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than artificial riches, according to the Philosopher [Polit. i.
5, 6). Therefore Hberality is not chiefly about money.

Ohj. 3. Further, Different virtues have different matter,
since habits are distinguished by their objects. But ex-
ternal things are the matter of distributive and commutative
justice. Therefore they are not the matter of liberality.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says [Ethic, iv. i) that
liberality seems to be a mean in the matter of money.

I answer that, According to the Philosopher [Ethic, iv.
ibid.) it belongs to the liberal man to part with things.
Hence liberality is also called open-handedness [largitas),
because that which is open does not withhold things
but parts with them. The term liberality seems also to
allude to this, since when a man quits hold of a thing he
frees [liberal) it, so to speak, from his keeping and owner-
ship, and shows his mind to be free of attachment thereto.
Now those things which are the subject of a man's free-
handedness towards others are the goods he possesses, which
are denoted by the term money. Therefore the proper
matter of liberality is money.

Reply Obj. i. As stated above (A. i, ad 3), Hberality
depends not on the quantity given, but on the heart of the
giver. Now the heart of the giver is disposed according to
the passions of love and desire, and consequently those of
pleasure and sorrow, towards the things given. Hence the
interior passions are the immediate matter of liberaUty, while
exterior money is the object of those same passions.

Reply Obj. 2. As Augustine says in his book De Disciplina
Christi [Tract, de divers, i.) , everything whatsoever man has
on earth, and whatsoever he owns, goes by the name of
' pecunia' [money], because in olden times men's possessions
consisted entirely of ' pecora ' [flocks) . And the Philosopher
says [Ethic, iv. i) : We give the name of money to anything
that can be valued in currency.

Reply Obj. 3. Justice establishes equality in external
things, but has nothing to do, properly speaking, with the
regulation of internal passions: wherefore money is in one
way the matter of liberality, and in another way of justice.

Q. 117. Art. 3 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 136

Third Article,
whether using money is the act of liberality ?

We 'proceed thus to the Third Article : —

Objection i. It seems that using money is not the act of
liberality. For different virtues have different acts. But
using money is becoming to other virtues, such as justice
and magnificence. Therefore it is not the proper act of

Obj. 2. Further, It belongs to a liberal man, not only to
give but also to receive and keep. But receiving and
keeping do not seem to be connected with the use of money.
Therefore using money seems to be unsuitably assigned as
the proper act of liberality.

Obj. 3. Further, The use of money consists not only in
giving it but also in spending it. But the spending of money
refers to the spender, and consequently is not an act of
liberality: for Seneca says {De Bene/, v.): A man is not
liberal by giving to himself. Therefore not every use of
money belongs to Hberality.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic, iv. i) : In
whatever matter a man is virtuous, he will make the best use
of that matter: Therefore he that has the virtue with regard to
money will make the best use of riches. Now such is the
liberal man. Therefore the good use of money is the act of

/ answer that. The species of an act is taken from its object,
as stated above (I.-IL, Q. XVIII., A. 2). Now the object
or matter of liberality is money and whatever has a money
value, as stated in the foregoing Article [ad 2). And since
every virtue is consistent with its object, it follows that,
since liberahty is a virtue, its act is consistent with money.
Now money comes under the head of useful goods, since all
external goods are directed to man's use. Hence the proper
act of liberality is making use of money or riches.

Reply Obj. i. It belongs to liberality to make good use of
riches as such, because riches are the proper matter of

137 LIBERALITY Q. 117. Art. 3

liberality. On the other hand it belongs to justice to make
use of riches under another aspect, namely, that of debt,
in so far as an external thing is due to another. And it
belongs to magnificence to make use of riches under a special
aspect, in so far, to wit, as they are employed for the fulfil-
ment of some great deed. Hence magnificence stands in
relation to liberality as something in addition thereto, as
we shall explain farther on (Q. CXXXIV.).

Reply Ohj. 2. It belongs to a virtuous man not only to
make good use of his matter or instrument, but also to
provide opportunities for that good use. Thus it belongs
to a soldier's fortitude not only to wield his sword against
the foe, but also to sharpen his sword and keep it in its
sheath. Thus, too, it belongs to Hberality not only to use
money, but also to keep it in preparation and safety in order
to make fitting use of it.

