Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Ch. 16 - Saint Thomas Aquinas

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode
    Chapter 16
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER XVI

    SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS

    Long before Saint Francis's death, in 1226, the French mystics had
    exhausted their energies and the siecle had taken new heart. Society
    could not remain forever balancing between thought and act. A few
    gifted natures could absorb themselves in the absolute, but the rest
    lived for the day, and needed shelter and safety. So the Church bent
    again to its task, and bade the Spaniard Dominic arm new levies with
    the best weapons of science, and flaunt the name of Aristotle on the
    Church banners along with that of Saint Augustine. The year 1215,
    which happened to be the date of Magna Charta and other easily fixed
    events, like the birth of Saint Louis, may serve to mark the triumph
    of the schools. The pointed arch revelled at Rheims and the Gothic
    architects reached perfection at Amiens just as Francis died at
    Assisi and Thomas was born at Aquino. The Franciscan Order itself
    was swept with the stream that Francis tried to dam, and the great
    Franciscan schoolman, Alexander Hales, in 1222, four years before
    the death of Francis, joined the order and began lecturing as though
    Francis himself had lived only to teach scholastic philosophy.

    The rival Dominican champion, Albertus Magnus, began his career a
    little later, in 1228. Born of the noble Swabian family of
    Bollstadt, in 1193, he drifted, like other schoolmen, to Paris, and
    the Rue Maitre Albert, opposite Notre Dame, still records his fame
    as a teacher there. Thence he passed to a school established by the
    order at Cologne, where he was lecturing with great authority in
    1243 when the general superior of the order brought up from Italy a
    young man of the highest promise to be trained as his assistant.

    Thomas, the new pupil, was born under the shadow of Monte Cassino in
    1226 or 1227. His father, the Count of Aquino, claimed descent from
    the imperial line of Swabia; his mother, from the Norman princes of
    Sicily; so that in him the two most energetic strains in Europe met.
    His social rank was royal, and the order set the highest value on
    it. He took the vows in 1243, and went north at once to help
    Albertus at Cologne. In 1245, the order sent Albertus back to Paris,
    and Thomas with him. There he remained till 1248 when he was ordered
    to Cologne as assistant lecturer, and only four years afterwards, at
    twenty-five years old, he was made full professor at Paris. His
    industry and activity never rested till his death in 1274, not yet
    fifty years old, when he bequeathed to the Church a mass of
    manuscript that tourists will never know enough to estimate except
    by weight. His complete works, repeatedly printed, fill between
    twenty and thirty quarto volumes. For so famous a doctor, this is
    almost meagre. Unfortunately his greatest work, the "Summa
    Theologiae," is unfinished--like Beauvais Cathedral.

    Perhaps Thomas's success was partly due to his memory which is said
    to have been phenomenal; for, in an age when cyclopaedias were
    unknown, a cyclopaedic memory must have counted for half the battle
    in these scholastic disputes where authority could be met only by
    authority; but in this case, memory was supported by mind. Outwardly
    Thomas was heavy and slow in manner, if it is true that his
    companions called him "the big dumb ox of Sicily"; and in
    fashionable or court circles he did not enjoy reputation for acute
    sense of humour. Saint Louis's household offers a picture not wholly
    clerical, least of all among the King's brothers and sons; and
    perhaps the dinner-table was not much more used then than now to
    abrupt interjections of theology into the talk about hunting and
    hounds; but however it happened, Thomas one day surprised the
    company by solemnly announcing--"I have a decisive argument against
    the Manicheans!" No wit or humour could be more to the point--
    between two saints that were to be--than a decisive argument against
    enemies of Christ, and one greatly regrets that the rest of the
    conversation was not reported, unless, indeed, it is somewhere in
    the twenty-eight quarto volumes; but it probably lacked humour for
    courtiers.

    The twenty-eight quarto volumes must be closed books for us. None
    but Dominicans have a right to interpret them. No Franciscan--or
    even Jesuit--understands Saint Thomas exactly or explains him with
    authority. For summer tourists to handle these intricate problems in
    a theological spirit would be altogether absurd; but, for us, these
    great theologians were also architects who undertook to build a
    Church Intellectual, corresponding bit by bit to the Church
    Administrative, both expressing--and expressed by--the Church
    Architectural. Alexander Hales, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas,
    Duns Scotus, and the rest, were artists; and if Saint Thomas happens
    to stand at their head as type, it is not because we choose him or
    understand him better than his rivals, but because his order chose
    him rather than his master Albert, to impose as authority on the
    Church; and because Pope John XXII canonized him on the ground that
    his decisions were miracles; and because the Council of Trent placed
    his "Summa" among the sacred books on their table; and because
    Innocent VI said that his doctrine alone was sure; and finally,
    because Leo XIII very lately made a point of declaring that, on the
    wings of Saint Thomas's genius, human reason has reached the most
    sublime height it can probably ever attain.

    Although the Franciscans, and, later, the Jesuits, have not always
    shown as much admiration as the Dominicans for the genius of Saint
    Thomas, and the mystics have never shown any admiration whatever for
    the philosophy of the schools, the authority of Leo XIII is final,
    at least on one point and the only one that concerns us. Saint
    Thomas is still alive and overshadows as many schools as he ever
    did; at all events, as many as the Church maintains. He has outlived
    Descartes and Leibnitz and a dozen other schools of philosophy more
    or less serious in their day. He has mostly outlived Hume, Voltaire,
    and the militant sceptics. His method is typical and classic; his
    sentences, when interpreted by the Church, seem, even to an
    untrained mind, intelligible and consistent; his Church Intellectual
    remains practically unchanged, and, like the Cathedral of Beauvais,
    erect, although the storms of six or seven centuries have
    prostrated, over and over again, every other social or political or
    juristic shelter. Compared with it, all modern systems are complex
    and chaotic, crowded with self-contradictions, anomalies,
    impracticable functions and outworn inheritances; but beyond all
    their practical shortcomings is their fragmentary character. An
    economic civilization troubles itself about the universe much as a
    hive of honey-bees troubles about the ocean, only as a region to be
    avoided. The hive of Saint Thomas sheltered God and man, mind and
    matter, the universe and the atom, the one and the multiple, within
    the walls of an harmonious home.

    Theologians, like architects, were supposed to receive their Church
    complete in all its lines; they were modern judges who interpreted
    the laws but never invented it. Saint Thomas merely selected between
    disputed opinions, but he allowed himself to wander very far afield,
    indeed, in search of opinions to dispute. The field embraced all
    that existed, or might have existed, or could never exist. The
    immense structure rested on Aristotle and Saint Augustine at the
    last, but as a work of art it stood alone, like Rheims or Amiens
    Cathedral, as though it had no antecedents. Then, although, like
    Rheims, its style was never meant to suit modern housekeeping and is
    ill-seen by the Ecole des Beaux Arts, it reveals itself in its great
    mass and intelligence as a work of extraordinary genius; a system as
    admirably proportioned as any cathedral and as complete; a success
    not universal either in art or science.

    Saint Thomas's architecture, like any other work of art, is best
    studied by itself as though he created it outright; otherwise a
    tourist would never get beyond its threshold. Beginning with the
    foundation which is God and God's active presence in His Church,
    Thomas next built God into the walls and towers of His Church, in
    the Trinity and its creation of mind and matter in time and space;
    then finally he filled the Church by uniting mind and matter in man,
    or man's soul, giving to humanity a free will that rose, like the
    fleche, to heaven. The foundation--the structure--the congregation--
    are enough for students of art; his ideas of law, ethics, and
    politics; his vocabulary, his syllogisms, his arrangement are, like
    the drawings of Villard de Honnecourt's sketch-book, curious but not
    vital. After the eleventh-century Romanesque Church of Saint Michael
    came the twelfth-century Transition Church of the Virgin, and all
    merged and ended at last in the thirteenth-century Gothic Cathedral
    of the Trinity. One wants to see the end.

    The foundation of the Christian Church should be--as the simple
    deist might suppose--always the same, but Saint Thomas knew better.
    His foundation was Norman, not French; it spoke the practical
    architect who knew the mathematics of his art, and who saw that the
    foundation laid by Saint Bernard, Saint Victor, Saint Francis, the
    whole mystical, semi-mystical, Cartesian, Spinozan foundation, past
    or future, could not bear the weight of the structure to be put on
    it. Thomas began by sweeping the ground clear of them. God must be a
    concrete thing, not a human thought. God must be proved by the
    senses like any other concrete thing; "nihil est in intellectu quin
    prius fuerit in sensu"; even if Aristotle had not affirmed the law,
    Thomas would have discovered it. He admitted at once that God could
    not be taken for granted.

