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Article Five

Whether a Movement of the Free Will against Sin is required for the justification of the ungodly

We proceed to the fifth article thus:

1. It seems that a movement of the free will against sin is not required for the justification of the ungodly. According to Prov. 10:12: “love covereth all sins,” charity alone is enough to blot out sin. But charity is not concerned with sin as its object. It follows that a movement of the free will against sin is not required for the justification of the ungodly.

2. Again, one who is pressing forward should not look behind him, according to Phil. 3:13-14: “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling. . . .” Now the previous sins of one who is on the way to righteousness are behind him. He should therefore forget them, and not turn back to them by a movement of the free will.

3. Again, in the justification of the ungodly, one sin is not forgiven without another. “It is impious to expect half a pardon from God” (Sunt Plures, Dist. 3 de Poenit.). A man would therefore have to reflect upon every one of his sins, if the justification of the ungodly required a movement of the free will against sin. But this seems impossible. For a man would need a long time for such reflection. Neither could he be forgiven for the sins 191which he had forgotten. It follows that a movement of the free will against sin is not required for the justification of the ungodly.

On the other hand: it is said in Ps. 32:5: “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”

I answer: as we said in the first article, the justification of the ungodly is a movement, in which the human mind is moved by God from a state of sin to a state of justice. It is therefore necessary that a man’s mind should relate itself to both states by a movement of the free will, just as a body which moves away from one point is related to both the points between which it moves. When a body moves in space, it obviously moves from a terminus a quo and approaches a terminus ad quem. When a human mind undergoes justification, it must both abandon sin and approach justice by a movement of the free will.

This movement of recoil and approach on the part of the free will means abhorrence and yearning. Hence in his exposition of John 10:13, “the hireling fleeth,” Augustine says: “our feelings are the movements of our souls; joy is the soul’s overflowing; fear is its flight; when you yearn, the soul advances; when you fear, it flees” (Tract. in Joan. 46). The justification of the ungodly thus requires a twofold movement of the free will. It must yearn for the justice which is of God. It must also abhor sin.

On the first point: it is by the same virtue that we strive towards one contrary and recoil from its opposite. It is thus by charity that we delight in God, and by charity also that we abhor the sins which separate us from God.

On the second point: when a man has put things behind him, he should not revert to them out of love for them. Rather should he forget them, lest he be drawn to them. But he ought to take note of them in thought as things to be abhorred, for thus does he forsake them.

On the third point: in the period before justification, a man must feel a loathing for the sins which he remembers having committed. From such preliminary meditation there ensues in the soul a movement of general loathing for all sins committed, including those which are buried in the past. For a man in this state would repent of the sins which he does not remember, if they were present to his memory. This movement contributes to his justification.

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