Reply Ohj. 3. As stated (A. 2, ad i), the internal passions
whereby man is affected towards money are the proximate
matter of liberality. Hence it belongs to liberality before
all that a man should not be prevented from making any
due use of money through an inordinate affection for it.
Now there is a twofold use of money : one consists in apply-
ing it to one's own use, and would seem to come under the
designation of costs or expenditure ; while the other consists
in devoting it to the use of others, and comes under the
head of gifts. Hence it belongs to liberality that one be
not hindered by an immoderate love of money, either from
spending it becomingly, or from making suitable gifts.
Therefore liberality is concerned with giving and spending,
according to the Philosopher [Ethic, iv. i). The saying of
Seneca refers to liberality as regards giving : for a man is not
said to be liberal for the reason that he gives something to

Q. 117. Art. 4 THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA '' 138

Fourth Article,
whether it belongs to a liberal man chiefly to


We proceed thus to the Fourth Article : —

Objection i. It seems that it does not belong to a liberal
man chiefly to give. For liberality, like all other moral
virtues, is regulated by prudence. Now it seems to belong
very much to prudence that a man should keep his riches.
Wherefore the Philosopher says [Ethic, iv. i) that those who
have not earned money, hut have received the money earned by
others, spend it more liberally, because they have not experi-
enced the want of it. Therefore it seems that giving does not
chiefly belong to the liberal man.

Obj. 2. Further, No man is sorry for what he intends
chiefly to do, nor does he cease from doing it. But a liberal
man is sometimes sorry for what he has given, nor does he
give to all, as stated in Ethic, iv. [loc. cit.). Therefore it does
not belong chiefly to a liberal man to give.

Obj. 3. Further, In order to accomplish what he intends
chiefly, a man employs all the ways he can. Now a liberal
man is not a beggar, as the Philosopher observes {Ethic, iv.
loc. cit.) ; and yet by begging he might provide himself with
the means of giving to others. Therefore it seems that he
does not chiefly aim at giving.

Obj. 4. Further, Man is bound to look after himself rather
than others. But by spending he looks after himself,
whereas by giving he looks after others. Therefore it
belongs to a liberal man to spend rather than to give.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says {Ethic, iv. loc. cit.)
that it belongs to a liberal man to surpass in giving.

I answer that. It is proper to a liberal man to use money.
Now the use of money consists in parting with it. For the
acquisition of money is like generation rather than use:
while the keeping of money, in so far as it is directed to
facilitate the use of money, is like a habit. Now in parting
with a thing — ^for instance, when we throw something — the

139 LIBERALITY Q. 117. Art. 4

farther we put it away the greater the force (virtus) employed.
Hence parting with money by giving it to others proceeds
from a greater virtue than when we spend it on ourselves.
But it is proper to a virtue as such to tend to what is more
perfect, since virtue is a kind of perfection {Phys. vii. text. 17,
18). Therefore a liberal man is praised chiefly for giving.

Reply Ohj. i. It belongs to prudence to keep money, lest
it be stolen or spent uselessly. But to spend it usefully is
not less but more prudent than to keep it usefully: since
more things have to be considered in money's use, which is
likened to movement, than in its keeping, which is likened
to rest. As to those who, having received money that others
have earned, spend it more liberally, through not having
experienced the want of it, if their inexperience is the sole
cause of their liberal expenditure they have not the virtue
of liberality. Sometimes, however, this inexperience merely
removes the impediment to liberality, so that it makes them
all the more ready to act liberally, because, not unfre-
quently, the fear of want that results from the experience
of want hinders those who have acquired money from using
it up by acting with liberality; as does likewise the love
they have for it as being their own effect, according to the
Philosopher [Ethic, iv. i).

Reply Ohj. 2. As stated in this and the preceding Article,
it belongs to liberality to make fitting use of money, and
consequently to give it in a fitting manner, since this is a
use of money. Again, every virtue is grieved by whatever is
contrary to its act, and avoids whatever hinders that act.
Now two things are opposed to suitable giving; namely, not
giving what ought suitably to be given, and giving some-
thing unsuitably. Wherefore the liberal man is grieved
at both : but especially at the former, since it is more opposed
to his proper act. For this reason, too, he does not give to
all : since his act would be hindered were he to give to every-
one : for he would not have the means of giving to those to
whom it were fitting for him to give.

