Vol. 5, Chapter XIII. Scholasticism at Its Height

106. Alexander of Hales

Literature: For general works on Scholasticism see §95. Alex. of Hales: Summa universae theologiae, Venice, 1475, Nürnberg, 1482, Basel, 1502, Cologne, 1611, 4 vols. — Wadding: Annal. Min., III. — Stöckl: Phil. des Mittelalters, II. 313-326. — K. Müller: Der Umschwung in der Lehre Soon der Busse, etc., Freib., 1892. — The Doctrinal Histories of Schwane, Harnack, Seeberg, etc., Dict. of Natl. Biogr., I. 272 sq.

The culmination of Scholasticism falls in the thirteenth century. It is no longer as confident in the ability of reason to prove all theological questions as it was in the days of Anselm and Abaelard a hundred years before. The ethical element comes into prominence. A modified realism prevails. The syllogism is elaborated. The question is discussed whether theology is a science or not. The authority of Aristotle becomes, if possible, more binding. All his writings have become available through translations. The teachings of Averrhoes, Avicenna, and other Arabic philosophers are made known. The chief Schoolmen belong to one of the two great mendicant orders. To the Franciscan order belonged Alexander of Hales, Bonaventura, Duns Scotus, Roger Bacon, and Raymundus Lullus. Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas were Dominicans. All these men had to do with the universities.

Alexander of Hales (Halesius or Halensis), called by his pupils the Irrefragable Doctor — doctor irrefragabilis — and the king of theologians — monarcha theologorum — was born at Hales, Gloucestershire, England, and died in Paris, 1245. After reaching the dignity of archdeacon, he went to Paris to prosecute his studies. He entered the order of St. Francis, 1222, and was the first Franciscan to obtain the degree of doctor and to teach in the University of Paris, which he continued to do till 1238.

Alexander was the first Schoolman to whom all the writings of Aristotle were accessible. His chief work, the System of Universal Theology, was completed by one of his pupils, 1252. His method was to state the affirmative and negative of a question and then to give the solution. In worldly things, knowledge proceeds from rational conviction; in spiritual things, faith precedes knowledge. Theology is, therefore, rather a body of wisdom — sapientia — than a science — scientia; not so much knowledge drawn from study as knowledge drawn from experience. Alexander had a most important part in the definition of some of the characteristic medieval dogmas, which passed into the doctrinal system of the Roman Catholic Church. He declared for the indelible character of baptism and ordination. By elaborate argument he justified the withdrawal of the cup from the laity and stated the new doctrine of penance. He is especially famous for having defined the fund of merit — thesaurus meritorum — the vicious doctrine upon which the practice of distributing and selling indulgences was based. He was one of the first to make the distinction between attritio or imperfect repentance, due to fear, timor servilis, and contritio or perfect repentance based upon higher motives. In all these matters he had a controlling influence over the later Schoolmen.


107. Albertus Magnus

Literature: Works. Complete ed. by, Jammy, Lyons, 1651, 21 vols.; revised by Augusti Borgnet, 38 vols. Paris, 1890. Dedicated to Leo XIII., containing a Life and valuable indexes. The De vegetabilibus, ed. by Meyer and Jessen, Berl., 1867. — Com. on Job, ed. by M. Weiss, Freib., 1904. — Fullest monograph J. Sighart: Alb. Mag., sein Leben und seine Wissenschaft, Regensb., 1857, based upon the compilation of Peter de Prussia: Vita B. Alb., doctoris magni ex ordine Praedicatorum, etc., Col., 1486. — Sighart gives a list of the biogr. notices from Thomas of Chantimpré, 1261. — d’Assaily: Alb. le Grand, Paris, 1870. — G. von Hertling: Alb. Mag., Beiträge zu s. Würdigung, Col., 1880; Alb. Mag. in Gesch. und Sage, Col., 1880, and his art. in Wetzer-Welte, I. 414-419. — Ueberweg-Heinze. — Stöckl, II. 353-421. — Schwane, pp. 46 sqq. etc. — Preger: Deutsche Mystik, I. 263-268. — Harnack, Seeberg.

The most learned and widely read man of the thirteenth century was Albertus Magnus, Albert the Great. His encyclopedic attainments were unmatched in the Middle Ages, and won for him the title, Universal Doctor — doctor universalis. He was far and away the greatest of German scholars and speculators of this era.

Albert (1193-1280) was born at Lauingen in Bavaria, studied in Padua, and, about 1223, entered the order of the Dominicans, influenced thereto by a sermon preached by its second general, Jordanus. He taught in Freiburg, Hildesheim, Strassburg, Regensburg, and other cities. At Cologne, which was his chief headquarters, he had among his pupils Thomas Aquinas. He seems to have spent three years in teaching at Paris about 1245. In 1254 he was chosen provincial of his order in Germany. Two years later we find him in Rome, called by Alexander IV. for counsel in the conflict over the mendicant orders with William of St. Amour.

He was made bishop of Regensburg, an office he laid down in 1262. His presence at the council of Lyons, 1274, is doubtful. One of his last acts was to go to Paris and defend the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, after that theologian’s death. He died at the age of eighty-seven, in Cologne, where he is buried in the St. Andreas Church.

