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CHARITY

AN D CHARITIES 075 also a necessary means of reaching the perfect life; and and disappearance of the penitential system, assumed at the the feeling that was akin to this renunciation and prompted Reformation a prominent position in administration in relation it was charity. “ All perfection of the Christian life was not only to “sin,” but also to offences against society, such as to be attained according to charity,” and charity united idleness, &c. us to God. On this foundation was built up a classification of acts In the system elaborated by St Thomas Aquinas two lines of of charity, which St Thomas quotes—the seven spiritual thought are wrought into a kind of harmony. The one stands acts (consule, carpe, doce, solare, remitte, fer, ora), counsel, for Aristotle and nature, the other for Christian tradition and sustain, teach, console, save, pardon, pray; and the seven theology. We have thus a duplicate theory of thought and corporal (yestio, poto, cibo, redimo, tego, colligo, condo), I action throughout both rational and theologic virtues, and a duplicate beatitude or state of happiness correspondent to clothe, I give drink to, I feed, I free from prison, I shelter, I each. On the one hand it is argued that the good act is an act assist in sickness, I bury (II. II.® xxxii. 2). These in subsewhich, in relation to its object, wholly serves its purpose ; and quent thought became “good works,” and availed for the thus the measure of goodness (Prima Secundce Summoe Theolog. after-life, bringing with them definite boons. Thus charity Q. xviii. 2) is the proportion between action and effect. On the was linked to the system of indulgences. The bias of the other hand, the act has to satisfy the twofold law, human reason and eternal reason. From the point of view of the former the act of charity is made to favour the actor. Primarily the cardinal factor is desire, which, made proportionate to an end, is benefit reverts to him. He becomes conscious of an ultilove {amor); and, seeking the good of others, it loses its quality mate reward accruing to himself. The simplicity of of concupiscence and becomes friendly love {amor amicitioe). But the deed, the spontaneity from which, as in a well-practised this rational love {amor) and charity {caritas), the theologic virtue, may meet. All virtue or goodness is a degree of love art, its freshness springs and its good effects result, is {amor), if by virtue we mean the cardinal virtues and refer to the falsified at the outset. The thought that should be wholly rule of reason only. But there are also theologic virtues, which concerned in the fulfilment of a definite purpose is diverted are on one side “essential,” on the other side participative. As from it. The deed itself, apart from the outcome of wood ignited participates in the natural fire, so does the individual in these virtues (II. II.* Ixii. 1). Charity is a kind of the deed, is highly considered. An extreme inducement is friendship towards God. It is received per infusionem spiritus placed on giving, counselling, and the like, but none on the sancti, and is the chief and root of the theologic virtues of faith personal or social utility of the gift or counsel. Yet the and hope, and on it the rational virtues depend. They are not value of these lies in their end. No policy or science of degrees of charity as they are of {amor) love, but charity gives purpose, order, and quality to them all. In this sense the word charity can grow out of such a system. It can produce is applied to the rational virtues—as, for instance, beneficence. innumerable isolated acts, which may or may not be The counterpart of charity in social life is pity {misericordia), the beneficent, but it cannot enkindle the “ ordered charity.” compassion that moves us to supply another’s want {summa This charity is, strictly speaking, by its very nature religionis Christiana, in misericordia consistit quantum ad exteriora opera). It is, however, an emotion, not a virtue, and must be alike intellectual and emotional. Otherwise it would regulated like any other emotion (. . . passio est etnon virtus. Hie inevitably fail of its purpose, for though emotion might autem motus potest esse secuiidum rationem regulahis, II. II.* xxx. stimulate it, intelligence would not guide it. 3). Thus we pass to alms, which are the instrument of pity—an There are, then, these three lines of thought. That act of charity done through the intervention of pity. The act is not done in order to purchase spiritual good by a corporal means, of St Bernard, who invigorated the monastic movement, but to merit a spiritual good {per effectum caritatis) through and helped to make the monastery or hospital the being in a state of charity ; and from that point of view its effect centre of charitable relief. That of St Francis, who, is tested by the recipient being moved to pray for his benefactor. passing by regular and secular clergy alike, revived and The claim of others on our beneficence is relative, according to consanguinity and other bonds (II. II.® xxxi. 3), subject to the reinvigorated the conception of charity and gave it once condition that the common good of many is a holier obligation more the reality of a social force, knowing that it would (divinius) than that of one. Obedience and obligation to parents find a freer scope and larger usefulness in the life df the may be crossed by other obligations, as, for instance, duty to the people than in the religious aristocracy of monasteries. Church. To give alms is a command. Alms should consist of the superfluous that is, of all that the individual possesses after And that of St Thomas Aquinas, who, analysing the probhe has reserved what is necessary. What is necessary the donor lem of charity and almsgiving, and associating it with should fix in due relation to the claims of his family and depend- definite groups of works, led to its taking, in the common ants, his position in life {dignitas), and the sustenance of his body. thought, certain stereotyped forms, so that its social aim On the other hand, his gift should meet the actual necessities of the recipient and no more. More than this will lead to excess and purpose were ignored and its power for good was on the recipient’s part {ut inde luxurietur) or to want of spirit neutralized. and apathy {ut aliis remissio et refrigerium sit), though allowance We have now to turn to the conditions of social life in must be made for different requirements in different conditions of life. It were better to distribute alms to many persons than to which these thoughts fermented and took practical shape. give more than is necessary to one. In individual cases there The population of England from the Conquest Cbarit remains the further question of correction—the removing of some to the 14th century is estimated at between 1-J and social evil or sin from another ; and this, too, is an act of charity. and millions. London, it is believed, had a conditions It will be seen that though St Thomas bases his argument on a population of about 40,000. Other towns were ‘n duplicate theory of thought, action, and happiness, part natural, small. Two or three of the larger had 4000 or EngIand’ part theologic, and states fully the conditions of good action, he does not bring the two into unison. Logically the argument 5000 inhabitants. The only substantial building in a should follow that alms that fail in social benefit (produce village, apart perhaps from the manor-house, was the remissionem et refrigerium, for instance) fail also in spiritual church, used for many secular as well as religious purposes. good, for the two cannot be inconsistent. But in regard to the In the towns the mud or wood-paved huts sheltered a lormer he does not press the importance of purpose, and, in spite of his Aristotle, he misses the point on which Aristotle, as a close people who, accepting a common poverty, traded in little observer of social conditions, insists, that gifts without purpose more than the necessaries of life (Green, Town Life in the and reciprocity foster the dependence they are designed to meet. loth Century, i. 13). The population was stationary. The proverb of the “ pierced cask ” is as applicable to ecclesiastical as to political almsgiving, as has often been proved by the event. Famine and pestilence were of frequent occurrence The distribution of all “ superfluous ” income in the form of alms (Creighton, Epidemics in Britain, p. 19), and for the would have the effect of a huge endowment, and would stereotype careless there was waste at harvest time and want in “the poor” as a permanent and unprogressive class. The pro- winter. Hunger was the drill-sergeant of society. Owing posal suggests that St Thomas contemplated the adoption of a to the hardship and penury of life infant mortality was method of relief which would be like a voluntary poor-law ; and it is noteworthy that his phrase “necessary relief” forms the probably very great. The 15th century was, however, defining words of the Elizabethan poor-law, while he also lays “the golden age of the labourer.” Our problem is to stress on the importance of “correction,” which, on the decline ascertain what was the service of charity to this people