Answered by Lancelot Andrewes (1555 – 1626)
That there be degrees [of love], it is plain because omission of duties to parents is worse than to strangers: so that there must needs be a greater duty to one of these, than to the other.
As in natural things, where the greatest action is, there is the greatest inclination: so here must be with the greater duty, the greater affection: and so a greater love.
Where all be not alike, there is some primum; and that which is nearest, is prius: so there is ordo: which ordo is such,
1. God,for he is that bonum, that good, by participation of which, all other are bona, said to be good; and the universal nature, to which all the other give place: as in policy, bonum publicum.
2. Our selves:for we are unitas with our selves, which can be but united with our brethren.
3. The souls of our brethren,before our own bodies. For any soul can directly participate the universal good: but no body, except by the soul: therefore, every soul to be preferred before the body.
4. Our own bodies.
5. Then the bodiesof our neighbours.
And of our neighbours, first we must look whether they have need: if not, we are detained from doing this good for them. If they have need, before others, we must do it familiae fidei, to the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).
And of those, to our Countrymen (Psalm 122:8), of these to those which are nostri (1 Timothy 4:8), of these, our household, and kindred: and first the wife (Genesis 2:24), 1 Samuel 1:8. Am not I worth ten sons?
And of strangers, to the poore before the rich. And if there be two equal every way, and the thing cannot be divided: cast lots, quem sorte Deus elegerit August. whom God shall choose, take him.
Source: “The Moral Law Expounded” (pg. 366) [read online]