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Read Summa Theologica Part II (Pars Prima Secundae) Part 173

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Obj. 3: Further, who holds the container holds the contents. If, therefore, the New Law is contained in the Old, it follows that whoever had the Old Law had the New: so that it was superfluous to give men a New Law when once they had the Old. Therefore the New Law is not contained in the Old.

_On the contrary,_ As expressed in Ezech. 1:16, there was “a wheel in the midst of a wheel,” i.e. “the New Testament within the Old,”

according to Gregory’s exposition.

_I answer that,_ One thing may be contained in another in two ways.

First, actually; as a located thing is in a place. Secondly, virtually; as an effect in its cause, or as the complement in that which is incomplete; thus a genus contains its species, and a seed contains the whole tree, virtually. It is in this way that the New Law is contained in the Old: for it has been stated (A. 1) that the New Law is compared to the Old as perfect to imperfect. Hence Chrysostom, expounding Mk. 4:28, “The earth of itself bringeth forth fruit, first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the full corn in the ear,” expresses himself as follows: “He brought forth first the blade, i.e. the Law of Nature; then the ear, i.e. the Law of Moses; lastly, the full corn, i.e. the Law of the Gospel.” Hence then the New Law is in the Old as the corn in the ear.

Reply Obj. 1: Whatsoever is set down in the New Testament explicitly and openly as a point of faith, is contained in the Old Testament as a matter of belief, but implicitly, under a figure. And accordingly, even as to those things which we are bound to believe, the New Law is contained in the Old.

Reply Obj. 2: The precepts of the New Law are said to be greater than those of the Old Law, in the point of their being set forth explicitly. But as to the substance itself of the precepts of the New Testament, they are all contained in the Old. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xix, 23, 28) that “nearly all Our Lord’s admonitions or precepts, where He expressed Himself by saying: ‘But I say unto you,’ are to be found also in those ancient books. Yet, since they thought that murder was only the slaying of the human body, Our Lord declared to them that every wicked impulse to hurt our brother is to be looked on as a kind of murder.” And it is in the point of declarations of this kind that the precepts of the New Law are said to be greater than those of the Old. Nothing, however, prevents the greater from being contained in the lesser virtually; just as a tree is contained in the seed.

Reply Obj. 3: What is set forth implicitly needs to be declared explicitly. Hence after the publishing of the Old Law, a New Law also had to be given.


FOURTH ARTICLE [I-II, Q. 107, Art. 4]

Whether the New Law Is More Burdensome Than the Old?

Objection 1: It would seem that the New Law is more burdensome than the Old. For Chrysostom (Opus Imp. in Matth., Hom. x [*The work of an unknown author]) say: “The commandments given to Moses are easy to obey: Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not commit adultery: but the commandments of Christ are difficult to accomplish, for instance: Thou shalt not give way to anger, or to l.u.s.t.” Therefore the New Law is more burdensome than the Old.

Obj. 2: Further, it is easier to make use of earthly prosperity than to suffer tribulations. But in the Old Testament observance of the Law was followed by temporal prosperity, as may be gathered from Deut. 28:1-14; whereas many kinds of trouble ensue to those who observe the New Law, as stated in 2 Cor. 6:4-10: “Let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of G.o.d, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses,” etc. Therefore the New Law is more burdensome than the Old.

Obj. 3: The more one has to do, the more difficult it is. But the New Law is something added to the Old. For the Old Law forbade perjury, while the New Law proscribed even swearing: the Old Law forbade a man to cast off his wife without a bill of divorce, while the New Law forbade divorce altogether; as is clearly stated in Matt. 5:31, seqq., according to Augustine’s expounding. Therefore the New Law is more burdensome than the Old.

_On the contrary,_ It is written (Matt. 11:28): “Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened”: which words are expounded by Hilary thus: “He calls to Himself all those that labor under the difficulty of observing the Law, and are burdened with the sins of this world.”

And further on He says of the yoke of the Gospel: “For My yoke is sweet and My burden light.” Therefore the New Law is a lighter burden than the Old.

