There are six articles that he uses to describe law and in these articles there are seven key elements that are given. These elements are as follows: 1- Conscience, 2- Precepts/Reason, 3 - Virtue, 4 - Inclined by Nature, 5 - consensus gentium (everywhere reflected), 6 - Unchanging, and 7 - In-hearts/Ina liable. All of these elements set such huge standards for living and dealing with law that they are hard to follow. He begins his talk of natural law in the First Article of Question 94 by discussing where or not natural law is a habit or not.
He first gives a couple examples for and against it being a habit and then he gives his answer to the question. "I answer that a thing may be called a habit in two ways. First, properly and essentially, and thus the natural law is not a habit. For it has been stated that the natural law is something that has been appointed by reason." Aquinas then shifts his talk to whether or not natural law contains many precepts or just one. He states that if there were to be many precepts in natural law then this would mean that there would have to be many different natural laws. "All these precepts of the law of nature have the character of one natural law in as much as they flow from one first precept." Next he talks about virtue and its place with natural law.
Virtue it seems can be seen in many different ways. What's virtuous for one may not be for others so how can that be seen as natural law. "Certain acts are virtuous for some as being proportionate and becoming to them, while they are vicious for others as being out of proportion to them." Along these same lines Aquinas deals with natural law and whether or not it is the same in all men. He talks about how natural law may be different in men because of their beliefs and the way they run their lives. But also how everyman is inclined to follow reason.
It seems that he uses the golden rule as an example on how men should act, "by which everyone is commanded to do to others as he would be done by." Change in natural law is the next topic of choice for Aquinas and he simply states that there is room for change on the basis of both addition and subtraction. Things that are added into our lifestyle that were not previously there before will of course have some sort of change on natural law. Along with things that are no longer needed in our life and that have been subtracted from us will also change natural law. Finally Aquinas concludes his talk of natural law by discussing whether or not it can be abolished from the hearts of man. I think that he states quite certainly that sin can have a impact on getting rid of natural law in your hearts but it cannot totally abolish it. "Sin blots out the law of nature in particular cases, not universally." Next we compare Aquinas's view of natural law with Aristotle's discussion of law in Book III of the Politics.
Aristotle looks more at law as the way it is viewed from by the city and that's how a man should act. Not by how nature deems right but by how the regime that he / she lives under is the way in which a man should view the law. He also believes that law is different according to where you live and the beliefs of the democracy or oligarchy that one calls home. He believes that virtue does not belong to everyone and if you do not have virtue according to some regimes then you cannot be deemed as a citizen in your city. "The dispute might be raised as to whether one who is not justly a citizen is a citizen at all." This is a similar statement to that of Aquinas.
Virtue is in the eye of the beholder. If you go against the regime then you will not been seen as virtuous in their eyes. It all depends on the law that is bestowed upon a certain community. The Perceptions of Natural law may be different for Aquinas and Aristotle. It seems that Aquinas is focused more on the individual when talking about law. How natural law is more selfish and doesn't really show any concern for the common good.
While on the other hand Aristotle is all about the common good of the city and the regime. You cannot defect from the laws of the regime or you will not be a part of it. I think that Aquinas would think that's ok to not be a part of the regime since your own natural law is not the same and you would be fooling yourself into acting in a different way.