Friday, January 28, 2011

Aquinas on Setting Things in Perspective

Everyone who sets things in perspective considers their end; hence he is wise in an absolute sense who knows and acts for the universal end, God. “For this is your wisdom, and understanding in the sight of nations” (Deut. 4:6). For wisdom, as Augustine mentions in the Fourth Book on the Trinity, is the knowledge of divine realities. Prudence, on the other hand, is the directive care of particular things, as when a person regulates his actions. Thus, wisdom is prudence to man. For this reason he says become not imprudent, but understanding what is the will of God [Eph. 5:17]. For just as speculative reason puts whatever is to be done in perspective and judges it—it is necessary to have conclusions and to judge them by principles—so likewise in the field of performance. Now the first principle through which we ought to judge and regulate everything is the will of God. Hence the intellect, in moral matters and those which lead to God, must have the will of God for its principle. If it does, then the intellect becomes prudent. “O that they would be wise and would understand, and would provide for their last end” (Deut. 32:29). Our Lord taught this: “Thy will be done” (Mt. 26:42).

Aquinas, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, Chapter 5, Lecture 6.

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