Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.119 a.3
Objection: 1. It seems that prodigality is a more grievous sin than covetousness. For by covetousness a man injures his neighbor by not communicating his goods to him, whereas by prodigality a man injures himself, because the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 1) that "the wasting of riches, which are the means whereby a man lives, is an undoing of his very being." Now he that injures himself sins more grievously, according to Si 14,5, "He that is evil to himself, to whom will he be good?" Therefore prodigality is a more grievous sin than covetousness.
2. Further, a disorder that is accompanied by a laudable circumstance is less sinful. Now the disorder of covetousness is sometimes accompanied by a laudable circumstance, as in the case of those who are unwilling to spend their own, lest they be driven to accept from others: whereas the disorder of prodigality is accompanied by a circumstance that calls for blame, inasmuch as we ascribe prodigality to those who are intemperate, as the Philosopher observes (Ethic. iv, 1). Therefore prodigality is a more grievous sin than covetousness.
3. Further, prudence is chief among the moral virtues, as stated above (Question , Article , ad 1; FS, Question , Article , ad 1). Now prodigality is more opposed to prudence than covetousness is: for it is written (Pr 21,20): "There is a treasure to be desired, and oil in the dwelling of the just; and the foolish man shall spend it": and the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 6) that "it is the mark of a fool to give too much and receive nothing." Therefore prodigality is a more grievous sin than covetousness.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 6) that "the prodigal seems to be much better than the illiberal man."
I answer that Prodigality considered in itself is a less grievous sin than covetousness, and this for three reasons. First, because covetousness differs more from the opposite virtue: since giving, wherein the prodigal exceeds, belongs to liberality more than receiving or retaining, wherein the covetous man exceeds. Secondly, because the prodigal man is of use to the many to whom he gives, while the covetous man is of use to no one, not even to himself, as stated in Ethic. iv, 6. Thirdly, because prodigality is easily cured. For not only is the prodigal on the way to old age, which is opposed to prodigality, but he is easily reduced to a state of want, since much useless spending impoverishes him and makes him unable to exceed in giving. Moreover, prodigality is easily turned into virtue on account of its likeness thereto. On the other hand, the covetous man is not easily cured, for the reason given above (Question , Article , ad 3).
Reply to Objection: 1. The difference between the prodigal and the covetous man is not that the former sins against himself and the latter against another. For the prodigal sins against himself by spending that which is his, and his means of support, and against others by spending the wherewithal to help others. This applies chiefly to the clergy, who are the dispensers of the Church's goods, that belong to the poor whom they defraud by their prodigal expenditure. In like manner the covetous man sins against others, by being deficient in giving; and he sins against himself, through deficiency in spending: wherefore it is written (Qo 6,2): "A man to whom God hath given riches . . . yet doth not give him the power to eat thereof." Nevertheless the prodigal man exceeds in this, that he injures both himself and others yet so as to profit some; whereas the covetous man profits neither others nor himself, since he does not even use his own goods for his own profit.
2. In speaking of vices in general, we judge of them according to their respective natures: thus, with regard to prodigality we note that it consumes riches to excess, and with regard to covetousness that it retains them to excess. That one spend too much for the sake of intemperance points already to several additional sins, wherefore the prodigal of this kind is worse, as stated in Ethic. iv, 1. That an illiberal or covetous man refrain from taking what belongs to others, although this appears in itself to call for praise, yet on account of the motive for which he does so it calls for blame, since he is unwilling to accept from others lest he be forced to give to others.
3. All vices are opposed to prudence, even as all virtues are directed by prudence: wherefore if a vice be opposed to prudence alone, for this very reason it is deemed less grievous.
We must now consider "epikeia," under which head there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether "epikeia" is a virtue?
(2) Whether it is a part of justice?
Objection: 1. It seems that "epikeia" is not a virtue. For no virtue does away with another virtue. Yet "epikeia" does away with another virtue, since it sets aside that which is just according to law, and seemingly is opposed to severity. Therefore "epikeia" is not a virtue.
2. Further, Augustine says (De Vera Relig. xxxi): "With regard to these earthly laws, although men pass judgment on them when they make them, yet, when once they are made and established, the judge must pronounce judgment not on them but according to them." But seemingly "epikeia" pronounces judgment on the law, when it deems that the law should not be observed in some particular case. Therefore "epikeia" is a vice rather than a virtue.
3. Further, apparently it belongs to "epikeia" to consider the intention of the lawgiver, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. v, 10). But it belongs to the sovereign alone to interpret the intention of the lawgiver, wherefore the Emperor says in the Codex of Laws and Constitutions, under Law i: "It is fitting and lawful that We alone should interpret between equity and law." Therefore the act of "epikeia" is unlawful: and consequently "epikeia" is not a virtue.
On the contrary The Philosopher (Ethic. v, 10) states it to be a virtue.
