QUESTION 45: OF THE GIFT OF WISDOM
We must now consider the gift of wisdom which corresponds to charity;
and firstly, wisdom itself, secondly, the opposite vice. Under the first
head there are six points of inquiry:
(1) Whether wisdom should be reckoned among the gifts of the Holy Ghost?
(2) What is its subject?
(3) Whether wisdom is only speculative or also practical?
(4) Whether the wisdom that is a gift is compatible with mortal sin?
(5) Whether it is in all those who have sanctifying grace?
(6) Which beatitude corresponds to it?
Article 1: Whether wisdom should be reckoned among the gifts of the Holy Ghost?
Objection 1: It would seem that wisdom ought not to be reckoned among the
gifts of the Holy Ghost. For the gifts are more perfect than the virtues,
as stated above (FS, Question , Article ). Now virtue is directed to the good
alone, wherefore Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. ii, 19) that "no man makes
bad use of the virtues." Much more therefore are the gifts of the Holy
Ghost directed to the good alone. But wisdom is directed to evil also,
for it is written (James 3:15) that a certain wisdom is "earthly,
sensual, devilish." Therefore wisdom should not be reckoned among the
gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Objection 2: Further, according to Augustine (De Trin. xii, 14) "wisdom is the
knowledge of Divine things." Now that knowledge of Divine things which
man can acquire by his natural endowments, belongs to the wisdom which is
an intellectual virtue, while the supernatural knowledge of Divine things
belongs to faith which is a theological virtue, as explained above (Question , Article ; FS, Question , Article ). Therefore wisdom should be called a virtue rather
than a gift.
Objection 3: Further, it is written (Job 28:28): "Behold the fear of the Lord,
that is wisdom, and to depart from evil, that is understanding." And in
this passage according to the rendering of the Septuagint which Augustine
follows (De Trin. xii, 14; xiv, 1) we read: "Behold piety, that is
wisdom." Now both fear and piety are gifts of the Holy Ghost. Therefore
wisdom should not be reckoned among the gifts of the Holy Ghost, as
though it were distinct from the others.
On the contrary, It is written (Is. 11:2): "The Spirit of the Lord shall
rest upon Him; the spirit of wisdom and of understanding."
I answer that, According to the Philosopher (Metaph. i: 2), it belongs
to wisdom to consider the highest cause. By means of that cause we are
able to form a most certain judgment about other causes, and according
thereto all things should be set in order. Now the highest cause may be
understood in two ways, either simply or in some particular genus.
Accordingly he that knows the highest cause in any particular genus, and
by its means is able to judge and set in order all the things that belong
to that genus, is said to be wise in that genus, for instance in medicine
or architecture, according to 1 Cor. 3:10: "As a wise architect, I have
laid a foundation." On the other hand, he who knows the cause that is
simply the highest, which is God, is said to be wise simply, because he
is able to judge and set in order all things according to Divine rules.
Now man obtains this judgment through the Holy Ghost, according to 1
Cor. 2:15: "The spiritual man judgeth all things," because as stated in
the same chapter (1 Cor. 2:10), "the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the
deep things of God." Wherefore it is evident that wisdom is a gift of the
Reply to Objection 1: A thing is said to be good in two senses: first in the
sense that it is truly good and simply perfect, secondly, by a kind of
likeness, being perfect in wickedness; thus we speak of a good or a
perfect thief, as the Philosopher observes (Metaph. v, text. 21). And
just as with regard to those things which are truly good, we find a
highest cause, namely the sovereign good which is the last end, by
knowing which, man is said to be truly wise, so too in evil things
something is to be found to which all others are to be referred as to a
last end, by knowing which, man is said to be wise unto evil doing,
according to Jer. 4:22: "They are wise to do evils, but to do good they
have no knowledge." Now whoever turns away from his due end, must needs
fix on some undue end, since every agent acts for an end. Wherefore, if
he fixes his end in external earthly things, his "wisdom" is called
"earthly," if in the goods of the body, it is called "sensual wisdom," if
in some excellence, it is called "devilish wisdom" because it imitates
the devil's pride, of which it is written (Job 41:25): "He is king over
all the children of pride."
