Imatges de pÓgina

phy and religion. Harsh words from the tongue of one we love hurt us more than we can or dare explain, as the sound of an instrument out of tune is more painful than other harsh and discordant noises. Is it not because all our associations with it are of harmony and beauty that our nerves are set jarring: Nothing but good can result from a sympathetic and intimate fellowship with the best thoughts of the best minds, but pedantry is apt to be vain and overbearing and cause a wholesome dread of the "bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, with loads of learned lumber in his head."

Knowledge is of use only so far as it enables us to reason and reflect, and so reconstruct, with the materials it supplies, a philosophy of life for ourselves. As Cowper says: "Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, have ofttime no connection. Knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men, wisdom in minds attentive to their own. Knowledge, a rude, unprofitable mass, the mere material with which wisdom builds."

Mrs. Arthur Giles.

New York.


The philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, which was the completion and systematization of that of his master Albertus Magnus, and was fully accepted by the latter, who long outlived him, represented a perfect synthesis of the wisdom of Pagan antiquity—Greek and Oriental—with the truths of Divine Revelation and the results of the labors of all the preceding generations of Christian thinkers.

It was a universal philosophy, bringing into unity all physical and metaphysical, material and spiritual, truth, so far as the acquisition of the human race up to that time permitted.

It was a living philosophy, not professing to be final, but taking into full account all the results of all the sciences and all the conclusions of all thinkers, even the most un-Christian—like the contemporary Arabian philosophers.

No one, therefore, can be considered a true representative of that sublimest and truest of all philosophies who is not fully animated by its spirit, and does not, like blessed Albert and the divine Thomas themselves, give full weight to every real acquisition of the human intellect, under whatever auspices, and with whatever animus, it may have been sought and attained.

The overthrow of the Ptolemaic astronomy and other revolutions in natural science, led to the discrediting of the physical side of the Alberto-Thomistic philosophy, and its complete abandonment by those who professed to be the most devoted adherents and true exponents of the system as a whole.

But the further results of science have more and more tended to vindicate the Thomistic principles, and have made possible the reconstruction, in large measure, of the physical side of that most perfect and typical form of the Philosophy of the School.

The object of this paper is to give a summary outline of the world-view, and especially the cosmogony, resulting from the completion of the Albertinian system in the light of the new data which the science of the thought of the'past few centuries have furnished.

The universe is the manifestation and communication of the divine perfections. God, being infinitely good, desires to give Himself as completely as possible to others.

God is the one absolute, necessary, unconditioned, and completely self-determining Being; infinitely, eternal, unchangeable, devoid of parts and above all categories and genera. Besides Him there is no other. His essence and being and action are identical; He is pure act, with no element of potentiality.

Between Him and any creature, or the totality of creatures, there is an infinite gulf, so that nothing can be predicated univocally (that is, in the same sense) of Him and of creatures. (Summa Theologies, Pus Prima, q. xiii, 5, o.)

When the universe was not, there was no time, or space, or void; but only the immensity of Deity, and to that plenum nothing is added by the existence of the universe. (Id., ia, iv, 2, o.). God plus the universe equals God; the universe minus God equals naught.

For the very reason that God is absolute and self-determining, He is infinitely intelligent and infinitely free.

In the eternal act of His self-knowledge He thinks one idea (inner word or logos), which is Himself.

In relation to the perfect image of Himself which He thus generates He is called the Father, while It is called the Son. As this Divine thought is absolutely adequate and perfect It possesses the fullness of the Divine Being and attributes, and is, therefore, a consubstantial and coeternal person (i. e., substance of a rational nature).

From this infinite and absolutely self-knowledge eternally proceeds an infinite and absolute self-complacency or bliss. Thus, in knowing Himself, God wills and posits Himself; and, because there can be nothing imperfect or separate in Him, God, as willed by Himself, is absolutely and perfectly God, and a divine person. As such, He is called the Holy Spirit, because He is the completion, as it were, of the divine life, which are preeminently spiritual and preeminently holy, and also, by analogy, because the word "spirit," in its primary etymological sense, signifies a certain impulse and motion (Id., ia, q. xxxvi, I, c).

So God, as thinking Himself, is called the Father, God, as thought by Himself, is called the Son, and God as willed by Himself is called the Holy Ghost or Spirit; and God considered in this triple personality is called the ever-blessed Trinity.

From this great central truth all other truth springs; if it is not understood, nothing else can ever be fully understood. The loss of the least jot or tittle of the sublime paradoxes of the Athanasian Creed would destroy the only idea of God that is scientifically tolerable and take away the very foundation of all true science.

In the eternal generation of the word God thinks Himself, not only as He is in Himself, but, in one and the same thought, (Id., ia, q. i, 4. c.) in all the infinite number of modes and degrees in which He is capable of self-manifestation and self-communication. These possible modes of reflection, or exteriorization, as it were, of the divine perfections constitute the immanent ideas, or eternal reasons, which are the archetypes of all parts and stages of all possible universes.

In the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit, the consubstantial Love of the Father and the Son, God wills, not necessarily, as He wills Himself, but by a free eternal choice, all the creation that has been, is, or shall be, in all its minutest details.

As the production of a literally infinite creature is impossible, even to omnipotence, the divine perfections could only be manifested by an endless variety of creatures, in and above time and space, united in most intricate and manifold hierarchical relations, each creature and each relation reflecting, in each of its elements, some aspect or aspects of deity in its own particular way. This variety should reach from the lowest to the highest, in an ascending scale of God-likeness in being and thought, in causality and beauty, in consciousness and power. And thus it was.


The creative volition is eternal (qq. xix and xlv, 3 ad 1), but its term was the beginning of time. In one instant (ia, lxiii, 5, c.) a finite universe arose, by the union of archetypal ideas, representing a certain manner in which the divine perfections are capable of being manifested, with potentiality to existence, representing a capacity for manifesting the divine perfections through the contingent, relative and dependent kind of being, or existence, which alone is possible to that which is not God.

Thus God, as Son, is the exemplary cause of the created universe; God, as Father, is its efficient Cause, and God, as Holy Ghost, its final cause.

This finite universe consists of three kinds of existence; a permanent spiritual realm—the Angelic Kingdom; a permanent material realm (ia, lxvi, 3, c.)—now called the inter-stellar ether, and a realm of growth and change, of generation and corruption, destined to ultimately unite in itself the corporeal and the spiritual—or nature.

The supreme law of the first realm is thought, that of the second being, and that of the third love.

The first has time within itself; the second fills all space, and the third is subject both to time and space.

Each of these reflects in its own way the divine infinity. The angels are limited in number, but have an endless capacity for spiritual receptiveness, being able to take into themselves in a spiritual manner all actual and possible things by thought.

The celestial or crystalline matter (inter-stellar ether) has a limited extent, but is capable of endless subdivision (at least in thought), and is indefinitely passive.

Gross matter is limited in extent, and limited by the forms which are its act, but has the endless divisibility of time and space and an infinite (indefinite) potentiality for the reception of new forms.

Everything that exists consists essentially of a substantial form, or formative principle, which makes it what it is, and may be best understood as a self-subsisting (but only by the constant influx of being from God, Summa ia, civ, i ad 4) idea, and of matter, which is pure potentiality to existence.

The form is the principle of unity, of intelligence, and of intelligibility ; the matter is the principle of multiplicity, of nescience and of unintelligibleness.

The angels are pure forms; having only a metaphysical matter, which is their individual potentiality.

Matter cannot exist without form; but the inter-stellar ether has a minimum of form, and is as near as possible to pure passive potentiality.

Gross matter was destined to tend to higher and higher forms until by the descent of spiritual forms into it the chasm between the spiritual and material worlds was bridged.

In the angelic intelligence was implanted from the beginning, the intelligible species representing the whole universe and its contents to the furthest limits of space and time.

In the original preelemental matter was implanted an active potentiality to all the forms to which the materia prima (matter in itself considered) is passively potential—i. e., all those whose activities do not transcend the material order.

These material forms, as preexisting in the first-informed gross matter, are called "seminal reasons," they being, as it were, the metaphysical seeds from which all the corporeal universe springs.

These seminal reasons are the reflection in nature of the eternal reasons, and are not to be considered as isolated entities, but as constituting collectively the idea of the corporeal universe as potentially contained in its germ, just as all the minutest parts of the oak tree are contained in the acorn. The seeds of individual things are the ultimates of the seminal reasons (Summa ia, cxv, 2, a). As all the elements of a perfect idea are, as it were, contiguous, the idea of the universe, reproduced in the totality of the seminal reasons, represents a complex series of imperceptible gradations extending in all directions from the common center.

From the standpoint of eternity all the universe, with its spiritual, corporeal and ethereal realms, from the beginning of time throughout all sempiternity (the relative eternity alone possible to mere creatures) is the product and term of one eternal act of God.

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