Whether Fear is Appropriately Divided into Filial, Initial, Servile, and Worldly Fear
Whether Fear is appropriately Divided into Filial, Initial, Servile, and Worldly Fear

We proceed to the second article thus:

1. It seems that fear is not appropriately divided into filial, initial, servile, and worldly fear. For in 2 De Fid. Orth.15 the Damascene names six kinds of fear, including laziness and shame, which were discussed in 12ae, Q.41, Art.4. But these are not mentioned in this division, which therefore seems inappropriate.

2. Again, each of these fears is either good or evil. But there is a kind of fear, namely natural fear, which is neither good nor evil. For it is found in devils, according to James 2:19: "the devils believe, and tremble," and also in Christ, who "began to be sore amazed, and very heavy," according to Mark 14:33. The foregoing division of fear is therefore inadequate.

3. Again, the relation of a son to his father, of" a wife to her husband, and of a servant to his master, are severally different. Now filial fear, which is that of a son for his father, is distinguished from servile fear, which is that of a servant for his master. Chaste fear, which is seemingly that of a wife for her husband, ought then to be distinguished from all the fears mentioned.

4. Again, initial fear and worldly fear both fear punishment, as does servile fear. These should not therefore be distinguished from each other.

5. Again, fear is of evil things in the same way as desire is of good things. Now the "desire of the eyes," by which one desires worldly goods, is different from the "desire of the flesh," by which one desires one's own pleasure. Hence the worldly fear by which one fears to lose external good things is different from the human fear by which one fears harm to one's own person.

On the other hand: is the authority of the Master (3 Sent., Dist.34).

I answer: we are here speaking of fear in so far as we turn to God in fear, or turn away from him in fear. Now the object of fear is something which is evil. Hence a man sometimes turns away from God because he fears evil things. This is called human fear, or worldly fear. Sometimes, on the other hand, a man turns to God and adheres to him because he fears evil things. The evils which he then fears are of two kinds, namely, the evil of punishment, and the evil of guilt. If a man turns to God and adheres to him because he fears punishment, his fear is servile fear. If he does so because he fears guilt, his fear is filial fear, since what sons fear is to offend their fathers. Again, if a man turns to God for both of these reasons, his fear is initial fear, which is midway between these two. We have already discussed whether it is possible to fear the evil of guilt, in dealing with the passion of fear (12ae, Q.42, Art.3). [65]

On the first point: the Damascene divides fear as a passion of the soul. This division is concerned with fear in its relation to God, as we have said.

On the second point: moral good consists especially in turning to God, and moral evil in turning away from God. Hence each of the fears mentioned implies either moral evil or moral good. Natural fear is not included among these fears, because it is presupposed to moral good and evil.

On the third point: the relation of a servant to his master is founded on the power of a master over the servant who is subject to him. But the relation of a son to his father, or of a wife to her husband, is founded on the affection of the son who submits himself to his father, or on the affection of the wife who unites herself to her husband by the union of love. Filial fear and chaste fear therefore pertain to the same thing. For God is made our Father by reason of the love of charity, according to Rom.8:15: "ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father," and is also called our spouse by reason of this same charity, as in II Cor.11:2: "I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." Servile fear, on the other hand, pertains to something different, since it does not include charity in its definition.

On the fourth point: these three fears all fear punishment, but in different ways. Worldly or human fear fears the punishment which turns one away from God, and which the enemies of God sometimes inflict or threaten. Servile and initial fear, on the other hand, fear the punishment by which men are drawn to God, and which is inflicted or threatened by God. Servile fear fears such punishment principally, initial fear secondarily.

On the fifth point: it is all the same whether a man turns away from God through fear of losing his worldly goods or through fear for the safety of his body, because external goods pertain to the body. These fears are consequently here regarded as the same, even though the evils feared are different, just as the good things desired are different. Owing to their difference, the sins to which they give rise are different in species. They are nevertheless all alike in that they lead men away from God.


[65] The object of fear is a future evil which is not easily avoided. The evil of guilt is consequently an object of fear only in so far as it may be brought about through some external cause, such as the company of wicked men, not in so far as it may be directly due to a man's own will, which is its proper cause.

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