Summary Against Modern Thought: Nature’s Law

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The beginnings of natural law!

THAT SOME HUMAN ACTS ARE RIGHT ACCORDING TO NATURE AND NOT MERELY BECAUSE THEY ARE PRESCRIBED BY LAW

1 From the foregoing it is apparent that things prescribed by divine law are right, not only because they are put forth by law, but also because they are in accord with nature.

2 Indeed, as a result of the precepts of divine law, man’s mind is subordinated to God, and all other things that arc in man’s power are ordered under reason. Now, the natural order requires that lower things be subject to higher things. Therefore, the things prescribed by divine law are naturally right in themselves.

3 Again, men receive from divine providence a natural capacity for rational judgment, as a principle for their proper operations. Now, natural principles are ordered to natural results. So, there are certain operations that are naturally suitable for man, and they are right in themselves, not merely because they are prescribed by law.

4 Besides, there must be definite kinds of operations which are appropriate to a definite nature, whenever things have such a definite nature. In fact, the operation appropriate to a given being is a consequent of that nature. Now, it is obvious that there is a determinate kind of nature for man. Therefore, there must be some operations that are in themselves appropriate for man.

5 Moreover, whenever a certain thing is natural to any being, that without which this certain thing cannot be possessed must also be natural, “for nature is not defective in regard to necessary things.” But it is natural for man to be a social animal, and this is shown by the fact that one man alone does not suffice for all the things necessary to human life. So, the things without which human society cannot be maintained are naturally appropriate to man. Examples of such things are: to preserve for each man what is his own and to refrain from injuries. Therefore, there are some things among human acts that are naturally right.

6 Furthermore, we showed above that man has this natural endowment, he may use lower things for the needs of his life. Now, there is a definite measure according to which the use of the aforesaid things is proper to human life, and if this measure is set aside the result is harmful to man, as is evident in the immoderate eating of food. Therefore, there are some human acts that are naturally fitting and others that are naturally unfitting.

7 Again, according to the natural order, the body of man is for the sake of his soul and the lower powers of the soul are for the sake of reason, just as in other things matter is for the sake of form and instruments are for the sake of the principal agent.

But, because of one thing being ordered to another, it ought to furnish help to that other, and not offer it any hindrance. So, it is naturally right for the body and the lower powers of the soul to be so managed by man that thereby his activity of reason, and his good, are least hindered and are, instead, helped.

But, if it happens otherwise, the result will naturally be sinful. Therefore, drinking bouts and feastings, and inordinate sexual activities through which rational activity is hindered, and domination by the passions which do not permit free judgment of reason—these are naturally evil things.

Notes Funny that “science” only came to say it knows these things late.

8 Besides, those acts by which he inclines toward his natural end are naturally appropriate to an agent, but those that have the contrary effect are naturally inappropriate to the agent. Now, we showed above that man is naturally ordered to God as his end. Therefore, the things by which man is brought to the knowledge and love of God are naturally right, but whatever things have the contrary effect are naturally evil for man.

9 Therefore, it is clear that good and evil in human activities are based not only on the prescription of law, but also on the natural order.

10 Hence it is said in the Psalm (18:10): “the judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves.”

11 By this conclusion we set aside the position of those who say that things are just and right only because they are prescribed by law.

4 Thoughts

  1. At Easter, I’m often reminded of John 15: 9-17 (..) In this section of John, Jesus is reported as saying, ‘Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…Love each other’.(..) It is a brotherly and sisterly love of the sort that transcends superficial differences of class, gender, race, creed, and so on.(..)
    but Jesus goes further and tells us that sometimes the very greatest love MIGHT BE to offer yourself to save somebody else. I don’t think he’s expecting us to do this every moment of every day, or that we should all go around offering our very LIVES, but he IS suggesting it as the IDEAL when necessary, as the ultimate form of Love, and it’s worth reminding ourselves this Easter that this is exactly what Jesus DID later do, according to the Bible: by his own example, he lived that ideal and he laid down his life for his friends. And by ‘friends’ he didn’t just mean his listening disciples; rather, he meant EVERYONE, and indeed the New Testament is full of examples of people acting altruistically and lovingly towards people other than ‘their own’ – the Good Samaritan is a classic example. In the Christian tradition, everyone is capable of being a ‘friend’ in the sense that Jesus meant: an equal, a brother, a sister, a fellow. In John, Jesus extended the idea of friendship to include EVERYONE, even those who according to the societal structure of his age would have seemed to be ‘lesser’ than him.

    According to the Christian tradition, Jesus laid down his own life for EVERYONE, then, on behalf of all of us, his ‘friends’. And he did this so that we might not have to always make quite such a grand self-sacrifice ourselves. He bore the burden himself. He achieved the ideal that he spoke of: according to the story, he laid down his life for his ‘friends’, for US.

    But most readings of John 15 don’t leave things there, with Jesus’s later death. Most interpreters of John still remind us that the ideal, that which we should always aim for, is the desire and the practice of doing the very best for OTHERS, even if we don’t personally know them, and even if this means some sort of sacrifice from us. Jesus’s death wasn’t the end point of his lesson; rather, it was the start of what we ALL have to do. We MUST ‘Love each other’, as Jesus stated, and we MUST be willing to demonstrate that love, even in the hardest of times, even when the world would have us do the WRONG thing. This is the message in John, and it’s the wider message of Easter, Christianity’s most important festival. Maybe this is what the ‘resurrection’ means, in a sense: the living on, after his death, of Jesus’s love for humankind…
    Stephen Derwent Partington is an award-winning poet and headmaster of the Lukenya School in Kenya. See his work at The Poetry Foundation and on VerseDaily.

  2. Jesus Christ taught us to love one another as He has and does love us. We are to be led of by His Holy Spirit in all that we do.

    Jesus suffered and died on the Cross, suffering the punishment for all sin in all time, once and for all, so that in and through Him, every person who would receive Him as Lord and Saviour and God, and would live according to God’s commandments of Love, loving God with our whole self and loving our neighbor as ourself, would be able to live with God forever, in Eternity.

    After His sufferings and death on the Cross, Christ rose from the dead and was seen by many of those who were His. His Resurrection we celebrate as Easter Sunday, though a truer title is Resurrection Day!

    Anyone who knowingly rejects Christ’s saving death, is refusing Him Who is Eternal Life, forJesus said of Himself, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me ”

    There is no other salvation, person nor way to God the Father.

    Jesus Christ, now that He has suffered, died, and risen from the dead, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead.

    While on the earth, Jesus taught us to live in His Love, as He loves us, towards all, and He cautioned all that we know not the hour nor the day of our own deaths, nor of His return in glory.

    Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. God loves you!! Be in Christ’s peace.

    God bless, C-Marie

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