On Ethics & Virtue

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Ps. 119:105

“Ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

Matt 23:23




Expositions of the Ten Commandments
Expositions of the Beatitudes  Mt. 5



Order of Contents

Articles  8+
Books  40+
Commentaries on Aristotle & Seneca  3
Human Affections  2
Moral Dilemmas

.       Surveys
.       Reformed History
.       Individuals
Bibliography  1
.       Disputations  14+
.       Books  44+
.       Commentaries on Aristotle

Elicited vs. Commanded Acts
Some Ethical Duties are Stronger than Others
Different Degrees of Moral Necessity
Distinguishing Ends
What if a Superior Commands Something Not Right
Lesser Evil may Not be Done to Avoid Greater Evil
Human Will as the Source of Evil
Love of Self & those Close to Us
Christian Hedonism





Du Moulin, Pierre – ‘Ethical Theses on the Blessed Life & Virtue’  trans. David S. Sytsma  (Leiden, 1594)

Du Moulin was a French reformed minister.



Perkins, William

How to Live, & that Well in all Estates Times, Specially when Helps & Comforts Fail  (Cambridge, 1601)

Ε’ΠΙΕΙ’ΚΕΙΑ, or a Treatise of Christian Equity & Moderation. Delivered Publicly in Lectures  (Cambridge, 1604)

Coppen, Bartholomaeus – ‘Ethical Theses on Virtues in General, & on those Four Called Cardinal in Particular (Heidelberg, 1610)’  trans. David S. Sytsma  (2021)  8 pp. parallel columns of Latin & English

Colonius, Daniel – ‘Ethical Propositions on Moral Virtue’  (Leiden, 1622)  tr. David Sytsma  3 pp.

Abstract of Sytsma: “Daniel Colonius (1566-1635) is well known for his Analysis paraphrastica of Calvin’s Institutes (1636). He studied at Geneva with Theodore Beza and was a participant at the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619). This is an English translation of Daniel Colonius (praes.), Positiones ethicae de virtue morali [resp. Petrus Reghemoorterus] (Leiden: Isaac Elzevier, 1622). It is a short disputation representing an early seventeenth-century theologian’s view of ethics. Colonius is clearly favorable toward virtue ethics and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics in particular.”

Ames, William – Book 2  of The Marrow of Sacred Divinity  Buy  (1623)  This work has been reprinted.

Wolleb, Johannes – Book 2  of Abridgment of Christian Divinity  Buy  (1626)

This work has been translated in ‘Reformed Dogmatics: Seventeenth-Century Reformed Theology’, ed. John Beardslee.

Dalrymple of Stair, James – ‘Ethical Theses’  (Glasgow, 1646)  tr. David Sytsma

Abstract of Sytsma: “James Dalrymple of Stair [1619-1695] is famous for his Institutions of the Law of Scotland (1681). This is a translation of his “Theses ethicae”, part of a larger set of philosophical theses in 1646. Dalrymple taught ethics and other philosophical disciplines at Glasgow from 1641 until 1648.”



Hodge, Charles – ‘The Theology of the Intellect & that of the Feelings’, originally published in the Princeton Review of Oct., 1850. It was subsequently published in Hodge’s Essays & Reviews (NY: Robert Carter, 1857). This was a review of an article by Edwards A. Park (a professor at Andover Theological Seminary) titled “The Theology of the Intellect & That of the Feelings”, 1850






The Eudemian Ethics

For background, see Wikipedia.  For a summary of Aristotle’s ethics, see ‘Aristotle’s Ethics’ at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

The Nicomachean Ethics

For background, see Wikipedia.  This work is considered to be the main source for Aristotle’s ethics.


Early Church


Enchiridion: On Faith, Hope, and Love

This is in NPNF, vol. 3.  Other ethical material follows in that volume.

Of the Morals of the Catholic Church

This was written against the Manichaeans.  This work and the two below are in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, pp. 37-89 & 346-65.

Of the Morals of the Manichaeans

Concerning the Nature of Good, Against the Manichaeans



Thomas – Part Two of Summa Theologica  (HTML)

Thomas of Aquinas (d. 1274)



Calvin, John – Of the Life or Conversation of a Christian man, a right godly treatise…  (London, 1549)  160 pp.

de la Place, Pierre – The Right Use of Moral Philosophy  in Sources in Early Modern Economics, Ethics, and Law  Buy  (d. 1572; CLP Academic, 2021)  136 pp.

“The early French reformer Pierre de la Place (ca. 1520-1572) is usually remembered more for his martyrdom than for his life or work.  La Place was, however, a significant figure in the French reform movement who made contributions through both civil service and writing.  Appearing here in English for the first time, his Du droict usage de la philosophie morale avec la doctrine chrestienne is an early Reformed introduction to moral philosophy.  The work begins with praise for the science of ethics, turns to a discussion of the highest good, and then expounds topics such as the will, habit, and virtue.

Throughout the book La Place argues for a distinction between the disciplines of ethics and theology, and he illustrates how the confusion of these disciplines leads to error.  Yet his overall purpose is to show how moral philosophy may be rightly related to theology for the benefit of civil society.  Written by an often overlooked leader of the Huguenots, this work will be of interest to scholars and students of ethics, theology, and the history of the Reformation.

Case, John – A View of Moral Questions  trans. Dana Sutton  (1585)

Case (c.1540-1600) was a reformed (according to Svensson & Sytsma), Church of England writer on Aristotle.

Fulbecke, William – A Book of Christian Ethics or Moral Philosophy, Containing the True Difference and Opposition of the Two Incompatible Qualities, Virtue and Voluptuousness  (London, 1587)

Fulbecke was a (1560-1603?) was an Anglican writer.

Taffin, Sr., Jean – The Amendment of Life, Comprised in Four Books  (1594; London, 1595)

Taffin (1529-1602) was a Pietist born in modern day Belgium whose works had a great influence in the movement of reformed pietism.  His, Of the Marks of the Children of God, has been translated and reprinted.  Some scholars have seen him as the first promoter of the Dutch Further Reformation (Nadere Reformatie).



Hall, Joseph

Characters of Virtues & Vices, in Two Books  (London, 1608)

Solomon’s Divine Arts, of 1. Ethics, 2. Politics, 3. Economics, that is, the Government of 1. Behavior, 2. Commonwealth, 3. Family. Drawn into [a] Method out of his Proverbs & Ecclesiastes.  With an open and plain paraphrase upon the Song of Songs  (London, 1609)

Bolton, Robert – A Discourse about the State of True Happiness, Delivered in Certain Sermons in Oxford…  (London: 1611)  155 pp.  EEBO

Burges, Cornelius – A Chain of Graces: Drawn out at length for Reformation of Manners. Or, A Brief Treatise of Virtue, Knowledge, Temperance, Patience, Godliness, brotherly-kindness, charity.  So far forth as they are urged by the Apostle in 2 Pet. 1:5-7  (London: 1622)

Ames, William – Book 2  of The Marrow of Sacred Divinity  Buy  (1623)  

Grotius, Hugo – The Rights of War & Peace, including the Law of Nature & of Nations…  ed. A.C. Campbell  (1625; Dunne, 1901)

Grotius (1583-1645) was a Dutch humanist, diplomat, lawyer, Arminian, Erastian and Latitudinarian theologian, and a jurist.

“Grotius’ concept of natural law had a strong impact on the philosophical and theological debates and political developments of the 17th and 18th centuries.  Among those he influenced were Samuel Pufendorf and John Locke, and by way of these philosophers his thinking became part of the cultural background of the Glorious Revolution in England and the American Revolution…  Both Biblical revelation and natural law originated in God and could therefore not contradict each other.” – Wikipedia

“Grotius has also contributed significantly to the evolution of the notion of rights.  Before him, rights were above all perceived as attached to objects; after him, they are seen as belonging to persons, as the expression of an ability to act or as a means of realizing something.” – Wikipedia

“The great writers of all ages are cited [by Grotius] with a superfluous lavishness…  as to give a historic catholicity to his doctrine by showing that the laws he is endeavoring to formulate have, in fact, been accepted in all times and by all men.” – Intro, p. 10

Ames, William – Technometry  1651  This has been translated from the Latin and reprinted.

