Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Schubert on St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law, Part 3

Continuing the translation of Schubert's Augustins Lex-Aeterna-Lehre:

Augustine's Lex Aeterna Teaching

Its Content and its Source

by: P. Alois Schubert, S.V.D.

St. Augustine from the pulpit in the
Oud-Katholieke Kerk (Old Catholic Church)
by Jan Baptist Xavéry

Part I

What does Augustine teach regarding the lex aeterna?

3. The Eternal Law as the Basic Norm of Temporal Laws:
The Natural Law, the Moral Law, and the Law of the State

a) The Natural Law Stems From the Eternal Law.

Augustine understands that there is an inner ordering in things. He calls this order the the most basic foundation of creation (Tätigkeitsprinzip der Geschöpfe).(1) This most basic foundation reveals the law that has been firmly set within things. The basic foundation of right for this inner ordering is the eternal law.(2) All creatures stand under the law of the highest creator and orderer.(3) So Augustine leads the natural law back to the eternal law.

The inner ordering of things is most clearly revealed in their seminal powers (Keimkräften). Augustine calls these powers rationes seminales, and he traces them back to the wisdom of the most high Orderer.(4) The bishop writes regarding this: "The earth has received from God the power of bringing for living beings."(5) In the corporal elements of all corporal organisms in the world rests hidden an unseeable.(6) God has placed these seeds of power in the earth from which the great tree of organisms could sprout forth.(7)

In the form-seeds (Keimformen) are all things seminaliter, potentialiter, causaliter, rationabiliter pre-formed.(8) The earth is the mother of all living beings, the possessor of the form-seeds for the entire body of organisms.(8) As a mother is pregnant with embryos, so is the world pregnant with the basic things that are born.(9) The world is just like a seed pod. Just like that pod lies hidden within the entire tree, so do the elements of the world contain all things; not merely the sun, moon, and stars, but also everything that the earth carries.(10) Where does the ultimate ground of reason for the laws that govern the development of these seeds lie? Augustine answers: "In the Word of God (Verbum), in the divine Wisdom is contained the eternal grounds of reason (Vernunftgründe) (rationes aeternae) which were realized in time through this same Word.(11). So it is that Augustine leads the rationes seminales causales upon the rationes aeternae, and back to the divine Wisdom.(12)

Most beautifully does the bishop speak of the natural law in his De Civitate Dei (On the City of God). There he calls it:(13) "God most high and true, creator and maker of every soul and of every body; through whose gift all are happy who are happy in truth and not by vanity; who made man with both body and soul, a rational animal, who, neither permitted man to who unpunished when he sinned, nor left him bereft of mercy; who has given to the good and to the evil being in common with stones, vegetative life in common with plants, sensuous life in common with beasts, intellectual life in common with angels alone; from whom is every norm, every form, every order; from whom come measure, number, weight; from whom is everything which has an existence in nature, of whatever kind it is, and of whatever value; from whom are the seeds of forms and the forms of seeds, and the motion of seeds and of forms; who gave also to flesh its origin, beauty, health, fecundity in reproduction, the disposition of its members, and the salutary harmony of its parts; who also to the irrational soul has given memory, sense, appetite, but to the rational soul, in addition to these, has given intelligence and will; who has not left, not to speak of heaven and earth, angels and men, but not even the innards of the smallest and most contemptible animal, or the feather of a bird, or the small flower of a plant, or the leaf of a tree, without a harmony, and, as it were, a mutual peace among all its parts—that God can never be believed to have left the kingdoms of men, their dominations and servitudes, outside of the laws of His providence."

Here, Augustine celebrates the Lord God as Creator and Orderer of all things. From God stems all being, the organic and inorganic, the vegetative, sensual, and intellectual life. From God stems the norms and forms of all things. Every order, measure, count, and weight. Augustine thereby leads all natural laws back to God, the eternal Orderer.

b) The Moral Law Stems from the Eternal Law.

