De veritate EN 57



There are two kinds of certitude: certitude of knowledge and certitude of ordination. Now, certitude of knowledge is had when oneís knowledge does not deviate in any way from reality, and, consequently, when it judges about a thing as it is. But because a judgment which will be certain about a thing is had especially from its causes, the word certitude has been transferred to the relation that a cause has to its effect; therefore, the relation of a cause to an effect is said to be certain when the cause infallibly produces its effect. Consequently, since Godís foreknowledge does not imply, in all cases, a relation of a cause to all the things which are its objects, it is considered to have only the certitude of knowledge. But His predestination adds another element, because it includes not only His foreknowledge but also the relation of a cause to its objects, since predestination is a kind of direction or preparation. Thus, not only the certitude of knowledge, but also the certitude of ordination is contained in predestination. Now we are concerned only will the certitude of predestination; the certitude of knowledge, found also in predestination, has been explained in our investigation of Godís knowledge.

It should be known that, since predestination is a particular type of providence, not only its notion adds something to providence, but also its certitude adds something to the certitude of providence. Now, the ordering of providence is found to be certain in two respects. First, it is certain will relation to a particular thing, when Godís providence ordains things to some particular end, and they attain that end without failure. This is evident in the motions of celestial spheres and in all things in nature that act necessarily. Second, providence is certain in relation to things in general, but not in particular. For example, we see that the power of beings capable of generation and corruption sometimes fails short of the proper effects to which it has been ordered as its proper ends. Thus, the power that shapes bodies sometimes falls short of forming members completely. Yet, as we saw above when treating providence, these very defects are directed by God to some end. Consequently, nothing can fall to attain the general end of providence, even though it may at times fail short of a particular end.

The ordering of predestination, however, is certain, not only will respect to its general end, but also will respect to a particular and determinate end. For one who is ordained to salvation by predestination never fails to obtain it. Moreover, the ordering of predestination is not certain will reference to a particular end in the way in which the ordering of providence s; for, in providence, the ordering is not certain will respect to a particular end unless the proximate cause necessarily produces its effect. In predestination, however, there is certitude will respect to an individual end even though the proximate cause, free choice, does not produce that effect except in a contingent manner.

Hence, it seems difficult to reconcile the infallibility of predestination will freedom of choice; for we cannot say that predestination adds nothing to the certitude of providence except the certitude of foreknowledge, because this would be to say that God orders one who is predestined to his salvation as He orders any other person, will this difference, that, in the case of the predestined, God knows he will not fall to be saved. According to this position, one predestined would not differ in ordination from one not predestined; he would differ only will respect to [God's] foreknowledge of the outcome. Consequently, foreknowledge would be the cause of predestination, and predestination would not take place by the choice of Him who predestines. This, however, is contrary to the authority of the Scriptures and the sayings of the saints. Thus, the ordering of predestination has an infallible certitude of its ownóover and above the certitude of foreknowledge. Nevertheless, the proximate cause of salvation, free choice, is related to predestination contingently, not necessarily.

This can be considered in the following manner. We find that an ordering is infallible in regard to something in two ways. First, an individual cause necessarily brings about its own effect because of the ordering of divine providence. Secondly, a single effect may be attained only as the result of the convergence of many contingent causes individually capable of failure; but each one of these causes has been ordained by God either to bring about that effect itself if another cause should f all or to prevent that other cause from failing. We see, for example, that all the individual members of a species are corruptible. Yet, from the fact that one succeeds another, the nature of the species can be kept in existence; and this is how God keeps the species from extinction, despite the fact that the individual perishes.

A similar case is had in predestination; for, even though free choice can fail will respect to salvation, God prepares so many other helps for one who is predestined that he either does not fall at all or, if he does fall, he rises again. The helps that God gives a man to enable him to gain salvation are exhortations, the support of prayer, the gift of grace, and all similar things. Consequently, if we were to consider salvation only in relation to its proximate cause, free choice, salvation would not be certain but contingent; however, in relation to the first cause, namely, predestination, salvation is certain.

