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SECTION III.: RETROSPECT OF SCHOLASTIC ETHICS. - Sir James Mackintosh, The Miscellaneous Works 
The Miscellaneous Works. Three Volumes, complete in One. (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871).
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RETROSPECT OF SCHOLASTIC ETHICS.
An interval of a thousand years elapsed between the close of ancient and the rise of modern philosophy; the most unexplored, yet not the least instructive portion of the history of European opinion. In that period the sources of the institutions, the manners, and the characteristic distinctions of modern nations, have been traced by a series of philosophical inquirers from Montesquieu to Hallam; and there also, it may be added, more than among the Ancients, are the well-springs of our speculative doctrines and controversies. Far from being inactive, the human mind, during that period of exaggerated darkness, produced discoveries in Science, inventions in Art, and contrivances in Government, some of which, perhaps, were rather favoured than hindered by the disorders of society, and by the twilight in which men and things were seen. Had Boethius, the last of the ancients, foreseen, that within four centuries of his death, in the province of Britain, then a prey to all the horrors of barbaric invasion, a chief of one of the fiercest tribes of barbarians* should translate into the jargon of his freebooters the work on The Consolations of Philosophy, of which the composition had soothed the cruel imprisonment of the philosophic Roman himself, he must, even amidst his sufferings, have derived some gratification from such an assurance of the recovery of mankind from ferocity and ignorance. But had he been allowed to revisit the earth in the middle of the sixteenth century, with what wonder and delight might he have contemplated the new and fairer order which was beginning to disclose its beauty, and to promise more than it revealed. He would have seen personal slavery nearly extinguished, and women, first released from Oriental imprisonment by the Greeks, and raised to a higher dignity among the Romans,† at length fast approaching to due equality;—two revolutions the most signal and beneficial since the dawn of civilization. He would have seen the discovery of gunpowder, which for ever guarded civilized society against barbarians, while it transferred military strength from the few to the many; of paper and printing, which rendered a second destruction of the repositories of knowledge impossible, as well as opened a way by which it was to be finally accessible to all mankind; of the compass, by means of which navigation had ascertained the form of the planet, and laid open a new continent, more extensive than his world. If he had turned to civil institutions, he might have learned that some nations had preserved an ancient, simple, and seemingly rude mode of legal proceeding, which threw into the hands of the majority of men a far larger share of judicial power, than was enjoyed by them in any ancient democracy. He would have seen everywhere the remains of that principle of representation, the glory of the Teutonic race, by which popular government, anciently imprisoned in cities, became capable of being strengthened by its extension over vast countries, to which experience cannot even now assign any limits; and which, in times still distant, was to exhibit, in the newly discovered Continent, a republican confederacy, likely to surpass the Macedonian and Roman empires in extent, greatness, and duration, but gloriously founded on the equal rights, not like them on the universal subjection, of mankind. In one respect, indeed, he might have lamented that the race of man had made a really retrograde movement; that they had lost the liberty of philosophizing; that the open exercise of their highest faculties was interdicted. But he might also have perceived that this giant evil had received a mortal wound from Luther, who in his warfare against Rome had struck a blow against all human authority, and unconsciously disclosed to mankind that they were entitled, or rather bound, to form and utter their own opimons, and that most certainly on whatever subjects are the most deeply interesting: for although this most fruitful of moral truths was not yet so released from its combination with the wars and passions of the age as to assume a distinct and visible form, its action was already discoverable in the divisions among the Reformers, and in the fears and struggles of civil and ecclesiastical oppressors. The Council of Trent, and the Courts of Paris, Madrid, and Rome, had before that time foreboded the emancipation of Reason.
Though the middle age be chiefly memorable as that in which the foundations of a new order of society were laid, uniting the stability of the Oriental system, without its inflexibility, to the activity of the Hellenic civilization, without its disorder and inconstancy; yet it is not unworthy of notice by us here, on account of the subterranean current which flows through it, from the speculations of ancient to those of modern times. That dark stream must be uncovered before the history of the European Understanding can be thoroughly comprehended. It was lawful for the emancipators of Reason in then first struggles to carry on mortal war against the Schoolmen. The necessity has long ceased; they are no longer dangerous, and it is now felt by philosophers that it is time to explore and estimate that vast portion of the history of Philosophy from which we have scornfully turned our eyes.* A few sentences only can be allotted to the subject in this place. In the very depths of the Middle Age, the darkness of Christendom was faintly broken by a few thinly scattered lights. Even then, Moses Ben Maimon taught philosophy among the persecuted Hebrews, whose ancient schools had never perhaps been wholly interrupted; and a series of distinguished Mahometans, among whom two are known to us by the names of Avicenna and Averroes, translated the Peripatetic writings into their own language, expounded their doctrines in no servile spirit to their followers, and enabled the European Christians to make those versions of them from Arabic into Latin, which in the eleventh and twelfth centuries gave birth to the scholastic philosophy.