    The admission, as every boy-student of the Latin Quarter knew, was
    exceedingly bold and dangerous. The greatest logicians commonly
    shrank from proving unity by multiplicity. Thomas was one of the
    greatest logicians that ever lived; the question had always been at
    the bottom of theology; he deliberately challenged what every one
    knew to be an extreme peril. If his foundation failed, his Church
    fell. Many critics have thought that he saw dangers four hundred
    years ahead. The time came, about 1650-1700, when Descartes,
    deserting Saint Thomas, started afresh with the idea of God as a
    concept, and at once found himself charged with a deity that
    contained the universe; nor did the Cartesians--until Spinoza made
    it clear--seem able or willing to see that the Church could not
    accept this deity because the Church required a God who caused the
    universe. The two deities destroyed each other. One was passive; the
    other active. Thomas warned Descartes of a logical quicksand which
    must necessarily swallow up any Church, and which Spinoza explored
    to the bottom. Thomas said truly that every true cause must be
    proved as a cause, not merely as a sequence; otherwise they must end
    in a universal energy or substance without causality--a source.

    Whatever God might be to others, to His Church he could not be a
    sequence or a source. That point had been admitted by William of
    Champeaux, and made the division between Christians and infidels. On
    the other hand, if God must be proved as a true cause in order to
    warrant the Church or the State in requiring men to worship Him as
    Creator, the student became the more curious--if a churchman, the
    more anxious--to be assured that Thomas succeeded in his proof,
    especially since he did not satisfy Descartes and still less Pascal.
    That the mystics should be dissatisfied was natural enough, since
    they were committed to the contrary view, but that Descartes should
    desert was a serious blow which threw the French Church into
    consternation from which it never quite recovered.

    "I see motion," said Thomas: "I infer a motor!" This reasoning,
    which may be fifty thousand years old, is as strong as ever it was;
    stronger than some more modern inferences of science; but the
    average mechanic stated it differently. "I see motion," he admitted:
    "I infer energy. I see motion everywhere; I infer energy
    everywhere." Saint Thomas barred this door to materialism by adding:
    "I see motion; I cannot infer an infinite series of motors: I can
    only infer, somewhere at the end of the series, an intelligent,
    fixed motor." The average modern mechanic might not dissent but
    would certainly hesitate. "No doubt!" he might say; "we can conduct
    our works as well on that as on any other theory, or as we could on
    no theory at all; but, if you offer it as proof, we can only say
    that we have not yet reduced all motion to one source or all
    energies to one law, much less to one act of creation, although we
    have tried our best." The result of some centuries of experiment
    tended to raise rather than silence doubt, although, even in his own
    day, Thomas would have been scandalized beyond the resources of his
    Latin had Saint Bonaventure met him at Saint Louis's dinner-table
    and complimented him, in the King's hearing, on having proved,
    beyond all Franciscan cavils, that the Church Intellectual had
    necessarily but one first cause and creator--himself.

    The Church Intellectual, like the Church Architectural, implied not
    one architect, but myriads, and not one fixed, intelligent architect
    at the end of the series, but a vanishing vista without a beginning
    at any definite moment; and if Thomas pressed his argument, the
    twentieth-century mechanic who should attend his conferences at the
    Sorbonne would be apt to say so. "What is the use of trying to argue
    me into it? Your inference may be sound logic, but is not proof.
    Actually we know less about it than you did. All we know is the
    thing we handle, and we cannot handle your fixed, intelligent prime
    motor. To your old ideas of form we have added what we call force,
    and we are rather further than ever from reducing the complex to
    unity. In fact, if you are aiming to convince me, I will tell you
    flatly that I know only the multiple, and have no use for unity at
    all."

    In the thirteenth century men did not depend so much as now on
    actual experiment, but the nominalist said in effect the same thing.
    Unity to him was a pure concept, and any one who thought it real
    would believe that a triangle was alive and could walk on its legs.
    Without proving unity, philosophers saw no way to prove God. They
    could only fall back on an attempt to prove that the concept of
    unity proved itself, and this phantasm drove the Cartesians to drop
    Thomas's argument and assert that "the mere fact of having within us
    the idea of a thing more perfect than ourselves, proves the real
    existence of that thing." Four hundred years earlier Saint Thomas
    had replied in advance that Descartes wanted to prove altogether too
    much, and Spinoza showed mathematically that Saint Thomas had been
    in the right. The finest religious mind of the time--Pascal--
    admitted it and gave up the struggle, like the mystics of Saint-
    Victor.

    Thus some of the greatest priests and professors of the Church,
    including Duns Scotus himself, seemed not wholly satisfied that
    Thomas's proof was complete, but most of them admitted that it was
    the safest among possible foundations, and that it showed, as
    architecture, the Norman temper of courage and caution. The Norman
    was ready to run great risks, but he would rather grasp too little
    than too much; he narrowed the spacing of his piers rather than
    spread them too wide for safe vaulting. Between Norman blood and
    Breton blood was a singular gap, as Renan and every other Breton has
    delighted to point out. Both Abelard and Descartes were Breton. The
    Breton seized more than he could hold; the Norman took less than he
    would have liked.

    God, then, is proved. What the schools called form, what science
    calls energy, and what the intermediate period called the evidence
    of design, made the foundation of Saint Thomas's cathedral. God is
    an intelligent, fixed prime motor--not a concept, or proved by
    concepts;--a concrete fact, proved by the senses of sight and touch.
    On that foundation Thomas built. The walls and vaults of his Church
    were more complex than the foundation; especially the towers were
    troublesome. Dogma, the vital purpose of the Church, required
    support. The most weighty dogma, the central tower of the Norman
    cathedral, was the Trinity, and between the Breton solution which
    was too heavy, and the French solution which was too light, the
    Norman Thomas found a way. Remembering how vehemently the French
    Church, under Saint Bernard, had protected the Trinity from all
    interference whatever, one turns anxiously to see what Thomas said
    about it; and unless one misunderstands him,--as is very likely,
    indeed, to be the case, since no one may even profess to understand
    the Trinity,--Thomas treated it as simply as he could. "God, being
    conscious of Himself, thinks Himself; his thought is Himself, his
    own reflection in the Verb--the so-called Son." "Est in Deo
    intelligente seipsum Verbum Dei quasi Deus intellectus." The idea
    was not new, and as ideas went it was hardly a mystery; but the next
    step was naif:--God, as a double consciousness, loves Himself, and
    realizes Himself in the Holy Ghost. The third side of the triangle
    is love or grace.

    Many theologians have found fault with this treatment of the
    subject, which seemed open to every objection that had been made to
    Abelard, Gilbert de la Poree, or a thousand other logicians. They
    commonly asked why Thomas stopped the Deity's self-realizations at
    love, or inside the triangle, since these realizations were real,
    not symbolic, and the square was at least as real as any other
    combination of line. Thomas replied that knowledge and will--the
    Verb and the Holy Ghost--were alone essential. The reply did not
    suit every one, even among doctors, but since Saint Thomas rested on
    this simple assertion, it is no concern of ours to argue the
    theology. Only as art, one can afford to say that the form is more
    architectural than religious; it would surely have been suspicious
    to Saint Bernard. Mystery there was none, and logic little. The
    concept of the Holy Ghost was childlike; for a pupil of Aristotle it
    was inadmissible, since it led to nothing and helped no step toward
    the universe.

    Admitting, if necessary, the criticism, Thomas need not admit the
    blame, if blame there were. Every theologian was obliged to stop the
    pursuit of logic by force, before it dragged him into paganism and
    pantheism. Theology begins with the universal,--God,--who must be a
    reality, not a symbol; but it is forced to limit the process of
    God's realizations somewhere, or the priest soon becomes a
    worshipper of God in sticks and stones. Theologists had commonly
    chosen, from time immemorial, to stop at the Trinity; within the
    triangle they were wholly realist; but they could not admit that God
    went on to realize Himself in the square and circle, or that the
    third member of the Trinity contained multiplicity, because the
    Trinity was a restless weight on the Church piers, which, like the
    central tower, constantly tended to fall, and needed to be
    lightened. Thomas gave it the lightest form possible, and there
    fixed it.