Answers to Difficulties:

The word crown as used in the Apocalypse (3:11) may mean either the crown of present justice or the crown of future glory. No matter which meaning is taken, however, one person is said to receive the crown of another when that other person falls in the sense that the goods of one person help another, either by aiding him to merit or even by increasing his glory. The reason for this is that all the members of the Church are connected by charity in such a way that their goods are common. Consequently, one receives the crown of an other when that other fails through sin and does not achieve the re ward of his merits; and another person receives the fruits of the sinnerís merits, just as he would have benefited from the sinnerís merits had the latter persevered. From this, however, it does not follow that predestination is ever in vain.

Or it can be answered that one is said to receive the crown of an other, not because the other lost a crown that was predestined for him, but because whenever a person loses the crown that was due to him because of the justice he possessed, another person is substituted in his place to make up the number of the electójust as men have been substituted to take the place of the fallen angels.

2. A natural effect issuing infallibly from Godís providence takes place because of one proximate cause necessarily ordered to the effect.

The ordering of predestination, however, is not made certain in this manner but in the manner described above.

3. A celestial body, taken in itself, imposes a kind of determinism in its action on bodies here below. Consequently, its effect necessarily takes place, unless something resists it. But God does not act on the will in the manner of one necessitating; for He does not force the will but merely moves it, without taking away its own proper mode, which consists in being free will respect to opposites. Consequently, even though nothing can resist the divine will, our will, like everything else, carries out the divine will according to its own proper mode. Indeed, the divine will has given things their mode of being in order that His will be fulfiled. Therefore, some things fulfil the divine will necessarily, other things, contingently; but that which God wills al ways takes place.

4. The second cause, which we must suppose as prerequisite for obtaining the effect of predestination, lies also under the ordering of predestination. The relationship between lower powers and the power of a superior agent is not one of predestination. Consequently, even though the ordering of Godís predestination includes the supposition of a human will, it nevertheless has absolute certitude, despite the fact that the example given points to the contrary.

5. Those words of Job and Gregory should be referred to the state of present justice. If some fall from it, others are chosen in their place. From this, therefore, we cannot conclude to any uncertainty will reference to predestination; for those who fall from grace at the end were never predestined at all.

6. The comparison Anselm makes holds good in this respect, that just as the truth of a proposition about the future does not remove contingency from a future event, so also the truth of predestination [does not take away the contingency of predestination]. But, in an other respect, the comparison is weak. For a proposition about the future is related to the future in so far as it is future, and, under this aspect, it cannot be certain. As we pointed out previously, however, the truth of predestination and foreknowledge is related to the future as present, and, consequently, is certain.

7. A thing can be said to be possible in two ways. First, we may consider the potency that exists in the thing itself, as when we say that a stone can be moved downwards. Or we may consider the potency that exists in another thing, as when we say that a stone can be moved upwards, not by a potency existing in the stone, but by a potency existing in the one who hurls it.

Consequently, when we say: "That predestined person can possibly die in sin," the statement is true if we consider only the potency that exists in him. But, if we are speaking of this predestined person according to the ordering which he has to another, namely, to God, who is predestining him, that event is incompatible will this ordering, even though it is compatible will the personís own power. Hence, we can use the distinction given above; that is, we can consider the subject will this form or without it.

8. Blackness and whiteness are, in a sense, examples of forms that exist in a subject said to be white or black. Consequently, nothing can be attributed to the subject, either according to potency or according to act, as long as blackness remains, if it is repugnant to this form of blackness. Predestination, however, is a form that exists, not in the person predestined, but in the one predestining, just as the known gets its name from knowledge in the knower. Consequently, no matter how fixed predestination may remain in the order of knowledge, yet, if we consider only the nature [of the predestined], we can attribute some thing to it which is repugnant to the ordering of predestination. For, considered this way, predestination is something other than the man who is said to be predestined, just as blackness is something other than the essence of a crow, even though it is not something outside the crow, but, by considering only the essence of a crow, one can attribute to it something that is repugnant to its blackness. For this reason, as Porphyry says, one can think of a white crow. Similarly, in the problem being discussed, one can attribute something to a predestined person taken in himself which cannot be attributed to him in so far as he is predestined.

