Apologia Pro Vita Sua
Part 5: History of My Religious Opinions--1839 - 1841
History of My Religious Opinions--1839-1841
And now that I am about to trace, as far as I can, the course of that great revolution of mind, which led me to leave my own home, to which I was bound by so many strong and tender ties, I feel overcome with the difficulty of satisfying myself in my account of it, and have recoiled from doing so, till the near approach of the day, on which these lines must be given to the world, forces me to set about the task. For who can know himself, and the multitude of subtle influences which act upon him? and who can recollect, at the distance of twenty-five years, all that he once knew about his thoughts and his deeds, and that, during a portion of his life, when even at the time his observation, whether of himself or of the external world, was less than before or after, by very reason of the perplexity and dismay which weighed upon him,--when, though it would be most unthankful to seem to imply that he had not all-sufficient light amid his darkness, yet a darkness it emphatically was? And who can gird himself suddenly to a new and anxious undertaking, which he might be able indeed to perform well, had he full and calm leisure to look through everything that he has written, whether in published works or private letters? but, on the other hand, as to that calm contemplation of the past, in itself so desirable, who can afford to be leisurely and deliberate, while he practises on himself a cruel operation, the ripping up of old griefs, and the venturing again upon the "infandum dolorem" of years, in which the stars of this lower heaven were one by one going out? I could not in cool blood, nor except upon the imperious call of duty, attempt what I have set myself to do. It is both to head and heart an extreme trial, thus to analyse what has so long gone by, and to bring out the results of that examination. I have done various bold things in my life: this is the boldest: and, were I not sure I should after all succeed in my object, it would be madness to set about it.
In the spring of 1839 my position in the Anglican Church was at its height. I had supreme confidence in my controversial _status_, and I had a great and still growing success, in recommending it to others. I had in the foregoing autumn been somewhat sore at the bishop's charge, but I have a letter which shows that all annoyance had passed from my mind. In January, if I recollect aright, in order to meet the popular clamour against myself and others, and to satisfy the bishop, I had collected into one all the strong things which they, and especially I, had said against the Church of Rome, in order to their insertion among the advertisements appended to our publications. Conscious as I was that my opinions in religion were not gained, as the world said, from Roman sources, but were, on the contrary, the birth of my own mind and of the circumstances in which I had been placed, I had a scorn of the imputations which were heaped upon me. It was true that I held a large bold system of religion, very unlike the Protestantism of the day, but it was the concentration and adjustment of the statements of great Anglican authorities, and I had as much right to do so as the Evangelical party had, and more right than the Liberal, to hold their own respective doctrines. As I spoke on occasion of Tract 90, I claimed, in behalf of who would, that he might hold in the Anglican Church a comprecation with the saints with Bramhall, and the Mass all but transubstantiation with Andrewes, or with Hooker that transubstantiation itself is not a point for Churches to part communion upon, or with Hammond that a general council, truly such, never did, never shall err in a matter of faith, or with Bull that man lost inward grace by the fall, or with Thorndike that penance is a propitiation for post-baptismal sin, or with Pearson that the all-powerful name of Jesus is no otherwise given than in the Catholic Church. "Two can play at that," was often in my mouth, when men of Protestant sentiments appealed to the Articles, Homilies, or Reformers; in the sense that, if they had a right to speak loud, I had both the liberty and the means of giving them tit for tat. I thought that the Anglican Church had been tyrannised over by a party, and I aimed at bringing into effect the promise contained in the motto to the Lyra, "They shall know the difference now." I only asked to be allowed to show them the difference.
What will best describe my state of mind at the early part of 1839, is an article in the _British Critic_ for that April. I have looked over it now, for the first time since it was published; and have been struck by it for this reason:--it contains the last words which I ever spoke as an Anglican to Anglicans. It may now be read as my parting address and valediction, made to my friends. I little knew it at the time. It reviews the actual state of things, and it ends by looking towards the future. It is not altogether mine; for my memory goes to this,--that I had asked a friend to do the work; that then, the thought came on me, that I would do it myself: and that he was good enough to put into my hands what he had with great appositeness written, and I embodied it into my article. Every one, I think, will recognise the greater part of it as mine. It was published two years before the affair of Tract 90, and was entitled "The State of Religious Parties."
In this article, I begin by bringing together testimonies from our enemies to the remarkable success of our exertions. One writer said: "Opinions and views of a theology of a very marked and peculiar kind have been extensively adopted and strenuously upheld, and are daily gaining ground among a considerable and influential portion of the members, as well as ministers of the Established Church." Another: The Movement has manifested itself "with the most rapid growth of the hot-bed of these evil days." Another: "The _Via Media_ is crowded with young enthusiasts, who never presume to argue, except against the propriety of arguing at all." Another: "Were I to give you a full list of the works, which they have produced within the short space of five years, I should surprise you. You would see what a task it would be to make yourself complete master of their system, even in its present probably immature state. The writers have adopted the motto, 'In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.' With regard to confidence, they have justified their adopting it; but as to quietness, it is not very quiet to pour forth such a succession of controversial publications." Another: "The spread of these doctrines is in fact now having the effect of rendering all other distinctions obsolete, and of severing the religious community into two portions, fundamentally and vehemently opposed one to the other. Soon there will be no middle ground left; and every man, and especially every clergyman, will be compelled to make his choice between the two." Another: "The time has gone by, when those unfortunate and deeply regretted publications can be passed over without notice, and the hope that their influence would fail is now dead." Another: "These doctrines had already made fearful progress. One of the largest churches in Brighton is crowded to hear them; so is the church at Leeds. There are few towns of note, to which they have not extended. They are preached in small towns in Scotland. They obtain in Elginshire, 600 miles north of London. I found them myself in the heart of the highlands of Scotland. They are advocated in the newspaper and periodical press. They have even insinuated themselves into the House of Commons." And, lastly, a bishop in a charge:--It "is daily assuming a more serious and alarming aspect. Under the specious pretence of deference to Antiquity and respect for primitive models, the foundations of the Protestant Church are undermined by men, who dwell within her walls, and those who sit in the Reformers' seat are traducing the Reformation."
After thus stating the phenomenon of the time, as it presented itself to those who did not sympathise in it, the Article proceeds to account for it; and this it does by considering it as a reaction from the dry and superficial character of the religious teaching and the literature of the last generation, or century, and as a result of the need which was felt both by the hearts and the intellects of the nation for a deeper philosophy, and as the evidence and as the partial fulfilment of that need, to which even the chief authors of the then generation had borne witness. First, I mentioned the literary influence of Walter Scott, who turned men's minds to the direction of the middle ages. "The general need," I said, "of something deeper and more attractive, than what had offered itself elsewhere, may be considered to have led to his popularity; and by means of his popularity he reacted on his readers, stimulating their mental thirst, feeding their hopes, setting before them visions, which, when once seen, are not easily forgotten, and silently indoctrinating them with nobler ideas, which might afterwards be appealed to as first principles."
Then I spoke of Coleridge, thus: "While history in prose and verse was thus made the instrument of Church feelings and opinions, a philosophical basis for the same was laid in England by a very original thinker, who, while he indulged a liberty of speculation, which no Christian can tolerate, and advocated conclusions which were often heathen rather than Christian, yet after all instilled a higher philosophy into inquiring minds, than they had hitherto been accustomed to accept. In this way he made trial of his age, and succeeded in interesting its genius in the cause of Catholic truth."
Then come Southey and Wordsworth, "two living poets, one of whom in the department of fantastic fiction, the other in that of philosophical meditation, have addressed themselves to the same high principles and feelings, and carried forward their readers in the same direction."
Then comes the prediction of this reaction hazarded by "a sagacious observer withdrawn from the world, and surveying its movements from a distance," Mr. Alexander Knox. He had said twenty years before the date of my writing: "No Church on earth has more intrinsic excellence than the English Church, yet no Church probably has less practical influence ... The rich provision, made by the grace and providence of God, for habits of a noble kind, is evidence that men shall arise, fitted both by nature and ability, to discover for themselves, and to display to others, whatever yet remains undiscovered, whether in the words or works of God." Also I referred to "a much venerated clergyman of the last generation," who said shortly before his death, "Depend on it, the day will come, when those great doctrines, now buried, will be brought out to the light of day, and then the effect will be fearful." I remarked upon this, that they who "now blame the impetuosity of the current, should rather turn their animadversions upon those who have dammed up a majestic river, till it had become a flood."
These being the circumstances under which the Movement began and progressed, it was absurd to refer it to the act of two or three individuals. It was not so much a movement as a "spirit afloat;" it was within us, "rising up in hearts where it was least suspected, and working itself, though not in secret, yet so subtly and impalpably, as hardly to admit of precaution or encounter on any ordinary human rules of opposition. It is," I continued, "an adversary in the air, a something one and entire, a whole wherever it is, unapproachable and incapable of being grasped, as being the result of causes far deeper than political or other visible agencies, the spiritual awakening of spiritual wants."
To make this clear, I proceed to refer to the chief preachers of the revived doctrines at that moment, and to draw attention to the variety of their respective antecedents. Dr. Hook and Mr. Churton represented the high Church dignitaries of the last century; Mr. Perceval, the tory aristocracy; Mr. Keble came from a country parsonage; Mr. Palmer from Ireland; Dr. Pusey from the Universities of Germany, and the study of Arabic MSS.; Mr. Dodsworth from the study of Prophecy; Mr. Oakeley had gained his views, as he himself expressed it, "partly by study, partly by reflection, partly by conversation with one or two friends, inquirers like himself;" while I speak of myself as being "much indebted to the friendship of Archbishop Whately." And thus I am led on to ask, "What head of a sect is there? What march of opinions can be traced from mind to mind among preachers such as these? They are one and all in their degree the organs of one Sentiment, which has risen up simultaneously in many places very mysteriously."
My train of thought next led me to speak of the disciples of the Movement, and I freely acknowledged and lamented that they needed to be kept in order. It is very much to the purpose to draw attention to this point now, when such extravagances as then occurred, whatever they were, are simply laid to my door, or to the charge of the doctrines which I advocated. A man cannot do more than freely confess what is wrong, say that it need not be, that it ought not to be, and that he is very sorry that it should be. Now I said in the Article, which I am reviewing, that the great truths themselves, which we were preaching, must not be condemned on account of such abuse of them. "Aberrations there must ever be, whatever the doctrine is, while the human heart is sensitive, capricious, and wayward. A mixed multitude went out of Egypt with the Israelites." "There will ever be a number of persons," I continued, "professing the opinions of a movement party, who talk loudly and strangely, do odd or fierce things, display themselves unnecessarily, and disgust other people; persons, too young to be wise, too generous to be cautious, too warm to be sober, or too intellectual to be humble. Such persons will be very apt to attach themselves to particular persons, to use particular names, to say things merely because others do, and to act in a party-spirited way."