    Then came his great tour-de-force, the vaulting of his broad nave;
    and, if ignorance is allowed an opinion, even a lost soul may admire
    the grand simplicity of Thomas's scheme. He swept away the
    horizontal lines altogether, leaving them barely as a part of
    decoration. The whole weight of his arches fell, as in the latest
    Gothic, where the eye sees nothing to break the sheer spring of the
    nervures, from the rosette on the keystone a hundred feet above down
    to the church floor. In Thomas's creation nothing intervened between
    God and his world; secondary causes become ornaments; only two
    forces, God and man, stood in the Church.

    The chapter of Creation is so serious, and Thomas's creation, like
    every other, is open to so much debate, that no student can allow
    another to explain it; and certainly no man whatever, either saint
    or sceptic, can ever yet have understood Creation aright unless
    divinely inspired; but whatever Thomas's theory was as he meant it,
    he seems to be understood as holding that every created individual--
    animal, vegetable, or mineral--was a special, divine act. Whatever
    has form is created, and whatever is created takes form directly
    from the will of God, which is also his act. The intermediate
    universals--the secondary causes--vanish as causes; they are, at
    most, sequences or relations; all merge in one universal act of
    will; instantaneous, infinite, eternal.

    Saint Thomas saw God, much as Milton saw him, resplendent in

    That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
    And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty,
    Wherewith he wont, at Heaven's high council-table,
    To sit the midst of Trinal Unity;

    except that, in Thomas's thought, the council-table was a work-
    table, because God did not take counsel; He was an act. The Trinity
    was an infinite possibility of will; nothing within but

    The baby image of the giant mass
    Of things to come at large.

    Neither time nor space, neither matter nor mind, not even force
    existed, nor could any intelligence conceive how, even though they
    should exist, they could be united in the lowest association. A
    crystal was as miraculous as Socrates. Only abstract force, or what
    the schoolmen called form, existed undeveloped from eternity, like
    the abstract line in mathematics.

    Fifty or a hundred years before Saint Thomas settled the Church
    dogma, a monk of Citeaux or some other abbey, a certain Alain of
    Lille, had written a Latin poem, as abstruse an allegory as the
    best, which had the merit of painting the scene of man's creation as
    far as concerned the mechanical process much as Thomas seems to have
    seen it. M. Haureau has printed an extract (vol. I, p. 352). Alain
    conceded to the weakness of human thought, that God was working in
    time and space, or rather on His throne in heaven, when nature,
    proposing to create a new and improved man, sent Reason and Prudence
    up to ask Him for a soul to fit the new body. Having passed through
    various adventures and much scholastic instruction, the messenger
    Prudence arrived, after having dropped her dangerous friend Reason
    by the way. The request was respectfully presented to God, and
    favourably received. God promised the soul, and at once sent His
    servant Noys--Thought--to the storehouse of ideas, to choose it:--

    Ipse Deus rem prosequitur, producit in actum
    Quod pepigit. Vocat ergo Noym quae praepaert illi
    Numinis exemplar, humanae mentis Idaeam,
    Ad cujus formam formetur spiritus omni
    Munere virtutum dives, qui, nube caducae
    Carnis odumbratus veletur corporis umbra.
    Tunc Noys ad regis praeceptum singula rerum

    Vestigans exempla, novam perquirit Idaeam.
    Inter tot species, speciem vix invenit illam
    Quam petit; offertur tandem quaesita petenti
    . Hanc formam Noys ipsa Deo praesentat ut ejus
    Formet ad exemplar animam. Tunc ille sigillum
    Sumit, ad ipsius formae vestigia formam
    Dans animae, vultum qualem deposcit Idaea
    Imprimit exemplo; totas usurpat imago
    Exemplaris opes, loquiturque figura sigillum.

    God Himself pursues the task, and sets in act
    What He promised. So He calls Noys to seek
    A copy of His will, Idea of the human mind,
    To whose form the spirit should be shaped,
    Rich in every virtue, which, veiled in garb
    Of frail flesh, is to be hidden in a shade of body,
    Then Noys, at the King's order, turning one by one

    Each sample, seeks the new Idea.
    Among so many images she hardly finds that
    Which she seeks; at last the sought one appears.
    This form Noys herself brings to God for Him
    To form a soul to its pattern. He takes the seal,
    And gives form to the soul after the model
    Of the form itself, stamping on the sample
    The figure such as the Idea requires. The seal
    Covers the whole field, and the impression expresses the stamp.

    The translation is probably full of mistakes; indeed, one is
    permitted to doubt whether Alain himself accurately understood the
    process; but in substance he meant that God contained a storehouse
    of ideas, and stamped each creation with one of these forms. The
    poets used a variety of figures to help out their logic, but that of
    the potter and his pot was one of the most common. Omar Khayyam was
    using it at the same time with Alain of Lille, but with a
    difference: for his pot seems to have been matter alone, and his
    soul was the wine it received from God; while Alain's soul seems to
    have been the form and not the contents of the pot.

    The figure matters little. In any case God's act was the union of
    mind with matter by the same act or will which created both. No
    intermediate cause or condition intervened; no secondary influence
    had anything whatever to do with the result. Time had nothing to do
    with it. Every individual that has existed or shall exist was
    created by the same instantaneous act, for all time. "When the
    question regards the universal agent who produces beings and time,
    we cannot consider him as acting now and before, according to the
    succession of time." God emanated time, force, matter, mind, as He
    might emanate gravitation, not as a part of His substance but as an
    energy of His will, and maintains them in their activity by the same
    act, not by a new one. Every individual is a part of the direct act;
    not a secondary outcome. The soul has no father or mother. Of all
    errors one of the most serious is to suppose that the soul descends
    by generation. "Having life and action of its own, it subsists
    without the body; ... it must therefore be produced directly, and
    since it is not a material substance, it cannot be produced by way
    of generation; it must necessarily be created by God. Consequently
    to suppose that the intelligence [or intelligent soul] is the effect
    of generation is to suppose that it is not a pure and simple
    substance, but corruptible like the body. It is therefore heresy to
    say that this soul is transmitted by generation." What is true of
    the soul should be true of all other form, since no form is a
    material substance. The utmost possible relation between any two
    individuals is that God may have used the same stamp or mould for a
    series of creations, and especially for the less spiritual: "God is
    the first model for all things. One may also say that, among His
    creatures some serve as types or models for others because there are
    some which are made in the image of others"; but generation means
    sequence, not cause. The only true cause is God. Creation is His
    sole act, in which no second cause can share." Creation is more
    perfect and loftier than generation, because it aims at producing
    the whole substance of the being, though it starts from absolute
    nothing."

    Thomas Aquinas, when he pleased, was singularly lucid, and on this
    point he was particularly positive. The architect insisted on the
    controlling idea of his structure. The Church was God, and its lines
    excluded interference. God and the Church embraced all the
    converging lines of the universe, and the universe showed none but
    lines that converged. Between God and man, nothing whatever
    intervened. The individual was a compound of form, or soul, and
    matter; but both were always created together, by the same act, out
    of nothing. "Simpliciter fatendum est animas simul cum corporibus
    creari et infundi." It must be distinctly understood that souls were
    not created before bodies, but that they were created at the same
    time as the bodies they animate. Nothing whatever preceded this
    union of two substances which did not exist: "Creatio est productio
    alicujus rei secundum suam totam substantiam, nullo praesupposito,
    quod sit vel increatum vel ab aliquo creatum." Language can go no
    further in exclusion of every possible preceding, secondary, or
    subsequent cause, "Productio universalis entis a Deo non est motus
    nec mutatio, sed est quaedam simplex emanatio." The whole universe
    is, so to speak, a simple emanation from God.

    The famous junction, then, is made!--that celebrated fusion of the
    universal with the individual, of unity with multiplicity, of God
    and nature, which had broken the neck of every philosophy ever
    invented; which had ruined William of Champeaux and was to ruin
    Descartes; this evolution of the finite from the infinite was
    accomplished. The supreme triumph was as easily effected by Thomas
    Aquinas as it was to be again effected, four hundred years later, by
    Spinoza. He had merely to assert the fact: "It is so! it cannot be
    otherwise!" "For the thousandth and hundred-thousandth time;--what
    is the use of discussing this prime motor, this Spinozan substance,
    any longer? We know it is there!" that--as Professor Haeckel very
    justly repeats for the millionth time--is enough.

