The saint is a medicine because he is an antidote.
Indeed, that is why the saint is often a martyr:
he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote.
St. Thomas takes the view that the souls of all the ordinary hard-working
and simple-minded people are quite as important as the souls of thinkers
and truth-seekers; and he asks how all these people are possibly to find
time for the amount of reasoning that is needed to find truth. The whole
tone of the passage shows both a respect for scientific enquiry and a
strong sympathy with the average man. His argument for Revelation is not
an argument against Reason; but it is an argument for Revelation. The
conclusion he draws from it is that men must receive the highest moral truths
in a miraculous manner; or most men would not receive them at all. His
arguments are rational and natural; but his own deduction is all for the
supernatural; and, as is common in the case of his argument, it is not easy
to find any deduction except his own deduction. And when we come to that,
we find it is something as simple as St. Francis himself could desire; the message
from heaven; the story that is told out of the sky; the fairytale that is really true.
Nobody can understand the greatness of the thirteenth century, who does not
realise that it was a great growth of new things produced by a living thing. In that
sense it was really bolder and freer than what we call the Renaissance, which was
a resurrection of old things discovered in a dead thing. In that sense medievalism
was not a Renascence, but rather a Nascence. It did not model its temples upon
the tombs, or call up dead gods from Hades. It made an architecture as new as
modern engineering; indeed it still remains the most modern architecture. Only it
was followed at the Renaissance by a more antiquated architecture. In that sense
the Renaissance might be called the Relapse. Whatever may be said of the Gothic
and the Gospel according to St. Thomas, they were not a Relapse. It was a new
thrust like the titanic thrust of Gothic engineering; and its strength was in a God
who makes all things new.
Revolutions turn into institutions; revolts that renew the youth of old societies
in their turn grow old; and the past, which was full of new things, of splits and
innovations and insurrections, seems to us a single texture of tradition.
Perhaps there is really no such thing as a Revolution recorded in history.
What happened was always a Counter-Revolution. Men were always rebelling
against the last rebels; or even repenting of the last rebellion.
Against all this the philosophy of St. Thomas stands founded on the universal
common conviction that eggs are eggs. The Hegelian may say that an egg is
really a hen, because it is a part of an endless process of Becoming; the Berkeleian
may hold that poached eggs only exist as a dream exists; since it is quite as easy
to call the dream the cause of the eggs as the eggs the cause of the dream; the
Pragmatist may believe that we get the best out of scrambled eggs by forgetting
that they ever were eggs, and only remembering the scramble. But no pupil of
St. Thomas needs to addle his brains in order adequately to addle his eggs; to
put his head at any peculiar angle in looking at eggs, or squinting at eggs, or
winking the other eye in order to see a new simplification of eggs. The Thomist
stands in the broad daylight of the brotherhood of men, in their common
consciousness that eggs are not hens or dreams or mere practical assumptions;
but things attested by the Authority of the Senses, which is from God.
Above all, it is this which chiefly moves him, when he finds so fascinating the central
mystery of Man. And for him the point is always that Man is not a balloon going up
into the sky nor a mole burrowing merely in the earth; but rather a thing like a tree,
whose roots are fed from the earth, while its highest branches seem to rise almost to the stars.