While I thus republish what I then said about such extravagances as occurred in these years, at the same time I have a very strong conviction that they furnished quite as much the welcome excuse for those who were jealous or shy of us, as the stumbling-blocks of those who were well inclined to our doctrines. This too we felt at the time; but it was our duty to see that our good should not be evil-spoken of; and accordingly, two or three of the writers of the Tracts for the Times had commenced a Series of what they called "Plain Sermons" with the avowed purpose of discouraging and correcting whatever was uppish or extreme in our followers: to this series I contributed a volume myself.
Its conductors say in their Preface: "If therefore as time goes on, there shall be found persons, who admiring the innate beauty and majesty of the fuller system of Primitive Christianity, and seeing the transcendent strength of its principles, _shall become loud and voluble advocates_ in their behalf, speaking the more freely, _because they do not feel them deeply as founded_ in divine and eternal truth, of such persons _it is our duty to declare plainly_, that, as we should contemplate their condition with serious misgiving, _so would they be the last persons from whom we should_ seek support.
"But if, on the other hand, there shall be any, who, in the silent humility of their lives, and in their unaffected reverence for holy things, show that they in truth accept these principles as real and substantial, and by habitual purity of heart and serenity of temper, give proof of their deep veneration for sacraments and sacramental ordinances, those persons, _whether our professed adherents or not_, best exemplify the kind of character which the writers of the Tracts for the Times have wished to form."
These clergymen had the best of claims to use these beautiful words, for they were themselves, all of them, important writers in the Tracts, the two Mr. Kebles, and Mr. Isaac Williams. And this passage, with which they ushered their Series into the world, I quoted in the Article, of which I am giving an account, and I added, "What more can be required of the preachers of neglected truth, than that they should admit that some, who do not assent to their preaching, are holier and better men than some who do?" They were not answerable for the intemperance of those who dishonoured a true doctrine, provided they protested, as they did, against such intemperance. "They were not answerable for the dust and din which attends any great moral movement. The truer doctrines are, the more liable they are to be perverted."
The notice of these incidental faults of opinion or temper in adherents of the Movement, led on to a discussion of the secondary causes, by means of which a system of doctrine may be embraced, modified, or developed, of the variety of schools which may all be in the One Church, and of the succession of one phase of doctrine to another, while it is ever one and the same. Thus I was brought on to the subject of Antiquity, which was the basis of the doctrine of the _Via Media_, and by which was not implied a servile imitation of the past, but such a reproduction of it as is really young, while it is old. "We have good hope," I say, "that a system will be rising up, superior to the age, yet harmonising with, and carrying out its higher points, which will attract to itself those who are willing to make a venture and to face difficulties, for the sake of something higher in prospect. On this, as on other subjects, the proverb will apply, 'Fortes fortuna adjuvat.'"
Lastly, I proceeded to the question of that future of the Anglican Church, which was to be a new birth of the Ancient Religion. And I did not venture to pronounce upon it. "About the future, we have no prospect before our minds whatever, good or bad. Ever since that great luminary, Augustine, proved to be the last bishop of Hippo, Christians have had a lesson against attempting to foretell, _how_ Providence will prosper and" [or?] "bring to an end, what it begins." Perhaps the lately-revived principles would prevail in the Anglican Church; perhaps they would be lost in "some miserable schism, or some more miserable compromise; but there was nothing rash in venturing to predict that "neither Puritanism nor Liberalism had any permanent inheritance within her." I suppose I meant to say that in the present age, without the aid of apostolic principles, the Anglican Church would, in the event, cease to exist.
"As to Liberalism, we think the formularies of the Church will ever, with the aid of a good Providence, keep it from making any serious inroads upon the Clergy. Besides, it is too cold a principle to prevail with the multitude." But as regarded what was called Evangelical Religion or Puritanism, there was more to cause alarm. I observed upon its organisation; but on the other hand it had no intellectual basis; no internal idea, no principle of unity, no theology. "Its adherents," I said, "are already separating from each other; they will melt away like a snow-drift. It has no straightforward view on any one point, on which it professes to teach; and to hide its poverty, it has dressed itself out in a maze of words. We have no dread of it at all; we only fear what it may lead to. It does not stand on intrenched ground, or make any pretence to a position; it does but occupy the space between contending powers, Catholic Truth and Rationalism. Then indeed will be the stern encounter, when two real and living principles, simple, entire, and consistent, one in the Church, the other out of it, at length rush upon each other, contending not for names and words, or half-views, but for elementary notions and distinctive moral characters."
Whether the ideas of the coming age upon religion were true or false, they would be real. "In the present day," I said, "mistiness is the mother of wisdom. A man who can set down half-a-dozen general propositions, which escape from destroying one another only by being diluted into truisms, who can hold the balance between opposites so skilfully as to do without fulcrum or beam, who never enunciates a truth without guarding himself against being supposed to exclude the contradictory--who holds that Scripture is the only authority, yet that the Church is to be deferred to, that faith only justifies, yet that it does not justify without works, that grace does not depend on the sacraments, yet is not given without them, that bishops are a divine ordinance, yet those who have them not are in the same religious condition as those who have--this is your safe man and the hope of the Church; this is what the Church is said to want, not party men, but sensible, temperate, sober, well-judging persons, to guide it through the channel of no-meaning, between the Scylla and Charybdis of Aye and No."
This state of things, however, I said, could not last, if men were to read and think. They "will not keep standing in that very attitude which you call sound Church-of-Englandism or orthodox Protestantism. They cannot go on for ever standing on one leg, or sitting without a chair, or walking with their feet tied, or grazing like Tityrus's stags in the air. They will take one view or another, but it will be a consistent view. It may be Liberalism, or Erastianism, or Popery, or Catholicity; but it will be real."
I concluded the article by saying, that all who did not wish to be "democratic, or pantheistic, or popish," must "look out for _some_ Via Media which will preserve us from what threatens, though it cannot restore the dead. The spirit of Luther is dead; but Hildebrand and Loyola are alive. Is it sensible, sober, judicious, to be so very angry with those writers of the day, who point to the fact, that our divines of the seventeenth century have occupied a ground which is the true and intelligible mean between extremes? Is it wise to quarrel with this ground, because it is not exactly what we should choose, had we the power of choice? Is it true moderation, instead of trying to fortify a middle doctrine, to fling stones at those who do? ... Would you rather have your sons and daughters members of the Church of England or of the Church of Rome?"
And thus I left the matter. But, while I was thus speaking of the future of the Movement, I was in truth winding up my accounts with it, little dreaming that it was so to be;--while I was still, in some way or other, feeling about for an available _Via Media_, I was soon to receive a shock which was to cast out of my imagination all middle courses and compromises for ever. As I have said, this article appeared in the April number of the _British Critic_; in the July number, I cannot tell why, there is no article of mine; before the number for October, the event had happened to which I have alluded.
But before I proceed to describe what happened to me in the summer of 1839, I must detain the reader for a while, in order to describe the _issue_ of the controversy between Rome and the Anglican Church, as I viewed it. This will involve some dry discussion; but it is as necessary for my narrative, as plans of buildings and homesteads are often found to be in the proceedings of our law courts.
I have said already that, though the object of the Movement was to withstand the liberalism of the day, I found and felt this could not be done by mere negatives. It was necessary for us to have a positive Church theory erected on a definite basis. This took me to the great Anglican divines; and then of course I found at once that it was impossible to form any such theory, without cutting across the teaching of the Church of Rome. Thus came in the Roman controversy.
When I first turned myself to it, I had neither doubt on the subject, nor suspicion that doubt would ever come upon me. It was in this state of mind that I began to read up Bellarmine on the one hand, and numberless Anglican writers on the other. But I soon found, as others had found before me, that it was a tangled and manifold controversy, difficult to master, more difficult to put out of hand with neatness and precision. It was easy to make points, not easy to sum up and settle. It was not easy to find a clear issue for the dispute, and still less by a logical process to decide it in favour of Anglicanism. This difficulty, however, had no tendency whatever to harass or perplex me: it was a matter, not of convictions, but of proofs.
First I saw, as all see who study the subject, that a broad distinction had to be drawn between the actual state of belief and of usage in the countries which were in communion with the Roman Church, and her formal dogmas; the latter did not cover the former. Sensible pain, for instance, is not implied in the Tridentine decree upon purgatory; but it was the tradition of the Latin Church, and I had seen the pictures of souls in flames in the streets of Naples. Bishop Lloyd had brought this distinction out strongly in an Article in the _British Critic_ in 1825; indeed, it was one of the most common objections made to the Church of Rome, that she dared not commit herself by formal decree, to what nevertheless she sanctioned and allowed. Accordingly, in my Prophetical Office, I view as simply separate ideas, Rome quiescent, and Rome in action. I contrasted her creed on the one hand, with her ordinary teaching, her controversial tone, her political and social bearing, and her popular beliefs and practices on the other.
While I made this distinction between the decrees and the traditions of Rome, I drew a parallel distinction between Anglicanism quiescent, and Anglicanism in action. In its formal creed Anglicanism was not at a great distance from Rome: far otherwise, when viewed in its insular spirit, the traditions of its establishment, its historical characteristics, its controversial rancour, and its private judgment. I disavowed and condemned those excesses, and called them "Protestantism" or "Ultra-Protestantism:" I wished to find a parallel disclaimer, on the part of Roman controversialists, of that popular system of beliefs and usages in their own Church, which I called "Popery." When that hope was a dream, I saw that the controversy lay between the book-theology of Anglicanism on the one side, and the living system of what I called Roman corruption on the other. I could not get further than this; with this result I was forced to content myself.
