QUESTION 70: OF THE WORK OF ADORNMENT, AS REGARDS THE FOURTH DAY
We must next consider the work of adornment, first as to each day by
itself, secondly as to all seven days in general.
In the first place, then, we consider the work of the fourth day,
secondly, that of the fifth day, thirdly, that of the sixth day, and
fourthly, such matters as belong to the seventh day.
Under the first head there are three points of inquiry:
(1) As to the production of the lights;
(2) As to the end of their production;
(3) Whether they are living beings?
Article 1: Whether the lights ought to have been produced on the fourth day?
Objection 1: It would seem that the lights ought not to have been produced on
the fourth day. For the heavenly luminaries are by nature incorruptible
bodies: wherefore their matter cannot exist without their form. But as
their matter was produced in the work of creation, before there was any
day, so therefore were their forms. It follows, then, that the lights
were not produced on the fourth day.
Objection 2: Further, the luminaries are, as it were, vessels of light. But
light was made on the first day. The luminaries, therefore, should have
been made on the first day, not on the fourth.
Objection 3: Further, the lights are fixed in the firmament, as plants are
fixed in the earth. For, the Scripture says: "He set them in the
firmament." But plants are described as produced when the earth, to which
they are attached, received its form. The lights, therefore, should have
been produced at the same time as the firmament, that is to say, on the
Objection 4: Further, plants are an effect of the sun, moon, and other
heavenly bodies. Now, cause precedes effect in the order of nature. The
lights, therefore, ought not to have been produced on the fourth day, but
on the third day.
Objection 5: Further, as astronomers say, there are many stars larger than the
moon. Therefore the sun and the moon alone are not correctly described as
the "two great lights."
On the contrary, Suffices the authority of Scripture.
I answer that, In recapitulating the Divine works, Scripture says (Gn. 2:1): "So the heavens and the earth were finished and all the furniture
of them," thereby indicating that the work was threefold. In the first
work, that of "creation," the heaven and the earth were produced, but as
yet without form. In the second, or work of "distinction," the heaven and
the earth were perfected, either by adding substantial form to formless
matter, as Augustine holds (Gen. ad lit. ii, 11), or by giving them the
order and beauty due to them, as other holy writers suppose. To these two
works is added the work of adornment, which is distinct from perfect. For
the perfection of the heaven and the earth regards, seemingly, those
things that belong to them intrinsically, but the adornment, those that
are extrinsic, just as the perfection of a man lies in his proper parts
and forms, and his adornment, in clothing or such like. Now just as
distinction of certain things is made most evident by their local
movement, as separating one from another; so the work of adornment is set
forth by the production of things having movement in the heavens, and
upon the earth. But it has been stated above (Question , Article ), that three
things are recorded as created, namely, the heaven, the water, and the
earth; and these three received their form from the three days' work of
distinction, so that heaven was formed on the first day; on the second
day the waters were separated; and on the third day, the earth was
divided into sea and dry land. So also is it in the work of adornment; on
the first day of this work, which is the fourth of creation, are produced
the lights, to adorn the heaven by their movements; on the second day,
which is the fifth, birds and fishes are called into being, to make
beautiful the intermediate element, for they move in air and water, which
are here taken as one; while on the third day, which is the sixth,
animals are brought forth, to move upon the earth and adorn it. It must
also here be noted that Augustine's opinion (Gen. ad lit. v, 5) on the
production of lights is not at variance with that of other holy writers,
since he says that they were made actually, and not merely virtually, for
the firmament has not the power of producing lights, as the earth has of
producing plants. Wherefore Scripture does not say: "Let the firmament
produce lights," though it says: "Let the earth bring forth the green
Reply to Objection 1: In Augustine's opinion there is no difficulty here; for he
does not hold a succession of time in these works, and so there was no
need for the matter of the lights to exist under another form. Nor is
there any difficulty in the opinion of those who hold the heavenly bodies
to be of the nature of the four elements, for it may be said that they
were formed out of matter already existing, as animals and plants were
formed. For those, however, who hold the heavenly bodies to be of another
nature from the elements, and naturally incorruptible, the answer must be
that the lights were substantially created at the beginning, but that
their substance, at first formless, is formed on this day, by receiving
not its substantial form, but a determination of power. As to the fact
that the lights are not mentioned as existing from the beginning, but
only as made on the fourth day, Chrysostom (Hom. vi in Gen.) explains
this by the need of guarding the people from the danger of idolatry:
since the lights are proved not to be gods, by the fact that they were
not from the beginning.
