« PrécédentContinuer »
out limitation. The idea thus acquired is a complex one. On the other hand, God's knowledge of Himself is not complex. It is positive and simple. We cannot, therefore, know God as He knows Himself. All we can know is that what is represented analogically to us must exist in Him. What it is as it exists there eye hath not seen nor ear heard nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.' We only know that what is represented by our concepts and names must exist transcendentally in God. When, therefore, we predicate Wisdom, Knowledge, and Power of the Deity, even though these perfections are only represented analogically in our thought-terms, yet the predication is true, and the perfections really exist in God. Nor is it necessary that our thought-terms be specified by them as they exist in the object. It suffices to prove that they exist. Hence St. Thomas, in referring to our proofs of God's existence, lays stress on the fact that there can be no reasonable doubt that the propositions enunciating the existence of God and His perfections are true. The propositions contain analogous representations, and the counterpart of the analogy must exist, so that our assent, though relative and illative, is valid.
The imperfect nature of our concepts of God, and consequently of the names which we apply to Him, can also be seen from the way in which they represent Him. Although the Divine perfections are formally identical in God, we must in our thought-terms formally distinguish them. We predicate them, therefore, of Him as simultaneously existing in One Divine Subject. We cannot in our concepts, nor in the names representing our thoughtterms, formally identify Divine justice and mercy. Yet, when indeed we do assert that Divine justice is without a formal distinction identical with Divine mercy, we abstract from the mode of representation of the terms and names and limit the content of the proposition to the thing signified.
Several points drawn from the teaching of St. Thomas may be of interest here. The Angelic Doctor tells us that certain terms are not only predicable of God but are abstracting from the manner in which they represent Him -more truly applicable to Him than to creatures. As the perfections of wisdom and knowledge, for instance, belong primarily to God and secondarily to creatures, so do the concepts and also the Divine names. When so considered, however, the terms are limited in their representative character to the thing signified. The mode of representing the object lowers the image and points to the origin of the concept and name. Considered in this
1 In other words, our knowledge of God in this life is abstract and not intuitive.
2 This is' denied by Scotus, who admits even a formal distinction between the Divine perfections, a parte rei, or in the thing signified. From this it should follow that not only the thing signified but also our mode of representing it corresponds with the object. This view appears not only ontologically to lower the object but also logically to give our concepts a greater value than their origin and representative character should warrant.
Considered in this way both concept and name belong primarily to the creature.
What we have said applies only to those terms which represent perfections in which no imperfection is implied and which are known as perfectiones simpliciter simplices. Other perfections which are relative or perfectiones secundum quid, and which involve certain imperfections, must, in consequence, be expressed by terms which in their representative character share in the imperfections of the object. Such terms belong primarily to creatures and if applied to God are predicated of Him metaphorically. Thus, when we speak of the altitude and profundity of God, we apply these terms to Him in a metaphorical and secondary sense.
Again, certain names which we apply to God, and which, etymologically considered, are derived from finite things, are not applied to Him according to their etymological meaning. Consensus of opinion has so limited the original meaning of the terms that they have come to express conceptions which represent the Divine nature or its perfections. A familiar example of this limitation of the meaning of terms is found in the Latin word lapis (laedens pedem). Etymologically considered, the term is applied to any obstacle that impedes the foot. But the meaning of the word is now restricted, so that not everything that impedes the foot is designated lapis. So it is with the names which we apply to God. Thus ó Deós, the Greek name for God, is considered by some to be derived from Deáopar. But the term as applied to God expresses the Divine nature and not the act of vision with which it is etymologically associated."
Even in the early days of the Church it was recognized that certain names, though really predicated of God, are only applicable to Him in time. This is true of the term Redeemer. Neither is the term Creator predicable of Him from eternity. Tertullian was among the first to show that the name o kúpos (Lord) could not be applied to God before the Creation, Yet the predication, though real, implies no change in God. Real predication based on relativity does not necessarily require a real relation on the part of each relative term. It suffices if it exist in one of them. The expression of Divine activity resulting in a change and real relation in creatures supplies a sufficient ground for the real predication of certain terms of God which could not be applied to Him before this change was effected.
1 St. Thomas, p. I, q. XIII, a. 6.
Ibid., a. 3, ad 1.
