Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION XXV.: OF THE OBJECT OF CHARITY. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION XXV.: OF THE OBJECT OF CHARITY. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF THE OBJECT OF CHARITY.
Article III.—Are even irrational creatures to be loved in charity?
R. Charity is a friendship. Now the love of friendship works in two ways: in one way towards the friend for whom friendship is entertained; and in another way towards the good that we desire our friend to have. In the first way then no irrational creature can be loved in charity; and that for three reasons. First, because friendship is entertained for him to whom we wish good; but we cannot properly wish good to an irrational creature, because it does not belong to such a creature properly to have good, but only to the rational creature, which is competent to use the good that it has, disposing of it by free-will. Secondly, because all friendship rests upon some life lived in common; but irrational creatures cannot share in human life, which is according to reason: here there can be no friendship with irrational creatures except perhaps metaphorically. The third reason is peculiar to charity: because charity rests on the sharing of eternal happiness, of which the irrational creature is not capable. Still irrational creatures can be loved in charity as good things that we desire for others, inasmuch as in charity we wish them to be preserved for the honour of God and the benefit of men; and thus also God loves them in charity.
Article IV.—Ought a man to love himself in charity?
R. Charity being a friendship, we may speak of charity in two ways: in one way under the general aspect of friendship; and in this light we must say that friendship properly is not entertained towards one’s own self, but something greater than friendship: because friendship imports union, but every being has with itself unity, which goes beyond union with another. Hence as unity is the principle of union, so the love wherewith one loves oneself is the form and root of friendship: for our friendship for others consists in bearing them that regard which we bear ourselves. So there is no science of first principles, but something greater than science, namely, intuition, or insight.1 In another way we may speak of charity in its proper character and essence, as it is a friendship of man with God primarily, and secondarily with the creatures that are of God; among which the man himself counts who has the charity. In this way, among other things that he loves in charity as belonging to God, he also loves himself in charity.
Article V.—Ought a man to love his own body in charity?
R. Our body may be considered either in its nature, or in the corruption, culpable and penal, that attaches to it. The nature of our body is not created by any Evil Principle, as the Manichean fable has it, but is of God. Hence it is in our power to use it for the service of God, according to the text: “Present your members as instruments of justice unto God.”1 And therefore in the love of charity with which we love God, we ought to love our body also: but the culpable infection and penal corruption that is in our body, we ought not to love, but rather to yearn and strive hard with a desire of charity for its removal.
§ 2. Though our body cannot enjoy God to know Him and love Him, still we can arrive at the perfect enjoyment of God by the works that we do with the aid of the body. Hence there redounds upon the body from the enjoyment of the soul a certain happiness—“the vigour of sound health and incorruption,” as Augustine says. And therefore since the body is in some way our partner in happiness, it is apt to be loved with the love of charity.
Article VI.—Are sinners to be loved in charity?
R. In sinners two things may be considered, their nature and their fault. In the nature that they have from God they are capable of happiness, on the sharing of which charity is founded; and therefore in their nature they are to be loved in charity. But their fault is contrary to God, and is an obstacle to happiness. Hence for the fault whereby they are opposed to God, all sinners are to be hated, even father and mother and kinsmen, as the text has it.1 For we ought in sinners to hate their being sinners, and love their being men, capable of happiness: and this is to love them truly in charity for God’s sake.
§ 2. As the Philosopher says, the benefits of friendship are not to be withdrawn from friends when they do wrong, so long as there is hope of their cure; but erring friends are to be helped to the recovery of virtue much more than they should be to the recovery of money, if they had lost it, as virtue is more akin to friendship than money. But when they fall into the extremity of malice and become incurable, then the intimacy of friendship is no longer to be afforded them. And therefore sinners of this sort, of whom injury to others is more to be expected than their own amendment, are put to death by the bidding of law divine and human. Yet even this the judge does, not out of hatred for them, but out of the love of charity, whereby the public good is preferred to the life of an individual.2 And even in that case the judicial infliction of death is a benefit to the sinner, serving to the expiation of his fault, if he is converted; to the termination of his fault, if he is not converted.