Reply Ohj. 3. Giving and receiving are related to one
another as action and passion. Now the same thing is not

Q. 117. Art. 5 THE '' SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 140

the principle of both action and passion. Hence, since
liberality is a principle of giving, it does not belong to the
liberal man to be ready to receive, and still less to beg.
Hence the verse :

In this world he that wishes to be pleasing to many
Should give often, take seldom, ask never.

But he makes provision in order to give certain things
according as Hberality requires; such are the fruits of his
own possessions, for he is careful about realizing them that
he may make a liberal use thereof.

Reply Ohj. 4. To spend on oneself is an inclination of
nature; hence to spend money on others belongs properly
to a virtue.

Fifth Article,
whether liberality is a part of justice ?

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article : —

Objection i. It seems that liberality is not a part of justice.
For justice regards that which is due. Now the more a thing
is due the less liberally is it given. Therefore liberality is
not a part of justice, but is incompatible with it.

Ohj. 2. Further, Justice is about operations, as stated
above (Q. LVIH., A. 9: I.-II., Q. L., AA. 2, 3): whereas
liberality is chiefly about the love and desire of money,
which are passions. Therefore liberality seems to belong
to temperance rather than to justice.

Ohj. 3. Further, It belongs chiefly to liberality to give
becomingly, as stated (A. 4). But giving becomingly
belongs to beneficence and mercy, which pertain to charity,
as stated above (QQ. XXX., XXXI.). Therefore liberality
is a part of charity rather than of justice.

On the contrary, Ambrose says {De Offic. i.): Justice has
to do with the fellowship of mankind. For the notion of fellow-
ship is divided into two parts, justice and heneficence, also
called liherality or kind-heartedness. Therefore liberality per-
tains to justice.

/ answer that. Liberality is not a species of justice, since

141 LIBERALITY Q. 117. Art. 5

justice pays another what is his, whereas Hberality gives
another what is one's own. There are, however, two points
in which it agrees with justice: first, that it is directed
chiefly to another, as justice is; secondly, that it is concerned
with external things, and so is justice, albeit under a different
aspect, as stated in this Article and above (A. 2, ad 3).
Hence it is that liberality is reckoned by some to be a part
of justice, being annexed thereto as to a principal virtue.

Reply Ohj. i. Although liberality does not consider the
legal due that justice considers, it considers a certain moral
due. This due is based on a certain fittingness and not on
an obligation : so that it answers to the idea of due in the
lowest degree.

Refly Ohj. 2. Temperance is about concupiscence in
pleasures of the body. But the concupiscence and delight
in money is not referable to the body but rather to the soul.
Hence liberality does not properly pertain to temperance.

Reply Ohj. 3. The giving of beneficence and mercy pro-
ceeds from the fact that a man has a certain affection towards
the person to whom he gives : wherefore this giving belongs
to charity or friendship. But the giving of liberality arises
from a person being affected in a certain way towards money,
in that he desires it not nor loves it : so that when it is fitting
he gives it not only to his friends but also to those whom
he knows not. Hence it belongs not to charity, but to
justice, which is about external things.

Sixth Article,
whether liberality is the greatest of the


We proceed thus to the Sixth Article : —

Ohjection i. It seems that liberality is the greatest of the
virtues. For every virtue of man is a likeness to the divine
goodness. Now man is likened chiefly by liberality to
God, Who giveth to all men abundantly, and uphraideth not
(James i. 5). Therefore liberality is the greatest of the


Ohj. 2. Further, According to Augustine {De Trin. vi. 8),
in things that are great, hut not in hulk, to he greatest is to he
hest. Now the nature of goodness seems to pertain mostly to
liberahty, since the good is self -communicative, according
to Dionysius {Div. Nom. iv.). Hence Ambrose says [De
Offic. i.) that justice inclines to severity, liherality to goodness.
Therefore hberahty is the greatest of virtues.

Ohj. 3. Further, Men are honoured and loved on account
of virtue. Now Boethius says [De ConsoL ii.) that hounty
ahove all makes a man famous : and the Philosopher says
{Ethic, iv. i) that among the virtuous the liberal are the most
heloved. Therefore liberality is the greatest of virtues.