8 Ibid., a. 8. The writer accepts the philologʻcal explɛ nations of certain terms in this article in as far čs they cerve to exemplify the teaching of St. Thomas.
In referring to the value of the Divine names we have ready shown how irreconcilable their application is with the doctrines of Agnosticism, Traditionalism, and Modernism. In their relation to Pantheism, several points of importance cannot be overlooked. In the first place, since certain terms are predicated of God and creatures, not univocally but analogically, the difference in their values points to the impossibility of an explanation of the universe on Monistic lines. Secondly, since our names for God suppose the existence of a First Cause, distinct from the world, they rest upon an explanation of Primal Causality which is altogether incompatible with a Pantheistic theory of the universe. Again, the fact that we possess no a priori knowledge of God provides us with an argument against Pantheism as well as against Ontologism; and since no attempt has been made to impose any name on God suggested by a priori knowledge, we are convinced that in us no such knowledge exists. Apart from direct revelation our knowledge of Him in this world is derived from a posteriori reasoning. As a result the Divine names which we apply to God always possess an a posteriori element. This element is traceable to the concept and ultimately to the source from which it comes ; so that even those who would claim the existence of God merely as an object of our thought-term, cannot wholly dispense with this a posteriori element. Needless to say, the Atheist
1 Adv. Hermog., c. 3.
2 We have an example of this in the Incarnation. In Christ there is no human Sonship, yet He is really the Son of the Blessed Virgin, because of her real Maternity.
3 This is the so-called a simultaneo argument. It does not profess to proceed, as St. Anselm's certainly does, from the logical to the real order, but from the psychological real to the objective real of which the psychologic gives us a subjective representation. But since a clear and distinct notion of God in this life is not intuitive but abstract, and since in order to be perfect it must be purified by a reflex act, not only does its existence depend on a posteriori reasoning but it is also necessarily associated with such reasoning. In other words, our notion of God as a Being infinite and distinct from the universe must be formed by the mind each time we return to it. Needless to say, this is the only rational idea of God which possesses any value against the various forms of Pantheism.
will not admit the existence of God because we claim to have an idea of Him in our minds. We are driven, in consequence, to test its relative value by appealing to the arguments on which the validity of the claim rests.
The Divine names, as we have seen, are intimately associated with God. They are for us expressions of His nature and perfections. Their intimate relations with Him make them sacred. The reverence that is due to them is exacted by God Himself in the Decalogue, where we have His precepts positive and negative. It is not, therefore, without grave reason that He issues His command, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.':
P. P. M'KENNA, O.P.
1 Exodus xx. 7.
THOUGHTS ON GRAVE SUBJECTS
BY THE BISHOP OF SEBASTOPOLIS
The human body is undoubtedly a marvellous creation of God, and an object of extraordinary beauty, when properly formed and fully developed, but so soon as life has departed from it, it falls into decay, and becomes an object so exceedingly loathsome and revolting, that it is found necessary to get rid of it without delay. This necessity is recognized by every race and tribe all the world over. But the means of disposing of it differs among different peoples, and in different countries. The most natural and the commonest way is to bury it in the ground, where it soon crumbles away, mixes with the soil, and disappears.
Among many curious habits prevalent in former ages one of the most singular was that which prevailed in Ireland, before the advent of Christianity. Though the Irish buried their dead in the earth, like other people, they did not always lay them horizontally, as we all do now, but often perpendicularly.
With a feeling something like that which induced Vespasian to declare that a Roman Emperor should die standing, the pagan Celtic warriors shrank from the notion of being prostrate even in death. Moreover, they appear to have regarded this martial burial as a special sya tol of paganism. For an old Irish manuscript tells how, when Christianity had been introduced into Ireland, a king of Ulster, on his deathbed, charged his son never to become a Christian, but to be buried standing upright like a man in battle, with his face for ever turned to the south, defying the men of Leinster.1
Where this system of earth-burial was not considered sufficiently expeditious it became customary to call in the aid of fire. The bodies were solemnly burned, and the ashes either scattered to the four winds or else preserved in earthen urns and vases, which were sometimes kept in private houses, but more frequently in public mausoleums. Thus among the Greeks the use of fire prevailed, though it is
1 See Wakeman's Archaeologia Hibernica, p. 21,