QUESTION 23: OF PREDESTINATION
After consideration of divine providence, we must treat of
predestination and the book of life. Concerning predestination there are
eight points of inquiry:
(1) Whether predestination is suitably attributed to God?
(2) What is predestination, and whether it places anything in the
(3) Whether to God belongs the reprobation of some men?
(4) On the comparison of predestination to election; whether, that is to
say, the predestined are chosen?
(5) Whether merits are the cause or reason of predestination, or
reprobation, or election?
(6) of the certainty of predestination; whether the predestined will
infallibly be saved?
(7) Whether the number of the predestined is certain?
(8) Whether predestination can be furthered by the prayers of the saints?
Article 1: Whether men are predestined by God?
Objection 1: It seems that men are not predestined by God, for Damascene says
(De Fide Orth. ii, 30): "It must be borne in mind that God foreknows but
does not predetermine everything, since He foreknows all that is in us,
but does not predetermine it all." But human merit and demerit are in us,
forasmuch as we are the masters of our own acts by free will. All that
pertains therefore to merit or demerit is not predestined by God; and
thus man's predestination is done away.
Objection 2: Further, all creatures are directed to their end by divine
providence, as was said above (Question , Articles ,2). But other creatures are
not said to be predestined by God. Therefore neither are men.
Objection 3: Further, the angels are capable of beatitude, as well as men. But
predestination is not suitable to angels, since in them there never was
any unhappiness (miseria); for predestination, as Augustine says (De
praedest. sanct. 17), is the "purpose to take pity [miserendi]" [*See
Question , Article ]. Therefore men are not predestined.
Objection 4: Further, the benefits God confers upon men are revealed by the
Holy Ghost to holy men according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Cor. 2:12): "Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit
that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God."
Therefore if man were predestined by God, since predestination is a
benefit from God, his predestination would be made known to each
predestined; which is clearly false.
On the contrary, It is written (Rm. 8:30): "Whom He predestined, them He
I answer that, It is fitting that God should predestine men. For all
things are subject to His providence, as was shown above (Question , Article ).
Now it belongs to providence to direct things towards their end, as was
also said (Question , Articles ,2). The end towards which created things are
directed by God is twofold; one which exceeds all proportion and faculty
of created nature; and this end is life eternal, that consists in seeing
God which is above the nature of every creature, as shown above (Question , Article ). The other end, however, is proportionate to created nature, to
which end created being can attain according to the power of its nature.
Now if a thing cannot attain to something by the power of its nature, it
must be directed thereto by another; thus, an arrow is directed by the
archer towards a mark. Hence, properly speaking, a rational creature,
capable of eternal life, is led towards it, directed, as it were, by God.
The reason of that direction pre-exists in God; as in Him is the type of
the order of all things towards an end, which we proved above to be
providence. Now the type in the mind of the doer of something to be done,
is a kind of pre-existence in him of the thing to be done. Hence the type
of the aforesaid direction of a rational creature towards the end of life
eternal is called predestination. For to destine, is to direct or send.
Thus it is clear that predestination, as regards its objects, is a part
Reply to Objection 1: Damascene calls predestination an imposition of necessity,
after the manner of natural things which are predetermined towards one
end. This is clear from his adding: "He does not will malice, nor does He
compel virtue." Whence predestination is not excluded by Him.
Reply to Objection 2: Irrational creatures are not capable of that end which
exceeds the faculty of human nature. Whence they cannot be properly said
to be predestined; although improperly the term is used in respect of any
Reply to Objection 3: Predestination applies to angels, just as it does to men,
although they have never been unhappy. For movement does not take its
species from the term "wherefrom" but from the term "whereto." Because it
matters nothing, in respect of the notion of making white, whether he who
is made white was before black, yellow or red. Likewise it matters
nothing in respect of the notion of predestination whether one is
predestined to life eternal from the state of misery or not. Although it
may be said that every conferring of good above that which is due
pertains to mercy; as was shown previously (Question , Articles ,4).
Reply to Objection 4: Even if by a special privilege their predestination were
revealed to some, it is not fitting that it should be revealed to
everyone; because, if so, those who were not predestined would despair;
and security would beget negligence in the predestined.