Albert was small of stature and the story is told of his first appearance in the presence of the pope; that the pope, thinking he was kneeling, bade him stand on his feet. A few years before his death he became childish, and the story runs that the archbishop, Siegfried, knocking at the door of his cell, exclaimed, “Albert, are you here?” and the reply came, “Albert is not here. He used to be here. He is not here any more.” In early life, Albert was called the dumb ox on account of his slowness in learning, and the change of his intellectual power was indicated by the bon mot. “Albert was turned from an ass to a philosopher and from a philosopher to an ass.” In 1880, the six hundredth anniversary of his death, a statue was erected to his memory at his birthplace.

Albertus Magnus was a philosopher, naturalist, and theologian; a student of God, nature, and man. He knew no Greek, but was widely read in the Latin classics as well as in the Fathers. He used the complete works of Aristotle, and was familiar with the Arabic philosophers whom at points he confuted. He also used the works of the Hebrews, Isaac Israeli, Maimonides, and Gabirol. His large indebtedness to Aristotle won for him the title, Aristotle’s ape, — simia Aristotelis — but unjustly, for he often disagreed with his teacher.

He traversed the whole area of the physical sciences. No one for centuries had been such a student of nature. He wrote on the vegetable kingdom, geography, mineralogy, zoology, astronomy, and the digestive organs. The writings on these themes are full of curious items of knowledge and explanations of natural phenomena. His treatise on meteors, De meteororibus, for example, which in Borgnet’s edition fills more than three hundred pages (IV. 477-808), takes up at length such subjects as the comets, the milky way, the cause of light in the lower strata of air, the origin of the rivers, the winds, lightning, thunder and cyclones, the rainbow, etc. In the course of his treatment of rivers, Albert speaks of great cavities in the earth and spongy regions under its flat surface. To the question, why the sun was made, if the prior light was sufficient to render it possible to speak of “morning and evening” on the first days of creation, he replied, “that as the earlier light amply illuminated the upper parts of the universe so the sun was fitted to illuminate the lower parts, or rather it was in order that the day might be made still more bright by the sun; and if it be asked what became of the prior light, the answer is that the body of the sun, corpus solis, was formed out of it, or at any rate that the prior light was in the same part of the heavens where the sun is located, not as though it were the sun but in the sense that it was so united with the sun as now no more to be specially distinguished from it.”

Albert saw into a new world. His knowledge is often at fault, but sometimes his statements are prophetic of modern discovery. For example, he said that the poles of the earth were too cold to be inhabited. He knew about the sleep of plants and many of the laws of the vegetable world. He was indefatigable in experimentation, the forerunner of the modern laboratory worker, and had much to do with arsenic, sulphur, and other chemical substances. He knew about gunpowder, but got his knowledge from others. The succeeding age associated his name, as also the name of Roger Bacon, with magic and the dark arts, but probably without sufficient reason.

The world has had few such prolific writers as Albertus Magnus. In Borgnet’s edition of thirty-eight volumes, there are, excluding, the valuable indexes, no less than 27,014 pages of two columns each. These writings may be said to take up not only every topic of physical knowledge but to discuss every imaginable subject in religion and philosophy. His activity combined the travail of the original thinker with the toil of the compiler. Twelve volumes in Borgnet’s edition are devoted to philosophy and the natural sciences, one to sermons, one to a commentary on Dionysius the Areopagite, ten to commentaries on books of the Old and New Testaments, and fourteen to theology. He freely used some of his predecessors among the Schoolmen as Anselm, Bernard, and Hugo and Richard of St. Victor, as well as the Fathers and the Greek and Arabic philosophers.

Albert’s chief theological works are a Commentary on the Sentences of the Lombard, a Study of Created Things and an independent summa of theology, which was left unfinished, and stopped with the discussion of sin. These three works, in many subjects of which they treat, run parallel. But each is fresh, elaborate, and has its own peculiar arrangement. The Study of Created Things, or System of Nature is an attempt, whose boldness has never been exceeded, to explain the great phenomena of the visible universe above and below, eternity and time, the stars and the motion of the heavens, angels and devils, man, his soul and body, the laws of his nutrition, sleep, reason, intellect, and other parts of his constitution, and events to which he is subject.

Albert’s commentaries cover the Psalms in three volumes, the Lamentations, Daniel, the Minor Prophets, Baruch, the Gospels, and the Apocalypse. His commentary on the Worthy Woman of Pro_31:10-31 is drawn out to two hundred pages of two columns each.

Theology, Albert defined to be a science in the truest sense, and what is more, it is wisdom. It is the practical science of those things that pertain to salvation. The being of God is not susceptible of positive a priori proof. It may be proved in an indirect way from the impossible absurdities which would follow from the denial of it. The existence of God is not, properly speaking, an article of theology, but an antecedent of all articles. In his Summa he quotes Anselm’s definition. “God is greater than anything else that can be conceived.” The objection was made to it that what is above what can be conceived we cannot grasp. He answers the objection by showing that God can be known by positive affirmation and by negation. The cosmological proof was most to Albert’s mind, and he argued at length the proposition that motion demands a prime mover. Matter cannot start itself into motion.

The Trinity is matter of revelation. Philosophy did not find it out. Albert, however, was not prevented from entering into an elaborate speculative treatment of the doctrine.

Following Augustine, Anselm, and Richard of St. Victor, he argued for the procession of the Spirit from the Son as well as from the Father as a necessity, and laid stress upon love as the chief principle within the sphere of the persons of the godhead.

