Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION XXVI.: OF THE ORDER TO BE OBSERVED IN 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 XXVI.: OF THE ORDER TO BE OBSERVED IN 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 ORDER TO BE OBSERVED IN CHARITY.
Article I.—Is there any order in charity?
R. Priority and posteriority are in relation to some principle. But order involves some sort of priority and posteriority. Hence wherever there is a principle, there must also be order. Now the love of charity tends to God as to the principle of happiness, in the common sharing of which the friendship of charity is founded. And therefore in the objects that are loved in charity there must be some order in relation to the first principle of this love, which is God.
Article III.—Is a man bound in charity to love God more than himself?
R. We receive from God a twofold good, the good of nature and the good of grace. On the participation of natural goods allowed us by God is founded the natural love, whereby man in the wholeness and integrity of his nature loves God above all things and more than himself: because every part naturally loves the common good of the whole more than its own particular good. This is apparent in the social virtues, whereby citizens sometimes suffer damage to their own properties and persons, for the sake of the common good. Much more is this the case in the friendship of charity, which is founded upon the participation of the gifts of grace. And therefore a man is bound in charity to love God, who is the common good of all, more than himself: because happiness is in God, as in the common fount and origin of all things capable of happiness.
§ 3. The wish to enjoy God belongs to the love wherewith God is loved by the love of desire. But we love God more by the love of friendship than by the love of desire, because the goodness of God is greater in itself than the goodness that we have for our portion by enjoying Him.
Article IV.—Is a man bound in charity to love himself more than his neighbour?
R. There are two things in man, his spiritual nature and his bodily nature. A man is said to love himself, when he loves his spiritual nature. And in this way a man ought to love himself, after God, more than any other person. For God is loved as the principle of goodness, on which the love of charity is founded; man loves himself in charity inasmuch as he is a partaker in the goodness aforesaid: while his neighbour is loved on the score of partnership in that good. Hence as unity is better than union, so the partaking of a man’s own self in the divine goodness is a better ground for love than the fact of another’s association with self in this partaking. And therefore a man is bound in charity to love himself more than his neighbour. A sign of this is, that a man ought not to take upon himself any evil of sin to deliver his neighbour from sin.
§ 1. The quantity of the love of charity depends not only on the object, which is God, but also on the subject loving, which is the man himself who has the charity. And therefore, though a neighbour better than self is nearer to God, still because he is not so near to him who has the charity as himself is to himself, it does not follow that any one ought to love his neighbour more than himself.
§ 2. A man ought to suffer corporal loss for his friend; and in so doing he loves himself the more on his spiritual and mental side, inasmuch as what he does is a point of the perfection of virtue, which is a good of the mind.1
Article V.—Ought a man to love his neighbour more than his own body?
R. Partnership in the full participation of happiness, which is the reason for loving our neighbour, is a greater reason for love than partnership in happiness by way of redundance and overflow, which is the reason for loving our own body.1 And therefore we ought to love our neighbour, as to the salvation of his soul, more than our own body.
§ 2. Our body is nearer our soul than our neighbour is, in respect of the constitution of our own nature; but as regards participation in happiness, greater is the companionship of our neighbour’s soul with our soul than even that of our own body.
§ 3. The care of his own body is urgent on every man; but the care of his neighbour’s salvation is not urgent on every man, except it be in a case of necessity. And therefore it is not a necessary point of charity for a man to expose his own person for the salvation of his neighbour, except in the case in which he is officially bound to provide for his salvation. But that one should spontaneously offer himself to this, belongs to the perfection of charity.
Article VI.—Is one neighbour to be loved more than another?
R. There have been two opinions on this point. Some have said that all neighbours are to be loved in charity equally so far as affection goes, but not in exterior effect. They allow of gradations of love in the matter of outward acts of kindness, which they say we ought to do rather for those nearest to us than for strangers; but as for inward affection, that they say we ought to bestow equally on all, even on enemies. But this is an irrational thing to say. For the affection of charity, which is an inclination of grace, goes not less according to order than natural appetite, which is an inclination of nature, seeing that both the one and the other inclination proceeds from the divine wisdom. We see in natural things that natural inclination is proportionate to the act or movement which is proper to the nature of each. Therefore also the inclination of grace, which is the affection of charity, must be proportioned to what has to be done externally: so that we should have a more intense affection of charity for those who are the more proper objects of our active beneficence. Therefore we must say that even in affection we ought to love one of our neighbours more than another. And the reason is, because, seeing that the principle of love is God and the subject loving, there must necessarily be greater affection of love according as there is greater nearness to one or other of these two principles.
