Summa - Supplement 1462

Whether towards the time of the judgment the sun and moon will be darkened in very truth?


Objection 1: It would seem that towards the time of the judgment the sun and moon will be darkened in very truth. For, as Rabanus says, commenting on
Mt 24,29 "nothing hinders us from gathering that the sun moon, and stars will then be deprived of their light, as we know happened to the sun at the time of our Lord's passion."

Objection 2: Further, the light of the heavenly bodies is directed to the generation of inferior bodies, because by its means and not only by their movement they act upon this lower world as Averroes says (De Subst. Orbis.). But generation will cease then. Therefore neither will light remain in the heavenly bodies.

Objection 3: Further, according to some the inferior bodies will be cleansed of the qualities by which they act. Now heavenly bodies act not only by movement, but also by light, as stated above (Objection [2]). Therefore as the movement of heaven will cease, so will the light of the heavenly bodies.

On the contrary, According to astronomers the sun and moon cannot be eclipsed at the same time. But this darkening of the sun and moon is stated to be simultaneous, when the Lord shall come to judgment. Therefore the darkening will not be in very truth due to a natural eclipse.

Further, it is not seemly for the same to be the cause of a thing's failing and increasing. Now when our Lord shall come the light of the luminaries will increase according to Is 30,26, "The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold." Therefore it is unfitting for the light of these bodies to cease when our Lord comes.

I answer that, If we speak of the sun and moon in respect of the very moment of Christ's coming, it is not credible that they will be darkened through being bereft of their light, since when Christ comes and the saints rise again the whole world will be renewed, as we shall state further on (Question [74]). If, however, we speak of them in respect of the time immediately preceding the judgment, it is possible that by the Divine power the sun, moon, and other luminaries of the heavens will be darkened, either at various times or all together, in order to inspire men with fear.

Reply to Objection 1: Rabanus is speaking of the time preceding the judgment: wherefore he adds that when the judgment day is over the words of Isaias shall be fulfilled.

Reply to Objection 2: Light is in the heavenly bodies not only for the purpose of causing generation in these lower bodies, but also for their own perfection and beauty. Hence it does not follow that where generation ceases, the light of the heavenly bodies will cease, but rather that it will increase.

Reply to Objection 3: It does not seem probable that the elemental qualities will be removed from the elements, although some have asserted this. If, however, they be removed, there would still be no parallel between them and light, since the elemental qualities are in opposition to one another, so that their action is corruptive: whereas light is a principle of action not by way of opposition, but by way of a principle regulating things in opposition to one another and bringing them back to harmony. Nor is there a parallel with the movement of heavenly bodies, for movement is the act of that which is imperfect, wherefore it must needs cease when the imperfection ceases: whereas this cannot be said of light.

Whether the virtues of heaven will be moved when our Lord shall come?


Objection 1: It would seem that the virtues of heaven will not be moved when our Lord shall come. For the virtues of heaven can de. note only the blessed angels. Now immobility is essential to blessedness. Therefore it will be impossible for them to be moved.

Objection 2: Further, ignorance is the cause of wonder (Metaph. i, 2). Now ignorance, like fear, is far from the angels, for as Gregory says (Dial. iv, 33; Moral. ii, 3), "what do they not see, who see Him Who sees all." Therefore it will be impossible for them to be moved with wonder, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 48).

Objection 3: Further, all the angels will be present at the Divine judgment; wherefore it is stated (
Ap 7,11): "All the angels stood round about the throne." Now the virtues denote one particular order of angels. Therefore it should not be said of them rather than of others, that they are moved.

On the contrary, It is written (Jb 26,11): "The pillars of heaven tremble, and dread at His beck." Now the pillars of heaven can denote only the virtues of heaven. Therefore the virtues of heaven will be moved.

Further, it is written (Mt 24,29): "The stars shall fall from heaven, and the virtues [Douay: 'powers'] of heaven shall be moved."