The usual scholastic list of questions about the angels, good and bad, is treated by Albert with great exhaustiveness. A number of angels, he decides, cannot be in one and the same place at the same time, not because of the spatial inconvenience it might seem to imply, but on account of the possibility of the confusion of activity it might involve. He concludes it to be impossible for an angel to be in more than one place at the same time. He discussed at length the language and vocal organs of the angels. Especially elaborate is his treatment of the fall, and the activity and habitation of Lucifer and the demons. In pruriency he is scarcely behind some of the other Schoolmen. Every possible question that might occur to the mind had to be answered. Here are some of the questions. “Do the lost sin in hell?” “Do they wish any good?” “Is a smoky atmosphere a congenial element for the demons?” “What are the age and stature of those who rise from the dead?” “Does the sight of the pains of the lost diminish the glory of the beatified?” To this last question he replied that such sight will increase the joy of the angels by calling forth renewed thanks for their redemption. The serious problem of what it was into which the devil fell occupied Albert’s careful and prolonged argumentation several times. The views of the Universal doctor on demonology will be taken up in another chapter. In another place also we shall speak of his answer to the question, what effect the eating of the host has upon a mouse.

The chief and ultimate cause of the creation of man is that he might serve God in his acts, praise God with his mouth, and enjoy God with his whole being. A second cause is that he might fill up the gaps left by the defection of the angels. In another place Albert explains the creation of man and angels to be the product of God’s goodness.

Of all the panegyrists of the Virgin Mary before Alphonso da Liguori, none was so fulsome and elaborate as Albert. Of the contents of his famous treatise, The Praises of Mary, — de laudibus B. Mariae Virginis, — which fills eight hundred and forty-one pages in Borgnet’s edition, a synopsis is given in the section on the Worship of Mary. In the course of this treatment no less than sixty different passages from the Canticles are applied to Mary. Albert leaves her crowned at her assumption in the heavens. One of the questions this indefatigable theologian pursued with consequential precision was Eve’s conception before she sinned.

As for the ecclesiastical organization of the Middle Ages, the pope is to Albert God’s viceregent, vested with plenary power.

Albert astounds us by the industry and extent of his theological thought and labor and the versatility of his mind. Like all the Schoolmen he sought to exhaust the topics he discusses, and looks at them in every conceivable aspect. There is often something chaotic in his presentation of a theme, but he is nevertheless wonderfully stimulating. It remained for Albert’s greater pupil, Thomas Aquinas, to bring a clearness and succinctness to the statement of theological problems, theretofore unreached. Albert treated them with the insatiable curiosity of the student, the profundity of the philosopher, and the attainments of a widely read scholar. Thomas added the skill of the dialectic artist and a pronounced practical and ethical purpose.


108. Thomas Aquinas

Literature: I. Works. — U. Chevalier: Répertoire under Thomas Aq., pp. 1200-1206, and Supplem., pp. 2823-2827. — S. Thomae Aquinatis Doctoris Angelici opera omnia, jussu impensaque Leonis XIII., P. M., edita, Romae ex typographia polyglotta S. C. de Propaganda Fide, vols. 1-11, 1882-1902, to be completed in 25 vols. For this edition, called from Leo’s patronage editio Leonina, a papal appropriation has been made of 300,000 lire. See vol. I., p. xxv. — Older edd., Rome, 1570, 18 vols. by order of Pius V., and Venice, 1592-1594; Antwerp, by C. Morelles, 1612 sqq., 18 vols.; Paris, 1660, 23 vols.; Venice, 1786-1790, 28 vols.; with 30 dissertations by B. M. de Rubeis, Naples, 1846-1848, 19 vols.; Parma, 1852 sqq.; Paris, 1871 — 1880, 33 vols. by Fretté and Maré. — The Summa theologica has been often separately published as by Migne, 4 vols. Paris, 1841, 1864; *Drioux, 15 vols. Paris, 1853-1856; with French trans., and 8 vols. Paris, 1885. Among the very numerous commentators of the Summa are Cajetan, d. 1534, given in the Leonine ed., Melchior Canus, d. 1560, Dominicus Soto, d. 1560, Medina, d. 1580, Bannez, d. 1604, Xantes Moriales, d. 1666, Mauritius de Gregorii, d. 1666, all Dominicans; Vasquez, d. 1604, Suarez, d. 1617, Jesuits. The most prolix commentaries are by barefooted Carmelites of Spain, viz. the cursus theologicus of Salamanca, 19 vols. repub. at Venice, 1677 sqq., and the Disputationes collegii complutensis at Alcala in 4 vols. repub. at Lyons, 1667 sqq. — See Werner: D. hl. Thomas, I. 885 sqq. — P. A. Uccelli’s ed. of the contra Gentiles, Rome, 1878, from autograph MSS. in the Vatican, contains a facsimile of Thomas’ handwriting which is almost illegible. — Engl. trans. of the Aurea Catena, Oxford, 1865, 6 vols., and the Ethics by J. Rickaby, N. Y., 1896. — Fr. Satolli, in Summam Theol. d. Th. Aq. praelectiones, Milan, 1884-1888. — L. Janssen: Summa Theol. ad modum commentarii in Aquinatis Summam praesentis aevi studii aptatam, Freib. im Br., 5 vols. 1902. — La théol. affective ou St. Th. d’Aq. médité en vue de prédication, by L. Bail, Paris, 12 vols.

