QUESTION 122: OF THE PRECEPTS OF JUSTICE
We must now consider the precepts of justice, under which head there are
six points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the precepts of the decalogue are precepts of justice?
(2) Of the first precept of the decalogue;
(3) Of the second;
(4) Of the third;
(5) Of the fourth;
(6) Of the other six.
Article 1: Whether the precepts of the decalogue are precepts of justice?
Objection 1: It seems that the precepts of the decalogue are not precepts of
justice. For the intention of a lawgiver is "to make the citizens
virtuous in respect of every virtue," as stated in Ethic. ii, 1.
Wherefore, according to Ethic. v, 1, "the law prescribes about all acts
of all virtues." Now the precepts of the decalogue are the first.
principles of the whole Divine Law. Therefore the precepts of the
decalogue do not pertain to justice alone.
Objection 2: Further, it would seem that to justice belong especially the
judicial precepts, which are condivided with the moral precepts, as
stated above (FS, Question , Article ). But the precepts of the decalogue are
moral precepts, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ). Therefore the
precepts of the decalogue are not precepts of justice.
Objection 3: Further, the Law contains chiefly precepts about acts of justice
regarding the common good, for instance about public officers and the
like. But there is no mention of these in the precepts of the decalogue.
Therefore it seems that the precepts of the decalogue do not properly
belong to justice.
Objection 4: Further, the precepts of the decalogue are divided into two
tables, corresponding to the love of God and the love of our neighbor,
both of which regard the virtue of charity. Therefore the precepts of the
decalogue belong to charity rather than to justice.
On the contrary, Seemingly justice is the sole virtue whereby we are
directed to another. Now we are directed to another by all the precepts
of the decalogue, as is evident if one consider each of them. Therefore
all the precepts of the decalogue pertain to justice.
I answer that, The precepts of the decalogue are the first principles of
the Law: and the natural reason assents to them at once, as to principles
that are most evident. Now it is altogether evident that the notion of
duty, which is essential to a precept, appears in justice, which is of
one towards another. Because in those matters that relate to himself it
would seem at a glance that man is master of himself, and that he may do
as he likes: whereas in matters that refer to another it appears
manifestly that a man is under obligation to render to another that which
is his due. Hence the precepts of the decalogue must needs pertain to
justice. Wherefore the first three precepts are about acts of religion,
which is the chief part of justice; the fourth precept is about acts of
piety, which is the second part of justice; and the six remaining are
about justice commonly so called, which is observed among equals.
Reply to Objection 1: The intention of the law is to make all men virtuous, but
in a certain order, namely, by first of all giving them precepts about
those things where the notion of duty is most manifest, as stated above.
Reply to Objection 2: The judicial precepts are determinations of the moral
precepts, in so far as these are directed to one's neighbor, just as the
ceremonial precepts are determinations of the moral precepts in so far as
these are directed to God. Hence neither precepts are contained in the
decalogue: and yet they are determinations of the precepts of the
decalogue, and therefore pertain to justice.
Reply to Objection 3: Things that concern the common good must needs be
administered in different ways according to the difference of men. Hence
they were to be given a place not among the precepts of the decalogue,
but among the judicial precepts.
Reply to Objection 4: The precepts of the decalogue pertain to charity as their
end, according to 1 Tim. 1:5, "The end of the commandment is charity":
but they belong to justice, inasmuch as they refer immediately to acts of
Article 2: Whether the first precept of the decalogue is fittingly expressed?
Objection 1: It seems that the first precept of the decalogue is unfittingly
expressed. For man is more bound to God than to his father in the flesh,
according to Heb. 12:9, "How much more shall we [Vulg.: 'shall we not
much more'] obey the Father of spirits and live?" Now the precept of
piety, whereby man honors his father, is expressed affirmatively in these
words: "Honor thy father and thy mother." Much more, therefore, should
the first precept of religion, whereby all honor God, be expressed
affirmatively, especially as affirmation is naturally prior to negation.