    One point, however, remained undetermined. The Prime Motor and His
    action stood fixed, and no one wished to disturb Him; but this was
    not the point that had disturbed William of Champeaux. Abelard's
    question still remained to be answered. How did Socrates differ from
    Plato--Judas from John--Thomas Aquinas from Professor Haeckel? Were
    they, in fact, two, or one? What made an individual? What was God's
    centimetre measure? The abstract form or soul which existed as a
    possibility in God, from all time,--was it one or many? To the
    Church, this issue overshadowed all else, for, if humanity was one
    and not multiple, the Church, which dealt only with individuals, was
    lost. To the schools, also, the issue was vital, for, if the soul or
    form was already multiple from the first, unity was lost; the
    ultimate substance and prime motor itself became multiple; the whole
    issue was reopened.

    To the consternation of the Church, and even of his own order,
    Thomas, following closely his masters, Albert and Aristotle,
    asserted that the soul was measured by matter. "Division occurs in
    substances in ratio of quantity, as Aristotle says in his 'Physics.'
    And so dimensional quantity is a principle of individuation." The
    soul is a fluid absorbed by matter in proportion to the absorptive
    power of the matter. The soul is an energy existing in matter
    proportionately to the dimensional quantity of the matter. The soul
    is a wine, greater or less in quantity according to the size of the
    cup. In our report of the great debate of 1110, between Champeaux
    and Abelard, we have seen William persistently tempting Abelard to
    fall into this admission that matter made the man;--that the
    universal equilateral triangle became an individual if it were
    shaped in metal, the matter giving it reality which mere form could
    not give; and Abelard evading the issue as though his life depended
    on it. In fact, had Abelard dared to follow Aristotle into what
    looked like an admission that Socrates and Plato were identical as
    form and differed only in weight, his life might have been the
    forfeit. How Saint Thomas escaped is a question closely connected
    with the same inquiry about Saint Francis of Assisi. A Church which
    embraced, with equal sympathy, and within a hundred years, the
    Virgin, Saint Bernard, William of Champeaux and the School of Saint-
    Victor, Peter the Venerable, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Dominic,
    Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Bonaventure, was more liberal than
    any modern State can afford to be. Radical contradictions the State
    may perhaps tolerate, though hardly, but never embrace or profess.
    Such elasticity long ago vanished from human thought.

    Yet only Dominicans believe that the Church adopted this law of
    individualization, or even assented to it. If M. Jourdain is right,
    Thomas was quickly obliged to give it another form:--that, though
    all souls belonged to the same species, they differed in their
    aptitudes for uniting with particular bodies. "This soul is
    commensurate with this body, and not with that other one." The idea
    is double; for either the souls individualized themselves, and
    Thomas abandoned his doctrine of their instantaneous creation, with
    the bodies, out of nothing; or God individualized them in the act of
    creation, and matter had nothing to do with it. The difficulty is no
    concern of ours, but the great scholars who took upon themselves to
    explain it made it worse, until at last one gathers only that Saint
    Thomas held one of three views: either the soul of humanity was
    individualized by God, or it individualized itself, or it was
    divided by ratio of quantity, that is, by matter. This amounts to
    saying that one knows nothing about it, which we knew before and may
    admit with calmness; but Thomas Aquinas was not so happily placed,
    between the Church and the schools. Humanity had a form common to
    itself, which made it what it was. By some means this form was
    associated with matter; in fact, matter was only known as associated
    with form. If, then, God, by an instantaneous act, created matter
    and gave it form according to the dimensions of the matter, innocent
    ignorance might infer that there was, in the act of God, one world-
    soul and one world-matter, which He united in different proportions
    to make men and things. Such a doctrine was fatal to the Church. No
    greater heresy could be charged against the worst Arab or Jew, and
    Thomas was so well aware of his danger that he recoiled from it with
    a vehemence not at all in keeping with his supposed phlegm. With
    feverish eagerness to get clear of such companions, he denied and
    denounced, in all companies, in season and out of season, the idea
    that intellect was one and the same for all men, differing only with
    the quantity of matter it accompanied. He challenged the adherent of
    such a doctrine to battle; "let him take the pen if he dares!" No
    one dared, seeing that even Jews enjoyed a share of common sense and
    had seen some of their friends burn at the stake not very long
    before for such opinions, not even openly maintained; while
    uneducated people, who are perhaps incapable of receiving intellect
    at all, but for whose instruction and salvation the great work of
    Saint Thomas and his scholars must chiefly exist, cannot do battle
    because they cannot understand Thomas's doctrine of matter and form
    which to them seems frank pantheism.

    So it appeared to Duns Scotus also, if one may assert in the Doctor
    Subtilis any opinion without qualification. Duns began his career
    only about 1300, after Thomas's death, and stands, therefore, beyond
    our horizon; but he is still the pride of the Franciscan Order and
    stands second in authority to the great Dominican alone. In denying
    Thomas's doctrine that matter individualizes mind, Duns laid himself
    open to the worse charge of investing matter with a certain
    embryonic, independent, shadowy soul of its own. Scot's system,
    compared with that of Thomas, tended toward liberty. Scot held that
    the excess of power in Thomas's prime motor neutralized the power of
    his secondary causes, so that these appeared altogether superfluous.
    This is a point that ought to be left to the Church to decide, but
    there can be no harm in quoting, on the other hand, the authority of
    some of Scot's critics within the Church, who have thought that his
    doctrine tended to deify matter and to keep open the road to
    Spinoza. Narrow and dangerous was the border-line always between
    pantheism and materialism, and the chief interest of the schools was
    in finding fault with each other's paths.

    The opinions in themselves need not disturb us, although the
    question is as open to dispute as ever it was and perhaps as much
    disputed; but the turn of Thomas's mind is worth study. A century or
    two later, his passion to be reasonable, scientific, architectural
    would have brought him within range of the Inquisition. Francis of
    Assisi was not more archaic and cave-dweller than Thomas of Aquino
    was modern and scientific. In his effort to be logical he forced his
    Deity to be as logical as himself, which hardly suited Omnipotence.
    He hewed the Church dogmas into shape as though they were rough
    stones. About no dogma could mankind feel interest more acute than
    about that of immortality, which seemed to be the single point
    vitally necessary for any Church to prove and define as clearly as
    light itself. Thomas trimmed down the soul to half its legitimate
    claims as an immortal being by insisting that God created it from
    nothing in the same act or will by which He created the body and
    united the two in time and space. The soul existed as form for the
    body, and had no previous existence. Logic seemed to require that
    when the body died and dissolved, after the union which had lasted,
    at most, only an instant or two of eternity, the soul, which fitted
    that body and no other, should dissolve with it. In that case the
    Church dissolved, too, since it had no reason for existence except
    the soul. Thomas met the difficulty by suggesting that the body's
    form might take permanence from the matter to which it gave form.
    That matter should individualize mind was itself a violent wrench of
    logic, but that it should also give permanence--the one quality it
    did not possess--to this individual mind seemed to many learned
    doctors a scandal. Perhaps Thomas meant to leave the responsibility
    on the Church, where it belonged as a matter not of logic but of
    revealed truth. At all events, this treatment of mind and matter
    brought him into trouble which few modern logicians would suspect.

    The human soul having become a person by contact with matter, and
    having gained eternal personality by the momentary union, was
    finished, and remains to this day for practical purposes unchanged;
    but the angels and devils, a world of realities then more real than
    man, were never united with matter, and therefore could not be
    persons. Thomas admitted and insisted that the angels, being
    immaterial,--neither clothed in matter, nor stamped on it, nor mixed
    with it,--were universals; that is, each was a species in himself, a
    class, or perhaps what would be now called an energy, with no other
    individuality than he gave himself.

    The idea seems to modern science reasonable enough. Science has to
    deal, for example, with scores of chemical energies which it knows
    little about except that they always seem to be constant to the same
    conditions; but every one knows that in the particular relation of
    mind to matter the battle is as furious as ever. The soul has always
    refused to live in peace with the body. The angels, too, were always
    in rebellion. They insisted on personality, and the devils even more
    obstinately than the angels. The dispute was--and is--far from
    trifling. Mind would rather ignore matter altogether. In the
    thirteenth century mind did, indeed, admit that matter was
    something,--which it quite refuses to admit in the twentieth,--but
    treated it as a nuisance to be abated. To the pure in spirit one
    argued in vain that spirit must compromise; that nature compromised;
    that God compromised; that man himself was nothing but a somewhat
    clumsy compromise. No argument served. Mind insisted on absolute
    despotism. Schoolmen as well as mystics would not believe that
    matter was what it seemed,--if, indeed, it existed;--unsubstantial,
    shifty, shadowy; changing with incredible swiftness into dust, gas,
    flame; vanishing in mysterious lines of force into space beyond hope
    of recovery; whirled about in eternity and infinity by that mind,
    form, energy, or thought which guides and rules and tyrannizes and
    is the universe. The Church wanted to be pure spirit; she regarded
    matter with antipathy as something foul, to be held at arms' length
    lest it should stain and corrupt the soul; the most she would
    willingly admit was that mind and matter might travel side by side,
    like a doubleheaded comet, on parallel lines that never met, with a
    preestablished harmony that existed only in the prime motor.