On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Offic. i.) that justice
seems to he more excellent than liherality, although liherality
is more pleasing. The Philosopher also says {Rhet. i. 9) that
brave and just men are honoured chiefly and, after them, those
who are liberal.

I answer that, Every virtue tends towards a good; where-
fore the greater virtue is that which tends towards the greater
good. Now liberality tends towards a good in two ways:
in one way, primarily and of its own nature ; in another way,
consequently. Primarily and of its very nature it tends to
set in order one's own affection towards the possession and
use of money. In this way temperance, which moderates
desires and pleasures relating to one's own body, takes pre-
cedence of liberality: and so do fortitude and justice, which,
in a manner, are directed to the common good, one in time
of peace, the other in time of war : while all these are pre-
ceded by those virtues which are directed to the Divine
good. For the Divine good surpasses all manner of human
good; and among human goods the public good surpasses the
good of the individual; and of the last named the good of the
body surpasses those goods that consist of external things.

Again, liberality is ordained to a good consequently, and
in this way it is directed to all the aforesaid goods. For by
reason of his not being a lover of money, it follows that a man
readily makes use of it, whether for himself, or for the good
of others, or for God's glory. Thus it derives a certain

143 LIBERALITY Q. 117. Art. 6

excellence from being useful in many ways. Since, however,
we should judge of things according to that which is com-
petent to them primarily and in respect of their nature,
rather than according to that which pertains to them con-
sequently, it remains to be said that liberaUty is not the
greatest of virtues.

Reply Ohj. i. God's giving proceeds from His love for
those to whom He gives, not from His affection towards the
things He gives, wherefore it seems to pertain to charity, the
greatest of virtues, rather than to liberality.

Reply Ohj, 2. Every virtue shares the nature of goodness
by giving forth its own act: and the acts of certain other
virtues are better than money which Hberality gives forth.

Reply Ohj. 3. The friendship whereby a liberal man is
beloved is not that which is based on virtue, as though he
were better than others, but that which is based on utiHty,
because he is more useful in external goods, which as a rule
men desire above all others For the same reason he becomes



{In Eight Articles.)

We must now consider the vices opposed to liberality : and
(i) covetousness : (2) prodigality.

Under the first head there are eight points of inquiry:
(i) Whether covetousness is a sin ? (2) Whether it is a
special sin ? (3) To which virtue it is opposed : (4) Whether
it is a mortal sin ? (5) Whether it is the most grievous of
sins ? (6) Whether it is a sin of the flesh or a spiritual sin ?
(7) Whether it is a capital vice ? (8) Of its daughters.

First Article,
whether covetousness is a sin ?

We proceed thus to the First Article : —

Objection i. It seems that covetousness is not a sin. For
covetousness [avaritia) denotes a certain greed for gold
[cBfis aviditas*), because, to wit, it consists in a desire for
money, under which all external goods may be comprised.
Now it is not a sin to desire external goods : since man desires
them naturally, both because they are naturally subject to
man, and because by their means man's life is sustained
(for which reason they are spoken of as his substance).
Therefore covetousness is not a sin.

Obj. 2. Further, Every sin is against either God, or one's
neighbour, or oneself, as statedabove (I.-II., Q. LXXII., A. 4).
But covetousness is not, properly speaking, a sin against

* The Latin for covetousness avaritia is derived from aveo to
desire; but the Greek (pcXapyvpia signifies literally love of money:
and it is to this that S. Thomas is alluding (cf. A. 2. Obj. 2).


145 COVETOUSNESS Q. 1 18. Art. i

God : since it is opposed neither to religion nor to the theo-
logical virtues, by which man is directed to God. Nor again
is it a sin against oneself, for this pertains properly to glut-
tony and lust, of which the Apostle says (i Cor, vi. i8) : He
that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. In
like manner neither is it apparently a sin against one's neigh-
bour, since a man harms no one by keeping w^hat is his own.
Therefore covetousness is not a sin.

Ob], 3. Further, Things that occur naturally are not sins.
Now covetousness comes naturally to old age and every kind
of defect, according to the Philosopher {Ethic, iv. i). There-
fore covetousness is not a sin.

On the contrary, It is written (Heb. xiii. 5): Let your
manners be without covetousness, contented with such things
as you have.