Objection 2: Further, the first precept of the decalogue pertains to religion,
as stated above (Article ). Now religion, since it is one virtue, has one
act. Yet in the first precept three acts are forbidden: since we read
first: "Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me"; secondly, "Thou
shalt not make to thyself any graven thing"; and thirdly, "Thou shalt not
adore them nor serve them." Therefore the first precept is unfittingly
Objection 3: Further, Augustine says (De decem chord. ix) that "the first
precept forbids the sin of superstition." But there are many wicked
superstitions besides idolatry, as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore
it was insufficient to forbid idolatry alone.
On the contrary, stands the authority of Scripture.
I answer that, It pertains to law to make men good, wherefore it
behooved the precepts of the Law to be set in order according to the
order of generation, the order, to wit, of man's becoming good. Now two
things must be observed in the order of generation. The first is that the
first part is the first thing to be established; thus in the generation
of an animal the first thing to be formed is the heart, and in building a
home the first thing to be set up is the foundation: and in the goodness
of the soul the first part is goodness of the will, the result of which
is that a man makes good use of every other goodness. Now the goodness of
the will depends on its object, which is its end. Wherefore since man was
to be directed to virtue by means of the Law, the first thing necessary
was, as it were, to lay the foundation of religion, whereby man is duly
directed to God, Who is the last end of man's will.
The second thing to be observed in the order of generation is that in
the first place contraries and obstacles have to be removed. Thus the
farmer first purifies the soil, and afterwards sows his seed, according
to Jer. 4:3, "Break up anew your fallow ground, and sow not upon thorns."
Hence it behooved man, first of all to be instructed in religion, so as
to remove the obstacles to true religion. Now the chief obstacle to
religion is for man to adhere to a false god, according to Mt. 6:24, "You
cannot serve God and mammon." Therefore in the first precept of the Law
the worship of false gods is excluded.
Reply to Objection 1: In point of fact there is one affirmative precept about
religion, namely: "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath Day." Still
the negative precepts had to be given first, so that by their means the
obstacles to religion might be removed. For though affirmation naturally
precedes negation, yet in the process of generation, negation, whereby
obstacles are removed, comes first, as stated in the Article. Especially
is this true in matters concerning God, where negation is preferable to
affirmation, on account of our insufficiency, as Dionysius observes
(Coel. Hier. ii).
Reply to Objection 2: People worshiped strange gods in two ways. For some served certain creatures as gods without having recourse to images. Hence Varro says that for a long time the ancient Romans worshiped gods without using images: and this worship is first forbidden by the words, "Thou shalt not have strange gods." Among others the worship of false gods was observed by using certain images: and so the very making of images was fittingly forbidden by the words, "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven thing," as also the worship of those same images, by the words, "Thou shalt not adore them," etc.
Reply to Objection 3: All other kinds of superstition proceed from some compact,
tacit or explicit, with the demons; hence all are understood to be
forbidden by the words, "Thou shalt not have strange gods."
Article 3: Whether the second precept of the decalogue is fittingly expressed?
Objection 1: It seems that the second precept of the decalogue is unfittingly
expressed. For this precept, "Thou shalt not take the name of thy God in
vain" is thus explained by a gloss on Ex. 20:7: "Thou shalt not deem the
Son of God to be a creature," so that it forbids an error against faith.
Again, a gloss on the words of Dt. 5:11, "Thou shalt not take the name of
. . . thy God in vain, " adds, i.e. "by giving the name of God to wood or
stone," as though they forbade a false confession of faith, which, like
error, is an act of unbelief. Now unbelief precedes superstition, as
faith precedes religion. Therefore this precept should have preceded the
first, whereby superstition is forbidden.
Objection 2: Further, the name of God is taken for many purposes ---for
instance, those of praise, of working miracles, and generally speaking in
conjunction with all we say or do, according to Col. 3:17, "All
whatsoever you do in word or in work . . . do ye in the name of the
Lord." Therefore the precept forbidding the taking of God's name in vain
seems to be more universal than the precept forbidding superstition, and
thus should have preceded it.
