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Reply Ohj. 3. As Seneca observes (De Bene/, vi.), it
matters much whether a person does a kindness to us for his
own sake, or for ours, or for both his and ours. He that
considers himself only, and benefits because he cannot other-
wise benefit himself, seems to me like a man who seeks fodder
for his cattle. And farther on : If he has done it for me in
common with himself, having both of us in his mind, I am
ungrateful and not merely unjust, unless I rejoice that what
was profitable to him is profitable to me also. It is the height
of malevolence to refuse to recognize a kindness, unless the
giver has been the loser thereby.

Reply Obj. 4. As Seneca observes {De Benef. iii.), when a
slave does what is wont to be demanded of a slave, it is part
of his service : when he does more than a slave is bound to do,
it is a favour : for as soon as he does anything from a motive
of friendship, if indeed that be his motive, it is no longer
called service. Wherefore gratitude is due even to a slave,
when he does more than his duty.

Reply Obj. 5. A poor man is certainly not ungrateful if
he does what he can. For since kindness depends on the
heart rather than on the deed, so too gratitude depends
chiefly on the heart. Hence Seneca says (De Benef. ii.) :
Who receives a favour gratefully, has already begun to pay it
back : and that we are grateful for favours received should be
shown by the outpourings of the heart, not only in his hearing
hut everywhere. From this it is evident that however well
off a man may be, it is possible to thank him for his kindness
by showing him reverence and honour. Wherefore the
Philosopher says [Ethic, viii. 14) : He that abounds should be
repaid with honour, he that is in want should be repaid with
money : and Seneca writes (De Benef. vi.): There are many
ways of repaying those who are well off, whatever we happen
to owe them ; such as good advice, frequent fellowship, affable
and pleasant conversation without flattery. Therefore there
is no need for a man to desire neediness or distress in
his benefactor before repaying his kindness, because, as
Seneca says [De Benef. vi.), it were inhuman to desire this
in one from whom you have received no favour) how much

Q. io6. Art. 4 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 52

more so to desire it in one whose kindness has made you his
debtor I

If, however, the benefactor has lapsed from virtue,
nevertheless he should be repaid according to his state,
that he may return to virtue if possible. But if he be so
wicked as to be incurable, then his heart has changed, and
consequently no repayment is due for his kindness, as here-
tofore. And yet, as far as it is possible without sin, the
kindness he has shown should be held in memory, as the
Philosopher says {Ethic, ix. 3).

Reply Ohj. 6. As stated in the preceding reply, repay-
ment of a favour depends chiefly on the affection of the heart :
wherefore repayment should be made in such a way as to
prove most beneficial. If, however, through the benefactor's
carelessness it prove detrimental to him, this is not imputed
to the person who repays him, as Seneca observes [De
Benef. vii.) : It is my duty to repay, and not to keep hack and
safeguard my repayment.

Fourth Article,
whether a man is bound to repay a favour at once ?

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article : —

Objection i. It seems that a man is bound to repay a
favour at once. For we are bound to restore at once what
we owe, unless the term be fixed. Now there is no term
prescribed for the repayment of favours, and yet this repay-
ment is a duty, as stated above (A. 3). Therefore a man is
bound to repay a favour at once.

Obj. 2. Further, A good action would seem to be all the
more praiseworthy according as it is done with greater
earnestness. Now earnestness seems to make a man do his
duty without any delay. Therefore it is apparently more
praiseworthy to repay a favour at once.

Obj. 3. Further, Seneca says {De Benef. ii.) that it is
proper to a benefactor to act freely and quickly. Now repay-
ment ought to equal the favour received. Therefore it
should be done at once.

53 THANKFULNESS Q. io6. Art. 4

On the contrary, Seneca says [De Benef. iv.): He that
hastens to repay, is animated with a sense, not of gratitude
hut of indebtedness.

I answer that. Just as in conferring a favour two things
are to be considered, namely, the affection of the heart and
the gift, so also must these things be considered in repaying
the favour. As regards the affection of the heart, repayment
should be made at once, wherefore Seneca says {De Benef. ii.) :
Do you wish to repay a favour ? Receive it graciously. As
regards the gift, one ought to wait until such a time as will
be convenient to the benefactor. In fact, if instead of
choosing a convenient time, one wished to repay at once,
favour for favour, it would not seem to be a virtuous, but
a constrained repayment. For, as Seneca observes [De
Benef. iv.), he that wishes to repay too soon, is an unwilling
debtor, and an unwilling debtor is ungrateful.

