Ubi considerandum est quod unus homo alteri manifestat explicando conceptum suum per aliqua signa exteriora, puta per vocem vel Scripturam, Deus autem dupliciter aliquid homini manifestat. Uno modo, infundendo lumen interius, per quod homo cognoscit, Ps. XLII, 3: emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam. Alio modo, proponendo suae sapientiae signa exteriora, scilicet sensibiles creaturas. Eccli. I, 10: effudit illam, scilicet sapientiam, super omnia opera sua.
Here it should be noted that one man manifests something to another by unfolding his own thought by means of such external signs as vocal sounds or writing. But God manifests something to man in two ways: first, by endowing him with an inner light through which he knows: send out your light and your truth (Ps 43:3); second, by proposing external signs of his wisdom, namely, sensible creatures: he poured her out, namely, wisdom, over all his works (Sir 1:9).
Sic ergo Deus illis manifestavit vel interius infundendo lumen, vel exterius proponendo visibiles creaturas, in quibus, sicut in quodam libro, Dei cognitio legeretur.
Thus God manifested it to them either from within by endowing them with a light or from without by presenting visible creatures, in which, as in a book, the knowledge of God may be read.
117. Deinde cum dicit invisibilia enim ipsius a creatura mundi, etc., ostendit per quem modum huiusmodi cognitionem acceperunt.
117. Then when he says for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world, he shows the manner in which they received such knowledge.
Ubi, primo considerandum est quae sunt ista, quae de Deo cognoverunt. Et ponit tria.
Here the first points to be considered are the things they have known about God. He mentions three.
Primo quidem invisibilia ipsius, per quae intelligitur Dei essentia, quae, sicut dictum est a nobis videri non potest. Io. I, 18: Deum nemo vidit unquam, scilicet per essentiam, vita mortali vivens. I Tim. I, 17: regi saeculorum immortali, invisibili.
First, the invisible things of him, through which one understands God’s essence, which, as was said, cannot be seen by us: no one has ever seen God (John 1:18), i.e., in his essence, no one living in this mortal life: to the king of ages, immortal, invisible (1 Tim 1:17).
Dicit autem pluraliter invisibilia quia Dei essentia non est nobis cognita secundum illud quod est, scilicet prout in se est una. Sic erit nobis in patria cognita, et tunc erit Dominus unus et nomen eius unum, ut dicitur Zac. ult. Est autem manifesta nobis per quasdam similitudines in creaturis repertas, quae id quod in Deo unum est, multipliciter participant, et secundum hoc intellectus noster considerat unitatem divinae essentiae sub ratione bonitatis, sapientiae, virtutis et huiusmodi, quae in Deo unum sunt.
He says invisible things, using the plural, because God’s essence is not known to us in regard to what it is, i.e., as it is in itself one. That is the way it will be known in heaven: on that day the Lord will be one and his name one (Zech 14:9). But it is now manifested to us through certain likenesses found in creatures, which participate in manifold ways in that which is one in God. Accordingly, our intellect considers the unity of the divine essence under the aspects of goodness, wisdom, power, and so on, all of which are one in God.
Haec ergo invisibilia Dei dixit, quia illud unum quod his nominibus, seu rationibus, in Deo respondet, non videtur a nobis. Hebr. XI, 3: ut ex invisibilibus invisibilia fierent.
Therefore he calls these the invisible things of God, because the one reality in God which corresponds to these names or notions is not seen by us: so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear (Heb 11:3).
Aliud autem quod de Deo cognoscitur est virtus ipsius, secundum quam res ab eo procedunt, sicut a principio; Ps. CXLVI, 5: magnus Dominus et magna virtus eius. Hanc autem virtutem philosophi perpetuam esse cognoverunt, unde dicitur sempiterna quoque virtus eius.
Another thing known about God is his power, in virtue of which all things proceed from him as from a principle: great is the Lord and abundant in power (Ps 147:5). This power the philosophers knew to be eternal; hence it is called his eternal power.
Tertium cognitum est quod dicit et divinitas, ad quod pertinet quod cognoverunt Deum sicut ultimum finem, in quem omnia tendunt.
The third thing known is what he calls divinity, namely, they knew God as the ultimate end unto which all things tend.
Divinum enim bonum dicitur bonum commune quod ab omnibus participatur; propter hoc potius dixit divinitatem, quae participationem significat, quam deitatem, quae significat essentiam Dei. Col. II, 9: et in ipso habitat omnis plenitudo divinitatis.
For the divine good is called the common good in which all things participate; on this account he says divinity, which signifies participation, rather than deity, which signifies God’s essence: for in him the whole fullness of divinity dwells bodily (Col 2:9).
Haec autem tria referuntur ad tres modos cognoscendi supradictos. Nam invisibilia Dei cognoscuntur per viam negationis; sempiterna virtus, per viam causalitatis; divinitas, per viam excellentiae.
