The Religious Movement

[Dublin Review, vol. 19, December 1845, pp. 522-539.]

{522} ART. XI—1. An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. By JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. London: Toovey, 1845.
2. A Letter, on Submitting to the Catholic Church. By FREDERICK OAKELEY, M. A. London: Toovey, 1845.
3. Twenty-two Reasons for entering the Catholic Church. By THOMAS WILLIAM MARSHALL, Author of "Notes on the Catholic Episcopate."

AMIDST the wonderful and consoling events which have lately occurred, and are daily occurring in the religious world in England, it is not perhaps easy to sit down as coolly as a reviewer is supposed to do, and discourse, whether on the past and its consolations, or on the future and its hopes. The present is quite enough to engross all our feelings; for it is not often that we can reverse with truth the solemn declaration of God's unerring Wisdom, and say that "sufficient for the day is the GOOD thereof." In fact, had it not been for considerations, which will be stated later, connected with the history of this publication, and which could not be postponed to another number, we should have been tempted to remain at present silent, and share with others, in that fitting state, the feelings, too deep for utterance, of wonder, awe, and gratitude, no less than of joy and tenderness, that belong to what we are witnessing.

It is not our province to chronicle the facts as they pass before us; we must be content to assume them known. We are not, therefore, to give any history of what has occurred in England during the present year, nor to enumerate those who have obeyed the call of grace, and entered into the communion of the Holy Catholic Church. It is sufficient for us to consider it as notorious, that a greater number of persons have done so within the last few months than have ever, in our memory, or in that of our fathers, within the same period, or even in a much longer space: persons, we mean, who from their professions and characters were before the pub1ic, and might be justly considered as having taken such a step with proper consideration, and certainly not impelled to it by interest, or passion, or early prejudice, or by any motive short of a conscientious conviction. We may likewise safely assume, that this almost sudden, but not surprising result, {523} is the issue of a course of gradual approximation to Catholic Truth on the part of many learned and thoughtful men, of whom some yet remain in the Anglican establishment. We are, in other words, at this moment witnessing the fruit of what has been familiarly denominated, in our pages as elsewhere, the "Religious Movement" in England. Whether the fruit be all yet gathered, or whether more is ripening—or whether the course of Providence will altogether change, and will work through new channels—whether a reaction will take place, and whether things will go back or forward—these are matters belonging to futurity, sealed up as yet in the knowledge of God alone, and placed in our regard, in the sphere of our hopes, of our prayers, and of our earnest efforts to deserve well. They who have hoped from the beginning, will not surely begin now to despond; and they who hitherto have feared to indulge in that happy feeling, may well be encouraged to begin it now.

But, whatever may be our thoughts respecting future prospects (and upon them must much depend our thoughts of future duties), we cannot imagine difference of sentiment respecting the present hour. To no Catholic can it suggest other feelings than those of satisfaction and joy, of gratitude and deep obligation. For no Catholic, if he be loyal to his religion, can fail to identify himself with his Church, and his feelings with hers. To him individually there may be no accession of grace, or any other blessing by what he sees around him; but his Mother rejoices in the new children bestowed upon her, her honour is advanced in the conquest which she makes of the learning of some, or the virtuous lives of others; she receives new evidences of her notes and characters, her holiness is proclaimed by men seeking her because they aspire to holiness, her Catholicity is acknowledged by her communion being desired in regions remote from her centre, and her Apostolicity by sacramental grace being sought in her ministry; while the yearning on every side after unity, only to be satisfied by entering her pale, gives new brilliancy to this her special mark. Now, independently of the spirit of charity, which must rejoice in the welfare of others, and, consequently, by sympathy have its strength multiplied manifold as new brethren join us, no true Catholic can fail to rejoice in the honour of his holy religion, and in the new expansion of her maternal affection, on the behalf of these her children. {524}

But there is another source of interest open to us, one, moreover, which regards the future. The works, though of very different dimensions, at the head of our article show, that we have received amongst us men who will be able to give an account of the step which they have taken, in a manner calculated not merely to strike, but to move others to follow them. And though we feel that we shall not be able to do justice to these works, and to one in particular, it would be unpardonable in us to let the present moment go by without placing them upon record in our pages. They mark too decided an epoch in the movement which we have been carefully watching in this Review, for us to leave them unnoticed.

The works before us contain the reasons which have influenced three recent converts, till lately members of the Anglican clergy, and already known for their writings in defence or illustration of the English Church.