I answer that, In whatever things good consists in a due
measure, evil must of necessity ensue through excess or
deficiency of that measure. Now in all things that are for
an end, the good consists in a certain measure : since what-
ever is directed to an end must needs be commensurate with
the end, as, for instance, medicine is commensurate with
health, as the Philosopher observes [Polit. i. 6). External
goods come under the head of things useful for an end, as
stated above (Q. CXVIL, A. 3: I.-IL, Q. II., A. i). Hence
it must needs be that man's good in their respect consists in
a certain measure, in other words, that man seek, according
to a certain measure, to have external riches, in so far as they
are necessary for him to Hve in keeping with his condition
of life. Wherefore it will be a sin for him to exceed this
measure, by wishing to acquire or keep them immoderately.
This is what is meant by covetousness, which is defined as
immoderate love of possessing. It is therefore evident that
covetousness is a sin.

Reply Obj. i. It is natural to man to desire external things
as means to an end: wherefore this desire is devoid of sin,
in so far as it is held in check by the rule taken from the
nature of the end. But covetousness exceeds this rule, and
therefore is a sin.

II. ii. 4. 10

Q. ii8. Art. i THE " SUMMA THEOLOGICA " 146

Reply Ohj. 2. Covetousness may signify immoderation
about external things in two ways. First, so as to regard
immediately the acquisition and keeping of such things,
when, to wit, a man acquires or keeps them more than is
due. In this way it is a sin directly against one's neighbour,
since one man cannot over-abound in external riches, with-
out another man lacking them, for temporal goods cannot
be possessed by many at the same time. Secondly, it may
signify inmioderation in the internal affection which a man
has for riches, when, for instance, a man loves them, desires
them, or delights in them, immoderately. In this way by
covetousness a man sins against himself, because it causes
disorder in his affections, though not in his body as do the
sins of the flesh.

As a consequence, however, it is a sin against God, just
as all mortal sins, inasmuch as man contemns things eternal
for the sake of temporal things.

Reply Ohj. 3. Natural inclinations should be regulated
according to reason, which is the governing power in human
nature. Hence though old people seek more greedily the aid
of external things, just as everyone that is in need seeks to
have his need supplied, they are not excused from sin if they
exceed this due measure of reason with regard to riches.

Second Article,
whether covetousness is a special sin ?

We proceed thus to the Second Article : —

Objection i. It seems that covetousness is not a special
sin. For Augustine says [De Lib. Arh. iii.): Covetousness,
which in Greek is called (j)iXapyupia, applies not only to silver or
money, but also to anything that is desired immoderately.
Now in every sin there is immoderate desire of something,
because sin consists in turning away from the immutable
good, and adhering to mutable goods, as stated above (I. -II.,
Q. LXXI., A. VI., Obj. 3). Therefore covetousness is a
general sin.

Obj. 2i. Further, According to Isidore {Etym. x.), the

147 COVETOUS NESS Q. ii8. Art. 2

covetous (avarus) man is so called because he is greedy for
brass (avidus ceris), i.e. money : wherefore in Greek covetous
ness is called (piXapyvpCa, i.e. love of silver. Now silver,
which stands for money, signifies all external goods the value
of which can be measured by money, as stated above
(Q. CXVII., A. 2, ad 2). Therefore covetousness is a desire
for any external thing: and consequently seems to be a
general sin.

Obj. 3. Further, A gloss on Rom. vii. y, For I had not
known concupiscence, says : The law is good, since by forbidding
concupiscence, it forbids all evil. Now the law seems to forbid
especially the concupiscence of covetousness: hence it is
written (Exod. xx. 17) : Thoii shalt not covet thy neighbour's
goods. Therefore the concupiscence of covetousness is all
evil, and so covetousness is a general sin.

On the contrary, Covetousness is numbered together with
other special sins (Rom. i. 39), where it is written: Being
filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, covetousness
(Douay, — avarice) , etc.

/ answer that. Sins take their species from their objects,
as stated above (I.-II., Q. LXXIL, A. i). Now the object
of a sin is the good towards which an inordinate appetite
tends. Hence where there is a special aspect of good in-
ordinately desired, there is a special kind of sin. Now the
useful good differs in aspect from the delightful good. And
riches, as such, come under the head of useful good, since
they are desired under the aspect of being useful to man.

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