate, as the Platonists supposed, it would be, in a fashion, the cause of every ignition. But this form of fire which is in this corporeal matter, is the cause of this ignition which passes from this body to that. Hence such an action is effected by the contact of two bodies.

But this opinion of Avicebron goes further than that of Plato. For Plato held only substantial forms to be separate; while he referred accidents to the material principles which are "the great" and "the small," which he considered to be the first contraries, by others considered to the "the rare" and "the dense." Consequently both Plato and Avicenna, who follows him to a certain extent, held that corporeal agents act through their accidental forms, by disposing matter for the substantial form; but that the ultimate perfection attained by the introduction of the substantial form is due to an immaterial principle. And this is the second opinion concerning the action of bodies; of which we have spoken above when treating of the creation (Question [45], Article [8]).

The third opinion is that of Democritus, who held that action takes place through the issue of atoms from the corporeal agent, while passion consists in the reception of the atoms in the pores of the passive body. This opinion is disproved by Aristotle (De Gener. i, 8,9). For it would follow that a body would not be passive as a whole, and the quantity of the active body would be diminished through its action; which things are manifestly untrue.

We must therefore say that a body acts forasmuch as it is in act, on a body forasmuch as it is in potentiality.

Reply to Objection: 1. This passage of Augustine is to be understood of the whole corporeal nature considered as a whole, while thus has no nature inferior to it, on which it can act; as the spiritual nature acts on the corporeal, and the uncreated nature on the created. Nevertheless one body is inferior to another, forasmuch as it is in potentiality to that which the other has in act.

From this follows the solution of the second objection. But it must be observed, when Avicebron argues thus, "There is a mover who is not moved, to wit, the first maker of all; therefore, on the other hand, there exists something moved which is purely passive," that this is to be conceded. But this latter is primary matter, which is a pure potentiality, just as God is pure act. Now a body is composed of potentiality and act; and therefore it is both active and passive.

3. Quantity does not entirely hinder the corporeal form from action, as stated above; but from being a universal agent, forasmuch as a form is individualized through being in matter subject to quantity. The proof taken from the weight of bodies is not to the purpose. First, because addition of quantity does not cause weight; as is proved (De Coelo et Mundo iv, 2). Secondly, it is false that weight retards movement; on the contrary, the heavier a thing, the greater its movement, if we consider the movement proper thereto. Thirdly, because action is not effected by local movement, as Democritus held: but by something being reduced from potentiality to act.

4. A body is not that which is most distant from God; for it participates something of a likeness to the Divine Being, forasmuch as it has a form. That which is most distant from God is primary matter; which is in no way active, since it is a pure potentiality.

5. The term of a body's action is both an accidental form and a substantial form. For the active quality, such as heat, although itself an accident, acts nevertheless by virtue of the substantial form, as its instrument: wherefore its action can terminate in a substantial form; thus natural heat, as the instrument of the soul, has an action terminating in the generation of flesh. But by its own virtue it produces an accident. Nor is it against the nature of an accident to surpass its subject in acting, but it is to surpass it in being; unless indeed one were to imagine that an accident transfers its identical self from the agent to the patient; thus Democritus explained action by an issue of atoms.

Article: 2 Whether there are any seminal virtues in corporeal matter?

Objection: 1. It would seem that there are no seminal virtues in corporeal matter. For virtue [ratio] implies something of a spiritual order. But in corporeal matter nothing exists spiritually, but only materially, that is, according to the mode of that in which it is. Therefore there are no seminal virtues in corporeal matter.

2. Further, Augustine (De Trin. iii, 8,9) says that demons produce certain results by employing with a hidden movement certain seeds, which they know to exist in matter. But bodies, not virtues, can be employed with local movement. Therefore it is unreasonable to say that there are seminal virtues in corporeal matter.

3. Further, seeds are active principles. But there are no active principles in corporeal matter; since, as we have said above, matter is not competent to act (Article [1], ad 2,4). Therefore there are no seminal virtues in corporeal matter.

4. Further, there are said to be certain "causal virtues" (Augustine, De Gn ad lit. v, 4) which seem to suffice for the production of things. But seminal virtues are not causal virtues: for miracles are outside the scope of seminal virtues, but not of causal virtues. Therefore it is unreasonable to say that there are seminal virtues in corporeal matter.

On the contrary Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 8): "Of all the things which are generated in a corporeal and visible fashion, certain seeds lie hidden in the corporeal things of this world."

I answer that It is customary to name things after what is more perfect, as the Philosopher says (De Anima ii, 4). Now in the whole corporeal nature, living bodies are the most perfect: wherefore the word "nature" has been transferred from living things to all natural things. For the word itself, "nature," as the Philosopher says (Metaph. v, Did. iv, 4), was first applied to signify the generation of living things, which is called "nativity": and because living things are generated from a principle united to them, as fruit from a tree, and the offspring from the mother, to whom it is united, consequently the word "nature" has been applied to every principle of movement existing in that which is moved. Now it is manifest that the active and passive principles of the generation of living things are the seeds from which living things are generated. Therefore Augustine fittingly gave the name of "seminal virtues" [seminales rationes] to all those active and passive virtues which are the principles of natural generation and movement.

