QUESTION 3: OF THE MODE OF UNION ON THE PART OF THE PERSON ASSUMING
We must now consider the union on the part of the Person assuming, and
under this head there are eight points of inquiry:
(1) Whether to assume is befitting to a Divine Person?
(2) Whether it is befitting to the Divine Nature?
(3) Whether the Nature abstracted from the Personality can assume?
(4) Whether one Person can assume without another?
(5) Whether each Person can assume?
(6) Whether several Persons can assume one individual nature?
(7) Whether one Person can assume two individual natures?
(8) Whether it was more fitting for the Person of the Son of God to
assume human nature than for another Divine Person?
Article 1: Whether it is befitting for a Divine Person to assume?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not befitting to a Divine Person to
assume a created nature. For a Divine Person signifies something most
perfect. Now no addition can be made to what is perfect. Therefore, since
to assume is to take to oneself, and consequently what is assumed is
added to the one who assumes, it does not seem to be befitting to a
Divine Person to assume a created nature.
Objection 2: Further, that to which anything is assumed is communicated in
some degree to what is assumed to it, just as dignity is communicated to
whosoever is assumed to a dignity. But it is of the nature of a person to
be incommunicable, as was said above (FP, Question , Article ). Therefore it is
not befitting to a Divine Person to assume, i.e. to take to Himself.
Objection 3: Further, person is constituted by nature. But it is repugnant
that the thing constituted should assume the constituent, since the
effect does not act on its cause. Hence it is not befitting to a Person
to assume a nature.
On the contrary, Augustine [*Fulgentius] says (De Fide ad Petrum ii):
"This God, i.e. the only-Begotten one, took the form," i.e. the nature,
"of a servant to His own Person." But the only-Begotten God is a Person.
Therefore it is befitting to a Person to take, i.e. to assume a nature.
I answer that, In the word "assumption" are implied two things, viz. the
principle and the term of the act, for to assume is to take something to
oneself. Now of this assumption a Person is both the principle and the
term. The principle---because it properly belongs to a person to act, and
this assuming of flesh took place by the Divine action. Likewise a Person
is the term of this assumption, because, as was said above (Question , Articles ,2), the union took place in the Person, and not in the nature. Hence it
is plain that to assume a nature is most properly befitting to a Person.
Reply to Objection 1: Since the Divine Person is infinite, no addition can be
made to it: Hence Cyril says [*Council of Ephesus, Part I, ch. 26]: "We
do not conceive the mode of conjunction to be according to addition";
just as in the union of man with God, nothing is added to God by the
grace of adoption, but what is Divine is united to man; hence, not God
but man is perfected.
Reply to Objection 2: A Divine Person is said to be incommunicable inasmuch as It
cannot be predicated of several supposita, but nothing prevents several
things being predicated of the Person. Hence it is not contrary to the
nature of person to be communicated so as to subsist in several natures,
for even in a created person several natures may concur accidentally, as
in the person of one man we find quantity and quality. But this is proper
to a Divine Person, on account of its infinity, that there should be a
concourse of natures in it, not accidentally, but in subsistence.
Reply to Objection 3: As was said above (Question , Article ), the human nature
constitutes a Divine Person, not simply, but forasmuch as the Person is
denominated from such a nature. For human nature does not make the Son of
Man to be simply, since He was from eternity, but only to be man. It is
by the Divine Nature that a Divine Person is constituted simply. Hence
the Divine Person is not said to assume the Divine Nature, but to assume
the human nature.
Article 2: Whether it is befitting to the Divine Nature to assume?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not befitting to the Divine Nature to
assume. Because, as was said above (Article ), to assume is to take to
oneself. But the Divine Nature did not take to Itself human nature, for
the union did not take place in the nature, as was said above (Question , Articles ,3). Hence it is not befitting to the Divine Nature to assume human
Objection 2: Further, the Divine Nature is common to the three Persons. If,
therefore, it is befitting to the Divine Nature to assume, it
consequently is befitting to the three Persons; and thus the Father
assumed human nature even as the Son, which is erroneous.