Reply Ohj. i. A legal debt must be paid at once, else the
equality of j ustice would not be preserved, if one kept another's
property without his consent. But a moral debt depends on
the equity of the debtor : and therefore it should be repaid
in due time according as the rectitude of virtue demands.

Reply Obj. 2. Earnestness of the will is not virtuous
unless it be regulated by reason ; wherefore it is not praise-
worthy to forestall the proper time through earnestness.

Reply Obj. 3. Favours also should be conferred at a
convenient time, and one should no longer delay when the
convenient time comes; and the same is to be observed in
repaying favours.

Fifth Article.

whether in giving thanks we should look at the


We proceed thus to the Fifth Article : —

Objection i. It seems that in repaying favours we should
not look at the benefactor's disposition but at the effect.
For repayment is due to beneficence, and beneficence con-
sists in deeds, as the word itself denotes. Therefore in re-
paying favours we should look at the effect.

Q. 106. Art. 5 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 54

Ohj. 2. Further, Thanksgiving, whereby we repay favours,
is a part of justice. But justice considers equality between
giving and taking. Therefore also in repaying favours we
should consider the effect rather than the disposition of the

Ohj. 3. Further, No one can consider what he does not
know. Now God alone knows the interior disposition.
Therefore it is impossible to repay a favour according to the
benefactor's disposition.

On the contrary, Seneca says {De Benef. i.) : We are some-
times under a greater obligation to one who has given little with
a large heart, and has bestowed a small favour, yet willingly.

I answer that. The repayment of a favour may belong to
three virtues, namely, justice, gratitude and friendship.
It belongs to justice when the repayment has the character
of a legal debt, as in a loan and the like : and in such cases
repayment must be made according to the quantity received.

On the other hand, repayment of a favour belongs, though
in different ways, to friendship and likewise to the virtue
of gratitude when it has the character of a moral debt.
For in the repayment of friendship we have to consider the
cause of friendship; so that in the friendship that is based
on the useful, repayment should be made according to the
usefulness accruing from the favour conferred, and in the
friendship based on virtue repayment should be made with
regard for the choice or disposition of the giver, since this
is the chief requisite of virtue, as stated in Ethic, viii. 13.
And likewise, since gratitude regards the favour inasmuch as
it is bestowed grativS, and this regards the disposition of the
giver, it follows again that repayment of a favour depends
more on the disposition of the giver than on the effect.

Reply Obj. i. Every moral act depends on the will.
Hence a kindly action, in so far as it is praiseworthy and is
deserving of gratitude, consists materially in the thing done,
but formally and chiefly in the will. Hence Seneca says
{De Benef. i.) : A kindly action consists not in deed or gift, but
in the disposition of the giver or doer.

Reply Obj. 2. Gratitude is a part of justice, not indeed as

55 THANKFULNESS Q. 1 06. Art. 6

a species is part of a genus, but by a kind of reduction to the
genus of justice, as stated above (Q. LXXX.). Hence it
does not follow that we shall find the same kind of debt in
both virtues.

Reply Ohj. 3. God alone sees man's disposition in itself:
but in so far as it is shown by certain signs, man also can
know it. It is thus that a benefactor's disposition is known
by the way in which he does the kindly action, for instance
through his doing it joyfully and readily.

Sixth Article.

whether the repayment of gratitude should surpass
the favour received ?

We proceed thus to the Sixth Article : —

Objection i. It seems that there is no need for the repay-
ment of gratitude to surpass the favour received. For it is
not possible to make even equal repayment to some, for
instance, to one's parents, as the Philosopher states
{Ethic, viii. 14). Now virtue does not attempt the impos-
sible. Therefore gratitude for a favour does not tend to
something yet greater.

Ohj. 2. Further, If one person repays another more than
he has received by his favour, by that very fact he gives
him something in his turn, as it were. But the latter owes
him repayment for the favour which in his turn the former
has conferred on him. Therefore he that first conferred a
favour will be bound to a yet greater repayment, and so on
indefinitely. Now virtue does not strive at the indefinite,
since the indefinite removes the nature of good {Metaph. ii.
text. 8). Therefore repayment of gratitude should not
surpass the favour received.

