« Prev Thomas Aquinas Next »

§ 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 ueb. 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 mediaeval 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,14961496    Encyclical, Aug. 4, 1879. See text in Mirbt, pp. 391 sqq. Thomas is praised as "inter scholasticos doctores omnium princeps et magister ... ingeniodocilis et acer, memoriae facilis et tenax, vitae integerrimus, veritatis, unice amator, divina humanaque scientia praedives." The preface to the papal edition attacks the Lutheriana pestis and the Lutherianum virus, which are to be counteracted by the works of Thomas in cujus limpidissima et angelica mente veritas divinitus nobis patefacta. See Schaff, Thos. Aq. and Leo. XIII., p. 179. 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."14971497    William of Thoco, ipse talem dabit in doctrina mugitum quod in toto mundo sonabit. 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 encyclopaedic 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 oecumenical 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,14981498    This title was given to the work after Thomas’death. Thomas, in his dedication to Urban IV., calls it exposito continua. The Catena is so contrived that it reads like a running commentary, the several extracts being dovetailed together. The compiler introduced nothing of his own but connecting particles. See Preface to Oxford ed., p. iv.ant. The apologetic works are of more importance. The chief among them are works designed to convince the Mohammedans and other unbelievers,14991499    Summa de veritate Catholicae fidei contra Gentiles. The first three books include the arguments from reason, the fourth the argument from revelation.15001500    Contra errores Graecorum andde unitate intellectus contra Averrhoistas.

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.15011501    See Koch, Kirchenlied, I. 137; Wackernagel, Kirchenlied, I. 143 sqq.; Werner, I. 791 sqq.

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 mediaeval 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.15021502    Eicken, D. Philosophie d. Th. von Aq., p. 4, says, er gëhort nicht so wohl zu den schaffenden als zu den ordnenden Geistern. "He belongs not so much to the originating as to the organizing minds." He repeats this judgment in his Thomas von Aquino und Kant, p. 27. He who would charge the Middle Ages with confused and abstruse deductions must look for examples elsewhere than in Thomas.ristic and profane, but they differ widely. He leaned much upon Albertus Magnus.15031503    Following Sighart, Life of Albertus Magnus, and Landerer, in art. Albertus in Herzog, 2d ed. XV. 575, Stöckl says, II. 421, 734, that "Thomas stands wholly upon Albert’s shoulders. Thomas finished what Albert began." Thomas received a strong impulse from Albert, but he went out especially in the departments of ethics and apologetics into regions not fully explored by his great teacher.ristotle, quoting the latter as "the philosopher." He was in full sympathy with the hierarchical system and the theology of the mediaeval 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.15041504    Multiplicatio inutilium quaestionum, articulorum et argumentorum. Prologue. 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.15051505    De Dei simplicitate, I. q. 3; Migne, I. 626 sqq.dy, 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, Ps. 25:15, are ascribed to God. 4. God has a seat and throne, Isa. 6:1. 5. God has a local termination which men may approach, Ps. 24:5.

But on the other hand must be noted what is said in John 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.15061506    Summa, I. 32, 1; Migne, I. 888, I. 1, 1; Migne, I. 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.15071507    Summa, I. 1, 8; Migne, I. 615. and on account of the superior excellence of its subject-matter.15081508    Tum propter certitudinem tum propter dignitatem materiae. Summa, I. 1, 5; Migne, I. 610.

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.15091509    Seine Darstellung will gar nichts anders sein als das wissenschaftliche Bewusstsein der kirchlichen Lehre. Baur, p. 354.

Philosophy and theology pursue different methods in searching after truth.15101510    Non eodem ordine utraque doctrina procedit, etc. See Werner, II. 151, and his quotation from the contra Gentiles. 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.15111511    See Köstlin, Beweise fürs Dasein Gottes, in Studien u. Kritiken, 1876, pp. 10 sqq.finite 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.15121512    Sicut sagitta a sagittante. Summa, I. 2, 3; Migne. I. 622 sqq.