These three things are referred to the above-mentioned three ways of knowing. For the invisible things of God are known by the method of negation; the eternal power by the method of causality; the divinity by way of excellence.
118. Secundo, considerandum est per quod medium illa cognoverunt, quod designatur cum dicit per ea quae facta sunt.
118. Second, one must consider the medium through which they knew those things. This is designated when he says by the things that are made.
Sicut enim ars manifestatur per artificis opera, ita et Dei sapientia manifestatur per creaturas. Sap. XIII, 5: a magnitudine enim speciei et creaturae cognoscibiliter poterit creator horum videri.
For just as an art is shown by an artist’s works, so God’s wisdom is shown by his creatures: from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their creator (Wis 13:5).
119. Tertio, ostendit quomodo per ista cognoscatur Deus, cum dicit intellecta conspiciuntur.
119. Third, he shows how God is known through them when he says clearly seen, being understood.
Intellectu enim cognosci potest Deus, non sensu vel imaginatione, quae corporalia non transcendunt; Deus autem spiritus est, ut Io. IV, 24 dicitur; Is. LII, 13: ecce intelliget servus meus.
For it is by the intellect that God is known, not by the senses or imagination, which do not extend beyond bodily things: but God is spirit (John 4:24); behold my servant shall understand (Isa 52:13).
120. Quarto, potest designari a qua, per hunc modum, Deus cognoscatur, cum dicitur a creatura mundi. Per quod, uno modo, potest intelligi homo, Mc. ult.: praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae, vel propter excellentiam hominis, qui ordine naturae minor est angelis sed excellit inter inferiores creaturas, secundum illud Ps. VIII, 6: minuisti eum paulo minus ab angelis, omnia subiecisti sub pedibus eius, oves et boves, etc., vel quia communicat cum omni creatura: habet enim esse cum lapidibus, vivere cum arboribus, sentire cum animalibus, intelligere cum angelis, ut Gregorius dicit.
120. Fourth, he designates the things from which God is known by this medium when he says from the creation of the world. In one way, this can be understood as referring to man: preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), either on account of the excellence of man, who in the order of nature is less than the angels but greater than lower creatures: yet you have made him less than the angels; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen (Ps 8:5), or because he has something in common with every creature. For he has existence in common with stones, life in common with trees, sense in common with animals, and intelligence in common with angels, as Gregory says.
Alio modo potest intelligi de universali creatura. Nulla enim creatura, ex propriis naturalibus, potest Dei essentiam in seipsa videre. Unde et de Seraphim dicitur Is. VI, 2 quod duabus alis velabant caput. Sed, sicut homo intelligit Deum per creaturas visibiles, ita angelus per hoc quod intelligit propriam essentiam.
In another way it can be understood of all creation. For no creature by its own natural power can see God’s essence in itself. Hence it is said even of the Seraphim, with two wings they covered their head (Isa 6:2). But just as man understands God through visible creatures, so an angel understands God by understanding its own essence.
121. Potest autem aliter intelligi per creaturam mundi, non ipsa res creata sed rerum creatio, ac si diceretur: a creatione mundi. Et tunc potest dupliciter ordinari. Uno modo quod intelligatur quod invisibilia Dei intelliguntur per ea quae facta sunt a creatione mundi, non solum per ea quae facta sunt tempore gratiae. Alio modo quod intelligatur quod a creatione mundi homines incoeperunt Deum cognoscere per ea quae facta sunt. Iob XXXVI, 25: omnes homines vident eum.
121. Or, creation of the world can be taken to mean not created things but the creation of things, as though it were said: from the creation of the world. In this case, one interpretation would be that the invisible things of God are understood by means of things made since the creation of the world and not only since the time of grace. Another interpretation would be that from the creation of the world men began to know God through the things that were made: all men have looked on it (Job 36:25).
122. Glossa autem dicit quod per invisibilia Dei intelligitur persona Patris. I Tim. ult.: quem nullus hominum vidit, etc. Per sempiternam virtutem, persona Filii secundum illud I Cor. I, 24: Christum Dei virtutem. Per divinitatem, persona Spiritus Sancti cui appropriatur bonitas. Non quod philosophi, ductu rationis, potuerint pervenire, per ea quae facta sunt, in cognitionem personarum quantum ad propria, quae non significant habitudinem causae ad creaturas, sed secundum appropriata. Dicuntur tamen defecisse in tertio signo, id est in Spiritu Sancto quia non posuerunt aliquid respondere Spiritui Sancto, sicut posuerunt aliquid respondere Patri, scilicet ipsum primum principium, et aliquid respondere Filio, scilicet primam mentem creatam, quam vocabant aeternum intellectum ut Macrobius dicit in libro Super somnium Scipionis.