Article 2: Whether predestination places anything in the predestined?
Objection 1: It seems that predestination does place something in the
predestined. For every action of itself causes passion. If therefore
predestination is action in God, predestination must be passion in the
Objection 2: Further, Origen says on the text, "He who was predestined," etc.
(Rm. 1:4): "Predestination is of one who is not; destination, of one who
is." And Augustine says (De Praed. Sanct.): "What is predestination but
the destination of one who is?" Therefore predestination is only of one
who actually exists; and it thus places something in the predestined.
Objection 3: Further, preparation is something in the thing prepared. But
predestination is the preparation of God's benefits, as Augustine says
(De Praed. Sanct. ii, 14). Therefore predestination is something in the
Objection 4: Further, nothing temporal enters into the definition of eternity.
But grace, which is something temporal, is found in the definition of
predestination. For predestination is the preparation of grace in the
present; and of glory in the future. Therefore predestination is not
anything eternal. So it must needs be that it is in the predestined, and
not in God; for whatever is in Him is eternal.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Praed. Sanct. ii, 14) that
"predestination is the foreknowledge of God's benefits." But
foreknowledge is not in the things foreknown, but in the person who
foreknows them. Therefore, predestination is in the one who predestines,
and not in the predestined.
I answer that, Predestination is not anything in the predestined; but
only in the person who predestines. We have said above that
predestination is a part of providence. Now providence is not anything in
the things provided for; but is a type in the mind of the provider, as
was proved above (Question , Article ). But the execution of providence which is
called government, is in a passive way in the thing governed, and in an
active way in the governor. Whence it is clear that predestination is a
kind of type of the ordering of some persons towards eternal salvation,
existing in the divine mind. The execution, however, of this order is in
a passive way in the predestined, but actively in God. The execution of
predestination is the calling and magnification; according to the Apostle
(Rm. 8:30): "Whom He predestined, them He also called and whom He called,
them He also magnified [Vulg. 'justified']."
Reply to Objection 1: Actions passing out to external matter imply of themselves
passion---for example, the actions of warming and cutting; but not so
actions remaining in the agent, as understanding and willing, as said
above (Question , Article ; Question , Article , ad 1). Predestination is an action of
this latter class. Wherefore, it does not put anything in the
predestined. But its execution, which passes out to external things, has
an effect in them.
Reply to Objection 2: Destination sometimes denotes a real mission of someone to
a given end; thus, destination can only be said of someone actually
existing. It is taken, however, in another sense for a mission which a
person conceives in the mind; and in this manner we are said to destine a
thing which we firmly propose in our mind. In this latter way it is said
that Eleazar "determined not to do any unlawful things for the love of
life" (2 Macc. 6:20). Thus destination can be of a thing which does not
exist. Predestination, however, by reason of the antecedent nature it
implies, can be attributed to a thing which does not actually exist; in
whatsoever way destination is accepted.
Reply to Objection 3: Preparation is twofold: of the patient in respect to
passion and this is in the thing prepared; and of the agent to action,
and this is in the agent. Such a preparation is predestination, and as an
agent by intellect is said to prepare itself to act, accordingly as it
preconceives the idea of what is to be done. Thus, God from all eternity
prepared by predestination, conceiving the idea of the order of some
Reply to Objection 4: Grace does not come into the definition of predestination,
as something belonging to its essence, but inasmuch as predestination
implies a relation to grace, as of cause to effect, and of act to its
object. Whence it does not follow that predestination is anything
Article 3: Whether God reprobates any man?
Objection 1: It seems that God reprobates no man. For nobody reprobates what
he loves. But God loves every man, according to (Wis. 11:25): "Thou
lovest all things that are, and Thou hatest none of the things Thou hast
made." Therefore God reprobates no man.
Objection 2: Further, if God reprobates any man, it would be necessary for
reprobation to have the same relation to the reprobates as predestination
has to the predestined. But predestination is the cause of the salvation
of the predestined. Therefore reprobation will likewise be the cause of
the loss of the reprobate. But this false. For it is said (Osee 13:9):
"Destruction is thy own, O Israel; Thy help is only in Me." God does not,
then, reprobate any man.