The Schoolmen were properly theologians, who employed philosophy only to define and support that system of Christian belief which they and their contemporaries had embraced. The founder of that theological system was Aurelius Augustinus* (called by us Augustin), bishop of Hippo, in the province of Africa; a man of great genius and ardent character, who adopted, at different periods of his life, the most various, but at all times the most decisive and systematic, as well as daring and extreme opinions. This extraordinary man became, after some struggles, the chief Doctor, and for ages almost the sole oracle, of the Latin church. It happened by a singular accident, that the Schoolmen of the twelfth century, who adopted his theology, instead of borrowing their defensive weapons from Plato, the favourite of their master, had recourse for the exposition and maintenance of their doctrines to the writings of Aristotle, the least pious of philosophical theists. The Augustinian doctrines of original sin, predestination, and grace, little known to the earlier Christian writers, who appear indeed to have adopted opposite and milder opinions, were espoused by Augustin himself in his old age; when, by a violent swing from his youthful Manicheism, which divided the sovereignity of the world between two adverse beings, he did not shrink, in his pious solicitude for tracing the power of God in all events, from presenting the most mysterious parts of the moral government of the Universe, in their darkest colours and their sternest shape, as articles of faith, the objects of the habitual meditation and practical assent of mankind. The principles of his rigorous system, though not with all their legitimate consequences, were taught in the schools; respectfully promulgated rather than much inculcated by the Western Church (for in the East these opinions seem to have been unknown); scarcely perhaps distinctly assented to by the majority of the clergy; and seldom heard of by laymen till the systematic genius and fervid eloquence of Calvin rendered them a popular creed in the most devout and moral portion of the Christian world. Anselm,† the Piedmontese Archbishop of Canterbury, was the earliest reviver of the Augustinian opinions. Aquinas* was their most redoubted champion. To them, however, the latter joined others of a different spirit. Faith, according to him, was a virtue, not in the sense in which it denotes the things believed, but in that in which it signifies the state of mind which leads to right Belief. Goodness he regarded as the moving principle of the Divine Government; Justice, as a modification of Goodness; and, with all his zeal to magnify the Sovereignity of God, he yet taught, that though God always wills what is just, nothing is just solely because He wills it. Scotus,† the most subtile of doctors, recoils from the Augustiman rigour, though he rather intimates than avows his doubts. He was assailed for his tendency towards the Pelagian or Anti-Augustinian doctrines by many opponents, of whom the most famous in his own time was Thomas Bradwardine,‡ Archbishop of Canterbury, formerly confessor of Edward III., whose defence of Predestination was among the most noted works of that age. He revived the principles of the ancient philosophers, who, from Plato to Marcus Aurelius, taught that error of judgment, being involuntary, is not the proper subject of moral disapprobation; which indeed is implied in Aquinas’ account of Faith.§ But he appears to have been the first whose language inclined towards that most pernicious of moral heresies, which represents Morality to be founded on Will.∥
William of Ockham, the most justly celebrated of English Schoolmen, went so far beyond this inclination of his master, as to affirm, that “if God had commanded his creatures to hate Himself, the hatred of God would ever be the duty of man;”—a monstrous hyperbole, into which he was perhaps betrayed by his denial of the doctrine of general ideas, the pre-existence of which in the Eternal Intellect was commonly regarded as the foundation of the immutable nature of Morality. This doctrine of Ockham, which by necessary implication refuses moral attributes to the Deity, and contradicts the existence of a moral government, is practically equivalent to atheism.* As all devotional feelings have moral qualities for their sole object; as no being can inspire love or reverence otherwise than by those qualities which are naturally amiable or venerable, this doctrine would, if men were consistent, extinguish piety, or, in other words, annihilate Religion. Yet so astonishing are the contradictions of human nature, that this most impious of all opinions probably originated in a pious solicitude to magnify the Sovereignty of God, and to exalt His authority even above His own goodness. Hence we may understand its adoption by John Gerson, the oracle of the Council of Constance, and the great opponent of the spiritual monarchy of the Pope,—a pious mystic, who placed religion in devout feeling.† In further explanation, it may be added, that Gerson was of the sect of the Nominalists, of which Ockham was the founder, and that he was the more ready to follow his master, because they both courageously maintained the independence of the State on the Church, and the authority of the Church over the Pope. The general opinion of the schools was, however, that of Aquinas, who, from the native soundness of his own understanding, as well as from the excellent example of Aristotle, was averse from all rash and extreme dogmas on questions which had any relation, however distant, to the duties of life.
It is very remarkable, though hitherto unobserved, that Aquinas anticipated those controversies respecting perfect disinterestedness in the religious affections which occupied the most illustrious members of his communion‡ four hundred years after his death; and that he discussed the like question respecting the other affections of human nature with a fulness and clearness, an exactness of distinction, and a justness of determination, scarcely surpassed by the most acute of modern philosophers.§ It ought to be added, that, according to the most natural and reasonable construction of his words, he allowed to the Church a control only over spiritual concerns, and recognised the supremacy of the civil powers in all temporal affairs.∥
It has already been stated that the scholastic system was a collection of dialectical subtilties, contrived for the support of the corrupted Christianity of that age, by a succession of divines, whose extraordinary powers of distinction and reasoning were morbidly enlarged in the long meditation of the Cloister, by the exclusion of every other pursuit, and the consequent palsy of every other faculty;—who were cut off from all the materials on which the mind can operate, and doomed for ever to toil in defence of what they must never dare to examine;—to whom their age and their condition denied the means of acquiring literature, of observing Nature, or of studying mankind. The few in whom any portion of imagination and sensibility survived this discipline, retired from the noise of debate, to the contemplation of pure and beautiful visions. They were called Mystics. The greater part, driven back on themselves, had no better employment than to weave cobwebs out of the terms of art which they had vainly, though ingeniously, multiplied. The institution of clerical celibacy, originating in an enthusiastic pursuit of Purity, promoted by a mistake in moral prudence, which aimed at raising religious teachers in the esteem of their fellows, and at concentrating their whole minds on professional duties, at last encouraged by the ambitious policy of the See of Rome, which was desirous of detaching them from all ties but her own, had the effect of shutting up all the avenues which Providence has opened for the entrance of social affection and virtuous feeling into the human heart. Though this institution perhaps prevented Knowledge from becoming once more the exclusive inheritance of a sacerdotal caste; though the rise of innumerable laymen, of the lowest condition, to the highest dignities of the Church, was the grand democratical principle of the Middle Age, and one of the most powerful agents in impelling mankind towards a better order; yet celibacy must be considered as one of the peculiar infelicities of these secluded philosophers; not only as it abridged their happiness, nor even solely, though chiefly, as it excluded them from the school in which the heart is humanized, but also (an inferior consideration, but more pertinent to our present purpose) because the extinction of these moral feelings was as much a subtraction from the moralist’s store of facts and means of knowledge, as the loss of sight or of touch could prove to those of the naturalist.
