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Article Ten

Whether the Justification of the Ungodly is a Miracle

We proceed to the tenth article thus:

1. It seems that the justification of the ungodly is a miracle. For miracles are greater than works which are not miraculous, and the justification of the ungodly is a greater work than some others which are miraculous, as the passage from Augustine quoted in the preceding article makes clear. It follows that the justification of the ungodly is a miracle.

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2. Again, the movement of the will in the soul is like the natural inclination in natural things. Now when God causes something to happen in natural things contrary to their natural inclination, e.g., when he causes the blind to see, or raises the dead to life, it is a miracle. It seems then that the justification of the ungodly is a miracle. For the will of an ungodly man inclines to evil, and God moves him to good when he justifies him.

3. Again, as wisdom is a gift of God, so also is justice. Now it is miraculous that any man should receive wisdom from God suddenly, without study. It is therefore miraculous also that any ungodly man should be justified by him.

On the other hand: miraculous works are beyond the power of nature. But the justification of the ungodly is not beyond the power of nature, since Augustine says: “the capacity to have faith is of the nature of man, as is also the capacity to have charity. But to have both faith and charity is of the grace of the faithful” (De Praed. Sanct. 5). It follows that the justification of the ungodly is not miraculous.

I answer: three things are usually to be found in miracles. The first concerns the power of the agent. Miracles can be wrought only by the power of God, and are therefore absolutely mysterious, having a cause which is hidden, as we said in Pt. I, Q. 105, Art. 7. In this respect, the justification of the ungodly is just as miraculous as the creation of the world, or indeed any work whatever which can be wrought by God alone. Secondly, in some miracles there is a form induced which is beyond the natural capacity of the matter. When one who is dead is brought to life, for example, life is beyond the capacity of a body in that state. The justification of the ungodly is not miraculous in this respect, because the soul is naturally capable of receiving grace. As Augustine says, the soul is capable of God by the very fact that it is made in the image of God (loc. cit.). Thirdly, there is something in miracles over and above the normal and usual order of cause and effect. For example, one who is infirm suddenly acquires perfect health in a manner outside the normal order of recovery, whether by natural or artificial means. The justification of the ungodly is sometimes miraculous in this respect, and sometimes not. The normal and usual course of justification is that God moves the soul from within, turning a man to himself at first by an imperfect conversion, to the end that his conversion may thereafter become perfect. As Augustine says: “charity begun deserves to be 202increased, so that it may deserve to be perfected when it is increased” (Tract. 5 in Joan.). But there are times when God moves the soul with such force that it immediately attains the perfection of justice. This is what happened in the conversion of Paul, together with a miraculous outward prostration. The conversion of Paul is accordingly commemorated in the Church as a miracle.

On the first point: some miracles are inferior to the justification of the ungodly in respect of the good which they achieve. They are nevertheless outside the causal order through which such effects are normally produced, and consequently have more of the nature of miracle.

On the second point: it is not always miraculous that a natural thing should be moved in a way contrary to its natural inclination. If this were the case, it would be miraculous that water should be heated, or that a stone should be thrown upwards. Such an event is miraculous only when it is brought about by some cause other than that which is naturally its proper cause. Now there is no cause, other than God, which can justify the ungodly, just as there is no cause other than fire which can heat water. It follows that the justification of the ungodly is not miraculous in this respect.

On the third point: man is born to acquire wisdom and knowledge from God through his own diligence and study. It is therefore miraculous that he should become wise and learned in any other way. He is not born to acquire grace by his own work, but by the work of God. There is therefore no comparison.

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