On Obedience, the Formal Object of all the Divine Precepts
The obedience which is the formal object of all the divine precepts, and which is prescribed in all of them, is properly and adequately prescribed to the will conducting itself according to the mode of liberty; that is, as it is free, that it may regulate the will conducting itself according to the mode of nature, that is, that it may regulate the inclination according to the prescribed obedience. II. This liberty is either that of contradiction or exercise, or that of contrariety or specification. According to the liberty of exercise, the will regulates the inclination, that it may perform some act rather than abstain from it, or the contrary. According to the liberty of specification, the will regulates the inclination, that, by such an act, it may tend towards this rather than towards that object. III. From this formal object of all precepts, and its relation thus considered, arises the first distribution and that a formal one, of all the precepts, into those which command, and those which forbid; that is, those in which the commission or the omission [of an act] is prescribed. IV. A precept which forbids is so binding, as not to allow a man to commit what is forbidden. For we must not perpetrate wickedness that good may come; yet this is the only reason why we might occasionally be allowed to perform what has been forbidden. V. A precept which commands is not equally rigidly binding, so as to require in every single moment of time the performance of what is commanded; for this cannot be done, though the period when man will or will not perform it, is not left to his option; but performance of it must be administered according to the occasions and exigencies which offer. Thus it was not lawful for Daniel to abstain for three days from calling upon his God. VI. When a precept which forbids, and one which commands, are directly contrary -- whether it be according to the act, "Thou shalt love God, and not hate him," "Thou shalt hate the world and not love it;" or, whether it be according to the object, "Thou shalt love God, and not love the world;" "Thou shalt hate the world, but shalt not hate God;" then the transgression of the law which forbids, is more grievous than that which commands, because it recedes further from obedience, and because the commission of an evil which has been forbidden includes in it the omission of a good which has been commanded.