3
GENERAL NOTIONS

As to the two particular articles, also belonging to the substance of faith, theology teaches that belief in Divine Redemption was, in some sense, always the same. For the revelation of this mystery was contained in the promise made by God to our first parents, was handed down by tradition even amongst the Gentiles, and was from time to time renewed with more full explanation in the written Law and the Prophets. But as this truth was not so clearly revealed before the coming of Christ, we may hold that, whilst it was believed explicitly by the patriarchs and chief teachers of the Jews, it was, for the most part, but imperfectly apprehended and only implicitly believed by the mass of the Jewish people. The same may be said generally of the mystery of the Trinity.*

Of revealed truths accessory to the substance of faith, there aws during the Old Testament Dispensation, from time to time an objective or accretive development; that is to say, certain truths were successively revealed, which either had no way been revealed before, or, at any rate, could not be explicitly believed by all without a new revelation.

The distinction between explicit and implicit faith is thus explained according to the teaching of Suarez: anything is believed explicitly, when it is itself the object on which the assent of faith immediately and directly falls. What is implicitly believed is not itself the immediate object of the assent of faith, but is believed only indirectly and mediately, as being contained in something else which is the immediate and direct object of the assent of faith. What is thus implicitly believed is not itself actually known at all; since the intellect does not form any special concept of a proposition said to be implicitly believed, but of that other one alone in which it is contained.

Any difference there may be in explicit faith is only one of degree. Thus it may be more or less explicit, according as the concept of a mystery is more or less clearly and perfectly formed; or, again, so far as the points known about the truth believed are many or few. But rightly considered, the difference consists in the greater or less number of actual assents, whereby the several truths belonging to one and the same mystery and article of faith are explicitly and directly believed. Or should the more or less clearness of conception be with regard to but one single integral truth, the difference then lies rather in the apprehension of the truth than in the actual assent of faith. And this clearer apprehension may be due to human industry, viz., be the result of knowledge acquired by more scientific study, wider learning and a better understanding.


* Suarez, Disp. ii. Sect. vi. 7, 11; De Lugo, Disp. xii. n. 87.

 

 

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