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“Unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20).
“Things may be distinguished in two ways. First, as those things that are altogether specifically different ways, e.g. a horse and an ox. Secondly, as perfect and imperfect in the same species, e.g. a boy and a man: and in this way the Divine Law is divided into Old and New. Hence the Apostle compares the state of a man under the Old Law to that of a child under a pedagogue; but the state under the New Law to that of a full grown man, who is no longer under a pedagogue (Gal 3: 24, 25).”
“Now the perfection and imperfection of these two laws is to be taken in connection with the three conditions pertaining to law… For, in the first place, it belongs to law to be directed to the common good as to its end… This good may be twofold. It may be a sensible and earthly good, and to this, man was directly ordained by the Old Law: wherefore, at the very outset of the law, the people were invited to the earthly kingdom of the Chananeans (Ex 3:8, 17). Again it may be an intelligible and heavenly good: and to this, man is ordained by the New Law. Wherefore, at the very beginning of His preaching, Christ invited men to the kingdom of heaven, saying ‘Do penance, the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Mt 4:17). Hence Augustine says that ‘promises of temporal goods are contained in the Old Testament, for this reason it is called old; but the promise of eternal life belongs to the New Testament (Contra Faust. Iv).”
“Secondly, it belongs to the law to direct human acts, according to the order of righteousness: wherein also the New Law surpasses the Old Law, since it directs our internal acts, according to Mt 5:20: ‘Unless your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Hence the saying that ‘the Old Law restrains the hand, but the New Law controls the mind’ (Peter Lombard, 3 Sentent., D. xl).”
“Thirdly, it belongs to the law to induce men to observe its commandments. This the Old Law did by the fear of punishment: but the New Law by love, which is poured into our hearts by the grace of Christ, bestowed in the New Law, but foreshadowed in the Old. Hence Augustine says that ‘there is little difference between the Law and the Gospel – fear and love’ (Conra Adimant. Manich. xvii).” (1a2ae. 91, 5).
“As the father of a family issues different commands to the children and to the adults, so also the one King, God, in His one kingdom, gave one law to men, while they were yet imperfect, and another more perfect law, when, by the preceding law, they had been led to a greater capacity for Divine things,” (1a2ae. 91, 5 ad 1).
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Vol. II trans. English Dominicans (New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1947), 1000.
“And because it proceeded from one same light, the new law did not break the old law. Rather the new was bound together with the old, but it removed the imperfection since it was founded only in fear. The Word, My only-begotten Son, coming with the law of love, fulfilled it, giving the love, lifting the fear of punishment and retaining the holy fear. And so My Truth said to His disciples to show them that He was not a breaker of the law, 'I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. As if My Truth said to them; the law is now imperfect but with My blood I will make it perfect. And so I will fulfill it with that which is now lacking, taking away the fear of the suffering and founding it in love and in holy fear. What made it clear that this was the truth? The light that was given by grace and is given to whoever wants to receive it beyond the natural light, as I said.”
St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, 85.