St. Thomas Aquinas

The Summa Theologica

(Benziger Bros. edition, 1947)
Translated by
Fathers of the English Dominican Province


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TREATISE ON THE STATES OF LIFE (Questions [183]-189)


Consequenter considerandum est de diversitate statuum et officiorum humanorum.
  • Et primo considerandum est de officiis et statibus hominum in generali;
  • secundo, specialiter de statu perfectorum.
   We must next consider man's various states and duties. We shall consider
  • (1) man's duties and states in general;
  • (2) the state of the perfect in particular.
Circa primum quaeruntur quatuor.    Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:
Primo, quid faciat in hominibus statum.     (1) What constitutes a state among men?
Secundo, utrum in hominibus debeant esse diversi status, sive diversa officia.     (2) Whether among men there should be various states and duties?
Tertio, de differentia officiorum.     (3) Of the diversity of duties;
Quarto, de differentia statuum.     (4) Of the diversity of states.


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Question: 183  [<< | >>]
Article: 1  [<< | >>]

Whether the notion of a state denotes a condition of freedom or servitude?

Ad primum sic proceditur. Videtur quod status in sui ratione non importet conditionem libertatis vel servitutis. Status enim a stando dicitur. Sed stare dicitur aliquis ratione rectitudinis, unde dicitur Ezech. II, fili hominis, sta super pedes tuos; et Gregorius dicit, in VII Moral., ab omni statu rectitudinis dispereunt qui per noxia verba dilabuntur sed rectitudinem spiritualem acquirit homo per hoc quod subiicit suam voluntatem Deo, unde super illud Psalmi, rectos decet collaudatio, dicit Glossa, recti sunt qui dirigunt cor suum secundum voluntatem Dei. Ergo videtur quod sola obedientia divinorum mandatorum sufficiat ad rationem status.   Objection 1: It would seem that the notion of a state does not denote a condition of freedom or servitude. For "state" takes its name from "standing." Now a person is said to stand on account of his being upright; and Gregory says (Moral. vii, 17): "To fall by speaking harmful words is to forfeit entirely the state of righteousness." But a man acquires spiritual uprightness by submitting his will to God; wherefore a gloss on Ps. 32:1, "Praise becometh the upright," says: "The upright are those who direct their heart according to God's will." Therefore it would seem that obedience to the Divine commandments suffices alone for the notion of a state.
Praeterea, nomen status immobilitatem importare videtur, secundum illud I ad Cor. XV, stabiles estote et immobiles. Unde Gregorius dicit, super Ezech., lapis quadrus est, et quasi ex omni latere statum habet, qui casum in aliqua permutatione non habet. Sed virtus est quae facit immobiliter operari, ut dicitur in II Ethic. Ergo videtur quod ex omni operatione virtuosa aliquis statum nanciscatur.   Objection 2: Further, the word "state" seems to denote immobility according to 1 Cor. 15:48, "Be ye steadfast [stabiles] and immovable"; wherefore Gregory says (Hom. xxi in Ezech.): "The stone is foursquare, and is stable on all sides, if no disturbance will make it fall." Now it is virtue that enables us "to act with immobility," according to Ethic. ii, 4. Therefore it would seem that a state is acquired by every virtuous action.
Praeterea, nomen status videtur ad quandam altitudinem pertinere, nam ex hoc aliquis stat quod in altum erigitur. Sed per diversa officia aliquis fit altior altero. Similiter etiam per gradus vel ordines diversos diversimode homines in quadam altitudine constituuntur. Ergo sola diversitas graduum vel ordinum vel officiorum sufficit ad diversificandum statum.   Objection 3: Further, the word "state" seems to indicate height of a kind; because to stand is to be raised upwards. Now one man is made higher than another by various duties; and in like manner men are raised upwards in various ways by various grades and orders. Therefore the mere difference of grades, orders, or duties suffices for a difference of states.
Sed contra est quod in decretis, Caus. II, qu. VI, dicitur, si quando in causa capitali vel causa status interpellatum fuerit non per exploratores, sed per seipsos est agendum, ubi causa status appellatur pertinens ad libertatem vel ad servitutem. Ergo videtur quod non variet statum hominis nisi id quod pertinet ad libertatem vel servitutem.   On the contrary, It is thus laid down in the Decretals (II, qu. vi, can. Si Quando): "Whenever anyone intervene in a cause where life or state is at stake he must do so, not by a proxy, but in his own person"; and "state" here has reference to freedom or servitude. Therefore it would seem that nothing differentiates a man's state, except that which refers to freedom or servitude.