These then were the _parties_ in the controversy:--the Anglican _Via Media_ and the popular religion of Rome. And next, as to the _issue_, to which the controversy between them was to be brought, it was this:--the Anglican disputant took his stand upon Antiquity or apostolicity, the Roman upon Catholicity. The Anglican said to the Roman: "There is but One Faith, the Ancient, and you have not kept to it;" the Roman retorted: "There is but One Church, the Catholic, and you are out of it." The Anglican urged: "Your special beliefs, practices, modes of action, are nowhere in Antiquity;" the Roman objected: "You do not communicate with any one Church besides your own and its offshoots, and you have discarded principles, doctrines, sacraments, and usages, which are and ever have been received in the East and the West." The true Church, as defined in the Creeds, was both Catholic and Apostolic; now, as I viewed the controversy in which I was engaged, England and Rome had divided these notes or prerogatives between them: the cause lay thus, Apostolicity _versus_ Catholicity.
However, in thus stating the matter, of course I do not wish it supposed, that I considered the note of Catholicity really to belong to Rome, to the disparagement of the Anglican Church; but that the special point or plea of Rome in the controversy was Catholicity, as the Anglican plea was Antiquity. Of course I contended that the Roman idea of Catholicity was not ancient and apostolic. It was in my judgment at the utmost only natural, becoming, expedient, that the whole of Christendom should be united in one visible body; while such a unity might be, on the other hand, a mere heartless and political combination. For myself, I held with the Anglican divines, that, in the Primitive Church, there was a very real mutual independence between its separate parts, though, from a dictate of charity, there was in fact a close union between them. I considered that each see and diocese might be compared to a crystal, and that each was similar to the rest, and that the sum total of them all was only a collection of crystals. The unity of the Church lay, not in its being a polity, but in its being a family, a race, coming down by apostolical descent from its first founders and bishops. And I considered this truth brought out, beyond the possibility of dispute, in the Epistles of St. Ignatius, in which the bishop is represented as the one supreme authority in the Church, that is, in his own place, with no one above him, except as, for the sake of ecclesiastical order and expedience, arrangements had been made by which one was put over or under another. So much for our own claim to Catholicity, which was so perversely appropriated by our opponents to themselves:--on the other hand, as to our special strong point, Antiquity, while of course, by means of it, we were able to condemn most emphatically the novel claim of Rome to domineer over other Churches, which were in truth her equals, further than that, we thereby especially convicted her of the intolerable offence of having added to the Faith. This was the critical head of accusation urged against her by the Anglican disputant, and, as he referred to St. Ignatius in proof that he himself was a true Catholic, in spite of being separated from Rome, so he triumphantly referred to the Treatise of Vincentius of Lerins upon the "Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus," in proof that the controversialists of Rome were separated in their creed from the apostolical and primitive faith.
Of course those controversialists had their own answer to him, with which I am not concerned in this place; here I am only concerned with the issue itself, between the one party and the other--Antiquity _versus_ Catholicity.
Now I will proceed to illustrate what I have been saying of the _status_ of the controversy, as it presented itself to my mind, by extracts from my writings of the dates of 1836, 1840, and 1841. And I introduce them with a remark, which especially applies to the paper, from which I shall quote first, of the date of 1836. That paper appeared in the March and April numbers of the _British Magazine_ of that year, and was entitled "Home Thoughts Abroad." Now it will be found, that, in the discussion which it contains, as in various other writings of mine, when I was in the Anglican Church, the argument in behalf of Rome is stated with considerable perspicuity and force. And at the time my friends and supporters cried out "How imprudent!" and both at the time, and especially at a later date, my enemies have cried out, "How insidious!" Friends and foes virtually agreed in their criticism; I had set out the cause which I was combating to the best advantage: this was an offence; it might be from imprudence, it might be with a traitorous design. It was from neither the one nor the other; but for the following reasons. First, I had a great impatience, whatever was the subject, of not bringing out the whole of it, as clearly as I could; next I wished to be as fair to my adversaries as possible; and thirdly I thought that there was a great deal of shallowness among our own friends, and that they undervalued the strength of the argument in behalf of Rome, and that they ought to be roused to a more exact apprehension of the position of the controversy. At a later date (1841), when I really felt the force of the Roman side of the question myself, as a difficulty which had to be met, I had a fourth reason for such frankness in argument, and that was, because a number of persons were unsettled far more than I was, as to the Catholicity of the Anglican Church. It was quite plain, that, unless I was perfectly candid in stating what could be said against it, there was no chance that any representations, which I felt to be in its favour, or at least to be adverse to Rome, would have had their real weight duly acknowledged. At all times I had a deep conviction, to put the matter on the lowest ground, that "honesty was the best policy." Accordingly, in 1841, I expressed myself thus on the Anglican difficulty: "This is an objection which we must honestly say is deeply felt by many people, and not inconsiderable ones; and the more it is openly avowed to be a difficulty, the better; for there is then the chance of its being acknowledged, and in the course of time obviated, as far as may be, by those who have the power. Flagrant evils cure themselves by being flagrant; and we are sanguine that the time is come when so great an evil as this is, cannot stand its ground against the good feeling and common sense of religious persons. It is the very strength of Romanism against us; and, unless the proper persons take it into their serious consideration, they may look for certain to undergo the loss, as time goes on, of some whom they would least like to be lost to our Church." The measure which I had especially in view in this passage, was the project of a Jerusalem Bishopric, which the then Archbishop of Canterbury was at that time concocting with M. Bunsen, and of which I shall speak more in the sequel. And now to return to the Home Thoughts Abroad of the spring of 1836:--
The discussion contained in this composition runs in the form of a dialogue. One of the disputants says: "You say to me that the Church of Rome is corrupt. What then? to cut off a limb is a strange way of saving it from the influence of some constitutional ailment. Indigestion may cause cramp in the extremities; yet we spare our poor feet notwithstanding. Surely there is such a religious _fact_ as the existence of a great Catholic body, union with which is a Christian privilege and duty. Now, we English are separate from it."
The other answers: "The present is an unsatisfactory, miserable state of things, yet I can grant no more. The Church is founded on a doctrine,--on the gospel of Truth; it is a means to an end. Perish the Church (though, blessed be the promise! this cannot be), yet let it perish _rather_ than the Truth should fail. Purity of faith is more precious to the Christian than unity itself. If Rome has erred grievously in doctrine, then it is a duty to separate even from Rome."
His friend, who takes the Roman side of the argument, refers to the image of the Vine and its branches, which is found, I think, in St. Cyprian, as if a branch cut from the Catholic Vine must necessarily die. Also he quotes a passage from St. Augustine in controversy with the Donatists to the same effect; viz. that, as being separated from the body of the Church, they were _ipso facto_ cut off from the heritage of Christ. And he quotes St. Cyril's argument drawn from the very title Catholic, which no body or communion of men has ever dared or been able to appropriate, besides one. He adds, "Now, I am only contending for the fact, that the communion of Rome constitutes the main body of the Church Catholic, and that we are split off from it, and in the condition of the Donatists."
The other replies, by denying the fact that the present Roman communion is like St. Augustine's Catholic Church, inasmuch as there are to be taken into account the large Anglican and Greek communions. Presently he takes the offensive, naming distinctly the points, in which Rome has departed from Primitive Christianity, viz. "the practical idolatry, the virtual worship of the Virgin and Saints, which are the offence of the Latin Church, and the degradation of moral truth and duty, which follows from these." And again: "We cannot join a Church, did we wish it ever so much, which does not acknowledge our orders, refuses us the Cup, demands our acquiescence in image-worship, and excommunicates us, if we do not receive it and all the decisions of the Tridentine Council."
His opponent answers these objections by referring to the doctrine of "developments of gospel truth." Besides, "The Anglican system itself is not found complete in those early centuries; so that the [Anglican] principle [of Antiquity] is self-destructive." "When a man takes up this _Via Media_, he is a mere _doctrinaire_;" he is like those, "who, in some matter of business, start up to suggest their own little crotchet, and are ever measuring mountains with a pocket ruler, or improving the planetary courses." "The _Via Media_ has slept in libraries; it is a substitute of infancy for manhood."
It is plain, then, that at the end of 1835 or beginning of 1836, I had the whole state of the question before me, on which, to my mind, the decision between the Churches depended. It is observable that the question of the position of the Pope, whether as the centre of unity, or as the source of jurisdiction, did not come into my thoughts at all; nor did it, I think I may say, to the end. I doubt whether I ever distinctly held any of his powers to be _de jure divino_, while I was in the Anglican Church;--not that I saw any difficulty in the doctrine; not that, together with the story of St. Leo, of which I shall speak by and by, the idea of his infallibility did not cross my mind, for it did--but after all, in my view the controversy did not turn upon it; it turned upon the Faith and the Church. This was my issue of the controversy from the beginning to the end. There was a contrariety of claims between the Roman and Anglican religions, and the history of my conversion is simply the process of working it out to a solution. In 1838 I illustrated it by the contrast presented to us between the Madonna and Child, and a Calvary. I said that the peculiarity of the Anglican theology was this--that it "supposed the Truth to be entirely objective and detached, not" (as the Roman) "lying hid in the bosom of the Church as if one with her, clinging to and (as it were) lost her embrace, but as being sole and unapproachable, as on the Cross or at the Resurrection, with the Church close by, but in the background."
As I viewed the controversy in 1836 and 1838, so I viewed it in 1840 and 1841. In the _British Critic_ of January 1840, after gradually investigating how the matter lies between the Churches by means of a dialogue, I end thus: "It would seem, that, in the above discussion, each disputant has a strong point: our strong point is the argument from Primitiveness, that of Romanists from Universality. It is a fact, however it is to be accounted for, that Rome has added to the Creed; and it is a fact, however we justify ourselves, that we are estranged from the great body of Christians over the world. And each of these two facts is at first sight a grave difficulty in the respective systems to which they belong." Again, "While Rome, though not deferring to the Fathers, recognises them, and England, not deferring to the large body of the Church, recognises it, both Rome and England have a point to clear up."
And still more strongly in July, 1841:
"If the Note of schism, on the one hand, lies against England, an antagonist disgrace lies upon Rome, the Note of idolatry. Let us not be mistaken here; we are neither accusing Rome of idolatry, nor ourselves of schism; we think neither charge tenable; but still the Roman Church practises what is so like idolatry, and the English Church makes much of what is so very like schism, that without deciding what is the duty of a Roman Catholic towards the Church of England in her present state, we do seriously think that members of the English Church have a providential direction given them, how to comport themselves towards the Church of Rome, while she is what she is."