Reply to Objection 2: No difficulty exists if we follow Augustine in holding the
light made on the first day to be spiritual, and that made on this day to
be corporeal. If, however, the light made on the first day is understood
to be itself corporeal, then it must be held to have been produced on
that day merely as light in general; and that on the fourth day the
lights received a definite power to produce determinate effects. Thus we
observe that the rays of the sun have one effect, those of the moon
another, and so forth. Hence, speaking of such a determination of power,
Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv) says that the sun's light which previously was
without form, was formed on the fourth day.
Reply to Objection 3: According to Ptolemy the heavenly luminaries are not fixed
in the spheres, but have their own movement distinct from the movement of
the spheres. Wherefore Chrysostom says (Hom. vi in Gen.) that He is said
to have set them in the firmament, not because He fixed them there
immovably, but because He bade them to be there, even as He placed man in
Paradise, to be there. In the opinion of Aristotle, however, the stars
are fixed in their orbits, and in reality have no other movement but that
of the spheres; and yet our senses perceive the movement of the
luminaries and not that of the spheres (De Coel. ii, text. 43). But Moses
describes what is obvious to sense, out of condescension to popular
ignorance, as we have already said (Question , Article ; Question , Article ). The
objection, however, falls to the ground if we regard the firmament made
on the second day as having a natural distinction from that in which the
stars are placed, even though the distinction is not apparent to the
senses, the testimony of which Moses follows, as stated above (De Coel.
ii, text. 43). For although to the senses there appears but one
firmament; if we admit a higher and a lower firmament, the lower will be
that which was made on the second day, and on the fourth the stars were
fixed in the higher firmament.
Reply to Objection 4: In the words of Basil (Hom. v in Hexaem.), plants were
recorded as produced before the sun and moon, to prevent idolatry, since
those who believe the heavenly bodies to be gods, hold that plants
originate primarily from these bodies. Although as Chrysostom remarks
(Hom. vi in Gen.), the sun, moon, and stars cooperate in the work of
production by their movements, as the husbandman cooperates by his labor.
Reply to Objection 5: As Chrysostom says, the two lights are called great, not so
much with regard to their dimensions as to their influence and power. For
though the stars be of greater bulk than the moon, yet the influence of
the moon is more perceptible to the senses in this lower world. Moreover,
as far as the senses are concerned, its apparent size is greater.
Article 2: Whether the cause assigned for the production of the lights is reasonable?
Objection 1: It would seem that the cause assigned for the production of the
lights is not reasonable. For it is said (Jer. 10:2): "Be not afraid of
the signs of heaven, which the heathens fear." Therefore the heavenly
lights were not made to be signs.
Objection 2: Further, sign is contradistinguished from cause. But the lights
are the cause of what takes place upon the earth. Therefore they are not
Objection 3: Further, the distinction of seasons and days began from the first
day. Therefore the lights were not made "for seasons, and days, and
years," that is, in order to distinguish them.
Objection 4: Further, nothing is made for the sake of that which is inferior
to itself, "since the end is better than the means" (Topic. iii). But the
lights are nobler than the earth. Therefore they were not made "to
Objection 5: Further, the new moon cannot be said "to rule the night." But
such it probably did when first made; for men begin to count from the new
moon. The moon, therefore, was not made "to rule the night."
On the contrary, Suffices the authority of Scripture.
I answer that, As we have said above (Question , Article ), a corporeal creature
can be considered as made either for the sake of its proper act, or for
other creatures, or for the whole universe, or for the glory of God. Of
these reasons only that which points out the usefulness of these things
to man, is touched upon by Moses, in order to withdraw his people from
idolatry. Hence it is written (Dt. 4:19): "Lest perhaps lifting up thy
eyes to heaven, thou see the sun and the moon and all the stars of
heaven, and being deceived by error thou adore and serve them, which the
Lord thy God created for the service of all nations." Now, he explains
this service at the beginning of Genesis as threefold. First, the lights
are of service to man, in regard to sight, which directs him in his
works, and is most useful for perceiving objects. In reference to this he
says: "Let them shine in the firmament and give life to the earth."
Secondly, as regards the changes of the seasons, which prevent weariness,
preserve health, and provide for the necessities of food; all of which
things could not be secured if it were always summer or winter. In
reference to this he says: "Let them be for seasons, and for days, and
years." Thirdly, as regards the convenience of business and work, in so
far as the lights are set in the heavens to indicate fair or foul
weather, as favorable to various occupations. And in this respect he
says: "Let them be for signs."
