Thomas Aquinas

In 4 Sent. D49, Q2, A1 (#60)

translated by rct


Aquinas, In 4 Sent. D49, Q2, A1 (text # 60) Draft

Aquinas, In 4 Sent d. 49, q. 2, a. 1.

This translation is based on an unpublished provisional text provided by Dr. Adriano Oliva, O.P.,  of the Commissio Leonina, to whom I express my sincere gratitude.

For convenience, I have added text numbers from Prof. Enrique Alarcón’s  Corpus Thomisticum website ( since the texts of the latter part of Book 4, namely Distinctions 23-50, are not included in the editions by Mandonnet and Moos.

Question 2. Proemium


Next we ask concerning the vision of God. Concerning this seven things are asked. First, Whether the blessed will see God in His essence.  Second, whether they are able to see God with a bodily eye.  Third, whether in seeing God they comprehend Him.  Fourth, whether among those seeing God in His essence one sees more perfectly than another.  Fifth, whether it is necessary that those seeing the divine essence see all that God sees.  Sixth, whether to see God in His essence could belong to some creature from purely natural powers.  Seventh,  whether in the present life anyone could see God in His essence.

Article 1


To the first we proceed as follows.

It seems that the human intellect cannot attain to the vision of God in His essence. [This is] because at John 1, 18 [it is written], “No one ever sees God.” And Chrysostomus comments that neither “were the celestial essences (I mean the Cherubim and Seraphim) ever able to see Him as He is.” But only equality to the angels is offered to human beings, [as we see in] Matthew XX “They will be as the angels of God in heaven.”  Therefore, neither will be the saints in heaven see God in His essence.


<2.> Furthermore, Dionysius argues as follows in ch. 1 of On the divine Names. Cognition is only of existing things. But everything existing is finite, since it is determined [as existing] in some genus.  And so, since God is infinite, He is above all existing things. Therefore, there is no cognition of Him but rather He is above all cognition.


<3.> Furthermore, Dionysius shows that the most perfect mode by which our intellect is able to be conjoined to God is insofar as it is conjoined to Him as to something unknown. But that which is seen in its essence is not unknown. Therefore, it is impossible for our intellect to see God in His essence.


<4.> Furthermore, Dionysius in the Letter to Gaius the Monk, says that “the transcendent darknesses of God” which he names the abundance of light overwhelm every light and are hidden from all cognition. And if someone seeing God understood what he saw, he did not see Him but something of these things which are His.” Therefore no created intellect will be able to see God in His essence.


<5.> Furthermore, as Dionysius says in Letter 5 to Dorotheus, “the invisible God is existing in surpassing brightness.” But as His brightness surpasses the intellect of human beings in this life, so too it surpasses the intellect of human beings in heaven. Therefore, as He is invisible in this life, so too will He be invisible in heaven.


<6.> Furthermore, since the intelligible is the perfection of intellect, it is necessary that there be some proportion between intellect and intelligible, [as there is between] what is able to see and what is seen. But one does not take there to be some proportion between our intellect and the divine essence since they are infinitely distant [from one another].  Therefore, our intellect cannot attain to the vision of God in His essence.


<7.> Furthermore, God is more distant from our intellect than a created intelligible from sense. But sense is in no way able to attain to the vision of a spiritual creature. Therefore, neither can our intellect attain to the vision of the divine essence.


<8.> Furthermore, whenever the intellect understands something in act, it is necessary that it be informed through a likeness of what is understood, which is the principle of intellectual operation determined in reference to such an object, as heat is the principle of warming.  If, therefore, our intellect understands God, it is necessary that it come about through some likeness informing the intellect itself.  However, this cannot be the divine essence itself, because it is necessary that there be one being belonging to the form and the formed. But the divine intelligence differs from our intellect in essence and being.  It is necessary, therefore, that the form by which our intellect is informed in understanding God be some likeness impressed by God upon our intellect. But, since it is something created, that likeness cannot lead to the cognition of God except as effect to cause. Therefore, it is impossible for our intellect to see God except through His effect. But the vision of God which is through effects is not the vision of God in His essence. Therefore our intellect will not be able to see God in His essence.

