And so, dear readers, we at long last come to the end of the book. We started almost nine years ago, going through all four books, chapter by chapter. We missed only the odd Sunday, replacing the SAMT for Events. What an undertaking!
My favorites were the earlier chapters, which were most relevant to us alive now, on the so-called scientific proofs of the existence of God, and details about his nature. But all chapters had something to say to us. If you’ve made it the whole way, congratulations. I’m amazed—for both of us.
We’ll have to find another book to go through on a Sunday. It won’t be “the” Summa, a.k.a. Summa Theologica. Perhaps something from one of the Church Fathers. Or another Doctor of the Church. Suggestions welcome!
1 When, therefore, the last judgment is completed, human nature will be entirely established in its goal. However, since everything bodily is somehow for the sake of man (as was shown in Book III), at that time, also, the entire bodily creation will be changed, and suitably, to be in harmony with the state of the men who then will be. And because men will then be incorruptible, the state of generation and corruption will then be taken away from the whole bodily creation. And this is what the Apostle says: that “the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8: 21).
2 Now, generation and corruption in inferior bodies are caused by the movement of the heavens. Therefore, that generation and corruption may come to a stop in the inferior bodies, the movement of the heavens must also come to a stop. And on this account the Apocalypse (10:6) says “that time shall be no longer.”
Notes Hold tight, for we are about to learn the true nature of Science.
3 It ought not, of course, seem impossible that the movement of the heavens come to a stop. For the movement of the heavens is not natural in the way the movement of heavy and light bodies is—that is, they are inclined to movement by an interior active principle—but it is called natural in that the heavenly body has an aptitude for such movement; the principle of that motion, however, is an intellect, as was shown in Book III.
The heaven is moved, therefore, as are things moved by a will. But a will moves for a purpose. Of course, the purpose of the motion of the heavens cannot be the very movement itself, for motion, since it always tends toward another, does not have the character of an ultimate end.
Neither can one say that the end of the heavenly motion is this: the reducing of the heavenly body from potency to act in place where. This potency can never be entirely reduced to act, for, while the heavenly body is actually in one place where, it is in potency to another such, just as is the case of prime matter with respect to forms. Therefore, just as nature in generation does not have as end the reduction of matter from potency to act, but something consequent on this reduction—namely, that perpetuity in things by which they approach a divine likeness—so the end of heavenly motion is not the being reduced from potency to act, but something consequent on this reduction: namely, to be made like to God in the act of causing.
But all things generable and corruptible caused by the motion of the heaven are somehow ordered to man as to an end, as was shown in Book III. Therefore, the motion of the heaven is especially on account of the generation of men; in this it does most to accomplish a divine likeness in the act of causing, since man’s form—namely, the rational soul—is immediately created by God, as was shown in Book II. But the multiplication of souls to infinity cannot be an end, for infinity is contrary to the notion of end. Nothing awkward, then, ensues if we hold that, when a fixed number of men is filled out, the motion of the heavens ceases.
Notes A small argument against a certain kind of countable infinity.
4 Nonetheless, when the motion of the heavens and generation and corruption in the elements have come to a stop, their substance will continue to be by reason of the changelessness of the divine goodness, “for He created all things that they might be” (Wis. 1:14). Hence, the being of things which have an aptitude for perpetuity will remain in perpetuity. Both wholly and in part, of course, the heavenly bodies have the nature to be everlasting. The elements, however, have it wholly, but not in part, for in part they are corruptible.
Man, of course, has it in part, but not wholly: for the rational soul is incorruptible; the composite, corruptible. These, then, which in any way at all have an aptitude for being everlasting will abide in their substance in that last state of the world, and God in His power will supply what is wanting in their own weakness.
5 But the other animals, the plants, and the mixed bodies, those entirely corruptible both wholly and in part, will not remain at all in that state of incorruption. In this way, then, must the saying of the Apostle be understood: “The fashion of this world passes away” (1 Cor. 7:31), that this appearance of the world which now is will cease to be, but the substance will remain. Thus, also, is understood what Job (24:12) says: “Man, when he is fallen asleep, shall not rise again: till the heavens be broken” that is, until that disposition of the heaven ceases to be, that in which it is moved and causes motion in others.
6 But since among the other elements fire is the most active, and tends to consume the corruptible, the consumption of the things which ought not remain in the future state will most suitably take place by fire.
Hence, one holds in accord with the faith that at the last the world will be purified by fire, not from corruptible bodies alone, but from that infection which the place incurred by serving as the dwelling of sinners. And this is what is said in 2 Peter (3:7): “The heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto, fire against the day of judgment,” so that we may understand by “heavens” not the very firmament in which the stars are, whether fixed or wandering, but those heavens of air which are close to the earth.
Notes A suitable end.
7 Since, then, the bodily creation will at the last be disposed in harmony with the state of man—since men, of course, will not only be freed from corruption but also clothed with glory, as what has been said makes clear—necessarily even the bodily creation will achieve a kind of resplendence in its own way.
8 AND, HENCE, THE SAYING OF THE APOCALYPSE (21:l): “I SAW A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH.” AND ISAIAH (65:17-18): “BEHOLD I CREATE NEW HEAVENS, AND A NEW EARTH: AND THE FORMER THINGS SHALL NOT BE IN REMEMBRANCE AND THEY SHALL NOT COME UPON THE HEART. BUT YOU SHALL BE GLAD AND REJOICE FOREVER.” AMEN.
Notes The caps are from the translator, and I think it’s appropriate to keep them.