Respondeo dicendum quod status, proprie loquendo, significat quandam positionis differentiam secundum quam aliquis disponitur secundum modum suae naturae, cum quadam immobilitate. Est enim naturale homini ut caput eius in superiora tendat, et pedes in terra firmentur, et cetera membra media convenienti ordine disponantur, quod quidem non accidit si homo iaceat vel sedeat vel accumbat, sed solum quando erectus stat. Nec rursus stare dicitur si moveatur, sed quando quiescit. Et inde est quod etiam in ipsis humanis actionibus dicitur negotium aliquem statum habere secundum ordinem propriae dispositionis, cum quadam immobilitate seu quiete. Unde et circa homines, ea quae de facili circa eos variantur et extrinseca sunt, non constituunt statum, puta quod aliquis sit dives vel pauper, in dignitate constitutus vel plebeius, vel si quid aliud est huiusmodi, unde et in iure civili dicitur quod ei qui a senatu amovetur, magis dignitas quam status aufertur. Sed solum illud videtur ad statum hominis pertinere quod respicit obligationem personae hominis, prout scilicet aliquis est sui iuris vel alieni, et hoc non ex aliqua causa levi vel de facili mutabili, sed ex aliquo permanente. Et hoc est quod pertinet ad rationem libertatis vel servitutis. Unde status pertinet proprie ad libertatem vel servitutem, sive in spiritualibus sive in civilibus.   I answer that, "State," properly speaking, denotes a kind of position, whereby a thing is disposed with a certain immobility in a manner according with its nature. For it is natural to man that his head should be directed upwards, his feet set firmly on the ground, and his other intermediate members disposed in becoming order; and this is not the case if he lie down, sit, or recline, but only when he stands upright: nor again is he said to stand, if he move, but only when he is still. Hence it is again that even in human acts, a matter is said to have stability [statum] in reference to its own disposition in the point of a certain immobility or restfulness. Consequently matters which easily change and are extrinsic to them do not constitute a state among men, for instance that a man be rich or poor, of high or low rank, and so forth. Wherefore in the civil law [*Dig. I, IX, De Senatoribus] (Lib. Cassius ff. De Senatoribus) it is said that if a man be removed from the senate, he is deprived of his dignity rather than of his state. But that alone seemingly pertains to a man's state, which regards an obligation binding his person, in so far, to wit, as a man is his own master or subject to another, not indeed from any slight or unstable cause, but from one that is firmly established; and this is something pertaining to the nature of freedom or servitude. Therefore state properly regards freedom or servitude whether in spiritual or in civil matters.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod rectitudo, inquantum huiusmodi, non pertinet ad rationem status, sed solum inquantum est connaturalis homini, simul addita quadam quiete. Unde in aliis animalibus non requiritur rectitudo ad hoc quod stare dicantur. Nec etiam homines stare dicuntur, quantumcumque sint recti, nisi quiescant.   Reply to Objection 1: Uprightness as such does not pertain to the notion of state, except in so far as it is connatural to man with the addition of a certain restfulness. Hence other animals are said to stand without its being required that they should be upright; nor again are men said to stand, however upright their position be, unless they be still.
Ad secundum dicendum quod immobilitas non sufficit ad rationem status. Nam etiam sedens et iacens quiescunt, qui tamen non dicuntur stare.   Reply to Objection 2: Immobility does not suffice for the notion of state; since even one who sits or lies down is still, and yet he is not said to stand.
Ad tertium dicendum quod officium dicitur per comparationem ad actum; gradus autem dicitur secundum ordinem superioritatis et inferioritatis; sed ad statum requiritur immobilitas in eo quod pertinet ad conditionem personae.   Reply to Objection 3: Duty implies relation to act; while grades denote an order of superiority and inferiority. But state requires immobility in that which regards a condition of the person himself.


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Question: 183  [<< | >>]
Article: 2  [<< | >>]

Whether there should be different duties or states in the Church?

