Apologia Pro Vita Sua
Part 4: History of My Religious Opinions -- 1833 - 1839
History of My Religious Opinions--1833-1839
In spite of the foregoing pages, I have no romantic story to tell; but I wrote them, because it is my duty to tell things as they took place. I have not exaggerated the feelings with which I returned to England, and I have no desire to dress up the events which followed, so as to make them in keeping with the narrative which has gone before. I soon relapsed into the every-day life which I had hitherto led; in all things the same, except that a new object was given me. I had employed myself in my own rooms in reading and writing, and in the care of a church, before I left England, and I returned to the same occupations when I was back again. And yet perhaps those first vehement feelings which carried me on were necessary for the beginning of the movement; and afterwards, when it was once begun, the special need of me was over.
When I got home from abroad, I found that already a movement had commenced in opposition to the specific danger which at that time was threatening the religion of the nation and its church. Several zealous and able men had united their counsels, and were in correspondence with each other. The principal of these were Mr. Keble, Hurrell Froude, who had reached home long before me, Mr. William Palmer of Dublin and Worcester College (not Mr. W. Palmer of Magdalen, who is now a Catholic), Mr. Arthur Perceval, and Mr. Hugh Rose.
To mention Mr. Hugh Rose's name is to kindle in the minds of those who knew him, a host of pleasant and affectionate remembrances. He was the man above all others fitted by his cast of mind and literary powers to make a stand, if a stand could be made, against the calamity of the times. He was gifted with a high and large mind, and a true sensibility of what was great and beautiful; he wrote with warmth and energy; and he had a cool head and cautious judgment. He spent his strength and shortened his life, Pro Ecclesia Dei, as he understood that sovereign idea. Some years earlier he had been the first to give warning, I think from the university pulpit at Cambridge, of the perils to England which lay in the biblical and theological speculations of Germany. The Reform agitation followed, and the Whig government came into power; and he anticipated in their distribution of church patronage the authoritative introduction of liberal opinions into the country:--by "liberal" I mean liberalism in _religion_, for questions of politics, as such, do not come into this narrative at all. He feared that by the Whig party a door would be opened in England to the most grievous of heresies, which never could be closed again. In order under such grave circumstances to unite Churchmen together, and to make a front against the coming danger, he had in 1832 commenced the _British Magazine_, and in the same year he came to Oxford in the summer term, in order to beat up for writers for his publication; on that occasion I became known to him through Mr. Palmer. His reputation and position came in aid of his obvious fitness, in point of character and intellect, to become the centre of an ecclesiastical movement, if such a movement were to depend on the action of a party. His delicate health, his premature death, would have frustrated the expectation, even though the new school of opinion had been more exactly thrown into the shape of a party, than in fact was the case. But he zealously backed up the first efforts of those who were principals in it; and, when he went abroad to die, in 1838, he allowed me the solace of expressing my feelings of attachment and gratitude to him by addressing him, in the dedication of a volume of my Sermons, as the man, "who, when hearts were failing, bade us stir up the gift that was in us, and betake ourselves to our true Mother."
But there were other reasons, besides Mr. Rose's state of health, which hindered those who so much admired him from availing themselves of his close co-operation in the coming fight. United as both he and they were in the general scope of the Movement, they were in discordance with each other from the first in their estimate of the means to be adopted for attaining it. Mr. Rose had a position in the church, a name, and serious responsibilities; he had direct ecclesiastical superiors; he had intimate relations with his own university, and a large clerical connection through the country. Froude and I were nobodies; with no characters to lose, and no antecedents to fetter us. Rose could not go ahead across country, as Froude had no scruples in doing. Froude was a bold rider, as on horseback, so also in his speculations. After a long conversation with him on the logical bearing of his principles, Mr. Rose said of him with quiet humour, that "he did not seem to be afraid of inferences." It was simply the truth; Froude had that strong hold of first principles, and that keen perception of their value, that he was comparatively indifferent to the revolutionary action which would attend on their application to a given state of things; whereas in the thoughts of Rose, as a practical man, existing facts had the precedence of every other idea, and the chief test of the soundness of a line of policy lay in the consideration whether it would work. This was one of the first questions, which, as it seemed to me, ever occurred to his mind. With Froude, Erastianism--that is, the union (so he viewed it) of church and state--was the parent, or if not the parent, the serviceable and sufficient tool, of liberalism. Till that union was snapped, Christian doctrine never could be safe; and, while he well knew how high and unselfish was the temper of Mr. Rose, yet he used to apply to him an epithet, reproachful in his own mouth;--Rose was a "conservative." By bad luck, I brought out this word to Mr. Rose in a letter of my own, which I wrote to him in criticism of something he had inserted into the Magazine: I got a vehement rebuke for my pains, for though Rose pursued a conservative line, he had as high a disdain, as Froude could have, of a worldly ambition, and an extreme sensitiveness of such an imputation.
But there was another reason still, and a more elementary one, which severed Mr. Rose from the Oxford movement. Living movements do not come of committees, nor are great ideas worked out through the post, even though it had been the penny post. This principle deeply penetrated both Froude and myself from the first, and recommended to us the course which things soon took spontaneously, and without set purpose of our own. Universities are the natural centres of intellectual movements. How could men act together, whatever was their zeal, unless they were united in a sort of individuality? Now, first, we had no unity of place. Mr. Rose was in Suffolk, Mr. Perceval in Surrey, Mr. Keble in Gloucestershire; Hurrell Froude had to go for his health to Barbados. Mr. Palmer indeed was in Oxford; this was an important advantage, and told well in the first months of the Movement;--but another condition, besides that of place, was required.
A far more essential unity was that of antecedents,--a common history, common memories, an intercourse of mind with mind in the past, and a progress and increase of that intercourse in the present. Mr. Perceval, to be sure, was a pupil of Mr. Keble's; but Keble, Rose, and Palmer, represented distinct parties, or at least tempers, in the Establishment. Mr. Palmer had many conditions of authority and influence. He was the only really learned man among us. He understood theology as a science; he was practised in the scholastic mode of controversial writing; and I believe, was as well acquainted, as he was dissatisfied, with the Catholic schools. He was as decided in his religious views, as he was cautious and even subtle in their expression, and gentle in their enforcement. But he was deficient in depth; and besides, coming from a distance, he never had really grown into an Oxford man, nor was he generally received as such; nor had he any insight into the force of personal influence and congeniality of thought in carrying out a religious theory,--a condition which Froude and I considered essential to any true success in the stand which had to be made against Liberalism. Mr. Palmer had a certain connection, as it may be called, in the Establishment, consisting of high Church dignitaries, archdeacons, London rectors, and the like, who belonged to what was commonly called the high-and-dry school. They were far more opposed than even he was to the irresponsible action of individuals. Of course their _beau ideal_ in ecclesiastical action was a board of safe, sound, sensible men. Mr. Palmer was their organ and representative; and he wished for a Committee, an Association, with rules and meetings, to protect the interests of the Church in its existing peril. He was in some measure supported by Mr. Perceval.
I, on the other hand, had out of my own head begun the Tracts; and these, as representing the antagonist principle of personality, were looked upon by Mr. Palmer's friends with considerable alarm. The great point at the time with these good men in London,--some of them men of the highest principle, and far from influenced by what we used to call Erastianism,--was to put down the Tracts. I, as their editor, and mainly their author, was not unnaturally willing to give way. Keble and Froude advocated their continuance strongly, and were angry with me for consenting to stop them. Mr. Palmer shared the anxiety of his own friends; and, kind as were his thoughts of us, he still not unnaturally felt, for reasons of his own, some fidget and nervousness at the course which his Oriel friends were taking. Froude, for whom he had a real liking, took a high tone in his project of measures for dealing with bishops and clergy, which must have shocked and scandalised him considerably. As for me, there was matter enough in the early Tracts to give him equal disgust; and doubtless I much tasked his generosity, when he had to defend me, whether against the London dignitaries, or the country clergy. Oriel, from the time of Dr. Copleston to Dr. Hampden, had had a name far and wide for liberality of thought; it had received a formal recognition from the _Edinburgh Review_, if my memory serves me truly, as the school of speculative philosophy in England; and on one occasion, in 1833, when I presented myself, with some the first papers of the movement, to a country clergyman in Northamptonshire, he paused awhile, and then, eyeing me with significance, asked, "Whether Whately was at the bottom of them?"
Mr. Perceval wrote to me in support of the judgment of Mr. Palmer and the dignitaries. I replied in a letter, which he afterwards published. "As to the Tracts," I said to him (I quote my own words from his pamphlet), "every one has his own taste. You object to some things, another to others. If we altered to please every one, the effect would be spoiled. They were not intended as symbols _è cathedrâ_, but as the expression of individual minds; and individuals, feeling strongly, while on the one hand, they are incidentally faulty in mode or language, are still peculiarly effective. No great work was done by a system; whereas systems rise out of individual exertions. Luther was an individual. The very faults of an individual excite attention; he loses, but his cause (if good and he powerful-minded) gains. This is the way of things: we promote truth by a self-sacrifice."
The visit which I made to the Northamptonshire Rector was only one of a series of similar expedients, which I adopted during the year 1833. I called upon clergy in various parts of the country, whether I was acquainted with them or not, and I attended at the houses of friends where several of them were from time to time assembled. I do not think that much came of such attempts, nor were they quite in my way. Also I wrote various letters to clergymen, which fared not much better, except that they advertised the fact, that a rally in favour of the church was commencing. I did not care whether my visits were made to high church or low church; I wished to make a strong pull in union with all who were opposed to the principles of liberalism, whoever they might be. Giving my name to the editor, I commenced a series of letters in the _Record_ newspaper: they ran to a considerable length; and were borne by him with great courtesy and patience. They were headed as being on "Church Reform." The first was on the Revival of Church Discipline; the second, on its Scripture proof; the third, on the application of the doctrine; the fourth, was an answer to objections; the fifth, was on the benefits of discipline. And then the series was abruptly brought to a termination. I had said what I really felt, and what was also in keeping with the strong teaching of the Tracts, but I suppose the Editor discovered in me some divergence from his own line of thought; for at length he sent a very civil letter, apologising for the non-appearance of my sixth communication, on the ground that it contained an attack upon "Temperance Societies," about which he did not wish a controversy in his columns. He added, however, his serious regret at the character of the Tracts. I had subscribed a small sum in 1828 towards the first start of the _Record_.