Reply to Objection 2: The wisdom which is called a gift of the Holy Ghost,
differs from that which is an acquired intellectual virtue, for the
latter is attained by human effort, whereas the latter is "descending
from above" (James 3:15). In like manner it differs from faith, since
faith assents to the Divine truth in itself, whereas it belongs to the
gift of wisdom to judge according to the Divine truth. Hence the gift of
wisdom presupposes faith, because "a man judges well what he knows"
(Ethic. i, 3).
Reply to Objection 3: Just as piety which pertains to the worship of God is a
manifestation of faith, in so far as we make profession of faith by
worshipping God, so too, piety manifests wisdom. For this reason piety is
stated to be wisdom, and so is fear, for the same reason, because if a
man fear and worship God, this shows that he has a right judgment about
Article 2: Whether wisdom is in the intellect as its subject?
Objection 1: It would seem that wisdom is not in the intellect as its subject.
For Augustine says (Ep. cxx) that "wisdom is the charity of God." Now
charity is in the will as its subject, and not in the intellect, as
stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore wisdom is not in the intellect as
Objection 2: Further, it is written (Ecclus. 6:23): "The wisdom of doctrine is
according to her name," for wisdom [sapientia] may be described as
"sweet-tasting science [sapida scientia]," and this would seem to regard
the appetite, to which it belongs to taste spiritual pleasure or
sweetness. Therefore wisdom is in the appetite rather than in the
Objection 3: Further, the intellective power is sufficiently perfected by the
gift of understanding. Now it is superfluous to require two things where
one suffices for the purpose. Therefore wisdom is not in the intellect.
On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. ii, 49) that "wisdom is contrary
to folly." But folly is in the intellect. Therefore wisdom is also.
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), wisdom denotes a certain
rectitude of judgment according to the Eternal Law. Now rectitude of
judgment is twofold: first, on account of perfect use of reason,
secondly, on account of a certain connaturality with the matter about
which one has to judge. Thus, about matters of chastity, a man after
inquiring with his reason forms a right judgment, if he has learnt the
science of morals, while he who has the habit of chastity judges of such
matters by a kind of connaturality.
Accordingly it belongs to the wisdom that is an intellectual virtue to
pronounce right judgment about Divine things after reason has made its
inquiry, but it belongs to wisdom as a gift of the Holy Ghost to judge
aright about them on account of connaturality with them: thus Dionysius
says (Div. Nom. ii) that "Hierotheus is perfect in Divine things, for he
not only learns, but is patient of, Divine things."
Now this sympathy or connaturality for Divine things is the result of
charity, which unites us to God, according to 1 Cor. 6:17: "He who is
joined to the Lord, is one spirit." Consequently wisdom which is a gift,
has its cause in the will, which cause is charity, but it has its essence
in the intellect, whose act is to judge aright, as stated above (FS,
Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection 1: Augustine is speaking of wisdom as to its cause, whence
also wisdom [sapientia] takes its name, in so far as it denotes a certain
sweetness [saporem]. Hence the Reply to the Second Objection is evident,
that is if this be the true meaning of the text quoted. For, apparently
this is not the case, because such an exposition of the text would only
fit the Latin word for wisdom, whereas it does not apply to the Greek and
perhaps not in other languages. Hence it would seem that in the text
quoted wisdom stands for the renown of doctrine, for which it is praised
Reply to Objection 3: The intellect exercises a twofold act, perception and
judgment. The gift of understanding regards the former; the gift of
wisdom regards the latter according to the Divine ideas, the gift of
knowledge, according to human ideas.
Article 3: Whether wisdom is merely speculative, or practical also?
Objection 1: It would seem that wisdom is not practical but merely
speculative. For the gift of wisdom is more excellent than the wisdom
which is an intellectual virtue. But wisdom, as an intellectual virtue,
is merely speculative. Much more therefore is wisdom, as a gift,
speculative and not practical.
