SCG 4.22

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CHAPTER XXII: OF THE EFFECTS ASCRIBED TO THE HOLY GHOST, ACCORDING AS HE MOVES THE CREATURE TO GOD

Now that we have considered the works of God in us which the Scriptures ascribe to the Holy Ghost, it remains for us to consider how the Holy Ghost moves us to God. In the first place mutual intercourse would seem to belong to friendship in a very special manner. Now, man's intercourse with God consists in contemplating Him: thus the Apostle says (Philip. iii. 20): Our conversation is in heaven. Since, then, the Holy Ghost makes us to be lovers of God, it follows that by Him we are made contemplators of God. Hence the Apostle says (2 Cor. iii. 18): But we all, beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.


It also belongs to friendship that a man delight in the presence of his friend, and rejoice in his words and deeds: also that he find in him consolation in all his troubles: hence it is especially to our friends that we have recourse for comfort in time of sorrow. Since then the Holy Ghost makes us to be friends of God, and causes Him to live in us, and us in Him, as we have proved, it follows that it is through the Holy Ghost that we rejoice in God, and are comforted in all the hardships and afflictions of the world. Hence it is said (Ps. l. 14): Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and strengthen me with thy[1] perfect Spirit, and (Rom. xiv. 7): The Kingdom of God . . . is justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and (Acts ix. 31): The church had peace . . . and was edified, walking in the fear of the Lord, and was filled with the consolation of the Holy Ghost. For this reason our Lord calls the Holy Ghost by the name of Paraclete or Consoler (Jo. xiv. 26): But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, etc.


It also belongs to friendship that a man consent to the things which his friend wills. Now God's will is made known to us in His commandments. Therefore it belongs to our love for God, that we fulfil His commandments, according to Jo. xiv. 15: If you love me, keep my commandments. Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost makes us lovers of God, it is He also who leads us to fulfil the commandments of God, according to the saying of the Apostle (Rom. viii. 14): Whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.


We must observe, however, that the sons of God are led by the Holy Ghost, not as though they were slaves, but as being free. For, since to be free is to be cause of one's own actions, we are said to do freely what we do of ourselves. Now this is what we do willingly: and what we do unwillingly, we do, not freely but under compulsion. This compulsion may be absolute, when the cause is wholly extraneous, and the patient contributes nothing to the action, for instance, when a man is compelled to move by force: or it may be partly voluntary, as when a man is willing to do or suffer that which is less opposed to his will, in order to avoid that which is more opposed thereto. Now, the Holy Ghost inclines us to act, in such a way as to make us act willingly, inasmuch as He causes us to be lovers of God. Hence the sons of God are led by the Holy Ghost to act freely and for love, not slavishly and for fear: wherefore the Apostle says (Rom. viii. 15): You have not received the Spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons.


Now the will is directed to that which is truly good: so that when, either through passion or through an evil habit or disposition, a man turns away from what is truly good, he acts slavishly, in so far as he is led by something extraneous, if we consider the natural direction of the will; but if we consider the act of the will, as inclined towards a seeming good, he acts freely when he follows the passion or evil habit, but he acts slavishly if, while his will remains the same, he refrain from what he desires through fear of the law which forbids the fulfilment of his desire. Accordingly, when the Holy Ghost, by love inclines the will to the true good to which it is naturally directed, He removes both the servitude whereby a man, the slave of passion and sin, acts against the order of the will, and the servitude whereby a man acts against the inclination of his will, and in obedience to the law, as the slave and not the friend of the law. Wherefore the Apostle says (2 Cor. iii. 17): Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and (Gal. v. 18): If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. For this reason the Holy Ghost is said to mortify the deeds of the flesh, in as much as the sufferings of the flesh do not turn us from the true good, to which the Holy Ghost leads us by love, according to Rom. viii. 13: If by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.



  1. The Douay translation has a perfect spirit.




Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. by The English Dominican Fathers from the latest Leonine Edition, Benzinger Brothers: New York, 1924.

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