William Peraldus, Summa on the Vices

An Outline


Treatise 1. On Vice in General



For the abbreviations used in this outline, please see the page explaining them by clicking here.



The Moral Treatise on the Seven Capital Vices and on the Sins

I. In treating the vices we start with gluttony




A. The Gloss says on Matt 4:3-4: this vice must be restrained first to restrain the others

B. Another passage of the Gloss on Matt 4:3-4: because the devil was defeated in gluttony, he did not tempt by lust

C. The teaching on the vices is useful because the vices must be avoided with effort and care.


On Vice in General

I. Three arguments show that the vices must be avoided



A. They are pleasing to demons



1. The constancy of temptation: Gregory (cf. Stephen of Bourbon, Tractatus, 1.8.4): The devil tempts us constantly to wear us down at last

2. Gregory, Mor., 2.10.17: The devil thinks he accomplishes nothing when he is not wounding souls

B. They are displeasing to God: Three reasons that God hates evil



1. God hates the devil chiefly because of sin; otherwise God would love the devil as part of creation



a. Wis 11:25: and add that God hates nothing except in combination with sin

b. Since a cause is more significant than the result, sin is hated more by God than is the devil

2. God would hate even a friend if he found mortal sin in him




a. Christ would have damned Peter if he had passed away in the sin of triple denial (cf. Matt 26:69-75)

b. Christ would throw into hell those for whom he died if he found mortal sin in them

3. God wanted his son to be crucified so that sin would be crucified with him

a. Augustine on Col 2:14: Sin is crucified when innocence is wounded (cf. Glossa ordinaria, Col 2:14)

b. Isa 53:8

c. Christ wanted sin to be pierced with a sword along with him even if his mother were pierced as well: Luke 2:35, add here: in compassion


C. Vices are ruinous for humankind: four proofs

1. Nothing can harm a person but sin, not the devil or sickness or anything else



a. If a human being protects himself from sin, he need not fear another enemy



i. If evil is not dominant, hardship will not be deleterious (cf. Liber sacramentorum Gellonensis, 279; Liber sacramentorum Engolismensis, 281; Liber sacramentorum Augustodunensis, 289)

ii. Qoh 8:5

iii. Isa 3:10

iv. Rom 8:28

b. The devil cannot hurt a blameless person without ensuring salvation for him

i. The evil person constructs for the humble eternal crowns (Bernard, Serm. in Cant., 17.6)

ii. Ps 128:3

2. There is nothing that is so beneficial that sin cannot make it harmful to human beings



a. Even the practice of communion becomes a harmful thing if an unrighteous person takes it



i. 1Cor 11:29

b. Sin makes God, who is benevolence itself, into someone who will show us wrath so that he passes judgment even on his children

i. Ps 6:2

ii. Ps 37:2

3. Sin is adverse to the better part of human beings, the soul



a. Sir 21:3-4

b. Sin is called a "double-edged sword" because it harms both spirit and body: Sir 21:4

c. Sin's harm is felt even after life

4. Sin takes everything good from human beings and inflicts all evils


II. These are what sin takes from humanity



A. God

B. Our place in heaven

C. The fellowship of the body of the church: Sir 13:22

D. The possessions of the church: Ps 118:63

E. Good acts, according to Ambrose (cf. Defensor [?], Liber scint., 1.35)

F. It takes us from ourselves, by two methods



1. We become servants of the devil

2. Because it would be best for a person who perpetrates wickedness to have never been born as that person

a. Though before sin he was valued, through iniquity he has fallen to where non-existence is preferable to existence

G. Sin inflicts almost all evils

III. Three proofs that show a life of wickedness is adverse in our present life



A. By God's fairness



1. God does not allow the shame of sin to exist without the redemption of punishment (cf. Augustine, De lib. ar., 3.15.44)



a. Because of this, Augustine, Conf., 1.12.19: a sinful soul is its own penalty

2. Many other evils follow when one vice is present



a. Jer 2:19

3. At the very least, the conscience punishes the sinner

B. Sin is extreme in nature, while good deeds exist in the mean between the extremes



1. Nature takes pleasure in the mean between extremes: Ps 18:9

C. Vice is not natural, while virtues are

1. According to Bernard (cf. William of St.-Thierry, Epistula, 2.219)

2. Because morality is natural, when it enters the soul it sometimes does so easily, and comes and stays faithfully, and it harmonizes well with nature, according to Bernard (cf. William of St.-Thierry, Epistula, 2.221)



a. Therefore a wicked life is bitter, while a virtuous life is sweet

b. According to Jerome, continually sinning makes a virtuous life hard and adverse for us (Epistolae ad Hieronymum (exc. epist. Augustini), Ep. 148

3. It is like sunlight which pleases the eyes

a. Qoh 11:7

b. But sunlight is displeasing to eyes accustomed to darkness

IV. Therefore iniquity pleases demons enormously, greatly displeases God, and is tremendously harmful to humankind



A. Sin makes a person hateful to God, his angels, and humankind: Ps 52:2

B. It must be vigorously avoided

1. If all demons and wicked human beings and beasts and creatures harmful to humankind were gathered together, a single mortal sin ought to be dreaded more than all of them

2. Sir 21:2

3. According to Seneca, we should make peace with all; with sins, war (cf. Auctoritates Aristotelis Senecae Boethii Platonis Apulei Porphyrii Gilberti opus, 22.14)

4. Sin must be attacked without limit and order, because it has no limit or order (Seneca, Ep. mor., 51.3)




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