II. Lives, etc. — The oldest Life is by William de Thoco, who knew Thomas personally, reprinted in the ed. Leonina, vol. I. Documents in Chartularium parisiensis. — F. B. de Rubeis: De gestis et scriptis ac doctrina S. Th. Aq. dissertationes crit. et apolog., reprinted in the Leonina. — P. A. Touron: Paris, 1737. — J. Bareille: 1846, 4th ed. 1862. — *Karl Werner, Rom. Cath. Prof. at St. Pölten, Austria: D. heilige Th. von Aquino, 5 vols. 1858-1859, Regensb. Learned, exhaustive, but ill digested. — R. B. Vaughan Rom. Cath. abp. of Sydney: Life and Labors of St. Th. of Aquino, 2 vols. Lond., 187I-1872, based on Werner. — Cicognani: Sulla vita de S. Tomasio, Engl. trans., 1882. — P. Cavenaugh: Life of Th. Aq., the Angelic Doctor. N. Y., 1890. — Didiot: Le docteur angélique S. Th. d’Aq., Bruges, 1894. — Jourdain: Le Phil. de S. Th. d’Aq., 2 vols. Paris, 1861. — *F. X. Leitner: D. hl. Th. von Aq. über d. unfehlbare Lehramt d. Papstes, Freib., 1872. — J. J. Baumann: D. Staatslehre des hl. Th. von Aq., Leip., 1873. — Schötz: Thomas Lexicon (explanation of technical terms), Paderb., 1881. — Eicken. D Philos. d. Th. von Aq. und. d. Kultur d. Neuzeit:, Halle, 1886, 54 pp.; also Th. von Aq. und Kant, ein Kampf zweier Welten, Berlin, 1901. — *F. H. Reusch, Old-Cath.: D. Fälschungen in dem Traktat des Th. von Aq. gegen die Griechen, München, 1889. — F. Tessen-Wesiersky: D. Grundlagen d. Wunderbegriffs n. Th. von Aq. Paderb., 1899, p. 142. — J. Guttmann: D. Verhältniss des Th. von Aq. zum Judenthum und zur jüdischen Literatur, 1891. — Wittmann: D. Stellung d. hl. Th. von Aq. zu Avencebrol, Münster, 1900. — De Groot: Leo: XIII. und der hl. Th. von Aq., Regensb., 1897. — M. Grabmann: D. Lehre d. hl. Th. v. Aq. v. d. Kirche als Gotteswerk, Regensb., 1903. — J. Göttler: D. hl. Th. v. Aq. u. d. vortridentin. Thomisten üb. d. Wirkgn. d Busssakramentes, 1904. — Stöckl: Philos. d. Mittelalters, II. 421-728. The Histt. of Doctr. of Schwane, Harnack, III. 422-428, etc., and Loofs, pp. 284-304. — Lane-Poole: Illustrations etc., pp. 226 sqq. — Baur: D. Christl. Kirche des M. A., 312-354. — The art. in Wetzer-Welte, XI. 1626-1661. — T. O’Gorman: Life and Works of St. Th. Aq. in Papers of Am. Soc. of Ch. Hist., 1893, pp. 81-97. — D. S. Schaff: Th. Aq. and Leo XIII. in Princeton Rev., 1904, pp. 177-196. — Art. Th. Aq. and Med. Thought. in Dubl. Rev. Jan., 1906.

In an altar piece by Traini, dating from 1341, in the church of St. Caterina, Pisa, Thomas Aquinas is represented as seated in the centre with a book open before him. At the top of the cloth the artist has placed Christ, on one side of him Matthew, Luke, and Paul and on the other, Moses, John, and Mark. Below Thomas Aquinas, and on the left side, Aristotle is represented standing and facing Thomas. Aristotle holds an open volume which is turned towards the central figure. On the right hand Plato is represented, also standing and facing Thomas with an open volume. At the foot of the cloth there are three groups. One at each corner consists of monks looking up admiringly at Thomas. Between them, Averrhoes is represented reclining and holding a closed book. This remarkable piece of art represents with accuracy the central place which has been accorded to Thomas Aquinas in the medieval theology. Arabic philosophy closes its mission now that the great exponent of Christian theology has come. The two chief philosophers of the unaided reason offer to him the results of their speculations and do him homage. The body of monks admire him, and Christ, as it were, commends him.

Thomas Aquinas, called the Angelic doctor, — doctor angelicus, — 1225-1274, is the prince of the Schoolmen, and next to St. Augustine, the most eminent divine of the Latin Church. He was a man of rare genius, wisdom, and purity of life. He had an unrivalled power of orderly and vigorous statement. Under his hand the Scholastic doctrines were organized into a complete and final system. He expounded them with transparent clearness, and fortified them with powerful arguments derived from Scripture, tradition, and reason. Mystical piety and a sound intellect were united in him. As compared with many of the other Schoolmen, notably with Duns Scotus, Thomas was practical rather than speculative. Popes and councils have repeatedly acknowledged his authority as a teacher of Catholic theology. Thomas was canonized by John XXII., 1823, and raised to the dignity of “doctor of the church,” 1567. In 1879, Leo XIII. commended him as the corypheus and prince of all the Schoolmen, and as the safest guide of Christian philosophy in the battle of faith and reason against the sceptical and revolutionary tendencies of the nineteenth century, who “set to rest once for all the discord between faith and reason, exalting the dignity of each and yet keeping them in friendly alliance.” In 1880 this pope pronounced him the patron of Catholic schools. In the teachings of Thomas Aquinas we have, with one or two exceptions, the doctrinal tenets of the Latin Church in their perfect exposition as we have them in the Decrees of the council of Trent in their final statement.

