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Home > Summa Theologica > Supplement > Question 91

Question 91. The quality of the world after the judgment

  1. Will there be a renewal of the world?
  2. Will the movement of the heavenly bodies cease?
  3. Will the heavenly bodies be more brilliant?
  4. Will the elements receive an additional clarity?
  5. Will the animals and plants remain?

Article 1. Whether the world will be renewed?

Objection 1. It would seem that the world will never be renewed. For nothing will be but what was at some time as to its species: "What is it that hath been? the same thing that shall be" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Now the world never had any disposition other than it has now as to essential parts, both genera and species. Therefore it will never be renewed.

Objection 2. Further, renewal is a kind of alteration. But it is impossible for the universe to be altered; because whatever is altered argues some alterant that is not altered, which nevertheless is a subject of local movement: and it is impossible to place such a thing outside the universe. Therefore it is impossible for the world to be renewed.

Objection 3. Further, it is stated (Genesis 2:2) that "God . . . rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done," and holy men explain that "He rested from forming new creatures." Now when things were first established, the mode imposed upon them was the same as they have now in the natural order. Therefore they will never have any other.

Objection 4. Further, the disposition which things have now is natural to them. Therefore if they be altered to another disposition, this disposition will be unnatural to them. Now whatever is unnatural and accidental cannot last for ever (De Coelo et Mundo i). Therefore this disposition acquired by being renewed will be taken away from them; and thus there will be a cycle of changes in the world as Empedocles and Origen (Peri Archon. ii, 3) maintained, and after this world there will be another, and after that again another.

Objection 5. Further, newness of glory is given to the rational creature as a reward. Now where there is no merit, there can be no reward. Since then insensible creatures have merited nothing, it would seem that they will not be renewed.

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 65:17): "Behold I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be in remembrance"; and (Apocalypse 21:1): "I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone."

Further, the dwelling should befit the dweller. But the world was made to be man's dwelling. Therefore it should befit man. Now man will be renewed. Therefore the world will be likewise.

Further, "Every beast loveth its like" (Sirach 13:19), wherefore it is evident that likeness is the reason of love. Now man has some likeness to the universe, wherefore he is called "a little world." Hence man loves the whole world naturally and consequently desires its good. Therefore, that man's desire be satisfied the universe must needs also be made better.

I answer that, We believe all corporeal things to have been made for man's sake, wherefore all things are stated to be subject to him [Psalm 8:5, seqq.]. Now they serve man in two ways, first, as sustenance to his bodily life, secondly, as helping him to know God, inasmuch as man sees the invisible things of God by the things that are made (Romans 1:20). Accordingly glorified man will nowise need creatures to render him the first of these services, since his body will be altogether incorruptible, the Divine power effecting this through the soul which it will glorify immediately. Again man will not need the second service as to intellective knowledge, since by that knowledge he will see God immediately in His essence. The carnal eye, however, will be unable to attain to this vision of the Essence; wherefore that it may be fittingly comforted in the vision of God, it will see the Godhead in Its corporeal effects, wherein manifest proofs of the Divine majesty will appear, especially in Christ's flesh, and secondarily in the bodies of the blessed, and afterwards in all other bodies. Hence those bodies also will need to receive a greater inflow from the Divine goodness than now, not indeed so as to change their species, but so as to add a certain perfection of glory: and such will be the renewal of the world. Wherefore at the one same time, the world will be renewed, and man will be glorified.

Reply to Objection 1. Solomon is speaking there of the natural course: this is evident from his adding: "Nothing under the sun is new." For since the movement of the sun follows a circle, those things which are subject to the sun's power must needs have some kind of circular movement. This consists in the fact that things which were before return the same in species but different in the individual (De Generat. i). But things belonging to the state of glory are not "under the sun."

Reply to Objection 2. This argument considers natural alteration which proceeds from a natural agent, which acts from natural necessity. For such an agent cannot produce different dispositions, unless it be itself disposed differently. But things done by God proceed from freedom of will, wherefore it is possible, without any change in God Who wills it, for the universe to have at one time one disposition, and another at another time. Thus this renewal will not be reduced to a cause that is moved, but to an immovable principle, namely God.