One remark more about Antiquity and the _Via Media_. As time went on, without doubting the strength of the Anglican argument from Antiquity, I felt also that it was not merely our special plea, but our only one. Also I felt that the _Via Media_, which was to represent it, was to be a sort of remodelled and adapted Antiquity. This I observe both in Home Thoughts Abroad, and in the Article of the _British Critic_ which I have analysed above. But this circumstance, that after all we must use private judgment upon Antiquity, created a sort of distrust of my theory altogether, which in the conclusion of my volume on the Prophetical Office I express thus: "Now that our discussions draw to a close, the thought, with which we entered on the subject, is apt to recur, when the excitement of the inquiry has subsided, and weariness has succeeded, that what has been said is but a dream, the wanton exercise, rather than the practical conclusions of the intellect." And I conclude the paragraph by anticipating a line of thought into which I was, in the event, almost obliged to take refuge: "After all," I say, "the Church is ever invisible in its day, and faith only apprehends it." What was this, but to give up the Notes of a visible Church altogether, whether the Catholic Note or the Apostolic?
The Long Vacation of 1839 began early. There had been a great many visitors to Oxford from Easter to Commemoration; and Dr. Pusey and myself had attracted attention, more, I think, than any former year. I had put away from me the controversy with Rome for more than two years. In my Parochial Sermons the subject had never been introduced: there had been nothing for two years, either in my Tracts or in the _British Critic_, of a polemical character. I was returning, for the vacation, to the course of reading which I had many years before chosen as especially my own. I have no reason to suppose that the thoughts of Rome came across my mind at all. About the middle of June I began to study and master the history of the Monophysites. I was absorbed in the doctrinal question. This was from about June 13th to August 30th. It was during this course of reading that for the first time a doubt came upon me of the tenableness of Anglicanism. I recollect on the 30th of July mentioning to a friend, whom I had accidentally met, how remarkable the history was; but by the end of August I was seriously alarmed.
I have described in a former work, how the history affected me. My stronghold was Antiquity; now here, in the middle of the fifth century, I found, as it seemed to me, Christendom of the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries reflected. I saw my face in that mirror, and I was a Monophysite. The Church of the _Via Media_ was in the position of the Oriental communion, Rome was, where she now is; and the Protestants were the Eutychians. Of all passages of history, since history has been, who would have thought of going to the sayings and doings of old Eutyches, that _delirus senex_, as (I think) Petavius calls him, and to the enormities of the unprincipled Dioscorus, in order to be converted to Rome!
Now let it be simply understood that I am not writing controversially, but with the one object of relating things as they happened to me in the course of my conversion. With this view I will quote a passage from the account, which I gave in 1850, of my reasonings and feelings in 1839:
"It was difficult to make out how the Eutychians or Monophysites were heretics, unless Protestants and Anglicans were heretics also; difficult to find arguments against the Tridentine Fathers, which did not tell against the Fathers of Chalcedon; difficult to condemn the Popes of the sixteenth century, without condemning the Popes of the fifth. The drama of religion, and the combat of truth and error, were ever one and the same. The principles and proceedings of the Church now, were those of the Church then; the principles and proceedings of heretics then, were those of Protestants now. I found it so,--almost fearfully; there was an awful similitude, more awful, because so silent and unimpassioned, between the dead records of the past and the feverish chronicle of the present. The shadow of the fifth century was on the sixteenth. It was like a spirit rising from the troubled waters of the old world, with the shape and lineaments of the new. The Church then, as now, might be called peremptory and stern, resolute, overbearing, and relentless; and heretics were shifting, changeable, reserved, and deceitful, ever courting civil power, and never agreeing together, except by its aid; and the civil power was ever aiming at comprehensions, trying to put the invisible out of view, and substituting expediency for faith. What was the use of continuing the controversy, or defending my position, if, after all, I was forging arguments for Arius or Eutyches, and turning devil's advocate against the much-enduring Athanasius and the majestic Leo? Be my soul with the Saints! and shall I lift up my hand against them? Sooner may my right hand forget her cunning, and wither outright, as his who once stretched it out against a prophet of God! anathema to a whole tribe of Cranmers, Ridleys, Latimers, and Jewels! perish the names of Bramhall, Ussher, Taylor, Stillingfleet, and Barrow from the face of the earth, ere I should do aught but fall at their feet in love and in worship, whose image was continually before my eyes, and whose musical words were ever in my ears and on my tongue!"
Hardly had I brought my course of reading to a close, when the _Dublin Review_ of that same August was put into my hands, by friends who were more favourable to the cause of Rome than I was myself. There was an Article in it on the "Anglican Claim" by Bishop Wiseman. This was about the middle of September. It was on the Donatists, with an application to Anglicanism. I read it, and did not see much in it. The Donatist controversy was known to me for some years, as I have instanced above. The case was not parallel to that of the Anglican Church. St. Augustine in Africa wrote against the Donatists in Africa. They were a furious party who made a schism within the African Church, and not beyond its limits. It was a case of altar against altar, of two occupants of the same see, as that between the non-jurors in England and the Established Church; not the case of one Church against another, as Rome against the Oriental Monophysites. But my friend, an anxiously religious man, now, as then, very dear to me, a Protestant still, pointed out the palmary words of St. Augustine, which were contained in one of the extracts made in the _Review_, and which had escaped my observation. "Securus judicat orbis terrarum." He repeated these words again and again, and, when he was gone, they kept ringing in my ears. "Securus judicat orbis terrarum;" they were words which went beyond the occasion of the Donatists: they applied to that of the Monophysites. They gave a cogency to the Article, which had escaped me at first. They decided ecclesiastical questions on a simpler rule than that of Antiquity; nay, St. Augustine was one of the prime oracles of Antiquity; here then Antiquity was deciding against itself. What a light was hereby thrown upon every controversy in the Church! not that, for the moment, the multitude may not falter in their judgment,--not that, in the Arian hurricane, Sees more than can be numbered did not bend before its fury, and fall off from St. Athanasius,--not that the crowd of Oriental Bishops did not need to be sustained during the contest by the voice and the eye of St. Leo; but that the deliberate judgment, in which the whole Church at length rests and acquiesces, is an infallible prescription and a final sentence against such portions of it as protest and secede. Who can account for the impressions which are made on him? For a mere sentence, the words of St. Augustine, struck me with a power which I never had felt from any words before. To take a familiar instance, they were like the "Turn again Whittington" of the chime; or, to take a more serious one, they were like the "Tolle, lege,--Tolle, lege," of the child, which converted St. Augustine himself. "Securus judicat orbis terrarum!" By those great words of the ancient Father, the theory of the _Via Media_ was absolutely pulverised.
I became excited at the view thus opened upon me. I was just starting on a round of visits; and I mentioned my state of mind to two most intimate friends: I think to no others. After a while, I got calm, and at length the vivid impression upon my imagination faded away. What I thought about it on reflection, I will attempt to describe presently. I had to determine its logical value, and its bearing upon my duty. Meanwhile, so far as this was certain,--I had seen the shadow of a hand upon the wall. It was clear that I had a good deal to learn on the question of the Churches, and that perhaps some new light was coming upon me. He who has seen a ghost, cannot be as if he had never seen it. The heavens had opened and closed again. The thought for the moment had been, "The Church of Rome will be found right after all;" and then it had vanished. My old convictions remained as before.
At this time, I wrote my Sermon on Divine Calls, which I published in my volume of Plain Sermons. It ends thus:--
"O that we could take that simple view of things, as to feel that the one thing which lies before us is to please God! What gain is it to please the world, to please the great, nay even to please those whom we love, compared with this? What gain is it to be applauded, admired, courted, followed,--compared with this one aim, of 'not being disobedient to a heavenly vision'? What can this world offer comparable with that insight into spiritual things, that keen faith, that heavenly peace, that high sanctity, that everlasting righteousness, that hope of glory, which they have, who in sincerity love and follow our Lord Jesus Christ? Let us beg and pray Him day by day to reveal Himself to our souls more fully, to quicken our senses, to give us sight and hearing, taste and touch of the world to come; so to work within us, that we may sincerely say, 'Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and after that receive me with glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.'"
Now to trace the succession of thoughts, and the conclusions, and the consequent innovations on my previous belief, and the general conduct, to which I was led, upon this sudden visitation. And first, I will say, whatever comes of saying it, for I leave inferences to others, that for years I must have had something of an habitual notion, though it was latent, and had never led me to distrust my own convictions, that my mind had not found its ultimate rest, and that in some sense or other I was on journey. During the same passage across the Mediterranean in which I wrote "Lead kindly light," I also wrote the verses, which are found in the Lyra under the head of "Providences," beginning, "When I look back." This was in 1833; and, since I have begun this narrative, I have found a memorandum under the date of September 7, 1829, in which I speak of myself, as "now in my rooms in Oriel College, slowly advancing etc. and led on by God's hand blindly, not knowing whither He is taking me." But, whatever this presentiment be worth, it was no protection against the dismay and disgust, which I felt, in consequence of the dreadful misgiving, of which I have been relating the history. The one question was, what was I to do? I had to make up my mind for myself, and others could not help me. I determined to be guided, not by my imagination, but by my reason. And this I said over and over again in the years which followed, both in conversation and in private letters. Had it not been for this severe resolve, I should have been a Catholic sooner than I was. Moreover, I felt on consideration a positive doubt, on the other hand, whether the suggestion did not come from below. Then I said to myself, Time alone can solve that question. It was my business to go on as usual, to obey those convictions to which I had so long surrendered myself, which still had possession of me, and on which my new thoughts had no direct bearing. That new conception of things should only so far influence me, as it had a logical claim to do so. If it came from above, it would come again;--so I trusted,--and with more definite outlines. I thought of Samuel, before "he knew the word of the Lord;" and therefore I went, and lay down to sleep again. This was my broad view of the matter, and my _prima facie_ conclusion.
However, my new historical fact had to a certain point a logical force. Down had come the _Via Media_ as a definite theory or scheme, under the blows of St. Leo. My "Prophetical Office" had come to pieces; not indeed as an argument against "Roman errors," nor as against Protestantism, but as in behalf of England. I had no more a distinctive plea for Anglicanism, unless I would be a Monophysite. I had, most painfully, to fall back upon my three original points of belief, which I have spoken so much of in a former passage,--the principle of dogma, the sacramental system, and anti-Romanism. Of these three, the first two were better secured in Rome than in the Anglican Church. The Apostolical Succession, the two prominent sacraments, and the primitive Creeds, belonged, indeed, to the latter, but there had been and was far less strictness on matters of dogma and ritual in the Anglican system than in the Roman: in consequence, my main argument for the Anglican claims lay in the positive and special charges, which I could bring against Rome. I had no positive Anglican theory. I was very nearly a pure Protestant. Lutherans had a sort of theology, so had Calvinists; I had none.