[22709] <9.> Furthermore, the divine essence is more distant from our intellect than any angel or intelligence. But, as Avicenna says in his Metaphysics, for the intelligence to be in our intellect is not for the essence of the intelligence to be in the intellect, because in this way the knowledge which we have concerning intelligences would be a substance, not an accident. But this is for the impression of the intelligence to be in our intellect. Therefore, God as well is not in our intellect to be understood by us except insofar as His impression is in the intellect.  But that impression cannot lead to the cognition of the divine essence because, the intellect, since it is infinitely distant from the divine essence, would degenerate into another species much more fully than if the species of white were to degenerate into the species of black.  Therefore, as that person in whose vision the species of white degenerates into the species of black is not said to see white on account of the lack of a disposition of the organ, so too neither would our intellect which understands God only through an impression of this sort be able to see Him in His essence.

[22710] <10.> Furthermore, what understands and what is understood is the same in things separate from matter, as is clear in De Anima book 3. But God is separate from matter in the greatest degree. Therefore, since the intellect which is created cannot attain to becoming an uncreated essence, it could not be the case that our intellect see God in His essence.


<11.> Furthermore, everything which is seen in its essence is such that concerning it one knows what it is.  But concerning God the intellect is not able to see what He is but only what He is not, as Dionysius and Damascene say.  Therefore, the intellect cannot see God in His essence.


<12.> Furthermore, everything infinite, insofar as it is infinite, is unknown. But God is infinite in every way. Therefore He is altogether unknown. Therefore, He cannot be seen in His essence by a created intellect.


<13.> Furthermore, [ps.]Augustine says in the book On Seeing God, “God is an invisible nature.” But these things which are present in God by nature cannot be related otherwise.  Therefore it cannot be that He is seen in His essence.


<14.> Furthermore, everything which is in a different mode and is seen in a different mode is not seen as what it is.  But God is /exists in a different mode and is seen in a different mode by the saints in heaven. For He exists in virtue of His own mode. Therefore He will not be seen by the saints as He is and so He will not be seen in His essence.


<15.> Furthermore, that which is seen through a medium is not seen in its essence. But in heaven God is seen through a medium which is the light of glory, as is clear in Psalm 35, 10: we will see the light in your light. Therefore He will not be seen in His essence.


<16.> Furthermore, in heaven God is seen face to face, as is said in 1 Corinthians 13. But a man whom we see face to face we see through a likeness. Therefore in heaven God will be seen through a likeness and so not through His essence.


But contrary is what is said at 1 Corinthians 13: “Now we see in a mirror and in darkness; then, however, face to face.” But that which is seen face to face is seen in its essence. Therefore, God will be seen in His essence by the saints in heaven.


Furthermore, [consider] 1 John 3, 2: When He will have appeared, we will be like Him and we will see him as He is. Therefore, we will see Him in His essence.

[22719] Furthermore, [consider] 1 Corinthians 14, on that: When he will have handed over reign to God and heaven, the Gloss says: There (namely in heaven) the essence of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will be seen. This will be given only to pure hearts. Highest happiness is this. Therefore, the blessed will see God in His essence.


Furthermore, it is said at John 14, “If anyone loves me, he will be loved by my Father; and I will love him and I will show myself to him.” But that which is shown is seen in an essential way. Therefore, God will be seen in an essential way by the saints in heaven.


Furthermore, [consider] Exodus 33.  Regarding the [passage] “No man will see me and live,” Gregory refutes the opinion of those who used to say that in that region of beatitude God can be seen in his brightness, but He cannot be seen in His nature. [Gregory refutes it] because His brightness and His nature are not different. Rather, His nature is His essence. Therefore He is seen in His essence.


Furthermore, the desire of the saints cannot be altogether in vain. But the common desire of the saints is to see God in His essence, as is clear at Exodus 33, “Show me Your face;  and in the Psalm, “Show your face and we will be saved”; and John XIV, “Show us the Father and this is enough for us.  Therefore the saints will see God in His essence.