Herle, Charles

Worldly Policy and Moral Prudence: The Vanity & Folly of the One, the Solidity and Usefulness of the Other: in a Moral Discourse  (London: 1654)

Wisdom’s Tripos, or rather its Inscription, Detur Sapienti [May one be given to wisdom], in Three Treatises:  I. Worldly Policy. II. Of Moral Prudence. III. Of Christian Wisdom.  The Vanity of the First, the Usefulness of the Second, the Excellency of the ThirdRef  (1655)

Ball, John – The Power of Godliness, both doctrinally & practically handled, wherein the nature, comprehensiveness, parts & properties of a godly life are discovered by Scripture-evidence, and authority…  (d. 1640; London, 1657)

Shelton, William – Moral Virtues Baptized Christian: Or the Necessity of Morality Among Christians  (London, 1667)  185 pp.

Shelton (d. 1699) was a reformed Anglican.

More, Henry – An Account of Virtue, or, Dr. Henry More’s Abridgment of Morals  IA  (London: 1690/1701)  This is a translation of More’s, Enchiridion Ethicum (1668)

More (1614-1687) was an Arminian, Latitudinarian Anglican clergyman and a philosopher of (what was later called) the Cambridge Platonist school.

Pufendorf, Samuel – Of the Law of Nature & Nations, 8 Books  (1672; London, 1729)

Pufendorf (1632-1694) was a German jurist, political philosopher, economist and historian.

“Among his achievements are his commentaries and revisions of the natural law theories of Thomas Hobbes and Hugo Grotius.  His political concepts are part of the cultural background of the American Revolution. Pufendorf is seen as an important precursor of Enlightenment in Germany.  He was involved in constant quarrels with clerical circles and frequently had to defend himself against accusations of heresy, despite holding largely traditional Christian views on matters of dogma and doctrine…

John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Denis Diderot all recommended Pufendorf’s inclusion in law curricula, and he greatly influenced Blackstone and Montesquieu…

Pufendorf and Leibniz shared many theological views, but differed in their philosophical foundation, with Pufendorf leaning toward Biblical fundamentalism.” – Wikipedia

Pufendorf was Erastian in his understanding of the Church.

Ferguson, Robert – A Sober Inquiry into the Nature, Measure & Principle of Moral Virtue, its Distinction from Gospel-Holiness…  (London, 1673)

Ferguson (c.1637-1714) was a Church of Scotland minister and Anglican clergyman who was ejected in the Great Ejection of 1662.  He was also a political pamphleteer and conspirator, known as “the Plotter”.

Baxter, Richard – A Christian Directory: a Sum of Practical Theology and Cases of Conscience, vols. 12, 345  Buy  (1673)  See the table of contents.

This work, with his Latin work, Method of Christian Theology, was intended to comprise a whole body of divinity (the theological in Latin and the practical in English).  This work includes four parts: (1) Christian Ethics (Private Duties), (2) Christian Economics (Family Duties), (3) Christian Ecclesiastics (Church Duties), and (4) Christian Politics (Corporate/Civic Duties).  These volumes do not contain Baxter’s errors on justification found in other works of his.

“The most outstanding pastor, evangelist and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced.” – J.I. Packer

Traherne, Thomas – Christian Ethics, or, Divine Morality, Opening the Way to Blessedness by the rules of Virtue & Reason  (London: 1675)  ToC

Traherne (c.1637-1674) was an Anglican clergyman, religious writer and poet.

Rachel, Samuel – Dissertations on the Law of Nature and of Nations  trans. John Bate  (1676; Washington D.C., 1916)

Rachel (1628-1691) was a German professor of ethics and of natural and international law.

“…Samuel von Pufendorf denied the existence of a positive jus gentium (Law of Nations), distinct from the jus naturale [natural law].  He maintained therein that States were universally subject to the Law of Nature only; in addition there were, of course, rights based upon treaties, and also customs observed between civilized States, but (said he) these treaty rights were valid only between the States that had concluded the treaty, and a State might at any time renounce these customs; such conduct would admittedly expose the State to evils–such as reprisals and censure–but Pufendorf does not seem to attach great importance to these evils, and…  they at different times have failed to deter governments and generals…

Accordingly, to attack this doctrine, which favored arbitrariness and based the Law of Nations solely upon the principles of Natural Law established by a priori reasoning, and at the same time to show that by the side of the jus naturae there also exists a positive Law of Nations–this was a signal service.  It was left to Rachel to render that service.” – Intro, pp. 7a-8a

For how Rachel’s theory of the Law of Nations differed from that of Grotius, see the Intro, p. 11a.

Scott, John – The Christian Life, from its Beginning to its Consummation in Glory: together with the several means and instruments of Christianity conducing thereunto: with directions for private devotion and forms of prayer fitted to the several states of Christians  (London, 1681)

Scott (1639-1695) was an English clergyman, known as a devotional writer and as a defender of Anglican orthodoxy in his preaching.

Allestree, Richard – The Whole Duty of Man, Laid Down in a Plain and Familiar Way for the Use of All, but especially the Meanest [Lowliest] Reader…  (rep. London, 1841)  Table of Contents

Allestree (c.1621-1681) was a royalist Anglican (not necessarily reformed), and a professor of divinity at Oxford.

Kettlewell, John – Of Christian Prudence, Or Religious Wisdom, Not Degenerating Into Irreligious Craftiness in Trying Times  (London: 1691)  290 pp.  ToC

Kettlewell (1653-1695) was an Anglican clergyman, non-juror and devotional writer.

Abbadie, Jacques – The Art of Knowing Oneself, or, An Inquiry into the Sources of Morality  (London, 1695)

Abbadie (c.1654-1727) was a French Protestant minister and writer.  He became Dean of Killaloe, in Ireland.

Morton, Charles – A System of Ethics. Of Moral Philosophy in General & in Special.  (d. 1698; 1708) a manuscript, transcribed by Ebenezer Williams, at Harvard University Library, 8707.394

Morton (bap.1627-1698) was a Cornish (Celtic) nonconformist, puritan minister and founder of an early dissenting academy, later in life associated in New England with Harvard College.  Morton was raised with strong Puritan influences in England and attended Oxford (1649-1652).  As a result of the English Revolution, he was arrested and excommunicated for promoting progressive education (he was the teacher of Daniel Defoe), forcing his immigration to relative safety in Massachusetts Bay Colony (1685-1686), although he was soon arrested for sedition (and then acquitted) in Boston.

His system of vernacular teaching at Harvard was basically Scholastic/Aristotelian with modern flavors of John Wallis, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, and even René Descartes.

Bright, George – Christian Prudence, or, Directions for the Guidance and Conduct of ourselves, in the Case of Judging one another.  Being Several Discourses on Mt. 7:1, ‘Judge not, that you be not judged’  (London: 1699)

Bright (d. 1696) was an Anglican.



Vitringa, Campegius – The Spiritual Life  trans. Charles K. Telfer  (1716; RHB, 2018)

Vitringa, Sr. (1659-1722) was a professor in Franeker and a Hebraist.

“…Vitringa…  maintained a fairly centrist Reformed position…  Vitringa and De Moor serve as codifiers and bibliographers of the earlier tradition, the former from a federalist, the latter from a nonfederalist perspective.” – R. Muller

Butler, Joseph – Fifteen Sermons…  upon the following subjects. Upon human nature. Upon the Government of the Tongue. Upon Compassion. Upon the Character of Balaam. Upon Resentment. Upon Forgiveness of Injuries. Upon Self-Deceit. Upon the Love of our Neighbour. Upon the Love of God. Upon the Ignorance of Man  (London: 1726)

Butler (1692-1752) was a bishop in the Church of England, a theologian, apologist and a philosopher.