I answer that, Virtue is twofold as applied to the angels, [*Cf. I 108,5, ad 1] as Dionysius states (Coel. Hier. xi). For sometimes the name of "virtues" is appropriated to one order, which according to him, is the middle order of the middle hierarchy, but according to Gregory (Hom. in Evang. xxxiv) is the highest order of the lowest hierarchy. In another sense it is employed to denote all the angels: and then they are said to the question at issue it may be taken either way. For in the text (Sent. iv, D, 48) it is explained according to the second acceptation, so as to denote all the angels: and then they are said to be moved through wonder at the renewing of the world, as stated in the text. It can also be explained in reference to virtue as the name of a particular order; and then that order is said to be moved more than the others by reason of the effect, since according to Gregory (Hom. in Evang. xxxiv) we ascribe to that order the working of miracles which especially will be worked about that time: or again, because that order---since, according to Dionysius (Coel. Hier. xi), it belongs to the middle hierarchy---is not limited in its power, wherefore its ministry must needs regard universal causes. Consequently the proper office of the virtues is seemingly to move the heavenly bodies which are the cause of what happens in nature here below. And again the very name denotes this, since they are called the "virtues of heaven." Accordingly they will be moved then, because they will no more produce their effect, by ceasing to move the heavenly bodies: even as the angels who are appointed to watch over men will no longer fulfill the office of guardians.

Reply to Objection 1: This movement changes nothing pertaining to their state; but refers either to their effects which may vary without any change on their part, or to some new consideration of things which hitherto they were unable to see by means of their concreated species, which change of thought is not taken from them by their state of blessedness. Hence Augustine says (Gn ad lit. viii, 20) that "God moves the spiritual creature through time."

Reply to Objection 2: Wonder is wont to be about things surpassing our knowledge or ability: and accordingly the virtues of heaven will wonder at the Divine power doing such things, in so far as they fail to do or comprehend them. In this sense the blessed Agnes said that the "sun and moon wonder at His beauty": and this does not imply ignorance in the angels, but removes the comprehension of God from them.

The Reply to the Third Objection is clear from what has been said.



We must now consider the fire of the final conflagration: and under this head there are nine points of inquiry:

(1) Whether any cleansing of the world is to take place?

(2) Whether it will be effected by fire?

(3) Whether that fire is of the same species as elemental fire?

(4) Whether that fire will cleanse also the higher heavens?

(5) Whether that fire will consume the other elements?

(6) Whether it will cleanse all the elements?

(7) Whether that fire precedes or follows the judgment?

(8) Whether men are to be consumed by that fire?

(9) Whether the wicked will be involved therein?

Whether the world is to be cleansed?


Objection 1: It would seem that there is not to be any cleansing of the world. For only that which is unclean needs cleansing. Now God's creatures are not unclean, wherefore it is written (
Ac 10,15): "That which God hath cleansed, do not thou call common," i.e. unclean. Therefore the creatures of the world shall not be cleansed.

Objection 2: Further, according to Divine justice cleansing is directed to the removal of the uncleanness of sin, as instanced in the cleansing after death. But there can be no stain of sin in the elements of this world. Therefore, seemingly, they need not to be cleansed.

Objection 3: Further, a thing is said to be cleansed when any foreign matter that depreciates it is removed therefrom: for the removal of that which ennobles a thing is not called a cleansing, but rather a diminishing. Now it pertains to the perfection and nobility of the elements that something of a foreign nature is mingled with them, since the form of a mixed body is more noble than the form of a simple body. Therefore it would seem nowise fitting that the elements of this world can possibly be cleansed.

On the contrary, All renewal is effected by some kind of cleansing. But the elements will be renewed; hence it is written (Ap 21,1): "I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth was gone." Therefore the elements shall be cleansed.

Further, a gloss [*St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei xx, 16] on 1Co 7,31, "The fashion of this earth passeth away," says: "The beauty of this world will perish in the burning of worldly flames." Therefore the same conclusion follows.