Neither let it be thought that to have been destitute of Letters was to them no more than a want of an ornament and a curtailment of gratification. Every poem, every history, every oration, every picture, every statue, is an experiment on human feeling,—the grand object of investigation by the moralist. Every work of genius in every department of ingenious Art and polite Literature, in proportion to the extent and duration of its sway over the Spirits of men, is a repository of ethical facts, of which the moral philosopher cannot be deprived by his own insensibility, or by the iniquity of the times, without being robbed of the most precious instruments and invaluable materials of his science. Moreover, Letters, which are closer to human feeling than Science can ever be, have another influence on the sentiments with which the sciences are viewed, on the activity with which they are pursued, on the safety with which they are preserved, and even on the mode and spirit in which they are cultivated: they are the channels by which ethical science has a constant intercourse with general feeling. As the arts called useful maintain the popular honour of physical knowledge, so polite Letters allure the world into the neighbourhood of the sciences of Mind and of Morals. Whenever the agreeable vehicles of Literature do not convey their doctrines to the public, they are liable to be interrupted by the dispersion of a handful of recluse doctors, and the overthrow of their barren and unlamented seminaries. Nor is this all: these sciences themselves suffer as much when they are thus released from the curb of common sense and natural feeling, as the public loses by the want of those aids to right practice which moral knowledge in its sound state is qualified to afford. The necessity of being intelligible, at least to all persons who join superior understanding to habits of reflection, and who are themselves in constant communication with the far wider circle of intelligent and judicious men, which slowly but surely forms general opinion, is the only effectual check on the natural proneness of metaphysical speculations to degenerate into gaudy dreams, or a mere war of words. The disputants who are set free from the wholesome check of sense and feeling, generally carry their dogmatism so far as to rouse the sceptic, who from time to time is provoked to look into the flimsiness of their cobwebs, and rushes in with his besom to sweep them, and their systems, into oblivion. It is true, that Literature, which thus draws forth Moral Science from the schools into the world, and recalls her from thorny distinctions to her natural alliance with the intellect and sentiments of mankind, may, in ages and nations otherwise situated, produce the contrary evil of rendering Ethics shallow, declamatory, and inconsistent. Europe at this moment affords, in different countries, specimens of these opposite and alike-mischievous extremes. But we are now concerned only with the temptations and errors of the scholastic age.
We ought not so much to wonder at the mistakes of men so situated, as that they, without the restraints of the general understanding, and with the clogs of system and establishment, should in so many instances have opened questions untouched by the more unfettered Ancients, and veins of speculation since mistakenly supposed to have been first explored in more modern times. Scarcely any metaphysical controversy agitated among recent philosophers was unknown to the Schoolmen, unless we except that which relates to Liberty and Necessity, and this would be an exception of doubtful propriety; for the disposition to it is clearly discoverable in the disputes of the Thomists and Scotists respecting the Augustinian and Pelagian doctrines,* although they were restrained from the avowal of legitimate consequences on either side by the theological authority which both parties acknowledged. The Scotists steadily affirmed the blamelessness of erroneous opinion; a principle which is the only effectual security for conscientious inquiry, for mutual kindness, and for public quiet. The controversy between the Nominalists and Realists, treated by some modern writers as an example of barbarous wrangling, was in truth an anticipation of that modern dispute which still divides metaphysicians,—Whether the human mind can form general ideas, or Whether the words which are supposed to convey such ideas be not terms, representing only a number of particular perceptions?—questions so far from frivolous, that they deeply concern both the nature of reasoning and the structure of language; on which Hobbes, Berkeley, Hume, Stewart, and Tooke, have followed the Nominalist; and Descartes, Locke, Reid, and Kant have, with various modifications and some inconsistencies, adopted the doctrine of the Realists.† With the Schoolmen appears to have originated the form, though not the substance, of the celebrated maxim, which, whether true or false, is pregnant with systems,—“There is nothing in the Understanding which was not before in the Senses.” Ockham‡ the Nominalist first denied the Peripatetic doctrine of the existence of certain species (since the time of Descartes called “ideas”) as the direct objects of perception and thought, interposed between the mind and outward objects; the modern opposition to which by Dr. Reid has been supposed to justify the allotment of so high a station to that respectable philosopher. He taught also that we know nothing of Mind but its acts, of which we are conscious. More inclination towards an independent philosophy is to be traced among the Schoolmen than might be expected from their circumstances. Those who follow two guides will sometimes choose for themselves, and may prefer the subordinate one on some occasions. Aristotle rivalled the Church; and the Church herself safely allowed considerable latitude to the philosophical reasonings of those who were only heard or read in colleges or cloisters, on condition that they neither impugned her authority, nor dissented from her worship, nor departed from the language of her creeds. The Nominalists were a freethinking sect, who, notwithstanding their defence of kings against the Court of Rome, were persecuted by the civil power. It should not be forgotten that Luther was a Nominalist.*
If not more remarkable, it is more pertinent to our purpose, that the ethical system of the Schoolmen, or, to speak more properly, of Aquinas, as the Moral Master of Christendom for three centuries, was in its practical part so excellent as to leave little need of extensive change, with the inevitable exception of the connection of his religious opinions with his precepts and counsels. His Rule of Life is neither lax nor impracticable. His grounds of duty are solely laid in the nature of man, and in the well-being of society. Such an intruder as Subtilty seldom strays into his moral instructions. With a most imperfect knowledge of the Peripatetic writings, he came near the Great Master, by abstaining, in practical philosophy, from the unsuitable exercise of that faculty of distinction, in which he would probably have shown that he was little inferior to Aristotle, if he had been equally unrestrained. His very frequent coincidence with modern moralists is doubtless to be ascribed chiefly to the nature of the subject; but in part also to that unbroken succession of teachers and writers, which preserved the observations contained in what had been long the textbook of the European Schools, after the books themselves had been for ages banished and forgotten. The praises bestowed on Aquinas by every one of the few great men who appear to have examined his writings since the downfal of his power, among whom may be mentioned Erasmus, Grotius, and Leibnitz, are chiefly, though not solely, referable to his ethical works.†
Though the Schoolmen had thus anticipated many modern controversies of a properly metaphysical sort, they left untouched most of those questions of ethical theory which were unknown to, or neglected by, the Ancients. They do not appear to have discriminated between the nature of moral sentiments, and the criterion of moral acts; to have considered to what faculty of our mind moral approbation is referable; or to have inquired whether our Moral Faculty, whatever it may be, is implanted or acquired. Those who measure only by palpable results, have very consistently regarded the metaphysical and theological controversies of the Schools as a mere waste of intellectual power. But the contemplation of the athletic vigour and versatile skill manifested by the European understanding, at the moment when it emerged from this tedious and rugged discipline, leads, if not to approbation, yet to more qualified censure. What might have been the result of a different combinanation of circumstances, is an inquiry which, on a large scale, is beyond human power. We may, however, venture to say that no abstract science, unconnected with Religion, is likely to be respected in a barbarous age; and we may be allowed to doubt whether any knowledge dependent directly on experience and applicable to immediate practice, would have so trained the European mind as to qualify it for that series of inventions, and discoveries, and institutions, which begins with the sixteenth century, and of which no end can now be foreseen but the extinction of the race of man.