Objection 2: Further, the practical intellect is about matters of operation
which are contingent. But wisdom is about Divine things which are eternal
and necessary. Therefore wisdom cannot be practical.
Objection 3: Further, Gregory says (Moral. vi, 37) that "in contemplation we
seek the Beginning which is God, but in action we labor under a mighty
bundle of wants." Now wisdom regards the vision of Divine things, in
which there is no toiling under a load, since according to Wis. 8:16,
"her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness."
Therefore wisdom is merely contemplative, and not practical or active.
On the contrary, It is written (Col. 4:5): "Walk with wisdom towards
them that are without." Now this pertains to action. Therefore wisdom is
not merely speculative, but also practical.
I answer that, As Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 14), the higher part of
the reason is the province of wisdom, while the lower part is the domain
of knowledge. Now the higher reason according to the same authority (De
Trin. xii, 7) "is intent on the consideration and consultation of the
heavenly," i.e. Divine, "types" [*Cf. FP, Question , Article ; FS, Question , Article ];
it considers them, in so far as it contemplates Divine things in
themselves, and it consults them, in so far as it judges of human acts by
Divine things, and directs human acts according to Divine rules.
Accordingly wisdom as a gift, is not merely speculative but also
Reply to Objection 1: The higher a virtue is, the greater the number of things to
which it extends, as stated in De Causis, prop. x, xvii. Wherefore from
the very fact that wisdom as a gift is more excellent than wisdom as an
intellectual virtue, since it attains to God more intimately by a kind of
union of the soul with Him, it is able to direct us not only in
contemplation but also in action.
Reply to Objection 2: Divine things are indeed necessary and eternal in
themselves, yet they are the rules of the contingent things which are the
subject-matter of human actions.
Reply to Objection 3: A thing is considered in itself before being compared with
something else. Wherefore to wisdom belongs first of all contemplation
which is the vision of the Beginning, and afterwards the direction of
human acts according to the Divine rules. Nor from the direction of
wisdom does there result any bitterness or toil in human acts; on the
contrary the result of wisdom is to make the bitter sweet, and labor a
Article 4: Whether wisdom can be without grace, and with mortal sin?
Objection 1: It would seem that wisdom can be without grace and with mortal
sin. For saints glory chiefly in such things as are incompatible with
mortal sin, according to 2 Cor. 1:12: "Our glory is this, the testimony
of our conscience." Now one ought not to glory in one's wisdom, according
to Jer. 9:23: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom." Therefore
wisdom can be without grace and with mortal sin.
Objection 2: Further, wisdom denotes knowledge of Divine things, as stated
above (Article ). Now one in mortal sin may have knowledge of the Divine
truth, according to Rm. 1:18: "(Those men that) detain the truth of God
in injustice." Therefore wisdom is compatible with mortal sin.
Objection 3: Further, Augustine says (De Trin. xv, 18) while speaking of
charity: "Nothing surpasses this gift of God, it is this alone that
divides the children of the eternal kingdom from the children of eternal
perdition." But wisdom is distinct from charity. Therefore it does not
divide the children of the kingdom from the children of perdition.
Therefore it is compatible with mortal sin.
On the contrary, It is written (Wis. 1:4): "Wisdom will not enter into a
malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins."
I answer that, The wisdom which is a gift of the Holy Ghost, as stated
above (Article ), enables us to judge aright of Divine things, or of other
things according to Divine rules, by reason of a certain connaturalness
or union with Divine things, which is the effect of charity, as stated
above (Article ; Question , Article ). Hence the wisdom of which we are speaking
presupposes charity. Now charity is incompatible with mortal sin, as
shown above (Question , Article ). Therefore it follows that the wisdom of which
we are speaking cannot be together with mortal sin.
Reply to Objection 1: These words are to be understood as referring to worldly
wisdom, or to wisdom in Divine things acquired through human reasons. In
such wisdom the saints do not glory, according to Prov. 30:2: "The wisdom
of men is not with Me": But they do glory in Divine wisdom according to 1
Cor. 1:30: "(Who) of God is made unto us wisdom."