9. Creation and mission imply the production of a temporal effect. Consequently, they affirm the existence of a temporal effect, and so must be temporal themselves, even though they include something eternal. Predestination, however, does not imply the production of a temporal effectóas the word itself showsóbut only an ordering to something temporal, such as will, power, and all such attributes also imply. Since it does not affirm the actual existence of a temporal effect, which is also contingent, predestination is not necessarily temporal and contingent itself, because from eternity something can be unchangeably ordained to a temporal and contingent effect.

10. Absolutely speaking, it is possible for God to predestine or not to predestine each and every person, and it is possible for Him to have predestined or not to have predestined. For, since the act of pre destination is measured by eternity, it never is past and never is future. Consequently, it is always considered as issuing from His will as something free. Because of the supposition, however, certain things are impossible: He cannot predestine if He has predestined, and He cannot predestine if He has already not predestined for God does not change. Hence, it does not follow that predestination can change.


Parallel readings: See readings given for preceding article.


It seems not, for

2. No number is certain if something can be added to it. But some thing can be added to the number of the predestined, because Moses petition for such an increase is described in Deuteronomy (1: 11) where he says: "The Lord God of your fathers add to this number many thousands." And the Gloss comments: "This number is fixed by God, who knows who belong to Him." Now, unless such an addition were possible, Moses would have asked in vain. Consequently, the number of the predestined is not certain.

2. As we are prepared for grace through the disposition of natural perfections, so are we prepared through grace for the attainment of glory. Now, grace is found in whomsoever there is sufficient preparation of natural gifts. Similarly, then, glory will be found wherever grace is found. But one not predestined may, at one time, possess grace. Therefore, he will possess glory and so be predestined. Consequently, one not predestined may become predestined. In this way, the number of the predestined can be increased; hence, it is not certain.

3. If one who has grace is not to have glory, his loss of glory will be due to a failure cither on the part of grace or on the part of the one giving glory. However, this loss cannot be due to a failure on the part of grace, for, in itself, it sufficiently disposes for glory; nor can it be due to a failure on the part of the one giving glory, for, on His part, He is ready to give it to all. Consequently, whoever has grace will necessarily have glory. Thus, one who is foreknown [as lost] will have glory and be predestined. Accordingly, our original argument stands.

4. Whoever prepares himself sufficiently for grace, gets grace. But one foreknown [as lost] can prepare himself for grace. Therefore, it is possible for him to have grace. Whoever has grace, however, can persevere in it. So it seems that one who is foreknown [as lost] can persevere in grace up to the time of his death and thus become pre destined. Consequently, the same must be said as before.

5. It was said, however, that Godís foreknowledge that a man will die without grace is necessary by conditional necessity, not by absolute necessity. On the contrary, any necessity which lacks a beginning and an end, and which is without succession, is not conditional but simple and absolute. Now, this is the kind of necessity that the necessity of foreknowledge is, because it is eternal. Therefore, it is simple and not conditioned.

6. A number larger than any finite number is possible. But the number of the predestined is finite. Therefore, a larger number is possible, and the number of the predestined is not certain.

7. Since good communicates itself, infinite goodness should not impose a limit on its communication. Now, the divine goodness communicates itself to the predestined in the highest possible degree. There fore, it does not belong to the divine goodness to establish a certain number of predestined.

8. Like the creation of things, the predestination of men depends on the divine will. Now, God can make more things than He has made, because, as we read in Wisdom (12: I 8): "His power is at hand when He wills." Similarly, He has not predestined so many men that He cannot predestine more; and so our original argument returns.

9. Whatever God was at one time able to do He still is able to do. But from eternity God was able to predestine one whom He did not predestine. Consequently, He is still able to predestine him, and so an addition can be made to the number of the predestined.

10. In the case of all powers not determined to one course of action, what can be can also not be. Now, the power of the one predestining will respect to the one to be predestined, and the power of the one predestined will respect to his obtaining the effect of predestination, belong to this class of powers, because the one predestining predestination by His will, and the one predestined obtains the effect of predestination by his will. Consequently, the predestined can be non-predestined, and the non-predestined can be predestined. Hence, the conclusion is the same as before.

11. In commentary on that verse in Luke (5:6), "And their net broke," the Gloss reads: "In the Church, the net of circumcision is broken, for not as many Jews enter as were preordained by God to life." Consequently, since the number of the predestined can be diminished, it is not certain.

