Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.85 a.3
Objection: 1. It would seem that the offering of sacrifice is not a special act of virtue. Augustine says (De Civ. Dei x, 6): "A true sacrifice is any work done that we may cleave to God in holy fellowship." But not every good work is a special act of some definite virtue. Therefore the offering of sacrifice is not a special act of a definite virtue.
2. Further, the mortification of the body by fasting belongs to abstinence, by continence belongs to chastity, by martyrdom belongs to fortitude. Now all these things seem to be comprised in the offering of sacrifice, according to Rm 12,1, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." Again the Apostle says (He 13,16): "Do not forget to do good and to impart, for by such sacrifices God's favor is obtained." Now it belongs to charity, mercy and liberality to do good and to impart. Therefore the offering of sacrifice is not a special act of a definite virtue.
3. Further, a sacrifice is apparently anything offered to God. Now many things are offered to God, such as devotion, prayer, tithes, first-fruits, oblations, and holocausts. Therefore sacrifice does not appear to be a special act of a definite virtue.
On the contrary The law contains special precepts about sacrifices, as appears from the beginning of Leviticus.
I answer that As stated above (FS, Question , Articles ,7), where an act of one virtue is directed to the end of another virtue it partakes somewhat of its species; thus when a man thieves in order to commit fornication, his theft assumes, in a sense, the deformity of fornication, so that even though it were not a sin otherwise, it would be a sin from the very fact that it was directed to fornication. Accordingly, sacrifice is a special act deserving of praise in that it is done out of reverence for God; and for this reason it belongs to a definite virtue, viz. religion. But it happens that the acts of the other virtues are directed to the reverence of God, as when a man gives alms of his own things for God's sake, or when a man subjects his own body to some affliction out of reverence for God; and in this way the acts also of other virtues may be called sacrifices. On the other hand there are acts that are not deserving of praise save through being done out of reverence for God: such acts are properly called sacrifices, and belong to the virtue of religion.
Reply to Objection: 1. The very fact that we wish to cling to God in a spiritual fellowship pertains to reverence for God: and consequently the act of any virtue assumes the character of a sacrifice through being done in order that we may cling to God in holy fellowship.
2. Man's good is threefold. There is first his soul's good which is offered to God in a certain inward sacrifice by devotion, prayer and other like interior acts: and this is the principal sacrifice. The second is his body's good, which is, so to speak, offered to God in martyrdom, and abstinence or continency. The third is the good which consists of external things: and of these we offer a sacrifice to God, directly when we offer our possession to God immediately, and indirectly when we share them with our neighbor for God's sake.
3. A "sacrifice," properly speaking, requires that something be done to the thing which is offered to God, for instance animals were slain and burnt, the bread is broken, eaten, blessed. The very word signifies this, since "sacrifice" is so called because a man does something sacred [facit sacrum]. On the other hand an "oblation" is properly the offering of something to God even if nothing be done thereto, thus we speak of offering money or bread at the altar, and yet nothing is done to them. Hence every sacrifice is an oblation, but not conversely. "First-fruits" are oblations, because they were offered to God, according to Dt 26, but they are not a sacrifice, because nothing sacred was done to them. "Tithes," however, are neither a sacrifice nor an oblation, properly speaking, because they are not offered immediately to God, but to the ministers of Divine worship.
Objection: 1. It would seem that all are not bound to offer sacrifices. The Apostle says (Rm 3,19): "What things soever the Law speaketh, it speaketh to them that are in the Law." Now the law of sacrifices was not given to all, but only to the Hebrew people. Therefore all are not bound to offer sacrifices.
2. Further, sacrifices are offered to God in order to signify something. But not everyone is capable of understanding these significations. Therefore not all are bound to offer sacrifices.
3. Further, priests [*'Sacerdotes': Those who give or administer sacred things (sacra dantes): cf. 1Co 4,1] are so called because they offer sacrifice to God. But all are not priests. Therefore not all are bound to offer sacrifices.
