Summa Theologiae by St Thomas Aquinas
SS: Treatise On The Theological Virtues
Q17 Of Hope, Considered In Itself
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A8 Whether charity precedes hope?

[a] Objection 1:
It would seem that charity precedes hope. For Ambrose says on Lk. 27:6, "If you had faith like to a grain of mustard seed," etc.: "Charity flows from faith, and hope from charity." But faith precedes charity. Therefore charity precedes hope.

[b] Objection 2:
Further, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 9) that "good emotions and affections proceed from love and holy charity." Now to hope, considered as an act of hope, is a good emotion of the soul. Therefore it flows from charity.

[c] Objection 3:
Further, the Master says (Sent. iii, D, 26) that hope proceeds from merits, which precede not only the thing hoped for, but also hope itself, which, in the order of nature, is preceded by charity. Therefore charity precedes hope.

[d] On the contrary,
The Apostle says (1 Tim. 1:5): "The end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and a good conscience," i. e. "from hope," according to a gloss. Therefore hope precedes charity.

[e] I answer that,
Order is twofold. One is the order of generation and of matter, in respect of which the imperfect precedes the perfect: the other is the order of perfection and form, in respect of which the perfect naturally precedes the imperfect. In respect of the first order hope precedes charity: and this is clear from the fact that hope and all movements of the appetite flow from love, as stated above ([2445] FS, Q [27], A [4]; [2446] FS, Q [28], A [6], ad 2; [2447] FS, Q [40], A [7]) in the treatise on the passions.

[f] Now there is a perfect, and an imperfect love. Perfect love is that whereby a man is loved in himself, as when someone wishes a person some good for his own sake; thus a man loves his friend. Imperfect love is that whereby a man love something, not for its own sake, but that he may obtain that good for himself; thus a man loves what he desires. The first love of God pertains to charity, which adheres to God for His own sake; while hope pertains to the second love, since he that hopes, intends to obtain possession of something for himself.

[g] Hence in the order of generation, hope precedes charity. For just as a man is led to love God, through fear of being punished by Him for his sins, as Augustine states (In primam canon. Joan. Tract. ix), so too, hope leads to charity, in as much as a man through hoping to be rewarded by God, is encouraged to love God and obey His commandments. On the other hand, in the order of perfection charity naturally precedes hope, wherefore, with the advent of charity, hope is made more perfect, because we hope chiefly in our friends. It is in this sense that Ambrose states (OBJ [1]) that charity flows from hope: so that this suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.

[h] Reply to Objection 2:
Hope and every movement of the appetite proceed from some kind of love, whereby the expected good is loved. But not every kind of hope proceeds from charity, but only the movement of living hope, viz. that whereby man hopes to obtain good from God, as from a friend.

[i] Reply to Objection 3:
The Master is speaking of living hope, which is naturally preceded by charity and the merits caused by charity.