QUESTION 62: OF THE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES
We must now consider the Theological Virtues: under which head there are
four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether there are any theological virtues?
(2) Whether the theological virtues are distinct from the intellectual
and moral virtues?
(3) How many, and which are they?
(4) Of their order.
Article 1: Whether there are any theological virtues?
Objection 1: It would seem that there are not any theological virtues. For
according to Phys. vii, text. 17, "virtue is the disposition of a perfect
thing to that which is best: and by perfect, I mean that which is
disposed according to nature." But that which is Divine is above man's
nature. Therefore the theological virtues are not virtues of a man.
Objection 2: Further, theological virtues are quasi-Divine virtues. But the
Divine virtues are exemplars, as stated above (Question , Article ), which are
not in us but in God. Therefore the theological virtues are not virtues
Objection 3: Further, the theological virtues are so called because they
direct us to God, Who is the first beginning and last end of all things.
But by the very nature of his reason and will, man is directed to his
first beginning and last end. Therefore there is no need for any habits
of theological virtue, to direct the reason and will to God.
On the contrary, The precepts of the Law are about acts of virtue. Now
the Divine Law contains precepts about the acts of faith, hope, and
charity: for it is written (Ecclus. 2:8, seqq.): "Ye that fear the Lord
believe Him," and again, "hope in Him," and again, "love Him." Therefore
faith, hope, and charity are virtues directing us to God. Therefore they
are theological virtues.
I answer that, Man is perfected by virtue, for those actions whereby he
is directed to happiness, as was explained above (Question , Article ). Now man's
happiness is twofold, as was also stated above (Question , Article ). One is
proportionate to human nature, a happiness, to wit, which man can obtain
by means of his natural principles. The other is a happiness surpassing
man's nature, and which man can obtain by the power of God alone, by a
kind of participation of the Godhead, about which it is written (2 Pt. 1:4) that by Christ we are made "partakers of the Divine nature." And
because such happiness surpasses the capacity of human nature, man's
natural principles which enable him to act well according to his
capacity, do not suffice to direct man to this same happiness. Hence it
is necessary for man to receive from God some additional principles,
whereby he may be directed to supernatural happiness, even as he is
directed to his connatural end, by means of his natural principles,
albeit not without Divine assistance. Such like principles are called
"theological virtues": first, because their object is God, inasmuch as
they direct us aright to God: secondly, because they are infused in us by
God alone: thirdly, because these virtues are not made known to us, save
by Divine revelation, contained in Holy Writ.
Reply to Objection 1: A certain nature may be ascribed to a certain thing in two
ways. First, essentially: and thus these theological virtues surpass the
nature of man. Secondly, by participation, as kindled wood partakes of
the nature of fire: and thus, after a fashion, man becomes a partaker of
the Divine Nature, as stated above: so that these virtues are
proportionate to man in respect of the Nature of which he is made a
Reply to Objection 2: These virtues are called Divine, not as though God were
virtuous by reason of them, but because of them God makes us virtuous,
and directs us to Himself. Hence they are not exemplar but exemplate
Reply to Objection 3: The reason and will are naturally directed to God, inasmuch
as He is the beginning and end of nature, but in proportion to nature.
But the reason and will, according to their nature, are not sufficiently
directed to Him in so far as He is the object of supernatural happiness.
Article 2: Whether the theological virtues are distinct from the intellectual and moral virtues?
Objection 1: It would seem that the theological virtues are not distinct from
the moral and intellectual virtues. For the theological virtues, if they
be in a human soul, must needs perfect it, either as to the intellective,
or as to the appetitive part. Now the virtues which perfect the
intellective part are called intellectual; and the virtues which perfect
the appetitive part, are called moral. Therefore, the theological virtues
are not distinct from the moral and intellectual virtues.
Objection 2: Further, the theological virtues are those which direct us to
God. Now, among the intellectual virtues there is one which directs us to
God: this is wisdom, which is about Divine things, since it considers the
highest cause. Therefore the theological virtues are not distinct from
the intellectual virtues.
Objection 3: Further, Augustine (De Moribus Eccl. xv) shows how the four
cardinal virtues are the "order of love." Now love is charity, which is a
theological virtue. Therefore the moral virtues are not distinct from the
On the contrary, That which is above man's nature is distinct from that
which is according to his nature. But the theological virtues are above
man's nature; while the intellectual and moral virtues are in proportion
to his nature, as clearly shown above (Question , Article ). Therefore they are
distinct from one another.
I answer that, As stated above (Question , Article , ad 1), habits are
specifically distinct from one another in respect of the formal
difference of their objects. Now the object of the theological virtues is
God Himself, Who is the last end of all, as surpassing the knowledge of
our reason. On the other hand, the object of the intellectual and moral
virtues is something comprehensible to human reason. Wherefore the
theological virtues are specifically distinct from the moral and
Reply to Objection 1: The intellectual and moral virtues perfect man's intellect
and appetite according to the capacity of human nature; the theological
Reply to Objection 2: The wisdom which the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 3,7) reckons
as an intellectual virtue, considers Divine things so far as they are
open to the research of human reason. Theological virtue, on the other
hand, is about those same things so far as they surpass human reason.
Reply to Objection 3: Though charity is love, yet love is not always charity.
When, then, it is stated that every virtue is the order of love, this can
be understood either of love in the general sense, or of the love of
charity. If it be understood of love, commonly so called, then each
virtue is stated to be the order of love, in so far as each cardinal
virtue requires ordinate emotions; and love is the root and cause of
every emotion, as stated above (Question , Article ; Question , Article , ad 2; Question , Article , ad 1). If, however, it be understood of the love of charity, it
does not mean that every other virtue is charity essentially: but that
all other virtues depend on charity in some way, as we shall show further
on (Question , Articles ,5; SS, Question , Article ).
