Summary Against Modern Thought: Love Your Neighbor (The People Near You)

Summary Against Modern Thought: Love Your Neighbor (The People Near You)

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Puritanism is not a viable option.


1 From the things that we have said it is clear that man is directed by the divine law to observe the order of reason in regard to all things that can come to his use. Among all those things which come within the use of man, the most important are other men. “For man is by nature a social animal,” because he needs many things which cannot be provided by one man alone. Therefore, it is necessary for man to be instructed by divine law, so that he may five in relation to other men, according to the order of reason.

2 Again, the end of divine law is for man to cling to God. But one man may be aided to this end by another man, both in regard to knowledge and to love. For men are of mutual assistance to each other in the knowing of truth, and one man may stimulate another toward the good, and also restrain him from evil. Hence it is said: “Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17).

And it is said in Ecclesiastes (4:9-12): “It is better therefore that two should be together than one, for they have the advantage of their society; if one fall, he shall be supported by the other. Woe to him who is alone; for, when he falls, he has no one to lift him up. And if two lie together, they shall warm one another. How shall one alone be warmed? And if a man prevails against one, the two shall withstand him.” Therefore, it was necessary for the society of men, in their mutual interrelations, to be ordered by divine law.

Notes Iron sharpens iron. There is on old story, probably apocryphal, a naughty Biblical term, about an old lady who said she didn’t understand the admiration of the Bible and Shakespeare, complaining they were both full of cliches.

3 Besides, divine law is a certain plan of divine providence for the purpose of governing men. Now, it is the function of divine providence to maintain the individuals subject to it under proper order, in such a way that each may take its proper place and level. Therefore, divine law so orders men in regard to each other that each man may keep his order. This is for men to be at peace with each other, for “peace among men is nothing but ordered concord,” as Augustine says.

4 Moreover, whenever certain things are subordinated to another, they must be ordered in a manner concordant to each other; otherwise, they might hinder each other in the attaining of their common end. This is clear in the case of an army which is concordantly ordered to victory, the end of the commander. Now, each man is ordered to God by divine law, so there must be among men, according to divine law, an ordered concord, peace that is, so that they may not hinder each other.

5 Hence it is said in the Psalm (147:14): “Who hath placed peace in Your borders.” And the Lord said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace””(John 16:33).

6 Now, an ordered concord is preserved among men when each man is given his due, for this is justice. And so, it is said in Isaiah (32:17): “the work of justice shall be peace.” Therefore, by divine law precepts had to be given, so that each man would give his neighbor his due and would abstain from doing injuries to him.

7 Moreover, among men a person is most in debt to his parents. And so, among the precepts of the law ordering us in regard to our neighbor, Exodus (20:12-17) Puts first: “Honor Your father and Your mother.” In this text it is understood to be commanded that each man must render what he owes, both to his parents and to other persons, in accord with another text: “Render to all men their dues” (Rom. 13:7).

Next to be put down are the precepts commanding abstinence from causing various sorts of harm to one’s neighbor. For instance, that we must not offend him by any deeds against his person; thus it was said: “You shall not kill”; nor against a person associated with him, for it was written: “You shall not commit adultery”; nor against his external goods, for it was written: “You shall not steal.” We are also prohibited from offending our neighbor by words that are contrary to justice, for it was written: “You shall not bear false witness against Your neighbor.” And since God is the judge, even of our hearts, we are prohibited from offending our neighbor in our heart, “by desiring his wife” or any of his goods.

8 Now, that he may observe this kind of justice which is prescribed by divine law man is impelled in two ways: in one, from within; in the other way, from without. From within, of course, man is voluntary in regard to observing what divine law prescribes. In fact, this is accomplished by man’s love of God and his neighbor, for he who loves a person gives him his due spontaneously and joyfully, and he even adds something in excess by way of liberality.

So, the complete fulfillment of the law depends on love, according to the text of the Apostle: “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). And the Lord says that, “on these two commandments,” that is, on the love of God and of neighbor, “depends the whole law” (Mat. 22:40). But since some people are not so disposed internally that they will do spontaneously what the law orders, they must be forced from without to fulfill the justice of the law. Of course, since this is done only from fear of punishments, they do not fulfill the law in freedom, but in servility. Hence it is said in Isaiah (26:9): “When You make Your judgments on the earth,” that is, by punishing the wicked, “all the inhabitants of the world shall learn justice.”

9 The first, then, “are a law unto themselves” (Rom. 2:14), for they have charity which impels them in place of law and makes them act with liberality. So, it was not necessary to promulgate an external law for their sake, but for the sake of those who are not inclined of themselves toward the good. Hence it is said in 1 Timothy (1:9): “The law is not made for the just man, but for the unjust.” This should not be understood as if the just were not obliged to obey the law, as some have badly understood it, but that these people are inclined of themselves to do what is just, even without a law.


  1. Alton D Gibson

    You, sir, are a breath of fresh air.

  2. C-Marie

    We are to love our neighbor as ourselves …… so as in no way to hinder their salvation, nor hinder our own. And the first loving act towards them, is to offer prayer for their salvation in Jesus Christ.

    Acting in love, giving, lending, helping. may or may not bring about peaceful relations and or circumstances, for we all have the Adamic nature which we and our neighbor, only by living our lives by, through, and in the Holy Spirit can we stand firm against our Adamic nature’s worldly desires, and live for God by obeying His commandments.

    Does our neighbor desire the peace of Christ? Whether the neighbor does or does not, we are to obey our Father’s commandments.

    God bless, C-Marie

  3. Bryant Poythress

    Thanks WMB!!

    Psalm 119:129–133 (NABRE): Wonderful are your testimonies; therefore I keep them. The revelation of your words sheds light, gives understanding to the simple. I sigh with open mouth, yearning for your commandments. Turn to me and be gracious, according to your judgment for those who love your name. Steady my feet in accord with your promise; do not let iniquity lead me.

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