An analogy occurred to me between the relationship between law and virtue, and the counsels and perfect virtue, which may be helpful in considering the role and necessity of the counsels in attaining spiritual perfection. A lawmaker intends to lead those who are subject to the law, to virtue, so that from within themselves, from inner principles, their own reason and will, they do right deeds. Thus virtue has a certain priority as the end of the law. Again, when it comes to particular actions, virtue also has a priority as regards leading someone to act well, since it is not possible to consider thoroughly all of the elements involved, and thus one must act from one's inclination… and it is virtue which makes this good.
Similarly, the counsels aim to lead those who follow them to a perfect state of virtue, so that from within themselves they act with a fully spiritual attitude… to do all for God, and rely entirely upon him. Thus this habitual spiritual attitude is the end of the counsels, and also in concrete life has the priority as regards actually turning one's attention to God.