What does Augustine understand by moral law? He understands thereby the lex rationis, the law of reason (Vernunftgesetz).(14) This lex rationis is a part of the natural law, in that natural law is in rational man the moral law. God has written within the soul of Man the moral law. The bishop writes: "The lex naturalis (the moral law) is at the same time written down in the rational soul. In their daily lives, men ought to be aware of the impressions of these advisory moral grounds of reason.(15) The law is found in the reason of men, who has the use of free will, and it is in a natural way written in his heart. This law tells of that one important basic norm of morality: What you wish done unto you, so do unto others. Whoever acts against this moral law is a violator of the law, even if he does not know the law of Moses.(16) The principal moral obligations of this law are hidden to nobody who is in a position to reason, even if he has become reprobate. God, who has written the natural law in the soul of man, thereby speaks to each man. Therefore is nobody, even the heathen, without excuse: as conscience is their law.(17)

"All people hold adultery to be sinful, and this not because it is forbidden by law, but, quite the opposite, it is forbidden because it is bad."(18) The recognition of moral demands is obtained by all through the voice of conscience. We find therefore among the heathen eminently useful principles (pracecepta utilissima). They are derived from the divine providence that is all-pervasive.(19) This law is the lex intima, because it is written in the heart. Through external law God wills to call back men to the inner law which they often seek to escape.(20) The soul gives itself advice through rational thought that is enlightened by the light of God. There the soul reads what she should do and allow.(21) For that reason, even the godless think about eternity. They praise and censure many things correctly through the customs of men. Under what rules to they judge their actions? Clearly under those rules that they immediately see in their souls, even when they do not act in accord with them. These rules are stamped into the soul by by eternal Truth, similarly to the manner in which a the image of a signet ring impresses itself upon wax.(22) In no man is the image of God so removed as a result of sinful behavior that there is not at least the outline of the moral law remaining.(23) With the loudest reverberation one may find the eternal law in the heart of the clean.(24) Here it remains unclouded and undistorted.(25) So did Moses, that man of God, carry the lex aeterna in his breast, and looked at it, determined disputes, even before the revelation of the rules of the Torah were fixed.(26) All the good respect this law. By it do they find what they should do and permit.(27) Whatever there is that may be found to be true and light in his soul, thanks should be given to the Eternal Light, as these do not come from one's self, but from Him.(28) In Augustine's view, God has arranged that the natural law be emblazoned upon the soul as the moral law. Thus natural morality really stems from the Veritas aeterna, the eternal Truth. The mosaic Law, the lex hebraeorum, was seen by Augustine as a complement to the natural moral law, and the lex veritatis of the New Testament as its completion.

c) The Laws of Men, in Particular the Laws of the State, Stem from the Eternal law.(29)

According to Augustine, the eternal law is the measure and norm for temporal and human laws. All such laws stand beneath this law. This is unconditionally the case: that nothing is right nor lawful that is not derived from that source.(30) A good and wise lawgiver will base and formulate his laws on the unchanging norms of the eternal law. No one can suppose to judge the eternal law. The unchanging norms of the eternal law inform each lawgiver what he, facing the situation before him, should command or prohibit.(31) The temporal or human laws are only a copy, an impression, of the eternal law.(32) All human laws, and, in particular, all laws of the State, stem from the eternal law. The laws of the State rest upon the moral law or the natural law. These are rooted, however, in the eternal law; consequently, so are the laws of the State. Augustine also reasons that the concept of the State and the natural order are indirectly derived from the eternal law.

The State is according to Augustine a crowd (Menschenmenge),(33) which through the bonds of community come together,(24) and through the bonds of unity established by a community through reason are bound by one and the same law.(35) Tied to the concept of the State also belongs the ruling power, as well as the duty to obey it.(36)

