Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION XXXI.: OF DOING GOOD TO OTHERS. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION XXXI.: OF DOING GOOD TO OTHERS. - 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 DOING GOOD TO OTHERS.
Article III.—Should we do good rather to those who are more nearly connected with us?1
R. Grace and virtue imitate the order of nature, which is instituted by Divine Wisdom. Now the order of nature is that every natural agent should diffuse its action sooner and more abundantly on the objects that are nearer to itself. And therefore we must be more prone to do good to the persons that are nearer to us. The nearness of one man to another is specified according to the various relations of intercourse of man with man, as kinsmen, fellow-countrymen, fellow-believers. And various good offices are to be paid in various ways according to various connections. To every one kindness is to be shown by preference in the matter wherein he is connected with us. Such is the general rule, but it admits of variation for variety of places and times and businesses. For in a certain case we should rather help a stranger, say, in extreme necessity, than even a parent not in such necessity.
§ 3. A debt or due is of two sorts. One sort there is, which is not to be reckoned among the goods of him who owes it, but among the goods of him to whom it is owing: for instance, if one have money or other chattels of another, whether taken by theft, or lent, or deposited for safe keeping. In respect to this, a man ought to pay back the debt or due sooner than benefit his connections therefrom. Another debt or due there is, which is reckoned among the goods of him who owes it, not among the goods of him to whom it is owing: for instance, if something is due, not by necessity of justice, but according to a certain moral equity, such as arises from benefits gratuitously received. Now no benefactor’s benefaction is so great as that of parents; and therefore in the return of benefits parents’ claims are to be preferred to all others, unless there be a preponderant claim of necessity on another side, or other modifying consideration, such as general advantage of Church or State.
[1 ]See above, II-II. q. 26. art. 6. (Trl.)