Reply to Objection 3. God is stated to have ceased on the seventh day forming new creatures, for as much as nothing was made afterwards that was not previously in some likeness [Cf. I, 73, 1] either generically, or specifically, or at least as in a seminal principle, or even as in an obediential potentiality [Cf. I, 115, 2, ad 4; III, 11, 1]. I say then that the future renewal of the world preceded in the works of the six days by way of a remote likeness, namely in the glory and grace of the angels. Moreover it preceded in the obediential potentiality which was then bestowed on the creature to the effect of its receiving this same renewal by the Divine agency.

Reply to Objection 4. This disposition of newness will be neither natural nor contrary to nature, but above nature (just as grace and glory are above the nature of the soul): and it will proceed from an everlasting agent which will preserve it for ever.

Reply to Objection 5. Although, properly speaking, insensible bodies will not have merited this glory, yet man merited that this glory should be bestowed on the whole universe, in so far as this conduces to man's increase of glory. Thus a man merits to be clothed in more splendid robes, which splendor the robes nowise merited themselves.

Article 2. Whether the movement of the heavenly bodies will cease?

Objection 1. It seems that when the world is thus renewed the movement of the heavenly bodies will not cease. For it is written (Genesis 8:22): "All the days of the earth . . . cold and heat, summer and winter, night and day shall not cease." Now night and day, summer and winter result from the movement of the sun. Therefore the movement of the sun will never cease.

Objection 2. Further, it is written (Jeremiah 31:35-36): "Thus saith the Lord Who giveth the sun for the light of the day, the order of the moon and of the stars for the light of the night: Who stirreth up the sea, and the waves thereof roar . . . If these ordinances shall fail before Me . . . then also the seed of Israel shall fail, so as not to be a nation before Me for ever." Now the seed of Israel shall never fail, but will remain for ever. Therefore the laws of day and of the sea waves, which result from the heavenly movement, will remain for ever. Therefore the movement of the heaven will never cease.

Objection 3. Further, the substance of the heavenly bodies will remain for ever. Now it is useless to admit the existence of a thing unless you admit the purpose for which it was made: and the heavenly bodies were made in order "to divide the day and the night"; and to be "for signs, and for seasons, and for days and for years" (Genesis 1:14). But they cannot do this except by movement. Therefore their movement will remain for ever, else those bodies would remain without a purpose.

Objection 4. Further, in this renewal of the world the whole world will be bettered. Therefore no body will be deprived of what pertains to its perfection. Now movement belongs to the perfection of a heavenly body, because, as stated in De Coelo et Mundo ii, "those bodies participate of the Divine goodness by their movement." Therefore the movement of the heaven will not cease.

Objection 5. Further, the sun successively gives light to the various parts of the world, by reason of its circular movement. Therefore if the circular movement of the heaven ceases, it follows that in some part of the earth's surface there will be perpetual darkness, which is unbecoming to the aforesaid renewal.

Objection 6. Further, if the movement were to cease, this could only be because movement causes some imperfection in the heaven, for instance wear and tear, which is impossible, since this movement is natural, and the heavenly bodies are impassible, wherefore they are not worn out by movement (De Coelo et Mundo ii). Therefore the movement of the heaven will never cease.

Objection 7. Further, a potentiality is useless if it be not reduced to act. Now in whatever position the heavenly body is placed it is in potentiality to another position. Therefore unless this potentiality be reduced to act, it would remain useless, and would always be imperfect. But it cannot be reduced to act save by local movement. Therefore it will always be in motion.

Objection 8. Further, if a thing is indifferent in relation to more than one alternation, either both are ascribed to it, or neither. Now the sun is indifferent to being in the east or in the west, else its movement would not be uniform throughout, since it would move more rapidly to the place which is more natural to it. Therefore either neither position is ascribed to the sun, or both. But neither both nor neither can be ascribed to it, except successively by movement; for if it stand still, it must needs stand in some position. Therefore the solar body will always be in motion, and in like manner all other heavenly bodies.

Objection 9. Further, the movement of the heaven is the cause of time. Therefore if the movement of the heaven fail, time must needs fail: and if this were to fail, it would fail in an instant. Now an instant is defined (Phys. viii) "the beginning of the future and the end of the past." Consequently there would be time after the last instant of time, which is impossible. Therefore the movement of the heavens will never cease.