Thomas of Aquino was born about 1220 in the castle of Rocca Sicca — now in ruins — near Aquino in the territory of Naples. Through his father, the count of Aquino, he was descended from a princely house of Lombardy. His mother was of Norman blood and granddaughter of the famous Crusader Tancred. At five the boy was sent to the neighboring convent of Monte Cassino from which he passed to the University of Naples. In 1243 he entered the Dominican order, a step his family resented. His brothers who were serving in the army of Frederick II. took the novice by force and kept him under guard in the paternal castle for more than a year. Thomas employed the time of his confinement in studying the Bible, the Sentences of the Lombard, and the works of Aristotle.

We next find him in Cologne under Albertus Magnus. That great Schoolman, recognizing the genius of his pupil, is reported to have said, “He will make such a roaring in theology that he will be heard through all the earth.” He accompanied Albertus to Paris and in 1248 returned to Cologne as teacher. He again went to Paris and won the doctor’s degree. William de St. Amour’s attack upon the monastic orders drew from him a defence as it also did from Bonaventura. Thomas was called to Anagni to represent the case of the orders. His address called forth the commendation of Alexander IV., who, in a letter to the chancellor of the University of Paris, spoke of Thomas as a man conspicuous by his virtues and of encyclopedic learning. In 1261, Thomas left the teacher’s chair in Paris and taught successively in Bologna, Rome, and other Italian cities. Urban IV. and Clement IV. honored him with their confidence. The years 1272-1274 he spent at Naples. He died on his way to the ecumenical council of Lyons, March 7, 1274, only forty-eight years of age, in the Cistercian convent of Fossa Nuova near Terracina. Dante and Villani report he was poisoned by order of Charles of Anjou, but the earliest accounts know nothing of this. The great teacher’s body was taken to Toulouse, except the right arm which was sent to the Dominican house of Saint Jacques, Paris, whence, at a later date, it was removed to Rome.

The genuine writings of Thomas Aquinas number more than sixty, and fall into four classes. The philosophical works are commentaries on Aristotle’s Ethics, Metaphysics, Politics, and other treatises. His exegetical works include commentaries on Job, the first fifty-one Psalms, Canticles, Isaiah, the Lamentations, the Gospels, and the Epistles of Paul. The exposition of the Gospels, known as the Golden Chain, — aurea catena, — consists of excerpts from the Fathers. A number of Thomas’ sermons are also extant. The apologetic works are of more importance. The chief among them are works designed to convince the Mohammedans and other unbelievers, and to promote the union of the Greeks and Latins, and a treatise against the disciples of Averrhoes.

Thomas’ works on dogmatic theology and ethics are the most important of his writings. The earliest was a commentary on the Sentences of Peter the Lombard. Here belong Expositions of the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the decalogue, the Angelic salutation, and the sacraments. Thomas gave his first independent systematic treatment of the entire realm of theology in his Compendium theologiae. The subject was presented under the heads of the three cardinal virtues, — faith, hope, and charity. His master-work is his Summa theologica which he did not live to finish and which is supplemented by compilations from the author’s commentary on the Lombard. Thomas also made important contributions to the liturgy and to hymnology. In 1264 at the request of Urban IV., he prepared the office for the festival of Corpus Christi, in which were incorporated the Pange lingua, Lauda Sion, and other hymns.

With Augustine and John Calvin, Thomas Aquinas shares the distinction of being one of the three master theological minds of the Western world. What John of Damascus did for the theology of the Greek Church, that Thomas did for the theology of the medieval Church. He gave to it its most perfect form. His commanding eminence rests upon his clearness of method and his well-balanced judgment rather than upon his originality of thought. He was not a great scholar and, like Augustine, he knew no Hebrew and little Greek. Abaelard Bonaventura, and Albertus Magnus seem to show a wider familiarity than he with the ancient authors, patristic and profane, but they differ widely. He leaned much upon Albertus Magnus. Albertus had an eye more for the works of nature, Thomas for moral action. As was the case with the other Schoolmen, so Thomas had as his chief authorities Augustine and Aristotle, quoting the latter as “the philosopher.” He was in full sympathy with the hierarchical system and the theology of the medieval Church and at no point out of accord with them.

The Summa theologica, true to its author’s promise, avoids many of the idle discussions of his predecessors and contemporaries. The treasures of the school and Church are here gathered together, sifted, and reduced to an elaborate but inspiring and simple structure. The three books treat respectively of God, man, and the Redeemer, the sacraments being included under the last head. The matter is disposed of in 518 divisions, called questions, and these are divided into 2652 articles. Each article states the negative and positive sides of the proposition under discussion, the arguments for and against it, and then the author’s solution. The same uniform threefold method of treatment is pursued throughout. This method would become insufferably monotonous but for the precision of Thomas’ statement and the interest of the materials. Each article is a finished piece of literary art. Here is an example on the simplicity of God. The question is asked whether God is body, utrum Deus sit corpus. In favor of an affirmative reply is:

1. The consideration that God seems to have a body, for a body has three dimensions, and the Scriptures ascribe to God, height, depth, and length, Job_11:8.

