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CHAPTER CXVIThat the End of the Divine Law is the Love of God

THE main intention of the divine law is that man should adhere to God; and man adheres to God chiefly by love. There are two powers whereby man may cleave to God, his understanding and his will. By the lower faculties of his soul man cannot cleave to God, but adheres to lower things. Now the adhesion that is of the understanding is completed by that which is of the will: for by the will man comes to rest in what the understanding apprehends. The will cleaves to a thing either 277through love or through fear, but in different ways. When it adheres to a thing through fear, it adheres for the sake of something else, namely, to avoid an evil threatening it, if it does not adhere: but when it adheres to a thing through love, it adheres for the thing’s own sake. But what is for its own sake carries the day over what is only for the sake of something else. Therefore the adhesion of love to God is the chief way of adhering to Him, and is the point principally intended in the divine law.

2. The end of every law, and particularly of the divine law, is to make men good. Now a man is called good from having a good will: for the will it is which reduces to act whatever good there is in the man: but the will is good by willing good, and particularly the chief good, which is the end: the more then the will wills this good, the better the man is. Therefore the will of the sovereign good, which is God, is what most of all makes men good, and is principally intended in the divine law.

3. The law aims at making men virtuous: but it is a condition of virtue that the virtuous person should act firmly and with pleasure; and love it is that best makes us do a thing firmly and with delight.

Therefore it is said: The end of the commandment is charity (1 Tim. i, 5): The greatest and first commandment is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God (Matt. xxii, 37, 38).

CHAPTER CXVIIThat by the Divine Law we are directed to the Love of our Neighbour

THERE should be a union of affection among those who have one common end:742742Except it be a competitive end, and then the proverb comes in which is as old as Hesiod, Works and Days, 25: καὶ κεραμεὺς κεραμεῖ κοτέει καὶ ἀοιδὸς ἀοιδῷ: Two of a trade can never agree. but men share in the one common last end of happiness, to which they are ordained of God; and therefore they should be united in mutual love.

2. Whoever loves another, must in consequence also love those whom that other loves and who are united with him.743743Love me, love my dog. But men are loved by God, seeing that for them He has prepared the enjoyment of Himself as their last end. Therefore as one is a lover of God, so must he also be a lover of his neighbour.

3. Since man is naturally a social animal, he needs to be helped by other men to gain his proper end; and this is most aptly done by mutual love prevailing amongst men.

4. To attend to divine things, a man needs tranquillity and peace. Now the things that might trouble peace are most effectually taken away by mutual love. Since then the law of God orders men to attend to divine things, mutual love amongst men must necessarily be a provision of the divine law.

5. The divine law is given to man to bear out the natural law.744744In the order of nature, apart from revelation, the divine law is the natural law: it is the exigency of nature enforced by God. But it is natural to all men to love one another: a sign of this is the fact that by a sort of natural instinct man helps any man, even a stranger, in necessity, as by calling him back from a wrong turn that he may have taken on his way, lifting him up from a fall, and the like, as though every man were kinsman and friend of every other man.


Hence it is said: This is my commandment, that ye love one another (John xv, 12): This commandment we have of God, that he who loveth God do love also his brother (1 John iv, 21): The second commandment is, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matt. xxii, 39).

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