Objection 10. Further, glory does not remove nature. But the movement of the heaven is natural. Therefore it is not deprived thereof by glory.

On the contrary, It is stated (Apocalypse 10:6) that the angel who appeared, "swore by him that liveth for ever and ever . . . that time shall be no longer," namely after the seventh angel shall have sounded the trumpet, at the sound of which "the dead shall rise again" (1 Corinthians 15:52). Now if time be not, there is no movement of the heaven. Therefore the movement of the heaven will cease.

Further: "Thy sun shall go down no more, and thy moon shall not decrease" (Isaiah 60:20). Now the setting of the sun and the phases of the moon are caused by the movement of the heavens. Therefore the heavenly movement will cease at length.

Further, it is shown in De Gener. ii that "the movement of the heaven is for the sake of continual generation in this lower world." But generation will cease when the number of the elect is complete. Therefore the movement of the heaven will cease.

Further, all movement is for some end (Metaph. ii). But all movement for an end ceases when the end is obtained. Therefore either the movement of the heaven will never obtain its end, and thus it would be useless, or it will cease at length.

Further, rest is more noble than movement, because things are more likened to God, Who is supremely immovable, by being themselves unmoved. Now the movement of lower bodies terminates naturally in rest. Therefore since the heavenly bodies are far nobler, their movement terminates naturally in rest.

I answer that, There are three opinions touching this question. The first is of the philosophers who assert that the movement of the heaven will last for ever. But this is not in keeping with our faith, which holds that the elect are in a certain number preordained by God, so that the begetting of men will not last for ever, and for the same reason, neither will other things that are directed to the begetting of men, such as the movement of the heaven and the variations of the elements. Others say that the movement of the heaven will cease naturally. But this again is false, since every body that is moved naturally has a place wherein it rests naturally, whereto it is moved naturally, and whence it is not moved except by violence. Now no such place can be assigned to the heavenly body, since it is not more natural to the sun to move towards a point in the east than to move away from it, wherefore either its movement would not be altogether natural, or its movement would not naturally terminate in rest. Hence we must agree with others who say that the movement of the heaven will cease at this renewal of the world, not indeed by any natural cause, but as a result of the will of God. For the body in question, like other bodies, was made to serve man in the two ways above mentioned (1): and hereafter in the state of glory man will no longer need one of these services, that namely in respect of which the heavenly bodies serve man for the sustenance of his bodily life. Now in this way the heavenly bodies serve man by their movement, in so far as by the heavenly movement the human race is multiplied, plants and animals needful for man's use generated, and the temperature of the atmosphere rendered conducive to health. Therefore the movement of the heavenly body will cease as soon as man is glorified.

Reply to Objection 1. These words refer to the earth in its present state, when it is able to be the principle of the generation and corruption of plants. This is evident from its being said there: "All the days of the earth, seed time and harvest," etc. And it is simply to be granted that as long as the earth is fit for seed time and harvest, the movement of the heaven will not cease.

We reply in like manner to Objection 2 that the Lord is speaking there of the duration of the seed of Israel with regard to the present state. This is evident from the words: "Then also the seed of Israel shall fail, so as not to be a nation before Me for ever." For after this state there will be no succession of days: wherefore the laws also which He had mentioned will cease after this state.

Reply to Objection 3. The end which is there assigned to the heavenly bodies is their proximate end, because it is their proper act. But this act is directed further to another end, namely the service of man, which is shown by the words of Deuteronomy 4:19: "Lest perhaps lifting up thy eyes to heaven, thou see the sun and the moon and all the stars of heaven, and being deceived by error thou adore and serve them, which the Lord thy God created for the service of all the nations, that are under heaven." Therefore we should form our judgment of the heavenly bodies from the service of man, rather than from the end assigned to them in Genesis. Moreover the heavenly bodies, as stated above, will serve glorified man in another way; hence it does not follow that they will remain without a purpose.

Reply to Objection 4. Movement does not belong to the perfection of a heavenly body, except in so far as thereby it is the cause of generation and corruption in this lower world: and in that respect also this movement makes the heavenly body participate in the Divine goodness by way of a certain likeness of causality. But movement does not belong to the perfection of the substance of the heaven, which substance will remain. Wherefore it does not follow that, when this movement ceases, the substance of the heaven will lose something of its perfection.