Ad secundum sic proceditur. Videtur quod in Ecclesia non debeat esse diversitas officiorum vel statuum. Diversitas enim unitati repugnat. Sed fideles Christi ad unitatem vocantur, secundum illud Ioan. XVII, ut sint unum in nobis, sicut et nos unum sumus. Ergo in Ecclesia non debet esse diversitas officiorum vel statuum.   Objection 1: It would seem that there should not be different duties or states in the Church. For distinction is opposed to unity. Now the faithful of Christ are called to unity according to Jn. 17:21,22: "That they . . . may be one in Us . . . as We also are one." Therefore there should not be a distinction of duties and states in the Church.
Praeterea, natura non facit per multa quod potest per unum facere. Sed operatio gratiae est multo ordinatior quam operatio naturae. Ergo convenientius esset quod ea quae pertinent ad actus gratiae, per eosdem homines administrarentur, ita ut non esset in Ecclesia diversitas officiorum et statuum.   Objection 2: Further, nature does not employ many means where one suffices. But the working of grace is much more orderly than the working of nature. Therefore it were more fitting for things pertaining to the operations of grace to be administered by the same persons, so that there would not be a distinction of duties and states in the Church.
Praeterea, bonum Ecclesiae maxime videtur in pace consistere, secundum illud Psalmi, qui posuit fines tuos pacem. Et II ad Cor. ult. dicitur, pacem habete, et Deus pacis erit vobiscum. Sed diversitas est impeditiva pacis, quam similitudo causare videtur, secundum illud Eccli. XIII, omne animal diligit simile sibi. Et philosophus dicit, in VII Polit., quod modica differentia facit in civitate dissidium. Ergo videtur quod non oporteat in Ecclesia esse diversitatem statuum et officiorum.   Objection 3: Further, the good of the Church seemingly consists chiefly in peace, according to Ps. 147:3, "Who hath placed peace in thy borders," and 2 Cor. 13:11, "Have peace, and the God of peace . . . shall be with you." Now distinction is a hindrance to peace, for peace would seem to result from likeness, according to Ecclus. 13:19, "Every beast loveth its like," while the Philosopher says (Polit. vii, 5) that "a little difference causes dissension in a state." Therefore it would seem that there ought not to be a distinction of states and duties in the Church.
Sed contra est quod in Psalmo in laudem Ecclesiae dicitur quod est circumamicta varietate, ubi dicit Glossa quod doctrina apostolorum, et confessione martyrum, et puritate virginum et lamento poenitentium, ornatur regina, idest Ecclesia.   On the contrary, It is written in praise of the Church (Ps. 44:10) that she is "surrounded with variety": and a gloss on these words says that "the Queen," namely the Church, "is bedecked with the teaching of the apostles, the confession of martyrs, the purity of virgins, the sorrowings of penitents."
spondeo dicendum quod diversitas statuum et officiorum in Ecclesia ad tria pertinet. Primo quidem, ad perfectionem ipsius Ecclesiae. Sicut enim in rerum naturalium ordine perfectio, quae in Deo simpliciter et uniformiter invenitur, in universitate creaturarum inveniri non potuit nisi difformiter et multipliciter ita etiam plenitudo gratiae, quae in Christo sicut in capite adunatur, ad membra eius diversimode redundat, ad hoc quod corpus Ecclesiae sit perfectum. Et hoc est quod apostolus dicit, ad Ephes. IV, ipse dedit quosdam quidem apostolos, quosdam autem prophetas, alios vero Evangelistas, alios autem pastores et doctores, ad consummationem sanctorum. Secundo autem pertinet ad necessitatem actionum quae sunt in Ecclesia necessariae. Oportet autem ad diversas actiones diversos homines deputari, ad hoc quod expeditius et sine confusione omnia peragantur. Et hoc est quod apostolus dicit, Rom. XII, sicut in uno corpore multa membra habemus, omnia autem membra non eundem actum habent, ita multi unum corpus sumus in Christo. Tertio hoc pertinet ad dignitatem et pulchritudinem Ecclesiae, quae in quodam ordine consistit. Unde dicitur III Reg. X, quod videns regina Saba omnem sapientiam Salomonis, et habitacula servorum et ordines ministrantium, non habebat ultra spiritum. Unde et apostolus dicit, II ad Tim. II, quod in magna domo non solum sunt vasa aurea et argentea, sed et lignea et fictilia.   