The fifteenth century was occupied by the disputes of the Realists with the Nominalists, in which the scholastic doctrine expired. After its close no Schoolman of note appeared. The sixteenth may be considered as the age of transition from the scholastic to the modern philosophy. The former, indeed, retained possession of the Universities, and was long after distinguished by all the ensigns of authority. But the mines were already prepared: the revolution in Opinion had commenced. The moral writings of the preceding times had generally been commentaries on that part of the Summa Theologiæ of Aquinas which relates to Ethics. Though these still continued to be published, yet the most remarkable moralists of the sixteenth century indicated the approach of other modes of thinking, by the adoption of the more independent titles of “Treatises on Justice” and “Law.” These titles were suggested, and the spirit, contents, and style of the writings themselves were materially affected by the improved cultivation of the Roman law, by the renewed study of ancient literature, and by the revival of various systems of Greek philosophy, now studied in the original, which at once mitigated and rivalled the scholastic doctors, and while they rendered philosophy more free, re-opened its communications with society and affairs. The speculative theology which had arisen under the French governments of Paris and London in the twelfth century, which flourished in the thirteenth in Italy in the hands of Aquinas, which was advanced in the British Islands by Scotus and Ockham in the fourteenth, was, in the sixteenth, with unabated acuteness, but with a clearness and elegance unknown before the restoration of Letters, cultivated by Spain, in that age the most powerful and magnificent of the European nations.
Many of these writers treated the law of war and the practice of hostilities in a juridical form.* Francis Victoria, who began to teach at Valladolid in 1525, is said to have first expounded the doctrines of the Schools in the language of the age of Leo the Tenth. Dominic Soto,* a Dominican, the confessor of Charles V., and the oracle of the Council of Trent, to whom that assembly were indebted for much of the precision and even elegance for which their doctrinal decrees are not unjustly commended, dedicated his Treatise on Justice and Law to Don Carlos, in terms of praise which, used by a writer who is said to have declined the high dignities of the Church, led us to hope that he was unacquainted with the brutish vices of that wretched prince. It is a concise and not inelegant compound of the Scholastic Ethics, which continued to be of considerable authority for more than a century.† Both he and his master Victoria deserve to be had in everlasting remembrance, for the part which they took on behalf of the natives of America and of Africa, against the rapacity and cruelty of the Spaniards. Victoria pronounced war against the Americans for their vices, or for their paganism, to be unjust.‡ Soto was the authority chiefly consulted by Charles V., on occasion of the conference held before him at Valladolid, in 1542, between Sepulveda, an advocate of the Spanish colonists, and Las Casas, the champion of the unhappy Americans, of which the result was a very imperfect edict of reformation in 1543. This, though it contained little more than a recognition of the principle of justice, almost excited a rebellion in Mexico. Sepulveda, a scholar and a reasoner, advanced many maxims which were specious and in themselves reasonable, but which practically tended to defeat even the scanty and almost illusive reform which ensued. Las Casas was a passionate missionary, whose zeal, kindled by the long and near contemplation of cruelty, prompted him to exaggerations of fact and argument;§ yet, with all its errors, it afforded the only hope of preserving the natives of America from extirpation. The opinion of Soto could not fail to be conformable to his excellent principle, that “there can be no difference between Christians and pagans, for the law of nations is equal to all nations.”* To Soto belongs the signal honour of being the first writer who condemned the African slave-trade. “It is affirmed,” says he, “that the unhappy Ethiopians are by fraud or force carried away and sold as slaves. If this is true, neither those who have taken them, nor those who purchased them, nor those who hold them in bondage, can ever have a quiet conscience till they emancipate them, even if no compensation should be obtained.”† As the work which contains this memorable condemnation of man-stealing and slavery was the substance of lectures for many years delivered at Salamanca, Philosophy and Religion appear, by the hand of their faithful minister, to have thus smitten the monsters in their earliest infancy. It is hard for any man of the present age to conceive the praise which is due to the excellent monks who courageously asserted the rights of those whom they never saw, against the prejudices of their order, the supposed interest of their religion, the ambition of their government, the avarice and pride of their countrymen, and the prevalent opinions of their time.
Francis Suarez,‡ a Jesuit, whose voluminous works amount to twenty-four volumes in folio, closes the list of writers of his class. His work on Laws and on God the Lawgiver, may be added to the above treatise of Soto, as exhibiting the most accessible and perspicuous abridgment of the theological philosophy in its latest form. Grotius, who, though he was the most upright and candid of men, could not have praised a Spanish Jesuit beyond his deserts, calls Suarez the most acute of philosophers and divines.§ On a practical matter, which may be naturally mentioned here, though in strict method it belongs to another subject, the merit of Suarez is conspicuous. He first saw that international law was composed not only of the simple principles of justice applied to the intercourse between states, but of those usages, long observed in that intercourse by the European race, which have since been more exactly distinguished as the consuetudinary law acknowledged by the Christian nations of Europe and America.∥ On this important point his views are more clear than those of his contemporary Alberico Gentih.* It must even be owned, that the succeeding intimation of the same general doctrine by Grotius is somewhat more dark,—perhaps from his excessive pursuit of concise diction.†
[* ] King Alfred.
[† ] The steps of this important progress, as far as relates to Athens and Rome, are well remarked upon by one of the finest of the Roman writers. “Quem enim Romanorum pudet uxorem ducere in convivium? aut cujus materfamilias non primum locum tenet ædium, atque in celebritate versatur? quod multo fit aliter in Græciâ: nam neque in convivium adhibetur, nisi propinquorum; neque sedet nisi in interiore parte ædium, quæ Gynæconitis appellatur, quo nemo accedit, nisi propinquâ cognatione conjunctus.” Corn. Nep. in Præfat.
[* ] Tennemann, Geschichte der Philosophie. Cousin, Cours de Philosophie, Paris, 1828. My esteem for this last admirable writer encourages me to say, that the beauty of his diction has sometimes the same effect on his thoughts that a sunny haze produces on outward objects; and to submit to his serious consideration, whether the allurements of Schelling’s system have not betrayed him into a too frequent forgetfulness that principles, equally adapted to all phenomena, furnish in speculation no possible test of their truth, and lead, in practice, to total indifference and inactivity respecting human affairs. I quote with pleasure an excellent observation from this work: “Le moyen âge n’est pas autre chose que la formation pénible, lente et sanglante, de tous les élémens de la civilisation moderne; je dis la formation, et non leur développement.” (2nd Lecture, p. 27.)
