The Treatise On Laws Main Ideas

The Treatise On Laws — Main Ideas The Treatise on Laws is a collection of medieval texts pertaining to laws and their distinctions. Apparently compiled in the twelfth century by Gratian, a person whose origins are still contested, it consists of 20 sections labeled distinctions. Each distinction is further separated into parts and cases, each which serve to convey one particular idea. Although various differing ideas are presented in the treatise, there is a central theme evident which is, to borrow directly from Gratian, the harmony of discordant canons, or how completely different sets of laws can mesh together. The treatise begins by saying that the human race is ruled by two things, namely, natural law and usages.

Natural law is defined by Gratian as the law put forth in the gospel, or law where each person is commanded to do to others what he wants done to himself. Since the gospel is taken by many to be the word of god, natural law is also known as divine law. This is seen as law that is intrinsically moral and infallible because they come directly from god. Usage is defined as laws that come about as laws that come about as a natural byproduct of human society. These laws can be known as human law, as they are created exclusively by humans.

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Divine law stays the same for all peoples according to Gratian, but human law varies because different things please different people. Furthermore, divine law takes precedence over human law. When conflict occurs, as Gratian says Imperial ordinances are not above the ordinance of god.(33) But he continues, saying that secular laws are not to be rejected, whenever these are opposed to evangelical and canonical decree, they are worthy of all reverence. Gratian makes the point that divine laws define morality and human laws are not necessarily moral, just practical. He gives the example in Distinction 1 that it is moral to walk through someone’s property, but nit necessarily legal.

According to Christian faith , a moral Christian life gets one into heaven. So seeing as human laws are not necessarily moral, and morality is sometimes not legal, a conflict occurs. The moral Christian could decide to live in accordance to divine law, not considering human law, and suffer in the material world in order to gain the greater reward (eternal paradise). As Gratian says, divine and human law are separate, but can work together or conflict. The Treatise on Laws serves to fully explain the laws and their meanings.

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