I answer that, The difference of states and duties in the Church regards three things. In the first place it regards the perfection of the Church. For even as in the order of natural things, perfection, which in God is simple and uniform, is not to be found in the created universe except in a multiform and manifold manner, so too, the fulness of grace, which is centered in Christ as head, flows forth to His members in various ways, for the perfecting of the body of the Church. This is the meaning of the Apostle's words (Eph. 4:11,12): "He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors for the perfecting of the saints." Secondly, it regards the need of those actions which are necessary in the Church. For a diversity of actions requires a diversity of men appointed to them, in order that all things may be accomplished without delay or confusion; and this is indicated by the Apostle (Rm. 12:4,5), "As in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office, so we being many are one body in Christ." Thirdly, this belongs to the dignity and beauty of the Church, which consist in a certain order; wherefore it is written (3 Kgs. 10:4,5) that "when the queen of Saba saw all the wisdom of Solomon . . . and the apartments of his servants, and the order of his ministers . . . she had no longer any spirit in her." Hence the Apostle says (2 Tim. 2:20) that "in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth."
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod diversitas statuum et officiorum non impedit Ecclesiae unitatem, quae perficitur per unitatem fidei et caritatis et mutuae subministrationis, secundum illud apostoli, ad Ephes. IV, ex quo totum corpus est compactum, scilicet per fidem, et connexum, scilicet per caritatem, per omnem iuncturam subministrationis, dum scilicet unus alii servit.   Reply to Objection 1: The distinction of states and duties is not an obstacle to the unity of the Church, for this results from the unity of faith, charity, and mutual service, according to the saying of the Apostle (Eph. 4:16): "From whom the whole body being compacted," namely by faith, "and fitly joined together," namely by charity, "by what every joint supplieth," namely by one man serving another.
Ad secundum dicendum quod sicut natura non facit per multa quod potest facere per unum, ita etiam non coarctat in unum id ad quod multa requiruntur, secundum illud apostoli, I ad Cor. XII, si totum corpus oculus, ubi auditus? Unde et in Ecclesia, quae est corpus Christi, oportuit membra diversificari secundum diversa officia, status et gradus.   Reply to Objection 2: Just as nature does not employ many means where one suffices, so neither does it confine itself to one where many are required, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Cor. 12:17), "If the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing?" Hence there was need in the Church, which is Christ's body, for the members to be differentiated by various duties, states, and grades.
Ad tertium dicendum quod sicut in corpore naturali membra diversa continentur in unitate per virtutem spiritus vivificantis quo abscedente membra corporis separantur; ita etiam in corpore Ecclesiae conservatur pax diversorum membrorum virtute spiritus sancti, qui corpus Ecclesiae vivificat, ut habetur Ioan. VI. Unde apostolus dicit, Ephes. IV, solliciti servare unitatem spiritus in vinculo pacis. Discedit autem aliquis ab hac unitate spiritus dum quaerit quae sibi sunt propria, sicut etiam in terrena civitate pax tollitur ex hoc quod cives singuli quae sua sunt quaerunt. Alioquin, per officiorum et statuum distinctionem tam mentis quam in civitate terrena magis pax conservatur, inquantum per haec plures sunt qui communicant actibus publicis. Unde et apostolus dicit, I ad Cor. XII, quod Deus sic temperavit ut non sit schisma in corpore, sed pro invicem sollicita sint membra.   Reply to Objection 3: Just as in the natural body the various members are held together in unity by the power of the quickening spirit, and are dissociated from one another as soon as that spirit departs, so too in the Church's body the peace of the various members is preserved by the power of the Holy Spirit, Who quickens the body of the Church, as stated in Jn. 6:64. Hence the Apostle says (Eph. 4:3): "Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Now a man departs from this unity of spirit when he seeks his own; just as in an earthly kingdom peace ceases when the citizens seek each man his own. Besides, the peace both of mind and of an earthly commonwealth is the better preserved by a distinction of duties and states, since thereby the greater number have a share in public actions. Wherefore the Apostle says (1 Cor. 12:24,25) that "God hath tempered [the body] together that there might be no schism in the body, but the members might be mutually careful one for another."