I answer that, Since the world was, in a way, made for man's sake, it follows that, when man shall be glorified in the body, the other bodies of the world shall also be changed to a better state, so that it is rendered a more fitting place for him and more pleasant to look upon. Now in order that man obtain the glory of the body, it behooves first of all those things to be removed which are opposed to glory. There are two, namely the corruption and stain of sin---because according to 1Co 15,50, "neither shall corruption possess incorruption," and all the unclean shall be without the city of glory (Ap 22,15)---and again, the elements require to be cleansed from the contrary dispositions, ere they be brought to the newness of glory, proportionately to what we have said with regard to man. Now although, properly speaking, a corporeal thing cannot be the subject of the stain of sin, nevertheless, on account of sin corporeal things contract a certain unfittingness for being appointed to spiritual purposes; and for this reason we find that places where crimes have been committed are reckoned unfit for the performance of sacred actions therein, unless they be cleansed beforehand. Accordingly that part of the world which is given to our use contracts from men's sins a certain unfitness for being glorified, wherefore in this respect it needs to be cleansed. In like manner with regard to the intervening space, on account of the contact of the elements, there are many corruptions, generations and alterations of the elements, which diminish their purity: wherefore the elements need to be cleansed from these also, so that they be fit to receive the newness of glory.

Reply to Objection 1: When it is asserted that every creature of God is clean we are to understand this as meaning that its substance contains no alloy of evil, as the Manichees maintained, saying that evil and good are two substances in some places severed from one another, in others mingled together. But it does not exclude a creature from having an admixture of a foreign nature, which in itself is also good, but is inconsistent with the perfection of that creature. Nor does this prevent evil from being accidental to a creature, although not mingled with it as part of its substance.

Reply to Objection 2: Although corporeal elements cannot be the subject of sin, nevertheless, from the sin that is committed in them they contract a certain unfitness for receiving the perfection of glory.

Reply to Objection 3: The form of a mixed body and the form of an element may be considered in two ways: either as regards the perfection of the species, and thus a mixed body is more perfect---or as regards their continual endurance; and thus the simple body is more noble, because it has not in itself the cause of corruption, unless it be corrupted by something extrinsic: whereas a mixed body has in itself the cause of its corruption, namely the composition of contraries. Wherefore a simple body, although it be corruptible in part is incorruptible as a whole, which cannot be said of a mixed body. And since incorruption belongs to the perfection of glory, it follows that the perfection of a simple is more in keeping with the perfection of glory, than the perfection of a mixed body, unless the mixed body has also in itself some principle of incorruption, as the human body has, the form of which is incorruptible. Nevertheless, although a mixed body is somewhat more noble than a simple body, a simple body that exists by itself has a more noble being than if it exist in a mixed body, because in a mixed body simple bodies are somewhat in potentiality, whereas, existing by themselves, they are in their ultimate perfection.

Whether the cleansing of the world will be effected by fire?


Objection 1: It would seem that this cleansing will not be effected by fire. For since fire is a part of the world, it needs to be cleansed like the other parts. Now, the same thing should not be both cleanser and cleansed. Therefore it would seem that the cleansing will not be by fire.

Objection 2: Further, just as fire has a cleansing virtue so has water. Since then all things are not capable of being cleansed by fire, and some need to be cleansed by water---which distinction is moreover observed by the Old Law---it would seem that fire will not at any rate cleanse all things.

Objection 3: Further, this cleansing would seem to consist in purifying the parts of the world by separating them from one another. Now the separation of the parts of the world from one another at the world's beginning was effected by God's power alone, for the work of distinction was carried out by that power: wherefore Anaxagoras asserted that the separation was effected by the act of the intellect which moves all things (cf. Aristotle, Phys. viii, 9). Therefore it would seem that at the end of the world the cleansing will be done immediately by God and not by fire.

On the contrary, It is written (
Ps 49,3): "A fire shall burn before Him, and a mighty tempest shall be around Him"; and afterwards in reference to the judgment (Ps 49,4): "He shall call heaven from above, and the earth to judge His people." Therefore it would seem that the final cleansing of the world will be by means of fire.

Further, it is written (2P 3,12): "The heavens being on fire will be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat." Therefore this cleansing will be effected by fire.