Ohj. 3. Further, Justice consists in equahty. But more
is excess of equality. Since therefore excess is sinful in
every virtue, it seems that to repay more than the favour
received is sinful and opposed to justice.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says [Ethic, v. 5) : We
should repay those who are gracious to us, hy being gracioiis

Q. 106. Art. 6 THE '' SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 56

to them in return, and this is done by repajdng more than
we have received. Therefore gratitude should incline to do
something greater.

I answer that, As stated above (A. 5), gratitude regards the
favour received according to the intention of the benefactor;
who seems to be deserving of praise, chiefly for having con-
ferred the favour gratis without being bound to do so.
Wherefore the beneficiary is under a moral obligation to
bestow something gratis in return. Now he does not seem
to bestow something gratis, unless he exceeds the quantity
of the favour received : because so long as he repays less or
an equivalent, he would seem to do nothing gratis, but only
to return what he has received. Therefore gratitude always
inclines, as far as possible, to pay back something more.

Reply Obj. i. As stated above (A. 3, ad 5, A. 5), in repaying
favours we must consider the disposition rather than the
deed. Accordingly, if we consider the effect of beneficence,
which a son receives from his parents, namely, to be and to
live, the son cannot make an equal repayment, as the
Philosopher states {Ethic, viii. 14). But if we consider the
will of the giver and of the repayer, then it is possible for
the son to pay back something greater to his father,
as Seneca declares {De Benef. iii.). If, however, he were
unable to do so, the will to pay back would be sufficient for

Reply Obj. 2. The debt of gratitude flows from charity,
which the more it is paid the more it is due, according to
Rom. xiii. 8, Owe no man anything, hut to love one another.
Wherefore it is not unreasonable if the obligation of grati-
tude has no limit.

Reply Obj. 3. As in justice, which is a cardinal virtue, we
consider equality of things, so in gratitude we consider
equality of wills. For while on the one hand the benefactor
of his own free-will gave something he was not bound to
give, so on the other hand the beneficiary repays something
over and above what he has received.



[In Four Articles.)

We must now consider ingratitude, under which head there
are four points of inquiry: (i) Whether ingratitude is always
a sin ? (2) Whether ingratitude is a special sin ? (3) Whether
every act of ingratitude is a mortal sin ? (4) Whether favours
should be withdrawn from the ungrateful ?

First Article,
whether ingratitude is always a sin ?

We proceed thus to the First Article : —

Objection i. It seems that ingratitude is not always a sin.
For Seneca says {De Benef. iii.) that he who does not repay a
favour is ungrateful. But sometimes it is impossible to
repay a favour without sinning, for instance if one man has
helped another to commit a sin. Therefore, since it is not
a sin to refrain from sinning, it seems that ingratitude is not
always a sin.

Obj. 2. Further, Every sin is in the power of the person
who commits it : because, according to Augustine {De Lib.
Arh. iii.: Retract, i.), no man sins in what he cannot avoid.
Now sometimes it is not in the power of the sinner to avoid
ingratitude, for instance when he has not the means of
repaying. Again forgetfulness is not in our power, and yet
Seneca declares (De Benef. iii.) that to forget a kindness is
the height of ingratitude. Therefore ingratitude is not always
a sin.

Ohj. 3. Further, There would seem to be no repayment in


Q. 107. Art. i THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 58

being unwilling to owe anything, according to the Apostle
(Rom. xiii. 8), Owe no man anything. Yet an unwilling
debtor is ungrateful, as Seneca declares {De Benef. iv.).
Therefore ingratitude is not always a sin.

On the contrary, Ingratitude is reckoned among other sins
(2 Tim. iii. 2), where it is written: Disobedient to parents,
ungrateful, wicked, etc.

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. CVL, A. 4, ad z, A. 6)
a debt of gratitude is a moral debt required by virtue. Now
a thing is a sin from the fact of its being contrary to virtue.
Wherefore it is evident that every ingratitude is a sin.

Reply Obj. i. Gratitude regards a favour received: and
he that helps another to commit a sin does him not a favour
but an injury: and so no thanks are due to him, except per-
haps on account of his good will, supposing him to have been
deceived, and to have thought to help him in doing good,
whereas he helped him to sin. In such a case the repay-
ment due to him is not that he should be helped to commit
a sin, because this would be repaying not good but evil, and
this is contrary to gratitude.