Cudworth, Ralph – A Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality  (London: 1731)

Cudworth (1617-1688) was a latitudinarian Anglican clergyman, Christian Hebraist, classicist, theologian and philosopher, and a leading figure among the Cambridge Platonists.

Edwards, Jonathan

Charity & its Fruits, or Christian Love as Manifested in the Heart & Life  (1736; Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1874)  550 pp.

Two Dissertations:  I. Concerning the End for which God Created the World;  II. The Nature of True Virtue  (d. 1758; Boston, 1765)

Grove, Henry – A System of Moral Philosophy…  in Two Volumes, vol. 1, 2  (London, 1749)

Grove (1684-1738) was an English nonconformist minister, theologian, and dissenting tutor, who is classified by PRDL as reformed.  For background to the work and a summary of the work itself, see Alan Sell, Philosophy, Dissent & Nonconformity, 1689-1920 (2004), pp. 61-67.



Alexander, Archibald – Outlines of Moral Science  1852  284 pp.

A systematic treatment of the foundations of Morality.

Bavinck, Herman – Reformed Ethics, vol. 1 (Created, Fallen & Converted Humanity)  (Baker, trans. 2019)

Dabney, Robert – The Practical Philosophy: being the Philosophy of the Feelings, of the Will & of the Conscience, with the Ascertainment of Particular Rights and Duties  Buy  1897  365 pp.  There is no table of contents, though there is an index at the beginning

This is Dabney’s systematic exposition of ethics.



Holmes, Arthur – Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions  2nd. ed.  (IVP Academic, 2007)  155 pp.  ToC

eds. Dorff, Elliot & Jonathan K. Crane – The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics & Morality  (Oxford Univ. Press, 2013)  ToC





William Ames

Medulla theologica  (Amsterdam: Janson, 1634), bk. 1, ch. 2, ‘On the Distribution of Theology’, section 6, pp. 4-5  trans. Charles Johnson  This section has been omitted from most English translations (e.g. London, 1642).

“From the remains of these two parts (faith and observance), two theologies sprang forth among some philosophers: metaphysics, and ethics. For metaphysics is the faith of the Aristotelians, and ethics is their observance. Hence, both these disciplines present that which teaches the supreme good of man. This is known to all concerning ethics.

Moreover, concerning metaphysics, which they also call “theology,” this is what Suarez says, Disp. 1, Sect. 5, #43: “The blessedness of man consists in the most perfect act of metaphysics. It contemplates the supreme good and the last end of man simpliciter. Divine contemplation belongs to this science formally, or elicitively.” Therefore, when theology is rightly taught in these parts, their metaphysics and ethics disappears without hesitation, after brilliantly testifying to its distribution.”




Roberti, Francesco – Dictionary of Moral Theology  (Newman Press, 1962)  1,418 pp.  Romanist

Dictionary of Scripture & Ethics  ed. Joel B. Green  (Baker Academic, 2011)  910 pp.  ToC  Entries are topical in alphabetical order.



Commentaries on Aristotle  4

On the Topic Generally

Sytsma, David S. – ‘Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics & Protestantism’  (2021)  8 pp.  Academia Letters, Article 1650



John Owen

Theologoumena Pantodapa, tr. Dr. David C. Noe

“To be precise, if we may consider frankly the actual system of virtue which Aristotle proposes, by which alone access to happiness is acquired, we will see that it is an arrogant supposition peddling the mere shadow of virtue, rather than that disposition of mind which comports with the human condition and its dependency on the most high God.”


Commentaries on Aristotle


Melanchthon, Philip – ‘Commentary on Aristotle’s Ethics, Book I’ (1546)  in A Melanchthon Reader, trans. Ralph Keen (NY: Peter Lang, 1988), pp. 179-201

Walaeus, Antonius – Selections in Cambridge Translations of Renaissance Philosophical Texts, vol. 1, Moral Philosophy, ed. Jill Kraye  (Cambridge: 1997), pp. 120-29



Commentary on Seneca



Calvin, John – Calvin’s Commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia, ed. & trans. Ford Lewis Battles & André Hugo (Brill, 1969)



On the Human Affections


Sytsma, David – ‘The Logic of the Heart: Analyzing the Affections in Early Reformed Orthodoxy’  in Church and School in Early Modern Protestantism (Brill, 2013), pp. 471-488



Dabney, Robert L. –



On Moral Dilemmas

Historical Theology

On the Medieval Church

Dougherty, M.V. – Moral Dilemmas in Medieval Thought from Gratian to Aquinas  Pre  (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011)  226 pp.  ToC

Here is a published review by Richard Cross.



On Bioethics & Medical Ethics


Fisher, Anthony – ‘Cooperation in Evil’  in Catholic Medical Quarterly, 44(3) (Feb, 1994), pp. 15-22  at EWTN

Fisher is a Romanist.  This article focuses on material cooperation, or the lack thereof, in medical ethics.  It is very good on the topic.




Frame, John M. – Medical Ethics: Principles, Persons & Problems  (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1988)  150 pp.



ed. Steinbock, Bonnie – The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics  (Oxford, 2007)  770 pp.



Surveys of the History of Ethics in General  5



Sidgwick, Henry – Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers  (London: Macmillan, 1886)



Lecky, William – History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, vols. 1 (up to Constantine), 2 (Constantine ff.)  3rd ed. rev.  (New York, 1917)

Lecky (1838-1903) was an Irish historian, essayist, and political theorist with Whig proclivities.  His major work was an eight-volume History of England during the Eighteenth Century.

Brinton, Crane – A History of Western Morals  (NY: Harcourt, 1959)

Schneewind, Jerome B. – The Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy  (NY: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998)



Irwin, Terence – The Development of Ethics: A Historical and Critical Study, 3 vols. (Oxford: 2007-2009)



Surveys of the History of Christian & Reformed Ethics  5



Bavinck, Herman – ‘Historical Overview of Christian Ethics’ in Reformed Ethics  (Baker Academic, 2019), vol. 1, pp. 2-16

Geesink, Wilhelm – ‘The History of Reformed Ethics’  (1897)  trans. Clarence Bouma in Selected Readings for Course in Reformed Ethics, ed. Clarence Bouma  (Grand Rapids, 1941), pp. 226-56  This is a condensed translation of De Ethiek in de Gereformeerde Theologie.



Sinnema, Donald – ‘The Discipline of Ethics in Early Reformed Orthodoxy’  Calvin Theological Journal 28 (1993), pp. 10-44




Wuttke, Adolf – Christian Ethics, vol. 1: History of Ethics  trans. John P. Lacroix  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1873)  ToC  vol. 2 exposits his own system of ethics.



Pinckaers, Servais – The Sources of Christian Ethics  trans. Mary Thomas Noble  3rd ed.  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995)



On the Medieval Church

ed. Williams, Thomas – The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Ethics  Pre  (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2019)  ToC



On Renaissance Moral Philosophy

Kraye, J. – ‘Moral philosophy’  in eds. C.B. Schmitt et al., The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy  (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988), pp. 303–386



On the Reformed History of Ethics


Sebastian Rehnman – ‘Virtue & Grace’  Studies in Christian Ethics 25, no. 4 (2012), pp. 472-93  Abstract

Manfred Svensson – ‘Aristotelian Practical Philosophy from Melanchthon to Eisenhart: Protestant Commentaries on the Nicomachean Ethics 1529–1682′  Reformation & Renaissance Review 21, no. 3 (2019), pp. 218-38  Abstract

Sytsma, David

‘John Calvin & Virtue Ethics: Augustinian & Aristotelian Themes’  in Journal of Religious Ethics 48, no. 3 (2020): pp. 519-556  Also at Wiley Online Library

‘Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics & Protestantism’  in Academia Letters  (2021)

Ballor, Jordan – ‘Reformed Virtue After Calvin’  (2020)  7 paragraphs, with a bibliography at the end



Kirk M. Summers – Morality After Calvin: Theodore Beza’s Christian Censor & Reformed Ethics  Pre  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)  Abstract & ToC



Historical Accounts of the Ethics of Individual Figures  (Not Reformed)

On Aquinas

Feser, Edward – ch. 5, ‘Ethics’  in Aquinas: a Beginner’s Guide  (OneWorld, 2010), pp. 148-62




Svensson, Manfred & David S. Sytsma – A Bibliography of Early Modern Protestant Ethics (ca. 1520-1750)  2020  75+ pp.  Entries are in multiple languages.