I answer that, As stated above (Article [1]) this cleansing of the world will remove from it the stain contracted from sin, and the impurity resulting from mixture, and will be a disposition to the perfection of glory; and consequently in this threefold respect it will be most fitting for it to be effected by fire. First, because since fire is the most noble of the elements, its natural properties are more like the properties of glory, and this is especially clear in regard to light. Secondly, because fire, on account of the efficacy of its active virtue, is not as susceptible as the other elements to the admixture of a foreign matter. Thirdly, because the sphere of fire is far removed from our abode; nor are we so familiar with the use of fire as with that of earth, water, and air, so that it is not so liable to depreciation. Moreover, it is most efficacious in cleansing and in separating by a process of rarefaction.

Reply to Objection 1: Fire is not employed by us in its proper matter (since thus it is far removed from us), but only in a foreign matter: and in this respect it will be possible for the world to be cleansed by fire as existing in its pure state. But in so far as it has an admixture of some foreign matter it will be possible for it to be cleansed; and thus it will be cleanser and cleansed under different aspects. and this is not unreasonable.

Reply to Objection 2: The first cleansing of the world by the deluge regarded only the stain of sin. Now the sin which was most prevalent then was the sin of concupiscence, and consequently it was fitting that the cleansing should be by means of its contrary, namely water. But the second cleansing regards both the stain of sin and the impurity of mixture, and in respect of both it is more fitting for it to be effected by fire than by water. For the power of water tends to unite rather than to separate; wherefore the natural impurity of the elements could not be removed by water as by fire. Moreover, at the end of the world the prevalent sin will be that of tepidity, as though the world were already growing old, because then, according to Mt 24,12, "the charity of many shall grow cold," and consequently the cleansing will then be fittingly effected by fire. Nor is there any thing that cannot in some way be cleansed by fire: some things, however, cannot be cleansed by fire without being destroyed themselves, such as cloths and wooden vessels, and these the Law ordered to be cleansed with water; yet all these things will be finally destroyed by fire.

Reply to Objection 3: By the work of distinction things received different forms whereby they are distinct from one another: and consequently this could only be done by Him Who is the author of nature. But by the final cleansing things will be restored to the purity wherein they were created, wherefore created nature will be able to minister to its Creator to this effect; and for this reason is a creature employed as a minister, that it is ennobled thereby.

Whether the fire whereby the world will be cleansed will be of the same species with elemental fire?


Objection 1: It would seem that the fire in question is not of the same species as elemental fire. For nothing consumes itself. But that fire will consume the four elements according to a gloss on
2P 3,12. Therefore that fire will not be of the same species as elemental fire.

Objection 2: Further, as power is made known by operation, so is nature made known by power. Now that fire will have a different power from the fire which is an element: because it will cleanse the universe, whereas this fire cannot do that. Therefore it will not be of the same species as this.

Objection 3: Further, in natural bodies those that are of the same species have the same movement. But that fire will have a different movement from the fire that is an element, because it will move in all directions so as to cleanse the whole. Therefore it is not of the same species.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 16), and his words are contained in a gloss on 1Co 7,31, that "the fashion of this world will perish in the burning of worldly flames." Therefore that fire will be of the same nature as the fire which is now in the world.

Further, just as the future cleansing is to be by fire, so was the past cleansing by water: and they are both compared to one another, 2P 3,5. Now in the first cleansing the water was of the same species with elemental water. Therefore in like manner the fire of the second cleansing will be of the same species with elemental fire.