Reply to Objection 2: This argument considers, not the wisdom of which we speak
but that which is acquired by the study and research of reason, and is
compatible with mortal sin.
Reply to Objection 3: Although wisdom is distinct from charity, it presupposes
it, and for that very reason divides the children of perdition from the
children of the kingdom.
Article 5: Whether wisdom is in all who have grace?
Objection 1: It would seem that wisdom is not in all who have grace. For it is
more to have wisdom than to hear wisdom. Now it is only for the perfect
to hear wisdom, according to 1 Cor. 2:6: "We speak wisdom among the
perfect." Since then not all who have grace are perfect, it seems that
much less all who have grace have wisdom.
Objection 2: Further, "The wise man sets things in order," as the Philosopher
states (Metaph. i, 2): and it is written (James 3:17) that the wise man
"judges without dissimulation [*Vulg.: 'The wisdom that is from above . .
. is . . . without judging, without dissimulation']". Now it is not for
all that have grace, to judge, or put others in order, but only for those
in authority. Therefore wisdom is not in all that have grace.
Objection 3: Further, "Wisdom is a remedy against folly," as Gregory says
(Moral. ii, 49). Now many that have grace are naturally foolish, for
instance madmen who are baptized or those who without being guilty of
mortal sin have become insane. Therefore wisdom is not in all that have
On the contrary, Whoever is without mortal sin, is beloved of God; since
he has charity, whereby he loves God, and God loves them that love Him
(Prov. 8:17). Now it is written (Wis. 7:28) that "God loveth none but him
that dwelleth with wisdom." Therefore wisdom is in all those who have
charity and are without mortal sin.
I answer that, The wisdom of which we are speaking, as stated above
(Article ), denotes a certain rectitude of judgment in the contemplation and
consultation of Divine things, and as to both of these men obtain various
degrees of wisdom through union with Divine things. For the measure of
right judgment attained by some, whether in the contemplation of Divine
things or in directing human affairs according to Divine rules, is no
more than suffices for their salvation. This measure is wanting to none
who is without mortal sin through having sanctifying grace, since if
nature does not fail in necessaries, much less does grace fail: wherefore
it is written (1 Jn. 2:27): "(His) unction teacheth you of all things."
Some, however, receive a higher degree of the gift of wisdom, both as to
the contemplation of Divine things (by both knowing more exalted
mysteries and being able to impart this knowledge to others) and as to
the direction of human affairs according to Divine rules (by being able
to direct not only themselves but also others according to those rules).
This degree of wisdom is not common to all that have sanctifying grace,
but belongs rather to the gratuitous graces, which the Holy Ghost
dispenses as He will, according to 1 Cor. 12:8: "To one indeed by the
Spirit is given the word of wisdom," etc.
Reply to Objection 1: The Apostle speaks there of wisdom, as extending to the hidden mysteries of Divine things, as indeed he says himself (2 Cor. 1:7): "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, a wisdom which is hidden."
Reply to Objection 2: Although it belongs to those alone who are in authority to
direct and judge other men, yet every man is competent to direct and
judge his own actions, as Dionysius declares (Ep. ad Demophil.).
Reply to Objection 3: Baptized idiots, like little children, have the habit of
wisdom, which is a gift of the Holy Ghost, but they have not the act, on
account of the bodily impediment which hinders the use of reason in them.
Article 6: Whether the seventh beatitude corresponds to the gift of wisdom?
Objection 1: It seems that the seventh beatitude does not correspond to the
gift of wisdom. For the seventh beatitude is: "Blessed are the
peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." Now both
these things belong to charity: since of peace it is written (Ps. 118:165): "Much peace have they that love Thy law," and, as the Apostle
says (Rm. 5:5), "the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the
Holy Ghost Who is given to us," and Who is "the Spirit of adoption of
sons, whereby we cry: Abba [Father]" (Rm. 8:15). Therefore the seventh
beatitude ought to be ascribed to charity rather than to wisdom.