Objection 3: Further, to no one ought anything be imputed which he cannot
avoid. But if God reprobates anyone, that one must perish. For it is said
(Eccles. 7:14): "Consider the works of God, that no man can correct whom
He hath despised." Therefore it could not be imputed to any man, were he
to perish. But this is false. Therefore God does not reprobate anyone.
On the contrary, It is said (Malachi 1:2,3): "I have loved Jacob, but
have hated Esau."
I answer that, God does reprobate some. For it was said above (Article )
that predestination is a part of providence. To providence, however, it
belongs to permit certain defects in those things which are subject to
providence, as was said above (Question , Article ). Thus, as men are ordained to
eternal life through the providence of God, it likewise is part of that
providence to permit some to fall away from that end; this is called
reprobation. Thus, as predestination is a part of providence, in regard
to those ordained to eternal salvation, so reprobation is a part of
providence in regard to those who turn aside from that end. Hence
reprobation implies not only foreknowledge, but also something more, as
does providence, as was said above (Question , Article ). Therefore, as
predestination includes the will to confer grace and glory; so also
reprobation includes the will to permit a person to fall into sin, and to
impose the punishment of damnation on account of that sin.
Reply to Objection 1: God loves all men and all creatures, inasmuch as He wishes
them all some good; but He does not wish every good to them all. So far,
therefore, as He does not wish this particular good---namely, eternal
life---He is said to hate or reprobated them.
Reply to Objection 2: Reprobation differs in its causality from predestination.
This latter is the cause both of what is expected in the future life by
the predestined---namely, glory---and of what is received in this
life---namely, grace. Reprobation, however, is not the cause of what is
in the present---namely, sin; but it is the cause of abandonment by God.
It is the cause, however, of what is assigned in the future---namely,
eternal punishment. But guilt proceeds from the free-will of the person
who is reprobated and deserted by grace. In this way, the word of the
prophet is true---namely, "Destruction is thy own, O Israel."
Reply to Objection 3: Reprobation by God does not take anything away from the
power of the person reprobated. Hence, when it is said that the
reprobated cannot obtain grace, this must not be understood as implying
absolute impossibility: but only conditional impossibility: as was said
above (Question , Article ), that the predestined must necessarily be saved; yet
a conditional necessity, which does not do away with the liberty of
choice. Whence, although anyone reprobated by God cannot acquire grace,
nevertheless that he falls into this or that particular sin comes from
the use of his free-will. Hence it is rightly imputed to him as guilt.
Article 4: Whether the predestined are chosen by God? [*"Eligantur."]
Objection 1: It seems that the predestined are not chosen by God. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv, 1) that as the corporeal sun sends his rays upon all without selection, so does God His goodness. But the goodness of God is communicated to some in an especial manner through a participation of grace and glory. Therefore God without any selection communicates His grace and glory; and this belongs to predestination.
Objection 2: Further, election is of things that exist. But predestination
from all eternity is also of things which do not exist. Therefore, some
are predestined without election.
Objection 3: Further, election implies some discrimination. Now God "wills all
men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, predestination which ordains
men towards eternal salvation, is without election.
On the contrary, It is said (Eph. 1:4): "He chose us in Him before the
foundation of the world."
I answer that, Predestination presupposes election in the order of
reason; and election presupposes love. The reason of this is that
predestination, as stated above (Article ), is a part of providence. Now
providence, as also prudence, is the plan existing in the intellect
directing the ordering of some things towards an end; as was proved above
(Question , Article ). But nothing is directed towards an end unless the will for
that end already exists. Whence the predestination of some to eternal
salvation presupposes, in the order of reason, that God wills their
salvation; and to this belong both election and love:---love, inasmuch as
He wills them this particular good of eternal salvation; since to love is
to wish well to anyone, as stated above (Question , Articles ,3):---election,
inasmuch as He wills this good to some in preference to others; since He
reprobates some, as stated above (Article ). Election and love, however, are
differently ordered in God, and in ourselves: because in us the will in
loving does not cause good, but we are incited to love by the good which
already exists; and therefore we choose someone to love, and so election
in us precedes love. In God, however, it is the reverse. For His will, by
which in loving He wishes good to someone, is the cause of that good
possessed by some in preference to others. Thus it is clear that love
precedes election in the order of reason, and election precedes
predestination. Whence all the predestinate are objects of election and
Reply to Objection 1: If the communication of the divine goodness in general be
considered, God communicates His goodness without election; inasmuch as
there is nothing which does not in some way share in His goodness, as we
said above (Question , Article ). But if we consider the communication of this or
that particular good, He does not allot it without election; since He
gives certain goods to some men, which He does not give to others. Thus
in the conferring of grace and glory election is implied.
