Of God and His Creatures

This 'dispensation,' frequently mentioned by St Thomas, seems to have been nothing more than paresis hamartêmatôn, that overlooking of (what in a more perfect stage of society would have been) sins, mentioned by St Paul (Rom. iii, 25, where, because the text is much misunderstood, I am compelled to refer to my Notes on St Paul h.l.). This overlooking appears again in Acts xvii, 30 (huperisdôn); and is referred to in Romans v, 13: Sin is not imputed when there is no law. At the time spoken of there was no perfect law, either revealed or natural, because a very rude society could not bear such perfection. I may refer to Aquinas Ethicus, I, 284, 301: Political and Moral Essays, pp. 184-188: and the conference on Progressive Morality in Oxford and Cambridge Conferences, Second Series, pp. 203-214. I make these somewhat egotistic references, because among Catholics the science of morals is handled sometimes as law, with canons and authorities; sometimes as an exact science, like mathematics, lying out of the category of time; seldom with much regard to history and anthropology, aspects which have opened out so widely since St Thomas' day.

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