Acts of the officious character, which I have been describing, were uncongenial to my natural temper, to the genius of the movement, and to the historical mode of its success:--they were the fruit of that exuberant and joyous energy with which I had returned from abroad, and which I never had before or since. I had the exultation of health restored, and home regained. While I was at Palermo and thought of the breadth of the Mediterranean, and the wearisome journey across France, I could not imagine how I was ever to get to England; but now I was amid familiar scenes and faces once more. And my health and strength came back to me with such a rebound, that some friends at Oxford, on seeing me, did not well know that it was I, and hesitated before they spoke to me. And I had the consciousness that I was employed in that work which I had been dreaming about, and which I felt to be so momentous and inspiring. I had a supreme confidence in our cause; we were upholding that primitive Christianity which was delivered for all time by the early teachers of the Church, and which was registered and attested in the Anglican formularies and by the Anglican divines. That ancient religion had well nigh faded away out of the land, through the political changes of the last 150 years, and it must be restored. It would be in fact a second Reformation:--a better reformation, for it would be a return not to the sixteenth century, but to the seventeenth. No time was to be lost, for the Whigs had come to do their worst, and the rescue might come too late. Bishopricks were already in course of suppression; Church property was in course of confiscation; sees would soon be receiving unsuitable occupants. We knew enough to begin preaching upon, and there was no one else to preach. I felt as on a vessel, which first gets under weigh, and then the deck is cleared out, and the luggage and live stock stored away into their proper receptacles.
Nor was it only that I had confidence in our cause, both in itself, and in its controversial force, but besides, I despised every rival system of doctrine and its arguments. As to the high church and the low church, I thought that the one had not much more of a logical basis than the other; while I had a thorough contempt for the evangelical. I had a real respect for the character of many of the advocates of each party, but that did not give cogency to their arguments; and I thought on the other hand that the apostolical form of doctrine was essential and imperative, and its grounds of evidence impregnable. Owing to this confidence, it came to pass at that time, that there was a double aspect in my bearing towards others, which it is necessary for me to enlarge upon. My behaviour had a mixture in it both of fierceness and of sport; and on this account, I dare say, it gave offence to many; nor am I here defending it.
I wished men to a agree with me, and I walked with them step by step, as far as they would go; this I did sincerely; but if they would stop, I did not much care about it, but walked on, with some satisfaction that I had brought them so far. I liked to make them preach the truth without knowing it, and encouraged them to do so. It was a satisfaction to me that the _Record_ had allowed me to say so much in its columns, without remonstrance. I was amused to hear of one of the bishops, who, on reading an early Tract on the Apostolical Succession, could not make up his mind whether he held the doctrine or not. I was not distressed at the wonder or anger of dull and self-conceited men, at propositions which they did not understand. When a correspondent, in good faith, wrote to a newspaper, to say that the "Sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist," spoken of in the Tract, was a false print for "Sacrament," I thought the mistake too pleasant to be corrected before I was asked about it. I was not unwilling to draw an opponent on step by step to the brink of some intellectual absurdity, and to leave him to get back as he could. I was not unwilling to play with a man, who asked me impertinent questions. I think I had in my mouth the words of the wise man, "Answer a fool according to his folly," especially if he was prying or spiteful. I was reckless of the gossip which was circulated about me; and, when I might easily have set it right, did not deign to do so. Also I used irony in conversation, when matter-of-fact men would not see what I meant.
This kind of behaviour was a sort of habit with me. If I have ever trifled with my subject, it was a more serious fault. I never used arguments which I saw clearly to be unsound. The nearest approach which I remember to such conduct, but which I consider was clear of it nevertheless, was in the case of Tract 15. The matter of this Tract was supplied to me by a friend, to whom I had applied for assistance, but who did not wish to be mixed up with the publication. He gave it me, that I might throw it into shape, and I took his arguments as they stood. In the chief portion of the Tract I fully agreed; for instance, as to what it says about the Council of Trent; but there were arguments, or some argument, in it which I did not follow; I do not recollect what it was. Froude, I think, was disgusted with the whole Tract, and accused me of _economy_ in publishing it. It is principally through Mr. Froude's Remains that this word has got into our language. I think I defended myself with arguments such as these:--that, as every one knew, the Tracts were written by various persons who agreed together in their doctrine, but not always in the arguments by which it was to be proved; that we must be tolerant of difference of opinion among ourselves; that the author of the Tract had a right to his own opinion, and that the argument in question was ordinarily received; that I did not give my own name or authority, nor was asked for my personal belief, but only acted instrumentally, as one might translate a friend's book into a foreign language. I account these to be good arguments; nevertheless I feel also that such practices admit of easy abuse and are consequently dangerous; but then again, I feel also this,--that if all such mistakes were to be severely visited, not many men in public life would be left with a character for honour and honesty.
This absolute confidence in my cause, which led me to the imprudence or wantonness which I have been instancing, also laid me open, not unfairly, to the opposite charge of fierceness in certain steps which I took, or words which I published. In the Lyra Apostolica, I have said that, before learning to love, we must "learn to hate;" though I had explained my words by adding "hatred of sin." In one of my first sermons I said, "I do not shrink from uttering my firm conviction that it would be a gain to the country were it vastly more superstitious, more bigoted, more gloomy, more fierce in its religion than at present it shows itself to be." I added, of course, that it would be an absurdity to suppose such tempers of mind desirable in themselves. The corrector of the press bore these strong epithets till he got to "more fierce," and then he put in the margin a _query_. In the very first page of the first Tract, I said of the bishops, that, "black event though it would be for the country, yet we could not wish them a more blessed termination of their course, than the spoiling of their goods and martyrdom." In consequence of a passage in my work upon the Arian History, a Northern dignitary wrote to accuse me of wishing to re-establish the blood and torture of the Inquisition. Contrasting heretics and heresiarchs, I had said, "The latter should meet with no mercy; he assumes the office of the Tempter, and, so far forth as his error goes, must be dealt with by the competent authority, as if he were embodied evil. To spare him is a false and dangerous pity. It is to endanger the souls of thousands, and it is uncharitable towards himself." I cannot deny that this is a very fierce passage; but Arius was banished, not burned; and it is only fair to myself to say that neither at this, nor any other time of my life, not even when I was fiercest, could I have even cut off a Puritan's ears, and I think the sight of a Spanish _auto-da-fé_ would have been the death of me. Again, when one of my friends, of liberal and evangelical opinions, wrote to expostulate with me on the course I was taking, I said that we would ride over him and his, as Othniel prevailed over Chushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia. Again, I would have no dealings with my brother, and I put my conduct upon a syllogism. I said, "St. Paul bids us avoid those who cause divisions; you cause divisions: therefore I must avoid you." I dissuaded a lady from attending the marriage of a sister who had seceded from the Anglican Church. No wonder that Blanco White, who had known me under such different circumstances, now hearing the general course that I was taking, was amazed at the change which he recognised in me. He speaks bitterly and unfairly of me in his letters contemporaneously with the first years of the Movement; but in 1839, when looking back, he uses terms of me, which it would be hardly modest in me to quote, were it not that what he says of me in praise is but part of a whole account of me. He says: "In this party [the anti-Peel, in 1829] I found, to my great surprise, my dear friend, Mr. Newman of Oriel. As he had been one of the annual Petitioners to Parliament for Catholic Emancipation, his sudden union with the most violent bigots was inexplicable to me. That change was the first manifestation of the mental revolution, which has suddenly made him one of the leading persecutors of Dr. Hampden and the most active and influential member of that association, called the Puseyite party, from which we have those very strange productions, entitled, Tracts for the Times. While stating these public facts, my heart feels a pang at the recollection of the affectionate and mutual friendship between that excellent man and myself; a friendship, which his principles of orthodoxy could not allow him to continue in regard to one, whom he now regards as inevitably doomed to eternal perdition. Such is the venomous character of orthodoxy. What mischief must it create in a bad heart and narrow mind, when it can work so effectually for evil, in one of the most benevolent of bosoms, and one of the ablest of minds, in the amiable, the intellectual, the refined John Henry Newman!" (Vol. iii. p. 131.) He adds that I would have nothing to do with him, a circumstance which I do not recollect, and very much doubt.
I have spoken of my firm confidence in my position; and now let me state more definitely what the position was which I took up, and the propositions about which I was so confident. These were three:--
1. First was the principle of dogma: my battle was with liberalism; by liberalism I meant the anti-dogmatic principle and its developments. This was the first point on which I was certain. Here I make a remark: persistence in a given belief is no sufficient test of its truth; but departure from it is at least a slur upon the man who has felt so certain about it. In proportion then as I had in 1832 a strong persuasion in beliefs which I have since given up, so far a sort of guilt attaches to me, not only for that vain confidence, but for my multiform conduct in consequence of it. But here I have the satisfaction of feeling that I have nothing to retract, and nothing to repent of. The main principle of the Movement is as dear to me now as it ever was. I have changed in many things: in this I have not. From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion: I know no other religion; I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion; religion, as a mere sentiment, is to me a dream and a mockery. As well can there be filial love without the fact of a father, as devotion without the fact of a Supreme Being. What I held in 1816, I held in 1833, and I hold in 1864. Please God, I shall hold it to the end. Even when I was under Dr. Whately's influence, I had no temptation to be less zealous for the great dogmas of the faith, and at various times I used to resist such trains of thought on his part, as seemed to me (rightly or wrongly) to obscure them. Such was the fundamental principle of the Movement of 1833.