Objection 3: Further, a gloss on Ex. 20:7 expounds the precept, "Thou shalt
not take the name of . . . thy God in vain," namely, by swearing to
nothing. Hence this precept would seem to forbid useless swearing, that
is to say, swearing without judgment. But false swearing, which is
without truth, and unjust swearing, which is without justice, are much
more grievous. Therefore this precept should rather have forbidden them.
Objection 4: Further, blasphemy or any word or deed that is an insult to God
is much more grievous than perjury. Therefore blasphemy and other like
sins should rather have been forbidden by this precept.
Objection 5: Further, God's names are many. Therefore it should not have been
said indefinitely: "Thou shalt not take the name of . . . thy God in
On the contrary, stands the authority of Scripture.
I answer that, In one who is being instructed in virtue it is necessary
to remove obstacles to true religion before establishing him in true
religion. Now a thing is opposed to true religion in two ways. First, by
excess, when, to wit, that which belongs to religion is given to others
than to whom it is due, and this pertains to superstition. Secondly, by
lack, as it were, of reverence, when, to wit, God is contemned, and this
pertains to the vice of irreligion, as stated above (Question , in the preamble, and in the Article that follows). Now superstition hinders
religion by preventing man from acknowledging God so as to worship Him:
and when a man's mind is engrossed in some undue worship, he cannot at
the same time give due worship to God, according to Is. 28:20, "The bed
is straitened, so that one must fall out," i.e. either the true God or a
false god must fall out from man's heart, "and a short covering cannot
cover both." On the other hand, irreligion hinders religion by preventing
man from honoring God after he has acknowledged Him. Now one must first
of all acknowledge God with a view to worship, before honoring Him we
For this reason the precept forbidding superstition is placed before the
second precept, which forbids perjury that pertains to irreligion.
Reply to Objection 1: These expositions are mystical. The literal explanation is
that which is given Dt. 5:11: "Thou shalt not take the name of . . . thy
God in vain," namely, "by swearing on that which is not [*Vulg.: 'for he
shall not be unpunished that taketh His name upon a vain thing']."
Reply to Objection 2: This precept does not forbid all taking of the name of God,
but properly the taking of God's name in confirmation of a man's word by
way of an oath, because men are wont to take God's name more frequently
in this way. Nevertheless we may understand that in consequence all
inordinate taking of the Divine name is forbidden by this precept: and it
is in this sense that we are to take the explanation quoted in the First
Reply to Objection 3: To swear to nothing means to swear to that which is not.
This pertains to false swearing, which is chiefly called perjury, as
stated above (Question , Article , ad 3). For when a man swears to that which is
false, his swearing is vain in itself, since it is not supported by the
truth. on the other hand, when a man swears without judgment, through
levity, if he swear to the truth, there is no vanity on the part of the
oath itself, but only on the part of the swearer.
Reply to Objection 4: Just as when we instruct a man in some science, we begin by
putting before him certain general maxims, even so the Law, which forms
man to virtue by instructing him in the precepts of the decalogue, which
are the first of all precepts, gave expression, by prohibition or by
command, to those things which are of most common occurrence in the
course of human life. Hence the precepts of the decalogue include the
prohibition of perjury, which is of more frequent occurrence than
blasphemy, since man does not fall so often into the latter sin.
Reply to Objection 5: Reverence is due to the Divine names on the part of the
thing signified, which is one, and not on the part of the signifying
words, which are many. Hence it is expressed in the singular: "Thou shalt
not take the name of . . . thy God in vain": since it matters not in
which of God's names perjury is committed.
Article 4: Whether the third precept of the decalogue, concerning the hallowing of the Sabbath, is fittingly expressed?
Objection 1: It seems that the third precept of the decalogue, concerning the
hallowing of the Sabbath, is unfittingly expressed. For this, understood
spiritually, is a general precept: since Bede in commenting on Lk. 13:14,
"The ruler of the synagogue being angry that He had healed on the
Sabbath," says (Comment. iv): "The Law forbids, not to heal man on the
Sabbath, but to do servile works," i.e. "to burden oneself with sin."