To the Contrary:

1'. Augustine says: "The number of the predestined is certain and can neither be increased nor diminished."

2í. Augustine says: "The heavenly Jerusalem, our mother, the City of God, will not be robbed of any of the number of its citizens nor will it reign will more than the predestined number." Now, the citizens mentioned are the predestined. Consequently, the number of the predestined cannot be increased or decreased. Hence, it is certain.

3'. W is predestined is predestined from eternity. But what exists from eternity is unchangeable, and what did not exist from eternity can never be eternal. Consequently, he who is not predestined cannot be predestined and, conversely, he who is predestined cannot be non-predestined.

4í. After the resurrection, all the predestined will be in the highest heaven will their own bodies. Now, that place is finite, since all bodies are finite, and, as is commonly held, not even two glorified bodies can exist simultaneously [ one place]. Consequently, the number of the predestined should be determinate.



Treating this question, some have distinguished, saying that the number of the predestined is certain if we mean number understood actively or formally, but not certain if we mean number understood passively or materially. For example, one could say that it is certain that one hundred have been predestined, but it is not certain who these one hundred are. The occasion for such a position seems to be the words of Augustine mentioned previously. Augustine seems to imply that one can lose and another receive the predestined crown without the number of the predestined at all varying. But, if those holding this opinion are speaking about certitude of predestination in its relation to the first cause, that is, to God who predestines, then the opinion is entirely absurd, because God Himself has definite knowledge of the number of the predestined, whether the number be taken formally or materially. He knows exactly how many and who are to be saved, and, will respect to both, His ordination is infallible. Consequently, will respect to both numbers, God has certitude, not only of knowledge, but also of ordination.

On the other hand, if we are speaking about the certitude that can be had about the number of the predestined from its relation to the proximate cause of manís salvation (to which predestination is ordained), then our judgment about the formal number and the material number will not be the same. For, since the salvation of each individual has been produced through free choice as through its proximate cause, in some way the material number is subject to manís will, which is changeable. Consequently, the material number in some way lacks certainty. But the formal number is not determined in any manner by manís will, because by no kind of causality does the human will affect the number of the predestined taken as a whole. Consequently, the formal number remains completely certain. In this way the afore mentioned distinction can be sustained, as long as we concede, without any qualifications, that both numbers are certain as far as God is concerned.

It should be noted, moreover, that the number of the predestined is certain in this respect, that it cannot be increased or diminished. The number could be increased if one who was foreknown has lost could be predestined; but this would be contrary to the certainty of fore knowledge or of reprobation. Again, the number could be diminished if it were possible for one who is predestined to become non-predestined; but this would be contrary to the certainty of predestination. Thus, it is clear that the certitude about the number of the predestined is made up of two certitudes, the certitude of predestination and the certitude of foreknowledge or reprobation. These two certitudes differ, however; for, as has been said, the certitude of predestination is the certitude of knowledge and of direction to an end, while the certitude of foreknowledge is merely the certitude of knowledge. For God does not preordain the reprobate to sin as He ordains the predestined to merit.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. That quotation from Deuteronomy should be understood as referring, not to the number of the predestined, but to the number of those who are in the state of present justice. This is clear from the Interlinear Gloss, which adds: "In number and in merit." Now, this number of those in present justice is both increased and diminished; but Godís appointment, which predefines this number, too, is never wrong, because it is He who decrees that there be more of these at one time and fewer at another. Or we could even answer that God defines a certain number in the manner of a judgment in harmony will inferior reasons, and this limitation can be changed; but He predestines another number in the manner of an election in harmony will superior reasons, and this limitation cannot be changed. For Gregory says: "He changes His judgment but never His election."

2. No preparation disposes anything to have a perfection at a time other than its proper time. For example, his natural temperament may dispose a boy to be brave or willónot, however, in the days of his childhood, but in the days of his manhood. Now, the time when one obtains grace is simultaneous will the time when nature is prepared. Consequently, no barrier can come between them. Thus, when the preparation of nature is found in a person, grace is also found in him. But the time when one obtains glory is not simultaneous will the time when he has grace. Consequently, a barrier can come between these two. For this reason, one who is foreknown to possess grace will not necessarily possess glory also.