Reply to Objection 5. All the elemental bodies will have in themselves a certain clarity of glory. Hence though part of the surface of the earth be not lit up by the sun, there will by no means be any darkness there.

Reply to Objection 6. A gloss of Ambrose on Romans 8:22, "Every creature groaneth," etc. says explicitly that "all the elements labor to fulfill their offices: thus the sun and moon fill the places appointed to them not without work: this is for our sake, wherefore they will rest when we are taken up to heaven." This work, in my opinion, does not signify that any stress or passion occurs to these bodies from their movement, since this movement is natural to them and nowise violent, as is proved in De Coelo et Mundo i. But work here denotes a defect in relation to the term to which a thing tends. Hence since this movement is ordained by Divine providence to the completion of the number of the elect, it follows that as long as the latter is incomplete, this movement has not reached the term whereto it was ordained: hence it is said metaphorically to labor, as a man who has not what he intends to have. This defect will be removed from the heaven when the number of the elect is complete. Or it may refer to the desire of the future renewal which it awaits from the Divine disposal.

Reply to Objection 7. In a heavenly body there is no potentiality that can be perfected by place, or that is made for this end which is to be in such and such a place. But potentiality to situation in a place is related to a heavenly body, as the craftsman's potentiality to construct various houses of one kind: for if he construct one of these he is not said to have the potentiality uselessly, and in like manner in whatever situation a heavenly body be placed, its potentiality to be in a place will not remain incomplete or without a purpose.

Reply to Objection 8. Although a heavenly body, so far as regards its nature, is equally inclined to every situation that it can possibly occupy, nevertheless in comparison with things outside it, it is not equally inclined to every situation: but in respect of one situation it has a more noble disposition in comparison with certain things than in respect of another situation; thus in our regard the sun has a more noble disposition at daytime than at night-time. Hence it is probable, since the entire renewal of the world is directed to man, that the heaven will have in this renewal the most noble situation possible in relation to our dwelling there. Or, according to some, the heaven will rest in that situation wherein it was made, else one of its revolutions would remain incomplete. But this argument seems improbable, for since a revolution of the heaven takes no less than 36,000 years to complete, it would follow that the world must last that length of time, which does not seem probable. Moreover according to this it would be possible to know when the world will come to an end. For we may conclude with probability from astronomers in what position the heavenly bodies were made, by taking into consideration the number of years that have elapsed since the beginning of the world: and in the same way it would be possible to know the exact number of years it would take them to return to a like position: whereas the time of the world's end is stated to be unknown.

Reply to Objection 9. Time will at length cease, when the heavenly movement ceases. Yet that last "now" will not be the beginning of the future. For the definition quoted applies to the "now" only as continuous with the parts of time, not as terminating the whole of time.

Reply to Objection 10. The movement of the heaven is said to be natural, not as though it were part of nature in the same way as we speak of natural principles; but because it has its principle in the nature of a body, not indeed its active but its receptive principle. Its active principle is a spiritual substance, as the Commentator says on De Coelo et Mundo; and consequently it is not unreasonable for this movement to be done away by the renewal of glory, since the nature of the heavenly body will not alter through the cessation of that movement.

We grant the other objections which argue in the contrary sense, namely the first three, because they conclude in due manner. But since the remaining two seem to conclude that the movement of heaven will cease naturally, we must reply to them. To the first, then, we reply that movement ceases when its purpose is attained, provided this is a sequel to, and does not accompany the movement. Now the purpose of the heavenly movement, according to philosophers, accompanies that movement, namely the imitation of the Divine goodness in the causality of that movement with respect to this lower world. Hence it does not follow that this movement ceases naturally.

To the second we reply that although immobility is simply nobler than movement, yet movement in a subject which thereby can acquire a perfect participation of the Divine goodness is nobler than rest in a subject which is altogether unable to acquire that perfection by movement. For this reason the earth which is the lowest of the elements is without movement: although God Who is exalted above all things is without movement, by Whom the more noble bodies are moved. Hence also it is that the movements of the higher bodies might be held to be perpetual, so far as their natural power is concerned, and never to terminate in rest, although the movement of lower bodies terminates in rest.

Article 3. Whether the brightness of the heavenly bodies will be increased at this renewal?

