Whether the gifts are distinct from the virtues
It should be said that if we speak about “gift” and about “virtue” according to the meaning of the words, then they have no opposition to each other....
To distinguish the gifts from virtues, we should follow the manner of speaking of Scripture, in which we are told about them not with the word “gifts”, but rather with the word “spirits”; for it is said, “There shall rest upon him the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, etc.” (Isa. 11:2-3). From these words we are clearly given to understand that those seven things are there enumerated, insofar as they are in us by divine inspiration. Now inspiration signifies a certain motion from without. For we should consider that there are two things that move man: one is within, namely the reason; the other is without, namely God, as was said above, and as even the Philosopher says in Eudemian Ethics.
Now it is manifest that everything which is moved, must be proportionate to its mover. And the perfection of that which is mobile, insofar as it is mobile, is the disposition by which it is disposed to be well moved by its mover. Therefore to the degree that a mover is higher, the more necessary is it that the mobile be proportioned to the mover by a more perfect disposition. Thus we see that a student must be more perfectly disposed, in order to receive a higher teaching from the teacher. Now it is evident that the human virtues perfect man insofar as man is naturally moved by reason in the things that he does within or without. Higher perfections must therefore be in man, by which he is disposed to be moved by God. And these perfections are called gifts, not only because they are infused by God, but also because by them, man is disposed and made more ready to be moved by the divine inspiration, as is said in Is 50:5: “The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward.” And the Philosopher also says that those who are moved by divine impulse have no need to deliberate according to human reason, but that they follow an interior impulse, since they are moved by a better principle than human reason. And this is what some say, that the gifts perfect man for higher acts than the acts of the virtues.
Whether man needs the gifts for salvation
It seems that man does not need the gifts for salvation.
1. For the gifts are ordered to a certain perfection beyond the common perfection of virtue. But for salvation, man does not need to attain such a perfection beyond the common perfection of virtue; for this kind of perfection does not fall under precept, but under counsel. Therefore man does not need the gifts for salvation.
2. Further, it is enough for salvation, that man relate well to divine things and to human things. But man relates well to divine things by the theological virtues, while he relates well to human things by the moral virtues. Therefore man does not need the gifts for salvation.
3. Further, Gregory says in Moralia, “The Holy Spirit gives wisdom against foolishness, understanding against dullness, counsel against precipitation, fortitude against fear, knowledge against ignorance, piety against hardness, and fear against pride.” But the virtues can provide a sufficient remedy to take those things away. Therefore man does not need the gifts for salvation.
On the contrary:
The highest of the gifts seems to be wisdom, and the lowest seems to be fear. But both of these are necessary for salvation; for it is said of wisdom, “God loves no one but the man who lives with wisdom”; (Wis 7:28) and of fear, “He who is without fear, cannot be made righteous.” Therefore also the other middle gifts are necessary for salvation.
It should be said that as was said, the gifts are certain perfections of man, by which man is disposed to follow well the divine impulse. Hence, in those things in which the impulse of reason is not sufficient, but the impulse of the Holy Spirit is necessary, then a gift is also necessary.
Now man’s reason is in two ways perfected by God: first, with a natural perfection, namely the natural light of reason; secondly, with a supernatural perfection, by the theological virtues, as was said above. And although this second perfection is greater than the first, nevertheless man possesses the first perfection in a more perfect way than he possesses the second perfection. For man possesses the first perfection as his full possession, while he possesses the second as an imperfect possession; for we imperfectly love and know God. Now it is manifest that everything which perfectly possesses a nature or form or power, can of itself act according to it—though not apart from God’s action, who acts interiorly in every nature and will. But that which has a nature or form or power imperfectly, cannot act of itself, if it is not moved by another. Thus the sun, which is perfectly bright, can give light of itself, while the moon, which has the nature of light only imperfectly, cannot give light unless it is illuminated [by the sun]. Again, a doctor, who perfectly knows the medical art, can act on his own; but his student, who is not yet fully instructed, cannot act on his own, but only with the guidance of his instructor.