3. That one who had grace is nevertheless deprived of glory is not due to failure either on the part of grace or on the part of Him who gives glory. It is due rather to a failure on the part of the recipient, in whom an impediment has arisen.

4. When we affirm that a person is foreknown [as lost], we thereby affirm that he will not have final grace; for, as we pointed out previously, Godís knowledge is directed to future things as though they were present. Consequently, just as the condition of not having final grace cannot be reconciled will the condition of having final grace, even though the former condition is possible if taken by itself, so the condition of having final grace cannot be reconciled will the condition of being foreknown [as lost], even though the former condition is also possible if taken by itself.

5. The fact that such a thing known by God is not absolutely necessary comes, not from a defect in Godís knowledge, but from a defect in the proximate cause. On the other hand, the reason why this necessity is eternalówithout beginning and end, and, as it were, without successionócomes from Godís knowledge, which is eternal, not from the proximate cause, which is temporal and changeable.

6. Even though finite number as finite number does not prevent a larger number from existing, the impossibility may come from another source, namely, from the fixed character of Godís foreknowledge, which is apparent in the problem at hand. Similarly, when we consider the size of some natural thing, we see that a larger size cannot exist, not because of the nature of quantity, but because of the nature of the thing itself.

7. The divine goodness communicates itself only under the guidance of wisdom, for this is the best manner for its communication. Now, as we read in Wisdom (11:21), the ordering of Godís wisdom requires that all things be made according to "number, weight, and measure." Consequently, that there be a definite number of predestined is in harmony will Godís goodness.

8. As is clear from what was said previously, while it may be granted will reference to a determined person that God, absolutely speaking, can predestine or not predestine him, nevertheless, supposing that God has predestined him, He cannot not predestine him. Nor is the opposite possible, because God cannot change. Consequently, it is commonly said that the following proposition, "God can predestine one who is not predestined or not predestine one who is predestined," is false if taken in a composite sense, but true if taken in a divided sense. All statements, therefore, which imply that composite sense are absolutely false. Thus, we must not concede that the number of the predestined can be increased or diminished, because addition presupposes something which is increased, and subtraction, something which is diminished. For the same reason, we cannot concede that God can predestine more or fewer than He has already predestined.

Furthermore, the example drawn from the making of things is not to the point; for making is a particular action terminating exteriorly in an effect, and the fact that God makes something first and does not make it later indicates no change in God but only in the effect. On the other hand, predestination, foreknowledge, and similar things are acts intrinsic to God; and no change can take place in them without a change taking place in God. Nothing, therefore, that implies a change in these acts should be granted.

9-10. The answer to these arguments is clear, for they are based on an understanding of Godís power as absolute, not as modified by a supposition of predestination or non-predestination.

11. That Gloss should be understood as meaning this: the number of Jews entering is not as large as the total number of all those who have been preordained to life, for it is not only Jews who have been predestined. Or one could reply that the Glass is not speaking about the preordination of predestination but about the preordination of preparation by which the Jews were disposed for life by means of the Law. Or, finally, one could reply that not as many Jews entered the early Church as are predestined, because, as we read in the Epistle to the Romans (11:25-26): "When the fulness of the Gentiles should come in... All Israel will be saved" in the Church at the end of time.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 23, 1, ad 4; I-II, 112, 5; In Evang. Joannis, C. 10, lectura 5


It seems that they are, for

1. The words of St. John, "His unction teacheth you of all things" (1Jn 2,27), are understood as referring to all things pertaining to salvation. But predestination pertains very much to salvation, since it is the cause of salvation. Consequently, through an unction they receive, all men are made certain of their predestination.

2. It is consonant will Godís goodness, which does all things in the best possible way, to lead men to their reward in the best possible way. Now, the best possible way seems to be that each and every man be certain of his reward. Therefore, each and every person who is pre destined is given assurance that he will come to his reward. Consequently, the same must be said as before.

3. All whom the leader of an army enrols for merit in battle are likewise enrolled for a reward. Consequently, they are as certain about their reward as they are about their merit. But men are certain that they are in the state of meriting. Consequently, they are also certain that they will obtain their reward. 'We conclude as before.