Reply to Objection 2: When the will of the person choosing is incited to make a
choice by the good already pre-existing in the object chosen, the choice
must needs be of those things which already exist, as happens in our
choice. In God it is otherwise; as was said above (Question , Article ). Thus, as
Augustine says (De Verb. Ap. Serm. 11): "Those are chosen by God, who do
not exist; yet He does not err in His choice."
Reply to Objection 3: God wills all men to be saved by His antecedent will,
which is to will not simply but relatively; and not by His consequent
will, which is to will simply.
Article 5: Whether the foreknowledge of merits is the cause of predestination?
Objection 1: It seems that foreknowledge of merits is the cause of
predestination. For the Apostle says (Rm. 8:29): "Whom He foreknew, He
also predestined." Again a gloss of Ambrose on Rm. 9:15: "I will have
mercy upon whom I will have mercy" says: "I will give mercy to him who, I
foresee, will turn to Me with his whole heart." Therefore it seems the
foreknowledge of merits is the cause of predestination.
Objection 2: Further, Divine predestination includes the divine will, which by
no means can be irrational; since predestination is "the purpose to have
mercy," as Augustine says (De Praed. Sanct. ii, 17). But there can be no
other reason for predestination than the foreknowledge of merits.
Therefore it must be the cause of reason of predestination.
Objection 3: Further, "There is no injustice in God" (Rm. 9:14). Now it would
seem unjust that unequal things be given to equals. But all men are equal
as regards both nature and original sin; and inequality in them arises
from the merits or demerits of their actions. Therefore God does not
prepare unequal things for men by predestinating and reprobating, unless
through the foreknowledge of their merits and demerits.
On the contrary, The Apostle says (Titus 3:5): "Not by works of justice
which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." But as He
saved us, so He predestined that we should be saved. Therefore,
foreknowledge of merits is not the cause or reason of predestination.
I answer that, Since predestination includes will, as was said above
(Article ), the reason of predestination must be sought for in the same way
as was the reason of the will of God. Now it was shown above (Question , Article ), that we cannot assign any cause of the divine will on the part of the
act of willing; but a reason can be found on the part of the things
willed; inasmuch as God wills one thing on account of something else.
Wherefore nobody has been so insane as to say that merit is the cause of
divine predestination as regards the act of the predestinator. But this
is the question, whether, as regards the effect, predestination has any
cause; or what comes to the same thing, whether God pre-ordained that He
would give the effect of predestination to anyone on account of any
Accordingly there were some who held that the effect of predestination
was pre-ordained for some on account of pre-existing merits in a former
life. This was the opinion of Origen, who thought that the souls of men
were created in the beginning, and according to the diversity of their
works different states were assigned to them in this world when united
with the body. The Apostle, however, rebuts this opinion where he says
(Rm. 9:11,12): "For when they were not yet born, nor had done any good or
evil . . . not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said of her: The
elder shall serve the younger."
Others said that pre-existing merits in this life are the reason and
cause of the effect of predestination. For the Pelagians taught that the
beginning of doing well came from us; and the consummation from God: so
that it came about that the effect of predestination was granted to one,
and not to another, because the one made a beginning by preparing,
whereas the other did not. But against this we have the saying of the
Apostle (2 Cor. 3:5), that "we are not sufficient to think anything of
ourselves as of ourselves." Now no principle of action can be imagined
previous to the act of thinking. Wherefore it cannot be said that
anything begun in us can be the reason of the effect of predestination.
And so others said that merits following the effect of predestination
are the reason of predestination; giving us to understand that God gives
grace to a person, and pre-ordains that He will give it, because He knows
beforehand that He will make good use of that grace, as if a king were to
give a horse to a soldier because he knows he will make good use of it.