2. Whatever has a figure, has a body. God seems to have a figure, Gen_1:26, for He said, “Let Us make man in our image.”

3. Everything that has parts, has a body. A hand, Job_40:4, and eyes, Psa_24:1-10:15, are ascribed to God.

4. God has a seat and throne, Isa_6:1.

5. God has a local termination which men may approach, Psa_24:5.

But on the other hand must be noted what is said in Joh_4:24, “God is Spirit.” The absolute God, therefore, is not a body. 1 No body moves that is not before moved and God is the first mover. 2. God is the first entity, primum ens. 3. God is the noblest among entities.

The answers to the objections are: 1. That the Scripture passages, attributing to God bodily parts, are figurative. 2. The expression “image of God” is used simply to indicate God’s superior excellency over man and man’s excellence over the beasts. 3. The ascription of corporeal senses, such as the eye, is a way of expressing God’s intelligence.

Theological speculation is, with Thomas, not an exhibition of theological acumen, but a pious employment pursued with the end of knowing and worshipping God. It is in keeping with this representation that, on his way to Paris, he is reported to have exclaimed, he would not give Chrysostom on Matthew for all the city. It is also related that during his last years in Naples the Lord, appearing to him, asked what reward he desired, for he had written well on theological questions. Thomas replied. “None other, Lord, but Thyself.”

Thomas made a clearer distinction between philosophy and religion, reason and revelation, than had been made before by any of the Schoolmen. The reason is not competent by its own powers to discover the higher truths pertaining to God, such as the doctrine of the Trinity. The ideas which the natural mind can reach are the praeambula fidei, that is, the ideas which pertain to the vestibule of faith. Theology utilizes the reason, not, it is true, to prove faith, for such a process would take away the merit of faith, but to throw light on doctrines which are furnished by revelation. Theology is the higher science, both because of the certainty of its data and on account of the superior excellence of its subject-matter. There is no contradiction between philosophy and theology. Both are fountains of knowledge. Both come from the same God.

As between the Scriptures and the Fathers, Thomas makes a clear distinction. The Church uses both to arrive at and expound the truth. The Scriptures are necessary and final. The testimony of the Fathers is probable. Thomas’ controlling purpose is to properly present the theology of the Church as he found it and nothing more.

Philosophy and theology pursue different methods in searching after truth. In philosophy, knowledge based upon the visible creation goes before faith. In theology, or the doctrina fidei, faith looking to God as He is in Himself, precedes knowledge. The existence of God is not exclusively a matter of faith. It has been demonstrated by philosophers by irrefragable proofs. Anselm’s ontological argument, Thomas rejected on the ground that a conception in the mind — esse intellectu — is something different from real existence — esse in re. He adduced four cosmological arguments, and the argument from design. The cosmological arguments are: 1. Motion presupposes an original mover. 2. An infinite series of causes, it is impossible to conceive. Therefore, there must be a First Cause. 3. The conditional demands that which is absolute, and 4. that which is imperfect implies that which is perfect as its standard. As for the teleological argument, objects and events have the appearance of being controlled by an overruling design as an arrow being shot by an archer.

Creation was not a necessity for God on account of any deficiency within Himself. It was the expression of His love and goodness. With Aristotle, Thomas agrees that by the natural reason the world cannot be proved to have had a beginning. The first four things to be created were the realm of spirits, the empyrean, time, and earthly matter. The garden of Eden was a real place. Geographers do not locate it. It is secluded by the barriers of mountains, seas, and a certain tempestuous region.

In discussing the origin of evil, Thomas says that, in a perfect world, there will be all possible grades of being. The weal of the whole is more important than the well-being of any part. By the permission of evil, the good of the whole is promoted. Many good things would be wanting but for evil. As life is advanced by corruption in the natural world, so, for example, patience is developed by persecution.

The natural order cannot bind God. His will is free. He chooses not to work contrary to the natural order, but He works outside of it, praeter ordinem. The providence of God includes what to us seems to be accidental. The man digging finds a treasure. To him the discovery is an accident. But the master, who set him to work at a certain place, had this in view.

From the divine providence, as the starting-point, the decree of predestination is elaborated. Thomas represented the semi-Pelagian standpoint. The elect are substituted for the angels who lost their first estate, even as the Gentiles were substituted for the Jews. The number of the elect is unknown, but they are the minority of the race. Reprobation is not a positive act of God. God’s decree is permissive. God loves all men. He leaves men to themselves, and those who are lost, are lost by their own guilt. God’s decree of election includes the purpose to confer grace and glory.

In his treatment of the angels, Thomas practised a commendable self-restraint, as compared with Bonaventura and other Summists.

When he takes up man, the Angelic doctor is relatively most elaborate. In the discussion of man’s original condition and his state after the Fall, many questions are proposed which dialectical dexterity must answer in view of the silence of Scripture. Here are examples. Could Adam in his state of innocence see the angels? Did he have the knowledge of all things? Did he need foods? Were the children born in his state of innocence confirmed in righteousness and had they knowledge of that which is perfect? Would original sin have passed down upon Adam’s posterity, if Adam had refused to join Eve in sinning?