The way of the State exists according to Augustine then as that rational community of men that are bound by a common law, over which men accept to be governed by a sovereign power, and to which they assume a duty of obedience. The root of the State lies, therefore, in the natural order of things. This natural order stems from the fact that God has given men a rational and social nature. The rational and social nature impels men to build families and States. For that reason is the individual the basic element of the State.(37) What the letter is in speech, so is the individual to the State.(38) The natural and social drive natural impels men together. Through natural law men come together, and bind with their fellow men to unify and thereby live in peace, at least inasmuch as it lies within their power.(39) Nothing however is by nature so social that by sin cannot cause turn the generations of men into discord.(40) By nature, men are designed to be bound into a right community.(41) The family is the first fruit of this social disposition. It is the smallest building block of the State. As the beginning to the end,(42) and as the part to the whole indicates its kind, so the domestic rule and duty to obey it point to the rule and duty of obedience to the State. The State is the natural measure of development of the family. Children have to obey their parents in whatever instruction is given them, except for that which is against one's country. Citizens have to obey their country, except with respect to those things that are against God.(43) That is the natural order of things. In this order lies peace which the Creator intended; in that the peace of mortal man and immortal God is the measure of order that is obedient to the eternal law in faith. The peace of man is the unity of the measure of order. The peace of one's household is the measure of order in the living together in the unity of command and obedience. Peace in the state is the measure of order of unit in the command and obedience of the citizen. God is however the wisest Creator and the most right Orderer of all things.(44) So does Augustine teach that the laws which hold together the family and the State, the ruling power, and duty of obedience all refer back to God, who is the most just Orderer and most wise Lawgiver.

There are also places that may be found in Augustine's works where he refers back the State's power directly to God. The bishop commonly cites the Apostle's statement: "Non est potestas, nisi a Deo." Aug. Epist. 93, Pl. 33, col. 331. In Epistle 105, Augustine says: "The eternal Truth orders always through the heart of the King, the ruler orders good, so does Christ rule through his orders."(45) Even the ruling powers of the tyrant stem from God; in that He gives the ruling power to both good and bad rulers, as he sees fit.(46) Empires arise invariably through the Providence of God.(47) That which is from God, the founder of all order and right rule in all, one ought not to question, as he has excepted from our knowledge the reasons behind the laws of his Providence that guide the Empires of Men and their Lordship and Slavery.(48) Yes, God gives all men law and right to the generations of men through their rulers and kings.(49)

So it is that all human laws stem from the eternal law: the laws of the family, the laws of the city, the laws of the State, the law of Nations. Because upon law (Gesetz) rests right (Recht), so stems also every right (Recht): the natural right (Naturrecht), the right of the family (Famlienrecht), civil rights (Bürgerrecht), constitutional rights (Staatsrecht), and the rights of nations (Völkerrecht) from the eternal law. Hence, the lex aeterna is the source and fundamental norm of temporal and human laws and rights.