[22723]  (A) I respond that it should be said that as according to  faith we hold that the ultimate end  of human life is the vision of God; so too the philosophers asserted that the ultimate happiness of human beings is to understand substances separate from matter in being.  For this reason the same difficulty and diversity concerning this question is found in the philosophers and in the theologians.  For some philosophers asserted that our possible intellect can never reach the understanding of separate substances, as  [in the case of] al-Farabi at the end of his [Commentary on the Nicomachean] Ethics, although he said the contrary in his Book on the Intellect, as the Commentator indicates in [Book] 3 of [his Long Commentary ] on the Soul.  Likewise some theologians have asserted that the human intellect can never attain the vision of God in His essence. 

(B) What moves both groups to this view is the distance between our intellect and the divine essence or  the other separate substances.  For, although the intellect in act is in some way one with the intelligible in act, it seems difficult for the created intellect to become the uncreated essence in some way; whence also Chrysostom says,  “For does the created somehow see the uncreated?”  The greater difficulty in this is for those who assert the possible intellect to be generable and corruptible, such that  it is a power dependent on the body not only with respect to the divine vision, but with respect to the vision of any separated substances. 

(C) But this position can in no way stand. First, because it is contrary to the authority of canonic Scripture, as Augustine says in the book, De uidendo Deum. Secondly, because,  since understanding is an operation most fully proper to human beings, it is necessary that its happiness assigned to it be in accord with this, since this operation is complete in itself. Since however the perfection of understanding,  insofar as it is of this sort, is the intelligible itself, if a human being does not attain vision of the divine essence in the most perfect operation of the intellect but [attains] something else, it will be necessary to say that something else other than God is what provides ultimate happiness for man himself.  And since the ultimate perfection of anything is in the conjoining with its principle, it follows that something else other than God is the efficient principle of human beings. [But] that  is absurd in our view and likewise absurd among the philosophers who assert that our souls emanate from the separate substances, so that ultimately we are able to understand these [separate substances].

(D) Consequently it is necessary in our view to assert that our intellect some times attains to the vision of the divine essence and in the view of the philosophers that [our intellect] attains to the vision of the essence of the separate substances.  However, how this can take place remains to be investigated.  For some, such as al-Farabi and Ibn Bajjah, said that from the fact that our intellect understands any intelligibles whatsoever, it attains to the vision of the essence of separate substance, and they proceed to show this in two ways.

(E) The first of these is that, as the nature of the species is not diversified in diverse individuals except insofar as it is conjoined to individuating principles, so too the form understood belong to a human being is not diversified in me and in you, except  insofar as it is conjoined to diuerse forms of the imagination. And for this reason when our intellect separates [= 'abstracts']  the form understood from the forms of the imagination, what results is the understood quiddity which is one and the same for diverse understanding [human beings].  The quiddity of the separate substance is of this sort.  And for this reason, when our intellect reaches the highest abstraction of any intelligible quiddity,  it understands by this the quiddity of the separate substance which is like to it.

(F) The second way is, because our intellect is naturally constituted to abstract the quiddity from all intelligibles having quiddity.  If therefore a quiddity which it abstracts from a singular having quiddity is a quiddity not having a quiddity, then by understanding it, [our intellect]  understands the quiddity of the separate substance which is of such a disposition because separate substances are quiddities subsisting without having [further] quiddities.    For, as Avicenna says, the quiddity of something simple is itself simple.  However, if the quiddity abstracted from this particular sensible is a quiddity having a quiddity, therefore the intellect is naturally constituted to abstract that [quiddity].  In this way,  since it may not go into infinity [with these abstractions],  [the intellect] will come to the quiddity not having a quiddity through which the separate quiddity is understood. 

(G) But that way does not seem sufficient. 

First, because the quiddity of the material substance which the intellect abstracts is not of one ratio with the quiddities of separate substances.  Thus, through the fact that our intellect abstracts the quiddities of material things and knows them it does not follow that it knows the quiddity of a separate substance, and  above all the divine essence which is of a ratio altogether different from every created quiddity. 

