Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theoligica

Original Electronic Text at theNew Advent Catholic web site.

First Part
Question 1
The nature and extent of sacred doctrine
Article 1
Whether, besides philosophy, any further doctrine is required?

Objection 1. It seems that, besides philosophical science, we have no need of any further knowledge. For man should not seek to know what is above reason: "Seek not the things that are too high for thee" (Sirach 3:22). But whatever is not above reason is fully treated of in philosophical science. Therefore any other knowledge besides philosophical science is superfluous.

Objection 2. Further, knowledge can be concerned only with being, for nothing can be known, save what is true; and all that is, is true. But everything that is, is treated of in philosophical science--even God Himself; so that there is a part of philosophy called theology, or the divine science, as Aristotle has proved (Metaph. vi). Therefore, besides philosophical science, there is no need of any further knowledge.

On the contrary, It is written (2 Tim. 3:16): "All Scripture, inspired of God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice." Now Scripture, inspired of God, is no part of philosophical science, which has been built up by human reason. Therefore it is useful that besides philosophical science, there should be other knowledge, i.e. inspired of God.

I answer that, It was necessary for man's salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: "The eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for Thee" (Is. 66:4). But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards those truths about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas man's whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation. It was therefore necessary that besides philosophical science built up by reason, there should be a sacred science learned through revelation.

Reply to Objection 1. Although those things which are beyond man's knowledge may not be sought for by man through his reason, nevertheless, once they are revealed by God, they must be accepted by faith. Hence the sacred text continues, "For many things are shown to thee above the understanding of man" (Sirach 3:25). And in this, the sacred science consists.

Reply to Objection 2. Sciences are differentiated according to the various means through which knowledge is obtained. For the astronomer and the physicist both may prove the same conclusion: that the earth, for instance, is round: the astronomer by means of mathematics (i.e. abstracting from matter), but the physicist by means of matter itself. Hence there is no reason why those things which may be learned from philosophical science, so far as they can be known by natural reason, may not also be taught us by another science so far as they fall within revelation. Hence theology included in sacred doctrine differs in kind from that theology which is part of philosophy.

Question 1
Article 8
Whether sacred doctrine is a matter of argument?

Objection 1. It seems this doctrine is not a matter of argument. For Ambrose says (De Fide 1): "Put arguments aside where faith is sought." But in this doctrine, faith especially is sought: "But these things are written that you may believe" (Jn. 20:31). Therefore sacred doctrine is not a matter of argument.

Objection 2. Further, if it is a matter of argument, the argument is either from authority or from reason. If it is from authority, it seems unbefitting its dignity, for the proof from authority is the weakest form of proof. But if it is from reason, this is unbefitting its end, because, according to Gregory (Hom. 26), "faith has no merit in those things of which human reason brings its own experience." Therefore sacred doctrine is not a matter of argument.

On the contrary, The Scripture says that a bishop should "embrace that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9).

I answer that, As other sciences do not argue in proof of their principles, but argue from their principles to demonstrate other truths in these sciences: so this doctrine does not argue in proof of its principles, which are the articles of faith, but from them it goes on to prove something else; as the Apostle from the resurrection of Christ argues in proof of the general resurrection (1 Cor. 15). However, it is to be borne in mind, in regard to the philosophical sciences, that the inferior sciences neither prove their principles nor dispute with those who deny them, but leave this to a higher science; whereas the highest of them, viz. metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles, if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation; thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against those who deny one article of faith, we can argue from another. If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections--if he has any--against faith. Since faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.

Reply to Objection 1. Although arguments from human reason cannot avail to prove what must be received on faith, nevertheless, this doctrine argues from articles of faith to other truths.

Reply to Objection 2. This doctrine is especially based upon arguments from authority, inasmuch as its principles are obtained by revelation: thus we ought to believe on the authority of those to whom the revelation has been made. Nor does this take away from the dignity of this doctrine, for although the argument from authority based on human reason is the weakest, yet the argument from authority based on divine revelation is the strongest. But sacred doctrine makes use even of human reason, not, indeed, to prove faith (for thereby the merit of faith would come to an end), but to make clear other things that are put forward in this doctrine. Since therefore grace does not destroy nature but perfects it, natural reason should minister to faith as the natural bent of the will ministers to charity. Hence the Apostle says: "Bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Hence sacred doctrine makes use also of the authority of philosophers in those questions in which they were able to know the truth by natural reason, as Paul quotes a saying of Aratus: "As some also of your own poets said: For we are also His offspring" (Acts 17:28). Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."

Question 69
Article 7
Whether so many abodes should be distinguished?

Objection 1. It would seem that we should not distinguish so many abodes. For after death, just as abodes are due to souls on account of sin, so are they due on account of merit. Now there is only one abode due on account of merit, namely paradise. Therefore neither should there be more than one abode due on account of sin, namely hell.

Objection 2. Further, abodes are appointed to souls after death on account of merits or demerits. Now there is one place where they merit or demerit. Therefore only one abode should be assigned to them after death.

Objection 3. Further, the places of punishment should correspond to the sins. Now there are only three kinds of sin, namely original, venial, and mortal. Therefore there should only be three penal abodes.

Objection 4. On the other hand, it would seem that there should be many more than those assigned. For this darksome air is the prison house of the demons (2 Pt. 2:17), and yet it is not reckoned among the five abodes which are mentioned by certain authors. Therefore there are more than five abodes.

Objection 5. Further, the earthly paradise is distinct from the heavenly paradise. Now some were borne away to the earthly paradise after this state of life, as is related of Enoch and Elias. Since then the earthly paradise is not counted among the five abodes, it would seem that there are more than five.