    Thomas and his master Albert were almost alone in imposing on the
    Church the compromise so necessary for its equilibrium. The balance
    of matter against mind was the same necessity in the Church
    Intellectual as the balance of thrusts in the arch of the Gothic
    cathedral. Nowhere did Thomas show his architectural obstinacy quite
    so plainly as in thus taking matter under his protection. Nothing
    would induce him to compromise with the angels. He insisted on
    keeping man wholly apart, as a complex of energies in which matter
    shared equally with mind. The Church must rest firmly on both. The
    angels differed from other beings below them' precisely because they
    were immaterial and impersonal. Such rigid logic outraged the
    spiritual Church.

    Perhaps Thomas's sudden death in 1274 alone saved him from the fate
    of Abelard, but it did not save his doctrine. Two years afterwards,
    in 1276, the French and English churches combined to condemn it.
    Etienne Tempier, Bishop of Paris, presided over the French Synod;
    Robert Kilwardeby, of the Dominican Order, Archbishop of Canterbury,
    presided over the Council at Oxford. The synods were composed of
    schoolmen as well as churchmen, and seem to have been the result of
    a serious struggle for power between the Dominican and Franciscan
    Orders. Apparently the Church compromised between them by condemning
    the errors of both. Some of these errors, springing from Alexander
    Hales and his Franciscan schools, were in effect the foundation of
    another Church. Some were expressly charged against Brother Thomas.
    "Contra fratrem Thomam" the councils forbade teaching that--"quia
    intelligentiae non habent materiam, Deus non potest plures ejusdem
    speciei facere; et quod materia non est in angelis"; further, the
    councils struck at the vital centre of Thomas's system--"quod Deus
    non potest individua multiplicare sub una specie sine materia"; and
    again in its broadest form,--"quod formae non accipiunt divisionem
    nisi secundam materiam." These condemnations made a great stir. Old
    Albertus Magnus, who was the real victim of attack, fought for
    himself and for Thomas. After a long and earnest effort, the
    Thomists rooted out opposition in the order, and carried their
    campaign to Rome. After fifty years of struggle, by use of every
    method known in Church politics, the Dominican Order, in 1323,
    caused John XXII to canonize Thomas and in effect affirm his
    doctrine.

    The story shows how modern, how heterodox, how material, how
    altogether new and revolutionary the system of Saint Thomas seemed
    at first even in the schools; but that was the affair of the Church
    and a matter of pure theology. We study only his art. Step by step,
    stone by stone, we see him build his church-building like a
    stonemason, "with the care that the twelfth-century architects put
    into" their work, as Viollet-le-Duc saw some similar architect at
    Rouen, building the tower of Saint-Romain: "He has thrown over his
    work the grace and finesse, the study of detail, the sobriety in
    projections, the perfect harmony," which belongs to his school, and
    yet he was rigidly structural and Norman. The foundation showed it;
    the elevation, which is God, developed it; the vaulting, with its
    balance of thrusts in mind and matter, proved it; but he had still
    the hardest task in art, to model man.

    The cathedral, then, is built, and God is built into it, but, thus
    far, God is there alone, filling it all, and maintains the
    equilibrium by balancing created matter separately against created
    mind. The proportions of the building are superb; nothing so lofty,
    so large in treatment, so true in scale, so eloquent of multiplicity
    in unity, has ever been conceived elsewhere; but it was the virtue
    or the fault of superb structures like Bourges and Amiens and the
    Church universal that they seemed to need man more than man needed
    them; they were made for crowds, for thousands and tens of thousands
    of human beings; for the whole human race, on its knees, hungry for
    pardon and love. Chartres needed no crowd, for it was meant as a
    palace of the Virgin, and the Virgin filled it wholly; but the
    Trinity made their church for no other purpose than to accommodate
    man, and made man for no other purpose than to fill their church; if
    man failed to fill it, the church and the Trinity seemed equally
    failures. Empty, Bourges and Beauvais are cold; hardly as religious
    as a wayside cross; and yet, even empty, they are perhaps more
    religious than when filled with cattle and machines. Saint Thomas
    needed to fill his Church with real men, and although he had created
    his own God for that special purpose, the task was, as every boy
    knew by heart, the most difficult that Omnipotence had dealt with.

    God, as Descartes justly said, we know! but what is man? The schools
    answered: Man is a rational animal! So was apparently a dog, or a
    bee, or a beaver, none of which seemed to need churches. Modern
    science, with infinite effort, has discovered and announced that man
    is a bewildering complex of energies, which helps little to explain
    his relations with the ultimate substance or energy or prime motor
    whose existence both science and schoolmen admit; which science
    studies in laboratories and religion worships in churches. The man
    whom God created to fill his Church, must be an energy independent
    of God; otherwise God filled his own Church with his own energy.
    Thus far, the God of Saint Thomas was alone in His Church. The
    beings He had created out of nothing--Omar's pipkins of clay and
    shape--stood against the walls, waiting to receive the wine of life,
    a life of their own.

    Of that life, energy, will, or wine,--whatever the poets or
    professors called it,--God was the only cause, as He was also the
    immediate cause, and support. Thomas was emphatic on that point. God
    is the cause of energy as the sun is the cause of colour: "prout sol
    dicitur causa manifestationis coloris." He not only gives forms to
    his pipkins, or energies to his agents, but He also maintains those
    forms in being: "dat formas creaturis agentibus et eas tenet in
    esse." He acts directly, not through secondary causes, on everything
    and every one: "Deus in omnibus intime operatur." If, for an
    instant, God's action, which is also His will, were to stop, the
    universe would not merely fall to pieces, but would vanish, and must
    then be created anew from nothing: "Quia non habet radicem in aere,
    statim cessat lumen, cessante actione solis. Sic autem se habet
    omnis creatura ad Deum sicut aer ad solem illuminantem." God
    radiates energy as the sun radiates light, and "the whole fabric of
    nature would return to nothing" if that radiation ceased even for an
    instant. Everything is created by one instantaneous, eternal,
    universal act of will, and by the same act is maintained in being.

    Where, then,--in what mysterious cave outside of creation,--could
    man, and his free will, and his private world of responsibilities
    and duties, lie hidden? Unless man was a free agent in a world of
    his own beyond constraint, the Church was a fraud, and it helped
    little to add that the State was another. If God was the sole and
    immediate cause and support of everything in His creation, God was
    also the cause of its defects, and could not--being Justice and
    Goodness in essence--hold man responsible for His own omissions.
    Still less could the State or Church do it in His name.

    Whatever truth lies in the charge that the schools discussed futile
    questions by faulty methods, one cannot decently deny that in this
    case the question was practical and the method vital. Theist or
    atheist, monist or anarchist must all admit that society and science
    are equally interested with theology in deciding whether the
    universe is one or many, a harmony or a discord. The Church and
    State asserted that it was a harmony, and that they were its
    representatives. They say so still. Their claim led to singular but
    unavoidable conclusions, with which society has struggled for seven
    hundred years, and is still struggling.

    Freedom could not exist in nature, or even in God, after the single,
    unalterable act or will which created. The only possible free will
    was that of God before the act. Abelard with his rigid logic averred
    that God had no freedom; being Himself whatever is most perfect, He
    produced necessarily the most perfect possible world. Nothing seemed
    more logical, but if God acted necessarily, His world must also be
    of necessity the only possible product of His act, and the Church
    became an impertinence, since man proved only fatuity by attempting
    to interfere. Thomas dared not disturb the foundations of the
    Church, and therefore began by laying down the law that God--
    previous to His act--could choose, and had chosen, whatever scheme
    of creation He pleased, and that the harmony of the actual scheme
    proved His perfections. Thus he saved God's free will.