To the Contrary:

In Ecclesiastes (9: 1) we read: "Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred."



There is nothing inconsistent in the revelation to some person of the fact of his predestination; but, in view of His general law, it would be inconsistent if He revealed this to all the predestined for the following two reasons. The first reason may be found by considering those who are not predestined. Now, if all the predestined knew that they were predestined, then all those not predestined would know that they were not predestined from the very fact that they did not know if they were predestined. This would, in some way, lead them to despair. The second reason may be found by considering those who are predestined. Now, security is the mother of negligence; and if the predestined were certain about their predestination, they would be secure about their salvation. Consequently, they would not exercise so great care in avoiding evil. Hence, it has been wisely ordained by Godís providence that men should be ignorant of their predestination or reprobation.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. When Scripture says that His unction teaches everything connected will salvation, this should be understood as referring to those things knowledge of which pertains to salvation, not to all those things which, in themselves, do pertain to salvation. And, although predestination itself is necessary for salvation, knowledge of predestination is not.

2. It is not proper, when giving a reward, to give the person who is to receive it unconditional assurance. The proper way is to give conditional assurance to the one for whom the reward is being prepared, namely, that the reward will be given Mm unless he fails on his part. This kind of assurance is given to all the predestined through the in fusion of the virtue of hope.

3. One cannot know will any certainty that he is in the state of meriting, although he can know, by conjecture, that this is probably the case. For a habit never can be known except through its acts, and the acts of the infused supernatural virtues greatly resemble the acts of the acquired natural virtues. Consequently, it is not easy to be certain that acts of this kind have their source in grace, unless, by a special privilege, a person is made certain of it through a revelation. More over, he who is enrolled by the leader of an army for a secular struggle is given only conditional assurance of his reward, because one "is not crowned, except he strive lawfully" (2Tm 2,5).


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 23, 8 ad 4 Sentences 41, I, 4; IV Sentences 45, 3, 3; Contra Gentiles III, CC. 95-96, 113.


It seems not, for

1. What can be aided can be prevented, but predestination cannot be prevented. Therefore, it cannot be aided in any way.

2. When one thing has its effect whether another thing is present or not, the latter is no help to it. But predestination must have its effect, because it cannot fail whether prayers take place or not. Consequently, predestination is not helped by prayers.

3. Nothing eternal is preceded by something temporal. But prayer is temporal, and predestination is eternal. Therefore, prayer cannot precede predestination, and, consequently, cannot help it.

4. As is clear from the first Epistle to the Corinthians (12:12), the members of the mystical body resemble the members of a natural body. Now, in a natural body, a member does not acquire its perfection by means of another member. Consequently, the same is true [of members] in the mystical body. But the members of the mystical body receive their greatest perfection through the effects of predestination. Therefore, one man is not aided in obtaining the effects of predestination by the prayers of another.

To the Contrary:

1'. We read in Genesis (25:21): "Isaac besought the Lord for his will because she was barren; and he heard him, and made Rebecca to conceive." As a result of this conception Jacob was born, who had been predestined from all eternity; and this predestination would never have been fulfilled had he not been born. But it was effected by the prayer of Isaac. Consequently, predestination is helped by prayers.

2í. In a certain sermon on the conversion of St. Paul, in which the Lord is represented as speaking to Paul, we read: "Unless Stephen, my servant, had prayed for you, I would have destroyed you." The prayers of Stephen, therefore, freed Paul from reprobation; and so through these prayers he was predestined. Hence, we conclude as before.

3í. One can merit the first grace for someone. For the same reason, therefore, he can also merit final grace for Mm. But whoever possesses final grace is predestined. Therefore, the predestination of one person can be furthered by the prayers of another.

4í. As Damascene tells us in a certain sermon on the dead, Gregory prayed for Trajan and freed him from hell it seems, therefore, that he was freed from the company of the damned by Gregoryís prayers. Hence, the same must be said as before.

5í. The members of the mystical body resemble the members of a natural body. But in a natural body one member is helped by another. Consequently, the same is true in the mystical body, and the above proposition stands.

De veritate EN 57