based on the
LECTURER IN MORAL
THEOLOGY AT THE WESTERN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, AND SOMETIME PROFESSOR OF
MENTAL PHILOSOPHY IN RACINE COLLEGE, U.S.A.
JAMES POTT & Co., PUBLISHERS
14 AND 16 ASTOR PLACE
Quomodo dilexi legem Tuam, Domine:
tota die meditatio mea est.
COPYRIGHT 1892, by
JAMES POTT & Co.
Press of J. J. Little & Co.
Astor Place, New York
TO THE RIGHT REVEREND
WILLIAM EDWARD McLAREN, D.D., D.C.L,
BISHOP OF CHICAGO, AND TO THE RIGHT REVEREND
CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, S.T.D.,
BISHOP OP FOND DU LAC,
WHOSE KIND ENCOURAGEMENT HAS SO LARGELY INAUGURATED
AND BROUGHT TO COMPLETION
THIS HUMBLE ATTEMPT
TO ADVANCE SOUND MORALS IN THE CHURCH OF GOD,
ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF GOD,
IT IS MOST RESPECTFULLY AND DUTIFULLY
THEIR SON AND SERVANT
IN CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.
An unlimited imprimatur has not been requested, and could not be expected for this first edition of the ELEMENTS OF MORAL THEOLOGY; but episcopal approbation, expressed in general terms as follows, has not been lacking. The author can only add that, if in any, even the minutest particular, he have deviated from the Divine law as given by the Catholic Church, or as applied to us by that National Church to which he most directly owes loyalty and submission, he makes in advance a humble retractation of any such statement.
The Bishop of Maine: "I am sure it will be very valuable."
The Bishop of Albany: "I am very sure that it will be well done and I am very glad to help along the publication of such a book."
The Bishop of New Jersey: "I am sure your book will be . . . good all through. It will meet a long felt need."
The Bishop of Chicago: "I have heard with pleasure of your intention to publish. . . . There is imperative need which I am sure your book will do much to supply."
The Bishop of Springfield: "I hasten to express my gratification at the prospect of possessing in English your paraphrase of St. Thomas, with your own valuable additions. May your effort, so likely to confer lasting benefit upon the Anglican communion, be crowned with success."
The Bishop of Florida: "I am glad to hear that we are going to have a treatise on moral theology at last."
The Bishop of Delaware: "I am really glad to know of the work which you have taken in hand."
The Bishop of Fond du Lac: "It gave me much pleasure to see your MS. on Moral Theology . . . It will be welcomed by our theological seminaries and by many of our clergy. You will make a most valuable contribution to the Church's literature."
The Bishop of Ohio: "You are truly engaged in a noble work for the Church and her teachers."
The Bishop of Milwaukee: "Your work is certainly very timely. I doubt not the Immediate good it will do in making our students and clergy more familiar with that magnificent treasury of moral theology (the Summa.)
The Bishop of Pittsburgh: "I am sincerely glad to know that you have been able to translate and prepare it for the press."
J. J. E. Western
The reader of these Elements of Moral Theology, a student, as I hope, of this great science of God's law, will doubtless indulge the writer in a few prefatory words. My humble office is that of editor rather than that of author. But even as such I would gladly have resigned the task to abler hands if any such had appeared. My best hope is that this poor attempt will soon be superseded by something better. I have called our study a science, for such it is; sc., the science of he law of God, as given to man, in whatever way it is given. This definition distinguishes it from Moral Philosophy, which seeks to account for and develope, from reason only, the laws and principks of right living. Moral Theology on the other hand, is the science of the Divine Will as revealed to man.
Well understood, these two must needs coincide, although their methods may be different. Moral Theology, making use of the other, is also grounded on it, as that in turn is grounded on the nature of man and the being of God.
Both the philosophy and the theology, therefore, require a sound psychology, and a true theosophy, which in these a Elements are assumed. For, like every other special science, Moral Theology has its assumptions -- e.g., that the law of God is revealed in Holy Scripture; that the Catholic Church has authority to apply that law, and to add positive laws, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, which bind the conscience of every Christian man; and that the gifts of gracious help for the due keeping of God's holy law are freely bestowed through the ordained channels of grace.
Like every other science, also, Moral Theology has its disputed topics. There are many propositions contained in these Elements which, if properly discussed and defended against all attacks, might fill many volumes. It should be, indeed, and it has been, the aim of the writer to assert dogmatically nothing which is not accepted by the masters of our science; but further than this no scientific manual can go. It would he absurd to expect that a primer of astronomy should give a demonstration of every assertion. It may be justly required that principles laid down shall be consistent with one another, make a harmonious system, and be capable of demonstration or verification. No more, I think, can be demanded.