Taken literally it is a ceremonial precept, for it is written (Ex. 31:13): "See that you keep My Sabbath: because it is a sign between Me
and you in your generations." Now the precepts of the decalogue are both
spiritual and moral. Therefore it is unfittingly placed among the
precepts of the decalogue.
Objection 2: Further, the ceremonial precepts of the Law contain "sacred
things, sacrifices, sacraments and observances," as stated above (FS,
Question , Article ). Now sacred things comprised not only sacred days, but also
sacred places and sacred vessels, and so on. Moreover, there were many
sacred days other than the Sabbath. Therefore it was unfitting to omit
all other ceremonial observances and to mention only that of the Sabbath.
Objection 3: Further, whoever breaks a precept of the decalogue, sins. But in
the Old Law some who broke the observances of the Sabbath did not
sin---for instance, those who circumcised their sons on the eighth day,
and the priests who worked in the temple on the Sabbath. Also Elias (3
Kgs. 19), who journeyed for forty days unto the mount of God, Horeb, must
have traveled on a Sabbath: the priests also who carried the ark of the
Lord for seven days, as related in Josue 7, must be understood to have
carried it on a Sabbath. Again it is written (Lk. 13:15): "Doth not every
one of you on the Sabbath day loose his ox or his ass . . . and lead them
to water?" Therefore it is unfittingly placed among the precepts of the
Objection 4: Further, the precepts of the decalogue have to be observed also
under the New Law. Yet in the New Law this precept is not observed,
neither in the point of the Sabbath day, nor as to the Lord's day, on
which men cook their food, travel, fish, and do many like things.
Therefore the precept of the observance of the Sabbath is unfittingly
On the contrary, stands the authority of Scripture.
I answer that, The obstacles to true religion being removed by the first
and second precepts of the decalogue, as stated above (Articles ,3), it
remained for the third precept to be given whereby man is established in
true religion. Now it belongs to religion to give worship to God: and
just as the Divine scriptures teach the interior worship under the guise
of certain corporal similitudes, so is external worship given to God
under the guise of sensible signs. And since for the most part man is
induced to pay interior worship, consisting in prayer and devotion, by
the interior prompting of the Holy Ghost, a precept of the Law as
necessary respecting the exterior worship that consists in sensible
signs. Now the precepts of the decalogue are, so to speak, first and
common principles of the Law, and consequently the third precept of the
decalogue describes the exterior worship of God as the sign of a
universal boon that concerns all. This universal boon was the work of the
Creation of the world, from which work God is stated to have rested on
the seventh day: and sign of this we are commanded to keep holy seventh
day---that is, to set it aside as a day to be given to God. Hence after
the precept about the hallowing of the Sabbath the reason for it is
given: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth . . . and rested
on the seventh day."
Reply to Objection 1: The precept about hallowing the Sabbath, understood
literally, is partly oral and partly ceremonial. It is a moral precept in
the point of commanding man to aside a certain time to be given to Divine
things. For there is in man a natural inclination to set aside a certain
time for each necessary thing, such as refreshment of the body, sleep,
and so forth. Hence according to the dictate of reason, man sets aside a
certain time for spiritual refreshment, by which man's mind is refreshed
in God. And thus to have a certain time set aside for occupying oneself
with Divine things is the matter of a moral precept. But, in so far as
this precept specializes the time as a sign representing the Creation of
the world, it is a ceremonial precept. Again, it is a ceremonial precept
in its allegorical signification, as representative of Christ's rest in
the tomb on the seventh day: also in its moral signification, as
representing cessation from all sinful acts, and the mind's rest in God,
in which sense, too, it is a general precept. Again, it is a ceremonial
precept in its analogical signification, as foreshadowing the enjoyment
of God in heaven. Hence the precept about hallowing the Sabbath is placed
among the precepts of the decalogue, as a moral, but not as a ceremonial
Reply to Objection 2: The other ceremonies of the Law are signs of certain
particular Divine works: but the observance of the Sabbath is
representative of a general boon, namely, the production of all
creatures. Hence it was fitting that it should be placed among the
general precepts of the decalogue, rather than any other ceremonial
precept of the Law.