_I answer that,_ A twofold difficulty may attach to works of virtue with which the precepts of the Law are concerned. One is on the part of the outward works, which of themselves are, in a way, difficult and burdensome. And in this respect the Old Law is a much heavier burden than the New: since the Old Law by its numerous ceremonies prescribed many more outward acts than the New Law, which, in the teaching of Christ and the apostles, added very few precepts to those of the natural law; although afterwards some were added, through being inst.i.tuted by the holy Fathers. Even in these Augustine says that moderation should be observed, lest good conduct should become a burden to the faithful. For he says in reply to the queries of Januarius (Ep. lv) that, “whereas G.o.d in His mercy wished religion to be a free service rendered by the public solemnization of a small number of most manifest sacraments, certain persons make it a slave’s burden; so much so that the state of the Jews who were subject to the sacraments of the Law, and not to the presumptuous devices of man, was more tolerable.”

The other difficulty attaches to works of virtue as to interior acts: for instance, that a virtuous deed be done with prompt.i.tude and pleasure. It is this difficulty that virtue solves: because to act thus is difficult for a man without virtue: but through virtue it becomes easy for him. In this respect the precepts of the New Law are more burdensome than those of the Old; because the New Law prohibits certain interior movements of the soul, which were not expressly forbidden in the Old Law in all cases, although they were forbidden in some, without, however, any punishment being attached to the prohibition. Now this is very difficult to a man without virtue: thus even the Philosopher states (Ethic. v, 9) that it is easy to do what a righteous man does; but that to do it in the same way, viz. with pleasure and prompt.i.tude, is difficult to a man who is not righteous.

Accordingly we read also (1 John 5:3) that “His commandments are not heavy”: which words Augustine expounds by saying that “they are not heavy to the man that loveth; whereas they are a burden to him that loveth not.”

Reply Obj. 1: The pa.s.sage quoted speaks expressly of the difficulty of the New Law as to the deliberate curbing of interior movements.

Reply Obj. 2: The tribulations suffered by those who observe the New Law are not imposed by the Law itself. Moreover they are easily borne, on account of the love in which the same Law consists: since, as Augustine says (De Verb. Dom., Serm. lxx), “love makes light and nothing of things that seem arduous and beyond our power.”

Reply Obj. 3: The object of these additions to the precepts of the Old Law was to render it easier to do what it prescribed, as Augustine states [*De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 17, 21; xix, 23, 26].

Accordingly this does not prove that the New Law is more burdensome, but rather that it is a lighter burden.




We must now consider those things that are contained in the New Law: under which head there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether the New Law ought to prescribe or to forbid any outward works?

(2) Whether the New Law makes sufficient provision in prescribing and forbidding external acts?

(3) Whether in the matter of internal acts it directs man sufficiently?

(4) Whether it fittingly adds counsels to precepts?


FIRST ARTICLE [I-II, Q. 108, Art. 1]

Whether the New Law Ought to Prescribe or Prohibit Any External Acts?

Objection 1: It would seem that the New Law should not prescribe or prohibit any external acts. For the New Law is the Gospel of the kingdom, according to Matt. 24:14: “This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world.” But the kingdom of G.o.d consists not in exterior, but only in interior acts, according to Luke 17:21: “The kingdom of G.o.d is within you”; and Rom. 14:17: “The kingdom of G.o.d is not meat and drink; but justice and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Therefore the New Law should not prescribe or forbid any external acts.

Obj. 2: Further, the New Law is “the law of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:2).

But “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor.

3:17). Now there is no liberty when man is bound to do or avoid certain external acts. Therefore the New Law does not prescribe or forbid any external acts.

Obj. 3: Further, all external acts are understood as referable to the hand, just as interior acts belong to the mind. But this is a.s.signed as the difference between the New and Old Laws that the “Old Law restrains the hand, whereas the New Law curbs the will” [*Peter Lombard, Sent. iii, D, 40]. Therefore the New Law should not contain prohibitions and commands about exterior deeds, but only about interior acts.

_On the contrary,_ Through the New Law, men are made “children of light”: wherefore it is written (John 12:36): “Believe in the light that you may be the children of light.” Now it is becoming that children of the light should do deeds of light and cast aside deeds of darkness, according to Eph. 5:8: “You were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk … as children of the light.”

Therefore the New Law had to forbid certain external acts and prescribe others.

