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Article Six

Whether Faith is a Single Virtue

We proceed to the sixth article thus:

1. It seems that faith is not a single virtue. For just as faith is a gift of God, according to Eph. 2:8, so also are wisdom and understanding clearly reckoned as gifts of God, according to Isa. 11:2. Now wisdom and knowledge are different, in that wisdom is of things eternal, whereas understanding is of things temporal. Hence since faith is of things eternal, and also of some things which are temporal, it seems that it is not single, but divided into parts.

2. Again, it was said in Q. 3, Art. 1 that confession is an act of faith. But confession is not the same for all. We confess as having happened in the past what the ancient fathers confessed as about to happen in the future, as is plain from Isa. 7:14: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive.” Hence faith is not single.

3. Again, faith is common to all who believe in Christ. But a single accident cannot be in different subjects. There cannot then be one faith for everybody.

On the other hand: the apostle says (Eph. 4:5): “One Lord, one faith.”

I answer: if we are speaking of the habit of faith, this may be considered either in respect of its object, or in respect of its subject. Faith is one in respect of its object, since its formal object is the first truth, in believing which we believe everything contained in the faith. But it is diverse in respect of its subject, since it occurs in different persons. Now it is obvious that faith, like any other habit, takes its species from what we mean by its formal object, while it is individualized by its subject. Consequently, if by faith we mean the habit whereby we believe, faith is one in species, even though it is numerically different in different persons. If, on the other hand, we mean that which is believed, then again, faith is one, since it is the same thing that is believed by all. For even though the matters 274of faith which all believe in common are diverse, they are all reducible to one.

On the first point: such temporal things as are proposed to faith are the object of faith only in so far as they relate to what is eternal, namely, to the first truth, as we said in Q. 1, Art. 1. Faith is therefore one, whether of things eternal or temporal. But it is otherwise with wisdom and understanding, which are concerned with the eternal and the temporal according to their different natures.

On the second point: the difference between past and future is not a difference within what is believed, but a difference in the relation of believers to the one thing which is believed, as we said in 12ae, Q. 103, Art. 4; Q. 107, Art. 1, ad 1.

On the third point: this objection argues from the numerical diversity of faith.

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