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.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Golden Rule in the Medieval Church, Part 2

WILLIAM OF CHAMPEAUX INVOKES THE GOLDEN RULE in his Dialogue Between a Christian and a Jew (Dialogus inter Christianum et Judeum),* when he has his Christian talk to his Jewish interlocutor about the natural law, how it fell into desuetude among the children of the ancient Patriarchs, and how the Mosaic law was given to repair that natural law. However good the Mosaic law may have been to repair the damage caused by the habitual sin that caused the memory of the natural law to fail, that memory was not wholly washed out, as some of its fundamentals remain ever obvious. Among those fundamentals is the Golden Rule, which, regardless of man's depravity, remains ever obvious as a fundamental precept of right behavior. Even perfect following of the Golden Rule or of the Mosaic Law is insufficient, however, to transfer us into eternal life.
. . . after this you may be acquainted that in order to repair the natural law, the written law was given, because the natural law was inscribed in the first patriarchs. But thereafter their progeny through utterly wicked lives and customs delegated it [into non-use] and gave it the lie, and yet the ancient fathers knew through the beauty of the world what to do and what to guard against. It is ever obvious that that one ought not do to another what he would not want done to himself. Therefore, because of the great longevity and the great degree of increasing iniquity, that law fell away from the memory of men. And so it was necessary that the written law repair this law, so as to recall to the minds of men that were captured by sin the need to shun sin and to set forth the penalties that are associated with such sins. For as your Paul and our apostle said, before the law existed, since was not imputed because it was unknown: sin, he said, is not known except by the law, for a wrong desire is unknown unless the law says you shall not desire. Therefore, in this manner, the law was useful in putting fear in he who served it, he knowing that he ought to avoid sin, so as to avoid the punishment that was attached to it. At length, the law has a certain value to the sick, which, although it cannot heal them perfectly, yet in a certain manner it can caution them to avoid imminent evil. But for that reason, it does not lead any man to perfection, and he is unable to obtain his return to paradise.

. . . post haec noscas quia ad reparanduam naturalem legem, lex scripta data est, quoniam lex naturalis in primis patribus insita erat, postea in eorum filiis nequitia vitae et morum omnino delegat et prevaricata est, name prisci patres naturali bonitate sciebant quid cavendum vel agendum esset, siclicet ne unquam facerent alteri quod sibi non vellent fieri. Quia igitur lex ista tam longaevitate magna quam iniquitate crescente a memoria hominum tota exciderat, necesses fuit ut hanc lex scripta reparet, rememorans peccata vitanda a quibus observantes peccatum et poenam peccati evaderent, nam sicut ait Paulus vester et apostolum noster, ante legem peccatum non imputabatur quia nesciebatur: peccatum, inquit, non cognovi nisi per legem, nam concupiscentiam nesciebam nisi lex diceret non concupisces. Igitur hoc modo profuit lex eo temorer his qui eam servabant quia peccatum cognoscendo vitabant, et poenam peccati pariter evadebant, denique legis potio quodam modo aegrotantibus valuit, quae, quamvis eos perfect sanare non posset, tamen suit cautela a malis imminentibus retraxit, sed ideo ad perfectum neminem adduxit, quia reditum paradisi obtinere non potuit.
163 PL 1051.

Peter Lombard
(Miniature from his Sententiae, Man. 1158, Troyes BM ms. 0900, f. 001
(Médiathèque de l'Agglomération Troyenne, Troyes )

We shall also look at Peter Lombard's Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. In discussing Romans 1:14-16, Peter Lombard, citing St. Augustine's De Spiritu et Littera links the Golden Rule with the natural law and with the Law of the Gospel. All the specific precepts of the natural law, from the prohibition to committing adultery, to the prohibition against theft, can be boiled down to the Golden Rule. Peter Lombard quotes the Golden Rule in its negative formulation. Not only is the Golden Rule a fundament of the natural law, it is in perfect accordance with the Gospel, which does not abrogate that law; rather, it accords with the Gospel: quod evangelicae concordat doctrinae:
It is said with respect to the gentiles, if they do evil, they are to be damned; if they do well, they are to be saved [Remigius]: but if they do not have the law, how is it they they know the good, or the bad, it is perceived by them as neither one or the other duty is imposed [Hilarius, Augustine]. On the other hand, we have that which the Apostle says: Those that do not have the written law, have nevertheless the natural law, by which they know, and to which they are made conscious, of that which is good, and that which is evil. For the natural law is to not render to anyone injury, to take nothing from one's neighbor, to abstain from fraud and perjury, not to ambush another's marriage, and such similar things; and that which may be briefly stated as, do not do unto others as you would not want them to do unto you: this accords with the doctrine of the Gospel.

Dixerat supra gentilem, si male operaretur, damnari, et salvari, se bene operaretur [Remigius]: sed cum legem non habeant, quasi nesciat quid sit bonum, quidve malum, videretur sibi neutrum debere imputari. [Hilarius, Augst.] Contra quod Apostolus ait: Etsi non habeat scriptam legem, habet tamen naturalem, qua intelligit, et sibi conscius est quid sit bonum, quidve malum. Lex enim naturalis est, injuriam nemine inferre, nihil alienum praeripere, a fraude et perjurio abstinere, alienum conjugio non insidiari, et caetera talia; et ut breviter dicatur, nolle aliis facere quod tibi non vis fieri: quod evangelicae concordat doctrinae.

191 PL 1345.

*Migne attributes the Dialogue to William of Champeaux; modernly, there is doubt about whether he is its author, and so its author is frequently given the moniker "Pseudo-William of Champeaux"

The Golden Rule by Norman Rockwell

No comments:

Post a Comment