(H) Second, because, given that it would be of one ratio,  nevertheless when the quiddity of a composite substance has been known,  the quiddity of a separate substance would not be known except according to the most remote genus, which is substance.  But this knowing is imperfect unless it attains to the properties of the thing.  For one who knows man insofar as he is an animal does not know him except  in a qualified way and in potentiality, and much less does he know him,  if he knows only the nature of the substance in him.  Consequently, to know God or the other separate substances in this way is not to see the divine essence or the quiddity of a separate substance but it is to know through the effect and, as it were, in a mirror.

(I) For this reason another way of understanding separate substances is set forth by Avicenna in his Metaphysics, namely, that the separate substances are understood by us through the intentions of their quiddities which are certain likenesses of them not abstracted from them — because they are themselves immaterial — but impressed by these on our souls. 

(J) But this way also seems insufficient to us for the divine vision which we seek.  For it is evident  that everything which is received in something is in this in the mode of the recipient.  And for this reason the likeness of the divine essence impressed by it on our intellect will be through the mode of our intellect.  However, the mode of our intellect is deficient for the perfect reception of the divine likeness.  The defect / lack of the perfect likeness  can take place in as many ways as dissimilarity is found.  For in one way the likeness is deficient when the form is participated  according to the same  ratio of the species, but not according to the same mode of perfection, as the likeness is deficient for what has a little bit of whiteness in regard to what has much [whiteness].   

(K) It is more deficient in still another  way, when it does not attain to the same ratio of the species, but only to the same ratio of the genus, as is the case for the likeness between what has the color of yellow and what has the color of white.  In yet another way it is more deficient, when  it concerns the same ratio of the genus, but only according to analogy, as is the case for the likeness of whiteness in relation to man insofar as each is a being.  In this mode the likeness which is received in the creature is deficient in reference to the divine essence.  When vision knows whiteness, it is necessary that the likeness of whiteness be received in it according to the ratio of its species, although not according to the same mode of being.  [This is] because the form in the sense has another mode of being than in the thing outside the soul.  For if the form of yellow were in the eye, it would not be said to see whiteness. Similarly,  when the intellect understands some quiddity, it is necessary that  the likeness of its ratio in species come to be in us, although perhaps the mode of being for each is not  the same. For the form existing in intellect or in sense is not the principle of knowing according to the mode of being it has in each, but according to the ratio in which it shares with the exterior thing.  In this way it is evident that  there is no likeness received in the created intellect by which God can in this way be understood such that His essence is seen immediately.  Hence, also,  some asserting that the divine essence is seen only through this mode said that the essence itself is not seen but some brightness, as if a ray of it.

(L) Consequently, that mode is not sufficient for the divine vision which we seek.  And for this reason another mode should be taken,  which also some philosophers have asserted, namely Alexander and Averroes in the 3rd Book of [the Long Commentary on] the De Anima.  For, since in any cognition there is some necessary form by which the thing is known or seen, that form by which the intellect is brought to seeing separate substances is not the quiddity which the intellect abstracts from composed things, as the first opinion said, nor is it some impression left by the separate substance in our intellect, as the second said.  Rather, it is the separate substance itself which is conjoined to our intellect as form, so that it is what is understood and that by which it is understood. 

(M) And whatever is the case for other separate substances, nevertheless, we must accept that mode in the vision of God in his essence,  because, by whatever other form our intellect is informed, it cannot be brought through that to the divine essence.  Indeed, it ought not to be understood as if the divine essence is the true form of our intellect or that out of  this and our intellect simply one thing is made, as in natural  things made from natural form and matter. Rather, [it should be understood to come about] because the relation of the divine essence  to our intellect is as the relation of form to matter.  For whenever there are any two things of which one is more perfect than the other and these are received  in the same recipient, there is a relation of one of the two to the other, namely of the more perfect to the less perfect, as is the relation of form to matter. [This is] just as when light and color are received in the diaphanous [medium] for which light is related to color as form to matter. So too when the intellective power is received in the soul and the divine essence is indwelling, although not in the same mode, the divine essence is related to the intellect as form to matter.