Reply to Objection 1: The lights in the heaven are set for signs of changes
effected in corporeal creatures, but not of those changes which depend
upon the free-will.
Reply to Objection 2: We are sometimes brought to the knowledge of hidden effects
through their sensible causes, and conversely. Hence nothing prevents a
sensible cause from being a sign. But he says "signs," rather than
"causes," to guard against idolatry.
Reply to Objection 3: The general division of time into day and night took place
on the first day, as regards the diurnal movement, which is common to the
whole heaven and may be understood to have begun on that first day. But
the particular distinctions of days and seasons and years, according as
one day is hotter than another, one season than another, and one year
than another, are due to certain particular movements of the stars: which
movements may have had their beginning on the fourth day.
Reply to Objection 4: Light was given to the earth for the service of man, who,
by reason of his soul, is nobler than the heavenly bodies. Nor is it
untrue to say that a higher creature may be made for the sake of a lower,
considered not in itself, but as ordained to the good of the universe.
Reply to Objection 5: When the moon is at its perfection it rises in the evening
and sets in the morning, and thus it rules the night, and it was probably
made in its full perfection as were plants yielding seed, as also were
animals and man himself. For although the perfect is developed from the
imperfect by natural processes, yet the perfect must exist simply before
the imperfect. Augustine, however (Gen. ad lit. ii), does not say this,
for he says that it is not unfitting that God made things imperfect,
which He afterwards perfected.
Article 3: Whether the lights of heaven are living beings?
Objection 1: It would seem that the lights of heaven are living beings. For
the nobler a body is, the more nobly it should be adorned. But a body
less noble than the heaven, is adorned with living beings, with fish,
birds, and the beasts of the field. Therefore the lights of heaven, as
pertaining to its adornment, should be living beings also.
Objection 2: Further, the nobler a body is, the nobler must be its form. But
the sun, moon, and stars are nobler bodies than plants or animals, and
must therefore have nobler forms. Now the noblest of all forms is the
soul, as being the first principle of life. Hence Augustine (De Vera
Relig. xxix) says: "Every living substance stands higher in the order of
nature than one that has not life." The lights of heaven, therefore, are
Objection 3: Further, a cause is nobler than its effect. But the sun, moon,
and stars are a cause of life, as is especially evidenced in the case of
animals generated from putrefaction, which receive life from the power of
the sun and stars. Much more, therefore, have the heavenly bodies a
Objection 4: Further, the movement of the heaven and the heavenly bodies are
natural (De Coel. i, text. 7,8): and natural movement is from an
intrinsic principle. Now the principle of movement in the heavenly bodies
is a substance capable of apprehension, and is moved as the desirer is
moved by the object desired (Metaph. xii, text. 36). Therefore,
seemingly, the apprehending principle is intrinsic to the heavenly
bodies: and consequently they are living beings.
Objection 5: Further, the first of movables is the heaven. Now, of all things
that are endowed with movement the first moves itself, as is proved in
Phys. viii, text. 34, because, what is such of itself precedes that which
is by another. But only beings that are living move themselves, as is
shown in the same book (text. 27). Therefore the heavenly bodies are
On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii), "Let no one esteem
the heavens or the heavenly bodies to be living things, for they have
neither life nor sense."
I answer that, Philosophers have differed on this question. Anaxagoras,
for instance, as Augustine mentions (De Civ. Dei xviii, 41), "was
condemned by the Athenians for teaching that the sun was a fiery mass of
stone, and neither a god nor even a living being." On the other hand, the
Platonists held that the heavenly bodies have life. Nor was there less
diversity of opinion among the Doctors of the Church. It was the belief
of Origen (Peri Archon i) and Jerome that these bodies were alive, and
the latter seems to explain in that sense the words (Eccles. 1:6), "The
spirit goeth forward, surveying all places round about." But Basil (Hom.