122. But a Gloss says that by the invisible things of God is meant the person of the Father: whom no man has ever seen or can see (1 Tim 6:16); by the eternal power the person of the Son: Christ the power of God (1 Cor 1:24); by divinity the person of the Holy Spirit, to whom goodness is appropriated. Not that philosophers under the lead of reason could arrive by means of created things to a knowledge of the persons, so as to know what are proper to each, which do not signify any causal connection with creatures; but by way of appropriation. Yet they are said to have failed in the third sign, i.e., in the Holy Spirit, because they did not mention anything corresponding to the Holy Spirit, as they did for the Father, namely the very first principle, and for the Son, namely the first mind created, which they called the Father’s understanding, as Macrobius says in his book On the Dream of Scipio.
Impietas et iniustia Gentium
Impiety and injustice of the gentiles
1:20 Invisibilia enim ipsius, a creatura mundi, per ea quae facta sunt, intellecta, conspiciuntur: sempiterna quoque ejus virtus, et divinitas: ita ut sint inexcusabiles. [n. 123]
1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. His eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable. [n. 123]
1:21 Quia cum cognovissent Deum, non sicut Deum glorificaverunt, aut gratias egerunt: sed evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis, et obscuratum est insipiens cor eorum: [n. 126]
1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they had not glorified him as God or given thanks, but became vain in their thoughts. And their foolish heart was darkened. [n. 126]
1:22 dicentes enim se esse sapientes, stulti facti sunt. [n. 131]
1:22 For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. [n. 131]
1:23 Et mutaverunt gloriam incorruptibilis Dei in similitudinem imaginis corruptibilis hominis, et volucrum, et quadrupedum, et serpentium. [n. 132]
1:23 And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts and of creeping things. [n. 132]
1:24 Propter quod tradidit illos Deus in desideria cordis eorum, in immunditiam, ut contumeliis afficiant corpora sua in semetipsis: [n. 137]
1:24 Wherefore, God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness: to dishonour their own bodies among themselves, [n. 137]
1:25 qui commutaverunt veritatem Dei in mendacium: et coluerunt, et servierunt creaturae potius quam Creatori, qui est benedictus in saecula. Amen. [n. 141]
1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [n. 141]
123. Postquam Apostolus ostendit veritatem Dei fuisse a gentibus cognitam, hic ostendit eos obnoxios culpae impietatis et iniustitiae.
123. After showing that truth about God was known by the gentiles, he now states that they were guilty of the sins of ungodliness and injustice.
Et primo ostendit hoc quantum ad culpam impietatis,
First, he shows this with regard to the sin of impiety;
secundo quantum ad culpam iniustitiae, ibi et sicut non probaverunt, etc.
second, in regard to injustice, at and as they liked not to have (Rom 1:28).
Posset autem aliquis credere eos a culpa impietatis excusari propter ignorantiam, sicut Apostolus de se dicit infra I Tim. I, 13: misericordiam consecutus sum, quia ignorans feci,
But someone might believe that they would be excused from the sin of ungodliness on account of ignorance, as the Apostle says of himself in 1 Timothy: I received mercy, because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Tim 1:13).
primo ergo ostendit gentiles non esse excusabiles,
First, therefore, he shows that they are without excuse;
secundo ponit eorum culpam, ibi et mutaverunt gloriam.
second, he states their sin, at and they changed the glory.
124. Circa primum considerandum est quod tunc ignorantia culpam excusat quando sic procedit et causat culpam, quod non causatur a culpa. Sicut cum aliquis, adhibita diligentia debita, dum credit percutere hostem, percutit patrem. Si vero ignorantia causetur ex culpa, non potest subsequentem culpam ignorantia excusare. Unde si quis per ebrietatem homicidium committit, non excusatur a culpa, quia peccavit se inebriando, unde secundum Philosophum meretur duplices mulctationes.
124. In regard to the first it should be noted that ignorance excuses from guilt, when it precedes and causes guilt in such a way that the ignorance itself is not the result of guilt; for example, when a person, after exercising due caution, thinks he is striking a foe, when he is really striking his father. But if the ignorance is caused by guilt, it cannot excuse one from a fault that follows. Thus, if a person commits murder, because he is drunk, he is not excused from the guilt, because he sinned by intoxicating himself; indeed, according to the Philosopher, he deserves a double penalty.
125. Primo igitur proponit quod intendit, dicens ita, quod est Dei, notum est eis, ut sint inexcusabiles, id est ut per ignorantiam excusari non possint Iac. IV, 17: scienti bonum et non operanti peccatum est illi. Infra II, 1: propter quod inexcusabilis est.
125. First, therefore, he states his intention, saying so, i.e., things about God are so well known to them, that they may be without excuse, i.e., they cannot be excused on the plea of ignorance: whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (Jas 4:17); wherefore, you are inexcusable (Rom 2:1).
126. Secundo ibi quia cum cognovissent, etc., probat quod dixerat.
126. Second, he proves his statement at because that, when they knew.