Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CXXX.: OF PRESUMPTION. 1 - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CXXX.: OF PRESUMPTION. 1 - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
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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Article I.—Is presumption a sin?
R. Since the operations of nature are ordained by divine reason, which human reason ought to imitate, it follows that whatever human reason does contrary to the order commonly found in the operations of nature is vicious and sinful. Now this is commonly found in all the operations of nature, that every action is measured by the strength of the agent; nor does any natural agent endeavour to do what exceeds its ability. And therefore it is vicious and sinful, as being against the natural order, for any one to take upon himself to do what transcends his powers, which is the part of presumption.
§ 1. A thing may very well be beyond the active power of some natural agent, and yet not beyond the passive power of the same; for there is passive power in air whereby it may be transmuted into something that has the action and movement of fire, which exceeds the active power of air.1 Thus it would be vicious and presumptuous for any one in a state of imperfect virtue to attempt to attain at once to the practices of perfect virtue. But if one aims at making progress to perfect virtue, that is not presumptuous nor vicious. And in that way the Apostle2 was stretching forth himself to the things that were before, to wit, by continual progress.
§ 3. As the Philosopher says: “What we can do by others, we can in a manner do of ourselves.” And therefore because we can think and do good by the help of God, it does not wholly exceed our ability to do good. And therefore there is no presumption in setting about a work of virtue, as there would be if one set about it otherwise than in confidence of help from God.
Article II.—Is presumption opposed to magnanimity by way of excess?
R. Magnanimity stands in the mean, not in respect of the amount that it aims at, for it aims at the highest amount; but as observing the proportion of its own powers: for it aims no higher than befits it. The presumptuous man, in the amount that he aims at, does not exceed the magnanimous man, but often falls far short of him; but he is in excess as going beyond the proportion of his own powers, a limit which the magnanimous man does not overstep. And thus presumption is opposed to magnanimity by way of excess.
[1 ]There is presumption against magnanimity, and presumption against hope. See II-II. q. 21. art. 1. (Trl.)
[1 ]For air read water; and for fire, vapour; and the illustration suits the nineteenth century. (Trl.)
[2 ]Philipp. iii. 13.