§ 4. We love sinners in charity, not that we should wish what they wish, or rejoice at what they rejoice in, but to make them wish what we wish, and rejoice in what is matter of joy to us. Hence it is said: “They shall be turned to thee, and thou shalt not be turned to them.”1
Article VII.—Do sinners love themselves?
R. It is common to all men to love that which each one takes himself to be. Not all men, however, take themselves to be that which they really are. For the prime element in man is his rational mind: while his sentient and bodily nature is of secondary importance. The former is termed by the Apostle, “the inward man,” the latter “the outward man.”2 Now good men take for the prime element in them their rational nature, or inward man: herein they take themselves to be what they really are. But the wicked take for the prime element in themselves their sentient and bodily nature, that is, their outward man. Hence, not knowing themselves aright, they do not truly love themselves, but they love that which they take themselves for. But the good, truly knowing themselves, truly love themselves.
Article VIII.—Is the love of enemies a necessary point of charity?
R. The love of enemies may be looked at in three ways. In one way, as though enemies were to be loved for being enemies: that were a wrong-headed proceeding and repugnant to charity, because it would be loving what was evil in another. In another way the love of enemies may be taken as fastening upon the nature that is in them, but only in the general. Thus understood, the love of enemies is a necessary point of charity, to the effect that a man loving God and his neighbour should not exclude his enemies from the general compass of his love of his neighbour. In a third way love of enemies may be looked at as something that is made a special point of, as though one should be moved with a special affection of love towards an enemy; and this is not a necessary point of charity, absolutely speaking, because neither is it a necessary point of charity to have a particular affection for any and every given individual, seeing that such universal particularization is impossible. It is, however, a necessary point of charity so far as preparedness of mind goes, that a man should have his mind made up to show love to his enemy even as an individual, should necessity occur.1 But apart from instant necessity, a man’s doing an act of love to his enemy for the sake of God, belongs to the perfection of charity. For the more a man loves God, the more love also he shows for his neighbour, and allows no enmity to stand in his way: just as if one had much love for another, he would love also that man’s children for love of him, though they were enemies to himself.
§ 2. To the objection that charity does not take away nature, and that naturally every being, even an irrational agent, hates its own contrary, it is to be said that enemies are contrary to us inasmuch as they are enemies: hence we ought to hate that point in them; for the fact that they are our enemies ought to displease us. But they are not contrary to us inasmuch as they are men, capable of happiness; and in that respect we are bound to love them.
Article IX.—Is it of necessity for salvation to render signs and offices of love to an enemy?
R. Inward love for an enemy in general is of absolute necessity of precept; but as for any special affection, that is not absolutely required except in preparedness of mind, as above explained. So we must say of the external rendering of any office and sign of love. There are some signs or services of love that are rendered to our neighbours in general, as when one prays for all the faithful, or for a whole people, or confers some benefit upon an entire community; and such services or signs of love it is of necessity of precept to render even to enemies. The omission of them would be a piece of vindictive spite, against which the text runs: “Seek not revenge, nor be mindful of the injury of thy citizens.”1 Other services or signs of love there are, which are rendered to certain individuals in particular. It is not of necessity for salvation to render these to enemies, except in point of preparedness of mind, so that the said enemies should be aided in the hour of need, according to the text: “If thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink.”1 But the rendering of such services to enemies not in the hour of need, belongs to the perfection of charity, whereby a man not only carefully avoids being overcome by evil—a point of necessary duty—but also wishes to overcome evil by good, which is a point of perfection: that is to say, he is not only careful not to be drawn into hatred for the injury done him, but makes it his further aim by his benefits to draw his enemy to love him.
[1 ]As explained, I-II q. 57. art. 2. (Trl.)
[1 ]Romans vi. 13.
[1 ]St. Luke xiv. 26.
[2 ]There is a limit to this principle, which is, that so long as the individual does not degrade himself by his own crime, his life is sacred. See II-II. q. 64. art. 2. § 3. (Trl.)
[1 ]Jerem. xv. 19.
[2 ]2 Cor. iv. 16.
[1 ]Not your necessity of course, but your enemy’s necessity and need of your help On the whole of this practical matter cf. Ethics and Natural Law, pp. 241—243. (Trl.)
[1 ]Levit. xix. 18.
[1 ]Frov. xxv. 21.