I answer: there are two ways of fulfilling the commandments of the law.--Summa Theologica, Q. 109, Art. 4
In the first place, one may actually do what the law commands, by performing acts of justice or fortitude, for example, or other acts of virtue. Man could fulfill all the commandments of the law in this way when he was in the state of pure nature, since he would not otherwise have been able to avoid sin, which is nothing other than transgression of the divine commandments. But a man in the state of corrupt nature cannot fulfill all the divine commandments without healing grace.
In the second place, the law may be fulfilled not only in respect of what it commands, but also in respect of the manner of action. It is fulfilled when actions are inspired by charity [love]. A man cannot fulfill the law in this way without grace, whether in the state of pure nature or in the state of corrupt nature.
01 February 2011
Aquinas: Two Ways to Do the Law
Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) asks, 'Whether a man can fulfill the commandments of the law by his natural powers, without grace.'
Posted by Dane Ortlund at Tuesday, February 01, 2011