On the contrary The offering of sacrifices of is of the natural law, as stated above (Article ). Now all are bound to do that which is of the natural law. Therefore all are bound to offer sacrifice to God.
I answer that Sacrifice is twofold, as stated above (Article ). The first and principal is the inward sacrifice, which all are bound to offer, since all are obliged to offer to God a devout mind. The other is the outward sacrifice, and this again is twofold. There is a sacrifice which is deserving of praise merely through being offered to God in protestation of our subjection to God: and the obligation of offering this sacrifice was not the same for those under the New or the Old Law, as for those who were not under the Law. For those who are under the Law are bound to offer certain definite sacrifices according to the precepts of the Law, whereas those who were not under the Law were bound to perform certain outward actions in God's honor, as became those among whom they dwelt, but not definitely to this or that action. The other outward sacrifice is when the outward actions of the other virtues are performed out of reverence for God; some of which are a matter of precept; and to these all are bound, while others are works of supererogation, and to these all are not bound.
Reply to Objection: 1. All were not bound to offer those particular sacrifices which were prescribed in the Law: but they were bound to some sacrifices inward or outward, as stated above.
2. Though all do not know explicitly the power of the sacrifices, they know it implicitly, even as they have implicit faith, as stated above (Question , Articles 6,7).
3. The priests offer those sacrifices which are specially directed to the Divine worship, not only for themselves but also for others. But there are other sacrifices, which anyone can offer to God for himself as explained above (Articles ,3).
We must next consider oblations and first-fruits. Under this head there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether any oblations are necessary as a matter of precept?
(2) To whom are oblations due?
(3) of what things they should be made?
(4) In particular, as to first-fruits, whether men are bound to offer them?
Objection: 1. It would seem that men are not bound by precept to make oblations. Men are not bound, at the time of the Gospel, to observe the ceremonial precepts of the Old Law, as stated above (FS, Question , Articles ,4). Now the offering of oblations is one of the ceremonial precepts of the Old Law, since it is written (Ex 23,14): "Three times every year you shall celebrate feasts with Me," and further on (Ex 23,15): "Thou shalt not appear empty before Me." Therefore men are not now under a necessity of precept to make oblations.
2. Further, before they are made, oblations depend on man's will, as appears from our Lord's saying (Mt 5,23), "If . . . thou offer thy gift at the altar," as though this were left to the choice of the offerer: and when once oblations have been made, there is no way of offering them again. Therefore in no way is a man under a necessity of precept to make oblations.
3. Further, if anyone is bound to give a certain thing to the Church, and fails to give it, he can be compelled to do so by being deprived of the Church's sacraments. But it would seem unlawful to refuse the sacraments of the Church to those who refuse to make oblations according to a decree of the sixth council [*Can. Trullan, xxiii], quoted I, qu. i, can. Nullus: "Let none who dispense Holy Communion exact anything of the recipient, and if they exact anything let them be deposed." Therefore it is not necessary that men should make oblations.
On the contrary Gregory says [*Gregory VII; Concil. Roman. v, can. xii]: "Let every Christian take care that he offer something to God at the celebration of Mass."
I answer that As stated above (Question , Article , ad 3), the term "oblation" is common to all things offered for the Divine worship, so that if a thing be offered to be destroyed in worship of God, as though it were being made into something holy, it is both an oblation and a sacrifice. Wherefore it is written (Ex 29,18): "Thou shalt offer the whole ram for a burnt-offering upon the altar; it is an oblation to the Lord, a most sweet savor of the victim of the Lord"; and (Lv 2,1): "When anyone shall offer an oblation of sacrifice to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour." If, on the other hand, it be offered with a view to its remaining entire and being deputed to the worship of God or to the use of His ministers, it will be an oblation and not a sacrifice. Accordingly it is essential to oblations of this kind that they be offered voluntarily, according to Ex 25,2, of "every man that offereth of his own accord you shall take them." Nevertheless it may happen in four ways that one is bound to make oblations. First, on account of a previous agreement: as when a person is granted a portion of Church land, that he may make certain oblations at fixed times, although this has the character of rent. Secondly, by reason of a previous assignment or promise; as when a man offers a gift among the living, or by will bequeaths to the Church something whether movable or immovable to be delivered at some future time. Thirdly, on account of the need of the Church, for instance if her ministers were without means of support. Fourthly, on account of custom; for the faithful are bound at certain solemn feasts to make certain customary oblations. In the last two cases, however, the oblation remains voluntary, as regards, to wit, the quantity or kind of the thing offered.
