QUESTION 7: OF THE EFFECTS OF FAITH
We must now consider the effects of faith: under which head there are
two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether fear is an effect of faith?
(2) Whether the heart is purified by faith?
Article 1: Whether fear is an effect of faith?
Objection 1: It would seem that fear is not an effect of faith. For an effect
does not precede its cause. Now fear precedes faith: for it is written
(Ecclus. 2:8): "Ye that fear the Lord, believe in Him." Therefore fear is
not an effect of faith.
Objection 2: Further, the same thing is not the cause of contraries. Now fear
and hope are contraries, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ): and faith
begets hope, as a gloss observes on Mt. 1:2. Therefore fear is not an
effect of faith.
Objection 3: Further, one contrary does not cause another. Now the object of
faith is a good, which is the First Truth, while the object of fear is an
evil, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ). Again, acts take their species
from the object, according to what was stated above (FS, Question , Article ).
Therefore faith is not a cause of fear.
On the contrary, It is written (James 2:19): "The devils . . . believe
I answer that, Fear is a movement of the appetitive power, as stated
above (FS, Question , Article ). Now the principle of all appetitive movements is
the good or evil apprehended: and consequently the principle of fear and
of every appetitive movement must be an apprehension. Again, through
faith there arises in us an apprehension of certain penal evils, which
are inflicted in accordance with the Divine judgment. In this way, then,
faith is a cause of the fear whereby one dreads to be punished by God;
and this is servile fear.
It is also the cause of filial fear, whereby one dreads to be separated
from God, or whereby one shrinks from equalling oneself to Him, and holds
Him in reverence, inasmuch as faith makes us appreciate God as an
unfathomable and supreme good, separation from which is the greatest
evil, and to which it is wicked to wish to be equalled. Of the first
fear, viz. servile fear, lifeless faith is the cause, while living faith
is the cause of the second, viz. filial fear, because it makes man adhere
to God and to be subject to Him by charity.
Reply to Objection 1: Fear of God cannot altogether precede faith, because if we
knew nothing at all about Him, with regard to rewards and punishments,
concerning which faith teaches us, we should nowise fear Him. If,
however, faith be presupposed in reference to certain articles of faith,
for example the Divine excellence, then reverential fear follows, the
result of which is that man submits his intellect to God, so as to
believe in all the Divine promises. Hence the text quoted continues: "And
your reward shall not be made void."
Reply to Objection 2: The same thing in respect of contraries can be the cause of
contraries, but not under the same aspect. Now faith begets hope, in so
far as it enables us to appreciate the prize which God awards to the
just, while it is the cause of fear, in so far as it makes us appreciate
the punishments which He intends to inflict on sinners.
Reply to Objection 3: The primary and formal object of faith is the good which is
the First Truth; but the material object of faith includes also certain
evils; for instance, that it is an evil either not to submit to God, or
to be separated from Him, and that sinners will suffer penal evils from
God: in this way faith can be the cause of fear.
Article 2: Whether faith has the effect of purifying the heart?
Objection 1: It would seem that faith does not purify the heart. For purity of
the heart pertains chiefly to the affections, whereas faith is in the
intellect. Therefore faith has not the effect of purifying the heart.
Objection 2: Further, that which purifies the heart is incompatible with
impurity. But faith is compatible with the impurity of sin, as may be
seen in those who have lifeless faith. Therefore faith does not purify
Objection 3: Further, if faith were to purify the human heart in any way, it
would chiefly purify the intellect of man. Now it does not purify the
intellect from obscurity, since it is a veiled knowledge. Therefore faith
nowise purifies the heart.
On the contrary, Peter said (Acts 15:9): "Purifying their hearts by
I answer that, A thing is impure through being mixed with baser things:
for silver is not called impure, when mixed with gold, which betters it,
but when mixed with lead or tin. Now it is evident that the rational
creature is more excellent than all transient and corporeal creatures; so
that it becomes impure through subjecting itself to transient things by
loving them. From this impurity the rational creature is purified by
means of a contrary movement, namely, by tending to that which is above
it, viz. God. The first beginning of this movement is faith: since "he
that cometh to God must believe that He is," according to Heb. 11:6.
Hence the first beginning of the heart's purifying is faith; and if this
be perfected through being quickened by charity, the heart will be
perfectly purified thereby.
Reply to Objection 1: Things that are in the intellect are the principles of
those which are in the appetite, in so far as the apprehended good moves
Reply to Objection 2: Even lifeless faith excludes a certain impurity which is
contrary to it, viz. that of error, and which consists in the human
intellect, adhering inordinately to things below itself, through wishing
to measure Divine things by the rule of sensible objects. But when it is
quickened by charity, then it is incompatible with any kind of impurity,
because "charity covereth all sins" (Prov. 10:12).
Reply to Objection 3: The obscurity of faith does not pertain to the impurity of
sin, but rather to the natural defect of the human intellect, according
to the present state of life.