_I answer that,_ As stated above (Q. 106, AA. 1, 2), the New Law consists chiefly in the grace of the Holy Ghost, which is shown forth by faith that worketh through love. Now men become receivers of this grace through G.o.d’s Son made man, Whose humanity grace filled first, and thence flowed forth to us. Hence it is written (John 1:14): “The Word was made flesh,” and afterwards: “full of grace and truth”; and further on: “Of His fulness we all have received, and grace for grace.” Hence it is added that “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Consequently it was becoming that the grace which flows from the incarnate Word should be given to us by means of certain external sensible objects; and that from this inward grace, whereby the flesh is subjected to the Spirit, certain external works should ensue.

Accordingly external acts may have a twofold connection with grace.

In the first place, as leading in some way to grace. Such are the sacramental acts which are inst.i.tuted in the New Law, e.g. Baptism, the Eucharist, and the like.

In the second place there are those external acts which ensue from the promptings of grace: and herein we must observe a difference. For there are some which are necessarily in keeping with, or in opposition to inward grace consisting in faith that worketh through love. Such external works are prescribed or forbidden in the New Law; thus confession of faith is prescribed, and denial of faith is forbidden; for it is written (Matt. 10:32, 33) “(Every one) that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father … But he that shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father.” On the other hand, there are works which are not necessarily opposed to, or in keeping with faith that worketh through love. Such works are not prescribed or forbidden in the New Law, by virtue of its primitive inst.i.tution; but have been left by the Lawgiver, i.e. Christ, to the discretion of each individual. And so to each one it is free to decide what he should do or avoid; and to each superior, to direct his subjects in such matters as regards what they must do or avoid. Wherefore also in this respect the Gospel is called the “law of liberty” [*Cf. Reply Obj. 2]: since the Old Law decided many points and left few to man to decide as he chose.

Reply Obj. 1: The kingdom of G.o.d consists chiefly in internal acts: but as a consequence all things that are essential to internal acts belong also to the kingdom of G.o.d. Thus if the kingdom of G.o.d is internal righteousness, peace, and spiritual joy, all external acts that are incompatible with righteousness, peace, and spiritual joy, are in opposition to the kingdom of G.o.d; and consequently should be forbidden in the Gospel of the kingdom. On the other hand, those things that are indifferent as regards the aforesaid, for instance, to eat of this or that food, are not part of the kingdom of G.o.d; wherefore the Apostle says before the words quoted: “The kingdom of G.o.d is not meat and drink.”

Reply Obj. 2: According to the Philosopher (Metaph. i, 2), what is “free is cause of itself.” Therefore he acts freely, who acts of his own accord. Now man does of his own accord that which he does from a habit that is suitable to his nature: since a habit inclines one as a second nature. If, however, a habit be in opposition to nature, man would not act according to his nature, but according to some corruption affecting that nature. Since then the grace of the Holy Ghost is like an interior habit bestowed on us and inclining us to act aright, it makes us do freely those things that are becoming to grace, and shun what is opposed to it.

Accordingly the New Law is called the law of liberty in two respects.

First, because it does not bind us to do or avoid certain things, except such as are of themselves necessary or opposed to salvation, and come under the prescription or prohibition of the law. Secondly, because it also makes us comply freely with these precepts and prohibitions, inasmuch as we do so through the promptings of grace.

It is for these two reasons that the New Law is called “the law of perfect liberty” (James 1:25).

Reply Obj. 3: The New Law, by restraining the mind from inordinate movements, must needs also restrain the hand from inordinate acts, which ensue from inward movements.


SECOND ARTICLE [I-II, Q. 108, Art. 2]

Whether the New Law Made Sufficient Ordinations About External Acts?

Objection 1: It would seem that the New Law made insufficient ordinations about external acts. Because faith that worketh through charity seems chiefly to belong to the New Law, according to Gal.

5:6: “In Christ Jesus neither circ.u.mcision availeth anything, nor uncirc.u.mcision: but faith that worketh through charity.” But the New Law declared explicitly certain points of faith which were not set forth explicitly in the Old Law; for instance, belief in the Trinity.

Therefore it should also have added certain outward moral deeds, which were not fixed in the Old Law.

Obj. 2: Further, in the Old Law not only were sacraments inst.i.tuted, but also certain sacred things, as stated above (Q. 101, A. 4; Q.

102, A. 4). But in the New Law, although certain sacraments are inst.i.tuted by Our Lord; for instance, pertaining either to the sanctification of a temple or of the vessels, or to the celebration of some particular feast. Therefore the New Law made insufficient ordinations about external matters.


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