Objection 1. It would seem that the brightness of the heavenly bodies will not be increased at this renewal. For this renewal as regards the lower bodies will be caused by the cleansing fire. But the cleansing fire will not reach the heavenly bodies. Therefore the heavenly bodies will not be renewed by receiving an increase of brightness.

Objection 2. Further, just as the heavenly bodies are the cause of generation in this lower world by their movement, so are they by their light. But, when generation ceases, movement will cease as stated above (Article 2). Therefore in like manner the light of the heavenly bodies will cease rather than increase.

Objection 3. Further, if the heavenly bodies will be renewed when man is renewed, it follows that when man deteriorated they deteriorated likewise. But this does not seem probable, since these bodies are unalterable as to their substance. Therefore neither will they be renewed when man is renewed.

Objection 4. Further, if they deteriorated then it follows that their deterioration was on a par with the amelioration which, it is said, will accrue to them at man's renewal. Now it is written (Isaiah 30:26) that "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun." Therefore in the original state before sin the moon shone as much as the sun does now. Therefore whenever the moon was over the earth, it made it to be day as the sun does now: which is proved manifestly to be false from the statement of Genesis 1:16 that the moon was made "to rule the night." Therefore when man sinned the heavenly bodies were not deprived of their light; and so their light will not be increased, so it seems, when man is glorified.

Objection 5. Further, the brightness of the heavenly bodies, like other creatures, is directed to the use of man. Now, after the resurrection, the brightness of the sun will be of no use to man: for it is written (Isaiah 60:19): "Thou shalt no more have the sun for thy light by day, neither shall the brightness of the moon enlighten thee," and (Apocalypse 21:23): "The city hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon to shine in it." Therefore their brightness will not be increased.

Objection 6. Further, it were not a wise craftsman who would make very great instruments for the making of a small work. Now man is a very small thing in comparison with the heavenly bodies, which by their huge bulk surpass the size of man almost beyond comparison: in fact the size of the whole earth in comparison with the heaven is as a point compared with a sphere, as astronomers say. Since then God is most wise it would seem that man is not the end of the creation of the heavens, and so it is unseemly that the heaven should deteriorate when he sinned, or that it should be bettered when he is glorified.

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 30:26): "The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold."

Further, the whole world will be renewed for the better. But the heaven is the more noble part of the corporeal world. Therefore it will be altered for the better. But this cannot be unless it shine out with greater brightness. Therefore its brightness will be bettered and will increase.

Further, "every creature that groaneth and travaileth in pain, awaiteth the revelation of the glory of the children of God" ['The creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain,' etc.] (Romans 8:21-22). Now such are the heavenly bodies, as a gloss says on the same passage. Therefore they await the glory of the saints. But they would not await it unless they were to gain something by it. Therefore their brightness will increase thereby, since it is their chief beauty.

I answer that, The renewal of the world is directed to the end that, after this renewal has taken place, God may become visible to man by signs so manifest as to be perceived as it were by his senses. Now creatures lead to the knowledge of God chiefly by their comeliness and beauty, which show forth the wisdom of their Maker and Governor; wherefore it is written (Wisdom 13:5): "By the greatness of the beauty and of the creature, the Creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby." And the beauty of the heavenly bodies consists chiefly in light; wherefore it is written (Sirach 43:10): "The glory of the stars is the beauty of heaven, the Lord enlighteneth the world on high." Hence the heavenly bodies will be bettered, especially as regards their brightness. But to what degree and in what way this betterment will take place is known to Him alone Who will bring it about.

Reply to Objection 1. The cleansing fire will not cause the form of the renewal, but will only dispose thereto, by cleansing from the vileness of sin and the impurity resulting from the mingling of bodies, and this is not to be found in the heavenly bodies. Hence although the heavenly bodies are not to be cleansed by fire, they are nevertheless to be Divinely renewed.

Reply to Objection 2. Movement does not denote perfection in the thing moved, considered in itself, since movement is the act of that which is imperfect: although it may pertain to the perfection of a body in so far as the latter is the cause of something. But light belongs to the perfection of a lightsome body, even considered in its substance: and consequently after the heavenly body has ceased to be the cause of generation, its brightness will remain, while its movement will cease.