§ 1. To the objection taken from Augustine’s words, “All men are to be equally loved: but seeing that you cannot do good to all, their interest is to be especially consulted whose lot is more closely bound up with your own, according as place and time and other circumstances give opportunity,” it is to be said that love may be unequal in two ways: in one way in respect of the good that we wish to a friend; and so far as this goes, we should love all men equally in charity: because we are to wish for all generically the same good, namely, eternal happiness. In another way love is said to be greater for the act of love being more intense: at that rate we ought not to love all men equally.
Or to put it otherwise, there are two ways in which love for different persons may be unequal. One way would be by loving some and not loving others. Now in actual beneficence we must observe this inequality, because we cannot do good to all; but as regards good wishes, such inequality should not be. The other way consists in loving some more than others. Augustine then does not intend to exclude this latter inequality, but only the former, as is clear from what he says about doing good.
Article VII.—Ought we to love persons of superior goodness more than other persons with whom we have more intimate relations?
R. Every act must be proportioned both to the object and to the agent. From the object it has its species: from the strength of the agent it has the measure of its intensity. Now the object of the love of charity is God: the agent loving is man. Diversity therefore in the love of charity must consist, so far as species goes, in loving different neighbours differently according to the several ways in which they stand to God; wishing, that is, greater good to him who is nearer to God. For though the good of eternal happiness, which charity wishes to all, is one in itself, still there are various degrees of participation in that happiness. And this is a point of charity, to wish the justice of God to have place, according to which persons of superior goodness have a more perfect participation of happiness. And this touches the species of the love: for the species of love are various according to the various goods that we wish to the persons whom we love. But the intensity of love is determined in reference to the man himself who loves; and in this respect a man loves more dearly those who are nearer to him; and the good which his love wishes them, is wished with more intense affection than the greater good which he wishes to better persons.
Again, the goodness of virtue which sets some men near God, admits of increase and diminution: and therefore I may wish in charity that the person with whom I have a closer tie, may be better than the stranger, and so be capable of arriving at a higher degree of happiness.
Another way in which we have more love of charity for those with whom we are more intimate, is that we have more varieties of love for them. For in regard of those with whom we have no such close connection, we have only the friendship of charity, but in regard of those with whom we are closely connected, we have sundry other friendships according to the manner of their connection with us. But since the good whereon every other virtuous friendship rests is finally directed to the good which is the basis of charity, it follows that charity commands the act of every other friendship, as the art which deals with the end proposed commands the art which deals with the means thereto. And thus affection for another as a kinsman, or a fellow-countryman, or on any other lawful ground that is referable to the end of charity, can be commanded by charity. Thus by charity, as well eliciting as commanding, we love in more ways those who are more closely connected with us.1
§ 1. We are not bidden2 to hate in our relations the fact of their being our relations, but this only, that they hinder us from God: and in this they are not relations, but enemies.
§ 2. Charity makes a man conformable to God in such proportion as that the man is affected to his own as God to His own. For there are some things that we can will in charity, because they befit us, which however God does not will, because it does not befit Him to will them.
§ 3. Charity in eliciting the act of love regards not only the object loved, but also the subject loving: whence it comes to pass that where the object is nearer, the love is greater.
Article VIII.—Ought he to be better loved, who is nearer in blood?
R. The intensity of love is in proportion to the nearness of the person loved to the person loving. And therefore love is to be measured out to different persons differently according to different ties that bring them near. That is to say, each is to be loved above the rest in the matter of the particular tie of friendship that we have with him. Now friendship among kinsmen rests on the tie of natural origin; friendship among fellow-countrymen depends on a civil tie; and friendship between fellow-soldiers on a military tie. And therefore in what touches nature we ought to love kinsmen above the rest: in points of civil society we ought to love fellow-countrymen above the rest, and in matters of war, fellow-soldiers above the rest. If, however, we compare one tie with another, it is clear that the natural tie of origin is prior and more unchangeable; while other ties are things that supervene and may be changed. And therefore friendship between kinsmen is more stable; but other friendships may prevail over it in the proper matter of each friendship.
Article XIII.—Does the order of charity still hold in heaven?
R. Even in our heavenly country it will hold good that one will love another with whom he has a special tie, in more ways than he loves the rest: for virtuous motives of love will not cease to have influence on the soul of the Blessed. Still to all these reasons that reason of love is there incomparably preferred, which is derived from nearness to God.
§ 3. God will be to every one in heaven his whole reason for loving anything, because God is the whole good of man. For on the impossible supposition that God were not the good of man, man would have no reason for loving Him. And therefore in the order of love, after God, man ought most of all to love himself.
[1 ]Evidently from this article, St. Thomas is no altruist (see Ethics and Natural Law, pp. 180—182), nor yet a selfish individualist, as Articles III. and V. show. (Trl.)
[1 ]See above, q. 25. art. 5. § 2. (Trl.)
[1 ]An act is said to be elicited by the power or habit of which it is an act; commanded by some higher habit or power. See above, II-II. q. 10. art. 2. (Trl.)
[2 ]St. Luke xiv. 26.