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THE

LIFE OF THOMAS AQUINAS:

A DISSERTATION



SCHOLASTIC PHILOSOPHY



MIDDLE AGES.



REV. RENN DICKSON HAMPDEN, D.D.,

u

REGIUS PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.



FORMING A PORTION OF THE THIRD DIVISION OF

THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA METROPOLITAN A.

IJSHED IN 1833.

OF THE

UNIVERSITY

OF

T(I

JOHN J. GRIFFIN & CO., 53, BAKER STREET,
AND RICHARD GRIFFIN & CO., GLASGOW.

1848.



13 y

T5H



CONTENTS.



THOMAS AQUINAS.

Page

Uniformity of Scholastic Biography 9

Peculiar Interest of that Uniformity . . . .11

Aquinas pre-eminent among the Schoolmen . . 12
Nobility of his Family Educated at Monte Casino ;
afterwards at Naples . . . . . .14

Cessation of inducements to active life at this Period . 15
Social Importance of the Church . . . .18

Aquinas won to the Dominican Profession by John de

St. Julian Enters a Monastery at Naples . . 21
Indignation of his Mother He is rescued by his Brothers,
and confined at his own Home . . . .22

Expedients tried by his Family to reclaim him - . 24
He is Imprisoned for Two Years ; relieves his Solitude
by Prayer and Study . . . . . .26

His Escape connived at by his Mother Returns to

Naples, and becomes the Disciple of Albert of Cologne 27
He holds the Office of Master of the Students under

Albert 30

Extreme Reserve and Diffidence of Aquinas . . 31
He Lectures at Paris Is created Master in Theology . 33

He settles finally at Naples 34

His Mental Abstractedness 34



rt o o r: A



VI CONTENTS.

Page

General View of the Scholastic Religious Life . . 35
Censures of the Monastic System at that time . . 39
Real bases of the Monastic Institutions . . .41
Peculiar Claims of the Dominican and Franciscan

Orders ........ 41

Aquinas refuses all worldly dignity .... 42

His perspicuous Method of Instruction . . .43
His vast Labours in Composition .... 44

His Sickness, and Death . .... 46

His Character Description of his Person ... 48

His Reputed Sayings 49

Extent of his Fame The Friendship between Aquinas

and Albert 51

Miracles attributed to Aquinas ..... 52

His Canonization ....... 54

Triumph of his Doctrines in the Church ... 55



PHILOSOPHY OF AQUINAS AND THE
SCHOOLMEN.

Uniform Character of the Scholastic Philosophy w . 56

This uniformity the general idea of the System . . 57
Constitution of the Latin Schools . . . .59

Transition of the Schools into the hands of Ecclesiastics 62
Effects of Studies confined to Books . . . .63

Increasing Ignorance of the Greek Language . . 65

Effect of Translations 66

Effect of Commentaries 68

Unphilosophical Nature of the Latin Language . . 69

Scholasticism the result of this Method of Education . 70
cholasticism an inversion of the Natural Progress of

Knowledge 70



CONTENTS. Vll

Page

Logic studied as an Art of Polemics .... 73
An Eclectic Logical Philosophy the result . . 75
Platonism first cherished in the Church . . .75
Insufficiency of Platonism Aristotle's Philosophy sup-
plies the defect 76

Objections of Platonizing Christians to Aristotle . .79
Logical Treatises of Aristotle exclusively studied. . 80
Union of Mysticism with an Argumentative Spirit the

result 81

Augustine and Boethius the Leaders in forming the

System John Scotus Erigena .... 84
Influence of Arabian Literature Gerbert . . .87
Importance of the Treatise of the Categories . . 89
Maturity of Scholasticism seen in Aquinas John Duns

Scotus William Ockam . . . . .91
Character of Peter Lombard's Book of the Sentences . 95 ^
Contrast of Albert with Aquinas . . . .96
Literary Spirit of Aquinas Improved versions of Aris-
totle Imperfect Method of Translation ... 99
Scholasticism confounds the Method and the Principles

of Philosophy 104

Source of this Confusion in the Nature of the General

Terms 105

Coincidence of Idealism and Realism the result . .107
Distinction of Nominalist and Realist . . .109
Conceptualism the prevalent Doctrine . . .111
Importance of the Theory of Universals . . .112
Theology becomes the Universal Science . . .113
Union of the Theory of Ideas with that of Matter and

Form 115

Accommodation of Aristotle's notion of the Deity . 118
Inconsistency of this notion with Christianity . .119



Vlll CONTENTS.

Page

Profane Sciences studied as Instruments of Theology . 121
Consequent Theological Character of all Science . .123
Speculative Theology multiplied by Refutations of He-
resy 125

Sketch of the Summa of Aquinas . . . .127

Threefold Division of the Summa Prima Pars . . 128
Prima Secundce . . . . . . .130

Secunda Secundce . . . . . . .131

Tertia Pars . . . . . . . .133

Close Connection of Questions throughout the Summa . 135
Real Theological importance of Scholastic Discussions . 136
Futile Character of the Scholastic Physics . . .138
Doctrine of Four Universal Causes . . . .140

Doctrine of Contrarieties . . . . .142

Principles of Transmutation and Privation Generation
and Corruption Doctrine of Motion Potential and

Actual Being 143

Notion of the Deity as Pure Act . . . .145

Scholastic Philosophy of Mind 146

Logic confounded with Metaphysics . . . . 148
Importance of Aristotle's Ethics Moral Theology . 1 49
No proper distinction of Sciences in Scholastic Method

Importunate use of the Syllogism . . .151
The Reason the only principle addressed . . .154
Influence of the Schoolmen on the Reformation of Re-
ligion and Philosophy ... . 154



OF THE

I UNIVERSITY I

OF



THOMAS AQUINAS.

BORN A.D. 1224, DIED A.D. 1274.



1. Uniformity of Scholastic Biography.

THE Biography of the Schoolmen of the Middle
Age presents, at the first view, little to interest
the general reader, who seeks to be led through
a series of incidents various in character and
striking in effect. A prospect seems stretched
before him of wild plains or barren sea, without
any landmarks to arrest the eye, or irregularities
to break the dull level. But it is only at the
first vague glance of the subject that it appears
in this uninteresting form. The level which,
whilst we viewed it from a distance, seemed
nothing but uniformity, on the nearer approach
discloses the variety of hill and valley, which its
broad surface had concealed from the distant
survey. And so the life of the Schoolmen, when

B



10 THOMAS AQUINAS.

closely studied, is by no means devoid of the
interest naturally to be expected from an account
of any one among men, whose name has attracted
the admiration of Ages, and thus obtained an
historical importance.

But the interest here is of a different kind
from that which an unreflecting prejudice may
suggest to our wishes. It is true, that there is
something of that uniformity which repels and
disappoints both the imagination and the feelings.
There are no vicissitudes of fortunes like those
which diversify the story of the more busy agent
in the History of the world. For the most part,
the life of the Philosopher of the Schools of the
Middle Age was drawn out in even tenour,
amidst the still shades of the cloister, or the
wrangling but still innocuous tumults of the
Schools. We may single out, indeed, the in-
stance of the celebrated Abelard in the XHth
Century ; whose calamities, the effects of the
vicious system of the Age more than the fault of
the individual, have rendered him notorious in
the page of Ecclesiastical and Literary History,



THOMAS AQUINAS. 11

no less than his labours as a Philosopher and a
Theologian. But with this exception, one uni-
form character seems to prevail over the whole
assemblage of illustrious names which the annals
of the Schools present.

2. Peculiar Interest of that Uniformity. '

Is there, however, no interest even in this very
uniformity ? Is variety of incident all that cap-
tivates the reader of Biography ? If the deve-
lopement of human character be a principal object
in the record of human actions and events, then
is the very uniformity of the Scholastic Biogra-
phy an important feature in it, demanding our
attention and close examination. For the same-
ness of character, which we thus observe diffused
over so large a surface of human life, is clearly
not a fortuitous desultory effect ; but is an index
to the philosophical eye, of the force of circum-
stances in influencing and modifying the human
mind. Men born in different conditions of life,
of different tempers and talents, have been found
to be acted on by the discipline of circumstances

B 2



12 THOMAS AQUINAS.

in the Middle Age, nearly in the same manner,
and to have yielded to the same impressions. It
is an interesting inquiry, then, to trace these
dominant influences in the life of any of those
distinguished individuals who shone as the lumi-
naries of their own dark Age. It is the Philo-
sophy of Man that we are unconsciously searching
into : and even the scanty fragments of incident
which we may be able to collect, are valuable :
for they give us some instruction in the elements
of which our nature is compounded, some illus-
tration of what it is susceptible of under the
varied action of society and education.

3. Aquinas pre-eminent among the Schoolmen.

The life of Aquinas may be particularly se-
lected as a type of the Scholastic Biography.
His name is familiar to every one, as the repre-
sentative of the class to which he belongs. That
very familiarity is an evidence of the conspicuous
place which he holds among the Theological
Philosophers of the Middle Age. But we have
been taught at the same time to associate his



THOMAS AQUINAS. 13

name with all that is dark in Religion or in
Philosophy : and we are apt, therefore, to think
of him with some degree of ridicule or contempt,
as unworthy of the serious inquiry of enlightened
times. In truth, however, Aquinas, when impar-
tially examined, will be found not to shrink from
a comparison with the Philosophers of the bright-
est period of Literature. If we are to judge of
the Philosopher from the intrinsic powers of mind
displayed, independently of the results attained
by him, which chiefly depend on the concourse of
favourable circumstances, then may Aquinas be
placed in the first rank of Philosophy. If pene-
tration of thought, comprehensiveness of views,
exactness the most minute, an ardour of inquiry
the most keen, a patience of pursuit the most
unwearied, are among the merits of the Philoso-
pher, then may Aquinas dispute even the first
place among the candidates for the supremacy in
speculative science.



14 THOMAS AQUINAS.

4. Nobility of his Family. Educated at Monte Cassino ;
afterwards at Naples.

Descended from a noble ancestry on both sides ;
his father Lodolph being Count of Aquino, and
his mother Theodora, daughter of the Count
of Theate, the future Saint and Doctor of the
Church seemed destined for a fortune of life
very different from that, to which his own temper
subsequently directed his choice. He was born
at the castle of Roccasicca at Aquino, in the year
1224,* being, as it seems, the youngest of seve-
ral sons. Whilst his brothers, however, pursued
the military profession, the circumstances of his
early life soon marked him out for another path
of employment and distinction. Being sent at
the age of five years to the monastery of Monte
Cassino, one of the usual places of education
for the children of Italian Nobles, during the five
years spent there, he gave indication, even at
this early period, of that seriousness and abstract-
edness of mind, which characterised his maturity.
The thoughtful manner of the child attracted,

* Sub initium anni 1225. Oudiii, in Vit.



THOMAS AQUINAS. 15

indeed, the notice of the Abbot of the Convent ;
by whose recommendation his parents sent him to
Naples, which was then established as a flourish-
ing School of Philosophy under the patronage of
the Emperor Frederic II. The six years which
he passed at Naples tended only to foster and
develope this contemplative disposition : and it
was a natural result when, at the age of seventeen
years, he passionately devoted himself to the
monastic life ; embracing the profession of a
Dominican, and adhering to his resolution, in spite
of the remonstrances and opposition of his family.

5. Cessation of inducements to active Life at this

P Period.

We may, perhaps, at first be at a loss to con-
ceive the inducement to a young man of rank,
thus to relinquish his hereditary pretensions, and
to embark on a scheme of life, in which distinc-
tion was to be sought by dint of personal exertion.
We might wonder the less, had we heard of his
leaving his father's home on some romantic pro-
ject of adventure, suggested by the enthusiasm of
a young and ardent mind ; such as would be fur-



16 THOMAS AQUINAS.

nished by the occasion of the Holy Wars. But
our surprise will be removed, when we reflect on
the general condition of the Western, or Latin
World in those times, and the relation in which
the Church then stood to the community at large.
The Crusades of the XHth Century had supplied
the cravings of the public mind for some matter
of interest and excitement, to vary and relieve the
listlessness which had spread over the whole face
of society. The spontaneous impulse and blind
obedience, with which the spiritual call to fight
the battles of the Lord in a distant land, was an-
swered throughout the length and breadth of
Christendom, show the existence of that demand
by which they were so readily met. But by those
very events, the cause which had stimulated, and
in a great measure indeed occasioned them, was
removed ; and the public mind found employment
in a new direction. The fact is evidenced in the
little interest taken in the Crusades of the follow-
ing century. Infidels were yet to be exterminated
from the land of the Holy Sepulchre ; the sacred
duty of waging interminable war against the
Infidel still continued to be preached. But the



THOMAS AQUINAS. 17

call was no longer heard with alacrity : the in-
terest was gone : and the change of circumstance
was not a state of inaction, as of exhaustion after
violent exertion, but of employment, as we have
said, in a new direction. We may characterise
the activity which then began to develope itself,
in general terms, as an expansion of intellect, as
a reaching towards larger and more diversified
means of learning and information. The efforts
made in this direction were indeed feeble in their
result : they were those of persons ignorant of the
true grounds of mental cultivation, of the right
method of applying any existing resources to that
end. But still there was a vigour about them ; a
spirit of enterprise, which, in more felicitous cir-
cumstances, would undoubtedly have produced
more fruitful results. There was enough cer-
tainly in the intellectual labours of the Xlllth
Century, however, in the pride of modern improve-
ments in Literature, we may look back on them
with contempt, to engage the elevated and aspirant
mind. Little really worthy of such minds was to
be accomplished by the adventures of a military
life, the only other existing resource besides the



18 THOMAS AQUINAS.

pursuit of Literature, to those endued with any
energy of character. The spirit of Chivalry, as
it is called, had its charms for those cast in a
rougher mould ; to whom the busy stillness of the
intellectual life would in any Age have seemed
no better than torpor and stupidity. But to the
gentler, more thoughtful disposition of mind, the
diversion into the quiet paths of Philosophy, would
be eagerly hailed as a refuge from the storms of
the world, where it might freely exert its strength,
and come back from its excursions, loaded with
the spoils of bloodless victories.

6. Social Importance of the Church.

To those, however, who were duly susceptible
of the refinement begun at that period, the Church
of the XHIth Century presented the only oppor-
tunity for indulgence of the sentiment awakened
in their minds. The great Society of the Church
itself, and the several subordinate associations
into which it was divided, the Monastic Orders,
and the Schools of Theology, presented means of
combination, and opportunities for the display



THOMAS AQUINAS. 19

of personal talent and influence, which could
be found nowhere else. The Church in fact, as
it then was constituted, was the great centre
of power. Men who looked on what passed
around them with any shrewdness of discernment,
could not but observe that, whilst kings and
armies were the ostensible agents in the affairs of
the world, it was the power of the Church which
actuated the whole machine, and guided, if it did
not always originate, the complex movements of
the social mass. If there was ambition then in
the breast of any one, here was the theatre on
which it might act ; if there was the love of
Literature, here it might find opportunities for its
gratification ; if there was concern for the public
good, the high-born wish to be among the bene-
factors of the human race, here were the means
provided by which either good or evil might be
achieved on the greatest scale. Nor was the
simple circumstance of the fellowship subsisting
between members of the Church as such, and
more particularly of that intimate connexion be-
tween individuals of the same Religious fraternity,
an inconsiderable attraction to men of sensibility



20 THOMAS AQUINAS.

and refinement, in those days when society scarcely
existed in the world at large. In these associa-
tions, the artificial distinctions which separated
man from man, disappeared. Men met together
on a principle independent of the passions or the
vicissitudes of the world, the principle of equality
in the sight of Him who is no respecter of per-
sons. At the same time, there was enough in
them to solicit and reward the candidates for the
spiritual Society, who entered it with higher pre-
tensions of birth, or talent, or character. The
dignities of Bishop, or Abbot, or General of an
Order, held out to such persons a rank analogous
to the aristocracy of worldly station ; or where a
more refined and spiritual ambition might be
superior to such attractions, the loftier, more
abstract honours of saintly reputation, or the re-
fined luxury of a profession of piety, maintained
to superior merit its due relative situation in the
community.



THOMAS AQUINAS. 21

7. Aquinas won to the Dominican profession by John de
St. Julian. Enters a Monastery at Naples.

Probably indeed the adoption of the monastic
profession by Aquinas, in the first instance, was
not altogether voluntary. The first step may
have been taken with little reflection on the mo-
mentous change of life consequent on it ; from
the mere enthusiasm of a youthful mind, and an
ardent compliance with the example and wishes
of a revered instructor. The Dominican and
Franciscan Orders, themselves in great measure
an effect of the peculiar circumstances of the
times, were but recently established in the early
part of the XHIth Century. The spirit of pro-
selytism consequently was actively exerting itself
at this period, to obtain for each its respective
votaries, and raise it to an ascendancy over the
rival institution. The Dominican Order espe-
cially, as framed in a more worldly spirit of
fanaticism, had its clever and active partisans
dispersed every where, who, by the fame of their
erudition and piety, and by their tact, won the
hearts of devout hearers to their cause. It was



22 THOMAS AQUINAS.

by the addresses of a preacher at Naples, a
Dominican, by name John of St. Julian, that
Aquinas was induced to take up the monastic
profession. He had imbibed the teaching of the
Monk with an eager attention, and anxiously
sought an opportunity of personal conference with
his spiritual instructor. A conversation with St.
Julian decided his purpose. His religious wish
was communicated to the brothers, and readily
approved by them ; on which he immediately
assumed the habit of a Dominican, and immured
himself within a Monastery of the Order at
Naples.

8. Indignation of his Mother. He is rescued by his
Brothers, and confined at his own Home.

Intelligence of this proceeding on his part was
received by his family with the greatest concern
and indignation. Theodora, his mother, espe-
cially, remonstrated with passionate vehemence
against the act, and strove to reclaim him to his
family. The writer of the Life prefixed to his
Works, in his partiality to the sacred Order,
would have us believe that the resentment of



THOMAS AQUINAS. 23

the mother was an after-thought ; and that at
first she expressed the piety of her heart in
devout thankfulness to God at the event. But
with what probability this statement is made, we
may judge from the active measures taken to
frustrate the purpose of her son. The recovery
of such a step was not easily to be effected, or
rather was impracticable. The victim of the
cloister was bound by a spell which no entreaties
or menaces could unsay. In this difficulty, force
was resorted to as the only expedient. But the
Dominicans were on the alert. To prevent the
effect of an interview with his mother, they
conveyed their novice to Rome, intending to
transmit him thence to Paris. His mother fol-
lowed him to Rome, and disappointed of seeing
him there, instructed his brothers to watch the
roads, and intercept him on his way. They suc-
ceeded in surprising him as he was drinking at a
spring after the fatigues and heat of his journey,
forcibly seized him, and struggling in vain to
strip him of his monastic habit, carried him away
to his home. His mother received him with
tears, and provided for his future security, by



24 THOMAS AQUINAS.

confining him within their own castle. The Do-
minicans complained to the Pope of the sacri-
lege : but though the Pope was disposed to
favour the new Religious Orders, as the great
bulwarks of his authority, the power of the Em-
peror, who was in the interest of the brothers of
Aquinas, was then in collision with that of the
Apostolic See, and could not be boldly opposed.
His family was left for the present, therefore, in
undisturbed possession of their recovered prize.

9. Expedients tried by his Family to reclaim him.

Aquinas being once more in the bosom of his
own family, every argument of kindness was
tried by his mother and sisters to alter his un-
welcome purpose. He was proof against these,
and even against the severities of angry rebuke ;
expressing his readiness to submit to the closest
confinement, but never to abandon the Religious
profession which he had assumed. To complete
the trial of the future Saint, by an experiment
usual in the legends of Saints, the biographer
adds, that the brothers of Aquinas next assailed



THOMAS AQUINAS. 25

him with the blandishments of female society;
thinking that the resolution which had proved
inexorable under stern trials, might at length
yield to softer impressions. They introduced
accordingly a female visitant to his apartment.
Consolation was made the ostensible pretext of
the visit ; whilst under this cover all the winning
arts of womanly endearment were plied to solicit
his affections. His firmness had nearly failed
him under this ordeal, when suddenly collecting
himself, . with a rude indignation, he abruptly
dismissed his fair assailant, scaring her from his
presence with such arms as were ministered by
the fury of the moment, a burning stick snatched
from the hearth. He then threw himself, as the
story proceeds, before the sign of the Cross,
which the random force of the stick had traced
on the wall; and praying for strength to resist
the temptations of the flesh, and for an entire
devotedness, he at length fell asleep from ex-
haustion. The scene is closed by a vision of two
angels, appearing to him as he slept, girding
him, and strengthening his chaste determination.



26 THOMAS AQUINAS.



10. He is Imprisoned for Two Years; relieves his
Solitude by Prayer and Study.

Aquinas patiently endured this imprisonment
at his own home for two whole years, relieving
his stubborn solitude only by prayer, and reli-
gious contemplation, and literary studies. To-
gether with the Scriptures, the Book of the Sen-
tences, the celebrated Digest of Theology com-
piled by Peter Lombard, a Bishop of Paris in
the preceding Century, now engaged his atten-
tion. At the same time he employed himself in
writing a Commentary on Aristotle's Book of
Fallacies. The art of disputation was cultivated
at this period with the most intense interest, as
we shall presently show more fully, being re-
i garded as an essential part of the education and
business of the Theologian. The writings of


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