However, this pure Protestantism, to which I was gradually left, was really a practical principle. It was a strong, though it was only a negative ground, and it still had great hold on me. As a boy of fifteen, I had so fully imbibed it, that I had actually erased in my _Gradus ad Parnassum_, such titles, under the word "Papa," as "Christi Vicarius," "sacer interpres," and "sceptra gerens," and substituted epithets so vile that I cannot bring myself to write them down here. The effect of this early persuasion remained as, what I have already called it, a "stain upon my imagination." As regards my reason, I began in 1833 to form theories on the subject, which tended to obliterate it. In the first part of Home Thoughts Abroad, written in that year, after speaking of Rome as "undeniably the most exalted Church in the whole world," and manifesting, "in all the truth and beauty of the Spirit, that side of high mental excellence, which Pagan Rome attempted but could not realise,--high-mindedness, majesty, and the calm consciousness of power,"--I proceed to say, "Alas! ...the old spirit has revived, and the monster of Daniel's vision, untamed by its former judgments, has seized upon Christianity as the new instrument of its impieties, and awaits a second and final woe from God's hand. Surely the doctrine of the _Genius Loci_ is not without foundation, and explains to us how the blessing or the curse attaches to cities and countries, not to generations. Michael is represented [in the book of Daniel] as opposed to the Prince of the kingdom of Persia. Old Rome is still alive. The Sorceress upon the Seven Hills, in the book of Revelation, is not the Church of Rome, but Rome itself, the bad spirit, which, in its former shape, was the animating spirit of the Fourth Monarchy." Then I refer to St. Malachi's Prophecy which "makes a like distinction between the City and the Church of Rome. 'In the last persecution,' it says, 'of the Holy Roman Church, Peter of Rome shall be on the throne, who shall feed his flock in many tribulations. When these are past, the City upon the Seven Hills shall be destroyed, and the awful Judge shall judge the people.'" Then I append my moral. "I deny that the distinction is unmeaning; Is it nothing to be able to look on our Mother, to whom we owe the blessing of Christianity, with affection instead of hatred? with pity indeed, aye, and fear, but not with horror? Is it nothing to rescue her from the hard names, which interpreters of prophecy have put upon her, as an idolatress and an enemy of God, when she is deceived rather than a deceiver? Nothing to be able to account her priests as ordained of God, and anointed for their spiritual functions by the Holy Spirit, instead of considering her communion the bond of Satan?" This was my first advance in rescuing, on an intelligible, intellectual basis, the Roman Church from the designation of Antichrist; it was not the Church, but the old dethroned Pagan monster, still living in the ruined city, that was Antichrist.
In a Tract in 1838, I profess to give the opinions of the Fathers on the subject, and the conclusions to which I come, are still less violent against the Roman Church, though on the same basis as before. I say that the local Christian Church of Rome has been the means of shielding the pagan city from the fulness of those judgments, which are due to it; and that, in consequence of this, though Babylon has been utterly swept from the earth, Rome remains to this day. The reason seemed to be simply this, that, when the barbarians came down, God had a people in that city. Babylon was a mere prison of the Church; Rome had received her as a guest. "That vengeance has never fallen: it is still suspended; nor can reason be given why Rome has not fallen under the rule of God's general dealings with His rebellious creatures, except that a Christian Church is still in that city, sanctifying it, interceding for it, saving it." I add in a note, "No opinion, one way or the other, is here expressed as to the question, how far, as the local Church has saved Rome, so Rome has corrupted the local Church; or whether the local Church in consequence, or again whether other Churches elsewhere, may or may not be types of Antichrist." I quote all this in order to show how Bishop Newton was still upon my mind even in 1838; and how I was feeling after some other interpretation of prophecy instead of his, and not without a good deal of hesitation.
However, I have found notes written in March, 1839, which anticipate my article in the _British Critic_ of October, 1840, in which I contended that the Churches of Rome and England were both one, and also the one true Church, for the very reason that they had both been stigmatised by the name of Antichrist, proving my point from the text, "If they have called the Master of the House Beelzebub, how much more them of His household," and quoting largely from Puritans and Independents to show that, in their mouths, the Anglican Church is Antichrist and Anti-christian as well as the Roman. I urged in that article that the calumny of being Antichrist is almost "one of the notes of the true Church;" and that "there is no medium between a Vice-Christ and Anti-Christ;" for "it is not the _acts_ that make the difference between them, but the _authority_ for those acts." This of course was a new mode of viewing the question; but we cannot unmake ourselves or change our habits in a moment. It is quite clear, that, if I dared not commit myself in 1838, to the belief that the Church of Rome was not a type of Antichrist, I could not have thrown off the unreasoning prejudice and suspicion, which I cherished about her, for some time after, at least by fits and starts, in spite of the conviction of my reason. I cannot prove this, but I believe it to have been the case from what I recollect of myself. Nor was there anything in the history of St. Leo and the Monophysites to undo the firm belief I had in the existence of what I called the practical abuses and excesses of Rome.
To the inconsistencies then, to the ambition and intrigue, to the sophistries of Rome (as I considered them to be) I had recourse in my opposition to her, both public and personal. I did so by way of a relief. I had a great and growing dislike, after the summer of 1839, to speak against the Roman Church herself or her formal doctrines. I was very averse to speak against doctrines, which might possibly turn out to be true, though at the time I had no reason for thinking they were, or against the Church, which had preserved them. I began to have misgivings, that, strong as my own feelings had been against her, yet in some things which I had said, I had taken the statements of Anglican divines for granted without weighing them for myself. I said to a friend in 1840, in a letter, which I shall use presently, "I am troubled by doubts whether as it is, I have not, in what I have published, spoken too strongly against Rome, though I think I did it in a kind of faith, being determined to put myself into the English system, and say all that our divines said, whether I had fully weighed it or not." I was sore about the great Anglican divines, as if they had taken me in, and made me say strong things, which facts did not justify. Yet I _did_ still hold in substance all that I had said against the Church of Rome in my Prophetical Office. I felt the force of the usual Protestant objections against her; I believed that we had the apostolical succession in the Anglican Church, and the grace of the sacraments; I was not sure that the difficulty of its isolation might not be overcome, though I was far from sure that it could. I did not see any clear proof that it had committed itself to any heresy, or had taken part against the truth; and I was not sure that it would not revive into full apostolic purity and strength, and grow into union with Rome herself (Rome explaining her doctrines and guarding against their abuse), that is, if we were but patient and hopeful. I wished for union between the Anglican Church and Rome, if, and when, it was possible; and I did what I could to gain weekly prayers for that object. The ground which I felt good against her was the moral ground: I felt I could not be wrong in striking at her political and social line of action. The alliance of a dogmatic religion with liberals, high or low, seemed to me a providential direction against moving towards it, and a better "Preservative against Popery," than the three volumes of folio, in which, I think, that prophylactic is to be found. However, on occasions which demanded it, I felt it a duty to give out plainly all that I thought, though I did not like to do so. One such instance occurred, when I had to publish a letter about Tract 90. In that letter I said, "Instead of setting before the soul the Holy Trinity, and heaven and hell, the Church of Rome does seem to me, as a popular system, to preach the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, and purgatory." On this occasion I recollect expressing to a friend the distress it gave me thus to speak; but, I said, "How can I help saying it, if I think it? and I _do_ think it; my Bishop calls on me to say out what I think; and that is the long and the short of it." But I recollected Hurrell Froude's words to me, almost his dying words, "I must enter another protest against your cursing and swearing. What good can it do? and I call it uncharitable to an excess. How mistaken we may ourselves be, on many points that are only gradually opening on us!"
Instead then of speaking of errors in doctrine, I was driven, by my state of mind, to insist upon the political conduct, the controversial bearing, and the social methods and manifestations of Rome. And here I found a matter close at hand, which affected me most sensibly too, because it was before my eyes. I can hardly describe too strongly my feeling upon it. I had an unspeakable aversion to the policy and acts of Mr. O'Connell, because, as I thought, he associated himself with men of all religions and no religion against the Anglican Church, and advanced Catholicism by violence and intrigue. When then I found him taken up by the English Catholics, and, as I supposed, at Rome, I considered I had a fulfilment before my eyes how the Court of Rome played fast and loose, and fulfilled the bad points which I had seen put down in books against it. Here we saw what Rome was in action, whatever she might be when quiescent. Her conduct was simply secular and political.
This feeling led me into the excess of being very rude to that zealous and most charitable man, Mr. Spencer, when he came to Oxford in January, 1840, to get Anglicans to set about praying for unity. I myself then, or soon after, drew up such prayers; it was one of the first thoughts which came upon me after my shock, but I was too much annoyed with the political action of the members of the Roman Church in England to wish to have anything to do with them personally. So glad in my heart was I to see him when he came to my rooms, whither Mr. Palmer of Magdalen brought him, that I could have laughed for joy; I think I did; but I was very rude to him, I would not meet him at dinner, and that (though I did not say so) because I considered him "in loco apostatæ" from the Anglican Church, and I hereby beg his pardon for it. I wrote afterwards with a view to apologise, but I dare say he must have thought that I made the matter worse, for these were my words to him:--
"The news that you are praying for us is most touching, and raises a variety of indescribable emotions. May their prayers return abundantly into their own bosoms! Why then do I not meet you in a manner conformable with these first feelings? For this single reason, if I may say it, that your acts are contrary to your words. You invite us to a union of hearts, at the same time that you are doing all you can, not to restore, not to reform, not to reunite, but to destroy our Church. You go further than your principles require. You are leagued with our enemies. 'The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.' This is what especially distresses us; this is what we cannot understand, how Christians, like yourselves, with the clear view you have that a warfare is ever waging in the world between good and evil, should, in the present state of England, ally yourselves with the side of evil against the side of good.... Of parties now in the country, you cannot but allow, that next to yourselves we are nearest to revealed truth. We maintain great and holy principles; we profess Catholic doctrines.... So near are we as a body to yourselves in modes of thinking, as even to have been taunted with the nicknames which belong to you; and, on the other hand, if there are professed infidels, scoffers, sceptics, unprincipled men, rebels, they are found among our opponents. And yet you take part with them against us.... You consent to act hand in hand [with these and others] for our overthrow. Alas! all this it is that impresses us irresistibly with the notion that you are a political, not a religious party; that, in order to gain an end on which you set your hearts,--an open stage for yourselves in England--you ally yourselves with those who hold nothing against those who hold something. This is what distresses my own mind so greatly, to speak of myself, that, with limitations which need not now be mentioned, I cannot meet familiarly any leading persons of the Roman Communion, and least of all when they come on a religious errand. Break off, I would say, with Mr. O'Connell in Ireland and the liberal party in England, or come not to us with overtures for mutual prayer and religious sympathy."