Reply to Objection 3: Two things are to be observed in the hallowing of the
Sabbath. One of these is the end: and this is that man occupy himself
with Divine things, and is signified in the words: "Remember that thou
keep holy the Sabbath day." For in the Law those things are said to be
holy which are applied to the Divine worship. The other thing is
cessation from work, and is signified in the words (Ex. 20:11), "On the
seventh day . . . thou shalt do no work." The kind of work meant appears
from Lev. 23:3, "You shall do no servile work on that day [*Vulg.: 'You
shall do no work on that day']." Now servile work is so called from
servitude: and servitude is threefold. One, whereby man is the servant of
sin, according to Jn. 8:34, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of
sin," and in this sense all sinful acts are servile. Another servitude is
whereby one man serves another. Now one man serves another not with his
mind but with his body, as stated above (Question , Articles ,6, ad 1).
Wherefore in this respect those works are called servile whereby one man
serves another. The third is the servitude of God; and in this way the
work of worship, which pertains to the service of God, may be called a
servile work. In this sense servile work is not forbidden on the Sabbath
day, because that would be contrary to the end of the Sabbath observance:
since man abstains from other works on the Sabbath day in order that he
may occupy himself with works connected with God's service. For this
reason, according to Jn. 7:23, "a man [*Vulg.: 'If a man,' etc.] receives
circumcision on the Sabbath day, that the law of Moses may not be
broken": and for this reason too we read (Mt. 12:5), that "on the Sabbath
days the priests in the temple break the Sabbath," i.e. do corporal works
on the Sabbath, "and are without blame." Accordingly, the priests in
carrying the ark on the Sabbath did not break the precept of the Sabbath
observance. In like manner it is not contrary to the observance of the
Sabbath to exercise any spiritual act, such as teaching by word or
writing. Wherefore a gloss on Num 28 says that "smiths and like craftsmen
rest on the Sabbath day, but the reader or teacher of the Divine law does
not cease from his work. Yet he profanes not the Sabbath, even as the
priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are without blame." On the
other hand, those works that are called servile in the first or second
way are contrary to the observance of the Sabbath, in so far as they
hinder man from applying himself to Divine things. And since man is
hindered from applying himself to Divine things rather by sinful than by
lawful albeit corporal works, it follows that to sin on a feast day is
more against this precept than to do some other but lawful bodily work.
Hence Augustine says (De decem chord. iii): "It would be better if the
Jew did some useful work on his farm than spent his time seditiously in
the theatre: and their womenfolk would do better to be making linen on
the Sabbath than to be dancing lewdly all day in their feasts of the new
moon." It is not, however, against this precept to sin venially on the
Sabbath, because venial sin does not destroy holiness.
Again, corporal works, not pertaining to the spiritual worship of God,
are said to be servile in so far as they belong properly to servants;
while they are not said to be servile, in so far as they are common to
those who serve and those who are free. Moreover, everyone, be he servant
or free, is bound to provide necessaries both for himself and for his
neighbor, chiefly in respect of things pertaining to the well-being of
the body, according to Prov. 24:11, "Deliver them that are led to death":
secondarily as regards avoiding damage to one's property, according to
Dt. 22:1, "Thou shalt not pass by if thou seest thy brother's ox or his
sheep go astray, but thou shalt bring them back to thy brother." Hence a
corporal work pertaining to the preservation of one's own bodily
well-being does not profane the Sabbath: for it is not against the
observance of the Sabbath to eat and do such things as preserve the
health of the body. For this reason the Machabees did not profane the
Sabbath when they fought in self-defense on the Sabbath day (1 Macc. 2),
nor Elias when he fled from the face of Jezabel on the Sabbath. For this
same reason our Lord (Mt. 12:3) excused His disciples for plucking the
ears of corn on account of the need which they suffered. In like manner a
bodily work that is directed to the bodily well-being of another is not
contrary to the observance of the Sabbath: wherefore it is written (Jn. 7:23): "Are you angry at Me because I have healed the whole man on the
Sabbath day?" And again, a bodily work that is done to avoid an imminent
damage to some external thing does not profane the Sabbath, wherefore our
Lord says (Mt. 12:11): "What man shall there be among you, that hath one
sheep, and if the same fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not
take hold on it and lift it up?"
