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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/492

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MOLINISM


438


MOLINISM


ment which he can never lose without annihilating his own nature. Man must of necessity be free in cverj" state of life, actual or possible, whether that state be the purely natural (.slalus purer naturae), or the state of original justice in paradise (slalu^jit^lilur oriffinalis), or the state of fallen nature (slalus tmlunv lapsa), or the state of regeneration {slatus naturw reparatw). Were man to be deprived of freedom of will, he would necessarily degenerate in his nature and sink to the level of the animal. Since the purely natural state, devoid of supernatural grace and lack- ing a supernatural j\islipe, never existed, and since (lie state of original justice ha.s not been re-established by Christ's Uedeniptiiin, man's present slate alone is to be taken into consideration in solving the problem of the relation between grace and free will. In sjjite of original sin and concupiscence man is still free, not only with reference to ethical goo<l ami evil in his natural actions, but al.so in his supernatural salutary works in which Divine grace co-opcrati>s with liis will. Molinisni escaped every sus|)icion of I'elagiaiiism by laying down at the outset that the .soul with its facul- ties (the intellect and will) must be first constituted by prevenient grace a supernatural principle of operation in aclu priiiio, before it can, in conjunction with the help of the supernatural concursus of God, elicit a salutary act in actii mcu/kIo. Thus, the salutary act is it.self an act of grace rather than of the will; it is the common work of (lod and man, because and in so far as the supernatural element of the act is due to God and its vitality and freedom to man. It must not be imagined, however, that the will has such an influence on grace that its con.sent conditions or strengthens the power of grace; the fact is rather that the supernatural power of grace is first transformed into the vital energy of the will, and then, as a supernatural concursus, ex- cites and accompanies the free and salutary act. In other words, as a helping or co-operating grace (gratia adiuvmis sen cooperan.s), it produces the act conjointly with the will. According to this explanation, not only (loos Divine grace make a supernatural act pos- sible, but the act itself, though free, is wholly de- pendent on grace, because it is grace which makes the salutarj' act po.ssible and which stimulates and as.sists in producing it. Thus the act is produced entirely by Cioil as First Cause (Causa prima), a,nd also entirely by the will as second cause (causa secunda). The un- prejudiced mind must acknowledge that this exposi- tion is far from incurring the suspicion of Pelagianism or Siiiiipelagianism.

\\'hen the Thomists propound the subtler question, throiigh what agency does the will, under the influence and impulse of grace, cease to be a mere natural faculty (actus primus) and produce a salutary act (actus secundus), or (according to Aristotelean termi- nology) pass from potency into act, the Molinists answer without hesitation that it is no way due to the Thomistic predetermination (prccdeterminalio sive pnimolio physica) of the will of God. For such a causal predetermination, coming from a will other than our own, is a denial of self-iletermination on the part of our own will and destroys its freedom. It is rather the will itself which by its consent, under the restrictions mentioned above, renders the prevenient grtice (gratia prantenicn.t) (ro-operative and the com- pletely sufficient grace (gratia vere suffirii-mt) eflfiea- cious; for, to produce the salutary act , t lie free will need only consent to the i)revcnient and sufficient grace, which it ha-s received from tJod. This thtiory reveals forthwith two characteristic features of Molinism, which stand in direct opposition to the principles of Thomism. The first consists in this, that the actus primus (i. e. the power to elicit a supernatural act) is, according to Molinism, due to a determining influx of grace previous to the salutary act (injluxus prccvius, gratia jrromeniens) , but that God enters into the salu- tary act itself (aclua secundus) only by means of a


concomitant supernatural concursus (concursus simvl- taneus, gratia cooptrans). The act, in so far as it is free, must come from the will; but the concursus prce- vitix of I he Tlir)mists, which is ultimately i<lentical with (iod's predesliuation of the free act, makes illusory the free self-determination of the will, whether in giving or withholding its consent to the grace. The second characteristic difference between tlie two sys- tems of grace lies in the radically ditTercnt c(Aiccp1ion of the nature of merely sufficient giac<' {i/rnllii siijji- ac».s-) an<l of cllicacious grace (gralia cffini.r). Whereas Thomism derives the infallible siK'ccss (jf eflicacious grace from the very nature of this grace, and assumes cunse(|ueiitly the grace to be eflicacious intrinsically (unilid ijlini.r iili intrinscco), Molinism asi'ribes the efficacy of grace to the free co-operation of the will and coiise(|Uently admits a grace which is merely extrinsi- cally efficacious (gratia efficax ab cxtriiiscco). It is the free will that by the extrinsic circumstance of its con- sent makes efficacious the grace ofTered by God. If the will gives its consent, the grace which" in itself is sufficient lieciimes eflicacious; if it withholds its con- sent, the grace remains inefficacious {i/rdlid iiicfficax), and it is due — not to God, but — solely to the will that the grace it reduced to one which is merely sufficient (gratia mere sufficiens).

This explanation gave the Molinists an advantage over the Thomists, not only in that they safeguarded thereby the freedom of the will under the influence of grace, but especially because they offered a clearer ac- count of the important truth that the grace, which is merely suffii'ient and therefore remains inefficacious, is nevertheless always really sufficient (gratia vere suffi- ciens), so that it would undoubtedly produce the salu- tary act for which it was given, if only the will would give its consent. Thomism, on the other hand, is con- fronted by the following dilemma: Either the grace which is merely sufficient (gratia mere sufficiens) is able by its own nature and without the help of an en- tirely different and new grace to produce the salutary act for which it was given, or it is not: if it is not able, then this sufficient grace is in reality insufficient (gratia insuffidens), since it must be supplemented by another; if it is able to produce the act by itself, then sufficient and efficacious grace do not differ in nature, but by reason of something extrinsic, namely in that the will gives its consent in one case and withholds it in the other. If then, when possessed of absolutely the same grace, one sinner is converted and another can remain obdurate, the inefficacy of the grace in the case of the obdurate sinner is due, not to the nature of the grace given, but to the sinful resistance of his free will, which refuses to avail itself of God's assistance. But for Thomism, which assumes an intrinsic and es- sential difference between sufficient and efficacious grace, so that sufficient grace to become efficacious must be supplemented by a new grace, the explana- tion is by no means .so easy and sim])le. It cannot free itself from the difficulty, as is po.ssible for Molinism, by saying that, but for the refractory attitutle of the will, God would have bestowed this supplementary grace. For, since the sinful resistance of the will, viewed as an act, is to be referred to .a physical premo- tion on the part of (lod, as well as t lie free co-operation with grace, the will, which is predetermined ad unum, is placed in a hopeless ])redicanient. On the one hand the physical jjremotion in the form of an efficacious grace, which is necessary to produce the salutary act, is lacking to the will, and, on the other, the entity of the sinful act of resistance is irre\-ocably predeter- mined by God as the Prime Mover (M otor primus) . Whence then is the will to derive the iiniiulse to accept or to reject the one premotion rather than the other'? Therefore, the Molinists conclude that the Thomists cannot lay down the sinful resistance of the will as the cause of the inefficacy of the grace, which is merely sufficient.