Reply to Objection: 1. Under the New Law men are not bound to make oblations on account of legal solemnities, as stated in Exodus, but on account of certain other reasons, as stated above.
2. Some are bound to make oblations, both before making them, as in the first, third, and. fourth cases, and after they have made them by assignment or promise: for they are bound to offer in reality that which has been already offered to the Church by way of assignment.
3. Those who do not make the oblations they are bound to make may be punished by being deprived of the sacraments, not by the priest himself to whom the oblations should be made, lest he seem to exact, something for bestowing the sacraments, but by someone superior to him.
Objection: 1. It would seem that oblations are not due to priests alone. For chief among oblations would seem to be those that are deputed to the sacrifices of victims. Now whatever is given to the poor is called a "victim in Scripture according to He 13,16, "Do not forget to do good and to impart, for by such victims [Douay: 'sacrifices'] God's favor is obtained. Much more therefore are oblations due to the poor.
2. Further, in many parishes monks have a share in the oblations. Now "the case of clerics is distinct from the case of monks," as Jerome states [*Ep. xiv, ad Heliod.]. Therefore oblations art not due to priests alone.
3. Further, lay people with the consent of the Church buy oblations such as loaves and so forth, and they do so for no other reason than that they may make use thereof themselves. Therefore oblations may have reference to the laity.
On the contrary A canon of Pope Damasus [*Damasus I] quoted X, qu. i [*Can. Hanc consuetudinem], says: "None but the priests whom day by day we see serving the Lord may eat and drink of the oblations which are offered within the precincts of the Holy Church: because in the Old Testament the Lord forbade the children of Israel to eat the sacred loaves, with the exception of Aaron and his sons" (Lv 24,8-9).
I answer that The priest is appointed mediator and stands, so to speak, "between" the people and God, as we read of Moses (Dt 5,5), wherefore it belongs to him to set forth the Divine teachings and sacraments before the people; and besides to offer to the Lord things appertaining to the people, their prayers, for instance, their sacrifices and oblations. Thus the Apostle says (He 5,1): "Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins." Hence the oblations which the people offer to God concern the priests, not only as regards their turning them to their own use, but also as regards the faithful dispensation thereof, by spending them partly on things appertaining to the Divine worship, partly on things touching their own livelihood (since they that serve the altar partake with the altar, according to 1Co 9,13), and partly for the good of the poor, who, as far as possible, should be supported from the possessions of the Church: for our Lord had a purse for the use of the poor, as Jerome observes on Mt 17,26, "That we may not scandalize them."
Reply to Objection: 1. Whatever is given to the poor is not a sacrifice properly speaking; yet it is called a sacrifice in so far as it is given to them for God's sake. In like manner, and for the same reason, it can be called an oblation, though not properly speaking, since it is not given immediately to God. Oblations properly so called fall to the use of the poor, not by the dispensation of the offerers, but by the dispensation of the priests.
2. Monks or other religious may receive oblations under three counts. First, as poor, either by the dispensation of the priests, or by ordination of the Church; secondly, through being ministers of the altar, and then they can accept oblations that are freely offered; thirdly, if the parishes belong to them, and they can accept oblations, having a right to them as rectors of the Church.
3. Oblations when once they are consecrated, such as sacred vessels and vestments, cannot be granted to the use of the laity: and this is the meaning of the words of Pope Damasus. But those which are unconsecrated may be allowed to the use of layfolk by permission of the priests, whether by way of gift or by way of sale.