2. Secondly, I was confident in the truth of a certain definite religious teaching, based upon this foundation of dogma; viz. that there was a visible church with sacraments and rites which are the channels of invisible grace. I thought that this was the doctrine of Scripture, of the early Church, and of the Anglican Church. Here again, I have not changed in opinion; I am as certain now on this point as I was in 1833, and have never ceased to be certain. In 1834 and the following years I put this ecclesiastical doctrine on a broader basis, after reading Laud, Bramhall, and Stillingfleet and other Anglican divines on the one hand, and after prosecuting the study of the Fathers on the other; but the doctrine of 1833 was strengthened in me, not changed. When I began the Tracts for the Times I rested the main doctrine, of which I am speaking, upon Scripture, on St. Ignatius's Epistles, and on the Anglican Prayer Book. As to the existence of a visible church, I especially argued out the point from Scripture, in Tract 11, viz. from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. As to the sacraments and sacramental rites, I stood on the Prayer Book. I appealed to the Ordination Service, in which the Bishop says, "Receive the Holy Ghost;" to the Visitation Service, which teaches confession and absolution; to the Baptismal Service, in which the Priest speaks of the child after baptism as regenerate; to the Catechism, in which Sacramental Communion is receiving "verily the Body and Blood of Christ;" to the Commination Service, in which we are told to do "works of penance;" to the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, to the calendar and rubricks, wherein we find the festivals of the apostles, notice of certain other saints, and days of fasting and abstinence.
And further, as to the Episcopal system, I founded it upon the Epistles of St. Ignatius, which inculcated it in various ways. One passage especially impressed itself upon me: speaking of cases of disobedience to ecclesiastical authority, he says, "A man does not deceive that Bishop whom he sees, but he practises rather upon the Bishop Invisible, and so the question is not with flesh, but with God, who knows the secret heart." I wished to act on this principle to the letter, and I may say with confidence that I never consciously transgressed it. I loved to act in the sight of my bishop, as if I was, as it were, in the sight of God. It was one of my special safeguards against myself and of my supports; I could not go very wrong while I had reason to believe that I was in no respect displeasing him. It was not a mere formal obedience to rule that I put before me, but I desired to please him personally, as I considered him set over me by the Divine Hand. I was strict in observing my clerical engagements, not only because they _were_ engagements, but because I considered myself simply as the servant and instrument of my bishop. I did not care much for the bench of bishops, except as they might be the voice of my Church: nor should I have cared much for a Provincial Council; nor for a Diocesan Synod presided over by my Bishop; all these matters seemed to me to be _jure ecclesiastico_, but what to me was _jure divino_ was the voice of my bishop in his own person. My own bishop was my pope; I knew no other; the successor of the apostles, the vicar of Christ. This was but a practical exhibition of the Anglican theory of Church Government, as I had already drawn it out myself. This continued all through my course; when at length in 1845 I wrote to Bishop Wiseman, in whose Vicariate I found myself, to announce my conversion, I could find nothing better to say to him, than that I would obey the Pope as I had obeyed my own Bishop in the Anglican Church. My duty to him was my point of honour; his disapprobation was the one thing which I could not bear. I believe it to have been a generous and honest feeling; and in consequence I was rewarded by having all my time for ecclesiastical superior a man, whom had I had a choice, I should have preferred, out and out, to any other Bishop on the Bench, and for whose memory I have a special affection, Dr. Bagot--a man of noble mind, and as kind-hearted and as considerate as he was noble. He ever sympathised with me in my trials which followed; it was my own fault, that I was not brought into more familiar personal relations with him than it was my happiness to be. May his name be ever blessed!
And now in concluding my remarks on the second point on which my confidence rested, I observe that here again I have no retractation to announce as to its main outline. While I am now as clear in my acceptance of the principle of dogma, as I was in 1833 and 1816, so again I am now as firm in my belief of a visible church, of the authority of bishops, of the grace of the sacraments, of the religious worth of works of penance, as I was in 1833. I have added Articles to my creed; but the old ones, which I then held with a divine faith, remain.
3. But now, as to the third point on which I stood in 1833, and which I have utterly renounced and trampled upon since--my then view of the Church of Rome;--I will speak about it as exactly as I can. When I was young, as I have said already, and after I was grown up, I thought the Pope to be Antichrist. At Christmas 1824-5 I preached a sermon to that effect. In 1827 I accepted eagerly the stanza in the Christian Year, which many people thought too charitable, "Speak _gently_ of thy sister's fall." From the time that I knew Froude I got less and less bitter on the subject. I spoke (successively, but I cannot tell in what order or at what dates) of the Roman Church as being bound up with "the _cause_ of Antichrist," as being _one_ of the "_many_ antichrists" foretold by St. John, as being influenced by "the _spirit_ of Antichrist," and as having something "very Antichristian" or "unchristian" about her. From my boyhood and in 1824 I considered, after Protestant authorities, that St. Gregory I. about A.D. 600 was the first Pope that was Antichrist, and again that he was also a great and holy man; in 1832-3 I thought the Church of Rome was bound up with the cause of Antichrist by the Council of Trent. When it was that in my deliberate judgment I gave up the notion altogether in any shape, that some special reproach was attached to her name, I cannot tell; but I had a shrinking from renouncing it, even when my reason so ordered me, from a sort of conscience or prejudice, I think up to 1843. Moreover, at least during the Tract Movement, I thought the essence of her offence to consist in the honours which she paid to the Blessed Virgin and the saints; and the more I grew in devotion, both to the saints and to Our Lady, the more impatient was I at the Roman practices, as if those glorified creations of God must be gravely shocked, if pain could be theirs, at the undue veneration of which they were the objects.
On the other hand, Hurrell Froude in his familiar conversations was always tending to rub the idea out of my mind. In a passage of one of his letters from abroad, alluding, I suppose, to what I used to say in opposition to him, he observes: "I think people are injudicious who talk against the Roman Catholics for worshipping Saints, and honouring the Virgin and images, etc. These things may perhaps be idolatrous; I cannot make up my mind about it; but to my mind it is the Carnival that is real practical idolatry, as it is written, 'the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.'" The carnival, I observe in passing, is, in fact, one of those very excesses, to which, for at least three centuries, religious Catholics have ever opposed themselves, as we see in the life of St. Philip, to say nothing of the present day; but this he did not know. Moreover, from Froude I learned to admire the great medieval Pontiffs; and, of course, when I had come to consider the Council of Trent to be the turning-point of the history of Christian Rome, I found myself as free, as I was rejoiced, to speak in their praise. Then, when I was abroad, the sight of so many great places, venerable shrines, and noble churches, much impressed my imagination. And my heart was touched also. Making an expedition on foot across some wild country in Sicily, at six in the morning I came upon a small church; I heard voices, and I looked in. It was crowded, and the congregation was singing. Of course it was the Mass, though I did not know it at the time. And, in my weary days at Palermo, I was not ungrateful for the comfort which I had received in frequenting the Churches, nor did I ever forget it. Then, again, her zealous maintenance of the doctrine and the rule of celibacy, which I recognised as apostolic, and her faithful agreement with Antiquity in so many points besides, which were dear to me, was an argument as well as a plea in favour of the great Church of Rome. Thus I learned to have tender feelings towards her; but still my reason was not affected at all. My judgment was against her, when viewed as an institution, as truly as it ever had been.
This conflict between reason and affection I expressed in one of the early Tracts, published July, 1834. "Considering the high gifts and the strong claims of the Church of Rome and its dependencies on our admiration, reverence, love, and gratitude; how could we withstand it, as we do, how could we refrain from being melted into tenderness, and rushing into communion with it, but for the words of Truth itself, which bid us prefer It to the whole world? 'He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me.' How could 'we learn to be severe, and execute judgment,' but for the warning of Moses against even a divinely-gifted teacher, who should preach new gods; and the anathema of St. Paul even against Angels and Apostles, who should bring in a new doctrine?"--_Records_, No. 24. My feeling was something like that of a man, who is obliged in a court of justice to bear witness against a friend; or like my own now, when I have said, and shall say, so many things on which I had rather be silent.
As a matter, then, of simple conscience, though it went against my feelings, I felt it to be a duty to protest against the Church of Rome. But besides this, it was a duty, because the prescription of such a protest was a living principle of my own church, as expressed in not simply a _catena_, but a _consensus_ of her divines, and the voice of her people. Moreover, such a protest was necessary as an integral portion of her controversial basis; for I adopted the argument of Bernard Gilpin, that Protestants "were _not able_ to give any _firm and solid_ reason of the separation besides this, to wit, that the Pope is Antichrist." But while I thus thought such a protest to be based upon truth, and to be a religious duty, and a rule of Anglicanism, and a necessity of the case, I did not at all like the work. Hurrell Froude attacked me for doing it; and, besides, I felt that my language had a vulgar and rhetorical look about it. I believed, and really measured, my words, when I used them; but I knew that I had a temptation, on the other hand, to say against Rome as much as ever I could, in order to protect myself against the charge of Popery.
And now I come to the very point, for which I have introduced the subject of my feelings about Rome. I felt such confidence in the substantial justice of the charges which I advanced against her, that I considered them to be a safeguard and an assurance that no harm could ever arise from the freest exposition of what I used to call Anglican principles. All the world was astounded at what Froude and I were saying: men said that it was sheer Popery. I answered, "True, we seem to be making straight for it; but go on awhile, and you will come to a deep chasm across the path, which makes real approximation impossible." And I urged in addition, that many Anglican divines had been accused of Popery, yet had died in their Anglicanism;--now, the ecclesiastical principles which I professed, they had professed also; and the judgment against Rome which they had formed, I had formed also. Whatever faults then the Anglican system might have, and however boldly I might point them out, anyhow that system was not vulnerable on the side of Rome, and might be mended in spite of her. In that very agreement of the two forms of faith, close as it might seem, would really be found, on examination, the elements and principles of an essential discordance.