Thus, with regard to the things that are subject to human reason, i.e., in relationship to man’s natural end, man can act by the judgment of reason. If in this action, man is nevertheless helped by God by means of a special impulse, this will pertain to God’s superabundant goodness. Hence according to the Philosophers, not everyone who has the acquired moral virtues, has heroic or divine virtues. But in relationship to the last supernatural end, to which reason moves us insofar as it is in in a certain manner, and imperfectly, formed by the theological virtues, the motion of reason itself is not sufficient, unless the impulse and movement of the Holy Spirit comes from above, according to Rom 8:14, 17, “They who are led by the Spirit of God, are sons of God,” and “if you are sons, then also heirs.” And in Ps 142:10 it is said, “Your good Spirit will lead me into the right land,” i.e., because no one can arrive at the inheritance of the land of the blessed, unless he is moved and led by the Holy Spirit. And therefore in order to attain that end, a man must have the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Replies to objections:
1. To the first, therefore, it should be said that the gifts surpass the common perfection of the virtues, not as regards the kind of works, as the counsels surpass the precepts; but as regards the way of acting, insofar as man is moved by a higher principle.
2. To the second it should be said that the theological and moral virtues do not perfect man in relationship to the last end, in such a way that he does not always need to be moved by a certain higher impulse of the Holy Spirit, for the reason just stated.
3. To the third it should be said that human reason does not know all things, nor are all things possible to it, whether it is perfected by natural perfection, or by the theological virtues. Hence it cannot in every respect avoid foolishness, and other things of this kind, which are there mentioned. But God, whose knowledge and power extend to all things, by his movement can keep us safe from all foolishness and ignorance and dullness and hardness and the other things of this kind. And therefore the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which make us good followers of his impulse, are said to be given against these kinds of defects.
Whether the gifts of the Holy Spirit are habits
It should be said that as was said above, the gifts are perfections of man, by which he is disposed to follow well the impulses of the Holy Spirit. Now it is evident from what has been already said (q. 56, a. 4; q. 58, a. 2), that the moral virtues perfect the appetitive power according as it partakes in some manner in the reason, insofar as it has a natural aptitude to be moved by the command of reason. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, therefore, stand to man in relation to Holy Spirit, as the moral virtues stand to the appetitive power in relation to the reason. Now the moral virtues are habits by which the powers of appetite are disposed to obey reason promptly. Therefore the gifts of the Holy Spirit are habits whereby man is perfected to obey readily the Holy Spirit.
Whether the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are fittingly enumerated
It should be said that as was said, the gifts are certain habits that perfect man so as to promptly follow the impulse of the Holy Spirit, just as the moral virtues perfect the appetitive powers to obey reason. Now just as the appetitive powers are naturally moved by reason’s command, so all human powers are naturally moved by God’s impulse, as by a certain higher power. And therefore in all man’s powers that can be principles of human acts, as there are virtues, so there are also gifts: namely in reason, and in the appetitive power.
Now reason is both speculative and practical: and in both respects we find the apprehension of truth, which pertains to finding; and judgment about the truth. Therefore for apprehending the truth, speculative reason is perfected by understanding, while practical reason is perfected by counsel. For judging rightly, however, speculative reason is perfected by wisdom, and practical reason by knowledge.
The appetitive power, in things which relate to another person, is perfected by piety. In things that relate to itself, it is perfected by fortitude against fear of dangers, while against inordinate desire of pleasures, it is perfected by fear, according to Prov., “By the fear of the Lord everyone turns aside from evil”; and in Psa “pierce my flesh with fear of your, for I was afraid of your judgments.” And thus it is evident that these gifts extend to all the things that the virtues extend, both intellectual and moral.
ST II-II Question 8, Article 6
Whether the gift of understanding is distinct from the other gifts
It should be said that the distinction of the gift of understanding from the other three gifts, namely piety, fortitude, and fear, is evident; for the gift of understanding pertains to the knowing power, while those three pertain to the appetitive power. But the difference between the gift of understanding and the other three—wisdom, knowledge, and counsel—which also pertain to the knowing power, is not as evident.
Now it seems to some that the gift of understanding is distinct from the gift of knowledge and counsel in this, that those two pertain to practical knowledge, while the gift of understanding pertains to speculative. And from the gift of wisdom, which also pertains to speculative knowledge, it is distinct in this, that judgment pertains to wisdom, while to understanding pertains the ability to understand, or to penetrate to the depths of the things that are proposed. And in this way we explained the number of the gifts above.