    This philosophical apse would have closed the lines and finished the
    plan of his church-choir had the universe not shown some
    divergencies or discords needing to be explained. The student of the
    Latin Quarter was then harder to convince than now that God was
    Infinite Love and His world a perfect harmony, when perfect love and
    harmony showed them, even in the Latin Quarter, and still more in
    revealed truth, a picture of suffering, sorrow, and death; plague,
    pestilence, and famine; inundations, droughts, and frosts;
    catastrophes world-wide and accidents in corners; cruelty,
    perversity, stupidity, uncertainty, insanity; virtue begetting vice;
    vice working for good; happiness without sense, selfishness without
    gain, misery without cause, and horrors undefined. The students in
    public dared not ask, as Voltaire did, "avec son hideux sourire,"
    whether the Lisbon earthquake was the final proof of God's infinite
    goodness, but in private they used the argumentum ad personam
    divinam freely enough, and when the Church told them that evil did
    not exist, the ribalds laughed.

    Saint Augustine certainly tempted Satan when he fastened the Church
    to this doctrine that evil is only the privation of good, an amissio
    boni; and that good alone exists. The point was infinitely
    troublesome. Good was order, law, unity. Evil was disorder, anarchy,
    multiplicity. Which was truth? The Church had committed itself to
    the dogma that order and unity were the ultimate truth, and that the
    anarchist should be burned. She could do nothing else, and society
    supported her--still supports her; yet the Church, who was wiser
    than the State, had always seen that Saint Augustine dealt with only
    half the question. She knew that evil might be an excess of good as
    well as absence of it; that good leads to evil, evil to good; and
    that, as Pascal says, "three degrees of polar elevation upset all
    jurisprudence; a meridian decides truth; fundamental laws change;
    rights have epochs. Pleasing Justice! bounded by a river or a
    mountain! truths on this side the Pyrenees! errors beyond!" Thomas
    conceded that God Himself, with the best intentions, might be the
    source of evil, and pleaded only that his action might in the end
    work benefits. He could offer no proof of it, but he could assume as
    probable a plan of good which became the more perfect for the very
    reason that it allowed great liberty in detail.

    One hardly feels Saint Thomas here in all his force. He offers
    suggestion rather than proof;--apology--the weaker because of
    obvious effort to apologize--rather than defence, for Infinite
    Goodness, Justice, and Power; scoffers might add that he invented a
    new proof ab defectu, or argument for proving the perfection of a
    machine by the number of its imperfections; but at all events,
    society has never done better by way of proving its right to enforce
    morals or unity of opinion. Unless it asserts law, it can only
    assert force. Rigid theology went much further. In God's providence,
    man was as nothing. With a proper sense of duty, every solar system
    should be content to suffer, if thereby the efficiency of the Milky
    Way were improved. Such theology shocked Saint Thomas, who never
    wholly abandoned man in order to exalt God. He persistently brought
    God and man together, and if he erred, the Church rightly pardons
    him because he erred on the human side. Whenever the path lay
    through the valley of despair he called God to his aid, as though he
    felt the moral obligation of the Creator to help His creation.

    At best the vision of God, sitting forever at His work-table,
    willing the existence of mankind exactly as it is, while conscious
    that, among these myriad arbitrary creations of His will, hardly one
    in a million could escape temporary misery or eternal damnation, was
    not the best possible background for a Church, as the Virgin and the
    Saviour frankly admitted by taking the foreground; but the Church
    was not responsible for it. Mankind could not admit an anarchical--a
    dual or a multiple--universe. The world was there, staring them in
    the face, with all its chaotic conditions, and society insisted on
    its unity in self-defence. Society still insists on treating it as
    unity, though no longer affecting logic. Society insists on its free
    will, although free will has never been explained to the
    satisfaction of any but those who much wish to be satisfied, and
    although the words in any common sense implied not unity but duality
    in creation. The Church had nothing to do with inventing this
    riddle--the oldest that fretted mankind.

    Apart from all theological interferences,--fall of Adam or fault of
    Eve, Atonement, Justification, or Redemption,--either the universe
    was one, or it was two, or it was many; either energy was one, seen
    only in powers of itself, or it was several; either God was harmony,
    or He was discord. With practical unanimity, mankind rejected the
    dual or multiple scheme; it insisted on unity. Thomas took the
    question as it was given him. The unity was full of defects; he did
    not deny them; but he claimed that they might be incidents, and that
    the admitted unity might even prove their beneficence. Granting this
    enormous concession, he still needed a means of bringing into the
    system one element which vehemently refused to be brought:--that is,
    man himself, who insisted that the universe was a unit, but that he
    was a universe; that energy was one, but that he was another energy;
    that God was omnipotent, but that man was free. The contradiction
    had always existed, exists still, and always must exist, unless man
    either admits that he is a machine, or agrees that anarchy and chaos
    are the habit of nature, and law and order its accident. The
    agreement may become possible, but it was not possible in the
    thirteenth century nor is it now. Saint Thomas's settlement could
    not be a simple one or final, except for practical use, but it
    served, and it holds good still.

    No one ever seriously affirmed the literal freedom of will. Absolute
    liberty is absence of restraint; responsibility is restraint;
    therefore, the ideally free individual is responsible only to
    himself. This principle is the philosophical foundation of
    anarchism, and, for anything that science has yet proved, may be the
    philosophical foundation of the universe; but it is fatal to all
    society and is especially hostile to the State. Perhaps the Church
    of the thirteenth century might have found a way to use even this
    principle for a good purpose; certainly, the influence of Saint
    Bernard was sufficiently unsocial and that of Saint Francis was
    sufficiently unselfish to conciliate even anarchists of the militant
    class; but Saint Thomas was working for the Church and the

    State, not for the salvation of souls, and his chief object was to
    repress anarchy. The theory of absolute free will never entered his
    mind, more than the theory of material free will would enter the
    mind of an architect. The Church gave him no warrant for discussing
    the subject in such a sense. In fact, the Church never admitted free
    will, or used the word when it could be avoided. In Latin, the term
    used was "liberum arbitrium,"--free choice,--and in French to this
    day it remains in strictness "libre arbitre" still. From Saint
    Augustine downwards the Church was never so unscientific as to admit
    of liberty beyond the faculty of choosing between paths, some
    leading through the Church and some not, but all leading to the next
    world; as a criminal might be allowed the liberty of choosing
    between the guillotine and the gallows, without infringing on the
    supremacy of the judge.

    Thomas started from that point, already far from theoretic freedom.
    "We are masters of our acts," he began, "in the sense that we can
    choose such and such a thing; now, we have not to choose our end,
    but the means that relate to it, as Aristotle says." Unfortunately,
    even this trenchant amputation of man's free energies would not
    accord with fact or with logic. Experience proved that man's power
    of choice in action was very far from absolute, and logic seemed to
    require that every choice should have some predetermining cause
    which decided the will to act. Science affirmed that choice was not
    free,--could not be free,--without abandoning the unity of force and
    the foundation of law. Society insisted that its choice must be left
    free, whatever became of science or unity. Saint Thomas was required
    to illustrate the theory of "liberum arbitrium" by choosing a path
    through these difficulties, where path there was obviously none.

    Thomas's method of treating this problem was sure to be as
    scientific as the vaulting of a Gothic arch. Indeed, one follows it
    most easily by translating his school-vocabulary into modern
    technical terms. With very slight straining of equivalents, Thomas
    might now be written thus:--

    By the term God, is meant a prime motor which supplies all energy to
    the universe, and acts directly on man as well as on all other
    creatures, moving him as a mechanical motor might do; but man, being
    specially provided with an organism more complex than the organisms
    of other creatures, enjoys an exceptional capacity for reflex
    action,--a power of reflection,--which enables him within certain
    limits to choose between paths; and this singular capacity is called
    free choice or free will. Of course, the reflection is not choice,
    and though a man's mind reflected as perfectly as the facets of a
    lighthouse lantern, it would never reach a choice without an energy
    which impels it to act.

    Now let us read Saint Thomas:--

    Some kind of an agent is required to determine one's choice; that
    agent is reflection. Man reflects, then, in order to learn what
    choice to make between the two acts which offer themselves. But
    reflection is, in its turn, a faculty of doing opposite things, for
    we can reflect or not reflect; and we are no further forward than
    before. One cannot carry back this process infinitely, for in that
    case one would never decide. The fixed point is not in man, since we
    meet in him, as a being apart by himself, only the alternative
    faculties; we must, therefore, recur to the intervention of an
    exterior agent who shall impress on our will a movement capable of
    putting an end to its hesitations:--That exterior agent is nothing
    else than God!