I answer that As stated above (FS, Question , Article ), when we were treating of laws, since human actions, with which laws are concerned, are composed of contingent singulars and are innumerable in their diversity, it was not possible to lay down rules of law that would apply to every single case. Legislators in framing laws attend to what commonly happens: although if the law be applied to certain cases it will frustrate the equality of justice and be injurious to the common good, which the law has in view. Thus the law requires deposits to be restored, because in the majority of cases this is just. Yet it happens sometimes to be injurious---for instance, if a madman were to put his sword in deposit, and demand its delivery while in a state of madness, or if a man were to seek the return of his deposit in order to fight against his country. In these and like cases it is bad to follow the law, and it is good to set aside the letter of the law and to follow the dictates of justice and the common good. This is the object of "epikeia" which we call equity. Therefore it is evident that "epikeia" is a virtue.
Reply to Objection: 1. "Epikeia" does not set aside that which is just in itself but that which is just as by law established. Nor is it opposed to severity, which follows the letter of the law when it ought to be followed. To follow the letter of the law when it ought not to be followed is sinful. Hence it is written in the Codex of Laws and Constitutions under Law v: "Without doubt he transgresses the law who by adhering to the letter of the law strives to defeat the intention of the lawgiver."
2. It would be passing judgment on a law to say that it was not well made; but to say that the letter of the law is not to be observed in some particular case is passing judgment not on the law, but on some particular contingency.
3. Interpretation is admissible in doubtful cases where it is not allowed to set aside the letter of the law without the interpretation of the sovereign. But when the case is manifest there is need, not of interpretation, but of execution.
Objection: 1. It seems that "epikeia" is not a part of justice. For, as stated above (Question , Article ), justice is twofold, particular and legal. Now "epikeia" is not a part of particular justice, since it extends to all virtues, even as legal justice does. In like manner, neither is it a part of legal justice, since its operation is beside that which is established by law. Therefore it seems that "epikeia" is not a part of justice.
2. Further, a more principal virtue is not assigned as the part of a less principal virtue: for it is to the cardinal virtue, as being principal, that secondary virtues are assigned as parts. Now "epikeia" seems to be a more principal virtue than justice, as implied by its name: for it is derived from (epi), i.e. "above," and (dikaion), i.e. "just." Therefore "epikeia" is not a part of justice.
3. Further, it seems that "epikeia" is the same as modesty. For where the Apostle says (Ph 4,5), "Let your modesty be known to all men," the Greek has (epieikeia) [*(to epieikes)]. Now, according to Tully (De Invent. Rhet. ii), modesty is a part of temperance. Therefore "epikeia" is not a part of justice.
On the contrary The Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 10) that "epikeia is a kind of justice."
I answer that As stated above (Question ), a virtue has three kinds of parts, subjective, integral, and potential. A subjective part is one of which the whole is predicated essentially, and it is less than the whole. This may happen in two ways. For sometimes one thing is predicated of many in one common ratio, as animal of horse and ox: and sometimes one thing is predicated of many according to priority and posteriority, as "being" of substance and accident.Accordingly, "epikeia" is a part of justice taken in a general sense, for it is a kind of justice, as the Philosopher states (Ethic. v, 10). Wherefore it is evident that "epikeia" is a subjective part of justice; and justice is predicated of it with priority to being predicated of legal justice, since legal justice is subject to the direction of "epikeia." Hence "epikeia" is by way of being a higher rule of human actions.
Reply to Objection: 1. Epikeia corresponds properly to legal justice, and in one way is contained under it, and in another way exceeds it. For if legal justice denotes that which complies with the law, whether as regards the letter of the law, or as regards the intention of the lawgiver, which is of more account, then "epikeia" is the more important part of legal justice. But if legal justice denote merely that which complies with the law with regard to the letter, then "epikeia" is a part not of legal justice but of justice in its general acceptation, and is condivided with legal justice, as exceeding it.
2. As the Philosopher states (Ethic. v, 10), "epikeia is better than a certain," namely, legal, "justice," which observes the letter of the law: yet since it is itself a kind of justice, it is not better than all justice.
3. It belongs to "epikeia" to moderate something, namely, the observance of the letter of the law. But modesty, which is reckoned a part of temperance, moderates man's outward life---for instance, in his deportment, dress or the like. Possibly also the term (epieikeia) is applied in Greek by a similitude to all kinds of moderation.
We must now consider the gift that corresponds to justice; namely, piety. Under this head there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether it is a gift of the Holy Ghost?
(2) Which of the beatitudes and fruits corresponds to it?
Objection: 1. It seems that piety is not a gift. For the gifts differ from the virtues, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ). But piety is a virtue, as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore piety is not a gift.