Objection 6. Further, some penal place should correspond to each state of sinners. Now if we suppose a person to die in original sin who has committed only venial sins, none of the assigned abodes will be befitting to him. For it is clear that he would not be in heaven, since he would be without grace, and for the same reason neither would he be in the limbo of the Fathers; nor again, would he be in the limbo of children, since there is no sensible punishment there, which is due to such a person by reason of venial sin: nor would he be in purgatory, where there is none but temporal punishment, whereas everlasting punishment is due to him: nor would he be in the hell of the damned, since he is not guilty of actual mortal sin. Therefore a sixth abode should be assigned.

Objection 7. Further, rewards and punishments vary in quantity according to the differences of sins and merits. Now the degrees of merit and sin are infinite. Therefore we should distinguish an infinite number of abodes, in which souls are punished or rewarded after death.

Objection 8. Further, souls are sometimes punished in the places where they sinned, as Gregory states (Dial. iv, 55). But they sinned in the place which we inhabit. Therefore this place should be reckoned among the abodes, especially since some are punished for their sins in this world, as the Master said above (Sent. iv, D, 21).

Objection 9. Further, just as some die in a state of grace and have some venial sins for which they deserve punishment, so some die in mortal sin and have some good for which they would deserve a reward. Now to those who die in grace with venial sins an abode is assigned where they are punished ere they receive their reward, which abode is purgatory. Therefore, on the other hand, there should be equally an abode for those who die in mortal sin together with some good works.

Objection 10. Further, just as the Fathers were delayed from obtaining full glory of the soul before Christ's coming, so are they now detained from receiving the glory of the body. Therefore as we distinguish an abode of the saints before the coming of Christ from the one where they are received now, so ought we to distinguish the one in which they are received now from the one where they will be received after the resurrection.

I answer that, The abodes of souls are distinguished according to the souls' various states. Now the soul united to a mortal body is in the state of meriting, while the soul separated from the body is in the state of receiving good or evil for its merits; so that after death it is either in the state of receiving its final reward, or in the state of being hindered from receiving it. If it is in the state of receiving its final retribution, this happens in two ways: either in the respect of good, and then it is paradise; or in respect of evil, and thus as regards actual sin it is hell, and as regards original sin it is the limbo of children. On the other hand, if it be in the state where it is hindered from receiving its final reward, this is either on account of a defect of the person, and thus we have purgatory where souls are detained from receiving their reward at once on account of the sins they have committed, or else it is on account of a defect of nature, and thus we have the limbo of the Fathers, where the Fathers were detained from obtaining glory on account of the guilt of human nature which could not yet be expiated.

Reply to Objection 1. Good happens in one way, but evil in many ways, according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv) and the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 6): wherefore it is not unfitting if there be one place of blissful reward and several places of punishment.

Reply to Objection 2. The state of meriting and demeriting is one state, since the same person is able to merit and demerit: wherefore it is fitting that one place should be assigned to all: whereas of those who receive according to their merits there are various states, and consequently the comparison fails.

Reply to Objection 3. One may be punished in two ways for original sin, as stated above, either in reference to the person, or in reference to nature only. Consequently there is a twofold limbo corresponding to that sin.

Reply to Objection 4. This darksome air is assigned to the demons, not as the place where they receive retribution for their merits, but as a place befitting their office, in so far as they are appointed to try us. Hence it is not reckoned among the abodes of which we are treating now: since hell fire is assigned to them in the first place (Mt. 25).

Reply to Objection 5. The earthly paradise belongs to the state of the wayfarer rather than to the state of those who receive for their merits; and consequently it is not reckoned among the abodes whereof we are treating now.

Reply to Objection 6. This supposition is impossible [Cf. I-II, 89, 6]. If, however, it were possible, such a one would be punished in hell eternally: for it is accidental to venial sin that it be punished temporally in purgatory, through its having grace annexed to it: wherefore if it be annexed to a mortal sin, which is without grace, it will be punished eternally in hell. And since this one who dies in original sin has a venial sin without grace, it is not unfitting to suppose that he be punished eternally.

Reply to Objection 7. Diversity of degrees in punishments or rewards does not diversify the state, and it is according to the diversity of state that we distinguish various abodes. Hence the argument does not prove.

Reply to Objection 8. Although separated souls are sometimes punished in the place where we dwell, it does not follow that this is their proper place of punishment: but this is done for our instruction, that seeing their punishment we may be deterred from sin. That souls while yet in the flesh are punished here for their sins has nothing to do with the question, because a punishment of this kind does not place a man outside the state of meriting or demeriting: whereas we are treating now of the abodes to which souls are assigned after the state of merit or demerit.

Reply to Objection 9. It is impossible for evil to be pure and without the admixture of good, just as the supreme good is without any admixture of evil. Consequently those who are to be conveyed to beatitude which is a supreme good must be cleansed of all evil. wherefore there must needs be a place where such persons are cleansed if they go hence without being perfectly clean. But those who will be thrust into hell will not be free from all good: and consequently the comparison fails, since those who are in hell can receive the reward of their goods, in so far as their past goods avail for the mitigation of their punishment.

Reply to Objection 10. The essential reward consists in the glory of the soul, but the body's glory, since it overflows from the soul, is entirely founded as it were on the soul: and consequently lack of the soul's glory causes a difference of state, whereas lack of the body's glory does not. For this reason, too, the same place, namely the empyrean, is assigned to the holy souls separated from their bodies and united to glorious bodies: whereas the same place was not assigned to the souls of the Fathers both before and after the glorification of souls.