    The scheme seems to differ little, and unwillingly, from a system of
    dynamics as modern as the dynamo. Even in the prime motor, from the
    moment of action, freedom of will vanished. Creation was not
    successive; it was one instantaneous thought and act, identical with
    the will, and was complete and unchangeable from end to end,
    including time as one of its functions. Thomas was as clear as
    possible on that point:--"Supposing God wills anything in effect; He
    cannot will not to will it, because His will cannot change." He
    wills that some things shall be contingent and others necessary, but
    He wills in the same act that the contingency shall be necessary.
    "They are contingent because God has willed them to be so, and with
    this object has subjected them to causes which are so." In the same
    way He wills that His creation shall develop itself in time and
    space and sequence, but He creates these conditions as well as the
    events. He creates the whole, in one act, complete, unchangeable,
    and it is then unfolded like a rolling panorama, with its
    predetermined contingencies.

    Man's free choice--liberum arbitrium--falls easily into place as a
    predetermined contingency. God is the first cause, and acts in all
    secondary causes directly; but while He acts mechanically on the
    rest of creation,--as far as is known,--He acts freely at one point,
    and this free action remains free as far as it extends on that line.
    Man's freedom derives from this source, but it is simply apparent,
    as far as he is a cause; it is a reflex action determined by a new
    agency of the first cause.

    However abstruse these ideas may once have sounded, they are far
    from seeming difficult in comparison with modern theories of energy.
    Indeed, measured by that standard, the only striking feature of
    Saint Thomas's motor is its simplicity. Thomas's prime motor was
    very powerful, and its lines of energy were infinite. Among these
    infinite lines, a certain group ran to the human race, and, as long
    as the conduction was perfect, each man acted mechanically. In cases
    where the current, for any reason, was for a moment checked,--that
    is to say, produced the effect of hesitation or reflection in the
    mind,--the current accumulated until it acquired power to leap the
    obstacle. As Saint Thomas expressed it, the Prime Motor, Who was
    nothing else than God, intervened to decide the channel of the
    current. The only difference between man and a vegetable was the
    reflex action of the complicated mirror which was called mind, and
    the mark of mind was reflective absorption or choice. The apparent
    freedom was an illusion arising from the extreme delicacy of the
    machine, but the motive power was in fact the same--that of God.

    This exclusion of what men commonly called freedom was carried still
    further in the process of explaining dogma. Supposing the
    conduction to be insufficient for a given purpose; a purpose which
    shall require perfect conduction? Under ordinary circumstances, in
    ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the conductor will be burned
    out, so to speak; condemned, and thrown away. This is the case with
    most human beings. Yet there are cases where the conductor is
    capable of receiving an increase of energy from the prime motor,
    which enables it to attain the object aimed at. In dogma, this store
    of reserved energy is technically called Grace. In the strict,
    theological sense of the word, as it is used by Saint Thomas, the
    exact, literal meaning of Grace is "a motion which the Prime Motor,
    as a supernatural cause, produces in the soul, perfecting free
    will." It is a reserved energy, which comes to aid and reinforce the
    normal energy of the battery.

    To religious minds this scientific inversion of solemn truths seems,
    and is, sacrilege; but Thomas's numerous critics in the Church have
    always brought precisely this charge against his doctrine, and are
    doing so still. They insist that he has reduced God to a mechanism
    and man to a passive conductor of force. He has left, they say,
    nothing but God in the universe. The terrible word which annihilates
    all other philosophical systems against which it is hurled, has been
    hurled freely against his for six hundred years and more, without
    visibly affecting the Church; and yet its propriety seems, to the
    vulgar, beyond reasonable cavil. To Father de Regnon, of the
    extremely learned and intelligent Society of Jesus, the difference
    between pantheism and Thomism reduces itself to this: "Pantheism,
    starting from the notion of an infinite substance which is the
    plenitude of being, concludes that there can exist no other beings
    than THE being; no other realities than the absolute reality.
    Thomism, starting from the efficacy of the first cause, tends to
    reduce more and more the efficacy of second causes, and to replace
    it by a passivity which receives without producing, which is
    determined without determining." To students of architecture, who
    know equally little about pantheism and about Thomism,--or, indeed,
    for that matter, about architecture, too,--the quality that rouses
    most surprise in Thomism is its astonishingly scientific method. The
    Franciscans and the Jesuits call it pantheism, but science, too, is
    pantheism, or has till very recently been wholly pantheistic.
    Avowedly science has aimed at nothing but the reduction of
    multiplicity to unity, and has excommunicated, as though it were
    itself a Church, any one who doubted or disputed its object, its
    method, or its results. The effort is as evident and quite as
    laborious in modern science, starting as it does from multiplicity,
    as in Thomas Aquinas, who started from unity; and it is necessarily
    less successful, for its true aims, as far as it is science and not
    disguised religion, were equally attained by reaching infinite
    complexity; but the assertion or assumption of ultimate unity has
    characterized the Law of Energy as emphatically as it has
    characterized the definition of God in theology. If it is a reproach
    to Saint Thomas, it is equally a reproach to Clerk-Maxwell. In
    truth, it is what men most admire in both--the power of broad and
    lofty generalization.

    Under any conceivable system the process of getting God and man
    under the same roof--of bringing two independent energies under the
    same control--required a painful effort, as science has much cause
    to know. No doubt, many good Christians and some heretics have been
    shocked at the tour de force by which they felt themselves suddenly
    seized, bound hand and foot, attached to each other, and dragged
    into the Church, without consent or consultation. To religious
    mystics, whose scepticism concerned chiefly themselves and their own
    existence, Saint Thomas's man seemed hardly worth herding, at so
    much expense and trouble, into a Church where he was not eager to
    go. True religion felt the nearness of God without caring to see the
    mechanism. Mystics like Saint Bernard, Saint Francis, Saint
    Bonaventure, or Pascal had a right to make this objection, since
    they got into the Church, so to speak, by breaking through the
    windows; but society at large accepted and retains Saint Thomas's
    man much as Saint Thomas delivered him to the Government; a two-
    sided being, free or unfree, responsible or irresponsible, an energy
    or a victim of energy, moved by choice or moved by compulsion, as
    the interests of society seemed for the moment to need. Certainly
    Saint Thomas lavished no excess of liberty on the man he created,
    but still he was more generous than the State has ever been. Saint
    Thomas asked little from man, and gave much; even as much freedom of
    will as the State gave or now gives; he added immortality hereafter
    and eternal happiness under reasonable restraints; his God watched
    over man's temporal welfare far more anxiously than the State has
    ever done, and assigned him space in the Church which he never can
    have in the galleries of Parliament or Congress; more than all this,
    Saint Thomas and his God placed man in the centre of the universe,
    and made the sun and the stars for his uses. No statute law ever did
    as much for man, and no social reform ever will try to do it; yet
    man bitterly complained that he had not his rights, and even in the
    Church is still complaining, because Saint Thomas set a limit, more
    or less vague, to what the man was obstinate in calling his freedom
    of will.

    Thus Saint Thomas completed his work, keeping his converging lines
    clear and pure throughout, and bringing them together, unbroken, in
    the curves that gave unity to his plan. His sense of scale and
    proportion was that of the great architects of his age. One might go
    on studying it for a lifetime. He showed no more hesitation in
    keeping his Deity in scale than in adjusting man to it. Strange as
    it sounds, although man thought himself hardly treated in respect to
    freedom, yet, if freedom meant superiority, man was in action much
    the superior of God, Whose freedom suffered, from Saint Thomas,
    under restraints that man never would have tolerated. Saint Thomas
    did not allow God even an undetermined will; He was pure Act, and as
    such He could not change. Man alone was allowed, in act, to change
    direction. What was more curious still, man might absolutely prove
    his freedom by refusing to move at all; if he did not like his life
    he could stop it, and habitually did so, or acquiesced in its being
    done for him; while God could not commit suicide or even cease for a
    single instant His continuous action. If man had the singular fancy
    of making himself absurd,--a taste confined to himself but attested
    by evidence exceedingly strong,--he could be as absurd as he liked;
    but God could not be absurd. Saint Thomas did not allow the Deity
    the right to contradict Himself, which is one of man's chief
    pleasures. While man enjoyed what was, for his purposes, an
    unlimited freedom to be wicked,--a privilege which, as both Church
    and State bitterly complained and still complain, he has
    outrageously abused,--God was Goodness, and could be nothing else.
    While man moved about his relatively spacious prison with a certain
    degree of ease, God, being everywhere, could not move. In one
    respect, at least, man's freedom seemed to be not relative but
    absolute, for his thought was an energy paying no regard to space or
    time or order or object or sense; but God's thought was His act and
    will at once; speaking correctly, God could not think; He is. Saint
    Thomas would not, or could not, admit that God was Necessity, as
    Abelard seems to have held, but he refused to tolerate the idea of a
    divine maniac, free from moral obligation to himself. The atmosphere
    of Saint Louis surrounds the God of Saint Thomas, and its pure ether
    shuts out the corruption and pollution to come,--the Valois and
    Bourbons, the Occams and Hobbes's, the Tudors and the Medicis, of an
    enlightened Europe.