[† ] Born, 1033; died, 1109.
[† ] Born about 1265; died at Cologne (where his grave is still shown) in 1308. Whether he was a native of Dunston in Northumberland, or of Dunse in Berwickshire, or of Down in Ireland, was a question long and warmly contested, but which seems to be settled by his biographer, Luke Wadding, who quotes a passage of Scotus’ Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, where he illustrates his author thus: “As in the definition of St. Francis, or St. Patrick, man is necessarily presupposed.” Scott. Op. i. 3. As Scotus was a Franciscan, the mention of St. Patrick seems to show that he was an Irishman. See Note D .
[‡ ] Born about 1290; died 1349; the contemporary of Chaucer, and probably a fellow-student of Wicliffe and Roger Bacon. His principal work was entitled, ‘De Causâ Dei contra Pelagium, et de Virtute Causarum, Libri tres.’
[* ] A passage to this effect, from Ockham, with nearly the same remark, has, since the text was written, been discovered on a reperusal of Cudworth’s Immutable Morality, p. 10.
[† ] “Remitto ad quod Occam de hâc materiâ in Lib. Sentent. dicit, in quâ explicatione si rudis judicetur, nescio quid appellabitur subtilitas.”—De Vitâ Spirit. Op. iii. 14.
[‡ ] Bossuet and Fenelon.
[§ ] See Aquinas.—“Utrum Deus sit super omnia diligendus ex caritate.”—“Utrum in dilectione Dei poesit haberi respectus ad aliquam mercedem.”—Opera, ix. 322, 325. Some illustrations of this memorable anticipation, which has escaped he research even of the industrious Tenneman, will be found in the Note G .
[† ] Locke speaks on this subject inconsistently; Reid calls himself a conceptualist; Kant uses terms so different, that he ought perhaps to be considered as of neither party. Leibnitz, varying in some measure from the general spirit of his speculations, warmly panegyrizes the Nominalists: “Secta Nominalium, omnium inter scholasticos profundissima, et hodiernæ reformatæ philosophandi rationi congruentissima.”—Op. iv. 59.
[‡ ] “Maximi vir ingenii, et eruditionis pro ille ævo summæ, Wilhelmus Occam, Anglus.” Ib. 60. The writings of Ockham, which are very rare, I have never seen. I owe my knowledge of them to Tennemann, who however quotes the words of Ockham, and of his disciple Biel.
[* ] “In Martini Lutheri scriptis prioribus amor Nominalium satis elucet, donec procedente tempore erga omnes monachos æqualiter affectus esse cœpit.”—Leibnitz, Opp. iv. 60.
[† ] See especially the excellent Preface of Leibnitz to Nizolius, § 37.—Ib. 59.
[* ] Many of the separate dissertations, on points of this nature, are contained in the immense collection entitled “Tractatus Tractatuum,” published at Venice in 1584, under the patronage of the Roman See. There are three De Bello; one by Lupus of Segovia, when Francis I. was prisoner in Spain; another, more celebrated, by Francis Arias, who, on the 11th June, 1532, discussed before the College of Cardinals the legitimacy of a war by the Emperor against the Pope. There are two De Pace; and others De Potestate Regiâ, De Pœnâ Mortis, &c. The most ancient and scholastic is that of J. de Lignano of Milan, De Bello. The above writers are mentioned in the prolegomena to Grotius, De Jure Belli. Pietro Belloni, Counsellor of the Duke of Savoy (De Re Militari), treats his subject with the minuteness of a Judge-Advocate, and has more modern examples, chiefly Italian, than Grotius.
[* ] Born, 1494; died, 1560.—Antonii Bib. Hisp. Nov. The opinion of the extent of Soto’s knowledge entertained by his contemporaries is expressed in a jingle, Qui scit Sotum scit totum.
[‡ ] “Indis non debere auferri imperium, ideo quia sunt peccatores, vel ideo quia non sunt Christiani,” were the words of Victoria.
[* ] “Neque discrepantia (ut reor) est inter Christianos et infideles, quoniam jus gentium cunctis gentibus æquale est.”
[† ] De Just, et Jure, lib. iv. quæst. ii. art. 2.
[‡ ] Born, 1538; died, 1617.
[§ ] “Tantæ subtilitatis philosophum et theologum, ut vix quemquam habeat parem.”—Grotii Epist. apud Anton. Bib. Hisp. Nov.
[∥ ] “Nunquam enim civitates sunt sibi tam sufficientes quin indigeant mutuo juvamine et societate, interdum ad majorem utilitatem, interdum ob necessitatem moralem. Hâc igitur ratione indigent aliquo jure quo dirigantur et recte ordinentur in hoc genere societatis. Et quamvis magnâ ex parte hoc fiat per rationem naturalem, non tamen sufficienter et immediatè quoad omnia, ideoquc specialia jura poterant usu earundem gentium introduci.”—De Leg., lib. ii. cap. ii.
[* ] Born in the March of Ancona, 1550; died at London, 1608.
[† ] De Jur. Bell., lib. i. cap. i. § 14.
