Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Q63 A7: Whether the highest angel among those who sinned was the highest of all?

Yes. He who sinned was probably the very highest of all because the motive of pride is excellence, which was greater in the higher spirits.

This seems to be the more probable view: because the angels' sin did not come of any proneness, but of free choice alone. Consequently that argument seems to have the more weight which is drawn from the motive in sinning. Yet this must not be prejudicial to the other view, because there might be some motive for sinning in him also who was the chief of the lower angels.

On this account Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii), that the highest of those who sinned was set over the terrestrial order. This opinion seems to agree with the view of the Platonists, which Augustine quotes (De Civ. Dei vii, 6,7; x, 9,10,11). For they said that all the gods were good; whereas some of the demons were good, and some bad; naming as 'gods' the intellectual substances which are above the lunar sphere, and calling by the name of "demons" the intellectual substances which are beneath it, yet higher than men in the order of nature.

Nor is this opinion to be rejected as contrary to faith; because the whole corporeal creation is governed by God through the angels, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 4,5). Consequently there is nothing to prevent us from saying that the lower angels were divinely set aside for presiding over the lower bodies, the higher over the higher bodies; and the highest to stand before God. And in this sense Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii) that they who fell were of the lower grade of angels; yet in that order some of them remained good.