But these seem to have drawn a distinction between that which flows from
grace, and that which flows from free will, as if the same thing cannot
come from both. It is, however, manifest that what is of grace is the
effect of predestination; and this cannot be considered as the reason of
predestination, since it is contained in the notion of predestination.
Therefore, if anything else in us be the reason of predestination, it
will outside the effect of predestination. Now there is no distinction
between what flows from free will, and what is of predestination; as
there is not distinction between what flows from a secondary cause and
from a first cause. For the providence of God produces effects through
the operation of secondary causes, as was above shown (Question , Article ).
Wherefore, that which flows from free-will is also of predestination. We
must say, therefore, that the effect of predestination may be considered
in a twofold light---in one way, in particular; and thus there is no
reason why one effect of predestination should not be the reason or cause
of another; a subsequent effect being the reason of a previous effect, as
its final cause; and the previous effect being the reason of the
subsequent as its meritorious cause, which is reduced to the disposition
of the matter. Thus we might say that God pre-ordained to give glory on
account of merit, and that He pre-ordained to give grace to merit glory.
In another way, the effect of predestination may be considered in
general. Thus, it is impossible that the whole of the effect of
predestination in general should have any cause as coming from us;
because whatsoever is in man disposing him towards salvation, is all
included under the effect of predestination; even the preparation for
grace. For neither does this happen otherwise than by divine help,
according to the prophet Jeremias (Lam. 5:21): "convert us, O Lord, to
Thee, and we shall be converted." Yet predestination has in this way, in
regard to its effect, the goodness of God for its reason; towards which
the whole effect of predestination is directed as to an end; and from
which it proceeds, as from its first moving principle.
Reply to Objection 1: The use of grace foreknown by God is not the cause of
conferring grace, except after the manner of a final cause; as was
Reply to Objection 2: Predestination has its foundation in the goodness of God as
regards its effects in general. Considered in its particular effects,
however, one effect is the reason of another; as already stated.
Reply to Objection 3: The reason for the predestination of some, and reprobation
of others, must be sought for in the goodness of God. Thus He is said to
have made all things through His goodness, so that the divine goodness
might be represented in things. Now it is necessary that God's goodness,
which in itself is one and undivided, should be manifested in many ways
in His creation; because creatures in themselves cannot attain to the
simplicity of God. Thus it is that for the completion of the universe
there are required different grades of being; some of which hold a high
and some a low place in the universe. That this multiformity of grades
may be preserved in things, God allows some evils, lest many good things
should never happen, as was said above (Question , Article ). Let us then
consider the whole of the human race, as we consider the whole universe.
God wills to manifest His goodness in men; in respect to those whom He
predestines, by means of His mercy, as sparing them; and in respect of
others, whom he reprobates, by means of His justice, in punishing them.
This is the reason why God elects some and rejects others. To this the
Apostle refers, saying (Rm. 9:22,23): "What if God, willing to show His
wrath [that is, the vengeance of His justice], and to make His power
known, endured [that is, permitted] with much patience vessels of wrath,
fitted for destruction; that He might show the riches of His glory on the
vessels of mercy, which He hath prepared unto glory" and (2 Tim. 2:20):
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver; but
also of wood and of earth; and some, indeed, unto honor, but some unto
dishonor." Yet why He chooses some for glory, and reprobates others, has
no reason, except the divine will. Whence Augustine says (Tract. xxvi. in
Joan.): "Why He draws one, and another He draws not, seek not to judge,
if thou dost not wish to err." Thus too, in the things of nature, a
reason can be assigned, since primary matter is altogether uniform, why
one part of it was fashioned by God from the beginning under the form of
fire, another under the form of earth, that there might be a diversity of
species in things of nature. Yet why this particular part of matter is
under this particular form, and that under another, depends upon the
simple will of God; as from the simple will of the artificer it depends
that this stone is in part of the wall, and that in another; although the
plan requires that some stones should be in this place, and some in that
place. Neither on this account can there be said to be injustice in God,
if He prepares unequal lots for not unequal things. This would be
altogether contrary to the notion of justice, if the effect of
predestination were granted as a debt, and not gratuitously. In things
which are given gratuitously, a person can give more or less, just as he
pleases (provided he deprives nobody of his due), without any
infringement of justice. This is what the master of the house said: "Take
what is thine, and go thy way. Is it not lawful for me to do what I
will?" (Mt. 20:14,15).