Reply to Objection 3. A gloss on Isaiah 30:26, "The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun," says: "All things made for man's sake deteriorated at his fall, and sun and moon diminished in light." This diminishment is understood by some to mean a real lessening of light. Nor does it matter that the heavenly bodies are by nature unalterable, because this alteration was brought about by the Divine power. Others, however, with greater probability, take this diminishment to mean, not a real lessening of light, but a lessening in reference to man's use; because after sin man did not receive as much benefit from the light of the heavenly bodies as before. In the same sense we read (Genesis 3:17-18): "Cursed is the earth in thy work . . . Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee"; although it would have brought forth thorns and thistles before sin, but not as a punishment to man. Nor does it follow that, supposing the light of the heavenly bodies not to have been lessened essentially through man sinning, it will not really be increased at man's glorification, because man's sin wrought no change upon the state of the universe, since both before and after sin man had an animal life, which needs the movement and generation of a corporeal creature; whereas man's glorification will bring a change upon the state of all corporeal creatures, as stated above (Question 76, Article 7). Hence there is no comparison.

Reply to Objection 4. This diminution, according to the more probable opinion, refers not to the substance but to the effect. Hence it does not follow that the moon while over the earth would have made it to be day, but that man would have derived as much benefit from the light of the moon then as now from the light of the sun. After the resurrection, however, when the light of the moon will be increased in very truth, there will be night nowhere on earth but only in the center of the earth, where hell will be, because then, as stated, the moon will shine as brightly as the sun does now; the sun seven times as much as now, and the bodies of the blessed seven times more than the sun, although there be no authority or reason to prove this.

Reply to Objection 5. A thing may be useful to man in two ways. First, by reason of necessity, and thus no creature will be useful to man because he will have complete sufficiency from God. This is signified (Apocalypse 21:23) by the words quoted, according to which that "city hath no need of the sun," nor "of the moon." Secondly, on account of a greater perfection, and thus man will make use of other creatures, yet not as needful to him in order to obtain his end, in which way he makes use of them now.

Reply to Objection 6. This is the argument of Rabbi Moses who endeavors to prove (Dux errantium iii) that the world was by no means made for man's use. Wherefore he maintains that what we read in the Old Testament about the renewal of the world, as instanced by the quotations from Isaias, is said metaphorically: and that even as the sun is said to be darkened in reference to a person when he encounters a great sorrow so as not to know what to do (which way of speaking is customary to Scripture), so on the other hand the sun is said to shine brighter for a person, and the whole world to be renewed, when he is brought from a state of sorrow to one of very great joy. But this is not in harmony with the authority and commentaries of holy men. Consequently we must answer this argument by saying that although the heavenly bodies far surpass the human body, yet the rational soul surpasses the heavenly bodies far more than these surpass the human body. Hence it is not unreasonable to say that the heavenly bodies were made for man's sake; not, however as though this were the principal end, since the principal end of all things is God.

Article 4. Whether the elements will be renewed by an addition of brightness?

Objection 1. It would seem that the elements will not be renewed by receiving some kind of brightness. For just as light is a quality proper to a heavenly body, so are hot and cold, wet and dry. qualities proper to the elements. Therefore as the heaven is renewed by an increase of brightness, so ought the elements to be renewed by an increase of active and passive qualities.

Objection 2. Further, rarity, and density are qualities of the elements, and the elements will not be deprived of them at this renewal. Now the rarity and density of the elements would seem to be an obstacle to brightness, since a bright body needs to be condensed, for which reason the rarity of the air seems incompatible with brightness, and in like manner the density of the earth which is an obstacle to transparency. Therefore it is impossible for the elements to be renewed by the addition of brightness.

Objection 3. Further, it is agreed that the damned will be in the earth. Yet they will be in darkness not only internal but also external. Therefore the earth will not be endowed with brightness in this renewal, nor for the same reason will the other elements.

Objection 4. Further, increase of brightness in the elements implies an increase of heat. If therefore at this renewal the brightness of the elements be greater than it is now, their heat will likewise be greater; and thus it would seem that they will be changed from their natural qualities, which are in them according to a fixed measure: and this is absurd.