Latin Disputations


Verhel, Arnold – An Inaugural, Ethical Disputation on the Principles of Human Actions  (Franeker, 1647)

Verhel (1580-1664) was a professor of philosophy at Franeker.

van Thiel, Cornelius – An Ethical Disputation on Religion  (Harderwijk, 1657)

van Thiel (1626-1688) was a professor of practical philosophy, rhetoric and natural morality at Harderwijk.

Puerari, Daniel – Theses Logicae et Ethicae  Ref  ([Geneva] Gamonet, 1660)

Puerari (1621-1692) was a professor of philosophy at Geneva.

Currit, Jeremie – Ethical Theses Containing a Complete Diagramming of the Moral Virtues & Vices  ([Bern] 1673)

Currit (1632-1700) was a professor of Greek, morals and theology at Lausanne, France.

Ott, Johann Rudolph

A Gleaning of Ethical and Political Questions  (Zurich, 1681)  10 pp.

Philosophical Positions out of Christian Ethics  (Zurich, 1682)

Christian Ethics According to the Precepts of the Decalogue, Arisen out of Public Disputations and Contracted into a Compendium  (Zurich, 1692)  10 pp.

An Ethical Disputation on the Special Virtues of the 5th & 6th Precepts in the Decalogue  (Zurich, 1691)

Ott (1642-1716) was a professor of ethics, history and philosophy at Zurich.

Schweling, Johann Eberhard

The Foundations [Praecognita] of Ethics  (Bremen, 1692) 16 pp.

An Ethical Dissertation Agitated about Moral Principles, even the Greatest [Summo] Moral Good  (Bremen, 1695)  22 pp.

An Ethical Tract on the Greatest [Summa] Moral Good  (Bremen, 1692)  37 pp.  This is different from the above.

Schweling (1645-1714) was a professor of physics, law and practical philosophy at Bremen.

Werenfels, Samuel – A Hurried Specimen of Moral Philosophy  (Basil, 1693)  6 pp.

Werenfels (1657-1740) was a professor of theology at Basel and was a major figure in the move towards a “reasonable orthodoxy” in Swiss Reformed theology.  He was one of the ‘Swiss Triumvirate’.

de Vries, Gerardus – An Ethical Determination on Moral Philosophy  (Utrecht, 1697)

de Vries (1648-1705) was a professor of philosophy and theology at Utrecht.



Lobe, Wilhelmus – An Inaugural Philosophical Disputation on the Vicious Morals  (Utrecht, 1703)

Comrie, Alexander – An Inaugural Philosophical Dissertation on the Foundation of Morality and Natural Virtue  (Leiden, 1734)  20 pp.



Latin Books


Alcuin – A Book on Virtues & Vices to Widonem Comittem  PL 101.613-38

Alcuin of York (c. 735 –804) was a leading English scholar at the Carolingian court, a clergyman, poet and teacher.  He was “The most learned man anywhere to be found”, according to Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne; he is considered among the most important architects of the Carolingian Renaissance.  Among his pupils were many of the dominant intellectuals of the Carolingian era.

Bartholomaeus – A Sum of Cases of Conscience  See another edition

Bartholomaeus of San Concordio (c. 1260-1347) was an Italian Dominican canonist and man of letters.

Astesanus – A Sum of Cases of Conscience  c. 1317

Astesanus of Asti (d. c. 1330) was an important Franciscan canon lawyer and theologian, from Asti in Piedmont, Italy.

Antoninus – Summa Theologica Moralis, 4 vols.  (Venice: Nicolas Jenson, 1477-1490)

Anthony of Florence (1389–1459) was an Italian Dominican friar, who was an Archbishop of Florence.  He is venerated as a saint by the Romanist Church.  For background on this significant work, see The Summa Theologica of Antonino Pierozzi: A Book History.



Melancthon, Philip

Ethics: Elements of Doctrine and Commentary in Five Books of Ethics, to which Questions are Added on Oaths, Excommunication and some other matters  (Wittenberg, 1560)

An Ethical Enchiridion: A Compendium of Moral Precepts…  to Three Categories of Life: Familial, Scholastic & Political…   revised by Martin Heyneccius  (Leipzig, 1594)  Table of Contents

An Epitome of Moral Philosophy  (1538)  167 pp.

Melancthon was the leading Lutheran after Luther.

Daneau, Lambert – Christian Ethics, in Three Books, in which the True Principles of Human Actions are agitated, and also with an explication of the Divine Law, or the Decalogue…  (Geneva, 1579)

Strigel, Victor – An Epitome of the Moral Philosophy of Philip Melanchthon…  (Harnisch, 1582)

Strigel (1524-1569) was a Philippist [Melanchthon] Lutheran Theologian and Protestant reformer.  He accepted the reformed view of the Lord’s Supper around 1567, when he became a professor of ethics and history at Heidelberg.

Polanus a Polansdorf, Amandus

The Divisions of Theology Framed according to a Natural Orderly Method  (Basil, 1590; Geneva, 1623)  344 pp.  Tables etc.  In English:  Buy

Table of Contents

Tables of Book 2

Book 2  Of Good Works

64. Of Good Works  256
65. Of things Disagreeing to, & the adjuncts of Good Works: of the Fear of God, of Subjection towards God, of Constancy, of Prudence & of Sanctified Zeal for the Glory of God  265
66. Of the Internal & External Worship of God, & of that which is contrary to it, where is of living faith & hope in God  267
67. Of the invocation of God, where is of prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, of fasting & of the oath  290
68. Of Thanksgiving, where is of the Confession of Truth  298
69. Of Ecclesiastical rites or ceremonies, where is of the pious vow, the sacrifices of the Old Testament; of sacred times, where is of the feasts of the Old & New Testament  299
70. Of virtue, where is of the Study of wisdom, fortitude, temperance, chastity, parsimony, thriftiness, of the study of true glory, the whole ring of virtues, righteousness  304
71. Of Economic Righteousness, where is of Marriage & Divorce  321
72. Of Public Righteousness, where is of the Political Laws, Peace & War


Vol. 2, Books 8-10 of A System of Theology  (Hanau, 1609; 1615)  Synopsis   Index of Principal Questions  Subj. Index  Scrip. Index  Index of Fathers & Writings

Book 8
Good Works

1 – The Definition and Name of Good Works, the worship of God, the definition and distribution of the obedience that God requires, and the definition of Christian duty and virtue in general 3589
2 – The Efficient Causes of Good Works 3602
3 – The Matter of Good Works 3619
4 – The Form of Good Works 3620
5 – The Final Cause of Good Works 3622
6 – The Effects of Good Works 3626
7 – The Subjects of Good Works 3629
8 – The Adjuncts of Good Works 3637
9 – Defections from Good Works 3659

Human Merit

10 – Human Merits 3667
11 – Good Works Compared 3686
12 – Good and Bad People 3687

Book 9
True Religion

1 – True Religion, or the Definition, Causes, Effects, Subjects and Adjuncts of Piety 3693
2 – Things that Oppose True Religion 3710
3 – False Religion, where it is, and of idolatry and religion compared in general 3718
4 – Irreligion, or Impiety, which is diametrically opposed to true religion and piety 3725
5 – The Comparison, Conjugates and Parts of True Religion, or Piety 3726

