QUESTION 100: OF THE CONDITION OF THE OFFSPRING AS REGARDS RIGHTEOUSNESS
We now have to consider the condition of the offspring as to
righteousness. Under this head there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether men would have been born in a state of righteousness?
(2) Whether they would have been born confirmed in righteousness?
Article 1: Whether men would have been born in a state of righteousness?
Objection 1: It would seem that in the state of innocence men would not have
been born in a state of righteousness. For Hugh of St. Victor says (De
Sacram. i): "Before sin the first man would have begotten children
sinless; but not heirs to their father's righteousness."
Objection 2: Further, righteousness is effected by grace, as the Apostle says
(Rm. 5:16,21). Now grace is not transfused from one to another, for thus
it would be natural; but is infused by God alone. Therefore children
would not have been born righteous.
Objection 3: Further, righteousness is in the soul. But the soul is not
transmitted from the parent. Therefore neither would righteousness have
been transmitted from parents, to the children.
On the contrary, Anselm says (De Concep. Virg. x): "As long as man did
not sin, he would have begotten children endowed with righteousness
together with the rational soul."
I answer that, Man naturally begets a specific likeness to himself.
Hence whatever accidental qualities result from the nature of the
species, must be alike in parent and child, unless nature fails in its
operation, which would not have occurred in the state of innocence. But
individual accidents do not necessarily exist alike in parent and child.
Now original righteousness, in which the first man was created, was an
accident pertaining to the nature of the species, not as caused by the
principles of the species, but as a gift conferred by God on the entire
human nature. This is clear from the fact that opposites are of the same
genus; and original sin, which is opposed to original righteousness, is
called the sin of nature, wherefore it is transmitted from the parent to
the offspring; and for this reason also, the children would have been
assimilated to their parents as regards original righteousness.
Reply to Objection 1: These words of Hugh are to be understood as referring, not
to the habit of righteousness, but to the execution of the act thereof.
Reply to Objection 2: Some say that children would have been born, not with the
righteousness of grace, which is the principle of merit, but with
original righteousness. But since the root of original righteousness,
which conferred righteousness on the first man when he was made, consists
in the supernatural subjection of the reason to God, which subjection
results from sanctifying grace, as above explained (Question , Article ), we must
conclude that if children were born in original righteousness, they would
also have been born in grace; thus we have said above that the first man
was created in grace (Question , Article ). This grace, however, would not have
been natural, for it would not have been transfused by virtue of the
semen; but would have been conferred on man immediately on his receiving
a rational soul. In the same way the rational soul, which is not
transmitted by the parent, is infused by God as soon as the human body is
apt to receive it.
From this the reply to the third objection is clear.
Article 2: Whether in the state of innocence children would have been born confirmed in righteousness?
Objection 1: It would seem that in the state of innocence children would have
been born confirmed in righteousness. For Gregory says (Moral. iv) on the
words of Job 3:13: "For now I should have been asleep, etc.: If no sinful
corruption had infected our first parent, he would not have begotten
"children of hell"; no children would have been born of him but such as
were destined to be saved by the Redeemer." Therefore all would have been
born confirmed in righteousness.
Objection 2: Further, Anselm says (Cur Deus Homo i, 18): "If our first parents
had lived so as not to yield to temptation, they would have been
confirmed in grace, so that with their offspring they would have been
unable to sin any more." Therefore the children would have been born
confirmed in righteousness.
Objection 3: Further, good is stronger than evil. But by the sin of the first
man there resulted, in those born of him, the necessity of sin.
Therefore, if the first man had persevered in righteousness, his
descendants would have derived from him the necessity of preserving
Objection 4: Further, the angels who remained faithful to God, while the
others sinned, were at once confirmed in grace, so as to be unable
henceforth to sin. In like manner, therefore, man would have been
confirmed in grace if he had persevered. But he would have begotten
children like himself. Therefore they also would have been born confirmed
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 10): "Happy would have
been the whole human race if neither they---that is our first
parents---had committed any evil to be transmitted to their descendants,
nor any of their race had committed any sin for which they would have
been condemned." From which words we gather that even if our first
parents had not sinned, any of their descendants might have done evil;
and therefore they would not have been born confirmed in righteousness.
I answer that, It does not seem possible that in the state of innocence
children would have been born confirmed in righteousness. For it is clear
that at their birth they would not have had greater perfection than their
parents at the time of begetting. Now the parents, as long as they begot
children, would not have been confirmed in righteousness. For the
rational creature is confirmed in righteousness through the beatitude
given by the clear vision of God; and when once it has seen God, it
cannot but cleave to Him Who is the essence of goodness, wherefrom no one
can turn away, since nothing is desired or loved but under the aspect of
good. I say this according to the general law; for it may be otherwise in
the case of special privilege, such as we believe was granted to the
Virgin Mother of God. And as soon as Adam had attained to that happy
state of seeing God in His Essence, he would have become spiritual in
soul and body; and his animal life would have ceased, wherein alone there
is generation. Hence it is clear that children would not have been born
confirmed in righteousness.
Reply to Objection 1: If Adam had not sinned, he would not have begotten
"children of hell" in the sense that they would contract from him sin
which is the cause of hell: yet by sinning of their own free-will they
could have become "children of hell." If, however, they did not become
"children of hell" by falling into sin, this would not have been owing to
their being confirmed in righteousness, but to Divine Providence
preserving them free from sin.
Reply to Objection 2: Anselm does not say this by way of assertion, but only as
an opinion, which is clear from his mode of expression as follows: "It
seems that if they had lived, etc."
Reply to Objection 3: This argument is not conclusive, though Anselm seems to
have been influenced by it, as appears from his words above quoted. For
the necessity of sin incurred by the descendants would not have been such
that they could not return to righteousness, which is the case only with
the damned. Wherefore neither would the parents have transmitted to their
descendants the necessity of not sinning, which is only in the blessed.
Reply to Objection 4: There is no comparison between man and the angels; for
man's free-will is changeable, both before and after choice; whereas the
angel's is not changeable, as we have said above in treating of the
angels (Question , Article ).