Objection 3: Further, to assume is to act. But to act befits a person, not a
nature, which is rather taken to be the principle by which the agent
acts. Therefore to assume is not befitting to the nature.
On the contrary, Augustine (Fulgentius) says (De Fide ad Petrum ii):
"That nature which remains eternally begotten of the Father" (i.e. which
is received from the Father by eternal generation) "took our nature free
of sin from His Mother."
I answer that, As was said above (Article ), in the word assumption two
things are signified---to wit, the principle and the term of the action.
Now to be the principle of the assumption belongs to the Divine Nature in
itself, because the assumption took place by Its power; but to be the
term of the assumption does not belong to the Divine Nature in itself,
but by reason of the Person in Whom It is considered to be. Hence a
Person is primarily and more properly said to assume, but it may be said
secondarily that the Nature assumed a nature to Its Person. And after the
same manner the Nature is also said to be incarnate, not that it is
changed to flesh, but that it assumed the nature of flesh. Hence
Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 6): "Following the blessed Athanasius
and Cyril we say that the Nature of God is incarnate."
Reply to Objection 1: "Oneself" is reciprocal, and points to the same suppositum.
But the Divine Nature is not a distinct suppositum from the Person of the
Word. Hence, inasmuch as the Divine Nature took human nature to the
Person of the Word, It is said to take it to Itself. But although the
Father takes human nature to the Person of the Word, He did not thereby
take it to Himself, for the suppositum of the Father and the Son is not
one. and hence it cannot properly be said that the Father assumes human
Reply to Objection 2: What is befitting to the Divine Nature in Itself is
befitting to the three Persons, as goodness, wisdom, and the like. But to
assume belongs to It by reason of the Person of the Word, as was said
above, and hence it is befitting to that Person alone.
Reply to Objection 3: As in God "what is" and "whereby it is" are the same, so
likewise in Him "what acts" and "whereby it acts" are the same, since
everything acts, inasmuch as it is a being. Hence the Divine Nature is
both that whereby God acts, and the very God Who acts.
Article 3: Whether the Nature abstracted from the Personality can assume?
Objection 1: It would seem that if we abstract the Personality by our mind,
the Nature cannot assume. For it was said above (Article ) that it belongs to
the Nature to assume by reason of the Person. But what belongs to one by
reason of another cannot belong to it if the other is removed; as a body,
which is visible by reason of color, without color cannot be seen. Hence
if the Personality be mentally abstracted, the Nature cannot assume.
Objection 2: Further, assumption implies the term of union, as was said above
(Article ). But the union cannot take place in the nature, but only in the
Person. Therefore, if the Personality be abstracted, the Divine Nature
Objection 3: Further, it has been said above (FP, Question , Article ) that in the
Godhead if the Personality is abstracted, nothing remains. But the one
who assumes is something. Therefore, if the Personality is abstracted,
the Divine Nature cannot assume.
On the contrary, In the Godhead Personality signifies a personal
property; and this is threefold, viz. Paternity, Filiation and
Procession, as was said above (FP, Question , Article ). Now if we mentally
abstract these, there still remains the omnipotence of God, by which the
Incarnation was wrought, as the angel says (Lk. 1:37): "No word shall be
impossible with God." Therefore it seems that if the Personality be
removed, the Divine Nature can still assume.
I answer that, The intellect stands in two ways towards God. First, to
know God as He is, and in this manner it is impossible for the intellect
to circumscribe something in God and leave the rest, for all that is in
God is one, except the distinction of Persons; and as regards these, if
one is removed the other is taken away, since they are distinguished by
relations only which must be together at the same time. Secondly, the
intellect stands towards God, not indeed as knowing God as He is, but in
its own way, i.e. understanding manifoldly and separately what in God is
one: and in this way our intellect can understand the Divine goodness and
wisdom, and the like, which are called essential attributes, without
understanding Paternity or Filiation, which are called Personalities. And
hence if we abstract Personality by our intellect, we may still
understand the Nature assuming.