Christian Graces

6 – Saving Faith 3727
7 – The True Knowledge of God 3811
8 – Trust in God 3819
9 – Hope in God 3842
10 – Love for God 3851
11 – The Faithful Fear of God 3885
12 – Humility before the Presence of God 3891
13 – Patience 3895
14 – Religious Service 3899
15 – Religious Speech 3902

Of Prayer

16 – Religious Prayer 3905
17 – The Lord’s Prayer 3939
18 – Devout and Holy Fasting 3974
19 – Gestures of Divine Prayers 3980
20 – The Omission of Prayers to God 3983
21 – Idolatrous Prayer 3984
22 – Prayer to the True God, but which is empty 4030

Christian Responses and Encouragements

23 – The Oath 4032
24 – Thankful Actions towards God 4046
25 – The Vow 4055
26 – Zeal for the Glory of God 4059
27 – The True Reward of Heaven 4065
The Ceremonies of the Church
28 – The Honor of the Ecclesiastical Ministry 4072
29 – The Ceremonies of the Church in General 4075
30 – Sacrifices 4080
31 – Sacred Observances 4103
32 – The Use of the Language of the People is a Mark in the Sacred [Ministrations] 4106
33 – The Consecration of the Ministers of the Church 4127
34 – Sacred Places 4130
35 – Sacred Times 4143
36 – Sacred Alters and Tables 4153
37 – Sacred Containers and other Instruments 4160
38 – Sacred Garments 4164

Book 10
Moral Virtues

1 – Moral Virtue in General 4172
2 – Love towards one’s Neighbor in General 4180
3 – A Man’s Love towards Himself 4182
4 – Love towards People in General 4187
5 – Love towards Enemies 4192
6 – Merciful Compassion 4194
7 – Favor or Goodwill 4199
8 – Humanity 4205
9 – Courtesy 4208
10 – Hospitality 4209
11 – Friendship 4210
12 – The Brotherhood of Christians 4217
13 – Mourning for the Dead 4218
14 – Honorable Burial 4219
15 – The Vow for a Blessed Bodily Resurrection 4221
16 – Love towards the Posterity of the Dead 4223
17 – Honor given to Dead Saints 4224
18 – Our Love towards the Holy Angels 4230
19 – The Strength of the Soul 4232
20 – Temperance, in General 4247
21 – Sobriety 4250
22 – Vigilance 4255
23 – Purity and Chastity 4257
24 – Thriftiness 4262
25 – Modesty 4263
26 – Honesty 4265
27 – The Honest Desire of Furnishing a Thing 4266
28 – Self-Sufficiency 4270
29 – Love of Honor [including pride] 4274
30 – Generosity 4282
31 – Moderation 4285
32 – Graciousness 4290
33 – The Nemesis of what is Morally Praiseworthy 4291
34 – Gentleness 4294
35 – Indulgence 4369
36 – Liberality 4370
37 – Grandeur 4373
38 – The Study of Speech is Good and Wholesome 4375
39 – Truthfulness 4376
40 – Docility 4384
41 – Openness 4389
42 – Sincerity in Truth 4395
43 – Constancy in Truth 4397
44 – Affability and Geniality 4398
45 – Urbanity 4401
46 – Frankness 4403
47 – Gravity in the Sermon 4408
48 – Keeping Silent 4409
49 – Manners of Dignity and Courtesy 4412
50 – Righteousness in General 4414
51 – Industriousness 4417
52 – The Distribution of Justice in General 4419

Of Marriage

53 – Marriage 4420
54 – The Righteousness of Marriage Generally in itself 4437
55 – The Divorce of Married Ones 4440
56 – The Duty of the Husband and that which is particular to the wife 4443

Societal Virtues

57 – Economic Offices 4447
58 – The Offices of Lords and Servants 4449
59 – Faith in the Promises and Covenants 4451
60 – Observance 4454
61 – Gratitude 4454

The Civil Magistrate

62 – Honor due to the Magistrate 4461
63 – Commutative Justice 4472
64 – The Origin of the Justice, or the Obtaining of a Magistrate 4479
65 – The Princely Office, or of the Magistrate in Religion 4484
66 – The Righteous Prince, or the Garb of the Magistrate 4490
67 – The Righteous Prince, or the Militant Prince 4502
68 – Public Injustice 4514

Good Works in Heaven

69 – How far the Glorified will have good works after this life in Heaven 4517


Taurellus, Nicolaus – Physical-Ethical Emblems [Pictures]…  2nd ed.  (1595; Nuremberg, 1602)  315 pp.



Scultetus, Abraham – Ethics in 2 Books…  (Ursellis, 1603)  308 pp.

Scultetus (1566-1625) was a professor of Old Testament at Heidelberg and the court preacher for the Elector of the Palatinate, Frederick V.

Keckermann, Bartholomäus – A System of Ethics, in Three Furnished Books and Public Lectures given in the Gymnasium of Danzig  (Hanau, 1607)  Table of Contents

Gutberleth, Hendrik – Ethics, One Book, written with a succinct method, and illustrated with elegant sentences and brief histories  (Herborne, 1612)

Gutberleth (1572-1635) was a professor of philosophy at Herborne and Deventer.

Aslaksson, Cort – The Second Book, on Christian Ethics, being taken up out of the Third Chapter of Genesis  in The Mosaic Physics & Ethics, and that the Oldest, and thus Truly Christian, in Two Books  (Hanau, 1613), pp. 449 ff.

Aslaksson (1564-1624) was a professor of Latin, Greek, Hebrew & theology at Copenhagen.  He is listed by PRDL as being both Lutheran and Reformed, perhaps at different times.

Donaldson, Walter – Synopses of Moral Philosophy, in Three Books  (Sedan, 1621)  Table of Contents

Burnath, Gilbert – Ethical Dissertations, in which the Perfect and Solid Idea of Moral Philosophy is Exhibited in the Most Accurate Way  (Leiden, 1649)  ToC

Burnath (d. 1629) was a Scot teaching as a professor of philosophy in France, at the academy at Montauban.

Alsted, Johann Heinrich – The 21st Book of the Encyclopedia, Propounding Ethics  in Vol. 4 of the Encyclopedia, in which is Practical Philosophy, 4 books are represented here: 1. Ethics, 2. Economics, 3. Politics, 4. Academics  (1630)  Extended ToC

Alsted (1588-1638)

Brief Table of Contents

Intro to Practical Philosophy  1218
An Enchiridion of Epictetus  1219

1. Of Man
2. Of the Law of Nature
3. Of Conscience
4. Of the Chief End
5. Of Virtue
6. Of Human Actions
7. Of Spontaneity
8. Of Pre-Election
9. Of the Will
10. Of Things which are in our Power
11. Of the Affections
12. Of Fortitude
13. Of Temperance
14. Of Liberality
15. Of Magnificence
16. Of Honors
17. Of Mildness & Clemency
18. Of Courtesy & Affability
19. Of Veracity
20. Of Baffonery & Jocularity
21. Of Reservedness
22. Of Justice
23. Of Friendship
24. Of Continency
25. Of Tolerance
26. Of Heroic Virtues
27. Of Prudence
28. Of the Occupied Life


1. Of Social Life
2. Of the Home & Marriage
3. Of the Common Duties of a Husband & Wife
4. The Duty of a Husband to a Wife
5. The Duty of a Wife to her Husband
6. Of Deserting a Wife
7. Of Deserting a Husband
8. Of Slavery
9. Of the Nobility
10. Of Fiefdoms
11. Of the Duty of a Lord to a Servant
12. The Duties of a Servant to a Lord
13. Of the Duty of Parents to Children
14. Of the Duty of Children to Parents

Benningh, Johan Bodecher – A Compendium of Ethics, in which Moral Philosophy is clearly propounded by Ten Disputations  (Leiden, 1635)  103 pp.  ToC

Walaeus, Antonius – A Compendium of Aristotle’s Ethics, Called Back to the Rule of Christian Truth  in vol. 2, pp. 257-298  in All the Works  (Includes vols. 1 & 2, Leiden, 1643)  Table of Contents

Walaeus (1573-1639)

Sinapius, Daniel – Dissertations on Ethics  (Leiden, 1645)  Table of contents

Sinapius (1589-1638) was a professor of philosophy at Leiden.

