After treating individually of all the virtues and vices that pertain to men of all conditions and estates, we must now consider those things which pertain especially to certain men.
Now there is a triple difference between men as regards things connected with the soul's habits and acts.
First, in reference to the various gratuitous graces, according to 1 Cor. 12:4, 7: "There are diversities of graces... and to one... by the Spirit is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge," etc. Another difference arises from the diversities of life, namely the active and the contemplative life, which correspond to diverse purposes of operation, wherefore it is stated (1 Cor. 12:4, 7) that "there are diversities of operations."
For the purpose of operation in Martha, who "was busy about much serving," which pertains to the active life, differed from the purpose of operation in Mary, "who sitting... at the Lord's feet, heard His word" (Lk. 10:39, 40), which pertains to the contemplative life.
A third difference corresponds to the various duties and states of life, as expressed in Eph. 4:11, "And He gave some apostles; and some prophets; and other some evangelists; and other some pastors and doctors": and this pertains to diversity of ministries, of which it is written (1 Cor. 12:5): "There are diversities of ministries."
With regard to gratuitous graces, which are the first object to be considered, it must be observed that some of them pertain to knowledge, some to speech, and some to operation.
Now all things pertaining to knowledge may be comprised under "prophecy," since prophetic revelation extends not only to future events relating to man, but also to things relating to God, both as to those which are to be believed by all and are matters of "faith," and as to yet higher mysteries, which concern the perfect and belong to "wisdom."
Again, prophetic revelation is about things pertaining to spiritual substances, by whom we are urged to good or evil; this pertains to the "discernment of spirits."
Moreover it extends to the direction of human acts, and this pertains to "knowledge," as we shall explain further on ( Q ).
Accordingly we must first of all consider prophecy, and rapture which is a degree of prophecy.
Prophecy admits of four heads of consideration: (1) its essence; (2) its cause; (3) the mode of prophetic knowledge; (4) the division of prophecy.
Under the first head there are six points of inquiry:
A Whether prophecy pertains to knowledge?
A Whether it is a habit?
A Whether it is only about future contingencies?
A Whether a prophet knows all possible matters of prophecy?
A Whether a prophet distinguishes that which he perceives by the gift of God, from that which he perceives by his own spirit?
A Whether anything false can be the matter of prophecy?