Reply to Objection 1: Because in God "what is," and "whereby it is," are one, if
any one of the things which are attributed to God in the abstract is
considered in itself, abstracted from all else, it will still be
something subsisting, and consequently a Person, since it is an
intellectual nature. Hence just as we now say three Persons, on account
of holding three personal properties, so likewise if we mentally exclude
the personal properties there will still remain in our thought the Divine
Nature as subsisting and as a Person. And in this way It may be
understood to assume human nature by reason of Its subsistence or
Reply to Objection 2: Even if the personal properties of the three Persons are
abstracted by our mind, nevertheless there will remain in our thoughts
the one Personality of God, as the Jews consider. And the assumption can
be terminated in It, as we now say it is terminated in the Person of the
Reply to Objection 3: If we mentally abstract the Personality, it is said that
nothing remains by way of resolution, i.e. as if the subject of the
relation and the relation itself were distinct because all we can think
of in God is considered as a subsisting suppositum. However, some of the
things predicated of God can be understood without others, not by way of
resolution, but by the way mentioned above.
Article 4: Whether one Person without another can assume a created nature?
Objection 1: It would seem that one Person cannot assume a created nature
without another assuming it. For "the works of the Trinity are
inseparable," as Augustine says (Enchiridion xxxviii). But as the three
Persons have one essence, so likewise They have one operation. Now to
assume is an operation. Therefore it cannot belong to one without
belonging to another.
Objection 2: Further, as we say the Person of the Son became incarnate, so
also did the Nature; for "the whole Divine Nature became incarnate in one
of Its hypostases," as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 6). But the
Nature is common to the three Persons. Therefore the assumption is.
Objection 3: Further, as the human nature in Christ is assumed by God, so
likewise are men assumed by Him through grace, according to Rm. 14:3:
"God hath taken him to Him." But this assumption pertains to all the
Persons; therefore the first also.
On the contrary, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. ii) that the mystery of the
Incarnation pertains to "discrete theology," i.e. according to which
something "distinct" is said of the Divine Persons.
I answer that, As was said above (Article ), assumption implies two things,
viz. the act of assuming and the term of assumption. Now the act of
assumption proceeds from the Divine power, which is common to the three
Persons, but the term of the assumption is a Person, as stated above
(Article ). Hence what has to do with action in the assumption is common to
the three Persons; but what pertains to the nature of term belongs to one
Person in such a manner as not to belong to another; for the three
Persons caused the human nature to be united to the one Person of the Son.
Reply to Objection 1: This reason regards the operation, and the conclusion would
follow if it implied this operation only, without the term, which is a
Reply to Objection 2: The Nature is said to be incarnate, and to assume by reason
of the Person in Whom the union is terminated, as stated above (Articles ,2),
and not as it is common to the three Persons. Now "the whole Divine
Nature is" said to be "incarnate"; not that It is incarnate in all the
Persons, but inasmuch as nothing is wanting to the perfection of the
Divine Nature of the Person incarnate, as Damascene explains there.
Reply to Objection 3: The assumption which takes place by the grace of adoption
is terminated in a certain participation of the Divine Nature, by an
assimilation to Its goodness, according to 2 Pt. 1:4: "That you may be
made partakers of the Divine Nature"; and hence this assumption is common
to the three Persons, in regard to the principle and the term. But the
assumption which is by the grace of union is common on the part of the
principle, but not on the part of the term, as was said above.
Article 5: Whether each of the Divine Persons could have assumed human nature?
Objection 1: It would seem that no other Divine Person could have assumed
human nature except the Person of the Son. For by this assumption it has
been brought about that God is the Son of Man. But it was not becoming
that either the Father or the Holy Ghost should be said to be a Son; for
this would tend to the confusion of the Divine Persons. Therefore the
Father and Holy Ghost could not have assumed flesh.