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Question: 183  [<< | >>]
Article: 3  [<< | >>]

Whether duties differ according to their actions?

Ad tertium sic proceditur. Videtur quod officia non distinguantur per actus. Sunt enim infinitae diversitates humanorum actuum, tam in spiritualibus quam in temporalibus. Sed infinitorum non potest esse certa distinctio. Ergo per diversitates actuum non potest esse humanorum officiorum certa distinctio.   Objection 1: It would seem that duties do not differ according to their actions. For there are infinite varieties of human acts both in spirituals and in temporals. Now there can be no certain distinction among things that are infinite in number. Therefore human duties cannot be differentiated according to a difference of acts.
Praeterea, vita activa et contemplativa secundum actus distinguuntur, ut dictum est. Sed alia videtur esse distinctio officiorum a distinctione vitarum. Non ergo officia distinguuntur per actus.   Objection 2: Further, the active and the contemplative life differ according to their acts, as stated above (Question [179], Article [1]). But the distinction of duties seems to be other than the distinction of lives. Therefore duties do not differ according to their acts.
Praeterea, ordines etiam ecclesiastici et status et gradus per actus distingui videntur. Si ergo officia distinguantur per actus, videtur sequi quod eadem sit distinctio officiorum, graduum et statuum. Hoc autem est falsum, quia diversimode in suas partes dividuntur. Non ergo videtur quod officia distinguantur per actus.   Objection 3: Further, even ecclesiastical orders, states, and grades seemingly differ according to their acts. If, then, duties differ according to their acts it would seem that duties, grades, and states differ in the same way. Yet this is not true, since they are divided into their respective parts in different ways. Therefore duties do not differ according to their acts.
Sed contra est quod Isidorus dicit, in libro Etymol., quod officium ab efficiendo est dictum, quasi efficium, propter decorem sermonis una mutata littera. Sed efficere pertinet ad actionem. Ergo officia per actus distinguuntur.   On the contrary, Isidore says (Etym. vi, 19) that "officium [duty] takes its name from 'efficere' [to effect], as though it were instead of 'efficium,' by the change of one letter for the sake of the sound." But effecting pertains to action. Therefore duties differ according to their acts.
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut dictum est, diversitas in membris Ecclesiae ad tria ordinatur, scilicet ad perfectionem, actionem et decorem. Et secundum haec tria triplex distinctio diversitatis fidelium accipi potest. Una quidem per respectum ad perfectionem. Et secundum hoc accipitur differentia statuum, prout quidam sunt aliis perfectiores. Alia vero distinctio accipitur per respectum ad actionem. Et haec est distinctio officiorum, dicuntur enim in diversis officiis esse qui sunt ad diversas actiones deputati. Alia autem, per respectum ad ordinem pulchritudinis ecclesiasticae. Et secundum hoc accipitur differentia graduum, prout scilicet, etiam in eodem statu vel officio, unus est alio superior. Unde et in Psalmo dicitur, secundum aliam litteram, Deus in gradibus eius cognoscetur.   I answer that, As stated above (Article [2]), difference among the members of the Church is directed to three things: perfection, action, and beauty; and according to these three we may distinguish a threefold distinction among the faithful. One, with regard to perfection, and thus we have the difference of states, in reference to which some persons are more perfect than others. Another distinction regards action and this is the distinction of duties: for persons are said to have various duties when they are appointed to various actions. A third distinction regards the order of ecclesiastical beauty: and thus we distinguish various grades according as in the same state or duty one person is above another. Hence according to a variant text [*The Septuagint] it is written (Ps. 47:4): "In her grades shall God be known."
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod materialis diversitas humanorum actuum est infinita. Et secundum hanc non distinguuntur officia, sed secundum formalem diversitatem, quae accipitur secundum diversas species actuum; secundum quam actus hominis non sunt infiniti.   Reply to Objection 1: The material diversity of human acts is infinite. It is not thus that duties differ, but by their formal diversity which results from diverse species of acts, and in this way human acts are not infinite.
Ad secundum dicendum quod vita dicitur absolute. Et ideo diversitas vitarum accipitur secundum diversos actus qui conveniunt homini secundum seipsum. Sed efficientia, a qua sumitur nomen officii, ut dictum est, importat actionem tendentem in aliud, ut dicitur in IX Metaphys. Et ideo officia distinguuntur proprie secundum actus qui referuntur ad alios, sicut dicitur doctor habere officium, vel iudex, et sic de aliis. Et ideo Isidorus dicit quod officium est ut quisque illa agat quae nulli officiant, id est noceant, sed prosint omnibus.   Reply to Objection 2: Life is predicated of a thing absolutely: wherefore diversity of acts which are becoming to man considered in himself. But efficiency, whence we have the word "office" (as stated above), denotes action tending to something else according to Metaph. ix, text. 16 [*Ed. Did. viii, 8]. Hence offices differ properly in respect of acts that are referred to other persons; thus a teacher is said to have an office, and so is a judge, and so forth. Wherefore Isidore says (Etym. vi, 19) that "to have an office is to be officious," i.e. harmful "to no one, but to be useful to all."
Ad tertium dicendum quod diversitas statuum, officiorum et graduum secundum diversa sumitur, ut dictum est. Contingit tamen quod ista tria in eodem concurrant, puta, cum aliquis deputatur ad aliquem actum altiorem, simul ex hoc habet et officium et gradum; et ulterius quandoque perfectionis statum, propter actus sublimitatem sicut patet de episcopo. Ordines autem ecclesiastici specialiter distinguuntur secundum officia divina, dicit enim Isidorus, in libro Etymol., officiorum plurima genera sunt, sed praecipuum illud est quod in sacris divinisque rebus habetur.   Reply to Objection 3: Differences of state, offices and grades are taken from different things, as stated above (Article [1], ad 3). Yet these three things may concur in the same subject: thus when a person is appointed to a higher action, he attains thereby both office and grade, and sometimes, besides this, a state of perfection, on account of the sublimity of the act, as in the case of a bishop. The ecclesiastical orders are particularly distinct according to divine offices. For Isidore says (Etym. vi): "There are various kinds of offices; but the foremost is that which relates to sacred and Divine things."