Thomas rejected the traducian view as heretical, and was a creationist. Following Peter the Lombard, he held that grace was a superadded gift to Adam, over and above the natural faculties and powers of the soul and body. This gift disposed man to love God above all things.

Man’s original righteousness, but for the Fall, would have passed down upon Adam’s posterity. The cause of sin was an inordinate love of self. Original sin is a disorder of the moral constitution, and shows itself in concupiscence, that is irrational desire. It has become a fixed condition of the race, a corrupt disposition of the soul, — habitus corruptus, — just as sickness is a corrupt condition of the body. The corruption of nature, however, is partial, — a wound, not a total deadness of the moral nature.

Thomas approaches the subject of Christ and redemption by saying that “our Saviour, Jesus Christ, has shown us the way of truth in himself, the way by which we are able to attain through resurrection to the beatitude of immortal life.” Three main questions are taken up: the person of the Saviour, the sacraments, which are the channels of salvation, and the goal or immortal life. The Anselmic view of the atonement is adopted. The infinitude of human guilt makes it fitting that the Son of God should make atonement. God was not, however, shut up to this method. He can forgive sin as He pleases. Thomas takes up all the main data of Christ’s life, from the conception to the crucifixion. Justification is not a progressive process, but a single instantaneous act. Faith, working by love, lays hold of this grace.

Scarcely any teaching of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas arouses so much revolt in the Christian theology of this age as the teaching about the future estate of unbaptized children dying in infancy. These theologians agree in denying to them all hope of future bliss. They are detained in hell for the sin of Adam, being in no wise bound to Christ in His passion and death by the exercise of faith and love, as the baptized and the patriarchs of the Old Testament are. The sacrament of faith, that is, baptism, not being applied to them, they are forever lost. Baptism liberates from original sin, and without baptism there is no salvation.

The doctrine of the sacraments, as expounded by Thomas, is, in all particulars, the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Christ won grace. The Church imparts it. The sacraments are visible signs of invisible things, as Augustine defined them. The number is seven, corresponding to the seven cardinal virtues and the seven mortal sins. They are remedies for sin, and make for the perfecting of man in righteousness. The efficacy lies in a virtue inherent in the sacrament itself, and is not conditioned by faith in the recipient. Three of the sacraments — baptism, confirmation, and ordination — have an indelible character. Every conceivable question pertaining to the sacraments is taken up by Thomas and solved. The treatment of baptism and the eucharist occupies no less than two hundred and fifty pages of Migne’s edition, IV. 600-852.

Baptism, the original form of which was immersion, cleanses from original sin and incorporates into the body of Christ. Children of Jews and infidels are not to be baptized without the consent of their parents. Ordination is indispensable to the existence of the Church. In the Lord’s Supper the glorified body of the Redeemer is wholly present essentially, but not quantitatively. The words of Christ, “This is my body” are susceptible of only one interpretation — the change of the elements into the veritable body and blood of Christ. The substance of the bread undergoes change. The dimensions of the bread, and its other accidents, remain. The whole body is in the bread, as the whole body is also in the wine.

Penance is efficacious to the removing of guilt incurred after baptism. Indulgences have efficacy for the dead as well as the living. Their dispensation belongs primarily to the pope, as the head of the Church. The fund of merit is the product chiefly of the superabounding merit of Christ, but also of the supererogatory works of the saints.

In regard to the Last Things, the fire of hell will be physical. The blessed will be able to contemplate the woes of the lost without sorrow, and are led, as Albertus had said, by the sight of these woes to praise God supremely for their own redemption. Their beatitude is not increased by this vision. The body of the resurrection will be the same, even to the bowels.

In his consideration of ethics, Thomas Aquinas rises far above the other medieval writers, and marks an epoch in the treatment of the subject. He devotes to it nearly two hundred questions, or one-third of his entire system of theology. Here his references to the “philosopher” are very frequent. It is Thomas’ merit that he proceeds into details in analyzing the conduct of daily life. To give an example, he discusses the question of drunkenness, and, with Aristotle, decides that it is no excuse for crime. Thomas, however, also allows himself to be led into useless discussions where sophistry has free play, as when he answers the questions, whether a “man should love his child more than his father,” or “his mother more than his father.”

Thomas opens his ethical treatment with a discussion of the highest good, that is, blessedness, — beatitudo, — which does not consist in riches, honor, fame, power, or pleasure. Riches only minister to the body, and the more we have of them, the more are they despised, on account of their insufficiency to meet human needs; as our Lord said of the waters of the world, that whoever drinks of them shall thirst again, Joh_4:13. Blessedness consists in nothing else than the vision of God as He is in Himself. Satisfaction is a necessary concomitant of blessedness, as warmth is a concomitant of fire.

The virtues are the three religious virtues infused by God, — faith, hope, and love; and the four philosophical or cardinal virtues, — prudence, righteousness, endurance, and continence. These are treated at great length. The ethical sections conclude with discussions bearing on the habits of the clerical profession. In committing the same sins as laymen do, clerics sin more grievously. “Ought they to live of alms?” This and a multitude of other questions of the same kind are handled with all gravity and metaphysical precision. The essence of Christian perfection is love.