Objection 5. Further, the good of the universe which consists in the order and harmony of the parts is more excellent than the good of any individual creature. But if one creature be bettered, the good of the universe is done away, since there will no longer be the same harmony. Therefore if the elemental bodies, which according to their natural degree in the universe should be devoid of brightness, were to be endowed with brightness, the perfection of the universe would be diminished thereby rather than increased.

On the contrary, It is written (Apocalypse 21:1): "I saw a new heaven and a new earth." Now the heaven will be renewed by an increase of brightness. Therefore the earth and likewise the other elements will also.

Further, the lower bodies, like the higher, are for man's use. Now the corporeal creature will be rewarded for its services to man, as a gloss of Ambrose seems to say on Romans 8:22, "Every creature groaneth," and a gloss of Jerome on Isaiah 30:26, "And the light of the moon shall be," etc. Therefore the elements will be glorified as well as the heavenly bodies.

Further, man's body is composed of the elements. Therefore the elemental particles that are in man's body will be glorified by the addition of brightness when man is glorified. Now it is fitting that whole and part should have the same disposition. Therefore it is fitting that the elements themselves should be endowed with brightness.

I answer that, Just as there is a certain order between the heavenly spirits and the earthly or human spirits, so is there an order between heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. Since then the corporeal creature was made for the sake of the spiritual and is ruled thereby, it follows that corporeal things are dealt with similarly to spiritual things. Now in this final consummation of things the lower spirits will receive the properties of the higher spirits, because men will be as the angels in heaven (Matthew 22:30): and this will be accomplished by conferring the highest degree of perfection on that in which the human spirit agrees with the angelic. Wherefore, in like manner, since the lower bodies do not agree with the heavenly bodies except in the nature of light and transparency (De Anima ii), it follows that the lower bodies are to be perfected chiefly as regards brightness. Hence all the elements will be clothed with a certain brightness, not equally, however, but according to their mode: for it is said that the earth on its outward surface will be as transparent as glass, water as crystal, the air as heaven, fire as the lights of heaven.

Reply to Objection 1. As stated above (Article 1), the renewal of the world is directed to the effect that man even by his senses may as it were see the Godhead by manifest signs. Now the most spiritual and subtle of our senses is the sight. Consequently all the lower bodies need to be bettered, chiefly as regards the visible qualities the principle of which is light. On the other hand, the elemental qualities regard the touch, which is the most material of the senses, and the excess of their contrariety is more displeasing than pleasant; whereas excess of light will be pleasant, since it has no contrariety, except on account of a weakness in the organ, such as will not be then.

Reply to Objection 2. The air will be bright, not as casting forth rays, but as an enlightened transparency; while the earth, although it is opaque through lack of light, yet by the Divine power its surface will be clothed with the glory of brightness, without prejudice to its density.

Reply to Objection 3. The earth will not be glorified with brightness in the infernal regions; but instead of this glory, that part of the earth will have the rational spirits of men and demons who though weak by reason of sin are nevertheless superior to any corporeal quality by the dignity of their nature. or we may say that, though the whole earth be glorified, the wicked will nevertheless be in exterior darkness, since even the fire of hell, while shining for them in one respect, will be unable to enlighten them in another.

Reply to Objection 4. This brightness will be in these bodies even as it is in the heavenly bodies, in which it causes no heat, because these bodies will then be unalterable, as the heavenly bodies are now.

Reply to Objection 5. The order of the universe will not be done away by the betterment of the elements, because all the other parts will also be bettered, and so the same harmony will remain.

Article 5. Whether the plants and animals will remain in this renewal?

Objection 1. It would seem that the plants and animals will remain in this renewal. For the elements should be deprived of nothing that belongs to their adornment. Now the elements are said to be adorned by the animals and plants [Cf. Genesis 1:11-25]. Therefore they will not be removed in this renewal.

Objection 2. Further, just as the elements served man, so also did animals, plants and mineral bodies. But on account of this service the elements will be glorified. Therefore both animals and plants and mineral bodies will be glorified likewise.

Objection 3. Further, the universe will remain imperfect if anything belonging to its perfection be removed. Now the species of animals, plants, and mineral bodies belong to the perfection of the universe. Since then we must not say that the world will remain imperfect when it is renewed, it seems that we should assert that the plants and animals will remain.

Objection 4. Further, animals and plants have a more noble form than the elements. Now the world, at this final renewal, will be changed for the better. Therefore animals and plants should remain rather than the elements, since they are nobler.