(1) Aug., PL. 32, col. 991. Ordo est, inquit, per quem aguntur omnia quae Deus constituit.
(2) Aug., PL. 32, col. 1228. Lex aeterna est, qua iustum est, ut omnia sint ordinatissima.
(3) Aug., PL. 41, col. 640. Nullo modo aliquid summi creatoris ordinatorisque legibus subtrahitur a quo pax universitatis administratur.
(4) Aug., De gen. ad lit, PL. 34, lib. IX, 17. Potestas creatoris habet apud se posse de his omnibus aliud facere, quam eorum quasi seminales rationes habent. Ibidem X, 20 and X, 21. Aug., Quest. in heptat. II, 21. Insunt enim corporeis rebus per omnia elementa mundi quaedam, occultae seminariae rationes, quibus, cum data fuerit opportunitas temporalis atque causalis, prorumpunt in species debitas suis modis et finibus. Deus vero solus verus creator est, qui causas ipsas et rationes seminarias rebus inseruit. Vgl. Hans Meyer, Geschichte der Lehre von den Keimkräften, Bonn 1914, S. 163 ff.
(5) Aug., De gen. ad lit., V, 4, n. 11, PL. 34. Causaliter ergo dictum est terram produxisse herbam et lignum, id est producendi accepisse virtutem.
(6) Aug., De trin. III, c. 8, n. 13, PL. 42, col. 875. Occulta quaedam semina in istis corporeis mundi huius elementis latent.
(7) Aug., De gen. ad lit. IV, 33.
(8) Aug., De gen. ad lit. VI, 14-VI, 15-IX, 18-VI, 8-V, 5, V, 4 PL.34.
(9) Aug., De trin. III, 19, 16. Nam sicut matres gravidae sunt foetibus, sice ipse mundus gravidus est causis nascentium.
(10) Aug., De gen. ad lit. V, 23. Sicut autem in ipso grano invisibiliter erant omnia simul, quae per tempora in arborem surgerent, ita ipse mundus cogitandus est cum Deus simul omnia creavit, habuisse simul omnia.
(11) Aug., De gen. ad lit. IV, 24, PL. 34. Verbum Dei, in quo sunt omnium etiam quae temporaliter facta sunt aeternae rationes tamquam in eo, per qod fact sunt omnia. Idem Aug., De civ. Dei IX, 10.
(12) Vgl. Meyer, Hans, Geschichte der Lehre von den Keimkräften, Bonn 1914, S. 161ff.
(13) Aug. De civ. Dei lib. 5, c. 11, PL 41, col. 153. Deus summus et verus, creator et factor omnis animae atque omnis corporis, cuius sunt participatione felices, quicumque sunt veritate, non vanitate felices, qui fecit hominem rationale animal ex anima et corpore, qui eum peccantem nec impunitum esse permisit, nec sine misericordia dereliquit, qui bonis et malis esse cum lapidibus, vitam seminalem etiam cum arboribus, vitam sensualem etiam cum pecoribus, vitam intellectualem cum solis angelis dedit, a quo est omnis modus, omnis species, omnis ordo, a quo est mensura, numerus, pondus a quo est, quidquid naturaliter est, cuiusque generis est, cuiuslibet aestimationis est, a quo sunt semina formarum, motus seminum et formarum, qui dedit et carni originem, pulchritudinem, valetudinem, propagationis foecunditatem, membrorum dispositionem, salutem concordiae, que et dedit animae irrationali memoriam, sensuum appetitum, rationabili insuper et mentem et intelligentiam, voluntatem, qui non solum et terram, nec solum angelum et hominem, sed nec exigui et contemptibilis animantis viscera, nec avis pennulam, ne herbae flosculum, nec arboris folium sine suarum partium convenientia et quadam veluti pace dereliquit. Nullo modo credendus est Deus regna hominum corumque dominationes et servitutis a suae providentiae legibus alienas esse voluisse.
(14) Aug., PL. 33, col. 683. Lex naturalis vocatur lex rationis.
(15) Aug., De div. quaest. 53, 2, Pl. 40, col. 30 . . . quasi transcripta est lex naturalis in animam rationalem, ut ipsa vitae huius conversatione moribus terrenis talium distributionum imagines sevent.
(16) Aug., Epist. 157, c. III, n. 15, PL. 33, col.681. Proinde quoniam lex est etiam in ratione hominis, qui iam utilitur arbitrio libertatis, naturaliter in corde conscripta est, qua suggeritur, ne aliquid faciat quisque alteri, quod ipse pati non vult, secundum hanc legem praevaricatores sunt omnes, etiam qui legem per Moysem data, non acceperunt.