[Note B. page 106.] The greater part of the following extract from Grotius’ History of the Netherlands is inserted as the best abridgment of the ancient history of these still subsisting controversies known in our time. I extract also the introduction as a model of the manner in which an historian may state a religious dispute which has influenced political affairs; but far more because it is an unparalleled example of equity and forbearance in the narrative of a contest of which the historian was himself a victim:—
“Habuit hic annus (1608) haud spernendi quoque mali semina, vix ut arma desierant, exorto publicæ religionis dissidio, latentibus initiis, sed ut paulatim in majus erumperet. Lugduni sacras literas docebant viri eruditione præstantes Gomarus et Arminius; quorum ille æternâ Dei lege fixum memorabat, cui hominum salus destinaretur, quis in exitium tenderet; inde alios ad pietatem trahi, et tractos custodiri ne elabantur; relinqui alios communi humanitatis vitio et suis criminibus involutos: hic vero contrà integrum judicem, sed eundem optimum patrem, id reorum fecisse discrimen, ut peccandi pertæsis fiduciamque in Christum reponentibus veniam ac vitam daret, contumacibus pœnam: Deoque gratum, ut omnes resipiscant, ac meliora edocti retineant; sed cogi neminem. Accusabantque invicem; Arminius Gomarum, quod peccandi causas Deo ascriberet, ac fati persuasione teneret immobiles animos; Gomarus Arminium, quod longius ipsis Romanensium scitis hominem arrogantiâ impleret, nec pateretur soli Deo acceptam ferri, rem maximam, bonam mentem. Constat his queis cura legere veterum libros, antiquos Christianorum tribuisse hominum voluntati vim liberam, tam in acceptandâ, quam in retinendâ disciplinà; unde sua præmiis ac suppliciis æquitas. Neque iidem tamen omisere cuncta divinam ad bonitatem referre, cujus munere salutare semen ad nos pervenisset, ac cujus singulari auxilio pericula nostra indigerent. Primus omnium Augustinus, ex quo ipsi cum Pelagio et eum secutis certamen (nam ante aliter et ipse senseret), acer disputandi, ita libertatis vocem relinquere, ut ei decreta quædam Dei præponeret, quæ vim ipsam destruere viderentur. At per Græciam quidem Asiamque retenta vetus illa ac simplicior sententia. Per Occidentem magnum Augustini nomen multos traxii in consensum, repertis tamen per Galliam et alibi qui se opponerent, postcrioribus sæculis, cum schola non alio magis quam Augustino doctore uteretur, quis ipsi sensus, quis dexter pugnare visa conciliandi modus, diu inter Francisci et Dominici familiam disputato, doctissimi Jesuitarum, cum exaction subtilitate nodum solvere laborassent, Romæ accusati ægrè damnationem effugere. At Protestantium princeps, Lutherus, egressus monasterio quod Augustini ut nomen, ita sensus sequebatur, parte Augustini arreptâ, id quod is reliquerat, libertatis nomen, cœpit exscindere; quod tam grave Erasmo visum, ut cum cætera ipsius aut probaret aut silentio transmitteret, hic objiciat sese: cujus argumentis motus Philippus Melanchthon, Lutheri adjutor, quæ prius scripserat immutavit, auctorque fuit Luthero, quod multi volunt, certe quod constat Lutheranis, deserendi decreta rigida et conditionem respuentia; sic tamen ut libertatis vocabulum quam rem magis perhorrescerent. At in alterâ Protestantium parte dux Calvinus, primis Lutheri dictis in hac controversiâ inhærescens, novis ea fulsit præsidiis, addiditque intactum Augustino, veram ac salutarem fidem rem esse perpetuam et amitti nesciam: cujus proinde qui sibi essent conscii, eos æternæ felicitatis jam nunc certos esse, quos interim in crimina, quantumvia gravia, prolabi posse non diffitebatur. Auxit sententiæ rigorem Genevæ Beza, per Germaniam Zanchius, Ursinus, Piscator, sæpe eo usque provecti, ut, quod alii anxiè vitaverant, apertius nonnunquam traderent, etiam peccandi necessitatem a primâ causâ pendere: quæ ampla Lutheranis criminandi materia.”—Lib. xvii. p. 552.
[Note C. page 106.] The Calvinism, or rather Augustimanism, of Aquinas is placed beyond all doubt by the following passages: “Prædestinatio est causa gratiæ et gloriæ.”—Opera, (Paris, 1664.) vol. vii. p. 356. “Numerus prædestinatorum certus est.”—p. 363. “Præscientia meritorum nullo modo est causa prædestinationis divinæ.”—p. 370. “Liberum arbitrium est facultas quâ bonum eligitur, gratiâ assistente, vel malum, eâdem desistente.”—vol. viii. p. 222. “Deus inclinat ad bonum administrando virtutem agendi et monendo ad bonum. Sed ad malum dicitur inclinate in quantum gratiam non præbet, per quam aliquis a malo retraheretur.”—p. 364. On the other side: “Accipitur fides pro eo quo creditur, et est virtus, et pro eo quod creditur, et non est virtus. Fides quâ creditur, si cum caritate sit, virtus est.”—vol. ix. p. 236. “Divina bonitas est primum principium communicationis totius quam Deus creaturis largitur.” “Quamvis omne quod Deus vult justum sit, non tamen ex hoc justum dicitur quod Deus illud vult.”—p. 697.
[Note D. page 106.] The Augustinian doctrine is, with some hesitation and reluctance, acquiesced in by Scotus, in that milder form which ascribes election to an express decree, and considers the rest of mankind as only left to the deserved penalties of their transgressions. “In hujus quæstionis solutione mallem alios audire quam docere.”—Opera, Lugd. 1639. vol. v. p. 1329. This modesty and prudence is foreign to the dogmatical genius of a Schoolman; and these qualities are still more apparent in the very remarkable language which he applies to the tremendous doctrine of reprobation. “Eorum autem non miseretur (scil. Deus) quibus gratiam non præbendam esse æquitate occultissimâ et ab humanis sensibus remotissimâ judicat.”—p. 1329. In the commentary on Scotus which follows, it appears that his acute disciple Ockham disputed very freely against the opinions of his master. “Mala fieri bonum est” is a startling paradox, quoted by Scotus from Augustin.—p. 1381. It appears that Ockham saw no difference between election and reprobation, and considered those who embraced only the former as at variance with themselves.—p. 1313. Scotus, at great length, contends that our thoughts (consequently our opinions) are not subject to the will.—vol. vi. pp. 1054—1056. One step more would have led him to acknowledge that all erroneous judgment is involuntary, and therefore inculpable and unpunishable, however pernicious. His attempt to reconcile foreknowledge with contingency (vol. v. pp. 1300—1327), is a remarkable example of the power of human subtlety to keep up the appearance of a struggle where it is impossible to make one real effort. But the most dangerous of all the deviations of Scotus from the system of Aquinas is, that he opened the way to the opinion that the distinction of right and wrong depends on the mere will of the Eternal Mind. The absolute power of the Deity, according to him, extends to all but contradictions. His regular power (ordinata) is exercised conformably to an order established by himself: “si placet voluntati, sub quâ libera est, recte est lex.”—p. 1368, et seq.