Objection 2: Further, a thing is declared by its proximate effect rather than
by its remote effect. Now the proximate effect of wisdom seems to be
charity, according to Wis. 7:27: "Through nations she conveyeth herself
into holy souls; she maketh the friends of God and prophets": whereas
peace and the adoption of sons seem to be remote effects, since they
result from charity, as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore the
beatitude corresponding to wisdom should be determined in respect of the
love of charity rather than in respect of peace.
Objection 3: Further, it is written (James 3:17): "The wisdom, that is from
above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be
persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits, judging
without dissimulation [*Vulg.: 'without judging, without
dissimulation']." Therefore the beatitude corresponding to wisdom should
not refer to peace rather than to the other effects of heavenly wisdom.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 4) that
"wisdom is becoming to peacemakers, in whom there is no movement of
rebellion, but only obedience to reason."
I answer that, The seventh beatitude is fittingly ascribed to the gift
of wisdom, both as to the merit and as to the reward. The merit is
denoted in the words, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Now a peacemaker is
one who makes peace, either in himself, or in others: and in both cases
this is the result of setting in due order those things in which peace is
established, for "peace is the tranquillity of order," according to
Augustine (De Civ. Dei xix, 13). Now it belongs to wisdom to set things
in order, as the Philosopher declares (Metaph. i, 2), wherefore
peaceableness is fittingly ascribed to wisdom. The reward is expressed in
the words, "they shall be called the children of God." Now men are called
the children of God in so far as they participate in the likeness of the
only-begotten and natural Son of God, according to Rm. 8:29, "Whom He
foreknew . . . to be made conformable to the image of His Son," Who is
Wisdom Begotten. Hence by participating in the gift of wisdom, man
attains to the sonship of God.
Reply to Objection 1: It belongs to charity to be at peace, but it belongs to
wisdom to make peace by setting things in order. Likewise the Holy Ghost
is called the "Spirit of adoption" in so far as we receive from Him the
likeness of the natural Son, Who is the Begotten Wisdom.
Reply to Objection 2: These words refer to the Uncreated Wisdom, which in the
first place unites itself to us by the gift of charity, and consequently
reveals to us the mysteries the knowledge of which is infused wisdom.
Hence, the infused wisdom which is a gift, is not the cause but the
effect of charity.
Reply to Objection 3: As stated above (Article ) it belongs to wisdom, as a gift, not
only to contemplate Divine things, but also to regulate human acts. Now
the first thing, to be effected in this direction of human acts is the
removal of evils opposed to wisdom: wherefore fear is said to be "the
beginning of wisdom," because it makes us shun evil, while the last thing
is like an end, whereby all things are reduced to their right order; and
it is this that constitutes peace. Hence James said with reason that "the
wisdom that is from above" (and this is the gift of the Holy Ghost)
"first indeed is chaste," because it avoids the corruption of sin, and
"then peaceable," wherein lies the ultimate effect of wisdom, for which
reason peace is numbered among the beatitudes. As to the things that
follow, they declare in becoming order the means whereby wisdom leads to
peace. For when a man, by chastity, avoids the corruption of sin, the
first thing he has to do is, as far as he can, to be moderate in all
things, and in this respect wisdom is said to be modest. Secondly, in
those matters in which he is not sufficient by himself, he should be
guided by the advice of others, and as to this we are told further that
wisdom is "easy to be persuaded." These two are conditions required that
man may be at peace with himself. But in order that man may be at peace
with others it is furthermore required, first that he should not be
opposed to their good; this is what is meant by "consenting to the good."
Secondly, that he should bring to his neighbor's deficiencies, sympathy
in his heart, and succor in his actions, and this is denoted by the words
"full of mercy and good fruits." Thirdly, he should strive in all charity
to correct the sins of others, and this is indicated by the words
"judging without dissimulation [*Vulg.: 'The wisdom that is from above .
. . is . . . without judging, without dissimulation']," lest he should
purpose to sate his hatred under cover of correction.