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Question: 183  [<< | >>]
Article: 4  [<< | >>]

Whether the difference of states applies to those who are beginning, progressing, or perfect?

Ad quartum sic proceditur. Videtur quod differentia statuum non attendatur secundum incipientes, proficientes et perfectos. Diversorum enim diversae sunt species et differentiae. Sed secundum hanc differentiam inchoationis, profectus et perfectionis, dividuntur gradus caritatis, ut supra habitum est, cum de caritate ageretur. Ergo videtur quod secundum hoc non sit accipienda differentia statuum.   Objection 1: It would seem that the difference of states does not apply to those who are beginning, progressing, or perfect. For "diverse genera have diverse species and differences" [*Aristotle, Categ. ii]. Now this difference of beginning, progress, and perfection is applied to the degrees of charity, as stated above (Question [24], Article [9]), where we were treating of charity. Therefore it would seem that the differences of states should not be assigned in this manner.
Praeterea, status, sicut dictum est, respicit conditionem servitutis vel libertatis. Ad quam non videtur pertinere praedicta differentia incipientium, proficientium et perfectorum. Ergo inconvenienter status per ista dividitur.   Objection 2: Further, as stated above (Article [1]), state regards a condition of servitude or freedom, which apparently has no connection with the aforesaid difference of beginning, progress, and perfection. Therefore it is unfitting to divide state in this way.
Praeterea, incipientes, proficientes et perfecti distingui videntur secundum magis et minus, quod videtur magis pertinere ad rationem gradus. Sed alia est divisio graduum et statuum, ut supra dictum est. Non ergo convenienter dividitur status secundum incipientes, proficientes et perfectos.   Objection 3: Further, the distinction of beginning, progress, and perfection seems to refer to "more" and "less," and this seemingly implies the notion of grades. But the distinction of grades differs from that of states, as we have said above (Articles [2],3). Therefore state is unfittingly divided according to beginning, progress, and perfection.
Sed contra est quod Gregorius dicit, in Moral., tres sunt modi conversorum, inchoatio, medietas atque perfectio. Et super Ezech. dicit quod alia sunt virtutis exordia, aliud profectus, aliud perfectio.   On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. xxiv, 11): "There are three states of the converted, the beginning, the middle, and the perfection"; and (Hom. xv in Ezech.): "Other is the beginning of virtue, other its progress, and other still its perfection."
Respondeo dicendum quod, sicut supra dictum est, status libertatem respicit vel servitutem. Invenitur autem in rebus spiritualibus duplex servitus et duplex libertas. Una quidem est servitus peccati, altera vero est servitus iustitiae; similiter etiam est duplex libertas, una quidem a peccato, alia vero a iustitia; ut patet per apostolum, qui dicit, Rom. VI, cum servi essetis peccati, liberi fuistis iustitiae, nunc autem, liberati a peccato, servi estis facti Deo.   I answer that, As stated above (Article [1]) state regards freedom or servitude. Now in spiritual things there is a twofold servitude and a twofold freedom: for there is the servitude of sin and the servitude of justice; and there is likewise a twofold freedom, from sin, and from justice, as appears from the words of the Apostle (Rm. 6:20,22), "When you were the servants of sin, you were free men to justice . . . but now being made free from sin," you are . . . "become servants to God."