Objection: 1. It would seem that a man may not make oblations of whatever he lawfully possesses. According to human law [*Dig. xii, v, de Condict. ob. turp. vel iniust. caus. 4] "the whore's is a shameful trade in what she does but not in what she takes," and consequently what she takes she possesses lawfully. Yet it is not lawful for her to make an oblation with her gains, according to Dt 23,18, "Thou shalt not offer the hire of a strumpet . . . in the house of the Lord thy God." Therefore it is not lawful to make an oblation of whatever one possesses lawfully.
2. Further, in the same passage it is forbidden to offer "the price of a dog" in the house of God. But it is evident that a man possesses lawfully the price of a dog he has lawfully sold. Therefore it is not lawful to make an oblation of whatever we possess lawfully.
3. Further, it is written (Ml 1,8): "If you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil?" Yet an animal though lame or sick is a lawful possession. Therefore it would seem that not of every lawful possession may one make an oblation.
On the contrary It is written (Pr 3,9): "Honor the Lord with thy substance." Now whatever a man possesses lawfully belongs to his substance. Therefore he may make oblations of whatever he possesses lawfully.
I answer that As Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. Serm. cxiii), "shouldst thou plunder one weaker than thyself and give some of the spoil to the judge, if he should pronounce in thy favor, such is the force of justice that even thou wouldst not be pleased with him: and if this should not please thee, neither does it please thy God." Hence it is written (Si 34,21): "The offering of him that sacrificeth of a thing wrongfully gotten is stained." Therefore it is evident that an oblation must not be made of things unjustly acquired or possessed. In the Old Law, however, wherein the figure was predominant, certain things were reckoned unclean on account of their signification, and it was forbidden to offer them. But in the New Law all God's creatures are looked upon as clean, as stated in Titus 1:15: and consequently anything that is lawfully possessed, considered in itself, may be offered in oblation. But it may happen accidentally that one may not make an oblation of what one possesses lawfully; for instance if it be detrimental to another person, as in the case of a son who offers to God the means of supporting his father (which our Lord condemns, Mt 15,5), or if it give rise to scandal or contempt, or the like.
Reply to Objection: 1. In the Old Law it was forbidden to make an offering of the hire of a strumpet on account of its uncleanness, and in the New Law, on account of scandal, lest the Church seem to favor sin if she accept oblations from the profits of sin.
2. According to the Law, a dog was deemed an unclean animal. Yet other unclean animals were redeemed and their price could be offered, according to Lv 27,27, "If it be an unclean animal, he that offereth it shall redeem it." But a dog was neither offered nor redeemed, both because idolaters used dogs in sacrifices to their idols, and because they signify robbery, the proceeds of which cannot be offered in oblation. However, this prohibition ceased under the New Law.
3. The oblation of a blind or lame animal was declared unlawful for three reasons. First, on account of the purpose for which it was offered, wherefore it is written (Malach. 1:8): "If you offer the blind in sacrifice, is it not evil?" and it behooved sacrifices to be without blemish. Secondly, on account of contempt, wherefore the same text goes on (Ml 1,12): "You have profaned" My name, "in that you say: The table of the Lord is defiled and that which is laid thereupon is contemptible." Thirdly, on account of a previous vow, whereby a man has bound himself to offer without blemish whatever he has vowed: hence the same text says further on (Ml 1,14): "Cursed is the deceitful man that hath in his flock a male, and making a vow offereth in sacrifice that which is feeble to the Lord." The same reasons avail still in the New Law, but when they do not apply the unlawfulness ceases.
Objection: 1. It would seem that men are not bound to pay first-fruits. After giving the law of the first-born the text continues (Ex 13,9): "It shall be as a sign in thy hand," so that, apparently, it is a ceremonial precept. But ceremonial precepts are not to be observed in the New Law. Neither therefore ought first-fruits to be paid.