[Note E. page 106.] Ἀλλα μὴν ψυχήν γε ἴσμεν ἄϰουσαν πᾶσαν πᾶν αγνοοῦσαν. Plat. Op. (Bipont. 1781.) vol. ii. p. 224.—Πᾶσαν ἀϰουσιον ἀμαθίαν ειναι.—p. 227. Plato is quoted on this subject by Marcus Aurelius, in a manner which shows, if there had been any doubt, the meaning to be, that all error is involuntary. Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἄϰουσα στερε̃ιται τῆς ἀληθεὶας, ὡς λέγει Πλάτων. Every mind is unwillingly led from truth.—Epict. Dissert, lib. i. cap. xxviii. Augustin closes the long line of ancient testimony to the in, voluntary character of error: “Quis est qui [Editor: illegible word] decipi? Fallere nolunt boni; falli autem nec boni volunt nec mali.”—Sermo de Verbo.
[Note F. page 106.] From a long, able, and instructive dissertation by the commentator on Scotus, it appears that this immoral dogma was propounded in terms more bold and startling by Ockham, who openly affirmed, that “moral evil was only evil because it was prohibited.”—Ochamus, qui putat quod nihil posset esse malum sine voluntate prohibitiva Dei, hancque voluntatem esse liberam; sic ut posset eam non habere, et consequenter ut posset fieri quod nulla prorsus essent mala.”—Scot. Op. vol. vii. p. 859. But, says the commentator, “Dico primo legem naturalem non consistere in juesione ullâ quæ sit actus voluntatis Dei. Hæc est communissima theologorum sententia.”—p. 858. And indeed the reason urged against Ockham completely justifies this approach to unanimity. “For,” he asks, “why is it right to obey the will of God? Is it because our moral faculties perceive it to be right? But they equally perceive and feel the authority of all the primary principles of morality; and if this answer be made, it is obvious that those who make it do in effect admit the independence of moral distinctions on the will of God.” “If God,” said Ockham, “had commanded his creatures to hate himself, hatred of God would have been praiseworthy.”—Domin. Soto de Justitiâ et Jure, lib. ii. quæst. 3. “Utrum præcepta Decalogi sint dispensabilia;”—a book dedicated to Don Carlos, the son of Phillip II. Suarez, the last scholastic philosopher, rejected the Ockhamical doctrine, but allowed will to be a part of the foundation of Morality. “Voluntas Dei non est tola ratio bonitatis aut malitiæ.—De Legibus, (Lond. 1679.) p. 71. As the great majority of the Schoolmen supported their opinion of this subject by the consideration of eternal and immutable ideas of right and wrong in the Divine Intellect, it was natural that the Nominalists, of whom Ockham was the founder, who rejected all general ideas, should also have rejected those moral distinctions which were then supposed to originate in such ideas. Gerson was a celebrated Nominalist; and he was the more disposed to follow the opinions of his master because they agreed in maintaining the independence of the State on the Church, and the superiority of the Church over the Pope.
[Note G. page 107.] It must be premised that Charitas among the ancient divines corresponded with Εροις of the Platonists, and with the φιλία of later philosophers, as comprehending the love of all that is loveworthy in the Creator or his creatures. It is the theological virtue of charity, and corresponds with no term in use among modern moralists. “Cum objectum amoris sit bonum, dupliciter potest aliquis tendere in bonum alicujus rei; uno modo, quod bonum illius rei ad alterum referat, sicut amat quis vinum in quantum dulcedinem vini peroptat; et hic amor vocatur a quibusdam amor concupiscentiæ. Amor autem iste non terminatur ad rem quæ dicilur amari, sed reflectitur ad rem illam cui optatur bonum illius rei. Alio modo amor fortior in bonum alicujus rei, ita quod ad rem ipsam terminatur; et hic est amor benevolentiæ. Quâ bonum nostrum in Deo perfectum est, sicutin causâ universali bonorum; ideo bonum in ipso esse magis naturaliter complacet quam in nobis ipsis: et ideo etiam amore amicitiæ naturaliter Deus ab homine plus seipso diligitur.” The above quotations from Aquinas will probably be sufficient for those who are acquainted with these questions, and they will certainly be thought too large by those who are not. In the next question he inquires, whether in the love of God there can be any view to reward. He appears to consider himself as bound by authority to answer in the affirmative; and he employs much ingenuity in reconciling a certain expectation of reward with the disinterested character ascribed by him to piety in common with all the affections which terminate in other beings. “Nihil aliud est merces nostra quam perfrui Deo. Ergo charitas non solum non excludit, sed etiam facit habere oculum ad mercedem.” In this answer he seems to have anticipated the representations of Jeremy Taylor (Sermon on Growth in Grace), of Lord Shaftesbury (Inquiry concerning Virtue, book i. part iii. sect. 3), of Mr. T. Erskine (Freeness of the Gospel, Edin. 1828), and more especially of Mr. John Smith (Discourses, Lond. 1660). No extracts could convey a just conception of the observations which follow, unless they were accompanied by a longer examination of the technical language of the Schoolmen than would be warranted on this occasion. It is clear that he distinguishes well the affection of piety from the happy fruits, which, as he cautiously expresses it, “are in the nature of a reward;”—just as the consideration of the pleasures and advantages of friendship may enter into the affection and strengthen it, though they are not its objects, and never could inspire such a feeling. It seems to me also that he had a dimmer view of another doctrine, by which we are taught, that though our own happiness be not the end which we pursue in loving others, yet it may be the final cause of the insenion of disinterested affections into the nature of man. “Ponere mercedem aliquam finem amoris ex parte amati, est contra rationem amicitiæ. Sed ponere mercedem esse finem amoris ex parte amantis, non tamen ultimam, prout scilicet ipse amor est quædam operatio amantis, non est contra rationem amicitiæ. Possum operationem amoris amare propter aliquid aliud, salva amicitià. Potest habeas charitatem habere oculum ad mercedem, uti ponat beatitudinem creatam finem amoris, non aulem finem amali.” Upon the last words my interpretation chiefly depends. The immediately preceding sentence must be owned to have been founded on a distinction between viewing the good fruits of our own affections as enhancing their intrinsic pleasures, and feeling love for another on account of the advantage to be derived from him; which last is inconceivable.