Reply Obj. 2. No man is excused from ingratitude through
inability to repay, for the very reason that the mere will
suffices for the repayment of the debt of gratitude, as stated
above (Q. CVL, A. 6, ad i).

Forgetfulness of a favour received amounts to ingratitude,
not indeed the forgetfulness that arises from a natural defect,
that is not subject to the will, but that which arises from
negligence. For, as Seneca observes {De Benef. iii.), when
forgetfulness of favours lays hold of a man, he has apparently
given little thought to their repayment.

Reply Obj. 3. The debt of gratitude flows from the debt of
love, and from the latter no man should wish to be free.
Hence that anyone should owe this debt unwillingly seems
to arise from lack of love for his benefactor.

59 INGRATITUDE Q. 107. Art. 2

Second Article,
whether ingratitude is a special sin ?

We proceed thus to the Second Article : —

Objection i. It seems that ingratitude is not a special sin.
For whoever sins acts against God his sovereign benefactor.
But this pertains to ingratitude. Therefore ingratitude is
not a special sin.

Obj. 2. Further, No special sin is contained under different
kinds of sin. But one can be ungrateful by committing
different kinds of sin, for instance by calumny, theft, or some-
thing similar committed against a benefactor. Therefore
ingratitude is not a special sin.

Obj. 3. Further, Seneca writes {De Benef. iii.): It is un-
grateful to take no notice of a kindness, it is ungrateful not to
repay one, but it is the height of ingratitude to forget it. Now
these do not seem to belong to the same species of sin. There-
fore ingratitude is not a special sin.

On the contrary, Ingratitude is opposed to gratitude or
thankfulness, which is a special virtue. Therefore it is a
special sin.

I answer that. Every vice is denominated from a deficiency
of virtue, because deficiency is more opposed to virtue : thus
illiberahty is more opposed to liberality than prodigality is.
Now a vice may be opposed to the virtue of gratitude by way
of excess, for instance if one were to show gratitude for
things for which gratitude is not due, or sooner than it is
due, as stated above (Q. CVL, A. 4). But still more opposed
to gratitude is the vice denoting deficiency of gratitude, be-
cause the virtue of gratitude, as stated above (Q. CVL, A. 6),
inclines to return something more. Wherefore ingratitude
is properly denominated from being a deficiency of grati-
tude. Now every deficiency or privation takes its species
from the opposite habit : for blindness and deafness differ
according to the difference of sight and hearing. Therefore
just as gratitude or thankfulness is one special virtue, so also
is ingratitude one special sin.

Q. 107. Art. 2 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 60

It has, however, various degrees corresponding in their
order to the things required for gratitude. The first of these
is to recognize the favour received, the second to express
one's appreciation and thanks, and the third to repay the
favour at a suitable place and time according to one's
means. And since what is last in the order of generation
is first in the order of destruction, it follows that the first
degree of ingratitude is when a man fails to repay a favour,
the second when he declines to notice and indicate that he
has received a favour, while the third and supreme degree is
when a man fails to recognize the reception of a favour,
whether by forgetting it or in any other way. Moreover,
since opposite affirmation includes negation, it follows that
it belongs to the first degree of ingratitude to return evil for
good, to the second to find fault with a favour received, and
to the third to esteem kindness as though it were un-

Reply Ohj. i. In every sin there is material ingratitude
to God, inasmuch as a man does something that may
pertain to ingratitude. But formal ingratitude is when a
favour is actually contemned, and this is a special sin.

Reply Ohj. 2. Nothing hinders the formal aspect of some
special sin from being found materially in several kinds of
sin, and in this way the aspect of ingratitude is to be found
in many kinds of sin.

Reply Ohj. 3. These three are not different species but
different degrees of one special sin.

Third Article,
whether ingratitude is always a mortal sin ?

We proceed thus to the Third Article : —

Ohjection i. It seems that ingratitude is always a mortal
sin. For one ought to be grateful to God above all. But
one is not ungrateful to God by committing a venial sin:
else every man would be guilty of ingratitude. Therefore
no ingratitude is a venial sin.

Ohj. 2. Further, A sin is mortal through being contrary

6i INGRATITUDE Q. 107. Art. 3

to charity, as stated above (Q. XXIV., A. 12). But in-
gratitude is contrary to charity, since the debt of gratitude
proceeds from that virtue, as stated above (Q. CVI., A.i,ad;^,
A. 6, ad 2). Therefore ingratitude is always a mortal sin.