Du Moulin, Pierre

Philosophical Works: Logical, Physical, Ethical  (Amsterdam, 1645)

Books 8 & 9, ‘Of the Soul in General’ & ‘Of the Rational Soul’  in Physics, or the Sciences of Nature, Book 9

Ethics, or the Doctrines of Morality in 11 Books

Burgersdijck, Franco – The Idea of Familial & Political Doctrine  (Leiden, 1649)  129 pp.

Heereboord, Adrian

A Collection of Ethics, in which the whole of Moral Philosophy is explicated by some perspicuous and brief disputations  (Leiden, 1649)  no ToC

Heereboord (1614-1661) was a professor of philosophy at Leiden.

Philosophical Essays, in which are ventilated many metaphysical things, the whole of ethics is explained, universal physics is expounded by theorems and commentaries and the sum of logical things is given by disputations  (Leiden, 1659)

Natural, Moral & Rational Philosophy  (Leiden, 1654)  225 pp.

Ames, William – Philosophical Things  (Amsterdam, 1651)  Table of Contents  This has been translated into English with the title, Technometry.

Wendelin, Marcus Friedrich – Moral Philosophy  (Harderwijk, Netherlands: 1654)  Extended Table of Contents

Isendoorn, Gisbert ab – Peripatetic Ethics, in Two Books Given through Succinct Tables and Questions, plus 200 Remains out of Various Authors  (Harderwijk, Netherlands: 1659)

Isendoorn (1601-1657) was a professor of philosophy at Deventer and Harderwijk.

Berckringer, Daniel

Institutions Ethical, Economic & Political, or of Mores, the Family & the Republic  (Utrecht, 1663)  233 pp.

Institutions & Exercitations on Ethics: Academic, Peripatetic, Stoic & of the Scholastics, bk. 1 (of the Reign of the Blessed Life), bk. 2 (of the Reign of the Upright Life), section 1, sections 2 & 3  (Utrecht, 1668)  Table of Contents bks. 1 & 2

van Aelhuysen, Johannes – A Compendium of Ethics, Digested in 4 Books, being Published for the Use of his School  ([Tiel], 1667)  54 pp.  ToC

Table of Contents

Bk. 1, of the Chief Good

1. Of the Definition of Ethics  1
2. Of the Distribution of Ethics  2
3. Of Good in General  2
4. What is Not the Chief Good  4
5. What & How Many is the Chief Good  4

Bk. 2, of Virtue in General

1. Of the Efficient Cause of Virtue  6
2. Of the Form of Virtue  8
3. Of the Subject of Virtue & thus of the Passions  10
4. Of the Principles of Human Actions  12
5. Of Sponaneity & Unwillingness  18
6. Of the Adjunct of Virtue & thus of Friendship  17

Bk. 3, Of Intellectual Virtue

1. Of the Distribution of Virtue  22
2. Of Speculative, Intellectual Virtue  22
3. Of Practical Intellectual Virtue & thus of Art  23
4. Of Prudence  24

Bk. 4, Of Moral Virtue

1. Of Fortitude  25
2. Of Temperance  30
3. Of Liberality  32
4. Of Magnificence  35
5. Of Modesty  37
6. Of Magnanimity  38
7. Of Justice  41
8. Of Mildness  46
9. Of Affability  49
10. Of Baffonery  50
11. Of Veracity  52

Köhnen, Franciscus – A Dozen Chapters & Aphorisms Together, in which is Briefly and Succinctly Exhibited a Synoptic Teaching of Moral & Civil Philosophy: Ethical, Familial & Political  (Bremen, 1670)  Click on ‘Inhalt’ for the table of contents

Kohnen (1626-1689) was a professor of theology and moral and civil philosophy at Bremen.

Geulincx, Arnold – Know Thyself, or Ethics  (1675; Amsterdam, 1696)  ToC

Geulincx (1624-1669) was a professor of philosophy at Leiden.  It appears from another book title of his that he had a positive disposition for Cartesian philosophy.

Strimesius, Samuel – Moral Beginnings, or Some Select Dissertations, Embracing the True Fundamentals of Morals…  (Frankfurt, 1679)  Table of contents

Strimesius (1648-1730) was a professor of philosophy, physics and theology at Frankfurt.

Constant, David – A System of Ethical Theology in 25 Disputations in the Academy of Lausanne  (Lausanne, 1695)  Table of Contents

Rodolph, Johann Rudolph – Ethics, Comprehended in Two Books…  (Amsterdam, 1696)  367 pp.  ToC

Rodolph (1646-1718) was a professor of ethics, Hebrew, catechesis and theology at Bern.

Heidegger, Johann Heinrich – Christian Ethics, the First Elements: clearly and perspicuously demonstrated out of sane reason and the Sacred Scriptures…  (Frankfurt & Leipzig, 1711)  The table of contents can be viewed by clicking on ‘Inhalt’.

Heidegger (1633-1698)



van Mastricht, Petrus – Prologue & The Idea of Moral Theology  in Theoretical and Practical Theology  (Utrecht, 1724), pp. 1202-1325

van Mastricht (1630-1706).  This article contains a bio of van Mastricht.


Table of Contents

The Idea of Moral Theology

Book 1, of the Observance of Faith in General

1. Of the Obedience of Faith, & Obedience  1203
2. Of the Study & the Neglect of the Law  1203
3. Of the Keeping & the Neglect of Conscience  1204
4. Of Knowledge & Ignorance  1205
5. Of Humility & Pride before God  1205
6. Of the Fear & Scorn of God  1206
7. Of Zeal & Lukewarmness  1207
8. Of Sincerity & Hypocrisy  1208
9. Of Virtue & Vice [Vitio]  1209
10. Of Prudence & Imprudence  1210
11. Of Vigilance & Somnolescence  1211
12. Of Fortitude & Infirmity  1212
13. Of Confidence & Timidity  1213
14. Of Constancy & Levity  1214
15. Of Patience & Impatience  1215
16. Of Temperance & Intemperance  1216
17. Of Good & Bad Action  1217

Book 2, of Religion

1. Of Piety & Impiety  1219
2. Of Faith & Unbelief  1221
3. Of the Profession of, & the Denying of the Faith  1222
4. Of Hope & Desperation  1223
5. Of the Love & Hatred of God  1224
6. Of the Hearing of, & the Neglect of the Word of God  1226
7. Of the Exercise & Neglect of Prayer  1228
8. Of the Confession & Suppression of Sins  1230
9. Of the Use & Abuse of Vows  1232
10. Of an Oath & Perjury  1235
11. Of Communion with God & Alienation from Him  1236
12. Of the Institution of Worship, & of Superstition  1238
13. Of the Sanctification & Profanation of the Sabbath  1240

Book 3, of Righteousness & Injury to our Neighbor

1. Of Righteousness to our Neighbor in General, & of Injury  1243
2. Of Love & Ill-will to our Neighbor  1245
3. Of Honor & the Vilification of our Neighbor  1247
4. Of Humanity & Homicide  1249
5. Of Chastity & Luxury  1251
6. Of Commutative Justice & Theft  1253
7. Of Veracity & a Lie  1255
8. Of Contention & Concupiscence  1257


A Picture of the Theology of Asceticism,
of the Exercise of Piety

Book 1, of the Practice of Piety in General

1. Of the Nature of the Practice of Piety & Incompetent Spirituality  1260
2. Of Progress in the Practice of Piety, & of Sufficiency  1261
3. Of the Practice of Impiety & its Refusal  1263