Objection 5. Further, it is unseemly to assert that the natural appetite will be frustrated. But by their natural appetite animals and plants desire to be for ever, if indeed not as regards the individual, at least as regards the species: and to this end their continual generation is directed (De Generat. ii). Therefore it is unseemly to say that these species will at length cease to be.

On the contrary, If plants and animals are to remain, either all of them will, or some of them. If all of them, then dumb animals, which had previously died, will have to rise again just as men will rise again. But this cannot be asserted for since their form comes to nothing, they cannot resume the same identical form. On the other hand if not all but some of them remain, since there is no more reason for one of them remaining for ever rather than another, it would seem that none of them will. But whatever remains after the world has been renewed will remain for ever, generation and corruption being done away. Therefore plants and animals will altogether cease after the renewal of the world.

Further, according to the Philosopher (De Generat. ii) the species of animals, plants and such like corruptible things, are not perpetuated except by the continuance of the heavenly movement. Now this will cease then. Therefore it will be impossible for those species to be perpetuated.

Further, if the end cease, those things which are directed to the end should cease. Now animals and plants were made for the upkeep of human life; wherefore it is written (Genesis 9:3): "Even as the green herbs have I delivered all flesh to you [Vulgate: 'have I delivered them all to you']." Therefore when man's animal life ceases, animals and plants should cease. But after this renewal animal life will cease in man. Therefore neither plants nor animals ought to remain.

I answer that, Since the renewal of the world will be for man's sake it follows that it should be conformed to the renewal of man. Now by being renewed man will pass from the state of corruption to incorruptibility and to a state of everlasting rest, wherefore it is written (1 Corinthians 15:53): "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality"; and consequently the world will be renewed in such a way as to throw off all corruption and remain for ever at rest. Therefore it will be impossible for anything to be the subject of that renewal, unless it be a subject of incorruption. Now such are the heavenly bodies, the elements, and man. For the heavenly bodies are by their very nature incorruptible both as to their whole and as to their part: the elements are corruptible as to their parts but incorruptible as a whole: while men are corruptible both in whole and in part, but this is on the part of their matter not on the part of their form, the rational soul to wit, which will remain incorrupt after the corruption of man. on the other hand, dumb animals, plants, and minerals, and all mixed bodies, are corruptible both in their whole and in their parts, both on the part of their matter which loses its form, and on the part of their form which does not remain actually; and thus they are in no way subjects of incorruption. Hence they will not remain in this renewal, but those things alone which we have mentioned above.

Reply to Objection 1. These bodies are said to adorn the elements, inasmuch as the general active and passive forces which are in the elements are applied to specific actions: hence they adorn the elements in their active and passive state. But this state will not remain in the elements: wherefore there is no need for animals or plants to remain.

Reply to Objection 2. Neither animals nor plants nor any other bodies merited anything by their services to man, since they lack free-will. However, certain bodies are said to be rewarded in so far as man merited that those things should be renewed which are adapted to be renewed. But plants and animals are not adapted to the renewal of incorruption, as stated above. Wherefore for this very reason man did not merit that they should be renewed, since no one can merit for another, or even for himself that which another or himself is incapable of receiving. Hence, granted even that dumb animals merited by serving man, it would not follow that they are to be renewed.

Reply to Objection 3. Just as several kinds of perfection are ascribed to man (for there is the perfection of created nature and the perfection of glorified nature), so also there is a twofold perfection of the universe, one corresponding to this state of changeableness, the other corresponding to the state of a future renewal. Now plants and animals belong to its perfection according to the present state, and not according to the state of this renewal, since they are not capable thereof.

Reply to Objection 4. Although animals and plants as to certain other respects are more noble than the elements, the elements are more noble in relation to incorruption, as explained above [Cf. 74, 1, ad 3].

Reply to Objection 5. The natural desire to be for ever that is in animals and plants must be understood in reference to the movement of the heaven, so that they may continue in being as long as the movement of the heaven lasts: since there cannot be an appetite for an effect to last longer than its cause. Wherefore if at the cessation of movement in the first movable body, plants and animals cease as to their species, it does not follow that the natural appetite is frustrated.

The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
APPROBATIO ORDINIS
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ

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