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The "Summa Theologica" Of St. Thomas Aquinas, Vol. 2

The "Summa Theologica" Of St. Thomas Aquinas, Vol. 2

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Excerpt from The "Summa Theologica" Of St. Thomas Aquinas, Vol. 2: Second Part, Qq; LXXX.-C

Obj. 2. Further, What is offered by one man to another is the more praiseworthy, according as the person it is Offered to is in greater need: wherefore it is written (isa. Lviii. Deal thy bread to the hungry. But God needs nothing that we can offer Him, according to ps. Xv. 2, I have said to the Lord, Thou art my God, for Thou hast no need of my goods. Therefore religion seems less praise worthy than the other virtues whereby man's needs are relieved.

Obj. 3. Further, The greater the obligation to do a thing, the less praise does it deserve, according to I Cor. Ix. 16, If I preach the gospel, it is no glory to me, for a necessity lieth upon me. Now the more a thing is due, the greater the Obligation of paying it. Since, then, what is paid to God by man is in the highest degree due to Him, it seems that religion is less praiseworthy than the other human virtues.

On the contrary, The precepts pertaining to religion are given precedence (exod. XX.) as being Of greatest impor tance. Now the order of precepts is proportionate to the order of virtues, since the precepts of the Law prescribe acts of virtue. Therefore religion is the chief of the moral virtues.

I answer that, Whatever is directed to an end takes its goodness from being ordered to that end; so that the nearer it is to the end the better it is. Now moral virtues, as stated above (a. 5: Q. IV., A. Are about matters that are ordered to God as their end. And religion approaches nearer to God than the other moral virtues, in so far as its actions are directly and immediately ordered to the honour of God. Hence religion excels among the moral virtues.

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