Book 2, of the Practice of Piety towards God

1. Of the Knowledge & Rejection of God  1264
2. Of Seeking & Fleeing God  1265
3. Of being Pleased & Displeased with God  1266
4. Of Walking with & Straying from God  1268
5. Of Benevolence & Malevolence to God  1271
6. Of the Private Worship of God in its Glory & Blasphemy  1272
7. Of the Public & Ecclesiastical Worship of God
8. Of Family Worship & its Neglect  1274
9. Of Daily Worship & its Neglect  1275
10. Of the Worship of God in Fasting  1277
11. Of Eucharistic Worship  1278
12. Of the Examination of Oneself & its Neglect  1279

Book 3, of the Practice of Piety towards one’s Neighbor

1. Of the Use & Abuse of Solitude  1281
2. Of Pious & Impious Familiar Intercourse with One’s Neighbor in General  1282
3. Of the Use & Abuse of Feasting  1285
4. Of Just & Unjust Commerce  1286
5. Of Intercourse with the Afflicted by Consolation, & its Neglect  1288
6. Of Reproof of a Fall, & Communion in its Sins  1290
7. Of Intercourse with the Good by Love & Friendship  1293
8. Of Intercourse with the Bad & the Hostile  1294
9. Of Intercourse Between Superiors, Inferiors & Equals  1296

Book 4, of the Practice of Piety towards Oneself

1. Of a Purposed Occupation & Leisure  1300
2. Of the Use & Abuse of Provisions  1302
3. Of the Use & Abuse of Clothing  1304
4. Of the Use & Abuse of Recreations  1305
5. Of the Use & Abuse of Prosperity  1307
6. Of the Use & Abuse of the World & Worldly Things  1308
7. Of the Variety of Human Things  1310
8. Of the Tolerance & Abuse of the Cross  1312
9. Of the Use & Abuse of Trial [or Temptation]  1314
10. Of the Cross of the Body, & its Relief  1317
11. Of the Confoundings & Melancholy of Terrors  1318
12. Of Blasphemous Suggestions  1319
13. Of Spiritual Desertions  1320
14. Of Various General Doubtings  1322
15. Of Offices of Piety about Death  1322


Pictet, Benedict – The Marrow of Christian Ethics  (Geneva, 1712)  400 pp.  See the more detailed table of contents.

Table of Contents

Book 1 – Of Ethics and Christian Duties in General   1
Book 2 – Of Virtues Towards God   27
Book 3 – Of the Virtues and Vices that are Visible to the Neighbor   116
Book 4 – Of the Christian Duties and Virtues Respecting Oneself   227
Book 5 – Of the Affections   273
Book 6 – Of Particular Christian Duties for each Calling and State   342

Ostervald, Jean Frederic – A Compendium of Christian Ethics  (London, 1727)  ToC

Ostervald (1663-1747) was a Protestant pastor in the reformed tradition (though influenced by the Enlightenment) from Neuchâtel (now in Switzerland).  He was one of the ‘Swiss Triumvirate’.

Wyttenbach, Daniel – Moral Theology  in A Compendium of Dogmatic and Moral Theology (Frankfurt, 1754), pp. 357-580  Table of Contents

Wyttenbach (1706-1779) was a professor at Bern and Marburg.  He was influenced by the philosophical rationalism of Christian Wolff, though, by him “the orthodox reformed tradition was continued with little overt alteration of the doctrinal loci and their basic definitions.” – Richard Muller

Endemann, Samuel

Theological Institutes of Morality, vol. 12  (Frankfurt, 1780)

Endemann was a professor of theology at Marburg and was influenced by the philosophical rationalism of Christian Wolff.

A Compendium of Moral Theology  (1784)  ToC



Latin:  Commentaries on Aristotle


Werdmuller, Otto – On the Dignified Use and Method of Moral Philosophy, as Written by Aristotle to his son Nichomachus  (Basil, 1544)

Werdmuller (1511-1552)

Melancthon, Philip – A Commentary on the Ethics of Aristotle in 5 Books  in Ethics: Elements of Doctrine and Commentary in Five Books of Ethics, to which Questions are Added on Oaths, Excommunication and some other matters  (Wittenberg, 1560), pp. 183-254

Melancthon was a Lutheran.

Vermigli, Peter Martyr – Book 1, 2 & the Beginning of the Third in the Ethics of Aristotle to Nichomachus  (Zurich, 1582)



Aidy, Andrew – The Key of Moral Philosophy, or a Commentary on the Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle  (Oppenheim, 1614)

Aidius (d. 1630) was a reformed professor of philosophy at Danzig.

Willius, Balthasar

Ethical & Peripatetic Precepts, Produced out of Aristotle and the Best Old and New Writings, whatever they be, explained by perspicuous comments…  (Bremen, 1630)  1,027 pp.  being 16 disputations  Table of contents

Ethical, Familial & Political Precepts Produced out of Aristotle and the Best Writings, whatsoever they be…  (Bremen, 1638)  656 pp.  Table of Contents  This is different than the above.

Willius (1606-1656) was a professor of practical philosophy and theology at Bremen.

Walaeus, Antonius – A Compendium of Aristotle’s Ethics, Called Back to the Rule of Christian Truth  in vol. 2, pp. 257-298  in All the Works  (Includes vols. 1 & 2, Leiden, 1643)  Table of Contents

Walaeus (1573-1639)



On Elicited vs. Commanded Acts


De Moor, Bernardinus – section 5, ‘The Acts of Religion’  in Didactico-Elenctic Theology  (Reformation to Reformation Translations, 2018), ch. 3, ‘Concerning Religion’, p. 55

Gillespie, George – Aaron’s Rod

Fentiman, Travis – Circa Sacra



That Some Ethical Duties have a Stronger Priority upon us, & Overrule Others

Mt. 23:23

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”


William Perkins

A Discourse of Conscience...  (Cambridge, 1596), p. 16

“3rd Caution.  One and the same commandment in some things binds the conscience more straitly, and in doing some other things less: Gal. 6:10, ‘Do good to all men, but specially them that be of the household of faith.’  Hence it arises that though all sins be mortal and deserve eternal death, yet all are not equal, but some more grievous than others.”


Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government…  (1646), Appendix, p. 82

“2nd Rule:  If we compare a greater moral necessity with a less moral necessity, the less necessity must yield to the greater.  [If] a necessity of mercy must yield to a necessity of sacrificing: If David then should not have eaten the showbread in his providential necessity of famine, [then] he should have been guilty both of [the] active scandalizing [of] the souls of others in killing himself, and should have killed himself; and the less moral necessity ceases and is no necessity when a greater moral necessity intervenes.”



On Different Degrees of Moral Necessity


Rutherford, Samuel – Appendix, ‘An Introduction to Scandal’, Question 6, ‘A Further Consideration of Things Not Necessary, and How They be Scandalous Objects’  in The Divine Right of Church Government…  (1646), pp. 61-93



On Distinguishing Ends of Actions

Barth, Paul – ‘Reformed Scholasticism: Distinguishing Ends’  (2017)  17 paragraphs

The main distinction Barth explains is that between the end of the work itself (finis operis), and the end of the working, or of the worker (finis operantis).  Others distinctions are included as well.



What if a Superior Commands One to Do Something that is Not Right?

Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries...  (1644), Ch. 3, Section 3, Question 4, ‘Whether or no is there a necessity of the personal presence of the whole Church in all the acts of Church-censures?’, pp. 41-42

“1st Conclusion…  2.  Because by the Law of charity, as they are brethren under one head Christ, they [laymen] are to warn and admonish their Rulers….

