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474

Part Three

1952

There are different expressions of the moral law, all of

them interrelated: eternal law—the source, in God, of all law;

natural law; revealed law, comprising the Old Law and the New

Law, or Law of the Gospel; finally, civil and ecclesiastical laws.

1953

The moral law finds its fullness and its unity in Christ. Jesus

Christ is in person the way of perfection. He is the end of the law, for

only he teaches and bestows the justice of God: “For Christ is the end

of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified.”

4

I.

T

he

N

atural

M

oral

L

aw

1954

Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Crea­

tor who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern

himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law

expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern

by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:

The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each

and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him

to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command

of human reason would not have the force of law if it were

not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our

spirit and our freedom must be submitted.

5

1955

The “divine and natural” law

6

shows man the way to

follow so as to practice the good and attain his end. The natural

law states the first and essential precepts which govern the moral

life. It hinges upon the desire for God and submission to him, who

is the source and judge of all that is good, as well as upon the sense

that the other is one’s equal. Its principal precepts are expressed in

the Decalogue. This law is called “natural,” not in reference to the

nature of irrational beings, but because reason which decrees it

properly belongs to human nature:

Where then are these rules written, if not in the book of that

light we call the truth? In it is written every just law; from it

the law passes into the heart of the man who does justice, not

that it migrates into it, but that it places its imprint on it, like

a seal on a ring that passes onto wax, without leaving the

ring.

7

4

Rom

10:4.

5 Leo XIII,

Libertas præstantissimum,

597.

6

GS

89 § 1.

7 St. Augustine,

De Trin.

14, 15, 21: PL 42, 1052.

578

307

1776

1787

396

2070