And here came in another feeling, of a personal nature, which had little to do with the argument against Rome, except that, in my prejudice, I connected it with my own ideas of the usual conduct of her advocates and instruments. I was very stern upon any interference in our Oxford matters on the part of charitable Catholics, and on any attempt to do me good personally. There was nothing, indeed, at the time more likely to throw me back. "Why do you meddle? why cannot you let me alone? You can do me no good; you know nothing on earth about me; you may actually do me harm; I am in better hands than yours. I know my own sincerity of purpose; and I am determined upon taking my time." Since I have been a Catholic, people have sometimes accused me of backwardness in making converts; and Protestants have argued from it that I have no great eagerness to do so. It would be against my nature to act otherwise than I do; but besides, it would be to forget the lessons which I gained in the experience of my own history in the past.
This is the account which I have to give of some savage and ungrateful words in the _British Critic_ of 1840 against the controversialists of Rome: "By their fruits ye shall know them.... We see it attempting to gain converts among us by unreal representations of its doctrines, plausible statements, bold assertions, appeals to the weaknesses of human nature, to our fancies, our eccentricities, our fears, our frivolities, our false philosophies. We see its agents, smiling and nodding and ducking to attract attention, as gipsies make up to truant boys, holding out tales for the nursery, and pretty pictures, and gilt gingerbread, and physic concealed in jam, and sugar-plums for good children. Who can but feel shame when the religion of Ximenes, Borromeo, and Pascal, is so overlaid? Who can but feel sorrow, when its devout and earnest defenders so mistake its genius and its capabilities? We Englishmen like manliness, openness, consistency, truth. Rome will never gain on us, till she learns these virtues, and uses them; and then she may gain us, but it will be by ceasing to be what we now mean by Rome, by having a right, not to 'have dominion over our faith,' but to gain and possess our affections in the bonds of the gospel. Till she ceases to be what she practically is, a union is impossible between her and England; but, if she does reform (and who can presume to say that so large a part of Christendom never can?) then it will be our Church's duty at once to join in communion with the continental Churches, whatever politicians at home may say to it, and whatever steps the civil power may take in consequence. And though we may not live to see that day, at least we are bound to pray for it; we are bound to pray for our brethren that they and we may be led together into the pure light of the gospel, and be one as we once were one. It was most touching news to be told, as we were lately, that Christians on the Continent were praying together for the spiritual well-being of England. May they gain light, while they aim at unity, and grow in faith while they manifest their love! We too have our duties to them; not of reviling, not of slandering, not of hating, though political interests require it; but the duty of loving brethren still more abundantly in spirit, whose faces, for our sins and their sins, we are not allowed to see in the flesh."
No one ought to indulge in insinuations; it certainly diminishes my right to complain of slanders uttered against myself, when, as in this passage, I had already spoken in condemnation of that class of controversialists to which I myself now belong.
I have thus put together, as well as I could, what has to be said about my general state of mind from the autumn of 1839 to the summer of 1841; and, having done so, I go on to narrate how my new misgivings affected my conduct, and my relations towards the Anglican Church.
When I got back to Oxford in October, 1839, after the visits which I had been paying, it so happened, there had been, in my absence, occurrences of an awkward character, bringing me into collision both with my Bishop and also with the University authorities; and this drew my attention at once to the state of what would be considered the Movement party there, and made me very anxious for the future. In the spring of the year, as has been seen in the Article analysed above, I had spoken of the excesses which were to be found among persons commonly included in it; at that time I thought little of such an evil, but the new thoughts, which had come on me during the long vacation, on the one hand made me comprehend it, and on the other took away my power of effectually meeting it. A firm and powerful control was necessary to keep men straight; I never had a strong wrist, but at the very time, when it was most needed, the reins had broken in my hands. With an anxious presentiment on my mind of the upshot of the whole inquiry, which it was almost impossible for me to conceal from men who saw me day by day, who heard my familiar conversation, who came perhaps for the express purpose of pumping me, and having a categorical _yes_ or _no_ to their questions--how could I expect to say anything about my actual, positive, present belief, which would be sustaining or consoling to such persons as were haunted already by doubts of their own? Nay, how could I, with satisfaction to myself, analyse my own mind, and say what I held and what I did not? or say with what limitations, shades of difference, or degrees of belief, I held that body of opinions which I had openly professed and taught? how could I deny or assert this point or that, without injustice to the new view, in which the whole evidence for those old opinions presented itself to my mind?
However, I had to do what I could, and what was best, under the circumstances; I found a general talk on the subject of the article in the _Dublin Review_; and, if it had affected me, it was not wonderful, that it affected others also. As to myself, I felt no kind of certainty that the argument in it was conclusive. Taking it at the worst, granting that the Anglican Church had not the note of Catholicity; yet there were many notes of the Church. Some belonged to one age or place, some to another. Bellarmine had reckoned Temporal Prosperity among the notes of the Church; but the Roman Church had not any great popularity, wealth, glory, power, or prospects, in the nineteenth century. It was not at all certain yet, even that we had not the note of Catholicity; but, if not we had others. My first business then, was to examine this question carefully, and see, if a great deal could not be said after all for the Anglican Church, in spite of its acknowledged shortcomings. This I did in an Article "on the Catholicity of the English Church," which appeared in the _British Critic_ of January, 1840. As to my personal distress on the point, I think it had gone by February 21st in that year, for I wrote then to Mr. Bowden about the important Article in the Dublin, thus: "It made a great impression here [Oxford]; and, I say what of course I would only say to such as yourself, it made me for a while very uncomfortable in my own mind. The great speciousness of his argument is one of the things which have made me despond so much," that is, as to its effect upon others.
But, secondly, the great stumbling-block lay in the 39 Articles. It was urged that here was a positive Note _against_ Anglicanism:--Anglicanism claimed to hold that the Church of England was nothing else than a continuation in this country (as the Church of Rome might be in France or Spain) of that one Church of which in old times Athanasius and Augustine were members. But, if so, the doctrine must be the same; the doctrine of the Old Church must live and speak in Anglican formularies, in the 39 Articles. Did it? Yes, it did; that is what I maintained; it did in substance, in a true sense. Man had done his worst to disfigure, to mutilate, the old Catholic Truth, but there it was, in spite of them, in the Articles still. It was there, but this must be shown. It was a matter of life and death to us to show it. And I believed that it could be shown; I considered that those grounds of justification, which I gave above, when I was speaking of Tract 90, were sufficient for the purpose; and therefore I set about showing it at once. This was in March, 1840, when I went up to Littlemore. And, as it was a matter of life and death with us, all risks must be run to show it. When the attempt was actually made, I had got reconciled to the prospect of it, and had no apprehensions as to the experiment; but in 1840, while my purpose was honest, and my grounds of reason satisfactory, I did nevertheless recognise that I was engaged in an _experimentum crucis_. I have no doubt that then I acknowledged to myself that it would be a trial of the Anglican Church, which it had never undergone before--not that the Catholic sense of the Articles had not been held or at least suffered by their framers and promulgators, and was not implied in the teaching of Andrewes or Beveridge, but that it had never been publicly recognised, while the interpretation of the day was Protestant and exclusive. I observe also, that, though my Tract was an experiment, it was, as I said at the time, "no _feeler_," the event showed it; for, when my principle was not granted, I did not draw back, but gave up. I would not hold office in a Church which would not allow my sense of the Articles. My tone was, "This is necessary for us, and have it we must and will, and, if it tends to bring men to look less bitterly on the Church of Rome, so much the better."
This then was the second work to which I set myself; though when I got to Littlemore, other things came in the way of accomplishing it at the moment. I had in mind to remove all such obstacles as were in the way of holding the Apostolic and Catholic character of the Anglican teaching; to assert the right of all who chose to say in the face of day, "Our Church teaches the Primitive Ancient faith." I did not conceal this: in Tract 90, it is put forward as the first principle of all, "It is a duty which we owe both to the Catholic Church, and to our own, to take our reformed confessions in the most Catholic sense they will admit: we have no duties towards their framers." And still more pointedly in my letter, explanatory of the Tract, addressed to Dr. Jelf, I say: "The only peculiarity of the view I advocate, if I must so call it, is this--that whereas it is usual at this day to make the _particular belief of their writers_ their true interpretation, I would make the _belief of the Catholic Church such_. That is, as it is often said that infants are regenerated in Baptism, not on the faith of their parents, but of the Church, so in like manner I would say that the Articles are received, not in the sense of their framers, but (as far as the wording will admit or any ambiguity requires it) in the one Catholic sense."
A third measure which I distinctly contemplated, was the resignation of St. Mary's, whatever became of the question of the Articles; and as a first step I meditated a retirement to Littlemore. I had built a Church there several years before; and I went there to pass the Lent of 1840, and gave myself up to teaching in the poor schools, and practising the choir. At the same time, I contemplated a monastic house there. I bought ten acres of ground and began planting; but this great design was never carried out. I mention it, because it shows how little I had really the idea then of ever leaving the Anglican Church. That I also contemplated even the further step of giving up St. Mary's itself as early as 1839, appears from a letter which I wrote in October, 1840, to the friend whom it was most natural for me to consult on such a point. It ran as follows:--
"For a year past a feeling has been growing on me that I ought to give up St. Mary's, but I am no fit judge in the matter. I cannot ascertain accurately my own impressions and convictions, which are the basis of the difficulty, and though you cannot of course do this for me, yet you may help me generally, and perhaps supersede the necessity of my going by them at all.