I answer that, We meet with three opinions on this question. For some say that the element of fire which is in its own sphere will come down to cleanse the world: and they explain this descent by way of multiplication, because the fire will spread through finding combustible matter on all sides. And this will result all the more then since the virtue of the fire will be raised over all the elements. Against this, however, would seem to be not only the fact that this fire will come down, but also the statement of the saints that it will rise up; thus (2P 3,10) it is declared that the fire of the judgment will rise as high as the waters of the deluge; whence it would seem to follow that this fire is situated towards the middle of the place of generation. Hence others say that this fire will be generated towards the intervening space through the focusing together of the rays of the heavenly bodies, just as we see them focused together in a burning-glass; for at that time in lieu of glasses there will be concave clouds, on which the rays will strike But this again does not seem probable: for since the effects of heavenly bodies depend on certain fixed positions and aspects, if this fire resulted from the virtue of the heavenly bodies, the time of this cleansing would be known to those who observe the movements of the stars and this is contrary to the authority of Scripture. Consequently others, following Augustine, say that "just as the deluge resulted from an outpouring of the waters of the world, so the fashion of this world will perish by a burning of worldly flames" (De Civ. Dei. xx, 16). This burning is nothing else but the assembly of all those lower and higher causes that by their nature have a kindling virtue: and this assembly will take place not in the ordinary course of things, but by the Divine power: and from all these causes thus assembled the fire that will burn the surface of this world will result. If we consider aright these opinions, we shall find that they differ as to the cause producing this fire and not as to its species. For fire, whether produced by the sun or by some lower heating cause, is of the same species as fire in its own sphere, except in so far as the former has some admixture of foreign matter. And this will of necessity be the case then, since fire cannot cleanse a thing, unless this become its matter in some way. Hence we must grant that the fire in question is simply of the same species as ours.

Reply to Objection 1: The fire in question, although of the same species as ours, is not identically the same. Now we see that of two fires of the same species one destroys the other, namely the greater destroys the lesser, by consuming its matter. In like manner that fire will be able to destroy our fire.

Reply to Objection 2: Just as an operation that proceeds from the virtue of a thing is an indication of that virtue, so is its virtue an indication of its essence or nature, if it proceed from the essential principles of the thing. But an operation that does not proceed from the virtue of the operator does not indicate its virtue. This appears in instruments: for the action of an instrument shows forth the virtue of the mover rather than that of the instrument, since it shows forth the virtue of the agent in so far as the latter is the first principle of the action, whereas it does not show forth the virtue of the instrument, except in so far as it is susceptive of the influence of the principal agent as moving that instrument. In like manner a virtue that does not proceed from the essential principles of a thing does not indicate the nature of that thing except in the point of susceptibility. Thus the virtue whereby hot water can heat is no indication of the nature of water except in the point of its being receptive of heat. Consequently nothing prevents water that has this virtue from being of the same species as water that has it not. In like manner it is not unreasonable that this fire, which will have the power to cleanse the surface of the world, will be of the same species as the fire to which we are used, since the heating power therein arises, not from its essential principles but from the divine power or operation: whether we say that this power is an absolute quality, such as heat in hot water, or a kind of intention as we have ascribed to instrumental virtue (Sent. iv, D, 1, qu. 1, Article [4]) [*Cf. III 62,4, ad 1]. The latter is more probable since that fire will not act save as the instrument of the Divine power.

Reply to Objection 3: Of its own nature fire tends only upwards; but in so far as it pursues its matter, which it requires when it is outside its own sphere, it follows the site of combustible matter. Accordingly it is not unreasonable for it to take a circular or a downward course, especially in so far as it acts as the instrument of the Divine power.

Whether that fire will cleanse also the higher heavens?


Objection 1: It would seem that that fire will cleanse also the higher heavens. For it is written (
Ps 101,26-27): "The heavens are the works of Thy hands: they shall perish but Thou remainest." Now the higher heavens also are the work of God's hands. Therefore they also shall perish in the final burning of the world.

Objection 2: Further, it is written (2P 3,12): "The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat of fire." Now the heavens that are distinct from the elements are the higher heavens, wherein the stars are fixed. Therefore it would seem that they also will be cleansed by that fire.

Objection 3: Further, the purpose of that fire will be to remove from bodies their indisposition to the perfection of glory. Now in the higher heaven we find this indisposition both as regards guilt, since the devil sinned there, and as regards natural deficiency, since a gloss on Rm 8,22, "We know that every creature groaneth and is in labor even until now," says: "All the elements fulfill their duty with labor: even as it is not without labor that the sun and moon travel their appointed course." Therefore the higher heavens also will be cleansed by that fire.

On the contrary, "The heavenly bodies are not receptive of impressions from without" [*Cf. Sent. Philosop. ex Arist. collect. lit. c.---Among the works of Bede].