Article 6: Whether predestination is certain?
Objection 1: It seems that predestination is not certain. Because on the words
"Hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown," (Rev 3:11),
Augustine says (De Corr. et Grat. 15): "Another will not receive, unless
this one were to lose it." Hence the crown which is the effect of
predestination can be both acquired and lost. Therefore predestination
cannot be certain.
Objection 2: Further, granted what is possible, nothing impossible follows.
But it is possible that one predestined---e.g. Peter---may sin and then
be killed. But if this were so, it would follow that the effect of
predestination would be thwarted. This then, is not impossible. Therefore
predestination is not certain.
Objection 3: Further, whatever God could do in the past, He can do now. But He
could have not predestined whom He hath predestined. Therefore now He is
able not to predestine him. Therefore predestination is not certain.
On the contrary, A gloss on Rm. 8:29: "Whom He foreknew, He also
predestinated", says: "Predestination is the foreknowledge and
preparation of the benefits of God, by which whosoever are freed will
most certainly be freed."
I answer that, Predestination most certainly and infallibly takes
effect; yet it does not impose any necessity, so that, namely, its effect
should take place from necessity. For it was said above (Article ), that
predestination is a part of providence. But not all things subject to
providence are necessary; some things happening from contingency,
according to the nature of the proximate causes, which divine providence
has ordained for such effects. Yet the order of providence is infallible,
as was shown above (Question , Article ). So also the order of predestination is
certain; yet free-will is not destroyed; whence the effect of
predestination has its contingency. Moreover all that has been said about
the divine knowledge and will (Question , Article ; Question , Article ) must also be
taken into consideration; since they do not destroy contingency in
things, although they themselves are most certain and infallible.
Reply to Objection 1: The crown may be said to belong to a person in two ways;
first, by God's predestination, and thus no one loses his crown:
secondly, by the merit of grace; for what we merit, in a certain way is
ours; and thus anyone may lose his crown by mortal sin. Another person
receives that crown thus lost, inasmuch as he takes the former's place.
For God does not permit some to fall, without raising others; according
to Job 34:24: "He shall break in pieces many and innumerable, and make
others to stand in their stead." Thus men are substituted in the place of
the fallen angels; and the Gentiles in that of the Jews. He who is
substituted for another in the state of grace, also receives the crown of
the fallen in that in eternal life he will rejoice at the good the other
has done, in which life he will rejoice at all good whether done by
himself or by others.
Reply to Objection 2: Although it is possible for one who is predestinated
considered in himself to die in mortal sin; yet it is not possible,
supposed, as in fact it is supposed. that he is predestinated. Whence it
does not follow that predestination can fall short of its effect.
Reply to Objection 3: Since predestination includes the divine will as stated
above (Article ): and the fact that God wills any created thing is necessary
on the supposition that He so wills, on account of the immutability of
the divine will, but is not necessary absolutely; so the same must be
said of predestination. Wherefore one ought not to say that God is able
not to predestinate one whom He has predestinated, taking it in a
composite sense, thought, absolutely speaking, God can predestinate or
not. But in this way the certainty of predestination is not destroyed.
Article 7: Whether the number of the predestined is certain?
Objection 1: It seems that the number of the predestined is not certain. For a
number to which an addition can be made is not certain. But there can be
an addition to the number of the predestined as it seems; for it is
written (Dt. 1:11): "The Lord God adds to this number many thousands,"
and a gloss adds, "fixed by God, who knows those who belong to Him."
Therefore the number of the predestined is not certain.
Objection 2: Further, no reason can be assigned why God pre-ordains to
salvation one number of men more than another. But nothing is arranged by
God without a reason. Therefore the number to be saved pre-ordained by
God cannot be certain.