Objection 2: Further, by the Divine Incarnation men have come into possession
of the adoption of sons, according to Rm. 8:15: "For you have not
received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but the spirit of adoption
of sons." But sonship by adoption is a participated likeness of natural
sonship which does not belong to the Father nor the Holy Ghost; hence it
is said (Rm. 8:29): "For whom He foreknew He also predestinated to be
made conformable to the image of His Son." Therefore it seems that no
other Person except the Person of the Son could have become incarnate.
Objection 3: Further, the Son is said to be sent and to be begotten by the
temporal nativity, inasmuch as He became incarnate. But it does not
belong to the Father to be sent, for He is innascible, as was said above
(FP, Question , Article ; FP, Question , Article ). Therefore at least the Person of the
Father cannot become incarnate.
On the contrary, Whatever the Son can do, so can the Father and the Holy
Ghost, otherwise the power of the three Persons would not be one. But the
Son was able to become incarnate. Therefore the Father and the Holy Ghost
were able to become incarnate.
I answer that, As was said above (Articles ,2,4), assumption implies two
things, viz. the act of the one assuming and the term of the assumption.
Now the principle of the act is the Divine power, and the term is a
Person. But the Divine power is indifferently and commonly in all the
Persons. Moreover, the nature of Personality is common to all the
Persons, although the personal properties are different. Now whenever a
power regards several things indifferently, it can terminate its action
in any of them indifferently, as is plain in rational powers, which
regard opposites, and can do either of them. Therefore the Divine power
could have united human nature to the Person of the Father or of the Holy
Ghost, as It united it to the Person of the Son. And hence we must say
that the Father or the Holy Ghost could have assumed flesh even as the
Reply to Objection 1: The temporal sonship, whereby Christ is said to be the Son
of Man, does not constitute His Person, as does the eternal Sonship; but
is something following upon the temporal nativity. Hence, if the name of
son were transferred to the Father or the Holy Ghost in this manner,
there would be no confusion of the Divine Persons.
Reply to Objection 2: Adoptive sonship is a certain participation of natural
sonship; but it takes place in us, by appropriation, by the Father, Who
is the principle of natural sonship, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost,
Who is the love of the Father and Son, according to Gal. 4:6: "God hath
sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father." And
therefore, even as by the Incarnation of the Son we receive adoptive
sonship in the likeness of His natural sonship, so likewise, had the
Father become incarnate, we should have received adoptive sonship from
Him, as from the principle of the natural sonship, and from the Holy
Ghost as from the common bond of Father and Son.
Reply to Objection 3: It belongs to the Father to be innascible as to eternal
birth, and the temporal birth would not destroy this. But the Son of God
is said to be sent in regard to the Incarnation, inasmuch as He is from
another, without which the Incarnation would not suffice for the nature
Article 6: Whether several Divine Persons can assume one and the same individual nature?
Objection 1: It would seem that two Divine Persons cannot assume one and the
same individual nature. For, this being granted, there would either be
several men or one. But not several, for just as one Divine Nature in
several Persons does not make several gods, so one human nature in
several persons does not make several men. Nor would there be only one
man, for one man is "this man," which signifies one person; and hence the
distinction of three Divine Persons would be destroyed, which cannot be
allowed. Therefore neither two nor three Persons can take one human
Objection 2: Further, the assumption is terminated in the unity of Person, as
has been said above (Article ). But the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not
one Person. Therefore the three Persons cannot assume one human nature.
Objection 3: Further, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 3,4), and Augustine
(De Trin. i, 11,12,13), that from the Incarnation of God the Son it
follows that whatever is said of the Son of God is said of the Son of
Man, and conversely. Hence, if three Persons were to assume one human
nature, it would follow that whatever is said of each of the three
Persons would be said of the man; and conversely, what was said of the
man could be said of each of the three Persons. Therefore what is proper
to the Father, viz. to beget the Son, would be said of the man, and
consequently would be said of the Son of God; and this could not be.
Therefore it is impossible that the three Persons should assume one human
On the contrary, The Incarnate Person subsists in two natures. But the
three Persons can subsist in one Divine Nature. Therefore they can also
subsist in one human nature in such a way that the human nature be
assumed by the three Persons.