2nd. Conclusion.  When the sentence of the judge is manifestly unjust, the executioners and lictors [those who execute judicial sentences] are not to execute it; for Doeg the Edomite sinned in killing the Lord’s priests at the command of Saul, and the footmen of Saul did religiously refuse that service, 1 Sam. 22:17.  The soldiers who crucified Christ, not only as men, but as lictors, sinned against a principle of the Gospel which they were obliged to believe (Mary’s son is the true Messiah), nor are we to join with a Church excommunicating a man because he confessed Christ, Jn. 9[:22]; nor need we consent to these, that the senate of Venice is excommunicated by Paul the Fifth, anno 1607, and Henricus Borbonius, King of Navarre, by Sixtus V, and Elizabeth of England by Pius V, and Henry IV, by Gregory VII, or Hilderland and Martin Luther by Leo X, anno 1520; the Pope is not the Catholic Church, as many learned Papists, especially, the Parisian Theologues teach.


The Divine Right of Church Government...  (1646), Appendix, p. 85-6

But sure, all our jus and right…  that captives and servants have to their masters and lords, is jus limitatum, a right ruled, limited, bounded by the Word of God; nor is the work they perform morally indifferent ([though] physically it is)…

But for no cause the most weighty can we choose either to shed innocent blood or to co-operate with the shedding of it, nor to co-operate with the works of darkness, for it is shameful that a servant may lawfully cooperate with and thrust his master in at a window to go to a whore; the jus or dominion of masters to command, and the right of servants to obey is only in the Lord.

…the one kind of action in itself is as indifferent and susceptible of moral lawfulness and unlawfulness as the other.   And if the master do cooperate to commit harlotry in climbing in at a window to a whore, and to robbing, in digging through an innocent man’s house in the night, to kill the master of the house, and to steal his goods, then the servant that cooperates in these same physical actions, and also digs through the innocent man’s house and kills himself, is the harlot and the robber by cooperation and participation, no less than the master.

The naked relation of a captive and of a servant cannot make the captive and servant innocent and guiltless cooperators, for then to sin at the command of any conqueror and master, because I am in the condition of a captive and servant, were lawful, though God forbid and inhibit me to do what I do, by the command of my master and conqueror, for in so doing, Utor meo jure, I use my right as a servant.  For God forbids me in what relation I be in, servant or captive, to sin at the command of any, or for declining any ill of punishment, though as weighty as the torment of hell, separated from sinful despairing and blaspheming of God.

Now to cooperate with that which I know to be a sin is to partake in other men’s sins, which is forbidden, as a sin, 1 Tim. 5:22; Eph. 5:11.  But to run with the thief and to help an arch-robber, Prov. 1:13-14, is a consenting to his robbery and bloodshed.”



That a Lesser Evil may Not be Done to Avoid a Greater Evil

George Gillespie

English Popish Ceremonies  (1637), bk. 2, ch. 1, p. 10

“Divines hold absolutely that inter duo vel plura mala culpae [between two or more culpable evils] (such as things scandalous and inconvenient) nullum est eligendum [none are to be chosen]. (Alsted, Theol. Cas., ch. 12, p. 199)  That though in evils of punishment we may choose a lesser to shun a greater, yet in evils of fault, election [choosing] has no place, neither may we do a lesser fault to shun a greater: nec ullum admittendum malum, ut eveniat aliquod bonum, sive per se sive per accidens. [Neither ought any evil to be accepted so that it may bring forth some good, either through it or by the occasion of it.] (Paraeus on Rom. 3:8)”


Samuel Rutherford

A Dispute Touching Scandal & Christian Liberty, p. 83  in The Divine Right of Church Government  (1646)

“…yea there can be no sin eligible [chosen] by such and such a case [of necessary circumstance], as Lot sinned in exposing his daughters to the lust of men, to redeem abstinence from sodomy.

Hence it is clear:  we may not do a less, nor counsel another to commit a less sin, to eschew a greater, as the Jesuits wickedly teach.  So Tannerus, so Turrianus and others who make a scandalum permissum, a scandal that a Christian may hinder another to fall in, and yet he permits him to fall in it.  But God has a prerogative to permit sinful scandals, men have no such power, when they are obliged to hinder it.  The divinity of others seems better to me, who deny that the least venial [sin] should be committed to eschew a greater sin.”



The Human Will as the Source of Evil

William Ames

Conscience with the Power & Cases Thereof (1639), bk. 3, ch. 19, ‘Of a Voluntary Act’, pp. 92-3

“Question 1.  Whether in a good or evil act there be necessarily required an inclination of the will?

1st Answer.  First, the will is the principle and the first cause of all human operation in regard of the exercise of the act.  For we therefore do this or that rather than another thing, because we will; As God Himself is said to do all things of his own Will, Eph. 1:11.  So also does man who is made after the Image of God.  The first cause therefore of the goodness or sinfulness of any act of man, is in the will.

2.  Secondly, liberty also of election is formally in the will: that therefore anyone does yield obedience to God, or refuses to do so, proceeds from the will.

3.  Lastly, our obedience stands in our conformity to the Will of God, and the disobedience, in our unconformity thereunto.  Now our conformity with the Will of God is first and principally in our will, Apoc. 2:6.”



On Love of God, Self-Love & Love for those Close to Us, in Relation to Others


Samuel Rutherford

The Divine Right of Church Government…  (1646), Appendix, pp. 83-84

“6th Rule.  There is a principle obligation, a less principle, a least principle.  Hence these three degrees issue from love:  1. God, 2. ourselves, 3. our neighbor.

The love of God is most principle, and is the measure of the love of ourselves: the love of ourself is less principal than the love of God, and so the obligation [is] less.  I am to make away, life and all things, yea, eternal glory as divided from holiness, and as it includes only happiness, rather ere I sin against God. 

The obligation to care for my own salvation is more principal than my obligation to care for the salvation of my brother: for the love of myself is the measure and rule of the love of my neighbor.  Now because the obligation of caring for the soul of my brother is only secondary, in compare[ison] of the obligation of caring for my own salvation, I am not to sin myself, or sinfully to omit anything that is commanded me in a positive precept, to prevent the sin of my brother.

Yet hence it does not follow that a positive precept is more excellent than the law of Nature, which is, ‘Thou shalt not murder,’ nor ‘scandalize him for whom Christ died.’  Because though to care for the soul of my brother be of the law of nature simpliciter, yet [it] is a secondary obligation, and may cease and yield to a stronger obligation that ties me more principally to care for my own soul; for though the command be positive, yet knowingly to sin by a sinful omission, is no less a destroying of my own soul, and so of the law of nature, in a higher obligation, than the other is.”



Ames, William – sections 13-44  in ch. 16, ‘Justice & Charity toward our Neighbor’  in The Marrow of Theology  trans. John D. Eusden  (1623; Baker, 1997), bk. 2, pp. 302-5

Wikipedia – ‘Storge’

Storge‘ is a Greek word meaning ‘love’ or ‘affection’, referring to natural or instinctual affection, or familial love.



On Christian Hedonism

Travis Fentiman  2017

“Why John Piper’s Christian Hedonism is fundamentally wrong:

Piper explicitly makes suffering and self-denying good works simply a means to a greater reward in heaven, which is to be our aim in order to receive more joy.  Thus he interprets Heb. 2:12 this way about Christ enduring the cross for the joy set before Him on the other side of the cross.

While a reward is an encouragement to good works, it is an adjunct thereto, not the aim.

While our ultimate supreme end is to glorify God, our proper subordinate end is not our own good, but the design of the work itself: the good of others, which is true love.

Thus John Owen in his Death of Death argues that Christ’s subordinate end in the salvation of men was not his own reward therefrom, but the salvation of men.  See the Banner paperback reprint, pp. 91 ff.

Think of this true Christian: Christ’s main focus, what He had before his eyes, what He was intent on, was not his own reward, but love for you and your well being.

With regards to the chief end of man, one cannot completely make glorifying God or enjoying God a means to the other one (as Piper), but rather the divines used ‘and’, not ‘by’ (as Piper).

To make one’s own good the primary focus of good works is mercenary and unnatural; it is not love for the other, which loses itself in the other person.”




Related Pages

On the Conscience

Cases of Conscience

Expositions of the Ten Commandments

On the Ethics of Material Cooperation with, & Associations with Evil

On Passive Obedience

On Political Theology