Objection 3: Further, the operations of God are more perfect than those of
nature. But in the works of nature, good is found in the majority of
things; defect and evil in the minority. If, then, the number of the
saved were fixed by God at a certain figure, there would be more saved
than lost. Yet the contrary follows from Mt. 7:13,14: "For wide is the
gate, and broad the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are
who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that
leadeth to life; and few there are who find it!" Therefore the number of
those pre-ordained by God to be saved is not certain.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Corr. et Grat. 13): "The number of
the predestined is certain, and can neither be increased nor diminished."
I answer that, The number of the predestined is certain. Some have said
that it was formally, but not materially certain; as if we were to say
that it was certain that a hundred or a thousand would be saved; not
however these or those individuals. But this destroys the certainty of
predestination; of which we spoke above (Article ). Therefore we must say
that to God the number of the predestined is certain, not only formally,
but also materially. It must, however, be observed that the number of the
predestined is said to be certain to God, not by reason of His knowledge,
because, that is to say, He knows how many will be saved (for in this way
the number of drops of rain and the sands of the sea are certain to God);
but by reason of His deliberate choice and determination. For the further
evidence of which we must remember that every agent intends to make
something finite, as is clear from what has been said above when we
treated of the infinite (Question , Articles ,3). Now whosoever intends some
definite measure in his effect thinks out some definite number in the
essential parts, which are by their very nature required for the
perfection of the whole. For of those things which are required not
principally, but only on account of something else, he does not select
any definite number "per se"; but he accepts and uses them in such
numbers as are necessary on account of that other thing. For instance, a
builder thinks out the definite measurements of a house, and also the
definite number of rooms which he wishes to make in the house; and
definite measurements of the walls and roof; he does not, however, select
a definite number of stones, but accepts and uses just so many as are
sufficient for the required measurements of the wall. So also must we
consider concerning God in regard to the whole universe, which is His
effect. For He pre-ordained the measurements of the whole of the
universe, and what number would befit the essential parts of that
universe---that is to say, which have in some way been ordained in
perpetuity; how many spheres, how many stars, how many elements, and how
many species. Individuals, however, which undergo corruption, are not
ordained as it were chiefly for the good of the universe, but in a
secondary way, inasmuch as the good of the species is preserved through
them. Whence, although God knows the total number of individuals, the
number of oxen, flies and such like, is not pre-ordained by God "per se";
but divine providence produces just so many as are sufficient for the
preservation of the species. Now of all creatures the rational creature
is chiefly ordained for the good of the universe, being as such
incorruptible; more especially those who attain to eternal happiness,
since they more immediately reach the ultimate end. Whence the number of
the predestined is certain to God; not only by way of knowledge, but also
by way of a principal pre-ordination.
It is not exactly the same thing in the case of the number of the
reprobate, who would seem to be pre-ordained by God for the good of the
elect, in whose regard "all things work together unto good" (Rm. 8:28).
Concerning the number of all the predestined, some say that so many men
will be saved as angels fell; some, so many as there were angels left;
others, as many as the number of angels created by God. It is, however,
better to say that, "to God alone is known the number for whom is
reserved eternal happiness [*From the 'secret' prayer of the missal, 'pro
vivis et defunctis.']"
Reply to Objection 1: These words of Deuteronomy must be taken as applied to
those who are marked out by God beforehand in respect to present
righteousness. For their number is increased and diminished, but not the
number of the predestined.
Reply to Objection 2: The reason of the quantity of any one part must be judged
from the proportion of that part of the whole. Thus in God the reason why
He has made so many stars, or so many species of things, or predestined
so many, is according to the proportion of the principal parts to the
good of the whole universe.
Reply to Objection 3: The good that is proportionate to the common state of
nature is to be found in the majority; and is wanting in the minority.
The good that exceeds the common state of nature is to be found in the
minority, and is wanting in the majority. Thus it is clear that the
majority of men have a sufficient knowledge for the guidance of life; and
those who have not this knowledge are said to be half-witted or foolish;
but they who attain to a profound knowledge of things intelligible are a
very small minority in respect to the rest. Since their eternal
happiness, consisting in the vision of God, exceeds the common state of
nature, and especially in so far as this is deprived of grace through the
corruption of original sin, those who are saved are in the minority. In
this especially, however, appears the mercy of God, that He has chosen
some for that salvation, from which very many in accordance with the
common course and tendency of nature fall short.