It was with this supreme persuasion on my mind that I fancied that there could be no rashness in giving to the world in fullest measure the teaching and the writings of the Fathers. I thought that the Church of England was substantially founded upon them. I did not know all that the Fathers had said, but I felt that, even when their tenets happened to differ from the Anglican, no harm could come of reporting them. I said out what I was clear they had said; I spoke vaguely and imperfectly, of what I thought they said, or what some of them had said. Anyhow, no harm could come of bending the crooked stick the other way, in the process of straightening it; it was impossible to break it. If there was anything in the Fathers of a startling character, it would be only for a time; it would admit of explanation; it could not lead to Rome. I express this view of the matter in a passage of the preface to the first volume, which I edited, of the Library of the Fathers. Speaking of the strangeness at first sight, presented to the Anglican mind, of some of their principles and opinions, I bid the reader go forward hopefully, and not indulge his criticism till he knows more about them, than he will learn at the outset. "Since the evil," I say, "is in the nature of the case itself, we can do no more than have patience, and recommend patience to others, and, with the racer in the Tragedy, look forward steadily and hopefully to the _event_, [greek: tô telei pistin pherôn], when, as we trust, all that is inharmonious and anomalous in the details, will at length be practically smoothed."
Such was the position, such the defences, such the tactics, by which I thought that it was both incumbent on us, and possible to us, to meet that onset of liberal principles, of which we were all in immediate anticipation, whether in the Church or in the University. And during the first year of the Tracts, the attack upon the University began. In November 1834 was sent to me by the author the second edition of a pamphlet entitled, "Observations on Religious Dissent, with particular reference to the use of religious tests in the University." In this pamphlet it was maintained, that "Religion is distinct from Theological Opinion" (pp. 1, 28, 30, etc.); that it is but a common prejudice to identify theological propositions methodically deduced and stated, with the simple religion of Christ (p. 1); that under Theological Opinion were to be placed the Trinitarian doctrine (p. 27), and the Unitarian (p. 19); that a dogma was a theological opinion insisted on (pp. 20, 21); that speculation always left an opening for improvement (p. 22); that the Church of England was not dogmatic in its spirit, though the wording of its formularies may often carry the sound of dogmatism (p. 23).
I acknowledged the receipt of this work in the following letter:--
"The kindness which has led to your presenting me with your late pamphlet, encourages me to hope that you will forgive me, if I take the opportunity it affords of expressing to you my very sincere and deep regret that it has been published. Such an opportunity I could not let slip without being unfaithful to my own serious thoughts on the subject.
"While I respect the tone of piety which the pamphlet displays, I dare not trust myself to put on paper my feelings about the principles contained in it; tending, as they do, in my opinion, altogether to make shipwreck of Christian faith. I also lament, that, by its appearance, the first step has been taken towards interrupting that peace and mutual good understanding which has prevailed so long in this place, and which, if once seriously disturbed, will be succeeded by dissensions the more intractable, because justified in the minds of those who resist innovation by a feeling of imperative duty."
Since that time Phaeton has got into the chariot of the sun; we, alas! can only look on, and watch him down the steep of heaven. Meanwhile, the lands, which he is passing over, suffer from his driving.
Such was the commencement of the assault of liberalism upon the old orthodoxy of Oxford and England; and it could not have been broken, as it was, for so long a time, had not a great change taken place in the circumstances of that counter-movement which had already started with the view of resisting it. For myself, I was not the person to take the lead of a party; I never was, from first to last, more than a leading author of a school; nor did I ever wish to be anything else. This is my own account of the matter, and I say it, neither as intending to disown the responsibility of what was done, nor as if ungrateful to those who at that time made more of me than I deserved, and did more for my sake and at my bidding than I realised myself. I am giving my history from my own point of sight, and it is as follows:--I had lived for ten years among my personal friends; the greater part of the time, I had been influenced, not influencing; and at no time have I acted on others, without their acting upon me. As is the custom of a university, I had lived with my private, nay, with some of my public, pupils, and with the junior fellows of my college, without form or distance, on a footing of equality. Thus it was through friends, younger, for the most part, than myself, that my principles were spreading. They heard what I said in conversation, and told it to others. Undergraduates in due time took their degree, and became private tutors themselves. In this new _status_, in turn, they preached the opinions which they had already learned themselves. Others went down to the country, and became curates of parishes. Then they had down from London parcels of the Tracts, and other publications. They placed them in the shops of local booksellers, got them into newspapers, introduced them to clerical meetings, and converted more or less their rectors and their brother curates. Thus the Movement, viewed with relation to myself, was but a floating opinion; it was not a power. It never would have been a power, if it had remained in my hands. Years after, a friend, writing to me in remonstrance at the excesses, as he thought them, of my disciples, applied to me my own verse about St. Gregory Nazianzen, "Thou couldst a people raise, but couldst not rule." At the time that he wrote to me, I had special impediments in the way of such an exercise of power; but at no time could I exercise over others that authority, which under the circumstances was imperatively required. My great principle ever was, live and let live. I never had the staidness or dignity necessary for a leader. To the last I never recognised the hold I had over young men. Of late years I have read and heard that they even imitated me in various ways. I was quite unconscious of it, and I think my immediate friends knew too well how disgusted I should be at the news, to have the heart to tell me. I felt great impatience at our being called a party, and would not allow that we were. I had a lounging, free-and-easy way of carrying things on. I exercised no sufficient censorship upon the Tracts. I did not confine them to the writings of such persons as agreed in all things with myself; and, as to my own Tracts, I printed on them a notice to the effect, that any one who pleased, might make what use he would of them, and reprint them with alterations if he chose, under the conviction that their main scope could not be damaged by such a process. It was the same afterwards, as regards other publications. For two years I furnished a certain number of sheets for the _British Critic_ from myself and my friends, while a gentleman was editor, a man of splendid talent, who, however, was scarcely an acquaintance of mine, and had no sympathy with the Tracts. When I was Editor myself, from 1838 to 1841, in my very first number, I suffered to appear a critique unfavourable to my work on Justification, which had been published a few months before, from a feeling of propriety, because I had put the book into the hands of the writer who so handled it. Afterwards I suffered an article against the Jesuits to appear in it, of which I did not like the tone. When I had to provide a curate for my new church at Littlemore, I engaged a friend, by no fault of his, who, before he entered into his charge, preached a sermon, either in depreciation of baptismal regeneration, or of Dr. Pusey's view of it. I showed a similar easiness as to the editors who helped me in the separate volumes of Fleury's Church History; they were able, learned, and excellent men, but their after history has shown, how little my choice of them was influenced by any notion I could have had of any intimate agreement of opinion between them and myself. I shall have to make the same remark in its place concerning the Lives of the English Saints, which subsequently appeared. All this may seem inconsistent with what I have said of my fierceness. I am not bound to account for it; but there have been men before me, fierce in act, yet tolerant and moderate in their reasonings; at least, so I read history. However, such was the case, and such its effect upon the Tracts. These at first starting were short, hasty, and some of them ineffective; and at the end of the year, when collected into a volume, they had a slovenly appearance.
It was under these circumstances, that Dr. Pusey joined us. I had known him well since 1827-8, and had felt for him an enthusiastic admiration. I used to call him [greek: hô megas]. His great learning, his immense diligence, his scholarlike mind, his simple devotion to the cause of religion, overcame me; and great of course was my joy, when in the last days of 1833 he showed a disposition to make common cause with us. His tract on Fasting appeared as one of the series with the date of December 21. He was not, however, I think fully associated in the Movement till 1835 and 1836, when he published his tract on Baptism, and started the Library of the Fathers. He at once gave to us a position and a name. Without him we should have had no chance, especially at the early date of 1834, of making any serious resistance to the liberal aggression. But Dr. Pusey was a Professor and Canon of Christ Church; he had a vast influence in consequence of his deep religious seriousness, the munificence of his charities, his Professorship, his family connections, and his easy relations with university authorities. He was to the Movement all that Mr. Rose might have been, with that indispensable addition, which was wanting to Mr. Rose, the intimate friendship and the familiar daily society of the persons who had commenced it. And he had that special claim on their attachment, which lies in the living presence of a faithful and loyal affectionateness. There was henceforth a man who could be the head and centre of the zealous people in every part of the country, who were adopting the new opinions; and not only so, but there was one who furnished the Movement with a front to the world, and gained for it a recognition from other parties in the University. In 1829 Mr. Froude, or Mr. R. Wilberforce, or Mr. Newman were but individuals; and, when they ranged themselves in the contest of that year on the side of Sir Robert Inglis, men on either side only asked with surprise how they got there, and attached no significancy to the fact; but Dr. Pusey was, to use the common expression, a host in himself; he was able to give a name, a form, and a personality to what was without him a sort of mob; and when various parties had to meet together in order to resist the liberal acts of the Government, we of the Movement took our place by right among them.
Such was the benefit which he conferred on the Movement externally; nor was the internal advantage at all inferior to it. He was a man of large designs; he had a hopeful, sanguine mind; he had no fear of others; he was haunted by no intellectual perplexities. People are apt to say that he was once nearer to the Catholic Church than he is now; I pray God that he may be one day far nearer to the Catholic Church than he was then; for I believe that, in his reason and judgment, all the time that I knew him, he never was near to it at all. When I became a Catholic, I was often asked, "What of Dr. Pusey?" when I said that I did not see symptoms of his doing as I had done, I was sometimes thought uncharitable. If confidence in his position is (as it is), a first essential in the leader of a party, Dr. Pusey had it. The most remarkable instance of this, was his statement, in one of his subsequent defences of the Movement, when too it had advanced a considerable way in the direction of Rome, that among its hopeful peculiarities was its "stationariness." He made it in good faith; it was his subjective view of it.
Dr. Pusey's influence was felt at once. He saw that there ought to be more sobriety, more gravity, more careful pains, more sense of responsibility in the Tracts and in the whole Movement. It was through him that the character of the Tracts was changed. When he gave to us his Tract on Fasting, he put his initials to it. In 1835 he published his elaborate treatise on Baptism, which was followed by other Tracts from different authors, if not of equal learning, yet of equal power and appositeness. The Catenas of Anglican divines which occur in the series, though projected, I think, by me, were executed with a like aim at greater accuracy and method. In 1836 he advertised his great project for a Translation of the Fathers:--but I must return to myself. I am not writing the history either of Dr. Pusey or of the Movement; but it is a pleasure to me to have been able to introduce here reminiscences of the place which he held in it, which have so direct a bearing on myself, that they are no digression from my narrative.