Obj. 3. Further, Seneca says (De Bene/, ii.) : Between the
giver and the receiver of a favour there is this law, that the
former should forthwith forget having given, and the latter
should never forget having received. Now, seemingly, the
reason why the giver should forget is that he may be un-
aware of the sin of the recipient, should the latter prove
ungrateful; and there would be no necessity for that if
ingratitude were a slight sin. Therefore ingratitude is always
a mortal sin.

Obj. 4. On the contrary, No one should be put in the way of
committing a mortal sin. Yet, according to Seneca [ibid.),
sometimes it is necessary to deceive the person who receives
assistance, in order that he may receive without knowing from
whom he has received. But this would seem to put the
recipient in the way of ingratitude. Therefore ingratitude
is not always a mortal sin.

7 answer that. As appears from what we have said above
(A. 2), a man may be ungrateful in two ways : first, by mere
omission, for instance by failing to recognize the favour
received, or to express his appreciation of it, or to pay some-
thing in return, and this is not always a mortal sin, because,
as stated above (Q. CVL, A. 6), the debt of gratitude requires
a man to make a liberal return, which, however, he is not
bound to do; wherefore if he fail to do so, he does not sin
mortally. It is nevertheless a venial sin, because it arises
either from some kind of negligence or from some disinclina-
tion to virtue in him. And yet ingratitude of this kind may
happen to be a mortal sin, by reason either of inward con-
tempt, or of the kind of thing withheld, this being needful
to the benefactor, either simply, or in some case of necessity.

Secondly, a man may be ungrateful, because he not only
omits to pay the debt of gratitude, but does the contrary.
This again is sometimes a mortal and sometimes a venial
sin, according to the kind of thing that is done.

Q. 107. Art. 3 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 62

It must be observed, however, that when ingratitude
arises from a mortal sin, it has the perfect character of
ingratitude, and when it arises from venial sin, it has the
imperfect character.

Reply Obj. i. By committing a venial sin one is not un-
grateful to God to the extent of incurring the guilt of perfect
ingratitude : but there is something of ingratitude in a venial
sin, in so far as it removes a virtuous act of obedience to God.

Reply Obj. 2. When ingratitude is a venial sin it is not
contrary to, but beside charity : since it does not destroy the
habit of charity, but excludes some act thereof.

Reply Obj. 3. Seneca also says {De Benef. vii.): When we
say that a man after conferring a favour should forget about it,
it is a mistake to suppose that we mean him to shake off the
recollection of a thing so very praiseworthy. When we say :
He must not remember it, we mean that he must not publish
it abroad and boast about it.

Reply Obj. 4. He that is unaware of a favour conferred
on him is not ungrateful, if he fails to repay it, provided he
be prepared to do so if he knew. It is nevertheless com-
mendable at times that the object of a favour should remain
in ignorance of it, both in order to avoid vainglory, as when
Blessed Nicolas threw gold into a house secretly, wishing to
avoid popularity ; and because the kindness is all the greater
through the benefactor wishing not to shame the person on
whom he is conferring the favour.

Fourth Article.

whether favours should be withheld from the

ungrateful ?

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article : —

Objection i. It seems that favours should be withheld from
the ungrateful. For it is written (Wis. xvi. 29) : The hope of
the unthankful shall melt away as the winter's ice. But this
hope would not melt away unless favours were withheld from
him. Therefore favours should be withheld from the un-

63 INGRATITUDE Q. 107. Art. 4

Ohj. 2. Further, No one should afford another an occasion
of committing sin. But the ungrateful in receiving a favour
is given an occasion of ingratitude. Therefore favours
should not be bestowed on the ungrateful.

Obj. 3. Further, By what things a man sinneth, by the same
also he is tormented (Wis. xi. 17). Now he that is ungrateful
when he receives a favour sins against the favour. There-
fore he should be deprived of the favour.

On the contrary, It is written (Luke vi. 35) that the
Highest . . . is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil. Now
we should prove ourselves His children by imitating Him
{ibid. 36). Therefore we should not withhold favours from
the ungrateful.

/ answer that, There are two points to be considered with
regard to an ungrateful person. The first is what he de-
serves to suffer, and thus it is certain that he deserves to be
deprived of our favour. The second is, what ought his bene-

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