Reply to Objection 4: In the New Law the observance of the Lord's day took the
place of the observance of the Sabbath, not by virtue of the precept but
by the institution of the Church and the custom of Christian people. For
this observance is not figurative, as was the observance of the Sabbath
in the Old Law. Hence the prohibition to work on the Lord' day is not so
strict as on the Sabbath: and certain works are permitted on the Lord's
day which were forbidden on the Sabbath, such as the cooking of food and
so forth. And again in the New Law, dispensation is more easily granted
than in the Old, in the matter of certain forbidden works, on account of
their necessity, because the figure pertains to the protestation of
truth, which it is unlawful to omit even in small things; while works,
considered in themselves, are changeable in point of place and time.
Article 5: Whether the fourth precept, about honoring one's parents, is fittingly expressed?
Objection 1: It seems that the fourth precept, about honoring one's parents,
is unfittingly expressed. For this is the precept pertaining to piety.
Now, just as piety is a part of justice, so are observance, gratitude,
and others of which we have spoken (Questions ,102, seq.). Therefore it
seems that there should not have been given a special precept of piety,
as none is given regarding the others.
Objection 2: Further, piety pays worship not only to one's parents, but also
to one's country, and also to other blood kindred, and to the
well-wishers of our country, as stated above (Question , Articles ,2). Therefore
it was unfitting for this precept to mention only the honoring of one's
father and mother.
Objection 3: Further, we owe our parents not merely honor but also support.
Therefore the mere honoring of one's parents is unfittingly prescribed.
Objection 4: Further, sometimes those who honor their parents die young, and
on the contrary those who honor them not live a long time. Therefore it
was unfitting to supplement this precept with the promise, "That thou
mayest be long-lived upon earth."
On the contrary, stands the authority of Scripture.
I answer that, The precepts of the decalogue are directed to the love of
God and of our neighbor. Now to our parents, of all our neighbors, we are
under the greatest obligation. Hence, immediately after the precepts
directing us to God, a place is given to the precept directing us to our
parents, who are the particular principle of our being, just as God is
the universal principle: so that this precept has a certain affinity to
the precepts of the First Table.
Reply to Objection 1: As stated above (Question , Article ), piety directs us to pay the
debt due to our parents, a debt which is common to all. Hence, since the
precepts of the decalogue are general precepts, they ought to contain
some reference to piety rather than to the other parts of justice, which
regard some special debt.
Reply to Objection 2: The debt to one's parents precedes the debt to one's
kindred and country since it is because we are born of our parents that
our kindred and country belong to us. Hence, since the precepts of the
decalogue are the first precepts of the Law, they direct man to his
parents rather than to his country and other kindred. Nevertheless this
precept of honoring our parents is understood to command whatever
concerns the payment of debt to any person, as secondary matter included
in the principal matter.
Reply to Objection 3: Reverential honor is due to one's parents as such, whereas
support and so forth are due to them accidentally, for instance, because
they are in want, in slavery, or the like, as stated above (Question , Article ). And since that which belongs to a thing by nature precedes that which
is accidental, it follows that among the first precepts of the Law, which
are the precepts of the decalogue, there is a special precept of honoring
our parents: and this honor, as a kind of principle, is understood to
comprise support and whatever else is due to our parents.
Reply to Objection 4: A long life is promised to those who honor their parents
not only as to the life to come, but also as to the present life,
according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Tim. 4:8): "Piety [Douay:
'godliness'] is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that
now is and of that which is to come." And with reason. Because the man
who is grateful for a favor deserves, with a certain congruity, that the
favor should be continued to him, and he who is ungrateful for a favor
deserves to lose it. Now we owe the favor of bodily life to our parents
after God: wherefore he that honors his parents deserves the prolongation
of his life, because he is grateful for that favor: while he that honors
not his parents deserves to be deprived of life because he is ungrateful
for the favor. However, present goods or evils are not the subject of
merit or demerit except in so far as they are directed to a future
reward, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ). Wherefore sometimes in
accordance with the hidden design of the Divine judgments, which regard
chiefly the future reward, some, who are dutiful to their parents, are
sooner deprived of life, while others, who are undutiful to their
parents, live longer.