But our science is indispensable for the priest who is ex officio the teacher of God's law. "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts" (Mal. ii. 7). Although the Holy Scriptures are the supreme source of that law, yet in them truth and righteousness are only gradually revealed, and with special application to the special cases which elicited the Divine enunciations. Moral Theology stands or falls with Dogmatic Theology, both being equally needed for intelligent understanding and application of revealed truth and law.
And not only does the pastoral office imply a capacity to speak with knowledge as well as with authority, in public teaching or private counsel; the injunction, also, to "heal the sick" requires a knowledge of inward diseases. Above all, no priest should, except in case of extreme necessity, receive confessions, who is not duly instructed in Moral Theology and casuistry.
These elements, as their title indicates, are chiefly based on the Suruma Theologiae of S. Thomas Aquinas. For the contributions to our science in the Anglican Church since the Reformation have been very, very few. See the list provided for students of theology by the bishops of the American Church; and the chief among those few -- sc., Bishop Taylor and Dr. Sanderson, afterwards bishop -- based their work chiefly on the common sources of older Moral Theology. (See Whewell's Hist. Moral Phil., Lect. 12.)
Of the numerous contributions to our science in the modern Latin Church I have made moderate use and with great reserve. A very large part of their minute casuistical distinctions are based on a very different practical discipline of the Christian life from our own.
The first three parts are not a translation of the Summa Theologiae of S. Thomas Aquinas; much less are they original work.
They are not a translation; on the contrary, I have avoided, as far as was possible for me, the peripatetic modes of expression which mark the Angelic Doctor's work. I am perfectly aware that, in doing so, precision of thought and expression is, more or less, sacrificed, and I am the farthest possible from being satisfied with the result. But, remembering that few are trained in scholastic philosophy, while every priest, at least, has absolute need of the first principles of Moral Theology, have dared to hope for some benefit to the student, even from so poor an effort.
Peripatetic expressions are avoided "as far as possible," but Aristotelian thought and terminology are too deeply engrafted on the language of common life to render such an avoidance completely possible.
a considerable part of the Prima Secundae, valuable in itself, did not seem essential to these rudiments of Moral Theology. Such portions have been greatly abridged, or wholly omitted.
What I have thought needful to add, however, is generally relegated to PartlY., the Supplement. But even for that all claim to originality is explicitly discarded. What place for originality is there when we are to treat of that Holy Law which has been, once for all, Divinely given? Moral philosophers may ingeniously demolish all preceding theories, and try their hand at original reconstruction. But Moral Theology can only enunciate, systematize, and apply the Law of God. The first two have been so well done by S. Thomas Aquinas that he would be a bold teacher who should try to do so over again. But the application of that holy law to each changing cycle of the world's history opens new and gravest questions. As the world moves, so must Moral Theology move in order to direct aright.
I have not ventured to ignore all new problems in casuistry, the application of Moral Theology to the practical guidance of life. I trust that the road previously marked out has been carefully followed. But problems which seemed to call for further discussion have been indicated as "Queries," even when I have been tempted to give a brief and dogmatic answer.
In the Supplement, citations from the common and civil law are introduced because these are among the highest applications of the natural virtue of justice, and because duty under such law is part of the revealed will of God. Moral Theology, therefore, cannot omit all reference to this part of its subject-matter. The writer has not aimed at completeness in this respect. He has selected what seemed illustrative of his subject, or of special practical value.
And he takes this opportunity to make cordial acknowledgment of the valuable aid in careful revision of the text afforded by H. H. Martin, Esq., Counsellor-at-law, Chicago, Ill.
The priest will, of course, notice that all such general statements of civil law, however correct in form, are practically limited by exceptions and qualifications, so that the advice of an expert is the only prudent course to be followed. Statements made in the Supplement must be so construed.
It only remains that the writer lay this poor attempt at enunciating the will of our one Lord at His blessed feet, publicly entreating pardon for its errors, and asking the prayer of every Christian reader to the same end.
"Unusquisque offert ad tabernaculum Domini quod potest, alius auram, argentum, gemmas; alius pelles aut pilos caprarum. Omnibus enim his opus habet Dominus, et placet voluntas aequaliter eorum qui inaequaliter offerunt." S. Jerome.
J. J. E.
WESTERN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, 1892.
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