But to one who considers the matter carefully, the gift of understanding does not only regard speculative, but also practical matters, as was said (in article 3 of this question); and similarly, the gift of knowledge relates to both speculative and practical matters, as will be said below. And therefore the distinction must be understood differently.
All four of the aforesaid gifts are ordered to the supernatural knowledge which is begun in us by faith. Now faith is “from hearing,” as is said in Rom 10:17. Hence things must be proposed to man for belief, not as things seen, but as things heard; and man assents to these things by faith. Now faith first and primarily relates to the First Truth, and secondarily to certain things to be considered in regard to creatures, and then extends further still, to the direction of human acts, inasmuch it “acts through love,” as is evident from what was said. Thus, in regard to the things of faith proposed for belief, two things are required on our part. First, they must be understood or grasped by the intellect, and this pertains to the gift of understanding. Secondly, man must have right judgment about them, so that he judges that he should cling to them, and go away from their opposites. This judgment with regard to divine things pertains to the gift of wisdom, while with regard to created things it pertains to the gift of knowledge, and with regard to the application to individual works it pertains to the gift of counsel.
Whether the gifts of the Holy Spirit are connected
It seems that the gifts are not connected.
1. For the Apostle says in 1 Cor 12:8, “To one is given the word of wisdom by the Spirit, to another is given the word of knowledge according to the same spirit.” But wisdom are knowledge are numbered among the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to different persons, and are not all connected with one another in the same person.
It should be said that the truth of this matter may be easily gathered from what has already been said. For it was said above that as the desiring powers are disposed by the moral virtues in relation to the governance of reason, so all the powers of the soul are disposed by the gifts in relation to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit dwells in us by charity, according to Rom. 5:5: “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given to us,” just as our reason is perfected by prudence. Hence, just as the moral virtues are all connected in prudence, so the gifts of the Holy Spirit are all connected in charity, so that whoever has charity has all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and no one can have any of them without charity.
Replies to objections:
1. To the first, therefore, it should be said that wisdom and knowledge can be considered in one way insofar as they are charismatic graces, i.e., insofar as someone abounds so much in knowledge of divine and human things that he is able both to instruct the faithful and to refute adversaries [of the faith]. And in that passage the Apostle is speaking in this way about wisdom and knowledge; hence he significantly mentions the “word” of wisdom and knowledge.
Wisdom and knowledge can be taken in another way insofar as they are gifts of the Holy Spirit. And thus wisdom and knowledge are nothing other than certain perfections of the human mind, according to which it is disposed to follow the impulses of the Holy Spirit in the knowledge of divine or human things. And thus it is evident that gifts of this kind are in all who have grace.
Whether the gifts of the Holy Spirit remain in the fatherland
[Summary of article]
The gift of the Holy Spirit will remain with regard to their essence, and will be most perfect in the fatherland. But they will not retain all of their present matter: e.g., they will no longer strengthen one against trials, since there will be no trials there.
Whether the virtues are greater than the gifts1
It should be said that is is evident from what was said above, the virtues can be distinguished into three kinds: theological, intellectual, and moral. Theological virtues are those by which the human mind is united to God, intellectual virtues are those by which reason itself is perfected, and moral virtues are those by which the appetitive powers are perfected so as to obey reason. And the gifts of the Holy Spirit dispose all the soul’s powers to be subject to the divine movement.
The comparison of the gifts to the theological virtues, by which a man is united to the Holy Spirit as man’s mover, seems therefore to be the same as the comparison of the moral virtues to the intellectual virtues, which perfect reason, the mover of the moral virtues. Hence, as the intellectual virtues are greater than the moral virtues, and rule them, so the theological virtues are greater than the gifts, and rule them. Hence Gregory says in Moralia, “The seven sons,” i.e., the seven gifts, “never attain the perfection of the number ten, unless all they do, they do in faith, hope, and charity.”
But if we compare the gifts to the other virtues, intellectual or moral, then the gifts are greater than the virtues. For the gifts perfect the soul’s powers in relation to the Holy Spirit as their mover, while the virtues perfect either reason itself, or the other powers in relation to reason. But it is evident that in relation to a higher mover, a mobile must be disposed by a greater perfection. Hence the gifts are more perfect than these virtues.
1See the parallel texts In III Sent., d. 34, q. 1, a. 1 & q. 3, a. 1, qa. 1-2.
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