Are all the moral precepts of the
Old Law traced back to the ten precepts of the Decalogue?
It seems that not all the moral precepts
of the Old Law are traced back to (reducantur)
the ten precepts of the Decalogue:
Objection 1: As Matthew
22:37,39 puts it, the first and principle precepts of
the Law are “You shall love the Lord your God” and “You
shall love your neighbor.” But these two precepts
are not contained in the precepts of the Decalogue.
Therefore, not all the moral precepts are contained
in the precepts of the Decalogue.
The moral precepts are not traced back to the ceremonial
precepts, but rather vice versa. But among the precepts
of the Decalogue there is one ceremonial precept, viz.,
“Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” (Exodus 20:8).
Therefore, the moral precepts are not traced back to all
the precepts of the Decalogue.
The moral precepts have to do with all the acts of the
virtues. But only precepts having to do with acts of
justice are found among the precepts of the Decalogue—as
is clear from running through them one by one. Therefore,
the precepts of the Decalogue do not contain all the moral
But contrary to this:
The Gloss on Matthew 5:11 (“Blessed are you when they
shall revile you .....”) says, “After Moses had proposed
the ten precepts, he afterwards explained them through
their parts (per partes).” Therefore, all the
precepts of the Law are, as it were, parts of the precepts
of the Decalogue.
The precepts of the Decalogue differ from the other
precepts of the Law in the fact that the precepts of
the Decalogue are such that God Himself (Deus per
seipsum) is said to have presented them to the people,
whereas He presented the other precepts to the people
through Moses. Therefore, the precepts belonging
to the Decalogue are those that man has knowledge of
from God Himself. But these precepts include (a)
the ones that can be known immediately, with very little
reflection, on the basis of first general principles
and, again, (b) the ones that are known immediately
on the basis of divinely infused faith.
there are two kinds of precepts that are not counted
among the precepts of the Decalogue, viz., (a) precepts
which are first general principles and which do not
need to be made known (editio) in any way other
than by being written in natural reason as something
known per se, e.g., ‘A man should not do evil
to anyone’ and others of this sort, and, again, (b)
precepts that are found to be consonant with reason
through the diligent inquiry of the wise, since these
precepts come to the people from God through the teaching
of the wise. Still, both of these sorts of precepts
are contained in the precepts of the Decalogue, though
in different ways. For the ones that are first
general principles are contained in the precepts of
the Decalogue in the way that principles are contained
in their proximate conclusions, whereas, conversely,
the ones that are known through the wise are contained
in the precepts of the Decalogue in the way that conclusions
are contained in their principles.
Reply to objection 1:
The two precepts in question are first general precepts of
the law of nature, and they are known per se to
human reason, either by nature or by faith. And so all
the precepts of the Decalogue are traced back to these two
precepts in the way that conclusions are traced back to
their general principles.
Reply to objection 2:
The precept about the observance of the Sabbath is a
moral precept in a certain respect, viz., insofar as
it commands man to free up some time or other (aliquo
tempore vacet) for divine matters—this according
to Psalm 45:11 (“Be still (vacate) and see that
I am God”). It is in this sense that it is counted
among the precepts of the Decalogue.
it is not a moral precept as far as the exact specification
of the time is concerned (quantum ad taxationem temporis),
since in this respect it is a ceremonial precept.
Reply to objection 3:
The character of being something’s owed (ratio debiti)
is less noticeable (magis latens) in the case of
the other virtues than it is in the case of justice. And
so the precepts having to do with the other virtues are
not as well known to the people as the precepts about the
acts of justice are. It is for this reason that acts of
justice fall specifically under the precepts of the
Decalogue, which are the first elements of the Law.