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Quodlibets, Or Scholastic Disquisitions
by [?]

One of the subtile questions which agitated the world in the tenth century, relating to dialectics, was concerning universals (as for example, man, horse, dog, etc.) signifying not this or that in particular, but all in general. They distinguished universals, or what we call abstract terms, by the genera and species rerum; and they never could decide whether these were substances–or names! That is, whether the abstract idea we form of a horse was not really a being as much as the horse we ride! All this, and some congenial points respecting the origin of our ideas, and what ideas were, and whether we really had an idea of a thing before we discovered the thing itself–in a word, what they called universals, and the essence of universals; of all this nonsense, on which they at length proceeded to accusations of heresy, and for which many learned men were excommunicated, stoned, and what not, the whole was derived from the reveries of Plato, Aristotle, and Zeno, about the nature of ideas, than which subject to the present day no discussion ever degenerated into such insanity. A modern metaphysician infers that we have no ideas at all!

Of the scholastic divines, the most illustrious was Saint THOMAS AQUINAS, styled the Angelical Doctor. Seventeen folio volumes not only testify his industry but even his genius. He was a great man, busied all his life with making the charades of metaphysics.

My learned friend Sharon Turner has favoured me with a notice of his greatest work–his “Sum of all Theology,” Summa totius Theologiae, Paris, 1615. It is a metaphysicological treatise, or the most abstruse metaphysics of theology. It occupies above 1250 folio pages, of very small close print in double columns. It may be worth noticing that to this work are appended 19 folio pages of double columns of errata, and about 200 of additional index!

The whole is thrown into an Aristotelian form; the difficulties or questions are proposed first, and the answers are then appended. There are 168 articles on Love–358 on Angels–200 on the Soul–85 on Demons–151 on the Intellect–134 on Law–3 on the Catamenia–237 on Sins–17 on Virginity, and others on a variety of topics.

The scholastic tree is covered with prodigal foliage, but is barren of fruit; and when the scholastics employed themselves in solving the deepest mysteries, their philosophy became nothing more than an instrument in the hands of the Roman Pontiff. Aquinas has composed 358 articles on angels, of which a few of the heads have been culled for the reader.

He treats of angels, their substance, orders, offices, natures, habits, etc., as if he himself had been an old experienced angel!

Angels were not before the world!

Angels might have been before the world!

Angels were created by God–They were created immediately by Him–They were created in the Empyrean sky–They were created in grace–They were created in imperfect beatitude. After a severe chain of reasoning, he shows that angels are incorporeal compared to us, but corporeal compared to God.

An angel is composed of action and potentiality; the more superior he is, he has the less potentiality. They have not matter properly. Every angel differs from another angel in species. An angel is of the same species as a soul. Angels have not naturally a body united to them. They may assume bodies; but they do not want to assume bodies for themselves, but for us.

The bodies assumed by angels are of thick air.

The bodies they assume have not the natural virtues which they show, nor the operations of life, but those which are common to inanimate things.

An angel may be the same with a body.

In the same body there are, the soul formally giving being, and operating natural operations; and the angel operating supernatural operations.

Angels administer and govern every corporeal creature.

God, an angel, and the soul, are not contained in space, but contain it.

Many angels cannot be in the same space.

The motion of an angel in space is nothing else than different contacts of different successive places.