II Sentences, Distinction 43, Question 1
Concerning the Sin against the Holy Spirit

a. 5: utrum aliquis possit peccare in spiritum sanctum in primo actu peccati. Article 5: Whether someone can sin against the Holy Spirit in the first act of sin.
ad quintum sic proceditur. videtur quod aliquis in primo actu peccati non possit peccare in spiritum sanctum, sed quod hoc peccatum praeexigatalia peccata. It would seem that someone in the first act of sin is unable to sin against the Holy Spirit, but that this sin presupposes other sins.
dicit enim bernardus in 4 sermone super cantica: nemo repente fit summus; sed paulatim proficere volo. ergo e contrario nullus repente fit pessimus. sed peccatum in spiritum sanctum est gravissimum. ergo non statim aliquis hoc peccato potest peccare. Objection 1: For Bernard says in his 4 Sermons upon the Songs: "No one becomes best by repenting; but I wish to advance gradually. Therefore, on the contrary, no one becomes worst by (sinning)". But the sin against the Holy Spirit is most grave. Therefore, one cannot immediately commit this sin.
praeterea, gregorius in moral., exponens illud job 39: clamorem ducum etc. dicit, quod vitia quae primo mentem invadunt, cum quadam ratione hominem, quasi persuadendo, ad modum ducis vincunt; sed postmodum mens per diversa vitia irrationabiliter dissipatur. sed peccatum in spiritum sanctum est maxime a persuasione rationis recedens. ergo non potest esse primum; sed oportet quod sequatur alia peccata. Objection 2: Furthermore, Gregory, expounding upon Job 39 "The cry of the leaders" etc. (in his Moralium), says that the vices which first take possession of the mind conquer man with a sort of reasoning, persuading, as it were, after the manner of a leader. But afterwards the mind is dissipated irrationally by diverse vices. But the sin against the Holy Spirit withdraws most greatly from the persuasion of reason. Therefore, it cannot be first, but appears, rather, to follow upon other sins.
praeterea, philosophus dicit in 5 ethic., quod non est in potestate hominis ut statim injusta operetur, sicut injustus facit. sed injustus operatur injusta delectabiliter et ex electione. ergo non est in potestate hominis ut statim et ex electione peccatum faciat. quicumque autem peccat in spiritum sanctum, ex electione peccat. ergo etc.. Objection 3: Furthermore, the Philosopher says in Book V of the Nichomachean Ethics that it is not in the power of a person to do unjust acts immediately, as the unjust so do (see V. 9. 1137a4-9 of that work, and 1074 of Aquinas's commentary on the NE). But the unjust do unjust acts with pleasure and by choice. Therefore, it is not in the power of man that he immediately and by choice commits sin. However, everyone who sins against the Holy Spirit, sins through choice. Therefore, in the first act of sin, one is unable to sin against the Holy Spirit.
praeterea, sicut spei opponitur desperatio, ita meritis opponuntur demerita. sed spes praesupponit merita: est enim spes certa expectatio futurae beatitudinis ex meritis et gratia proveniens. ergo et desperatio praesupponit demerita; et sic saltem haec species peccati in spiritum sanctum oportet quod ad alia peccata sequatur. Objection 4: Furthermore, just as hope is opposed to despair, so too are merits opposed to demerits. But hope presupposes merits. For hope is a definite expectation of future beatitude gifted to one by reason of merit and grace. Therefore, despair presupposes demerits. At the least, this species of the sin against the Holy Spirit appears to be that which follows upon other sins.
praeterea, poenitentia et impoenitentia, cum sint opposita, sunt circa idem. sed poenitentia est dolor de commissis. ergo et impoenitentia aliqua peccata commissa praesupponit. Objection 5: Furthermore, since penitence and impenitence are opposites, they concern the same things. But penitence is sadness concerning transgressions committed in the past. Therefore, impenitence presupposes some sin committed in the past.
sed contra, peccatorum quae habent actus distinctos, unum ad sui esse alterum non praesupponit.sed peccatum in spiritum sanctum habet actum ab aliis peccatis distinctum, qui est abjicere id per quod quis a peccato retrahitur, ut dictum est, in corp. art. 2. ergo non de necessitate alia peccata praesupponit. 1st. on the contrary: Of those sins which have distinct acts, (each) one does not presuppose the other for its own being. But the sin against the Holy Spirit has an act distinct from other sins, which is to throw aside that through which someone may be drawn away from sin, as was said above in the body of article 2. Therefore, it does not presuppose other sins by necessity.
praeterea, peccatum in spiritum sanctum consistit in hoc quod voluntas rejicit id per quod a peccato retrahi deberet. sed voluntas se habet ad utrumque oppositorum. ergo potest homo statim in spiritum sanctum peccare vel non peccare. 2nd. on the contrary: Furthermore, the sin against the Holy Spirit consists in the fact that the will throws off that through which one ought to be drawn away from sin. But the will is related to both of these opposites. Therefore, a man can sin against the Holy Spirit immediately or not.
