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Article Three

Whether Grace is Appropriately Divided into Prevenient and Subsequent Grace

We proceed to the third article thus:

1. It seems that grace is not appropriately divided into prevenient and subsequent grace. For grace is an effect of God’s love, and God’s love is never subsequent, but always prevenient, according to I John 4:10: “not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” Grace should not therefore be described as prevenient and subsequent.

2. Again, sanctifying grace in man is one, since it is sufficient, according to II Cor. 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” But the same thing cannot be both prior and posterior. Grace is therefore inappropriately divided into prevenient and subsequent grace.

3. Again, grace is known by its effects. Now the effects of 169grace are infinite in number, and one effect precedes another. It seems, therefore, that the species of grace will also be infinite in number, if grace is divided into prevenient and subsequent grace in respect of each of its effects. But what is infinite in number is ignored by every art. The division of grace into prevenient and subsequent grace is therefore not appropriate.

On the other hand: God’s grace is the outcome of his mercy. Now on the one hand we read in Ps. 59:10: “The God of my mercy shall prevent me,” and on the other hand in Ps. 23:6: “mercy shall follow me.” Grace is therefore appropriately divided into prevenient and subsequent grace.

I answer: just as grace is divided into operative and cooperative grace on account of its different effects, so is it divided into prevenient and subsequent grace on the same grounds. There are five effects of grace in us: first, that the soul is healed; second, that it wills what is good; third, that it carries out what it wills; fourth, that it perseveres in good; and fifth, that it attains to glory. Since grace causes the first effect in us, it is called prevenient in relation to the second effect. Since it causes the second effect in us, it is called subsequent in relation to the first effect. And since any particular effect follows one effect and precedes another, grace may be called both prevenient and subsequent in regard to the same effect as related to different effects. This is what Augustine is saying in De Nat. et Grat. 31, and 2 ad Bonif. 9,3939In full, Contra Pelagios ad Bonifacium. Leonine Ed. implies that Aquinas did not give this reference. “Grace precedes, that we may be healed; it follows, that being healed we may be quickened; it precedes, that we may be called; it follows, that we may be glorified.”

On the first point: since God’s love means something eternal, it can never be called other than prevenient. Grace, however, signifies an effect in time, which can precede one effect and follow another. It may therefore be called both prevenient and subsequent.

On the second point: grace is not divided into prevenient and subsequent grace in respect of its essence, but solely in respect of its effects, as we said also in regard to operative and cooperative grace. Even as it pertains to the state of glory, subsequent grace is not numerically different from the prevenient grace by which we are now justified. The charity of the way is not annulled in heaven, but perfected, and we must 170say the same of the light of grace, since neither of them can mean anything imperfect.

On the third point: although the effects of grace may be as infinite in number as the deeds of men, they are all reducible to what is determinate in species. Moreover, they are all alike in that one precedes another.


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