Est autem servitus peccati vel iustitiae, cum aliquis vel ex habitu peccati ad malum inclinatur, vel ex habitu iustitiae ad bonum. Similiter etiam libertas a peccato est cum aliquis ab inclinatione peccati non superatur, libertas autem a iustitia est cum aliquis propter amorem iustitiae non retardatur a malo. Veruntamen, quia homo secundum naturalem rationem ad iustitiam inclinatur, peccatum autem est contra naturalem rationem, consequens est quod libertas a peccato sit vera libertas, quae coniungitur servituti iustitiae, quia per utrumque tendit homo in id quod est conveniens sibi. Et similiter vera servitus est servitus peccati, cui coniungitur libertas a iustitia, quia scilicet per hoc homo impeditur ab eo quod est proprium sibi. Hoc autem quod homo efficiatur servus iustitiae vel peccati, contingit per humanum studium, sicut apostolus ibidem dicit, cui exhibetis vos servos ad obediendum, servi eius estis cui obedistis, sive peccati, ad mortem; sive obeditionis, ad iustitiam. In omni autem humano studio est accipere principium, medium et terminum. Et ideo consequens est quod status spiritualis servitutis et libertatis secundum tria distinguatur, scilicet secundum principium, ad quod pertinet status incipientium; et medium, ad quod pertinet status proficientium; et terminum, ad quem pertinet status perfectorum.    Now the servitude of sin or justice consists in being inclined to evil by a habit of sin, or inclined to good by a habit of justice: and in like manner freedom from sin is not to be overcome by the inclination to sin, and freedom from justice is not to be held back from evil for the love of justice. Nevertheless, since man, by his natural reason, is inclined to justice, while sin is contrary to natural reason, it follows that freedom from sin is true freedom which is united to the servitude of justice, since they both incline man to that which is becoming to him. In like manner true servitude is the servitude of sin, which is connected with freedom from justice, because man is thereby hindered from attaining that which is proper to him. That a man become the servant of justice or sin results from his efforts, as the Apostle declares (Rm. 6:16): "To whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are whom you obey, whether it be of sin unto death, or of obedience unto justice." Now in every human effort we can distinguish a beginning, a middle, and a term; and consequently the state of spiritual servitude and freedom is differentiated according to these things, namely, the beginning—to which pertains the state of beginners—the middle, to which pertains the state of the proficient—and the term, to which belongs the state of the perfect.
Ad primum ergo dicendum quod libertas a peccato fit per caritatem, quae diffunditur in cordibus nostris per spiritum sanctum, ut dicitur Rom. V, et inde est quod dicitur II ad Cor. III, ubi spiritus domini, ibi libertas. Et ideo eadem est divisio caritatis, et statuum pertinentium ad spiritualem libertatem.   Reply to Objection 1: Freedom from sin results from charity which "is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Who is given to us" (Rm. 5:5). Hence it is written (2 Cor. 3:17): "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Wherefore the same division applies to charity as to the state of those who enjoy spiritual freedom.
Ad secundum dicendum quod incipientes, proficientes et perfecti, secundum quod per hoc status diversi distinguuntur, dicuntur homines non secundum quodcumque studium, sed secundum studium eorum quae pertinent ad spiritualem libertatem vel servitutem, ut dictum est.   Reply to Objection 2: Men are said to be beginners, proficient, and perfect (so far as these terms indicate different states), not in relation to any occupation whatever, but in relation to such occupations as pertain to spiritual freedom or servitude, as stated above (Article [1]).
Ad tertium dicendum quod, sicut prius dictum est, nihil prohibet in idem concurrere gradum et statum. Nam et in rebus mundanis illi qui sunt liberi non solum sunt alterius status quam servi, sed etiam sunt altioris gradus.   Reply to Objection 3: As already observed (Article [3], ad 3), nothing hinders grade and state from concurring in the same subject. For even in earthly affairs those who are free, not only belong to a different state from those who are in service, but are also of a different grade.

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