iii, vi in Hexaem.) and Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii) maintain that the
heavenly bodies are inanimate. Augustine leaves the matter in doubt,
without committing himself to either theory, though he goes so far as to
say that if the heavenly bodies are really living beings, their souls
must be akin to the angelic nature (Gen. ad lit. ii, 18; Enchiridion
In examining the truth of this question, where such diversity of opinion
exists, we shall do well to bear in mind that the union of soul and body
exists for the sake of the soul and not of the body; for the form does
not exist for the matter, but the matter for the form. Now the nature and
power of the soul are apprehended through its operation, which is to a
certain extent its end. Yet for some of these operations, as sensation
and nutrition, our body is a necessary instrument. Hence it is clear that
the sensitive and nutritive souls must be united to a body in order to
exercise their functions. There are, however, operations of the soul,
which are not exercised through the medium of the body, though the body
ministers, as it were, to their production. The intellect, for example,
makes use of the phantasms derived from the bodily senses, and thus far
is dependent on the body, although capable of existing apart from it. It
is not, however, possible that the functions of nutrition, growth, and
generation, through which the nutritive soul operates, can be exercised
by the heavenly bodies, for such operations are incompatible with a body
naturally incorruptible. Equally impossible is it that the functions of
the sensitive soul can appertain to the heavenly body, since all the
senses depend on the sense of touch, which perceives elemental qualities,
and all the organs of the senses require a certain proportion in the
admixture of elements, whereas the nature of the heavenly bodies is not
elemental. It follows, then, that of the operations of the soul the only
ones left to be attributed to the heavenly bodies are those of
understanding and moving; for appetite follows both sensitive and
intellectual perception, and is in proportion thereto. But the operations
of the intellect, which does not act through the body, do not need a body
as their instrument, except to supply phantasms through the senses.
Moreover, the operations of the sensitive soul, as we have seen, cannot
be attributed to the heavenly bodies. Accordingly, the union of a soul to
a heavenly body cannot be for the purpose of the operations of the
intellect. It remains, then, only to consider whether the movement of the
heavenly bodies demands a soul as the motive power, not that the soul, in
order to move the heavenly body, need be united to the latter as its
form; but by contact of power, as a mover is united to that which he
moves. Wherefore Aristotle (Phys. viii, text. 42,43), after showing that
the first mover is made up of two parts, the moving and the moved, goes
on to show the nature of the union between these two parts. This, he
says, is effected by contact which is mutual if both are bodies; on the
part of one only, if one is a body and the other not. The Platonists
explain the union of soul and body in the same way, as a contact of a
moving power with the object moved, and since Plato holds the heavenly
bodies to be living beings, this means nothing else but that substances
of spiritual nature are united to them, and act as their moving power. A
proof that the heavenly bodies are moved by the direct influence and
contact of some spiritual substance, and not, like bodies of specific
gravity, by nature, lies in the fact that whereas nature moves to one
fixed end which having attained, it rests; this does not appear in the
movement of heavenly bodies. Hence it follows that they are moved by some
intellectual substances. Augustine appears to be of the same opinion when
he expresses his belief that all corporeal things are ruled by God
through the spirit of life (De Trin. iii, 4).
From what has been said, then, it is clear that the heavenly bodies are
not living beings in the same sense as plants and animals, and that if
they are called so, it can only be equivocally. It will also be seen that
the difference of opinion between those who affirm, and those who deny,
that these bodies have life, is not a difference of things but of words.
Reply to Objection 1: Certain things belong to the adornment of the universe by
reason of their proper movement; and in this way the heavenly luminaries
agree with others that conduce to that adornment, for they are moved by a
Reply to Objection 2: One being may be nobler than another absolutely, but not in
a particular respect. While, then, it is not conceded that the souls of
heavenly bodies are nobler than the souls of animals absolutely it must
be conceded that they are superior to them with regard to their
respective forms, since their form perfects their matter entirely, which
is not in potentiality to other forms; whereas a soul does not do this.
Also as regards movement the power that moves the heavenly bodies is of a
Reply to Objection 3: Since the heavenly body is a mover moved, it is of the
nature of an instrument, which acts in virtue of the agent: and therefore
since this agent is a living substance the heavenly body can impart life
in virtue of that agent.
Reply to Objection 4: The movements of the heavenly bodies are natural, not on
account of their active principle, but on account of their passive
principle; that is to say, from a certain natural aptitude for being
moved by an intelligent power.
Reply to Objection 5: The heaven is said to move itself in as far as it is
compounded of mover and moved; not by the union of the mover, as the
form, with the moved, as the matter, but by contact with the motive
power, as we have said. So far, then, the principle that moves it may be
called intrinsic, and consequently its movement natural with respect to
that active principle; just as we say that voluntary movement is natural
to the animal as animal (Phys. viii, text. 27).