Further, a gloss on 2 Thess. 1:8, "In a flame of fire giving vengeance," says: "There will be in the world a fire that shall precede Him, and shall rise in the air to the same height as did the waters of the deluge." But the waters of the deluge did not rise to the height of the higher heavens but only 15 cubits higher than the mountain summits (Gn 7,20). Therefore the higher heavens will not be cleansed by that fire.

I answer that, The cleansing of the world will be for the purpose of removing from bodies the disposition contrary to the perfection of glory, and this perfection is the final consummation of the universe: and this disposition is to be found in all bodies, but differently in different bodies. For in some this indisposition regards something inherent to their substance: as in these lower bodies which by being mixed together fall away from their own purity. In others this indisposition does not regard something inherent to their substance; as in the heavenly bodies, wherein nothing is to be found contrary to the final perfection of the universe, except movement which is the way to perfection, and this not any kind of movement, but only local movement, which changes nothing intrinsic to a thing, such as its substance, quantity, or quality, but only its place which is extrinsic to it. Consequently there is no need to take anything away from the substance of the higher heavens, but only to set its movement at rest. Now local movement is brought to rest not by the action of a counter agent, but by the mover ceasing to move; and therefore the heavenly bodies will not be cleansed, neither by fire nor by the action of any creature, but in lieu of being cleansed they will be set at rest by God's will alone.

Reply to Objection 1: As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 18,24): "Those words of the psalm refer to the aerial heavens which will be cleansed by the fire of the final conflagration." Or we may reply that if they refer also to the higher heavens, these are said to perish as regards their movement whereby now they are moved without cessation.

Reply to Objection 2: Peter explains himself to which heavens he refers. For before the words quoted, he had said (2P 3,5-7): "The heavens . . . first, and the earth . . . through water . . . perished . . . which . . . now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire unto the day of judgment." [*The entire text differs somewhat from St. Thomas's quotation; but the sense is the same.] Therefore the heavens to be cleansed are those which before were cleansed by the waters of the deluge, namely the aerial heavens.

Reply to Objection 3: This labor and service of the creature, that Ambrose ascribes to the heavenly bodies, is nothing else than the successive movements whereby they are subject to time, and the lack of that final consummation which they will attain in the end. Nor did the empyrean heaven contract any stain from the sin of the demons, because they were expelled from that heaven as soon as they sinned.

Whether that fire will consume the other elements?


Objection 1: It would seem that the fire in question will consume the other elements. For a gloss of Bede on
2P 3,12 says: "This exceeding great fire will engulf the four elements whereof the world consists: yet it will not so engulf all things that they will cease to be, but it will consume two of them entirely, and will restore two of them to a better fashion." Therefore it would seem that at least two of the elements are to be entirely destroyed by that fire.

Objection 2: Further, it is written (Ap 21,1): "The first heaven and the first earth have passed away and the sea is no more." Now the heaven here denotes the air, as Augustine states (De Civ. Dei xx, 18); and the sea denotes the gathering together of the waters. Therefore it would seem that these three elements will be wholly destroyed.

Objection 3: Further, fire does not cleanse except in so far as other things are made to be its matter. If, then, fire cleanses the other elements, they must needs become its matter. Therefore they must pass into its nature, and consequently be voided of their own nature.

Objection 4: Further, the form of fire is the most noble of the forms to which elemental matter can attain. Now all things will be brought to the most noble state by this cleansing. Therefore the other elements will be wholly transformed into fire.

On the contrary, A gloss on 1Co 7,31, "The fashion of this world passeth away," says: "The beauty, not the substance, passeth." But the very substance of the elements belongs to the perfection of the world. Therefore the elements will not be consumed as to their substance.

Further, this final cleansing that will be effected by fire will correspond to the first cleansing which was effected by water. Now the latter did not corrupt the substance of the elements. Therefore neither will the former which will be the work of fire.