2. Further, the gifts are more excellent than the virtues, above all the moral virtues, as above (FS, Question , Article ). Now among the parts of justice religion is greater than piety. Therefore if any part of justice is to be accounted a gift, it seems that religion should be a gift rather than piety.
3. Further, the gifts and their acts remain in heaven, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ). But the act of piety cannot remain in heaven: for Gregory says (Moral. i) that "piety fills the inmost recesses of the heart with works of mercy": and so there will be no piety in heaven since there will be no unhappiness [*Cf. Question , Article ]. Therefore piety is not a gift.
On the contrary It is reckoned among the gifts in the eleventh chapter of Isaias (verse 2) [Douay: 'godliness'] [*"Pietas," whence our English word "pity," which is the same as mercy.]
I answer that As stated above (FS, Question , Article ; FS, Question , Articles ,3), the gifts of the Holy Ghost are habitual dispositions of the soul, rendering it amenable to the motion of the Holy Ghost. Now the Holy Ghost moves us to this effect among others, of having a filial affection towards God, according to Rm 8,15, "You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father)." And since it belongs properly to piety to pay duty and worship to one's father, it follows that piety, whereby, at the Holy Ghost's instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, is a gift of the Holy Ghost.
Reply to Objection: 1. The piety that pays duty and worship to a father in the flesh is a virtue: but the piety that is a gift pays this to God as Father.
2. To pay worship to God as Creator, as religion does, is more excellent than to pay worship to one's father in the flesh, as the piety that is a virtue does. But to pay worship to God as Father is yet more excellent than to pay worship to God as Creator and Lord. Wherefore religion is greater than the virtue of piety: while the gift of piety is greater than religion.
3. As by the virtue of piety man pays duty and worship not only to his father in the flesh, but also to all his kindred on account of their being related to his father so by the gift of piety he pays worship and duty not only to God, but also to all men on account of their relationship to God. Hence it belongs to piety to honor the saints, and not to contradict the Scriptures whether one understands them or not, as Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. ii). Consequently it also assists those who are in a state of unhappiness. And although this act has no place in heaven, especially after the Day of Judgment, yet piety will exercise its principal act, which is to revere God with filial affection: for it is then above all that this act will be fulfilled, according to Sg 5,5, "Behold how they are numbered among the children of God." The saints will also mutually honor one another. Now, however, before the Judgment Day, the saints have pity on those also who are living in this unhappy state.
Objection: 1. It seems that the second beatitude, "Blessed are the meek," does not correspond to the gift of piety. For piety is the gift corresponding to justice, to which rather belongs the fourth beatitude, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice," or the fifth beatitude, "Blessed are the merciful," since as stated above (Article , Objection ), the works of mercy belong to piety. Therefore the second beatitude does not pertain to the gift of piety.
2. Further, the gift of piety is directed by the gift of knowledge, which is united to it in the enumeration of the gifts (Is 11). Now direction and execution extend to the same matter. Since, then, the third beatitude, "Blessed are they that mourn," corresponds to the gift of knowledge, it seems that the second beatitude corresponds to piety.
3. Further, the fruits correspond to the beatitudes and gifts, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ). Now among the fruits, goodness and benignity seem to agree with piety rather than mildness, which pertains to meekness. Therefore the second beatitude does not correspond to the gift of piety.
On the contrary Augustine says (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i): "Piety is becoming to the meek."
I answer that In adapting the beatitudes to the gifts a twofold congruity may be observed. One is according to the order in which they are given, and Augustine seems to have followed this: wherefore he assigns the first beatitude to the lowest gift, namely, fear, and the second beatitude, "Blessed are the meek," to piety, and so on. Another congruity may be observed in keeping with the special nature of each gift and beatitude. In this way one must adapt the beatitudes to the gifts according to their objects and acts: and thus the fourth and fifth beatitudes would correspond to piety, rather than the second. Yet the second beatitude has a certain congruity with piety, inasmuch as meekness removes the obstacles to acts of piety.
Reply to Objection: 1. This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.
2. Taking the beatitudes and gifts according to their proper natures, the same beatitude must needs correspond to knowledge and piety: but taking them according to their order, different beatitudes correspond to them, although a certain congruity may be observed, as stated above.
3. In the fruits goodness and benignity may be directly ascribed to piety; and mildness indirectly in so far as it removes obstacles to acts of piety, as stated above.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
4. The precepts of the decalogue pertain to charity as their end, according to 1Tm 1,5, "The end of the commandment is charity": but they belong to justice, inasmuch as they refer immediately to acts of justice.
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 He 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.
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 expressed.
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 Jr 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).
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 vain."
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 have acknowledged.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']."
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 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.
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.
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.
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 Lc 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.
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.
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 (1R 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 (Lc 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 decalogue.
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 expressed.
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 precept.
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.
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 Lv 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 Pr 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 (1M 2,41), 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?"
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.
Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.119 a.3