Article 8: Whether predestination can be furthered by the prayers of the saints?
Objection 1: It seems that predestination cannot be furthered by the prayers
of the saints. For nothing eternal can be preceded by anything temporal;
and in consequence nothing temporal can help towards making something
else eternal. But predestination is eternal. Therefore, since the prayers
of the saints are temporal, they cannot so help as to cause anyone to
become predestined. Predestination therefore is not furthered by the
prayers of the saints.
Objection 2: Further, as there is no need of advice except on account of defective knowledge, so there is not need of help except through defective power. But neither of these things can be said of God when He predestines. Whence it is said: "Who hath helped the Spirit of the Lord? [*Vulg.: 'Who hath known the mind of the Lord?'] Or who hath been His counsellor?" (Rm. 11:34). Therefore predestination cannot be furthered by the prayers of the saints.
Objection 3: Further, if a thing can be helped, it can also be hindered. But
predestination cannot be hindered by anything. Therefore it cannot be
furthered by anything.
On the contrary, It is said that "Isaac besought the Lord for his wife
because she was barren; and He heard him and made Rebecca to conceive"
(Gn. 25:21). But from that conception Jacob was born, and he was
predestined. Now his predestination would not have happened if he had
never been born. Therefore predestination can be furthered by the prayers
of the saints.
I answer that, Concerning this question, there were different errors.
Some, regarding the certainty of divine predestination, said that prayers
were superfluous, as also anything else done to attain salvation; because
whether these things were done or not, the predestined would attain, and
the reprobate would not attain, eternal salvation. But against this
opinion are all the warnings of Holy Scripture, exhorting us to prayer
and other good works.
Others declared that the divine predestination was altered through
prayer. This is stated to have the opinion of the Egyptians, who thought
that the divine ordination, which they called fate, could be frustrated
by certain sacrifices and prayers. Against this also is the authority of
Scripture. For it is said: "But the triumpher in Israel will not spare
and will not be moved to repentance" (1 Kgs. 15:29); and that "the gifts
and the calling of God are without repentance" (Rm. 11:29).
Wherefore we must say otherwise that in predestination two things are to
be considered---namely, the divine ordination; and its effect. As regards
the former, in no possible way can predestination be furthered by the
prayers of the saints. For it is not due to their prayers that anyone is
predestined by God. As regards the latter, predestination is said to be
helped by the prayers of the saints, and by other good works; because
providence, of which predestination is a part, does not do away with
secondary causes but so provides effects, that the order of secondary
causes falls also under providence. So, as natural effects are provided
by God in such a way that natural causes are directed to bring about
those natural effects, without which those effects would not happen; so
the salvation of a person is predestined by God in such a way, that
whatever helps that person towards salvation falls under the order of
predestination; whether it be one's own prayers or those of another; or
other good works, and such like, without which one would not attain to
salvation. Whence, the predestined must strive after good works and
prayer; because through these means predestination is most certainly
fulfilled. For this reason it is said: "Labor more that by good works you
may make sure your calling and election" (2 Pt. 1:10).
Reply to Objection 1: This argument shows that predestination is not furthered by the prayers of the saints, as regards the preordination.
Reply to Objection 2: One is said to be helped by another in two ways; in one
way, inasmuch as he receives power from him: and to be helped thus
belongs to the weak; but this cannot be said of God, and thus we are to
understand, "Who hath helped the Spirit of the Lord?" In another way one
is said to be helped by a person through whom he carries out his work, as
a master through a servant. In this way God is helped by us; inasmuch as
we execute His orders, according to 1 Cor. 3:9: "We are God's
co-adjutors." Nor is this on account of any defect in the power of God,
but because He employs intermediary causes, in order that the beauty of
order may be preserved in the universe; and also that He may communicate
to creatures the dignity of causality.
Reply to Objection 3: Secondary causes cannot escape the order of the first
universal cause, as has been said above (Question , Article ), indeed, they
execute that order. And therefore predestination can be furthered by
creatures, but it cannot be impeded by them.