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Article Six

Whether Love to God ought to have a Mode

We proceed to the sixth article thus:

1. It seems that love to God ought to have a mode. For Augustine makes it clear that the very nature of good consists in mode, species, and order (De Nat. Boni 3, 4), and love to God is the best thing in man, according to Col. 3:14: “above all things put on charity.” Love to God ought therefore to have a mode.

2. Again, Augustine says (De Mor. Eccles. 8): “Tell me, I pray, the mode of love. For I fear lest I be kindled with desire and love toward God more than I ought.” Now he would be asking in vain, if there were no mode of love to God. There must therefore be some mode of love to God.

3. Again, Augustine says (4 Gen. ad Litt. 3): “a mode is what its proper measure prescribes for each thing.” Now reason is the measure of man’s will as well as of his outward actions. Inward love to God ought therefore to have a mode which reason prescribes, just as the outward act of charity has a mode which reason prescribes, in accordance with Rom. 12:1: “your reasonable service.”

On the other hand: Bernard says (De Diligendo Deum 1): “The cause of love to God is God. Its mode is to love him without mode.”

I answer: the passage from Augustine quoted in the third point makes it clear that mode means a determination of measure. Now this determination is found both in a measure and in a thing which is measured, but in different ways. It belongs to a measure essentially, since a measure is itself determinative of other things, and gives them their form; whereas its presence in things measured is due to something other than themselves, that is, to their conformity with a measure. Hence 364a measure can contain nothing that is without mode. But a thing measured has no mode if it does not conform to its measure, but either falls short of it or exceeds it.

As the philosopher explains in 2 Physics, text 89, the proper reason for what we desire or do must be sought in the end. The end is thus the measure of anything that we may desire or do, and consequently has a mode on its own account. Things done for the sake of an end, on the other hand, have a mode because they are related to an end. Hence the philosopher says also, in 1 Politics 6, that “in every art, the desire for the end has neither end nor limit.” But what is done for the sake of an end does have a limit. A doctor does not prescribe any limit for health, which he makes as perfect as he can. But he does prescribe a limit for medicine. He does not give as much medicine as possible, but as much as health requires, and medicine would be without mode if it exceeded or fell short of this amount.

Now love to God is the end of every human action and affection, wherein especially we attain our ultimate end, as we said in Q. 23, Art. 6. Love to God cannot then have a mode such as applies to things which are measured, and which may be either too much or too little. But it does have a mode such as applies to a measure, of which there is no excess, but the greater the conformity to rule the better. Hence love to God is the better, the more God is loved.

On the first point: to have a quality essentially is more significant than to have it on account of something else. Thus a measure, which has a mode essentially, is better than a thing measured, which has a mode on account of something other than itself. Hence also charity, which has a mode as a measure, is more eminent than the other virtues, which have a mode as things which are measured.

On the second point: as Augustine adds in the same passage, “the mode of love to God is to love him with all our heart,” which means that God ought to be loved as much as he can be loved. So it is with any mode which applies to a measure.

On the third point: an affection is to be measured by reason if its object is subject to the judgment of reason. But the object of love to God is God, who transcends the judgment of reason. Hence love to God also transcends the judgment of reason, and is not to be measured by reason. Neither can we compare the inward act of charity with its outward acts. The inward act of charity has the nature of an end, since man’s ultimate good consists in the adherence of his soul to God, in accordance with 365Ps. 73:28: “It is good for me to draw near to God.” Its outward acts, on the other hand, are the means to this end.

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