(17) Aug., De serm. Dei in monte II, c. 9, n. 32, PL. 34. Name quando illi valent intelligere, nullam esse animam, quamvis perversam, quae tamen ullo modo ratiocinari potest in cuius conscientia non loquatur Deus? Quis enim scripsit in cordibus hominum naturalem legem nisi Deus? De qua lege Apostolus ait: quum enim gentes, quae legem non habent, naturaliter, quae legis sunt faciunt, eius modi legem non habentes, ipsi sibi sunt lex.
(18) Aug., De lib. arb. 1, c. 2, n. 6, PL. 32. A. Dic ergo prius, cur adulterium male fieri putes, an quia id facere, lex vetat? E. Non sane ideo malum est, qui vetatur lege, sed ideo vetatur lege, quia malum est.
(19) Aug., De doct. Christi, II, 40, 60 f. Sed de quibusdam quasi metallis divinae providentiae quae ubique infusa est, eruerunt ethnici.
(20) Aug., Enar. in ps. 57, 1, PL. 36, col. 675. Data est enim conscripta lex, non quia in cordibus scripta non erat, se quia tu fugitivus eras cordis tui, ab illo, qui ubique est, comprehenderis est ad te ipsum intro revocaris. Propterea lex scripta quid clamat eis qui deseruerunt legem scriptam in cordibus suis? Redite praevaricatores ad cor.
(21) Aug., Enar. in ps. 145, n. 5, PL. 37, col. 1847. Consilium sibi ex luce Dei dat ipsa anima per rationalem mentem, unde concipit consilium fixum in aeternitate auctoris sui. Legit ibi quidquam tredmendum, laudandum, amandum, desiderandum et appetendum.
(22) Aug., De trin. lib. 14, c. XV, n. 21, PL. 42. Nam et impii cogitant aeternitatem et multa recte reprehendunt recteque laudant in moribus hominum . . . ubi sunt istae regulae scriptae? Ubi scriptae sunt, nisi in libro lucis illius, quae veritas dicitur? unde omnis lex iusta describitur et in cor hominis, qui operatur iustitiam non migrando, sed tamquam imprimendo transfertur, sicut imago ex annulo in ceram transit.
(23) Aug., De spir. et lib. lib. 1, c. 28, n. 48, PL. 44, col. 148. Verumtamen non usque adea in anima humana imago Dei terrenorum affectuum labe detrita est, ut nulla in ea velut lineamenta extrema remanserint, ut merito dici possit etiam in impietate vitae suae aliqua legis vel sapere . . .
(24) Aug., De vera rel. c. 31, n. 58, PL. 38, col. 400. Aeternam legem mundis animis fas est cognoscere, iudicare non fas est.
(25) Aug., Ser. de script. 81, n. 4, PL. 38, col. 500. Manebat adhuc lex aeterna in cordibus piorium unde illa descripta est, quae populo data est.
(26) Aug., Quaestio in Heptateuchum II, quaest. 67, PL. 34, col. 618. Moyses socero dixit: moneo eos praecepta Dei et legem eius. Quaeri potest quomodo Moyses ita dixerit, cum lex Dei adhuc nulla conscripta esset, nisi, quia lex Dei sempiterna est, quam consulunt omnes piae mentes, ut quod in ea invenerint, vel faciant, vel iubeant, vel vetent, secundum quod illa incommutabili veritate praceperit. Moyses, nisi suae menti praesidentem Dominum consuleret, legemque eius aeternam sapienter attenderet, quid iustissimum inter disceptantes iudicare posset, non inveniret.
(27) Ibidem.
(28) Aug., De sermone Dei in monte II, c. 9, n. 32, PL. 34. Quapropter sic omnis anima rationalis etiam cupidtate caecata, tamen cum cogitat et ratiocinatur, quidquid in ea ratione verum est, non eti tribuendum eest, sed ipsis lumini veritatis a quo vel tenuiter pro sui capacitate illustratur, ut verum aliquid in ratiocinando sentiat.
(29) Vgl. Schilling, Otto, Naturrecht und Staat nach der Lehre der alten Kirche. Paderborn 1914. Görregesellschaft, Heft 24, S. 176 u. 177.
(30) Aug., Sermo 81, n. 2, PL. 38, col. 400. Nihil esse iustum atque legitimum, quod non ex aeterna lege homines sibi derivaverint.
(31) Aug., De vera rel. c. 31, n. 58, PL. 34, col. 148. Conditor legum temporalium, si vir bonus est et sapiens, illam ipsam consulit aeternam, de qua nulli animae iudicare datum est, ut secundum eius incommutabiles regulas, quid sit pro tempore iubendum vetandumque, discernat.