These active and passive virtues may be considered in several orders. For in the first place, as Augustine says (Gn ad lit. vi, 10), they are principally and originally in the Word of God, as "typal ideas." Secondly, they are in the elements of the world, where they were produced altogether at the beginning, as in "universal causes." Thirdly, they are in those things which, in the succession of time, are produced by universal causes, for instance in this plant, and in that animal, as in "particular causes." Fourthly, they are in the "seeds" produced from animals and plants. And these again are compared to further particular effects, as the primordial universal causes to the first effects produced.

Reply to Objection: 1. These active and passive virtues of natural things, thought not called "virtues" [rationes] by reason of their being in corporeal matter, can nevertheless be so called in respect of their origin, forasmuch as they are the effect of the typal ideas [rationes ideales].

2. These active and passive virtues are in certain parts of corporeal things: and when they are employed with local movement for the production of certain results, we speak of the demons as employing seeds.

3. The seed of the male is the active principle in the generation of an animal. But that can be called seed also which the female contributes as the passive principle. And thus the word "seed" covers both active and passive principles.

4. From the words of Augustine when speaking of these seminal virtues, it is easy to gather that they are also causal virtues, just as seed is a kind of cause: for he says (De Trin. iii, 9) that, "as a mother is pregnant with the unborn offspring, so is the world itself pregnant with the causes of unborn things." Nevertheless, the "typal ideas" can be called "causal virtues," but not, strictly speaking, "seminal virtues," because seed is not a separate principle; and because miracles are not wrought outside the scope of causal virtues. Likewise neither are miracles wrought outside the scope of the passive virtues so implanted in the creature, that the latter can be used to any purpose that God commands. But miracles are said to be wrought outside the scope of the natural active virtues, and the passive potentialities which are ordered to such active virtues, and this is what is meant when we say that they are wrought outside the scope of seminal virtues.

Article: 3 Whether the heavenly bodies are the cause of what is produced in bodies here below?

Objection: 1. It would seem that the heavenly bodies are not the cause of what is produced in bodies here below. For Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 7): "We say that they"---namely, the heavenly bodies---"are not the cause of generation or corruption: they are rather signs of storms and atmospheric changes."

2. Further, for the production of anything, an agent and matter suffice. But in things here below there is passive matter; and there are contrary agents---heat and cold, and the like. Therefore for the production of things here below, there is no need to ascribe causality to the heavenly bodies.

3. Further, the agent produces its like. Now it is to be observed that everything which is produced here below is produced through the action of heat and cold, moisture and dryness, and other such qualities, which do not exist in heavenly bodies. Therefore the heavenly bodies are not the cause of what is produced here below.

4. Further, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei v, 6): "Nothing is more corporeal than sex." But sex is not caused by the heavenly bodies: a sign of this is that of twins born under the same constellation, one may be male, the other female. Therefore the heavenly bodies are not the cause of things produced in bodies here below.

On the contrary Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 4): "Bodies of a grosser and inferior nature are ruled in a certain order by those of a more subtle and powerful nature." And Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv) says that "the light of the sun conduces to the generation of sensible bodies, moves them to life, gives them nourishment, growth, and perfection."

I answer that, Since every multitude proceeds from unity; and since what is immovable is always in the same way of being, whereas what is moved has many ways of being: it must be observed that throughout the whole of nature, all movement proceeds from the immovable. Therefore the more immovable certain things are, the more are they the cause of those things which are most movable. Now the heavenly bodies are of all bodies the most immovable, for they are not moved save locally. Therefore the movements of bodies here below, which are various and multiform, must be referred to the movement of the heavenly bodies, as to their cause.

Reply to Objection: 1. These words of Damascene are to be understood as denying that the heavenly bodies are the first cause of generation and corruption here below; for this was affirmed by those who held that the heavenly bodies are gods.

2. The active principles of bodies here below are only the active qualities of the elements, such as hot and cold and the like. If therefore the substantial forms of inferior bodies were not diversified save according to accidents of that kind, the principles of which the early natural philosophers held to be the "rare" and the "dense"; there would be no need to suppose some principle above these inferior bodies, for they would be of themselves sufficient to act. But to anyone who considers the matter aright, it is clear that those accidents are merely material dispositions in regard to the substantial forms of natural bodies. Now matter is not of itself sufficient to act. And therefore it is necessary to suppose some active principle above these material dispositions.

This is why the Platonists maintained the existence of separate species, by participation of which the inferior bodies receive their substantial forms. But this does not seem enough. For the separate species, since they are supposed to be immovable, would always have the same mode of being: and consequently there would be no variety in the generation and corruption of inferior bodies: which is clearly false.

Therefore it is necessary, as the Philosopher says (De Gener. ii, 10), to suppose a movable principle, which by reason of its presence or absence causes variety in the generation and corruption of inferior bodies. Such are the heavenly bodies. Consequently whatever generates here below, moves to the production of the species, as the instrument of a heavenly body: thus the Philosopher says (Phys. ii, 2) that "man and the sun generate man."

3. The heavenly bodies have not a specific likeness to the bodies here below. Their likeness consists in this, that by reason of their universal power, whatever is generated in inferior bodies, is contained in them. In this way also we say that all things are like God.

4. The actions of heavenly bodies are variously received in inferior bodies, according to the various dispositions of matter. Now it happens at times that the matter in the human conception is not wholly disposed to the male sex; wherefore it is formed sometimes into a male, sometimes into a female. Augustine quotes this as an argument against divination by stars: because the effects of the stars are varied even in corporeal things, according to the various dispositions of matter.

Summa Th. I EN Qu.114 a.2