I answer that, As was said above (Question , Article , ad 1), by the union of the
soul and body in Christ neither a new person is made nor a new
hypostasis, but one human nature is assumed to the Divine Person or
hypostasis, which, indeed, does not take place by the power of the human
nature, but by the power of the Divine Person. Now such is the
characteristic of the Divine Persons that one does not exclude another
from communicating in the same nature, but only in the same Person.
Hence, since in the mystery of the Incarnation "the whole reason of the
deed is the power of the doer," as Augustine says (Ep. ad Volusianum
cxxxvii), we must judge of it in regard to the quality of the Divine
Person assuming, and not according to the quality of the human nature
assumed. Therefore it is not impossible that two or three Divine Persons
should assume one human nature, but it would be impossible for them to
assume one human hypostasis or person; thus Anselm says in the book De
Concep. Virg. (Cur Deus Homo ii, 9), that "several Persons cannot assume
one and the same man to unity of Person."
Reply to Objection 1: In the hypothesis that three Persons assume one human
nature, it would be true to say that the three Persons were one man,
because of the one human nature. For just as it is now true to say the
three Persons are one God on account of the one Divine Nature, so it
would be true to say they are one man on account of the one human nature.
Nor would "one" imply unity of person, but unity in human nature; for it
could not be argued that because the three Persons were one man they were
one simply. For nothing hinders our saying that men, who are many simply,
are in some respect one, e.g. one people, and as Augustine says (De Trin.
vi, 3): "The Spirit of God and the spirit of man are by nature different,
but by inherence one spirit results," according to 1 Cor. 6:17: "He who
is joined to the Lord is one spirit."
Reply to Objection 2: In this supposition the human nature would be assumed to
the unity, not indeed of one Person, but to the unity of each Person, so
that even as the Divine Nature has a natural unity with each Person, so
also the human nature would have a unity with each Person by assumption.
Reply to Objection 3: In the mystery of the Incarnation, there results a
communication of the properties belonging to the nature, because whatever
belongs to the nature can be predicated of the Person subsisting in that
nature, no matter to which of the natures it may apply. Hence in this
hypothesis, of the Person of the Father may be predicated what belongs to
the human nature and what belongs to the Divine; and likewise of the
Person of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. But what belongs to the Person
of the Father by reason of His own Person could not be attributed to the
Person of the Son or Holy Ghost on account of the distinction of Persons
which would still remain. Therefore it might be said that as the Father
was unbegotten, so the man was unbegotten, inasmuch as "man" stood for
the Person of the Father. But if one were to go on to say, "The man is
unbegotten; the Son is man; therefore the Son is unbegotten," it would be
the fallacy of figure of speech or of accident; even as we now say God is
unbegotten, because the Father is unbegotten, yet we cannot conclude that
the Son is unbegotten, although He is God.
Article 7: Whether one Divine Person can assume two human natures?
Objection 1: It would seem that one Divine Person cannot assume two human natures. For the nature assumed in the mystery of the Incarnation has no other suppositum than the suppositum of the Divine Person, as is plain from what has been stated above (Question , Articles ,6). Therefore, if we suppose one Person to assume two human natures, there would be one suppositum of two natures of the same species; which would seem to imply a contradiction, for the nature of one species is only multiplied by distinct supposita.
Objection 2: Further, in this hypothesis it could not be said that the Divine
Person incarnate was one man, seeing that He would not have one human
nature; neither could it be said that there were several, for several men
have distinct supposita, whereas in this case there would be only one
suppositum. Therefore the aforesaid hypothesis is impossible.
Objection 3: Further, in the mystery of the Incarnation the whole Divine
Nature is united to the whole nature assumed, i.e. to every part of it,
for Christ is "perfect God and perfect man, complete God and complete
man," as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 7). But two human natures
cannot be wholly united together, inasmuch as the soul of one would be
united to the body of the other; and, again, two bodies would be
together, which would give rise to confusion of natures. Therefore it is
not possibly for one Divine Person to assume two human natures.
On the contrary, Whatever the Father can do, that also can the Son do.