2. Further, first-fruits were offered to the Lord for a special favor conferred on that people, wherefore it is written (Dt 26,2-3): "Thou shalt take the first of all thy fruits . . . and thou shalt go to the priest that shall be in those days, and say to him: I profess this day before the Lord thy God, that I am come into the land, for which He swore to our fathers, that He would give it us." Therefore other nations are not bound to pay first-fruits.
3. That which one is bound to do should be something definite. But neither in the New Law nor in the Old do we find mention of a definite amount of first-fruits. Therefore one is not bound of necessity to pay them.
On the contrary It is laid down (16, qu. vii, can. Decimas): "We confirm the right of priests to tithes and first-fruits, and everybody must pay them."
I answer that First-fruits are a kind of oblation, because they are offered to God with a certain profession (Dt 26); where the same passage continues: "The priest taking the basket containing the first-fruits from the hand of him that bringeth the first-fruits, shall set it before the altar of the Lord thy God," and further on (Dt 26,10) he is commanded to say: "Therefore now I offer the first-fruits of the land, which the Lord hath given me." Now the first-fruits were offered for a special reason, namely, in recognition of the divine favor, as though man acknowledged that he had received the fruits of the earth from God, and that he ought to offer something to God in return, according to 1Ch 29,14, "We have given Thee what we received of Thy hand." And since what we offer God ought to be something special, hence it is that man was commanded to offer God his first-fruits, as being a special part of the fruits of the earth: and since a priest is "ordained for the people "in the things that appertain to God" (He 5,1), the first-fruits offered by the people were granted to the priest's use." Wherefore it is written (Nb 18,8): "The Lord said to Aaron: Behold I have given thee the charge of My first-fruits." Now it is a point of natural law that man should make an offering in God's honor out of the things he has received from God, but that the offering should be made to any particular person, or out of his first-fruits, or in such or such a quantity, was indeed determined in the Old Law by divine command; but in the New Law it is fixed by the declaration of the Church, in virtue of which men are bound to pay first-fruits according to the custom of their country and the needs of the Church's ministers.
Reply to Objection: 1. The ceremonial observances were properly speaking signs of the future, and consequently they ceased when the foreshadowed truth was actually present. But the offering of first-fruits was for a sign of a past favor, whence arises the duty of acknowledgment in accordance with the dictate of natural reason. Hence taken in a general sense this obligation remains.
2. First-fruits were offered in the Old Law, not only on account of the favor of the promised land given by God, but also on account of the favor of the fruits of the earth, which were given by God. Hence it is written (Dt 26,10): "I offer the first-fruits of the land which the Lord hath given me," which second motive is common among all people. We may also reply that just as God granted the land of promise to the Jews by a special favor, so by a general favor He bestowed the lordship of the earth on the whole of mankind, according to Ps 113,24, "The earth He has given to the children of men."
3. As Jerome says [*Comment. in Ez 45,13-14; cf. Cap. Decimam, de Decim. Primit. et Oblat.]: "According to the tradition of the ancients the custom arose for those who had most to give the priests a fortieth part, and those who had least, one sixtieth, in lieu of first-fruits." Hence it would seem that first-fruits should vary between these limits according to the custom of one's country. And it was reasonable that the amount of first-fruits should not be fixed by law, since, as stated above, first-fruits are offered by way of oblation, a condition of which is that it should be voluntary.
Next we must consider tithes, under which head there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether men are bound by precept to pay tithes?
(2) Of what things ought tithes to be paid?
(3) To whom ought they to be paid?
(4) Who ought to pay tithes?
Objection: 1. It would seem that men are not bound by precept to pay tithes. The commandment to pay tithes is contained in the Old Law (Lv 27,30), "All tithes of the land, whether of corn or of the fruits of trees, are the Lord's," and further on (Lv 27,32): "Of all the tithes of oxen and sheep and goats, that pass under the shepherd's rod, every tenth that cometh shall be sanctified to the Lord." This cannot be reckoned among the moral precepts, because natural reason does not dictate that one ought to give a tenth part, rather than a ninth or eleventh. Therefore it is either a judicial or a ceremonial precept. Now, as stated above (FS, Question , Article ; FS, Question , Article ), during the time of grace men are hound neither to the ceremonial nor to the judicial precepts of the Old Law. Therefore men are not bound now to pay tithes.