I suspect it was Dr. Pusey's influence and example which set me, and made me set others, on the larger and more careful works in defence of the principles of the Movement which followed in a course of years,--some of them demanding and receiving from their authors, such elaborate treatment that they did not make their appearance till both its temper and its fortunes had changed. I set about a work at once; one in which was brought out with precision the relation in which we stood to the Church of Rome. We could not move a step in comfort till this was done. It was of absolute necessity and a plain duty, to provide as soon as possible a large statement, which would encourage and re-assure our friends, and repel the attacks of our opponents. A cry was heard on all sides of us, that the Tracts and the writings of the Fathers would lead us to become Catholics, before we were aware of it. This was loudly expressed by members of the Evangelical party, who in 1836 had joined us in making a protest in Convocation against a memorable appointment of the Prime Minister. These clergymen even then avowed their desire, that the next time they were brought up to Oxford to give a vote, it might be in order to put down the popery of the Movement. There was another reason still, and quite as important. Monsignore Wiseman, with the acuteness and zeal which might be expected from that great prelate, had anticipated what was coming, had returned to England in 1836, had delivered lectures in London on the doctrines of Catholicism, and created an impression through the country, shared in by ourselves, that we had for our opponents in controversy, not only our brethren, but our hereditary foes. These were the circumstances, which led to my publication of "The Prophetical office of the Church viewed relatively to Romanism and Popular Protestantism."
This work employed me for three years, from the beginning of 1834 to the end of 1836. It was composed, after a careful consideration and comparison of the principal Anglican divines of the seventeenth century. It was first written in the shape of controversial correspondence with a learned French Priest; then it was re-cast, and delivered in Lectures at St. Mary's: lastly, with considerable retrenchments and additions, it was re-written for publication.
It attempts to trace out the rudimental lines on which Christian faith and teaching proceed, and to use them as means of determining the relation of the Roman and Anglican systems to each other. In this way it shows that to confuse the two together is impossible, and that the Anglican can be as little said to tend to the Roman, as the Roman to the Anglican. The spirit of the volume is not so gentle to the Church of Rome, as Tract 71 published the year before; on the contrary, it is very fierce; and this I attribute to the circumstance that the volume is theological and didactic, whereas the Tract, being controversial, assumes as little and grants as much as possible on the points in dispute, and insists on points of agreement as well as of difference. A further and more direct reason is, that in my volume I deal with "Romanism" (as I call it), not so much in its formal decrees and in the substance of its creed, as in its traditional action and its authorised teaching as represented by its prominent writers;--whereas the Tract is written as if discussing the differences of the Churches with a view to a reconciliation between them. There is a further reason too, which I will state presently.
But this volume had a larger scope than that of opposing the Roman system. It was an attempt at commencing a system of theology on the Anglican idea, and based upon Anglican authorities. Mr. Palmer, about the same time, was projecting a work of a similar nature in his own way. It was published, I think, under the title, "A Treatise on the Christian Church." As was to be expected from the author, it was a most learned, most careful composition; and in its form, I should say, polemical. So happily at least did he follow the logical method of the Roman Schools, that Father Perrone in his treatise on dogmatic theology, recognised in him a combatant of the true cast, and saluted him as a foe worthy of being vanquished. Other soldiers in that field he seems to have thought little better than the _lanzknechts_ of the middle ages, and, I dare say, with very good reason. When I knew that excellent and kind-hearted man at Rome at a later time, he allowed me to put him to ample penance for those light thoughts of me, which he had once had, by encroaching on his valuable time with my theological questions. As to Mr. Palmer's book, it was one which no Anglican could write but himself,--in no sense, if I recollect aright, a tentative work. The ground of controversy was cut into squares, and then every objection had its answer. This is the proper method to adopt in teaching authoritatively young men; and the work in fact was intended for students in theology. My own book, on the other hand, was of a directly tentative and empirical character. I wished to build up an Anglican theology out of the stores which already lay cut and hewn upon the ground, the past toil of great divines. To do this could not be the work of one man; much less, could it be at once received into Anglican theology, however well it was done. I fully trusted that my statements of doctrine would turn out true and important; yet I wrote, to use the common phrase, "under correction."
There was another motive for my publishing, of a personal nature, which I think I should mention. I felt then, and all along felt, that there was an intellectual cowardice in not having a basis in reason for my belief, and a moral cowardice in not avowing that basis. I should have felt myself less than a man, if I did not bring it out, whatever it was. This is one principal reason why I wrote and published the "Prophetical Office." It was on the same feeling, that in the spring of 1836, at a meeting of residents on the subject of the struggle then proceeding some one wanted us all merely to act on college and conservative grounds (as I understood him), with as few published statements as possible: I answered, that the person whom we were resisting had committed himself in writing, and that we ought to commit ourselves too. This again was a main reason for the publication of Tract 90. Alas! it was my portion for whole years to remain without any satisfactory basis for my religious profession, in a state of moral sickness, neither able to acquiesce in Anglicanism, nor able to go to Rome. But I bore it, till in course of time my way was made clear to me. If here it be objected to me, that as time went on, I often in my writings hinted at things which I did not fully bring out, I submit for consideration whether this occurred except when I was in great difficulties, how to speak, or how to be silent, with due regard for the position of mind or the feelings of others. However, I may have an opportunity to say more on this subject. But to return to the "Prophetical Office."
I thus speak in the Introduction to my volume:--
"It is proposed," I say, "to offer helps towards the formation of a recognised Anglican theology in one of its departments. The present state of our divinity is as follows: the most vigorous, the clearest, the most fertile minds, have through God's mercy been employed in the service of our Church: minds too as reverential and holy, and as fully imbued with Ancient Truth, and as well versed in the writings of the Fathers, as they were intellectually gifted. This is God's great mercy indeed, for which we must ever be thankful. Primitive doctrine has been explored for us in every direction, and the original principles of the Gospel and the Church patiently brought to light. But one thing is still wanting: our champions and teachers have lived in stormy times: political and other influences have acted upon them variously in their day, and have since obstructed a careful consolidation of their judgments. We have a vast inheritance, but no inventory of our treasures. All is given us in profusion; it remains for us to catalogue, sort, distribute, select, harmonise, and complete. We have more than we know how to use; stores of learning, but little that is precise and serviceable; Catholic truth and individual opinion, first principles and the guesses of genius, all mingled in the same works, and requiring to be discriminated. We meet with truths overstated or misdirected, matters of detail variously taken, facts incompletely proved or applied, and rules inconsistently urged or discordantly interpreted. Such indeed is the state of every deep philosophy in its first stages, and therefore of theological knowledge. What we need at present for our Church's well-being, is not invention, nor originality, nor sagacity, nor even learning in our divines, at least in the first place, though all gifts of God are in a measure needed, and never can be unseasonable when used religiously, but we need peculiarly a sound judgment, patient thought, discrimination, a comprehensive mind, an abstinence from all private fancies and caprices and personal tastes,--in a word, Divine Wisdom."
The subject of the volume is the doctrine of the _Via Media_, a name which had already been applied to the Anglican system by writers of name. It is an expressive title, but not altogether satisfactory, because it is at first sight negative. This had been the reason of my dislike to the word "Protestant;" in the idea which it conveyed, it was not the profession of any religion at all, and was compatible with infidelity. A _Via Media_ was but a receding from extremes, therefore I had to draw it out into a shape, and a character; before it had claims on our respect, it must first be shown to be one, intelligible, and consistent. This was the first condition of any reasonable treatise on the _Via Media_. The second condition, and necessary too, was not in my power. I could only hope that it would one day be fulfilled. Even if the _Via Media_ were ever so positive a religious system, it was not as yet objective and real; it had no original anywhere of which it was the representative. It was at present a paper religion. This I confess in my Introduction; I say, "Protestantism and Popery are real religions ... but the _Via Media_, viewed as an integral system, has scarcely had existence except on paper." I grant the objection and proceed to lessen it. There I say, "It still remains to be tried, whether what is called Anglo-Catholicism, the religion of Andrewes, Laud, Hammond, Butler, and Wilson, is capable of being professed, acted on, and maintained on a large sphere of action, or whether it be a mere modification or transition-state of either Romanism or popular Protestantism." I trusted that some day it would prove to be a substantive religion.
Lest I should be misunderstood, let me observe that this hesitation about the validity of the theory of the _Via Media_ implied no doubt of the three fundamental points on which it was based, as I have described above, dogma, the sacramental system, and opposition to the Church of Rome.
Other investigations which followed gave a still more tentative character to what I wrote or got written. The basis of the _Via Media_, consisting of the three elementary points, which I have just mentioned, was clear enough; but, not only had the house to be built upon them, but it had also to be furnished, and it is not wonderful if both I and others erred in detail in determining what that furniture should be, what was consistent with the style of building, and what was in itself desirable. I will explain what I mean.