But after the Incarnation the Father can still assume a human nature
distinct from that which the Son has assumed; for in nothing is the power
of the Father or the Son lessened by the Incarnation of the Son.
Therefore it seems that after the Incarnation the Son can assume another
human nature distinct from the one He has assumed.
I answer that, What has power for one thing, and no more, has a power
limited to one. Now the power of a Divine Person is infinite, nor can it
be limited by any created thing. Hence it may not be said that a Divine
Person so assumed one human nature as to be unable to assume another. For
it would seem to follow from this that the Personality of the Divine
Nature was so comprehended by one human nature as to be unable to assume
another to its Personality; and this is impossible, for the Uncreated
cannot be comprehended by any creature. Hence it is plain that, whether
we consider the Divine Person in regard to His power, which is the
principle of the union, or in regard to His Personality, which is the
term of the union, it has to be said that the Divine Person, over and
beyond the human nature which He has assumed, can assume another distinct
Reply to Objection 1: A created nature is completed in its essentials by its
form, which is multiplied according to the division of matter. And hence,
if the composition of matter and form constitutes a new suppositum, the
consequence is that the nature is multiplied by the multiplication of
supposita. But in the mystery of the Incarnation the union of form and
matter, i.e. of soul and body, does not constitute a new suppositum, as
was said above (Article ). Hence there can be a numerical multitude on the
part of the nature, on account of the division of matter, without
distinction of supposita.
Reply to Objection 2: It might seem possible to reply that in such a hypothesis
it would follow that there were two men by reason of the two natures,
just as, on the contrary, the three Persons would be called one man, on
account of the one nature assumed, as was said above (Article , ad 1). But
this does not seem to be true; because we must use words according to the
purpose of their signification, which is in relation to our surroundings.
Consequently, in order to judge of a word's signification or
co-signification, we must consider the things which are around us, in
which a word derived from some form is never used in the plural unless
there are several supposita. For a man who has on two garments is not
said to be "two persons clothed," but "one clothed with two garments";
and whoever has two qualities is designated in the singular as "such by
reason of the two qualities." Now the assumed nature is, as it were, a
garment, although this similitude does not fit at all points, as has been
said above (Question , Article , ad 1). And hence, if the Divine Person were to
assume two human natures, He would be called, on account of the unity of
suppositum, one man having two human natures. Now many men are said to be
one people, inasmuch as they have some one thing in common, and not on
account of the unity of suppositum. So likewise, if two Divine Persons
were to assume one singular human nature, they would be said to be one
man, as stated (Article , ad 1), not from the unity of suppositum, but
because they have some one thing in common.
Reply to Objection 3: The Divine and human natures do not bear the same relation
to the one Divine Person, but the Divine Nature is related first of all
thereto, inasmuch as It is one with It from eternity; and afterwards the
human nature is related to the Divine Person, inasmuch as it is assumed
by the Divine Person in time, not indeed that the nature is the Person,
but that the Person of God subsists in human nature. For the Son of God
is His Godhead, but is not His manhood. And hence, in order that the
human nature may be assumed by the Divine Person, the Divine Nature must
be united by a personal union with the whole nature assumed, i.e. in all
its parts. Now in the two natures assumed there would be a uniform
relation to the Divine Person, nor would one assume the other. Hence it
would not be necessary for one of them to be altogether united to the
other, i.e. all the parts of one with all the parts of the other.
Article 8: Whether it was more fitting that the Person of the Son rather than any other Divine Person should assume human nature?
Objection 1: It would seem that it was not more fitting that the Son of God
should become incarnate than the Father or the Holy Ghost. For by the
mystery of the Incarnation men are led to the true knowledge of God,
according to Jn. 18:37: "For this was I born, and for this came I into
the world, to give testimony to the truth." But by the Person of the Son
of God becoming incarnate many have been kept back from the true
knowledge of God, since they referred to the very Person of the Son what
was said of the Son in His human nature, as Arius, who held an inequality
of Persons, according to what is said (Jn. 14:28): "The Father is greater
than I." Now this error would not have arisen if the Person of the Father
had become incarnate, for no one would have taken the Father to be less
than the Son. Hence it seems fitting that the Person of the Father,
rather than the Person of the Son, should have become incarnate.