    The theology turns always into art at the last, and ends in
    aspiration. The spire justifies the church. In Saint Thomas's
    Church, man's free will was the aspiration to God, and he treated it
    as the architects of Chartres and Laon had treated their famous
    fleches. The square foundation-tower, the expression of God's power
    in act,--His Creation,--rose to the level of the Church facade as a
    part of the normal unity of God's energy; and then, suddenly,
    without show of effort, without break, without logical violence,
    became a many-sided, voluntary, vanishing human soul, and neither
    Villard de Honnecourt nor Duns Scotus could distinguish where God's
    power ends and man's free will begins. All they saw was the soul
    vanishing into the skies. How it was done, one does not care to ask;
    in a result so exquisite, one has not the heart to find fault with
    "adresse."

    About Saint Thomas's theology we need not greatly disturb ourselves;
    it can matter now not much, whether he put more pantheism than the
    law allowed or more materialism than Duns Scotus approved--or less
    of either--into his universe, since the Church is still on the spot,
    responsible for its own doctrines; but his architecture is another
    matter. So scientific and structural a method was never an accident
    or the property of a single mind even with Aristotle to prompt it.
    Neither his Church nor the architect's church was a sketch, but a
    completely studied structure. Every relation of parts, every
    disturbance of equilibrium, every detail of construction was treated
    with infinite labour, as the result of two hundred years of
    experiment and discussion among thousands of men whose minds and
    whose instincts were acute, and who discussed little else. Science
    and art were one. Thomas Aquinas would probably have built a better
    cathedral at Beauvais than the actual architect who planned it; but
    it is quite likely that the architect might have saved Thomas some
    of his errors, as pointed out by the Councils of 1276. Both were
    great artists; perhaps in their professions, the greatest that ever
    lived; and both must have been great students beyond their practice.
    Both were subject to constant criticism from men and bodies of men
    whose minds were as acute and whose learning was as great as their
    own. If the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Paris
    condemned Thomas, the Bernardines had, for near two hundred years,
    condemned Beauvais in advance. Both the "Summa Theologiae" and
    Beauvais Cathedral were excessively modern, scientific, and
    technical, marking the extreme points reached by Europe on the lines
    of scholastic science. This is all we need to know. If we like, we
    can go on to study, inch by inch, the slow decline of the art. The
    essence of it--the despotic central idea--was that of organic unity
    both in the thought and the building. From that time, the universe
    has steadily become more complex and less reducible to a central
    control. With as much obstinacy as though it were human, it has
    insisted on expanding its parts; with as much elusiveness as though
    it were feminine, it has evaded the attempt to impose on it a single
    will. Modern science, like modern art, tends, in practice, to drop
    the dogma of organic unity. Some of the mediaeval habit of mind
    survives, but even that is said to be yielding before the daily
    evidence of increasing and extending complexity. The fault, then,
    was not in man, if he no longer looked at science or art as an
    organic whole or as the expression of unity. Unity turned itself
    into complexity, multiplicity, variety, and even contradiction. All
    experience, human and divine, assured man in the thirteenth century
    that the lines of the universe converged. How was he to know that
    these lines ran in every conceivable and inconceivable direction,
    and that at least half of them seemed to diverge from any imaginable
    centre of unity! Dimly conscious that his Trinity required in logic
    a fourth dimension, how was the schoolman to supply it, when even
    the mathematician of to-day can only infer its necessity? Naturally
    man tended to lose his sense of scale and relation. A straight line,
    or a combination of straight lines, may have still a sort of
    artistic unity, but what can be done in art with a series of
    negative symbols? Even if the negative were continuous, the artist
    might express at least a negation; but supposing that Omar's kinetic
    analogy of the ball and the players turned out to be a scientific
    formula!--supposing that the highest scientific authority, in order
    to obtain any unity at all, had to resort to the Middle Ages for an
    imaginary demon to sort his atoms!--how could art deal with such
    problems, and what wonder that art lost unity with philosophy and
    science! Art had to be confused in order to express confusion; but
    perhaps it was truest, so.

    Some future summer, when you are older, and when I have left, like
    Omar, only the empty glass of my scholasticism for you to turn down,
    you can amuse yourselves by going on with the story after the death
    of Saint Louis, Saint Thomas, and William of Lorris, and after the
    failure of Beauvais. The pathetic interest of the drama deepens with
    every new expression, but at least you can learn from it that your
    parents in the nineteenth century were not to blame for losing the
    sense of unity in art. As early as the fourteenth century, signs of
    unsteadiness appeared, and, before the eighteenth century, unity
    became only a reminiscence. The old habit of centralizing a strain
    at one point, and then dividing and subdividing it, and distributing
    it on visible lines of support to a visible foundation, disappeared
    in architecture soon after 1500, but lingered in theology two
    centuries longer, and even, in very old-fashioned communities, far
    down to our own time; but its values were forgotten, and it survived
    chiefly as a stock jest against the clergy. The passage between the
    two epochs is as beautiful as the Slave of Michael Angelo; but, to
    feel its beauty, you should see it from above, as it came from its
    radiant source. Truth, indeed, may not exist; science avers it to be
    only a relation; but what men took for truth stares one everywhere
    in the eye and begs for sympathy. The architects of the twelfth and
    thirteenth centuries took the Church and the universe for truths,
    and tried to express them in a structure which should be final.
    Knowing by an enormous experience precisely where the strains were
    to come, they enlarged their scale to the utmost point of material
    endurance, lightening the load and distributing the burden until the
    gutters and gargoyles that seem mere ornament, and the grotesques
    that seem rude absurdities, all do work either for the arch or for
    the eye; and every inch of material, up and down, from crypt to
    vault, from man to God, from the universe to the atom, had its task,
    giving support where support was needed, or weight where
    concentration was felt, but always with the condition of showing
    conspicuously to the eye the great lines which led to unity and the
    curves which controlled divergence; so that, from the cross on the
    fleche and the keystone of the vault, down through the ribbed
    nervures, the columns, the windows, to the foundation of the flying
    buttresses far beyond the walls, one idea controlled every line; and
    this is true of Saint Thomas's Church as it is of Amiens Cathedral.
    The method was the same for both, and the result was an art marked
    by singular unity, which endured and served its purpose until man
    changed his attitude toward the universe. The trouble was not in the
    art or the method or the structure, but in the universe itself which
    presented different aspects as man moved. Granted a Church, Saint
    Thomas's Church was the most expressive that man has made, and the
    great Gothic cathedrals were its most complete expression.

    Perhaps the best proof of it is their apparent instability. Of all
    the elaborate symbolism which has been suggested for the Gothic
    cathedral, the most vital and most perfect may be that the slender
    nervure, the springing motion of the broken arch, the leap downwards
    of the flying buttress,--the visible effort to throw off a visible
    strain,--never let us forget that Faith alone supports it, and that,
    if Faith fails, Heaven is lost. The equilibrium is visibly delicate
    beyond the line of safety; danger lurks in every stone. The peril of
    the heavy tower, of the restless vault, of the vagrant buttress; the
    uncertainty of logic, the inequalities of the syllogism, the
    irregularities of the mental mirror,--all these haunting nightmares
    of the Church are expressed as strongly by the Gothic cathedral as
    though it had been the cry of human suffering, and as no emotion had
    ever been expressed before or is likely to find expression again.
    The delight of its aspirations is flung up to the sky. The pathos of
    its self-distrust and anguish of doubt is buried in the earth as its
    last secret. You can read out of it whatever else pleases your youth
    and confidence; to me, this is all.

    THE END
    Chapter 16
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Henry Adams essay and need some advice, post your Henry Adams essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?