"First, it is certain that I do not know my Oxford parishioners; I am not conscious of influencing them, and certainly I have no insight into their spiritual state. I have no personal, no pastoral acquaintance with them. To very few have I any opportunity of saying a religious word. Whatever influence I exert on them is precisely that which I may be exerting on persons out of my parish. In my excuse I am accustomed to say to myself that I am not adapted to get on with them, while others are. On the other hand, I am conscious that by means of my position at St. Mary's I do exert a considerable influence on the University, whether on Undergraduates or Graduates. It seems, then, on the whole that I am using St. Mary's, to the neglect of its direct duties, for objects not belonging to it; I am converting a parochial charge into a sort of University office.
"I think I may say truly that I have begun scarcely any plan but for the sake of my parish, but every one has turned, independently of me, into the direction of the University. I began Saints'-days Services, daily Services, and Lectures in Adam de Brome's Chapel, for my parishioners; but they have not come to them. In consequence I dropped the last mentioned, having, while it lasted, been naturally led to direct it to the instruction of those who did come, instead of those who did not. The Weekly Communion, I believe, I did begin for the sake of the University.
"Added to this the authorities of the University, the appointed guardians of those who form great part of the attendants on my Sermons, have shown a dislike of my preaching. One dissuades men from coming;--the late Vice-Chancellor threatens to take his own children away from the Church; and the present, having an opportunity last spring of preaching in my parish pulpit, gets up and preaches against doctrine with which I am in good measure identified. No plainer proof can be given of the feeling in these quarters, than the absurd myth, now a second time put forward, that 'Vice-Chancellors cannot be got to take the office on account of Puseyism.'
"But further than this, I cannot disguise from myself that my preaching is not calculated to defend that system of religion which has been received for 300 years, and of which the Heads of Houses are the legitimate maintainers in this place. They exclude me, as far as may be, from the University Pulpit; and, though I never have preached strong doctrine in it, they do so rightly, so far as this, that they understand that my sermons are calculated to undermine things established. I cannot disguise from myself that they are. No one will deny that most of my sermons are on moral subjects, not doctrinal; still I am leading my hearers to the Primitive Church, if you will, but not to the Church of England. Now, ought one to be disgusting the minds of young men with the received religion, in the exercise of a sacred office, yet without a commission, against the wish of their guides and governors?
"But this is not all. I fear I must allow that, whether I will or no, I am disposing them towards Rome. First, because Rome is the only representative of the Primitive Church besides ourselves; in proportion then as they are loosened from the one, they will go to the other. Next, because many doctrines which I have held, have far greater, or their only scope, in the Roman system. And, moreover, if, as is not unlikely, we have in process of time heretical Bishops or teachers among us, an evil which _ipso facto_ infects the whole community to which they belong, and if, again (what there are at this moment symptoms of), there be a movement in the English Roman Catholics to break the alliance of O'Connell and of Exeter Hall, strong temptations will be placed in the way of individuals, already imbued with a tone of thought congenial to Rome, to join her Communion.
"People tell me, on the other hand, that I am, whether by sermons or otherwise, exerting at St. Mary's a beneficial influence on our prospective clergy; but what if I take to myself the credit of seeing further than they, and of having in the course of the last year discovered that what they approve so much is very likely to end in Romanism?
"The _arguments_ which I have published against Romanism seem to myself as cogent as ever, but men go by their sympathies, not by argument; and if I feel the force of this influence myself, who bow to the arguments, why may not others still more who never have in the same degree admitted the arguments?
"Nor can I counteract the danger by preaching or writing against Rome. I seem to myself almost to have shot my last arrow in the Article on English Catholicity. It must be added, that the very circumstance that I have committed myself against Rome has the effect of setting to sleep people suspicious about me, which is painful now that I begin to have suspicions about myself. I mentioned my general difficulty to A. B. a year since, than whom I know no one of a more fine and accurate conscience, and it was his spontaneous idea that I should give up St. Mary's, if my feelings continued. I mentioned it again to him lately, and he did not reverse his opinion, only expressed great reluctance to believe it must be so."
My friend's judgment was in favour of my retaining my living; at least for the present; what weighed with me most was his saying, "You must consider, whether your retiring either from the Pastoral Care only, or from writing and printing and editing in the cause, would not be a sort of scandalous thing, unless it were done very warily. It would be said, 'You see he can go on no longer with the Church of England, except in mere Lay Communion;' or people might say you repented of the cause altogether. Till you see [your way to mitigate, if not remove this evil] I certainly should advise you to stay." I answered as follows:--
"Since you think I _may_ go on, it seems to follow that, under the circumstances, I _ought_ to do so. There are plenty of reasons for it, directly it is allowed to be lawful. The following considerations have much reconciled my feelings to your conclusion.
"1. I do not think that we have yet made fair trial how much the English Church will bear. I know it is a hazardous experiment--like proving cannon. Yet we must not take it for granted, that the metal will burst in the operation. It has borne at various times, not to say at this time, a great infusion of Catholic truth without damage. As to the result, viz. whether this process will not approximate the whole English Church, as a body to Rome, that is nothing to us. For what we know, it may be the providential means of uniting the whole Church in one, without fresh schismatising or use of private judgment."
Here I observe, that, what was contemplated was the bursting of the _Catholicity_ of the Anglican Church, that is, my _subjective idea_ of that Church. Its bursting would not hurt her with the world, but would be a discovery that she was purely and essentially Protestant, and would be really the "hoisting of the engineer with his own petard." And this was the result. I continue:--
"2. Say, that I move sympathies for Rome: in the same sense does Hooker, Taylor, Bull, etc. Their _arguments_ may be against Rome, but the sympathies they raise must be towards Rome, _so far_ as Rome maintains truths which our Church does not teach or enforce. Thus it is a question of _degree_ between our divines and me. I may, if so be, go further; I may raise sympathies _more_; but I am but urging minds in the same direction as they do. I am doing just the very thing which all our doctors have ever been doing. In short, would not Hooker, if Vicar of St. Mary's, be in my difficulty?"--Here it may be said, that Hooker could preach against Rome, and I could not; but I doubt whether he could have preached effectively against transubstantiation better than I, though neither he nor I held it.
"3. Rationalism is the great evil of the day. May not I consider my post at St. Mary's as a place of protest against it? I am more certain that the Protestant [spirit], which I oppose, leads to infidelity, than that which I recommend, leads to Rome. Who knows what the state of the University may be, as regards Divinity Professors in a few years hence? Anyhow, a great battle may be coming on, of which C. D.'s book is a sort of earnest. The whole of _our_ day may be a battle with this spirit. May we not leave to another age _its own_ evil--to settle the question of Romanism?"
I may add that from this time I had a Curate at St. Mary's, who gradually took more and more of my work.
Also, this same year, 1840, I made arrangements for giving up the _British Critic_, in the following July, which were carried into effect at that date.
Such was about my state of mind, on the publication of Tract 90 in February, 1841. The immense commotion consequent upon the publication of the Tract did not unsettle me again; for I had weathered the storm: the Tract had not been condemned: that was the great point; I made much of it.
To illustrate my feelings during this trial, I will make extracts from my letters to a friend, which have come into my possession. The dates are respectively March 25, April 1, and May 9.
1. "I do trust I shall make no false step, and hope my friends will pray for me to this effect. If, as you say, a destiny hangs over us, a single false step may ruin all. I am very well and comfortable; but we are not yet out of the wood."
2. "The Bishop sent me word on Sunday to write a letter to him '_instanter_.' So I wrote it on Monday: on Tuesday it passed through the press: on Wednesday it was out: and to-day [Thursday] it is in London.
"I trust that things are smoothing now; and that we have made a _great step_ is certain. It is not right to boast, till I am clear out of the wood, _i.e._ till I know how the letter is received in London. You know, I suppose, that I am to stop the Tracts; but you will see in the Letter, though I speak _quite_ what I feel, yet I have managed to take out on _my_ side my snubbing's worth. And this makes me anxious how it will be received in London.
"I have not had a misgiving for five minutes from the first: but I do not like to boast, lest some harm come."
3. "The Bishops are very desirous of hushing the matter up: and I certainly have done my utmost to co-operate with them, on the understanding that the Tract is not to be withdrawn or condemned."
And to my friend, Mr. Bowden, under date of March 15, "The Heads, I believe, have just done a violent act: they have said that my interpretation of the Articles is an _evasion_. Do not think that this will pain me. You see, no _doctrine_ is censured, and my shoulders shall manage to bear the charge. If you knew all, or were here, you would see that I have asserted a great principle, and I _ought_ to suffer for it:--that the Articles are to be interpreted, not according to the meaning of the writers, but (as far as the wording will admit) according to the sense of the Catholic Church."
Upon occasion of Tract 90 several Catholics wrote to me; I answered one of my correspondents thus:--
"April 8.--You have no cause to be surprised at the discontinuance of the Tracts. We feel no misgivings about it whatever, as if the cause of what we hold to be Catholic truth would suffer thereby. My letter to my Bishop has, I trust, had the effect of bringing the preponderating _authority_ of the Church on our side. No stopping of the Tracts can, humanly speaking, stop the spread of the opinions which they have inculcated.
"The Tracts are not _suppressed_. No doctrine or principle has been conceded by us, or condemned by authority. The Bishop has but said that a certain Tract is 'objectionable,' no reason being stated. I have no intention whatever of yielding any one point which I hold on conviction; and that the authorities of the Church know full well."
In the summer of 1841, I found myself at Littlemore without any harass or anxiety on my mind. I had determined to put aside all controversy, and I set myself down to my translation of St. Athanasius; but, between July and November, I received three blows which broke me.
1. I had got but a little way in my work, when my trouble returned on me. The ghost had come a second time. In the Arian History I found the very same phenomenon, in a far bolder shape, which I had found in the Monophysite. I had not observed it in 1832. Wonderful that this should come upon me! I had not sought it out; I was reading and writing in my own line of study, far from the controversies of the day, on what is called a "metaphysical" subject; but I saw clearly, that in the history of Arianism, the pure Arians were the Protestants, the semi-Arians were the Anglicans, and that Rome now was what it was. The truth lay, not with the _Via Media_, but in what was called "the extreme party." As I am not writing a work of controversy, I need not enlarge upon the argument; I have said something on the subject in a volume which I published fourteen years ago.
