Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION LXXVIII.: OF MALICE AS A CAUSE OF SIN. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION LXXVIII.: OF MALICE AS A CAUSE OF SIN. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF MALICE AS A CAUSE OF SIN.
Article I.—Does any one sin of deliberate malice?
R. Man, like every other being, has a natural appetite for good: hence the declining of his appetite to evil comes from some perversion or disorder in one or other of the originating principles within a man. Now the originating principles of human acts are understanding and appetite, as well the rational appetite, which is called the will, as the sensitive. As then sin happens in human acts sometimes from a defect of understanding, in the case when one sins from ignorance, or from a defect in the sensitive appetite, when one sins from passion; so also does it happen from a defect in the will, that is, from an inordinate will. Now the will is inordinate, when it loves the lesser good the more, and elects accordingly to suffer loss in the good less loved in order to gain the enjoyment of the good more loved. Thus when any inordinate will loves a temporal good, like riches or pleasure, more than the order of reason and the divine law, or the charity of God, it is willing consequently to suffer damage and detriment in spiritual goods for the securing of good that is temporal. But evil is nothing else than privation of good. Thus it is that a man knowingly wills a spiritual evil to gain a temporal good. Hence he is said to sin of deliberate malice, or on purpose, as knowingly choosing evil.
§ 2. Evil cannot be intended in itself as such, but it may be intended for the avoiding of evil or the gaining of good elsewhere. In such a case the agent would fain choose the good, which he intends in itself, without suffering the loss of another good; as the libertine would wish to enjoy his pleasure without offence of God: but with the alternatives before him he chooses to incur the displeasure of God by sinning rather than go without his gratification.
Article II.—Does every one who sins by habit, sin of deliberate malice?
R. It is not the same thing to sin with a habit and to sin by habit. For the use of a habit is not necessary, but is under the control of the will of him who has it. Hence also a habit is defined to be “something that you use when you will.” And therefore, as it may happen that one having a vicious habit may break out into an act of virtue, because reason is not totally spoilt by the evil habit, but some part of it remains entire: so it may also happen that some one having a vicious habit may act by passion, or by ignorance, instead of by the habit. But whenever one does use a vicious habit, he must necessarily sin of deliberate malice: because to every man having a habit that procedure is of itself acceptable, which befits him according to his proper habit, becoming thus to him as it were connatural, because custom is a second nature. But what befits a man according to a vicious habit, excludes spiritual good. Hence it follows that the man chooses spiritual evil to gain the good that befits him according to his habit; and this is to sin by deliberate malice. Hence it is manifest that whoever sins by habit, sins of deliberate malice.1
§ 3. In sins committed of deliberate malice, the sinner rejoices after committing them, according to the text: “Who are glad when they have done evil, and rejoice in most wicked things.”2 As for any sorrow after sinning felt by persons who sin by habit, that generally arises not because sin displeases them in itself, but because of some unpleasant consequence that they incur by committing it.
Article IV.—Is sin committed of deliberate malice more grievous than sin committed from passion?
R. The sin that is of deliberate malice is more grievous than the sin that is of passion, for three reasons. First, because, since sin has place principally in the will, the more proper and peculiar to the will the sin is, the graver is the sin, other things being equal. Now when sin is committed of deliberate malice, the movement of sin is more proper to the will than when it is committed out of passion, seeing that in the former case the will moves of itself towards evil, whereas in the latter it is impelled to sin by a sort of extrinsic cause. Hence sin is aggravated by the mere fact of its being of malice; and the more vehement the malice, the greater the aggravation: whereas when sin is of passion, it is diminished the more, the more vehement the passion has been. Secondly, because the passion which inclines the will to sin quickly passes away, and so the man speedily returns to his good purposes, repenting of his sin; but the habit whereby a man sins of malice is a permanent quality: and therefore he who sins of malice goes on longer in sin. Thirdly, because he who sins of malice is badly disposed in respect of the very end he has in view, which is the guiding principle in matters of conduct; and so his defect is more dangerous than the defect of him who sins by passion, as the will of this latter tends to a good end, though his purpose is interrupted by passion for a season. The worst defect is a defect of principle.
§ 3. It is one thing to choose to sin and another thing to sin by choice. He who sins by passion, chooses indeed to sin, but not by choice; because choice is not in him the prime origin of the sin, but he is induced by passion to choose that which, passion apart, he would not choose.
[1 ]By habit, i.e. on principle. He who sins by habit, has got in him a vice, which of course works all the opposite effects to virtue. Multitudes dwell in the border-land between virtue and vice. See above, q. 58. art. 3. § 2. (Trl.)
[2 ]Prov. ii. 14.