Does every law stem from the eternal
It seems that not every law flows
from (derivatur) the eternal law:
As was explained above (q. 91, a. 6), there is a certain
law of the stimulant to sin (lex fomitis). But
this law does not flow from God’s law, i.e., the eternal
law, since it involves the “prudence of the flesh,” about
which the Apostle says in Romans 8:7 that “it is not
subject to the law of God.” Therefore, not every law
flows from the eternal law.
Nothing wicked can proceed from the eternal law, since, as
has been explained (a. 2), “the eternal law is that by
which it is fitting for all things to be very well
ordered.” But some laws are wicked—this according to
Isaiah 10:1 (“Woe to those who make wicked laws”).
Therefore, not every law proceeds (procedit) from
the eternal law.
In De Libero Arbitrio 1 Augustine says, “Law
written in order to rule the people correctly permits many
things that are avenged through God’s providence.” But as
has been explained (a. 1), the plan (ratio) of
divine providence is the eternal law. Therefore, not even
all the upright laws proceed from the eternal law.
But contrary to this:
In Proverbs 8:15 God’s wisdom says, “By me kings reign,
and lawgivers decree just things.” But as has been
explained (a. 1), the plan of God’s wisdom is the eternal
law. Therefore, all laws proceed from the eternal law.
As was explained above (q. 90, a. 1‑2), ‘law’
implies a certain plan that directs acts to their end.
Now in every case involving ordered movers, the power
of a secondary mover flows from the power of the first
mover, since a secondary mover moves only insofar as
it is moved by the first mover. Hence, we see
the same thing in the case of all those who govern as
well, viz., that the plan of governance flows from the
first governor to the secondary governors. For
instance, the plan of things to be done in a city flows
by way of command (per praeceptum) from the king
to the lower administrators. In the case of artifacts,
too, the plan for the acts involved in making the artifacts
flows from the architect to the lower craftsmen who
work by hand.
the eternal law is the plan of governance that exists
in the highest governor, all the plans of governance
found in the lower governors must flow from the eternal
law. Now these plans of the lower governors consist
in all the kinds of law besides eternal law. Hence,
all laws flow from the eternal law to the extent that
they participate in right reason. This is why
Augustine says in De Libero Arbitrio 1, “There
is nothing just or legitimate in temporal law except
what men have drawn from the eternal law.”
Reply to objection 1:
The stimulant to sin (fomes) has the character of
law in man to the extent that it is a punishment that
follows upon God’s justice, and on this score it clearly
flows from the eternal law. However, as is clear from
what was said above (q. 91, a. 6), to the extent that the
stimulant inclines one toward sin, it is contrary to God’s
law and does not have the character of law.
Reply to objection 2:
Human law has the character of law to the extent that
it is in accord with right reason and, so understood,
it clearly flows from the eternal law.
to the extent that human law departs from reason, it
is called ‘unjust law’ (lex iniqua) and has the
character not of law but of a certain sort of violence.
Yet to the extent that some likeness to law is preserved
in this unjust law because it is ordained by the power
of a lawmaker, in this respect it, too, flows from the
eternal law. For as Romans 13:1 says, “All power
is from the Lord God.”
Reply to objection 3:
Human law is said to permit certain things not in the
sense that it approves of them, but rather in the sense
that it is incapable of directing them. However, there
are many things directed by God’s law that cannot be
directed by human law, since there are more things subject
to a higher cause than to a lower cause. Hence, the very
fact that human law does not intrude into matters that it
cannot direct stems from the order of eternal law. (It
would be different if human law were to approve of things
that the eternal law condemns.) Thus, it does not follow
from this that human law does not flow from the eternal
law; rather, all that follows is that human law does not
perfectly measure up to the eternal law.