Whether Servile Fear is Good
Whether Servile Fear is Good

We proceed to the fourth article thus:

1. It seems that servile fear is not good. If the use of a thing is evil, the thing itself is evil. Now the use of servile fear is evil, since "he who does something out of fear does not do well, even though that which is done be good," as the gloss says on Rom. ch.8. It follows that servile fear is not good.

2. Again, that which has its origin in a root of sin is not good. Servile fear has its origin in a root of sin. For on Job 3:11, "Why died I not from the womb?" Gregory says: "when one fears the present punishment for one's sin, and has no love for the countenance of God which one has lost, one's fear is born of pride, not of humility." Hence servile fear is evil.

3. Again, servile fear seems to be opposed to chaste fear, just as mercenary love is opposed to the love of charity. Now mercenary love is always evil. Hence servile fear is likewise always evil.

On the other hand: nothing which is evil is of the Holy Spirit. But servile fear is of the Holy Spirit. For on Rom.8:15, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear . . .," the gloss (ord. August. Tract.9 in Joan.) says: "It is the same Spirit which inspires both fears," that is, servile fear and chaste fear. Hence servile fear is not evil.

I answer: servile fear may be evil because of its servility. Since the free is "that which is the cause of itself," as it is said in 1 Metaph., cap.2, the slave is one who is not the cause of his own actions, but who is moved as by something external. Now whoever acts out of love acts as by himself, since he is moved to act by his own inclination. To act out of love is therefore opposed to the very nature of servility. Servile fear, in so far as it is servile, is therefore opposed to charity. Hence servile fear would be bound to be absolutely evil if servility belonged to its essential nature, just as adultery is absolutely evil because the element by which it is opposed to charity belongs to its specific nature. But the servility of which we are speaking does not belong to the specific nature of servile fear, any more than lack of form belongs to the specific nature of unformed faith. The species of a moral habit or action is determined by its object. But while its object is punishment, servile fear loves the good to which punishment is opposed, as the final end, and fears punishment consequentially, as the principal evil. So it is with one who does not have charity. Or again, servile fear may be directed to God as its end, in which case it does not fear punishment as a principal evil. Such fear is present in one who does have charity. For the species of a habit is not taken away by the circumstance that its object or end is subordinated to a more ultimate end. Servile fear is therefore substantially good, although its servility is evil.

On the first point: this saying of Augustine is to be understood as referring to one who does something out of servile fear because he is servile, that is, who has no love for justice, but merely fears punishment.

On the second point: servile fear is not born of pride in respect of its substance. But its servility is born of pride, in as much as a man is unwilling to subject his affection to the yoke of justice out of love.

On the third point: love is said to be mercenary when God is loved for the sake of temporal goods. This is in itself opposed to charity, and hence mercenary love is always evil. But fear which is substantially servile implies only fear of punishment, whether or not it be feared as the principal evil.

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