respondeo dicendum, quod, sicut supra dictum est, dist. 42, art. 3, in corp., in peccatis quorum unum dicitur ex altero nasci, non consideratur quid semper fiat, sed quid in pluribus contingat, propter quamdam aptitudinem quam habet unum peccatum quod ex alio frequenter oriatur; sicut fraus assignatur filia avaritiae, quae tamen potest ex luxuria vel ex alio vitio oriri, quamvis ex avaritia saepius oriatur. illud autem peccatum habet aptitudinem ut ex eo aliud oriatur, cujus objectum est vehementius appetibile, ut supra dictum est. hoc autem est quod habet majorem apparentiam boni. unde illud peccatum cujus objectum maxime recedit a ratione boni, minime potest esse primum; sed quasi semper vel frequentius ex alio oritur: et tale est peccatum in spiritum sanctum, prout speciale peccatum ponitur: et ideo ut saepius et quasi semper sequitur ad alia peccata: non tamen ita quin sit possibile ut etiam homo in primo actu peccati in spiritum sanctum peccet, et praecipue in duabus ultimis speciebus, scilicet impugnatione veritatis agnitae, et invidentia gratiae qua reconciliati sumus: quia istae species majorem videntur habere distinctionem ab aliis peccatis. sed tamen hoc etiam contingit in aliis speciebus, si diligenter consideretur. potest enim aliquis statim, inspectis diversorum hominum statibus, abjicere spem futurae gloriae, propter difficultatem perveniendi ad ipsam, et propter delectationes eorum qui de ea non curant; et similiter in hoc animum suum firmare ut suam voluntatem in omnibus sequatur; quod est obstinationis; et sic de aliis. Response: As was said previously in the body of dist. 42, art. 3 (where one sin is said to arise from another), one does not consider what always happens, but what happens for the most part on account of an aptitude that one sin has that frequently arises by reason of another, just as fraud is designated as an offspring of avarice which, nevertheless, can arise from luxuria or because of some other vice, although it more often arises from avarice. However, that sin has an aptitude so that from it another (sin) arises whose object is more vehemently desirable, as was said previously. This comes about in so far as it has the greater appearance of good. Hence, that sin whose object most greatly withdraws one from the nature of good, is least able to be first. But as it is that which arises always or more frequently from another, this (latter) sort (of sin) is the sin against the Holy Spirit, as it is determined to be a definite sin. It is for this reason that it more often, and as it were always, follows upon another sin. Nonetheless, it is thus possible for man in the first act of sin to sin against the Holy Spirit, and particularly with respect to two ultimate kinds, namely resisting the known truth, and envy of the spiritual graces by which we are reconciled (to the Father). For these very species seem to possess a greater distinction from the other (species of the sin against the Holy Spirit). However, this also happens to the other species (of the sin against the Holy Spirit), if the matter is diligently considered. Upon examining the diverse kinds of human states of life, one can immediately throw off hope for future glory (that is, despair) on account of the difficulty in arriving at it, and on account of the delights of those who do not take care for it. And in this, similarly, the soul of such a one stands firm so that in all these things, he follows his own will, which is obstinacy, and thus with respect to the other (species of the sin against the Holy Spirit).
ad primum ergo dicendum, quod non est simile de profectu virtutis, et de casu in peccatum: quia plura requiruntur ad actum virtutis quam ad actum peccati: et ad actum virtutis erigitur homo per gratiam; sed in actum peccati per seipsum quis cadere potest. Response to Objection 1: The advance of virtue and the advance into sin are not alike. For more things are required for an act of virtue than for an act of sin. And man is raised up to the act of virtue through grace. But anyone is able to fall by himself into the act of sin.
ad secundum dicendum, quod gregorius ibi assignans origines vitiorum, considerat id quod saepius accidit, non quin aliter possit accidere: hoc enim ad moralem pertinet, et etiam ad naturalem: quia causae naturales, et multo plus morales, deficiunt in minori parte, quia non sunt necessariae. Response to Objection 2: Gregory is there determining the origins of the vices, and he considers that which happens in the majority of cases, and not what can otherwise happen. For this pertains to moral science, and also to the study of nature, since the natural causes, and many more of the moral ones, fail in the minority of cases because they are not necessary.
ad tertium dicendum, quod peccatum in spiritum sanctum, ut supra dictum est, non est hoc modo ex electione sicut habens habitum ex electione peccat; immo per actus peccati in spiritum sanctum praecedentes habitum aliquis habitus acquiritur: et ideo objectio non procedit: quia injustus ex electione peccat sicut habens habitum. Response to Objection 3: As was said above, the sin against the Holy Spirit is not from choice in this way, namely, the way in which a person who has a habit sins out of choice. On the contrary, through an act of sin against the Holy Spirit, some habit is acquired from preceding habits. And for this reason the objection does not proceed because the unjust sin by reason of choice as having a habit.
ad quartum dicendum, quod spes non semper praeexigit merita in actu, sed solum in proposito sperantis; similiter etiam et desperatio non oportet quod praesupponat aliqua demerita praecedentia in actu. Response to Objection 4: Hope does not always presuppose actual merits, but only in the intention of the one who hopes. In like manner, it is not fitting that despair presupposes some actual preceding demerit.
ad quintum dicendum, quod poenitentia, secundum quod dicit actum, non est nisi de malis praeteritis: sed secundum quod dicit habitum, quo quis dicitur poenitivus, non exigitur quod aliqua peccata commiserit, sed quod habeat hoc propositum, ut si contingeret ipsum peccare, statim poeniteret. ita etiam ad rationem impoenitentiae sufficit ut aliquis nunquam poeniteat de peccatis, si qua committet.Response to Objection 5: Repentance, in so far as it designates an act, is not a reality unless it deals with past evils. In so far, however, as it designates a habit, by which one is called a penitent, it is not required that a sin have been committed, but that one have this intention, such that if one happens to commit a sin, one would repent immediately. In like manner this suffices for the notion of impenitence so that someone never repents concerning his sins, if he commits them.

© Stephen Loughlin
(sjl1@desales.edu)



The Aquinas Translation Project
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