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.15131513    Mundum incepisse est credibile, non autem demonstratibile vel scibile. Summa, I. 46; Migne, I. 1008.graphers do not locate it. It is secluded by the barriers of mountains, seas, and a certain tempestuous region.15141514    Ideo scriptores locorum de hoc loco mentionem non fecerunt. Summa, I. 102, 1; Migne, I. 1433.

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.15151515    Summa, I. 103, 7; Migne, I. 1446. Comp. Werner, II. 396 sqq., for the passages from contra Gentiles.s 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,15161516    In locum angelorum cadentium substituti sunt homines. Summa, I. 23, 6; Migne, I. 828. 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?15171517    Summa, I. 2, q. 72, 5; Migne, II. 633 sq. Thomas replies that in this case original sin would not have passed down to Adam’s posterity, for according to philosophers, the active principle in generation is the father. But if Adam had sinned and Eve had not sinned, original sin would have passed down to Adam’s descendants.

Thomas rejected the traducian view as heretical, and was a creationist.15181518    Haereticum est dicere quod anima intellectiva traducatur cum semine. Summa, I. 118, 2; Migne, I. 1556.llowing 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.15191519    Superadditio gratiae. Summa, I. 95, 1; Migne, I. 1405 sq. Comp. Loofs, Dogmengesch., pp. 292-295.15201520    Ad diligendum Deum naturaliter super omnia. Migne, II. 909.

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.15211521    Migne. II. 603.ce, 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."15221522    Summa, III. Prologus; Migne, IV. 10.he 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.15231523    Justificatio impii non est successiva. Summa, I. 2, q. 113, 7 sqq. Migne, II. 955. Justification is defined as "an infusion of grace whereby the freewill is moved and guilt is pardoned."s 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.15241524    Per baptismum pueri liberantur a peccato originali et ab inferno. Summa, III. 57, 7; Migne, IV. 485, 486.

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.15251525    Summa, III. 65, 1; Migne, IV. 595. See Werner, II. 676-699.nceivable 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.15261526    Summa, II. (2), 10, 12; Migne, III. 101 sqq.ified 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.15271527    Totus Christus sub utraque specie. Summa, III. 76, 2; Migne, IV. 734.

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.15281528    Praecipue propter meritum Christi, etc. Supplem., XXV. 1; Migne, IV. 1014.

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.15291529    Summa III. 94; Migne, IV. 1343 sqq. See Werner, II. 712.

In his consideration of ethics, Thomas Aquinas rises far above the other mediaeval 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.15301530    Not infrequently are there two or three references to Aristotle on a single page, e.g. I. (2), 2, 2; I. (2), 4, 2, Migne, II. 22, 46.15311531    Baur, pp. 429 sqq., pronounces Thomas’method descriptive rather than consequential. The system is not developed from fundamental principles.o give an example, he discusses the question of drunkenness, and, with Aristotle, decides that it is no excuse for crime.15321532    Summa, II. (2), 150, 4; Migne, III. 1051.tions, 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.15331533    Summa I. (2), 2, 1 sqq.; Migne, II. 19-37.rst again, John 4:13. Blessedness consists in nothing else than the vision of God as He is in Himself.15341534    In visione divinae essentiae. Migne, II. 43.

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.15351535    No less than forty-six questions are devoted to the religious virtues, Migne, III. 9-375 and one hundred and twenty-four to the philosophical, Migne, III. 375-1194.sion. 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.15361536    Per se et essentialiter consistit perfectio christianae vitae in charitate. Summa, II. (2), 84, 3; Migne, III. 1295.