(N)   That this is sufficient for the intellect to be able to see the divine essence can be shown as follows.  For, as from a natural form, by which something has being, and from matter simply one being is made to exist, so too from a form by which the intellect  understands, and by the intellect itself,  it comes to be one in understanding.  However, in natural things, the thing subsisting per se cannot be the form of some matter, if that thing has its own material part, because it cannot be that matter is the form of something; but if that thing subsisting per se is form only, nothing prevents it from being made the form of some matter and becoming that with which it belongs to the composite itself, as is evident concerning the soul.   However, in the case of the intellect, it is necessary that the intellect itself in potency be taken as matter and the intelligible species as form; the intellect  understanding in act will be as something composed of each.  Consequently, if  there is some thing subsisting per se which has in itself nothing more than what is intelligible in itself, such a thing per se will be able to be a form by which it is understood.  However, any given thing is intelligible insofar as it is in act, not insofar as it is in potency, as is evident in Book 9 of Aristotle's Metaphysics

The indication of this is that it is necessary to abstract intelligible form from matter and all the properties of matter.  For this reason,  since the divine essence is pure act,  it can be a form by which the intellect understands, and this will be the beatific vision.  Because of this the Master [Peter Lombard] says in distinction 1 of book 2 of the Sentences, that the union of the soul to the body is an example of the blessed union by which the spirit is united to God.


<1.> In response to the first [objection], therefore, it should be said that that authority can be explained in three ways, as is clear in virtue of [what] Augustine [writes] in the book De uidendo Deum. [It can be explained] in one way such that bodily vision by which no one has seen or is [ever] going to see God in His essence is excluded, as he says.  Another way is such that the intellectual vision of God in His essence is excluded from those who live in this mortal flesh.  By another way the vision of comprehension is excluded from the created intellect.  This is how Chrysostomus understands [it], since he adds, “The Evangelist speaks with most certain awareness of this; and the Father has comprehension so great as this concerning the Son; this is the understanding of the Evangelist.” Hence he [also] adds, “The only begotten Son who” etc.,  wishing to prove the Son to be God by a comprehensive vision.


<2.> In response to the second [objection] it should be said that, as God exceeds all existing things which have determinate being through his infinite essence, so too His cognition by which He knows is above every cognition. Hence, that proportion of our cognition to created begins is the proportion of divine cognition to His essence.

However, two things coincide for cognition, the one cognizing and that of which there is cognition.  But that by which we will see God in His essence is the same as the vision by which God sees Himself, and in this fashion we [too] will see [Him].  But there is found a diuersity which is between the divine intellect and ours from the standpoint of the one cognizing.  In cognizing, however, that which is cognized follows / is subsequent to the form by which we have cognition, because we see the stone through the form of the stone.  But the efficacy in cognizing follows upon the power of the one cognizing, just as one who has strong sight sees more acutely. For this reason in that vision we will see the same thing which God sees, namely His essence, but not so well [as does God].


<3.> In response to the third it should be said that Dionysius speaks there concerning the  cognition by which we cognize God in this life through a created form by which our intellect is formed for seeing Him.  But, as Augustine says, God escapes every form of our intellect, because, whenever our intellect conceives any form, that form does not belong to the ratio of the divine essence. And for this reason He cannot be impassable to our intellect but rather in this we cognize him most perfectly in this life because we know Him to be above everything which our intellect is able to conceive. In this way we are joined to Him even as  an unknown.  But in heaven we will see that very thing through a form which is His essence and we will be conjoined to Him as something known [by us].