I had brought out in the "Prophetical Office" in what the Roman and the Anglican systems differed from each other, but less distinctly in what they agreed. I had indeed enumerated the Fundamentals, common to both, in the following passage:--"In both systems the same Creeds are acknowledged. Besides other points in common we both hold, that certain doctrines are necessary to be believed for salvation; we both believe in the doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement; in original sin; in the necessity of regeneration; in the supernatural grace of the Sacraments; in the apostolical succession; in the obligation of faith and obedience, and in the eternity of future punishment" (Pp. 55, 56). So much I had said, but I had not said enough. This enumeration implied a great many more points of agreement than were found in those very Articles which were fundamental. If the two Churches were thus the same in fundamentals, they were also one and the same in such plain consequences as are contained in those fundamentals or as outwardly represented them. It was an Anglican principle that "the abuse of a thing doth not take away the lawful use of it;" and an Anglican Canon in 1603 had declared that the English Church had no purpose to forsake all that was held in the Churches of Italy, France, and Spain, and reverenced those ceremonies and particular points which were apostolic. Excepting then such exceptional matters, as are implied in this avowal, whether they were many or few, all these Churches were evidently to be considered as one with the Anglican. The Catholic Church in all lands had been one from the first for many centuries; then, various portions had followed their own way to the injury, but not to the destruction, whether of truth or of charity. These portions or branches were mainly three:--the Greek, Latin, and Anglican. Each of these inherited the early undivided Church _in solido_ as its own possession. Each branch was identical with that early undivided Church, and in the unity of that Church it had unity with the other branches. The three branches agreed together in _all but_ their later accidental errors. Some branches had retained in detail portions of apostolical truth and usage, which the others had not; and these portions might be and should be appropriated again by the others which had let them slip. Thus, the middle age belonged to the Anglican Church, and much more did the middle age of England. The Church of the twelfth century was the Church of the nineteenth. Dr. Howley sat in the seat of St. Thomas the Martyr; Oxford was a medieval University. Saving our engagements to Prayer Book and Articles, we might breathe and live and act and speak, in the atmosphere and climate of Henry III.'s day, or the Confessor's, or of Alfred's. And we ought to be indulgent of all that Rome taught now, as of what Rome taught then, saving our protest. We might boldly welcome, even what we did not ourselves think right to adopt. And, when we were obliged on the contrary boldly to denounce, we should do so with pain, not with exultation. By very reason of our protest, which we had made, and made _ex animo_, we could agree to differ. What the members of the Bible Society did on the basis of Scripture, we could do on the basis of the Church; Trinitarian and Unitarian were further apart than Roman and Anglican. Thus we had a real wish to co-operate with Rome in all lawful things, if she would let us, and the rules of our own Church let us; and we thought there was no better way towards the restoration of doctrinal purity and unity. And we thought that Rome was not committed by her formal decrees to all that she actually taught; and again, if her disputants had been unfair to us, or her rulers tyrannical, that on our side too there had been rancour and slander in our controversy with her, and violence in our political measures. As to ourselves being instruments in improving the belief or practice of Rome directly, I used to say, "Look at home; let us first, or at least let us the while, supply our own short-comings, before we attempt to be physicians to any one else." This is very much the spirit of Tract 71, to which I referred just now. I am well aware that there is a paragraph contrary to it in the prospectus to the Library of the Fathers; but I never concurred in it. Indeed, I have no intention whatever of implying that Dr. Pusey concurred in the ecclesiastical theory, which I have been drawing out; nor that I took it up myself except by degrees in the course of ten years. It was necessarily the growth of time. In fact, hardly any two persons, who took part in the Movement, agreed in their view of the limit to which our general principles might religiously be carried.
And now I have said enough on what I consider to have been the general objects of the various works which I wrote, edited, or prompted in the years which I am reviewing; I wanted to bring out in a substantive form, a living Church of England in a position proper to herself, and founded on distinct principles; as far as paper could do it, and as earnestly preaching it and influencing others towards it, could tend to make it a fact;--a living Church, made of flesh and blood, with voice, complexion, and motion and action, and a will of its own. I believe I had no private motive, and no personal aim. Nor did I ask for more than "a fair stage and no favour," nor expect the work would be done in my days; but I thought that enough would be secured to continue it in the future under, perhaps, more hopeful circumstances and prospects than the present.
I will mention in illustration some of the principal works, doctrinal and historical, which originated in the object which I have stated.
I wrote my essay on Justification in 1837; it was aimed at the Lutheran dictum that justification by faith only was the cardinal doctrine of Christianity. I considered that this doctrine was either a paradox or a truism--a paradox in Luther's mouth, a truism in Melanchthon. I thought that the Anglican Church followed Melanchthon, and that in consequence between Rome and Anglicanism, between high Church and low Church, there was no real intellectual difference on the point. I wished to fill up a ditch, the work of man. In this volume again, I express my desire to build up a system of theology out of the Anglican divines, and imply that my dissertation was a tentative inquiry. I speak in the Preface of "offering suggestions towards a work, which must be uppermost in the mind of every true son of the English Church at this day,--the consolidation of a theological system, which, built upon those formularies, to which all clergymen are bound, may tend to inform, persuade, and absorb into itself religious minds, which hitherto have fancied, that, on the peculiar Protestant questions, they were seriously opposed to each other."--P. vii.
In my University Sermons there is a series of discussions upon the subject of Faith and Reason; these again were the tentative commencement of a grave and necessary work; it was an inquiry into the ultimate basis of religious faith, prior to the distinction into creeds.
In like manner in a pamphlet which I published in the summer of 1838 is an attempt at placing the doctrine of the Real Presence on an intellectual basis. The fundamental idea is consonant to that to which I had been so long attached; it is the denial of the existence of space except as a subjective idea of our minds.
The Church of the Fathers is one of the earliest productions of the Movement, and appeared in numbers in the _British Magazine_, and was written with the aim of introducing the religious sentiments, views, and customs of the first ages into the modern Church of England.
The translation of Fleury's Church History was commenced under these circumstances:--I was fond of Fleury for a reason which I express in the advertisement; because it presented a sort of photograph of ecclesiastical history without any comment upon it. In the event, that simple representation of the early centuries had a good deal to do with unsettling me; but how little I could anticipate this, will be seen in the fact that the publication was a favourite scheme of Mr. Rose's. He proposed it to me twice, between the years 1834 and 1837; and I mention it as one out of many particulars curiously illustrating how truly my change of opinion arose, not from foreign influences, but from the working of my own mind, and the accidents around me. The date at which the portion actually translated began was determined by the publisher on reasons with which we were not concerned.
Another historical work, but drawn from original sources, was given to the world by my old friend Mr. Bowden, being a Life of Pope Gregory VII. I need scarcely recall to those who have read it, the power and the liveliness of the narrative. This composition was the author's relaxation on evenings and in his summer vacations, from his ordinary engagements in London. It had been suggested to him originally by me, at the instance of Hurrell Froude.
The series of the Lives of the English Saints was projected at a later period, under circumstances which I shall have in the sequel to describe. Those beautiful compositions have nothing in them, as far as I recollect, simply inconsistent with the general objects which I have been assigning to my labours in these years, though the immediate occasion of them and their tone could not in the exercise of the largest indulgence be said to have an Anglican direction.
At a comparatively early date I drew up the Tract on the Roman Breviary. It frightened my own friends on its first appearance, and, several years afterwards, when younger men began to translate for publication the four volumes _in extenso_, they were dissuaded from doing so by advice to which from a sense of duty they listened. It was an apparent accident which introduced me to the knowledge of that most wonderful and most attractive monument of the devotion of saints. On Hurrell Froude's death, in 1836, I was asked to select one of his books as a keepsake. I selected Butler's Analogy; finding that it had been already chosen, I looked with some perplexity along the shelves as they stood before me, when an intimate friend at my elbow said, "Take that." It was the Breviary which Hurrell had had with him at Barbados. Accordingly I took it, studied it, wrote my Tract from it, and have it on my table in constant use till this day.
That dear and familiar companion, who thus put the Breviary into my hands, is still in the Anglican Church. So too is that early venerated long-loved friend, together with whom I edited a work which, more perhaps than any other, caused disturbance and annoyance in the Anglican world, Froude's Remains; yet, however judgment might run as to the prudence of publishing it, I never heard any one impute to Mr. Keble the very shadow of dishonesty or treachery towards his Church in so acting.
The annotated translation of the treatise of St. Athanasius was of course in no sense a tentative work; it belongs to another order of thought. This historico-dogmatic work employed me for years. I had made preparations for following it up with a doctrinal history of the heresies which succeeded to the Arian.
I should make mention also of the _British Critic_. I was editor of it for three years, from July 1838 to July 1841. My writers belonged to various schools, some to none at all. The subjects are various,--classical, academical, political, critical, and artistic, as well as theological, and upon the Movement none are to be found which do not keep quite clear of advocating the cause of Rome.
So I went on for years, up to 1841. It was, in a human point of view, the happiest time of my life. I was truly at home. I had in one of my volumes appropriated to myself the words of Bramhall, "Bees, by the instinct of nature, do love their hives, and birds their nests." I did not suppose that such sunshine would last, though I knew not what would be its termination. It was the time of plenty, and, during its seven years, I tried to lay up as much as I could for the dearth which was to follow it. We prospered and spread. I have spoken of the doings of these years, since I was a Catholic, in a passage, part of which I will quote, though there is a sentence in it that requires some limitation:
"From beginnings so small," I said, "from elements of thought so fortuitous, with prospects so unpromising, the Anglo-Catholic party suddenly became a power in the National Church, and an object of alarm to her rulers and friends. Its originators would have found it difficult to say what they aimed at of a practical kind: rather, they put forth views and principles, for their own sake, because they were true, as if they were obliged to say them; and, as they might be themselves surprised at their earnestness in uttering them, they had as great cause to be surprised at the success which attended their propagation. And, in fact, they could only say that those doctrines were in the air; that to assert was to prove, and that to explain was to persuade; and that the Movement in which they were taking part was the birth of a crisis rather than of a place. In a very few years a school of opinion was formed, fixed in its principles, indefinite and progressive in their range; and it extended itself into every part of the country. If we inquire what the world thought of it, we have still more to raise our wonder; for, not to mention the excitement it caused in England, the Movement and its party-names were known to the police of Italy and to the back-woodmen of America. And so it proceeded, getting stronger and stronger every year, till it came into collision with the Nation, and that Church of the Nation, which it began by professing especially to serve."
The greater its success, the nearer was that collision at hand. The first threatenings of the crisis were heard in 1838. At that time, my bishop in a charge made some light animadversions, but they _were_ animadversions, on the Tracts for the Times. At once I offered to stop them. What took place on the occasion I prefer to state in the words, in which I related it in a pamphlet addressed to him in a later year, when the blow actually came down upon me.
"In your Lordship's Charge for 1838," I said, "an allusion was made to the Tracts for the Times. Some opponents of the Tracts said that you treated them with undue indulgence ... I wrote to the Archdeacon on the subject, submitting the Tracts entirely to your Lordship's disposal. What I thought about your Charge will appear from the words I then used to him. I said, 'A Bishop's lightest word _ex cathedra_ is heavy. His judgment on a book cannot be light. It is a rare occurrence.' And I offered to withdraw any of the Tracts over which I had control, if I were informed which were those to which your Lordship had objections. I afterwards wrote to your Lordship to this effect, that 'I trusted I might say sincerely, that I should feel a more lively pleasure in knowing that I was submitting myself to your Lordship's expressed judgment in a matter of that kind, than I could have even in the widest circulation of the volumes in question.' Your Lordship did not think it necessary to proceed to such a measure, but I felt, and always have felt, that, if ever you determined on it, I was bound to obey."