Objection 2: Further, the effect of the Incarnation would seem to be, as it
were, a second creation of human nature, according to Gal. 6:15: "For in
Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision,
but a new creature." But the power of creation is appropriated to the
Father. Therefore it would have been more becoming to the Father than to
the Son to become incarnate.
Objection 3: Further, the Incarnation is ordained to the remission of sins,
according to Mt. 1:21: "Thou shalt call His name Jesus. For He shall save
His people from their sins." Now the remission of sins is attributed to
the Holy Ghost according to Jn. 20:22,23: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them." Therefore it
became the Person of the Holy Ghost rather than the Person of the Son to
On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 1): "In the mystery
of the Incarnation the wisdom and power of God are made known: the
wisdom, for He found a most suitable discharge for a most heavy debt; the
power, for He made the conquered conquer." But power and wisdom are
appropriated to the Son, according to 1 Cor. 1:24: "Christ, the power of
God and the wisdom of God." Therefore it was fitting that the Person of
the Son should become incarnate.
I answer that, It was most fitting that the Person of the Son should
become incarnate. First, on the part of the union; for such as are
similar are fittingly united. Now the Person of the Son, Who is the Word
of God, has a certain common agreement with all creatures, because the
word of the craftsman, i.e. his concept, is an exemplar likeness of
whatever is made by him. Hence the Word of God, Who is His eternal
concept, is the exemplar likeness of all creatures. And therefore as
creatures are established in their proper species, though movably, by the
participation of this likeness, so by the non-participated and personal
union of the Word with a creature, it was fitting that the creature
should be restored in order to its eternal and unchangeable perfection;
for the craftsman by the intelligible form of his art, whereby he
fashioned his handiwork, restores it when it has fallen into ruin.
Moreover, He has a particular agreement with human nature, since the Word
is a concept of the eternal Wisdom, from Whom all man's wisdom is
derived. And hence man is perfected in wisdom (which is his proper
perfection, as he is rational) by participating the Word of God, as the
disciple is instructed by receiving the word of his master. Hence it is
said (Ecclus. 1:5): "The Word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom."
And hence for the consummate perfection of man it was fitting that the
very Word of God should be personally united to human nature.
Secondly, the reason of this fitness may be taken from the end of the
union, which is the fulfilling of predestination, i.e. of such as are
preordained to the heavenly inheritance, which is bestowed only on sons,
according to Rm. 8:17: "If sons, heirs also." Hence it was fitting that
by Him Who is the natural Son, men should share this likeness of sonship
by adoption, as the Apostle says in the same chapter (Rm. 8:29): "For
whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the
image of His Son."
Thirdly, the reason for this fitness may be taken from the sin of our
first parent, for which the Incarnation supplied the remedy. For the
first man sinned by seeking knowledge, as is plain from the words of the
serpent, promising to man the knowledge of good and evil. Hence it was
fitting that by the Word of true knowledge man might be led back to God,
having wandered from God through an inordinate thirst for knowledge.
Reply to Objection 1: There is nothing which human malice cannot abuse, since it
even abuses God's goodness, according to Rm. 2:4: "Or despisest thou the
riches of His goodness?" Hence, even if the Person of the Father had
become incarnate, men would have been capable of finding an occasion of
error, as though the Son were not able to restore human nature.
Reply to Objection 2: The first creation of things was made by the power of God
the Father through the Word; hence the second creation ought to have been
brought about through the Word, by the power of God the Father, in order
that restoration should correspond to creation according to 2 Cor. 5:19:
"For God indeed was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself."
Reply to Objection 3: To be the gift of the Father and the Son is proper to the
Holy Ghost. But the remission of sins is caused by the Holy Ghost, as by
the gift of God. And hence it was more fitting to man's justification
that the Son should become incarnate, Whose gift the Holy Ghost is.