2. Further, during the time of grace men are bound only to those things which were commanded by Christ through the Apostles, according to Mt 28,20, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you"; and Paul says (Ac 20,27): "I have not spared to declare unto you all the counsel of God." Now neither in the teaching of Christ nor in that of the apostles is there any mention of the paying of tithes: for the saying of our Lord about tithes (Mt 23,23), "These things you ought to have done" seems to refer to the past time of legal observance: thus Hilary says (Super Matth. can. xxiv): "The tithing of herbs, which was useful in foreshadowing the future, was not to be omitted." Therefore during the time of grace men are not bound to pay tithes.
3. Further, during the time of grace, men are not more bound to the legal observances than before the Law. But before the Law tithes were given, by reason not of a precept but of a vow. For we read (Gn 28,20 Gn 28,22) that Jacob "made a vow" saying: "If God shall be with me, and shall keep me in the way by which I walk . . . of all the things that Thou shalt give to me, I will offer tithes to Thee." Neither, therefore, during the time of grace are men bound to pay tithes.
4. Further, in the Old Law men were bound to pay three kinds of tithe. For it is written (Nb 18,23-24): "The sons of Levi . . . shall . . . be content with the oblation of tithes, which I have separated for their uses and necessities." Again, there were other tithes of which we read (Dt 14,22-23): "Every year thou shalt set aside the tithes of all thy fruits, that the earth bringeth forth year by year; and thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall choose." And there were yet other tithes, of which it is written (Dt 14,28): "The third year thou shalt separate another tithe of all things that grow to thee at that time, and shalt lay it up within thy gates. And the Levite that hath no other part nor possession with thee, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates, shall . . . eat and be filled." Now during the time of grace men are not bound to pay the second and third tithes. Neither therefore are they bound to pay the first.
5. Further, a debt that is due without any time being fixed for its payment, must be paid at once under pain of sin. Accordingly if during the time of grace men are bound, under necessity of precept, to pay tithes in those countries where tithes are not paid, they would all be in a state of mortal sin, and so would also be the ministers of the Church for dissembling. But this seems unreasonable. Therefore during the time of grace men are not bound under necessity of precept to pay tithes.
On the contrary Augustine [*Append. Serm. cclxxcii], whose words are quoted 16, qu. i [*Can. Decimae], says: "It is a duty to pay tithes, and whoever refuses to pay them takes what belongs to another."
I answer that In the Old Law tithes were paid for the sustenance of the ministers of God. Hence it is written (Ml 3,10): "Bring all the tithes into My [Vulg.: 'the'] store-house that there may be meat in My house." Hence the precept about the paying of tithes was partly moral and instilled in the natural reason; and partly judicial, deriving its force from its divine institution. Because natural reason dictates that the people should administer the necessaries of life to those who minister the divine worship for the welfare of the whole people even as it is the people's duty to provide a livelihood for their rulers and soldiers and so forth. Hence the Apostle proves this from human custom, saying (1Co 9,7): "Who serveth as a soldier at any time at his own charge? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof?" But the fixing of the proportion to be offered to the ministers of divine worship does not belong to the natural law, but was determined by divine institution, in accordance with the condition of that people to whom the law was being given. For they were divided into twelve tribes, and the twelfth tribe, namely that of Levi, was engaged exclusively in the divine ministry and had no possessions whence to derive a livelihood: and so it was becomingly ordained that the remaining eleven tribes should give one-tenth part of their revenues to the Levites [*Nb 18,21] that the latter might live respectably; and also because some, through negligence, would disregard this precept. Hence, so far as the tenth part was fixed, the precept was judicial, since all institutions established among this people for the special purpose of preserving equality among men, in accordance with this people's condition, are called "judicial precepts." Nevertheless by way of consequence these institutions foreshadowed something in the future, even as everything else connected with them, according to 1Co 12, "All these things happened to them in figure." In this respect they had something in common with the "ceremonial precepts," which were instituted chiefly that they might be signs of the future. Hence the precept about paying tithes foreshadowed something in the future. For ten is, in a way, the perfect number (being the first numerical limit, since the figures do not go beyond ten but begin over again from one), and therefore he that gave a tenth, which is the sign of perfection, reserving the nine other parts for himself, acknowledged by a sign that imperfection was his part, and that the perfection which was to come through Christ was to be hoped for from God. Yet this proves it to be, not a ceremonial but a judicial precept, as stated above.There is this difference between the ceremonial and judicial precepts of the Law, as we stated above (FS, Question , Article ), that it is unlawful to observe the ceremonial precepts at the time of the New Law, whereas there is no sin in keeping the judicial precepts during the time of grace although they are not binding. Indeed they are bound to be observed by some, if they be ordained by the authority of those who have power to make laws. Thus it was a judicial precept of the Old Law that he who stole a sheep should restore four sheep (Ex 22,1), and if any king were to order this to be done his subjects would be bound to obey. In like manner during the time of the New Law the authority of the Church has established the payment of tithe; thus showing a certain kindliness, lest the people of the New Law should give less to the ministers of the New Testament than did the people of the Old Law to the ministers of the Old Testament; for the people of the New Law are under greater obligations, according to Mt 5,20, "Unless your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," and, moreover, the ministers of the New Testament are of greater dignity than the ministers of the Old Testament, as the Apostle shows (2Co 3,7-8).Accordingly it is evident that man's obligation to pay tithes arises partly from natural law, partly from the institution of the Church; who, nevertheless, in consideration of the requirements of time and persons might ordain the payment of some other proportion.
Reply to Objection: 1. This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection.
2. The precept about paying tithes, in so far as it was a moral precept, was given in the Gospel by our Lord when He said (Mt 10,10) [*The words as quoted are from Lc 10,7: Matthew has 'meat' instead of 'hire']: "The workman is worthy of his hire," and the Apostle says the same (1Co 9,4 seqq.). But the fixing of the particular proportion is left to the ordinance of the Church.
3. Before the time of the Old Law the ministry of the divine worship was not entrusted to any particular person; although it is stated that the first-born were priests, and that they received a double portion. For this very reason no particular portion was directed to be given to the ministers of the divine worship: but when they met with one, each man of his own accord gave him what he deemed right. Thus Abraham by a kind of prophetic instinct gave tithes to Melchisedech, the priest of the Most High God, according to Gn 14,20, and again Jacob made a vow to give tithes [*Gn 28,20], although he appears to have vowed to do so, not by paying them to ministers, but for the purpose of the divine worship, for instance for the fulfilling of sacrifices, hence he said significantly: "I will offer tithes to Thee."
4. The second kind of tithe, which was reserved for the offering of sacrifices, has no place in the New Law, since the legal victims had ceased. But the third kind of tithe which they had to eat with the poor, is increased in the New Law, for our Lord commanded us to give to the poor not merely the tenth part, but all our surplus, according to Lc 11,41: "That which remaineth, give alms." Moreover the tithes that are given to the ministers of the Church should be dispensed by them for the use of the poor.
5. The ministers of the Church ought to be more solicitous for the increase of spiritual goods in the people, than for the amassing of temporal goods: and hence the Apostle was unwilling to make use of the right given him by the Lord of receiving his livelihood from those to whom he preached the Gospel, lest he should occasion a hindrance to the Gospel of Christ [*1Co 9,12]. Nor did they sin who did not contribute to his upkeep, else the Apostle would not have omitted to reprove them. In like manner the ministers of the Church rightly refrain from demanding the Church's tithes, when they could not demand them without scandal, on account of their having fallen into desuetude, or for some other reason. Nevertheless those who do not give tithes in places where the Church does not demand them are not in a state of damnation, unless they be obstinate, and unwilling to pay even if tithes were demanded of them.
Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.85 a.3