[22727] <4.> In response to the fourth objection it should be said that God is light, as is said in John 1, 1. However, light is an impression of the light in something illuminated. And because the divine essence is of another mode than every likeness of Him impressed on the intellect, for this reason he says that the divine darknesses are operative within ever light, because the divine essence which he calls darknesses remains unrevealed through an impression belonging to our intellect on account of an excess of brightness. In virtue of this it follows that it is hidden from every cognition, and thus [regarding] anyone at all among those seeing God who conceives something with the mind, this is not God but one of the divine effects.

[22728]  <5.>In response to the fifth objection it should be said that the brightness of God, although it exceeds every form by which the intellect is now formed, nevertheless does not exceed the divine essence itself which will be, as it were, the form of our intellect in heaven.  For this reason, although now He is invisible, then nevertheless He will be visible.

[22729] <6.> To the sixth objection it should be said that, although there can be no proportion of the finite to the infinite because the excess of the infinite beyond the finite is indeterminate, nevertheless between these there can be be a proportionality which is a likeness of proportions, for just as a finite thing can be equated with some finite thing, so too an infinite to an infinite.  However, when something is completely cognized, sometimes it is necessary there there be a proportion between cognizer and what is cognized, because it is necessary that the power of the cognizer be adequate to the cognizability of what is cognized. Equality, however is a certain proportion. But sometimes cognoscability of the thing exceeds the power of the cognizer, as when we cognize God or the reverse,  as when He cognizes creatures.

Then there need not be a proportion between cognizer and what is cognized, but only a proportionality, as namely as the one cognizing is related to what is to be cognized, so too is what is able to be cognized related to what is cognized.  Such a proportionality suffices for the infinite to be cognized by the finite and the converse.  Or it should be said that the proposition according to the first imposition of the name signifies the disposition of quantity to quantity according to some determined excess or equality. But it is further applied / transferred to signifying every disposition of one thing to another.  In this way we say that matter ought to be proportioned to form; and in this way nothing prevents our intellect, although it is finite, from being said to be proportioned to seeing the infinite divine essence, although nevertheless not to comprehend it on account of its immensity.


<7.> To the seventh objection it should be said that likeness and distance are twofold. One is according to similarity (secundum convenientiam) in nature, in this way God is more distant from the created intellect than a created intelligible from sense. Another [is] according to proportionality and in this way it is the converse, because sense is not proportioned to cognizing something immaterial; rather, intellect is proportioned to cognizing anything immaterial.  This likeness is required for cognition, however [that is] not [the case for] the first, because it is the case that the intellect understanding a stone is not similar to it in natural being, as also sight apprehends red / ruddy honey and red  / ruddy bile, although it does not apprehend sweet honey, for  the redness / ruddiness  of honey is more in accord with bile insofar as it is visible, than the sweetness of honey with bile.


<8.> To the eighth objection is should be said that in the vision by which God will be seen in His essence, the divine essence itself will be as the form of the intellect which understands. It is not necessary that they be made one in being absolutely but only that they come to be a one to the extent that it pertains to the act of understanding, as was said above.

[22732] <9.> To the ninth objection it should be said that we do not maintain the statement of Avicenna regarding this because he is also contradicted by other philosophers regarding what Avicenna understands concerning the cognition of separate substances, insofar as they are cognized through the dispositions of the speculative sciences and by the likenesses of other things.  Hence he introduces this to show that science is not a substance in us but an accident. Nevertheless, although the divine essence is more distant in the propriety of its nature from our intellect than the substance of an angel, nevertheless he has more of the notion (ratio) of intelligibility because it is pure act with which no potency is mixed, which does not occur in other separate substances.  Nor will that cognition by which we will see God in His essence, on the part of this which will be seen, be in the genus of accident but only with respect to the act of the very thing understanding, which will not be the substance of the one understanding or of the thing understood.