In his theory of Church and State also Thomas did not rise above his age.15371537    See Werner, I. 760 sqq., 794 sqq. Köstlin, art. Staat und Kirche, Herzog Enc., 2d ed., XIV. 629 sqq. Reusch, Die Fälschungen, etc. are laid down in his Summa, and in three other writings, on the Rule of Princes,15381538    De regimine principum ad regem Cypri. Two of the four books of this famous work are certainly genuine. The last two books are probably by Thomas’disciple, Ptolemy of Lucca. Poole has some judicious remarks on this work, Illustr. of Med. Thought, pp. 240-266.ll as for his material well-being in this life. He shows no concern for the separate European states and nationalities.15391539    Eicken, D. Philosophie d. Thomas, etc., p.’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.15401540    successor Petri, Christi vicarius Romanus Pontifex cui omnes reges populi Christiani oportet esse subdito sicut ipsi domino Jesu Christo. De reg. principum, I. 14.

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.15411541    Romanae ecclesiae magistrae et matris omnium ecclesiarum cui obediendum est tanquam Domino Deo Jesu, etc. Contra errores Graecorum, Reusch’s ed., p. 9. Also Mirbt, Quellen, pp. 143 sq. This work contains a discussion of four points: the Procession of the Holy Ghost, the primacy of the pope, the use of unleavened bread in the eucharist, and purgatory. It was written at the time when the reunion of the Greeks and Latins was the subject of negotiations. In the preparation of this treatise, Thomas used a work put into his hands by Urban IV., once patriarch of Jerusalem. Thomas refers to it as libellum ab excellentia vestra mihi exhibitum sanctissime Pater Urbane Papa diligenter perlegi. It is full of citations from Cyril of Jerusalem, Cyril of Alexandria, Chrysostom, and other Fathers, as Reusch, following Launoy, learnedly shows. Thomas accepts the quotations without a question as genuine. The tract has never been published in full. It was known to the abbot Uccelli from a MS. in the Vatican, and parts of it bearing on the papacy were issued by his hand, 1870. Reusch prints a portion of the Vatican MS., and also a part of the unpublished MS., the Thesaurus veritatis fidei by the Dominican Bonacursius, who wrote later than Thomas, and drew from the same source as Thomas did. The Dominicans were specially active in urging the extravagant claims of the papacy as against the Greek patriarch.15421542    Cum tota ecclesia sit unum corpus, oportet si ista unitas debet conservari, quod sit aliqua potestas regitiva respectu totius ecclesiae supra potestatem episcopalem, qua uniquaeque specialis ecclesia regitur, et haec est potestas papae. Summa, Supplem., 40, 7; Migne, IV. 1075.s to determine what is of faith. Yea, subjection to him is necessary to salvation.15431543    Quod subesse Romano pontifici sit de necessitate salutis. contra errores Graecorum. Döllinger, in Das Papstthum, says that "Thomas was the first theologian to discuss the theory of papal infallibility as an integral part of systematic theology." Leitner, pp. 10-14, etc. denies this. See Chapter XV.

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 mediaeval 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,15441544    A number of MSS. left by Ware are preserved in Oxford.ranciscan 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.15451545    In the controversiae theol. inter Thomam et Scotum, by De Rada, the Franciscan bishop of Trani, Cologne, 1620. Werner devotes the whole third volume of his Life of Thomas, filling 876 pages, to the posthumous influence of Thomas. It takes up the teaching of his pupils, the conflicts with the Franciscans and Jesuits, etc., and brings in the names of Des Cartes, Leibnitz, Malbranche, Schelling, etc. See also art. Thomismus und Scotismus in Wetzer-Welte, XI. 1699-1710.

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."15461546    Thomas war der Brunn und Grundsuppe aller Ketzerei, Irrthumb undVertilgung des Evangelium wie seine Bücher beweisen. Erl. ed., 24. 240. "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.15471547    Köstlin, Leben M. Luthers, I. 431.

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 mediaeval 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.15481548    In the tract, Thomas von Aquino und Kant, Eicken contrasts Thomas and Kant as the representatives of two antagonistic types of thinking and study, the mediaeval and modern, that which is mechanical and bound by external authority, and that in which the individual, the subjective, have their proper place as the determining principles. Kant is the creator of ideas, the thinker; Thomas, the compiler and systematizer of ideas previously 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.

« Prev Thomas Aquinas Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection