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lastic philosophy and that of the scholastic theology should be fully appreciated and distinctly brought out.]
To the Editor of the Rambler. MY DEAR SIRG_In the last number of the Rambler, I find that a writer on the history of magic attributes to St. Thomas certain propositions calculated deeply to prejudice an unlearned reader against the doctrine and philosophy of the angelic doctor. I have no intention to criticise the article; but upon this point I think that some remarks ought to be made, lest it should be supposed by any of your readers, whether Catholic or Protestant, to be an admitted fact, that such statements are actually made by St. Thomas, or that such conclusions can be legitimately drawn from his words.
The first conclusion from St. Thomas stands thus in the Review (p. 329): “ the essential knowledge of a thing is equivalent to a power of effecting it.”. By this, I suppose, is meant, if it were possible for a man to discover the essence of a stone or a tree, he would be able, by the power which this knowledge would confer, to produce at once a stone or a tree where no such substance existed before; or to change at will, as the old magicians pretended to do, the external form and properties of such a substance. But how is this strange proposition deduced from the words of St. Thomas? The holy doctor, in the article referred to, is proving that since God virtually contains all things in Himself, He must know all things by His own essence; but that no created intelligence can possess such a knowledge. In proving this, be first shows that the knowledge of material things cannot exist in the mind, as some philosophers have asserted, in a material, but only in an immaterial way; and then concludes with the following argument: “ If there be any intellect which, by its own essence, understands all things, that essence must contain all things in itself in an immaterial way. Now God, and no other being but He, does thus contain all things in His essence, as effects virtually pre-exist in their cause. Therefore God alone understands all things by His essence, and not the human soul, or even the angel.' In all this where does the reviewer find even an allusion to the doctrine, much less “the admission, that the essential knowledge of a thing is equivalent to a power of effecting it?" I can only conjecture that the supposed conclusion is grounded on the passages distinguished by italics, viz. “ the effect pre-exists in its cause ;” and “nevertheless the intellect also knows the essence of the external object in propria natura.' Both these passages are misquotations, the words of St. Thomas being, “ prout effectus virtute præexistunt in causa,” and “intellectus
nihilominus cognoscit esse* lapidem" (not essentiain lapidis) “in propria natura.” But even supposing the quotations correct, whence comes the conclusion about the power of effecting whatever is essentially known? I cannot conjecture, even were we to suppose that the reviewer imagined St. Thomas to hold the absurd notion (which he quotes from the ancient philosophers, and refuted in this very same article, ad. 2), that the essence of the soul is actually composed of the principles of así material things.
But let this pass: the next charge is much more serious. The reviewer proceeds to draw from St. Thomas a conclusion which is worded thus (p. 329): “ Man is to God as monkey to man, or as one, two, or three, to six.” Putting aside what I must call this very disrespectful parody of the words of the holy doctor, I suppose the writer to mean, that St. Thomas holds that God and man belong to the same genus, or,
* Some editors read “ etiam lapidem,” which, however, makes no difference tothe sense.
as he expresses it a few lines below, are of the same nature," and differ only in degree of perfection; and hence, as he adds, that “the creature is capable of becoming God after a series (perhaps infinite, still possible) of approximations."
Now, really, it does seem simply laughable for one Catholic to assure another that the angel of the schools never did pen such blasphemy as this, or any thing equivalent to it. In spite of his words, I cannot suppose the reviewer to have really intended to charge St. Thomas with such a statement, especially as he must have known, if he has read the Summa, that the holy doctor has an express article to prove that between the nature of God and that of His creatures there can exist no relation either specific or generic, but merely a certain analogy (I. q. 4, art. 3); of course, as regards the last deduction about the “approximations," it is merely given as a logical conclusion from St. Thomas's premises ;-a conclusion, however, which the holy doctor is supposed not to have been able to see, inasmuch as he could not have intended it to be drawn. It is probable, however, that this great metaphysician would have demurred to any conclusion which admitted the possibility of a series actually infinite; inasmuch as a series implies multitude, which, as he expressly shows, is repugnant to infinity (I. 7-4).
However, to show the error of the reviewer, I had prepared a full analysis of the argument contained in the article from which he quotes. But it strikes me as so very absurd to send you an elaborate vindication of St. Thomas's orthodoxy, that I will content myself, unless further denial be attempted, with the following remark.
To any one who carefully reads the article in St. Thomas, it will be clear that the illustrations upon which the argument of the reviewer is grounded are not used by St. Thomas, as they are by the reviewer, to show either difference or similarity between the nature of God and the nature of man. Of this difference or similarity of nature St. Thomas is not speaking at all. He brings his comparisons merely to illustrate this one fact, that the essence of God contains (modo eminentiori) all the perfections that are contained in the creatures He has made. His meaning, in short, is this: as the notion “man” logically includes the notion animal,” or as the number “six" embraces the number three,” so the nature of God contains all that is contained in the natures below Him. Of course no one knew better than St. Thomas, that between the essential nature of God and that of man there is simply no comparison or relation whatever,—the distance between the two being metaphysically infinite. If, therefore, the reviewer wished to give the statement of St. Thomas in a popular form, he should not have said “ man is to God as monkey to man,” but “God contains in Himself, as the cause of all, whatever perfection is contained in man; as the nature of man (who is a rational animal) includes the nature of animal.”
Certainly, as he remarks, “not even the authority of St. Thomas could insure a lasting (could it a momentary?) union with Christianity” for the doctrine that “created intellect is of the same nature as the divine." It is hard to condemn such doctrine too strongly; but it is really too bad to be called upon to prove that the pure fountain of Catholic theology is not poisoned with such impiety as this.
I hope the reviewer will not consider me impertinent if I conclude with this earnest advice, that if he have a vocation for criticism, he should try his hand on something more vulnerable than the metaphysics of St. Thomas. I am, Sir, yours very truly,
VOL. II. New Series. DECEMBER 1854.
AN ESTIMATE OF THE CHANGES NOW TAKING PLACE
IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
If we were capable of rejoicing in the humiliation of a
powerful adversary, without regard to the well-being of our fellowcreatures, the present condition of our old enemy, the Established Church of England, must fill us with exultation. If, as our adversaries pretend, our only aim were a controversial victory, and the utter abolition of the pretences of our rivals, we might at this moment sheathe our swords in content, and quietly watch their destruction at the hands of those who call themselves their friends. Who, indeed, for generations past, have been our worst and most powerful opponents and tormentors, but the members of the Anglican communion? Who are they who have instigated every fresh act of persecution against us? Who have most fiercely resisted the abrogation of the penal laws? Who have banded themselves together most eagerly to banish us from society, to forbid the perusal of our books, to fasten upon us old and long-refuted charges, to travel in foreign lands only to import new calumnies against our faith, and to place a ban upon those who forsake all for the sake of joining us? Who was it that lately kindled the flames of passion against our hierarchy, and at this moment is longing for the banishment of our religious orders and the reimposition of political and civil disabilities upon us all? Who is it that, in shameless oblivion of its own origin, of the sources whence it acquired its wealth, and of the very title by which it claims to inherit the functions of the Apostles, is most busy in flooding the land with tracts and books denouncing us as the worst enemies of freedom, civilisation, and pure religion? Who are they who, Sunday after Sunday, neglect no available opportunity of classing us with Turks, Jews, and Atheists; and after reading prayers taken from our Missal and Breviary, in surplices borrowed
from our usage, and decorated with UniVOL. II.NEW SERIES.
versity hoods acquired by a residence in the Colleges founded by our ancestors, mount their pulpits, and taking texts from that Bible whose very existence they owe to our care, proceed to make the walls raised by our fathers re-echo to denunciations of us and our iniquities, from the silliest and wildest vagaries of Low-Church ignorance, up to the elaborate and plausible misrepresentations of learned Puseyism? Who are these but the ministers of that vast institution, whose existence has for three centuries been bound up by most intimate ties with the name and constitution of England ?
During its whole career, moreover, it has been the unfailing assertion of this institution, not only that Popery is wrong, but that Church-of-Englandism is right. It has uniformly professed to be in possession of the peculiar doctrines of Christianity in all their purity and integrity; and has claimed the merit of preserving and dispensing them as the undoubtedly revealed Word of God, which no man can deny, or diminish, or add to, without a grievous offence against the Majesty of God and the authority of the sacred Scriptures. What were the doctrines which thus constituted the revealed Word of God, has undoubtedly been a matter of incessant debate between the various members of the Established Church. Quot homines, tot sententiæ, has been ever the correct description of their dogmatic teaching. Every man has, however, protested that the Church of England was on his side; that his views were the truth; and that what he held, the Church of England taught.
Nor has any thing less been claimed for the Establishment even by those -a small minority-who have held it to be her special glory that she admitted different theological schools within her pale; for they have maintained, that with this license in unimportant matters, she has combined a complete and practical maintenance of all essential truths. In fact, by the very
distinction thus drawn between what is essential and what is non-essential, this “comprehensive” or “ BroadChurch” party have repudiated the theory that nothing is really essential, and nothing certainly known as to what is the pure and eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such, we say, has been the uniform profession of the entire Anglican communion as a body; allowing, of course, for individual exceptions of various kinds.
This assertion, moreover, has ever been the readiest weapon with which they have attacked the Catholic Church. Their one battle-cry has been, that we have corrupted or denied—not man's opinions--but the everlasting and unchangeable Word of God, that Word which can no more be modified,
or endure decay or destruction, than Almighty God Himself in His own self-existent Essence. If the Church of England, with all its internal dissensions, does not uphold and teach some dogmatic substratum, some positive distinct Gospel,then its very existence is a falsehood; its opinions evaporate into a mist of philosophical speculations, and the Book of Common Prayer must take its place side by side with Lucretius, Spinoza, Kant, and Dugald Stewart. If it has no clear and true Gospel to propagate among men, its separation from Rome was equivalent to a declaration that the Bible is to take rank with Ovid's Metamorphoses, and that a wise man might as reasonably believe in the river Styx, and in Charon and his boat, as in the heaven and hell to which Christians have looked forward for the last eighteen centuries.
Who, then, would have a right to complain, if we exulted over the changes now taking place in the internal condition of our hereditary foe, and congratulated ourselves on the silent progress in her adherents of a systematic rejection of the very notion of dogmatic religion? Who, we say, would have a right to complain of us, if we thus acted in conformity with those principles which our adversaries impute to us, and sought-not man's salvation and the honour of Almighty God -but only a base, worldly, selfish triumph, a logical victory, a controversial crown?
What a change it is, indeed, that is now going on in the English world, uprooting from the entire national mind the first elements of belief in Christianity as a system of revealed and unchangeable doctrine! For many years past, this substitution of latitudinarianism for belief has been taking place among the various Dissenting bodies. Those who have watched the various Nonconformist publications of the last quarter of a century, and observed the acts of the Nonconformịst sects, will bear us witness in stating, that a change of the most formidable and fundamental kind has come upon the prevalent opinions of British Dissent. Its old Puritan leaders, and its later guides, who fashioned its ideas in the days of Wesley and Whitfield, would hardly know their descendants as their children at all; they have lost their old belief in the inspiration of Scripture, and their intense conviction that truth, as truth, is infinitely precious; and that religious ideas and practices are to be measured, not merely by the rules of philosophy and expediency, but by their accordance with the distinctly-revealed doctrines of Jesus Christ. Of course, their interpretations of those doctrines were absurd enough, and their range of biblical criticism was bigoted, narrow, and shallow; but still they held, as to a sheet-anchor, that truth is