That day at length came, and I conclude this portion of my narrative, with relating the circumstances of it.
From the time that I had entered upon the duties of public tutor at my College, when my doctrinal views were very different from what they were in 1841, I had meditated a comment upon the Articles. Then, when the Movement was in its swing, friends had said to me, "What will you make of the Articles?" but I did not share the apprehension which their question implied. Whether, as time went on, I should have been forced, by the necessities of the original theory of the Movement, to put on paper the speculations which I had about them, I am not able to conjecture. The actual cause of my doing so, in the beginning of 1841, was the restlessness, actual and prospective, of those who neither liked the _Via Media_, nor my strong judgment against Rome. I had been enjoined, I think by my Bishop, to keep these men straight, and wished so to do: but their tangible difficulty was subscription to the Articles; and thus the question of the articles came before me. It was thrown in our teeth; "How can you manage to sign the Articles? they are directly against Rome." "Against Rome?" I made answer, "What do you mean by 'Rome'?" and then proceeded to make distinctions, of which I shall now give an account.
By "Roman doctrine" might be meant one of three things: 1, the _Catholic teaching_ of the early centuries; or 2, the _formal dogmas of Rome_ as contained in the later Councils, especially the Council of Trent, and as condensed in the Creed of Pope Pius IV.; 3, the _actual popular beliefs and usages_ sanctioned by Rome in the countries in communion with it, over and above the dogmas; and these I called "dominant errors." Now Protestants commonly thought that in all three senses, "Roman doctrine" was condemned in the Articles: I thought that the _Catholic teaching_ was not condemned; that the _dominant errors_ were; and as to the _formal dogmas_, that some were, some were not, and that the line had to be drawn between them. Thus, 1, the use of prayers for the dead was a Catholic doctrine--not condemned; 2, the prison of purgatory was a Roman dogma--which was condemned; but the infallibility of ecumenical councils was a Roman dogma--not condemned; and 3, the fire of Purgatory was an authorised and popular error, not a dogma--which was condemned.
Further, I considered that the difficulties, felt by the persons whom I have mentioned, mainly lay in their mistaking, 1, Catholic teaching, which was not condemned in the Articles, for Roman dogma which was condemned; and 2, Roman dogma, which was not condemned in the Articles, for dominant error which was. If they went further than this, I had nothing more to say to them.
A further motive which I had for my attempt, was the desire to ascertain the ultimate points of contrariety between the Roman and Anglican creeds, and to make them as few as possible. I thought that each creed was obscured and misrepresented by a dominant circumambient "Popery" and "Protestantism."
The main thesis then of my essay was this:--the Articles do not oppose Catholic teaching; they but partially oppose Roman dogma; they for the most part oppose the dominant errors of Rome. And the problem was to draw the line as to what they allowed and what they condemned.
Such being the object which I had in view, what were my prospects of widening and defining their meaning? The prospect was encouraging; there was no doubt at all of the elasticity of the Articles: to take a palmary instance, the seventeenth was assumed by one party to be Lutheran, by another Calvinistic, though the two interpretations were contradictory to each other; why then should not other Articles be drawn up with a vagueness of an equally intense character? I wanted to ascertain what was the limit of that elasticity in the direction of Roman dogma. But next, I had a way of inquiry of my own, which I state without defending. I instanced it afterwards in my Essay on Doctrinal Development. That work, I believe, I have not read since I published it, and I doubt not at all that I have made many mistakes in it;--partly, from my ignorance of the details of doctrine, as the Church of Rome holds them, but partly from my impatience to clear as large a range for the _principle_ of doctrinal development (waiving the question of historical _fact_) as was consistent with the strict apostolicity and identity of the Catholic Creed. In like manner, as regards the 39 Articles, my method of inquiry was to leap _in medias res_. I wished to institute an inquiry how far, in critical fairness, the text _could_ be opened; I was aiming far more at ascertaining what a man who subscribed it might hold than what he must, so that my conclusions were negative rather than positive. It was but a first essay. And I made it with the full recognition and consciousness, which I had already expressed in my Prophetical Office, as regards the _Via Media_, that I was making only "a first approximation to a required solution;"--"a series of illustrations supplying hints in the removal" of a difficulty, and with full acknowledgment "that in minor points, whether in question of fact or of judgment, there was room for difference or error of opinion," and that I "should not be ashamed to own a mistake, if it were proved against me, nor reluctant to bear the just blame of it."--P. 31.
In addition, I was embarrassed in consequence of my wish to go as far as was possible, in interpreting the Articles in the direction of Roman dogma, without disclosing what I was doing to the parties whose doubts I was meeting, who might be thereby encouraged to go still further than at present they found in themselves any call to do.
1. But in the way of such an attempt comes the prompt objection that the Articles were actually drawn up against "Popery," and therefore it was transcendently absurd and dishonest to suppose that Popery, in any shape--patristic belief, Tridentine dogma, or popular corruption authoritatively sanctioned--would be able to take refuge under their text. This premiss I denied. Not any religious doctrine at all, but a political principle, was the primary English idea at that time of "Popery." And what was that political principle, and how could it best be kept out of England? What was the great question in the days of Henry and Elizabeth? The _Supremacy_;--now, was I saying one single word in favour of the supremacy of the holy see, of the foreign jurisdiction? No; I did not believe in it myself. Did Henry VIII. religiously hold justification by faith only? did he disbelieve Purgatory? Was Elizabeth zealous for the marriage of the Clergy? or had she a conscience against the Mass? The supremacy of the Pope was the essence of the "Popery" to which, at the time of the Articles, the supreme head or governor of the English Church was so violently hostile.
2. But again I said this;--let "Popery" mean what it would in the mouths of the compilers of the Articles, let it even, for argument's sake, include the doctrines of that Tridentine Council, which was not yet over when the Articles were drawn up, and against which they could not be simply directed, yet, consider, what was the religious object of the Government in their imposition? merely to disown "Popery"? No; it had the further object of gaining the "Papists." What then was the best way to induce reluctant or wavering minds, and these, I supposed, were the majority, to give in their adhesion to the new symbol? how had the Arians drawn up their creeds? Was it not on the principle of using vague ambiguous language, which to the subscribers would seem to bear a Catholic sense, but which, when worked out in the long run, would prove to be heterodox? Accordingly, there was great antecedent probability, that, fierce as the Articles might look at first sight, their bark would prove worse than their bite. I say antecedent probability, for to what extent that surmise might be true, could only be ascertained by investigation.
3. But a consideration came up at once, which threw light on this surmise:--what if it should turn out that the very men who drew up the Articles, in the very act of doing so, had avowed, or rather in one of those very Articles themselves had imposed on subscribers, a number of those very "Papistical" doctrines, which they were now thought to deny, as part and parcel of that very Protestantism, which they were now thought to consider divine? and this was the fact, and I showed it in my Essay.
Let the reader observe:--the 35th Article says: "The second Book of Homilies doth contain _a godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for_ these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies." Here the _doctrine_ of the Homilies is recognised as godly and wholesome, and subscription to that proposition is imposed on all subscribers of the Articles. Let us then turn to the Homilies, and see what this godly doctrine is: I quoted from them to the following effect:
1. They declare that the so-called "apocryphal" book of Tobit is the teaching of the Holy Ghost, and is Scripture.
2. That the so-called "apocryphal" book of Wisdom is Scripture, and the infallible and undeceivable word of God.
3. That the Primitive Church, next to the apostles' time, and, as they imply, for almost 700 years, is no doubt most pure.
4. That the Primitive Church is specially to be followed.
5. That the four first general councils belong to the Primitive Church.
6. That there are six councils which are allowed and received by all men.
7. Again, they speak of a certain truth which they are enforcing, as declared by God's word, the sentences of the ancient doctors, and judgment of the Primitive Church.
8. Of the learned and holy Bishops and doctors of the first eight centuries being of good authority and credit with the people.
9. Of the declaration of Christ and His apostles and all the rest of the Holy Fathers.
10. Of the authority of both Scripture and also of Augustine.
11. Of Augustine, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, and about thirty other Fathers, to some of whom they give the title of "Saint," to others of ancient Catholic Fathers and doctors.
12. They declare that, not only the holy apostles and disciples of Christ, but the godly Fathers also before and since Christ were endued without doubt with the Holy Ghost.
13. That the ancient Catholic Fathers say that the "Lord's Supper" is the salve of immortality, the sovereign preservative against death, the food of immortality, the healthful grace.
14. That the Lord's Blessed Body and Blood are received under the form of bread and wine.
15. That the meat in the Sacrament is an invisible meat and a ghostly substance.
16. That the holy Body and Blood ought to be touched with the mind.
17. That Ordination is a Sacrament.
18. That Matrimony is a Sacrament.
19. That there are other Sacraments besides "Baptism and the Lord's Supper."
20. That the souls of the Saints are reigning in joy and in heaven with God.
21. That alms-deeds purge the soul from the infection and filthy spots of sin, and are a precious medicine, an inestimable jewel.
22. That mercifulness wipes out and washes away infirmity and weakness as salves and remedies to heal sores and grievous diseases.
23. That the duty of fasting is a truth more manifest than it should need to be proved.
24. That fasting, used with prayer, is of great efficacy and weigheth much with God; so the angel Raphael told Tobias.
25. That the puissant and mighty Emperor Theodosius was, in the Primitive Church which was most holy and godly, excommunicated by St. Ambrose.
26. That Constantine, Bishop of Rome, did condemn Philippicus, the Emperor, not without a cause indeed, but most justly.
Putting altogether aside the question how far these separate theses came under the matter to which subscription was to be made, it was quite plain, that the men who wrote the Homilies, and who thus incorporated them into the Anglican system of doctrine, could not have possessed that exact discrimination between the Catholic and Protestant faith, or have made that clear recognition of formal Protestant principles and tenets, or have accepted that definition of "Roman doctrine," which is received at this day:--hence great probability accrued to my presentiment, that the Articles were tolerant, not only of what I called "Catholic teaching," but of much that was "Roman."