2. I was in the misery of this new unsettlement, when a second blow came upon me. The bishops one after another began to charge against me. It was a formal, determinate movement. This was the real "understanding;" that, on which I had acted on occasion of Tract 90, had come to nought. I think the words, which had then been used to me, were, that "perhaps two or three might think it necessary to say something in their charges;" but by this time they had tided over the difficulty of the Tract, and there was no one to enforce the "understanding." They went on in this way, directing charges at me, for three whole years. I recognised it as a condemnation; it was the only one that was in their power. At first I intended to protest; but I gave up the thought in despair.
On October 17th, I wrote thus to a friend: "I suppose it will be necessary in some shape or other to reassert Tract 90; else, it will seem, after these Bishops' Charges, as if it were silenced, which it has not been, nor do I intend it should be. I wish to keep quiet; but if Bishops speak, I will speak too. If the view were silenced, I could not remain in the Church, nor could many others; and therefore, since it is _not_ silenced, I shall take care to show that it isn't."
A day or two after, Oct. 22, a stranger wrote to me to say, that the Tracts for the Times had made a young friend of his a Catholic, and to ask, "would I be so good as to convert him back;" I made answer:
"If conversions to Rome take place in consequence of the Tracts for the Times, I do not impute blame to them, but to those who, instead of acknowledging such Anglican principles of theology and ecclesiastical polity as they contain, set themselves to oppose them. Whatever be the influence of the Tracts, great or small, they may become just as powerful for Rome, if our Church refuses them, as they would be for our Church if she accepted them. If our rulers speak either against the Tracts, or not at all, if any number of them, not only do not favour, but even do not suffer the principles contained in them, it is plain that our members may easily be persuaded either to give up those principles, or to give up the Church. If this state of things goes on, I mournfully prophesy, not one or two, but many secessions to the Church of Rome."
Two years afterwards, looking back on what had passed, I said, "There were no converts to Rome, till after the condemnation of No. 90."
3. As if all this were not enough, there came the affair of the Jerusalem Bishopric; and, with a brief mention of it, I shall conclude.
I think I am right in saying that it had been long a desire with the Prussian Court to introduce Episcopacy into the Evangelical Religion, which was intended in that country to embrace both the Lutheran and Calvinistic bodies. I almost think I heard of the project, when I was at Rome in 1833, at the hotel of the Prussian Minister, M. Bunsen, who was most hospitable and kind, as to other English visitors, so also to my friends and myself. I suppose that the idea of Episcopacy, as the Prussian king understood it, was very different from that taught in the Tractarian School; but still, I suppose also, that the chief authors of that school would have gladly seen such a measure carried out in Prussia, had it been done without compromising those principles which were necessary to the being of a Church. About the time of the publication of Tract 90, M. Bunsen and the then Archbishop of Canterbury were taking steps for its execution, by appointing and consecrating a Bishop for Jerusalem. Jerusalem, it would seem, was considered a safe place for the experiment; it was too far from Prussia to awaken the susceptibilities of any party at home; if the project failed, it failed without harm to any one; and, if it succeeded, it gave Protestantism a _status_ in the East, which in association with the Monophysite or Jacobite and the Nestorian bodies, formed a political instrument for England, parallel to that which Russia had in the Greek Church and France in the Latin.
Accordingly, in July 1841, full of the Anglican difficulty on the question of Catholicity, I thus spoke of the Jerusalem scheme in an Article in the _British Critic_: "When our thoughts turn to the East, instead of recollecting that there are Christian Churches there, we leave it to the Russians to take care of the Greeks, and the French to take care of the Romans, and we content ourselves with erecting a Protestant Church at Jerusalem, or with helping the Jews to rebuild their Temple there, or with becoming the august protectors of Nestorians, Monophysites, and all the heretics we can hear of, or with forming a league with the Mussulman against Greeks and Romans together."
I do not pretend so long after the time to give a full or exact account of this measure in detail. I will but say that in the Act of Parliament, under date of October 5, 1841 (if the copy, from which I quote, contains the measure as it passed the Houses), provision is made for the consecration of "British subjects, or the subjects or citizens of any foreign state, to be Bishops in any foreign country, whether such foreign subjects or citizens be or be not subjects or citizens of the country in which they are to act, and ... without requiring such of them as may be subjects or citizens of any foreign kingdom or state to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and the oath of due obedience to the Archbishop for the time being" ... also "that such Bishop or Bishops, so consecrated, may exercise, within such limits, as may from time to time be assigned for that purpose in such foreign countries by her Majesty, spiritual jurisdiction over the ministers of British congregations of the United Church of England and Ireland, and over _such other Protestant_ Congregations, as may be desirous of placing themselves under his or their authority."
Now here, at the very time that the Anglican Bishops were directing their censure upon me for avowing an approach to the Catholic Church not closer than I believed the Anglican formularies would allow, they were on the other hand fraternising, by their act or by their sufferance, with Protestant bodies, and allowing them to put themselves under an Anglican Bishop, without any renunciation of their errors or regard to the due reception of baptism and confirmation; while there was great reason to suppose that the said Bishop was intended to make converts from the orthodox Greeks, and the schismatical Oriental bodies, by means of the influence of England. This was the third blow, which finally shattered my faith in the Anglican Church. That Church was not only forbidding any sympathy or concurrence with the Church of Rome, but it actually was courting an intercommunion with Protestant Prussia and the heresy of the Orientals. The Anglican Church might have the apostolical succession, as had the Monophysites; but such acts as were in progress led me to the gravest suspicion, not that it would soon cease to be a Church, but that it had never been a Church all along.
On October 12th I thus wrote to a friend:--"We have not a single Anglican in Jerusalem, so we are sending a Bishop to _make_ a communion, not to govern our own people. Next, the excuse is, that there are converted Anglican Jews there who require a Bishop; I am told there are not half-a-dozen. But for _them_ the Bishop is sent out, and for them he is a Bishop of the _circumcision_" (I think he was a converted Jew, who boasted of his Jewish descent), "against the Epistle to the Galatians pretty nearly. Thirdly, for the sake of Prussia, he is to take under him all the foreign Protestants who will come; and the political advantages will be so great, from the influence of England, that there is no doubt they will come. They are to sign the Confession of Augsburg, and there is nothing to show that they hold the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration.
"As to myself, I shall do nothing whatever publicly, unless indeed it were to give my signature to a Protest; but I think it would be out of place in _me_ to agitate, having been in a way silenced; but the Archbishop is really doing most grave work, of which we cannot see the end."
I did make a solemn Protest, and sent it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also sent it to my own Bishop, with the following letter:--
"It seems as if I were never to write to your Lordship, without giving you pain, and I know that my present subject does not specially concern your Lordship; yet, after a great deal of anxious thought, I lay before you the enclosed Protest.
"Your Lordship will observe that I am not asking for any notice of it, unless you think that I ought to receive one. I do this very serious act, in obedience to my sense of duty.
"If the English Church is to enter on a new course, and assume a new aspect, it will be more pleasant to me hereafter to think, that I did not suffer so grievous an event to happen, without bearing witness against it.
"May I be allowed to say, that I augur nothing but evil, if we in any respect prejudice our title to be a branch of the Apostolic Church? That Article of the Creed, I need hardly observe to your Lordship, is of such constraining power, that, if _we_ will not claim it, and use it for ourselves, _others_ will use it in their own behalf against us. Men who learn, whether by means of documents or measures, whether from the statements or the acts of persons in authority, that our communion is not a branch of the one Church, I foresee with much grief, will be tempted to look out for that Church elsewhere.
"It is to me a subject of great dismay, that, as far as the Church has lately spoken out, on the subject of the opinions which I and others hold, those opinions are, not merely not _sanctioned_ (for that I do not ask), but not even _suffered_.
"I earnestly hope that your Lordship will excuse my freedom in thus speaking to you of some members of your Most Rev. and Right Rev. Body. With every feeling of reverent attachment to your Lordship, I am, etc."
"Whereas the Church of England has a claim on the allegiance of Catholic believers only on the ground of her own claim to be considered a branch of the Catholic Church:
"And whereas the recognition of heresy, indirect as well as direct, goes far to destroy such claim in the case of any religious body advancing it:
"And whereas to admit maintainers of heresy to communion, without formal renunciation of their errors, goes far towards recognising the same:
"And whereas Lutheranism and Calvinism are heresies, repugnant to Scripture, springing up three centuries since, and anathematised by East as well as West:
"And whereas it is reported that the Most Reverend Primate and other Right Reverend Rulers of our Church have consecrated a Bishop with a view to exercising spiritual jurisdiction over Protestant, that is, Lutheran and Calvinist congregations in the East (under the provisions of an Act made in the last session of Parliament to amend an Act made in the 26th year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Third, intituled, 'An Act to empower the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Archbishop of York for the time being, to consecrate to the office of Bishop persons being subjects or citizens of countries out of his Majesty's dominions'), dispensing at the same time, not in particular cases and accidentally, but as if on principle and universally, with any abjuration of error on the part of such congregations, and with any reconciliation to the Church on the part of the presiding Bishop; thereby giving some sort of formal recognition to the doctrines which such congregations maintain:
"And whereas the dioceses in England are connected together by so close an intercommunion, that what is done by authority in one, immediately affects the rest:
"On these grounds, I in my place, being a priest of the English Church and Vicar of St. Mary the Virgin's, Oxford, by way of relieving my conscience, do hereby solemnly protest against the measure aforesaid, and disown it, as removing our Church from her present ground and tending to her disorganisation.
"JOHN HENRY NEWMAN.
"November 11, 1841."
Looking back two years afterwards on the above-mentioned and other acts, on the part of Anglican Ecclesiastical authorities, I observe: "Many a man might have held an abstract theory about the Catholic Church, to which it was difficult to adjust the Anglican--might have admitted a suspicion, or even painful doubts about the latter--yet never have been impelled onwards, had our Rulers preserved the quiescence of former years; but it is the corroboration of a present, living, and energetic heterodoxy, which realises and makes them practical; it has been the recent speeches and acts of authorities, who had so long been tolerant of Protestant error, which have given to inquiry and to theory its force and its edge."
As to the project of a Jerusalem Bishopric, I never heard of any good or harm it has ever done, except what it has done for me; which many think a great misfortune, and I one of the greatest of mercies. It brought me on to the beginning of the end.
Part 6: History of My Religious Opinions--1841 – 1845
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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