In his theory of Church and State also Thomas did not rise above his age. He fixed the theological statement concerning the supremacy of the spiritual realm, the primacy of the pope, and the right to punish heretics with death. His views are laid down in his Summa, and in three other writings, on the Rule of Princes, the Errors of the Greeks, and the contra Gentes. Thomas’ argument is that the State exists to secure for man the highest end of his being, the salvation of his soul, as well as for his material well-being in this life. He shows no concern for the separate European states and nationalities. As the head of the mystical body of Christ, the pope is supreme over the civil estate, even as the spiritual nature is superior to man’s physical nature. Christian kings owe him subjection, as they owe subjection to Christ himself, for the pope is Peter’s successor and the vicar of Christ. The monarchia Christi has taken the place of the old Roman imperium.

As for the Church itself, Rome is the mistress and mother of all churches. To obey her is to obey Christ. This is according to the decision of the holy councils and the holy Fathers. The unity of the Church presupposes a supreme centre of authority. To the pope, it belongs to determine what is of faith. Yea, subjection to him is necessary to salvation. High churchmanship could no further go.

In his declarations about heresy and its treatment, Thomas materially assisted in making the persecution of heretics unto death the settled policy of the Church and the State. At any rate he cleared away all objections as far as it was possible to clear them away. Heresy, as has already been said, he taught, is a crime to be punished like coin-clipping. No one may be compelled to enter the Church, but once having entered it and turned heretic, he must, if necessary, be forced by violent measures to obey the faith — haeretici sunt compellendi ut fidem teneant. It will thus be seen from this survey, which is supplemented in the chapters on the sacraments, the future state and Mariology, that the theology of the Angelic doctor and the theology of the Roman Catholic Church are identical in all particulars except the immaculate conception. He who understands Thomas understands the medieval theology at its best and will be in possession of the doctrinal system of the Roman Church.

Thomas Aquinas was elevated by the Dominican order to the position of authoritative teacher in 1286. His scholars were numerous, but his theology was not universally accepted.

Some of his statements were condemned by the University of Paris as early as 1277, and about 1285 William of Ware, trained at Oxford, which was a citadel of the Franciscans, wrote against the eminent Dominican. Soon after the death of the Franciscan Duns Scotus, the differences between him and Thomas were emphasized, and involved the two orders in controversy for centuries. No less than eighty-six theological differences between these two teachers were tabulated.

The theology of Thomas Aquinas controlled Dante. The first printed commentary on the Summa was written by Cardinal Cajetan, Venice, 1507-1522. The Thomists lost by the decree of the immaculate conception of Mary, 1854. That doctrine had been the chief bone of contention between them and the Franciscans. The decision of Leo XIII., making Thomas’ theology and philosophy the standard for all Catholic teaching, has again, as it were, equalized matters.

The Protestant Reformers, in their indignation against the Scholastic theology, could not do justice to Thomas Aquinas. Luther went so far as to call his Summa the quintessence of all heresies, meaning papal doctrines. He spoke of him as “the fountain and original soup of all heresy, error, and Gospel havoc, as his books bear witness.” “You are much to be condemned,” Luther said to Prierias, “for daring to obtrude upon us, as articles of faith, the opinions of that sainted man, Thomas, and his frequent false conclusions.” On one occasion, he compared Thomas to the star of the book of Revelation which fell from heaven, the empty speculations of Aristotle to the smoke of the bottomless pit, the universities to the locusts, and Aristotle himself to his master Apollyon.

Such polemic extravagances have long since yielded to a more just, historical estimate of this extraordinary man. Thomas merits our admiration by his candor and clearness as a systematic theologian, and by his sincerity and purity as an ethical thinker. In the great fundamentals of the Christian system he was scriptural and truly catholic. His errors were the errors of his age above which he was not able to rise, as three centuries later the clear and logical Protestant theologian, John Calvin, was not able in some important particulars to rise above the beliefs current in his time, and that in spite of his diligent study of the Scriptures and wide acquaintance with their teachings.

The papal estimate, as given expression to in the encyclicals of Leo XIII., is a practical denial of any progress in theology since the thirteenth century, and in effect ignores the scientific discoveries of ages. From the standpoint of an unalterable Catholic orthodoxy, Leo made no mistake in fixing upon Thomas Aquinas as the model expounder of Christian doctrine. Protestants differ, regarding no theologian since the Apostles as infallible. They have no expectation that the Schoolman’s argumentation will settle the theological and religious unrest of these modern days, which grows out of biblical theories and scientific and religious studies of which that great teacher never dreamed, and worldwide problems which never entered into his mind.

The present age is not at all concerned with many of the curious questions which Thomas and the other Schoolmen proposed. Each studious age has its own problems to settle and its own phases of religious doubt to adjust its fundamental teaching to. The medieval systems can no more be expected to meet the present demands of theological controversy than the artillery used on the battlefield of Crécy can meet the demands of modern warfare. The rights of private judgment are being asserted more and more, and, as there is some reason to suppose, even within the pale of the Roman communion. In the broader communion of the whole Church, we are glad to think that both Leo XIII., the wise pope, and Thomas Aquinas, the clear-eyed Schoolman, occupy a high place as members of the company of the eminent Churchmen of all ages; but this is not because they were free from mistakes to which our fallible human nature makes us subject, but because in the essential matters of the Christian life they were expounders of the Gospel.