4. And here was another reason against the notion that the Articles directly attacked the Roman dogmas as declared at Trent and as promulgated by Pius the Fourth:--the Council of Trent was not over, nor its decrees promulgated at the date when the Articles were drawn up, so that those Articles must be aiming at something else. What was that something else? The Homilies tell us: the Homilies are the best comment upon the Articles. Let us turn to the Homilies, and we shall find from first to last that, not only is not the Catholic teaching of the first centuries, but neither again are the dogmas of Rome, the objects of the protest of the compilers of the Articles, but the dominant errors, the popular corruptions, authorised or suffered by the high name of Rome. As to Catholic teaching, nay as to Roman dogma, those Homilies, as I have shown, contained no small portion of it themselves.
5. So much for the writers of the Articles and Homilies;--they were witnesses, not authorities, and I used them as such; but in the next place, who were the actual authorities imposing them? I considered the _imponens_ to be the Convocation of 1571; but here again, it would be found that the very Convocation, which received and confirmed the 39 Articles, also enjoined by Canon that "preachers should be _careful_, that they should _never_ teach aught in a sermon, to be religiously held and believed by the people, except that which is agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and _which the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops have collected_ from that very doctrine." Here, let it be observed, an appeal is made by the Convocation _imponens_ to the very same ancient authorities, as had been mentioned with such profound veneration by the writers of the Homilies and of the Articles, and thus, if the Homilies contained views of doctrine which now would be called Roman, there seemed to me to be an extreme probability that the Convocation of 1571 also countenanced and received, or at least did not reject, those doctrines.
6. And further, when at length I came actually to look into the text of the Articles, I saw in many cases a patent fulfilment of all that I had surmised as to their vagueness and indecisiveness, and that, not only on questions which lay between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Zuinglians, but on Catholic questions also; and I have noticed them in my Tract. In the conclusion of my Tract I observe: They are "evidently framed on the principle of leaving open large questions on which the controversy hinges. They state broadly extreme truths, and are silent about their adjustment. For instance, they say that all necessary faith must be proved from Scripture; but do not say _who_ is to prove it. They say, that the Church has authority in controversies; they do not say _what_ authority. They say that it may enforce nothing beyond Scripture, but do not say _where_ the remedy lies when it does. They say that works _before_ grace _and_ justification are worthless and worse, and that works _after_ grace _and_ justification are acceptable, but they do not speak at all of works _with_ God's aid _before_ justification. They say that men are lawfully called and sent to minister and preach, who are chosen and called by men who have public authority _given_ them in the Congregation; but they do not add _by whom_ the authority is to be given. They say that Councils called by _princes_ may err; they do not determine whether Councils called in the name of Christ may err."
Such were the considerations which weighed with me in my inquiry how far the Articles were tolerant of a Catholic, or even a Roman interpretation; and such was the defence which I made in my Tract for having attempted it. From what I have already said, it will appear that I have no need or intention at this day to maintain every particular interpretation which I suggested in the course of my Tract, nor indeed had I then. Whether it was prudent or not, whether it was sensible or not, anyhow I attempted only a first essay of a necessary work, an essay which, as I was quite prepared to find, would require revision and modification by means of the lights which I should gain from the criticism of others. I should have gladly withdrawn any statement, which could be proved to me to be erroneous; I considered my work to be faulty and objectionable in the same sense in which I now consider my Anglican interpretations of Scripture to be erroneous, but in no other sense. I am surprised that men do not apply to the interpreters of Scripture generally the hard names which they apply to the author of Tract 90. He held a large system of theology, and applied it to the Articles: Episcopalians, or Lutherans, or Presbyterians, or Unitarians, hold a large system of theology and apply it to Scripture. Every theology has its difficulties; Protestants hold justification by faith only, though there is no text in St. Paul which enunciates it, and though St. James expressly denies it; do we therefore call Protestants dishonest? they deny that the Church has a divine mission, though St. Paul says that it is "the Pillar and ground of Truth;" they keep the Sabbath, though St. Paul says, "Let no man judge you in meat or drink or in respect of ... the sabbath days." Every creed has texts in its favour, and again texts which run counter to it: and this is generally confessed. And this is what I felt keenly:--how had I done worse in Tract 90 than Anglicans, Wesleyans, and Calvinists did daily in their Sermons and their publications? How had I done worse, than the Evangelical party in their _ex animo_ reception of the Services for Baptism and Visitation of the Sick? Why was I to be dishonest and they immaculate? There was an occasion on which our Lord gave an answer, which seemed to be appropriate to my own case, when the tumult broke out against my Tract:--"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at him." I could have fancied that a sense of their own difficulties of interpretation would have persuaded the great party I have mentioned to some prudence, or at least moderation, in opposing a teacher of an opposite school. But I suppose their alarm and their anger overcame their sense of justice.
In the universal storm of indignation with which the Tract was received on its appearance, I recognise much of real religious feeling, much of honest and true principle, much of straightforward ignorant common sense. In Oxford there was genuine feeling too; but there had been a smouldering stern energetic animosity, not at all unnatural, partly rational, against its author. A false step had been made; now was the time for action. I am told that, even before the publication of the Tract, rumours of its contents had got into the hostile camp in an exaggerated form; and not a moment was lost in proceeding to action, when I was actually in the hands of the Philistines. I was quite unprepared for the outbreak, and was startled at its violence. I do not think I had any fear. Nay, I will add I am not sure that it was not in one point of view a relief to me.
I saw indeed clearly that my place in the Movement was lost; public confidence was at an end; my occupation was gone. It was simply an impossibility that I could say anything henceforth to good effect, when I had been posted up by the marshal on the buttery hatch of every College of my University, after the manner of discommoned pastry-cooks, and when in every part of the country and every class of society, through every organ and occasion of opinion, in newspapers, in periodicals, at meetings, in pulpits, at dinner-tables, in coffee-rooms, in railway carriages, I was denounced as a traitor who had laid his train and was detected in the very act of firing it against the time-honoured Establishment. There were indeed men, besides my own friends, men of name and position, who gallantly took my part, as Dr. Hook, Mr. Palmer, and Mr. Perceval: it must have been a grievous trial for themselves; yet what after all could they do for me? Confidence in me was lost;--but I had already lost full confidence in myself. Thoughts had passed over me a year and a half before which for the time had profoundly troubled me. They had gone: I had not less confidence in the power and the prospects of the apostolical movement than before; not less confidence than before in the grievousness of what I called the "dominant errors" of Rome: but how was I any more to have absolute confidence in myself? how was I to have confidence in my present confidence? how was I to be sure that I should always think as I thought now? I felt that by this event a kind Providence had saved me from an impossible position in the future.
First, if I remember right, they wished me to withdraw the Tract. This I refused to do: I would not do so for the sake of those who were unsettled or in danger of unsettlement. I would not do so for my own sake; for how could I acquiesce in a mere Protestant interpretation of the Articles? how could I range myself among the professors of a theology, of which it put my teeth on edge, even to hear the sound?
Next they said, "Keep silence; do not defend the Tract;" I answered, "Yes, if you will not condemn it--if you will allow it to continue on sale." They pressed on me whenever I gave way; they fell back when they saw me obstinate. Their line of action was to get out of me as much as they could; but upon the point of their tolerating the Tract I _was_ obstinate. So they let me continue it on sale; and they said they would not condemn it. But they said that this was on condition that I did not defend it, that I stopped the series, and that I myself published my own condemnation in a letter to the Bishop of Oxford. I impute nothing whatever to him, he was ever most kind to me. Also, they said they could not answer for what individual Bishops might perhaps say about the Tract in their own charges. I agreed to their conditions. My one point was to save the Tract.
Not a scrap of writing was given me, as a pledge of the performance on their side of the engagement. Parts of letters from them were read to me, without being put into my hands. It was an "understanding." A clever man had warned me against "understandings" some six years before: I have hated them ever since.
In the last words of my letter to the Bishop of Oxford I thus resigned my place in the Movement:--
"I have nothing to be sorry for," I say to him, "except having made your Lordship anxious, and others whom I am bound to revere. I have nothing to be sorry for, but everything to rejoice in and be thankful for. I have never taken pleasure in seeming to be able to move a party, and whatever influence I have had, has been found, not sought after. I have acted because others did not act, and have sacrificed a quiet which I prized. May God be with me in time to come, as He has been hitherto! and He will be, if I can but keep my hand clean and my heart pure. I think I can bear, or at least will try to bear, any personal humiliation, so that I am preserved from betraying sacred interests, which the Lord of grace and power has given into my charge."
 For instance, let candid men consider the form of Absolution contained in that Prayer Book, of which all clergymen, Evangelical and Liberal as well as high Church, and (I think) all persons in University office declare that "it containeth _nothing contrary to the Word of God_."
I challenge, in the sight of all England, Evangelical clergymen generally, to put on paper an interpretation of this form of words, consistent with their sentiments, which shall be less forced than the most objectionable of the interpretations which Tract 90 puts upon any passage in the Articles.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left _power_ to His Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in Him, of His great mercy forgive thee thine offences; and by _His authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins_, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
I subjoin the Roman form, as used in England and elsewhere "Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo, ab omni vinculo excommunicationis et interdicti, in quantum possum et tu indiges. Deinde ego te absolvo à peccatis tuis, in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritûs Sancti. Amen."
Part 5: History of My Religious Opinions--1839 – 1841
Apologia Pro Vita Sua By John Henry Cardinal Newman
Part 1: Mr. Kingsley's Method of Disputation
Part 2: True Mode of Meeting Mr. Kingsley
Part 3: History of My Religious Opinions
Part 4: History of My Religious Opinions--1833 – 1839
Part 5: History of My Religious Opinions--1839 – 1841
Part 6: History of My Religious Opinions--1841 – 1845
Part 7: General Answer to Mr. Kingsley
Appendix: Answer in Detail to Mr. Kingsley's Accusations
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