Article 3: Whether faith, hope, and charity are fittingly reckoned as theological virtues?
Objection 1: It would seem that faith, hope, and charity are not fittingly
reckoned as three theological virtues. For the theological virtues are in
relation to Divine happiness, what the natural inclination is in relation
to the connatural end. Now among the virtues directed to the connatural
end there is but one natural virtue, viz. the understanding of
principles. Therefore there should be but one theological virtue.
Objection 2: Further, the theological virtues are more perfect than the
intellectual and moral virtues. Now faith is not reckoned among the
intellectual virtues, but is something less than a virtue, since it is
imperfect knowledge. Likewise hope is not reckoned among the moral
virtues, but is something less than a virtue, since it is a passion. Much
less therefore should they be reckoned as theological virtues.
Objection 3: Further, the theological virtues direct man's soul to God. Now
man's soul cannot be directed to God, save through the intellective part,
wherein are the intellect and will. Therefore there should be only two
theological virtues, one perfecting the intellect, the other, the will.
On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Cor. 13:13): "Now there remain
faith, hope, charity, these three."
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), the theological virtues direct
man to supernatural happiness in the same way as by the natural
inclination man is directed to his connatural end. Now the latter happens
in respect of two things. First, in respect of the reason or intellect,
in so far as it contains the first universal principles which are known
to us by the natural light of the intellect, and which are reason's
starting-point, both in speculative and in practical matters. Secondly,
through the rectitude of the will which tends naturally to good as
defined by reason.
But these two fall short of the order of supernatural happiness,
according to 1 Cor. 2:9: "The eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither
hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for
them that love Him." Consequently in respect of both the above things man
needed to receive in addition something supernatural to direct him to a
supernatural end. First, as regards the intellect, man receives certain
supernatural principles, which are held by means of a Divine light:
these are the articles of faith, about which is faith. Secondly, the will
is directed to this end, both as to that end as something
attainable---and this pertains to hope---and as to a certain spiritual
union, whereby the will is, so to speak, transformed into that end---and
this belongs to charity. For the appetite of a thing is moved and tends
towards its connatural end naturally; and this movement is due to a
certain conformity of the thing with its end.
Reply to Objection 1: The intellect requires intelligible species whereby to
understand: consequently there is need of a natural habit in addition to
the power. But the very nature of the will suffices for it to be directed
naturally to the end, both as to the intention of the end and as to its
conformity with the end. But the nature of the power is insufficient in
either of these respects, for the will to be directed to things that are
above its nature. Consequently there was need for an additional
supernatural habit in both respects.
Reply to Objection 2: Faith and hope imply a certain imperfection: since faith is
of things unseen, and hope, of things not possessed. Hence faith and
hope, in things that are subject to human power, fall short of the notion
of virtue. But faith and hope in things which are above the capacity of
human nature surpass all virtue that is in proportion to man, according
to 1 Cor. 1:25: "The weakness of God is stronger than men."
Reply to Objection 3: Two things pertain to the appetite, viz. movement to the
end, and conformity with the end by means of love. Hence there must needs
be two theological virtues in the human appetite, namely, hope and
Article 4: Whether faith precedes hope, and hope charity?
Objection 1: It would seem that the order of the theological virtues is not
that faith precedes hope, and hope charity. For the root precedes that
which grows from it. Now charity is the root of all the virtues,
according to Eph. 3:17: "Being rooted and founded in charity." Therefore
charity precedes the others.
Objection 2: Further, Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. i): "A man cannot love
what he does not believe to exist. But if he believes and loves, by doing
good works he ends in hoping." Therefore it seems that faith precedes
charity, and charity hope.
Objection 3: Further, love is the principle of all our emotions, as stated
above (Article , ad 3). Now hope is a kind of emotion, since it is a passion,
as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore charity, which is love, precedes
On the contrary, The Apostle enumerates them thus (1 Cor. 13:13): "Now
there remain faith, hope, charity."
I answer that, Order is twofold: order of generation, and order of
perfection. By order of generation, in respect of which matter precedes
form, and the imperfect precedes the perfect, in one same subject faith
precedes hope, and hope charity, as to their acts: because habits are all
infused together. For the movement of the appetite cannot tend to
anything, either by hoping or loving, unless that thing be apprehended by
the sense or by the intellect. Now it is by faith that the intellect
apprehends the object of hope and love. Hence in the order of generation,
faith precedes hope and charity. In like manner a man loves a thing
because he apprehends it as his good. Now from the very fact that a man
hopes to be able to obtain some good through someone, he looks on the man
in whom he hopes as a good of his own. Hence for the very reason that a
man hopes in someone, he proceeds to love him: so that in the order of
generation, hope precedes charity as regards their respective acts.
But in the order of perfection, charity precedes faith and hope: because
both faith and hope are quickened by charity, and receive from charity
their full complement as virtues. For thus charity is the mother and the
root of all the virtues, inasmuch as it is the form of them all, as we
shall state further on (SS, Question , Article ).
This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.
Reply to Objection 2: Augustine is speaking of that hope whereby a man hopes to
obtain bliss through the merits which he has already: this belongs to
hope quickened by and following charity. But it is possible for a man
before having charity, to hope through merits not already possessed, but
which he hopes to possess.
Reply to Objection 3: As stated above (Question , Article ), in treating of the passions,
hope regards two things. One as its principal object, viz. the good hoped
for. With regard to this, love always precedes hope: for good is never
hoped for unless it be desired and loved. Hope also regards the person
from whom a man hopes to be able to obtain some good. With regard to
this, hope precedes love at first; though afterwards hope is increased by
love. Because from the fact that a man thinks that he can obtain a good
through someone, he begins to love him: and from the fact that he loves
him, he then hopes all the more in him.