[22733] To the tenth objection it should be said that a substance separate from matter understands itself and understands other things.  In both ways the authority cited can be verified. For, since the very essence of a separate substance is intelligible in itself in act, because it is separate from matter, it follows that, when a separate substance understands itself, what understands and what is understood are the same in every way.  For it does not understand itself through some intention separate from itself, as we understand material things.  This seems to be the understanding of the Philosophy in De Anima 3, as is held by the Commentator in the same place. Insofar as it understands other things, what is understood in act comes to be one with the intellect in act, insofar as the form of what is understood comes to be the form of the intellect, insofar as it is intellect in act, not because it is the very essence of the intellect, as Avicenna proves in Book 6 of De naturalibus.  [This is] because the essence of the intellect remains one under two forms, insofar as it understands two things successively, after the manner by which prime matter remains one under two diuerse forms. Hence also the Commentator in De Anima 3 also compares the possible intellect to the state of prime matter (quantum ad hoc materie prime).  And so it in no way follows that our intellect seeing God will come to be the divine essence, but rather the essence itself is compared to it as perfection and form.

[22734] <11.> To the eleventh objection it should be said that those authorities and all similar ones should be understood concerning the cognition by which we know God in this life, on the basis of the earlier reasoning.

[22735] <12.> To the twelfth it should be said that infinite said privatively is unknown, insofar as it is of this sort, because it is said through removal of the complement, by which there is cognition of the thing. Hence, the infinite is reduced to matter subject to privation, as is clear in Physics 3. But infinite taken negatively is indicated by the removal of determinate matter, because form is also in some way determined by matter.  Hence, infinite in this way of itself is cognizable to the highest degree; and in this way God is infinite.


<13.> To the thirteenth it should be said that Augustine speaks of the bodily vision by which He will never be seen. This is evident from what is said earlier: For as those visible things which are named are seen, no one has ever seen God nor can [anyone]. He is a nature invisible as also incorruptible. However, just as He is being to the greatest extent according to His nature, so too in His own right He is intelligible to the greatest extent. But that He is not understood by us sometimes is from our defect; hence, what may be seen after it was not seen by us is not from His change but ours.


<14.> To the fourteenth it should be said that God in heaven will be seen by the saints as He is, if this refers to the mode of what is itself seen, for God will be seen by the saints to have that mode which He has. But if the mode refers to the cognizing itself, He will not be seen as He is, because the efficacy of a created intellect for seeing will not be so great as the efficacy of the divine essence with regard to what is understood.


<15.> To the fifthteenth objection it should be said that the medium in bodily vision and intellectual [vision] is found to be threefold.  The first is the medium under which it is seen; this is what perfects vision for seeing in general, not determining vision to some special object, as bodily light is related to bodily vision and the light of the agent intellect to the possible intellect.  The second is the medium by which it is seen; this is the visible form by which each power of vision is determined to a special object, as by the form of the stone for cognizing the stone.

The third is the medium in which it is seen. This is that through the inspection of which sight is brought to another thing, as by inspecting a mirror one is led to these things which are represented in the mirror and by seeing the image one is led to the object imaged [in the mirror].  In this way too through the cognition of the effect the intellect is led to the cause, or the converse.  In the vision characteristic of heaven there will not be a third medium, as if God were cognized through the species of other things, as He is now cognized by means of the ratio regarding which we are said now to see in a mirror.  Nor will there be there a second medium because the very divine essence will be that by which our intellect will see God, as is evident from what has been said. But there will be there only the first medium which will elevate our intellect to this which can be conjoined with the uncreated essence in the way mentioned.  But by this medium a mediated cognition is not meant because it does not fall between the cognizer and the thing cognized, but rather it is that which gives to the one cognizing the power of cognizing.


<16.> To the sixteenth objection it should be said that bodily creatures are not said to be immediately seen, except when that which is in them can be joined with vision is [actually] joined to it. However, they are not able to be joined through its essence by reason of materiality. For this reason then they are seen immediately when the likeness of these is joined to the intellect. But God is able to be joined to the intellect in essence.  Hence, He would not be seen immediately unless His essence were conjoined to the intellect; this unmediated vision is called vision of the face.

Furthermore, the likeness of a bodily thing is received in vision according to the same ratio which is in the thing, although not according to the same mode of being. For this reason that likeness leads to that thing directly.  However, some likeness is unable in this way to lead our intellect to God, as is clear from the things said. On account of this it is not similar.