Article 6: Whether the other six precepts of the decalogue are fittingly expressed?
Objection 1: It seems that the other six precepts of the decalogue are
unfittingly expressed. For it is not sufficient for salvation that one
refrain from injuring one's neighbor; but it is required that one pay
one's debts, according to Rm. 13:7, "Render . . . to all men their dues."
Now the last six precepts merely forbid one to injure one's neighbor.
Therefore these precepts are unfittingly expressed.
Objection 2: Further, these precepts forbid murder, adultery, stealing and
bearing false witness. But many other injuries can be inflicted on one's
neighbor, as appears from those which have been specified above (Questions , seq.). Therefore it seems that the aforesaid precepts are unfittingly
Objection 3: Further, concupiscence may be taken in two ways. First as
denoting an act of the will, as in Wis. 6:21, "The desire
[concupiscentia] of wisdom bringeth to the everlasting kingdom":
secondly, as denoting an act of the sensuality, as in James 4:1, "From
whence are wars and contentions among you? Are they not . . . from your
concupiscences which war in your members?" Now the concupiscence of the
sensuality is not forbidden by a precept of the decalogue, otherwise
first movements would be mortal sins, as they would be against a precept
of the decalogue. Nor is the concupiscence of the will forbidden, since
it is included in every sin. Therefore it is unfitting for the precepts
of the decalogue to include some that forbid concupiscence.
Objection 4: Further, murder is a more grievous sin than adultery or theft.
But there is no precept forbidding the desire of murder. Therefore
neither was it fitting to have precepts forbidding the desire of theft
and of adultery.
On the contrary, stands the authority of Scripture.
I answer that, Just as by the parts of justice a man pays that which is
due to certain definite persons, to whom he is bound for some special
reason, so too by justice properly so called he pays that which is due to
all in general. Hence, after the three precepts pertaining to religion,
whereby man pays what is due God, and after the fourth precept pertaining
to piety, whereby he pays what is due to his parents---which duty
includes the paying of all that is due for any special reason---it was
necessary in due sequence to give certain precepts pertaining to justice
properly so called, which pays to all indifferently what is due to them.
Reply to Objection 1: Man is bound towards all persons in general to inflict
injury on no one: hence the negative precepts, which forbid the doing of
those injuries that can be inflicted on one's neighbor, had to be given a
place, as general precepts, among the precepts of the decalogue. On the
other hand, the duties we owe to our neighbor are paid in different ways
to different people: hence it did not behoove to include affirmative
precepts about those duties among the precepts of the decalogue.
Reply to Objection 2: All other injuries that are inflicted on our neighbor are
reducible to those that are forbidden by these precepts, as taking
precedence of others in point of generality and importance. For all
injuries that are inflicted on the person of our neighbor are understood
to be forbidden under the head of murder as being the principal of all.
Those that are inflicted on a person connected with one's neighbor,
especially by way of lust, are understood to be forbidden together with
adultery: those that come under the head of damage done to property are
understood to be forbidden together with theft: and those that are
comprised under speech, such as detractions, insults, and so forth, are
understood to be forbidden together with the bearing of false witness,
which is more directly opposed to justice.
Reply to Objection 3: The precepts forbidding concupiscence do not include the
prohibition of first movements of concupiscence, that do not go farther
than the bounds of sensuality. The direct object of their prohibition is
the consent of the will, which is directed to deed or pleasure.
Reply to Objection 4: Murder in itself is an object not of concupiscence but of
horror, since it has not in itself the aspect of good. On the other hand,
adultery has the aspect of a certain kind of good, i.e. of something
pleasurable, and theft has an aspect of good, i.e. of something useful:
and good of its very nature has the aspect of something concupiscible.
Hence the concupiscence of theft and adultery had to be forbidden by
special precepts, but not the concupiscence of murder.