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100. The Moral Precepts of the Old Law

1. All the moral precepts of the Old Law belong to thenatural law, that is the eternal law as recognized, in moralmatters, by sound human reason. But the moral precepts of the OldLaw do not all belong to the natural law in the same way. Some aremanifest expressions of the natural law; others are derived fromthe natural law, either by human reason or by supernaturalillumination.

2. The moral precepts of the Old Law cover the groundadequately to put human reason into its right order towards God.These precepts, with their associated counsels, touch upon all thevirtues.

3. All the moral precepts of the Old Law are summed up inthe Decalogue, that is, in the Ten Commandments.

4. The precepts of the Decalogue are specifically distinctcommands and prohibitions. Three of the Ten Commandments regulatehuman conduct as directly referring to God; the other sevenregulate man's conduct, under God, towards his fellowman.

5. The Decalogue directs man to God by way of reverence,fidelity, and service. It regulates man's conduct towards hisfellows by requiring special reverence for parents, and forbiddingevil and harmful deeds (killing, stealing, adultery),words (false witness), and thoughts and desires(covetousness).

6. The Decalogue presents its precepts of command andprohibition in an admirable order.

7. The Commandments are clearly, plainly, and suitablyformulated.

8. The Decalogue expresses the will of God. If man doesnot fulfill its precepts, he cannot conform to the will of God andattain his true end. Hence, the precepts of the Decalogue areessential precepts which never admit of adispensation.

9. To fulfill a law perfectly, a human act mustbe performed knowingly, freely, and from a settled habit of virtue.Yet a law is fulfilled sufficiently by the human act whichobserves it knowingly and freely. A man ought to have the virtuefrom which obedience to law flows readily. This is a requirement ofthe natural law, but it is not included in the prescription of anyindividual law. Thus, the man who honors his parents now, fulfillsthe law now, whether he has the fixed habit of honoring his parentsor not.

10. Moral virtues are exercised perfectly only when theyare exercised in, with, or through charity. Charity is thus themode of every moral virtue. Now, strictly speaking, themode of a virtue does not fall under the prescription or law of avirtue. Thus, if a person have the habit or virtue of obedience,and act obediently in a certain matter,he observes the law ofobedience, even though his obedience in this instance is frompolicy and not from charity. He has a fault, of course, but hisfault is not disobedience; he fulfills the law of obedience.

11. All the moral precepts of the Old Law are summed up,but not fully expressed, in the Ten Commandments. There are specialcommandments, given by Moses and Aaron for the guidance of theChosen People in special circumstances and under particularconditions; these are all implied in the Decalogue; they arecorollaries to it.

12. The moral precepts of the Old Law were to guide men togood and to prepare them for Christ. But the fulfilling of theseprecepts could not, of itself, confer grace, in which isjustification.

"If, devout soul, it is your will to please God and live a life of serenity in this world, unite yourself always and in all things to the divine will. Reflect that all the sins of your past wicked life happened because you wandered from the path of God's will. For the future, embrace God's good pleasure and say to him in every happening: "Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight." "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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