I answer that, There are many opinions on this question. For some say that all the elements will remain as to their matter, while all will be changed as regards their imperfection; but that two of them will retain their respective substantial form, namely air and earth, while two of them, namely fire and water, will not retain their substantial form but will be changed to the form of heaven. In this way three elements, namely air, fire, and water, will be called "heaven"; although air will retain the same substantial form as it has now, since even now it is called "heaven." Wherefore (Ap 21,1) only heaven and earth are mentioned: "I saw," says he, "a new heaven and a new earth." But this opinion is altogether absurd: for it is opposed both to philosophy---which holds it impossible for the lower bodies to be in potentiality to the form of heaven, since they have neither a common matter, nor mutual contrariety---and to theology, since according to this opinion the perfection of the universe with the integrity of its parts will not be assured on account of two of the elements being destroyed.

Consequently "heaven" is taken to denote the fifth body, while all the elements are designated by "earth," as expressed in Ps 148,7-8, "Praise the Lord from the earth" and afterwards, "fire, hail, snow, ice," etc.

Hence others say that all the elements will remain as to their substance, but that their active and passive qualities will be taken from them: even as they say too, that in a mixed body the elements retain their substantial form without having their proper qualities, since these are reduced to a mean, and a mean is neither of the extremes. And seemingly the following words of Augustine (De Civ. Dei xx, 16) would seem in agreement with this: "In this conflagration of the world the qualities of the corruptible elements that were befitting our corruptible bodies will entirely perish by fire: and the substance itself will have those qualities that become an immortal body."

However, this does not seem probable, for since the proper qualities of the elements are the effects of their substantial form, it seems impossible, as long as the substantial forms remain, for the aforesaid qualities to be changed, except for a time by some violent action: thus in hot water we see that by virtue of its species it returns to the cold temperature which it had lost by the action of fire, provided the species of water remain. Moreover, these same elemental qualities belong to the second perfection of the elements, as being their proper passions: nor is it probable that in this final consummation the elements will lose anything of their natural perfection. Wherefore it would seem that the reply to this question should be that the elements will remain as to their substance and proper qualities, but that they will be cleansed both from the stain which they contracted from the sins of men, and from the impurity resulting in them through their mutual action and passion: because when once the movement of the first movable body ceases, mutual action and passion will be impossible in the lower elements: and this is what Augustine calls the "qualities of corruptible elements," namely their unnatural dispositions by reason of which they come near to corruption.

Reply to Objection 1: That fire is said to engulf the four elements in so far as in some way it will cleanse them. But when it is said further that "it will consume two entirely," this does not mean that two of the elements are to be destroyed as to their substance, but that two will be more changed from the property which they have now. Some say that these two are fire and water which excel the others in their active qualities, namely heat and cold, which are the chief principles of corruption in other bodies; and since then there will be no action of fire and water which surpass the others in activity, they would seem especially to be changed from the virtue which they have now. Others, however, say that these two are air and water, on account of the various movements of these two elements, which movements they derive from the movement of the heavenly bodies. And since these movements will cease (such as the ebb and flow of the sea, and the disturbances of winds and so forth), therefore these elements especially will be changed from the property which they have now.

Reply to Objection 2: As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 16), when it is stated: "And the sea is no more," by the sea we may understand the present world of which he had said previously (De Civ. Dei xx, 13): "The sea gave up the dead that were in it." If, however, the sea be taken literally we must reply that by the sea two things are to be understood, namely the substance of the waters, and their disposition, as containing salt and as to the movement of the waves. The sea will remain, not as to this second, but as to the first.

Reply to Objection 3: This fire will not act save as the instrument of God's providence and power; wherefore it will not act on the other elements so as to consume them but only so as to cleanse them. Nor is it necessary for that which becomes the matter of fire, to be voided of its proper species entirely, as instanced by incandescent iron, which by virtue of its species that remains returns to its proper and former state as soon as it is taken from the furnace. It will be the same with the elements after they are cleansed by fire.

Reply to Objection 4: In the elemental parts we must consider not only what is befitting a part considered in itself, but also what is befitting it in its relation to the whole. I say, then, that although water would be more noble if it had the form of fire, as likewise would earth and air, yet the universe would be more imperfect, if all elemental matter were to assume the form of fire.

Summa - Supplement 1462