(32) Aug., Sermo de script. 84, n. 4, PL. 38. Manebat adhuc lex aeterna unde illa descripta est, quae popula data est.
(33) Aug., De civ. Dei, XV, 8. Civitas nihil aliud est, quam multitudo hominum aliquo societatis vinculo colligata.
(34) Aug., Epis. 139, 10, PL. 33, col. 529. Quid est civitas, nisi multitudo hominum in quoddam vinculum redacta concordiae. Epist. 155, 3, 9, PL. 33, col. 670. Concors hominum multitudo.
(35) Aug., Quaest. X., PL. 35, col. 1360. Est enim civitas non quorundam animantium, sed rationabilium multitudo legis unius societate devincta.
(36) Aug., De civ. De 4, 3. Nam singulus quisque homo, sicut in sermone unta litera, ita quasi elementum est civitatis et regni.
(37) Aug., Enarr. in psal. 9, 8, PL. 36, col. 120. Singuli homines tamquam elementa et semina civitatu. Cf. Cicero de officiis I, 17, 54--de fin. V, 23, 65 homines seminarium rei publicae.
(38) Aug., De civ. Dei, 4, 3. Nam singulus quisque homo, sicut in sermone una litera, ita quasi elementum est civitatis et regni.
(39) Aug., De civ. Dei, 19, 20. Quanto magis homo fertur quodammodo naturae suae legibus ad ineundam societatem pacemque cum hominibus, quantum in ipso est, omnibus obtinendum, cum etiam mali pro suorum pace belligerent.
(40) Aug., De civ. Dei, 12, 28. Nihil enim est quam hoc genus tam discordiosum vitio, tam sociale natura.
(41) Cf. Aug. op. imperfecti c. Jul. 6, 22, PL. 45, col. 1522.
(42) Aug., De civ. Dei, 19, 16. Quia igitur hominis domus initium sive particula debet esse civitatis, omen autem initium ad aliquem sui generis finem et omnis pars ad universi, cuius pars est integritatem refertur, satis apparet esse consequens, ut ad pacem civicam pax domestica referatur, id est, ut ordinata imperandi oboediendique concordia cohabitantium referatur ad ordinatam imperandi oboediendique concordiam civium. It fit, ut ex lege civitatis praecepta sumere pater familias oporteat, quibus domum suam sic regat, ut sit paci accommodata civitatis.
(43) Aug., Sermo 62, 5, 8, PL. 38, col. 418. Primi enim tibi sunt pater et mater, si recte educantes, si in Christum nutrientes, audiendi in omnibus . . . maior sit patria et ipsis parentibus tuis, ut quidquid iusserint parentes contra patriam non audiantur . . . Et quidquid iusserit patria contra Deum, non audiatur.
(44) Aug., De civ. Dei, 19, 13. Pax hominis mortalis et Dei immortalis ordinata in fide sub aeterna lege oboedientia. Pax domus ordinata imperandi atque oboediendi concordia cohabitantium. Pax civitatis ordinata imperandi oboediendique concordia civium . . . Pax omnium rerum est tranquillitas ordinis . . . Deus ergo naturarum omnium sapientissimus conditor et iustissimus ordinator.
(45) Aug., Epist. 105, PL. 33, col. 398 u. 400. Per cor regis ipsa veritas iussit, cum bonum iubent imperatores, per illos non iubet, nisi Christus.
(46) Aug., De civ. Dei, V. 6, 21, PL. 41, col. 167. Quae cum ita sint, non tribuamus dandi regni atque imperii potestatem, nisi Deo vero, qui dat felicitatem in regno coelorum solis piis, regnum verum terrenum et piis et impiis sicut et placet, cui nihil iniuste placet. Aug., De bon. conjug. 14, 16, PL. 40, col. 384. Nec vitperabilis ordo regiae potestatis, si rex crudelitate tyrannica ordinatur saeviat. Cf. Aug., De civ. Dei, 19, 15. Verum et poenalis servitus ea lege ordinatur, quae naturalem ordinem conservari iubet, perturbari vetat.
(47) Aug., De civ. Dei, V, 1. Prorsus divina providentia regna constituuntur humana.
(48) Ibidem. Nullo modo est credendus Deus regna hominum eorumque dominationes et servitutes a suae providentiae legibus alienas esse voluisse.
(49) Aug., Tract. in Joan. E. 6, n. 25, PL. 35, col. 1437. Quia ipsa iura humana per imperatores et reges saeculi distribuit generi humano.

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