[Note H. p. 107.] “Potestas spiritualis et secularis utraque deducitur a potestate divinâ; ideo in tantum secularis est sub spirituali, in quantum est a Deo supposita; scilicet, in his quæ ad salutem animæ pertinent. In his autem quæ ad bonum civile spectant, est magis obediendum potestati seculari; sicut illud Matthæi, ‘Reddite quæ sunt Cæsaris Cæsari.’ ” What follows is more doubtful. “. . . Nisi fortè potestati spirituali etiam potestas secularis conjungatur, ut in Papa, qui utriusque potestatis apicem tenet.”—Op. vol. viii. p. 435. Here, says the French editor, it may be doubted whether Aquinas means the Pope’s temporal power in his own dominions, or a secular authority indirectly extending over all for the sake of religion. My reasons for adopting the more rational construction are shortly these:—1. The text of Matthew is so plain an assertion of the independence of both powers, that it would be the height of extravagance to quote it as an authority for the dependence of the state. At most it could only be represented as reconcilable with such a dependence in one case. 2. The word ‘forte’ seems manifestly to refer to the territorial sovereignty acquired by the Popes. If they have a general power in secular affairs, it must be because it is necessary to their spiritual authority, and in that case to call it fortuitous would be to ascribe to it an adjunct destructive of its nature. 3. His former reasoning on the same question seems to be decisive. The power of the Pope over bishops, he says, is not founded merely in his superior nature, but in their authority being altogether derived from his, as the proconsular power from the imperial. Therefore he infers that this case is not analagous to the relation between the civil and spiritual power, which are alike derived from God. 4. Had an Italian monk of the twelfth century really intended to affirm the Pope’s temporal authority, he probably would have laid it down in terms more explicit and more acceptable at Rome. Hesitation and ambiguity are here indications of unbelief. Mere veneration for the apostolical See might present a more precise determination against it, as it caused the quotation which follows, respecting the primacy of Peter.—A mere abridgment of these very curious passages might excite a suspicion that I had tinctured Aquinas unconsciously with a colour of my own opinions. Extracts are very difficult, from the scholastic method of stating objections and answers, as well as from the mixture of theological authorities with philosophical reasons.
[Note I. page 108.] The debates in the first assembly of the Council of Trent (ad 1546) between the Dominicans who adhered to Aquinas, and the Franciscans who followed Scotus on Original Sin, Justification, and Grace, are to be found in Fra Paolo (Istoria del Concilio Tridentino, lib. ii.) They show how much metaphysical controversy is hid in a theological form; how many disputes of our times are of no very ancient origin, and how strongly the whole Western Church, through all the divisions into which it has been separated, has manifested the same unwillingness to avow the Augustinian system, and the same fear of contradicting it. To his admirably clear and short statement of these abstruse controversies, must be added that of his accomplished opponent Cardinal Pallavicino (Istoria, &c. lib. vii. et viii.), who shows still more evidently the strength of the Augustinian party, and the disposition of the Council to tolerate opinions almost Lutheran, if not accompanied by revolt from the Church. A little more compromising disposition in the Reformers might have betrayed reason to a prolonged thraldom. We must esteem Erasmus and Melanchthon, but we should reserve our gratitude for Luther and Calvin. The Scotists maintained their doctrine of merit of congruity, waived by the Council, and soon after condemned by the Church of England; by which they meant that they who had good dispositions always received the Divine grace, not indeed as a reward of which they were worthy, but as aid which they were fit and willing to receive. The Franciscans denied that belief was in the power of man. “I Francescani lo negavano seguendo Scoto, qual vuole che siccome dalle dimostrazioni per necessità nasce la scienza, cosdallè persuasioni nasca la fede; e ch’ essa è nell’ intelletto, il quale è agente naturale, e mosso naturalmente dall’ oggetto. Allegavano l’ esperienza, che nessuno può credere quello che vuole, ma quello che gli par vero.”—Fra. Paolo, Istoria, &c. (Helmstadt, 1763, 4to.), vol. i. p. 193. Cardinal Sforza Pallavicino, a learned and very able Jesuit, was appointed, according to his own account, in 1651, many years after the death of Fra Paolo, to write a true history of the Council of Trent, as a corrective of the misrepresentations of the celebrated Venetian. Algernon Sidney, who knew this court historian at Rome, and who may be believed when he speaks well of a Jesuit and a cardinal, commends the work in a letter to his father, Lord Leicester. At the end of Pallavicino’s work is a list of three hundred and sixty errors in matters of fact, which the Papal party pretended to have detected in the independent historian, whom they charge with heresy or infidelity, and in either case, with hypocrisy.
[Note K. page 110.] “Hoc tempore, Ferdinando et Isabella regnantibus, in academiâ Salmantinâ jacta sunt robustioris theologiæ semina; ingentis enim famæ vir Franciscus de Victoria, non tam lucubrationibus editis, quamvis hæc non magnæ molis aut magni pretii sint, sed doctissimorum theologorum educatione. quamdiu fuerit sacræ scientiæ honos inter mortales, vehementer laudabitur.”—Antonio, Bibliotheca Hispanica Nova. (Madrid, 1783,) in præf. “Si ad morum instructores respicias, Sotus iterum nominabitur.”—Ibid.
[Note L. page 110.] The title of the published account of the conference at Valladolid is, “The controversy between the Bishop of Chiapa and Dr. Sepulveda; in which the Doctor contended that the conquest of the Indies from the natives was lawful, and the Bishop maintained that it was unlawful, tyrannical, and unjust, in the presence of many theologians, lawyers, and other learned men assembled by his Majesty.”—Bibl. Hisp. Nova, tom. i. p. 192.
Las Casas died in 1566, in the 92d year of his age; Sepulveda died in 1571, in his 82d year. Sepulveda was the scholar of Pomponatius, and a friend of Erasmus, Cardinal Pole, Aldus Manutius, &c. In his book “De Justis Belli Causis contra Indos suscepti,” he contended only that the king ought justly “ad dinonem Indos, non herilem sed regiam et civilem, lege belli redigere.”—Antonio, voce Sepulveda, Bibl. Hisp. Nova, tom. i. p. 703. But this smooth and specious language concealed poison. Had it entirely prevailed, the cruel consequence of the defeat of the advocate of the oppressed would alone have remained; the limitations and softenings employed by their opponent to obtain success would have been speedily disregarded and forgotten. Covarruvias, another eminent Jurist, was sent by Philip II. to the Council of Trent, at its renewal in 1560, and, with Cardinal Buoncampagni, drew up the decrees of reformation. Francis Sanchez, the father of philosophical grammar, published his Minerva at Salamanca in 1587;—so active was the cultivation of philosophy in Spain in the age of Cervantes.