It is seldom that any one, whether of a sensitive or of a thoughtful character, is brought to Catholic truth by what might appear the shortest or the plainest path. There is necessarily a complication in the process by which they reach it, because it is not through the force of human reasoning, so much as by the grace of the Holy Spirit, that this happy consummation is attained. Now, the riches of the divine resources (if we may so speak) are as immense in the spiritual as in the visible world; and as in the latter we may behold successively thousands of beautiful forms or features, yet not two exactly alike, so shall we find equal variety in the frame and figure (though each may be excellent) of minds moulded and formed by the same inward influence. St. Peter and St. Matthew were called to the faith by one mild word; St. Paul was converted by blindness, overthrow, and words of bitter taunt and reproach. The discourse which won the learned Dionysius was thrown away upon the other Areopagites; and many others, besides St. Anthony or St. Francis, have heard the texts which made them give up all for Christ, and embrace poverty, without therefore putting away a single luxury. A letter intended for another person, which accidentally fell into his hands, converted St. Francis Caracciolo to the religious life; wounds and imprisonment changed St. Ignatius from a cavalier into a saint; and the sight of an empress festering in her coffin, drove his disciple St. Francis Borgia from the court to the {525} cloister. The courage of St. Alban made a Christian and a martyr of his intended executioner: and the cowardice and fall of one of the forty martyrs gave his crown to one of his pagan guards. All things thus work together unto good for those whom God has chosen; and that very choice is both shown forth and brought about by this co-operation of various, and often apparently inadequate causes. Hence, were any number of converts to give the history of their conversion, and detail the steps whereby it was preceded and prepared, we should not find two accounts alike: all would have been brought to exactly the same point, by the most dissimilar ways.

Mr. Oakeley and Mr. Newman, for instance, have both reached the same goal; but their guidance has evidently been different. The first has had his position for some years in the busy scenes of the capital, and has been actively engaged in ministerial duties. In Margaret-street chapel, which was under his direction, he endeavoured to work out to the utmost the liturgical and devotional capabilities of the Anglican system. While in other parts the rubrical storm was raging—while the surplice, the prayer for the Church militant, the offertory, the credence, the turning to the east, and many other such, were dividing congregations, alienating the people from their clergy, and provoking episcopal censures, or causing episcopal embarrassment, Mr. Oakeley, surrounded and supported by a confiding and affectionate flock, was able to do all, and more than all, that elsewhere raised such opposition and such scandal. There "the rubric was carried out"—there music, flowers, and observance of seasons, gave a Catholic air to the externals of worship—there was daily service and weekly communion—there the duties of fasting, of self-examination, and accusation enforced. Mr. Oakeley's publications show the bent of his mind, and the direction of his efforts. "St. Bernard's Homilies," "Devotions commemorative of the Passion," "St. Bonaventure's Life of Christ," edited by him, prove that his object was to engraft as much Catholic feeling upon the English ritual as it would bear, to make his flock as Catholic as it was possible, without ceasing to be Anglicans. But the system broke down under the attempt—the plant would not bear the new honours set upon it. Instead of sympathy from his ecclesiastical superior, a prosecution in the ecclesiastical courts checked and crushed Mr. Oakeley's {526} attempt to infuse life into the service and devotions of the English Church. The illusion, which partial success inspired, was dispelled; and he saw no alternative but sinking fairly down into Anglicanism in its ordinary dreariness, or embracing the consolations of Catholicism. Let us hear his own words:

"For a time I was led to hope that the systems in question, 'the Roman and the Anglican,' were not antagonist, but congenial; and I accounted it a chief duty to appropriate, as far as might be, the more remote with a view to the amendment of the nearer. Thus I thought to model the Services of Margaret Chapel upon a type to which, assuredly, I found in the Church of England no living counterpart. And yet I never acted otherwise than with a direct eye to the provisions of my own Communion, as I understood them, nor even consciously transgressed the order of my Bishop. Still I felt with increasing discomfort, that the result, fully adequate as it was to my own actual (though, I doubt not limited,) [Note 1] conception of the beautiful and edifying in Divine worship, was a pure anomaly and excrescence in the Establishment, at which authorities at last did not but connive, (and that with no good grace,) which neither had nor was ever likely to have, any fellow to itself, nor to be incorporated into the general whole; which was, in short, far too much the creature and the sport of accident to be that fact of importance, and that sign of hope which I was for a long time willing to account it. To bring my own Church into the utmost possible sympathy and harmony with the Roman, while at the same time scrupulously observant of her own express directions, and of the injunctions of authority, (so far as I could collect them,) this, as you well know, was my idea of the truest loyalty towards the Church of England. It proceeded, however, (I grant,) upon the assumptions of an essential congeniality between the two systems, whereof I sought, while it was allowed me, to draw out and illustrate the one by the help of the other. And whether or not this assumption were in itself extravagant, (as I am not willing to admit,) at least it has been exploded. I have now come round to the opinion with which others, wiser than myself, began; that the attempt to infuse the Roman spirit into the Anglican body is like 'putting new wine into old vessels,' the effect of which must be to mar the vessel and spill the wine—to dissipate the Catholic introduction and shiver the Anglican receptacle to pieces."—A Letter on Submitting to the Catholic Church.—pp. 33, 34.

Such, then, has been the providential course by which one {527} clergyman has been gradually brought to the happy enjoyment of Catholic unity and peace. His sincere efforts to carry out what he considered a truly sacramental liturgy, and to bring the feelings of his flock and other members of his church into fitting accordance with it, have been rewarded by a richer possession than he could have hoped for, had he attained his aims. Practical efforts brought him to a most blessed practical conclusion.

Mr. Newman, on the other hand, has been comparatively removed from active life; his time has been devoted more to study, and his works have long made him known as a scholar versed in the Fathers, and deeply read in ecclesiastical history. His sermons have been the favourite reading of every well-educated Anglican, and have possessed great charms for us; and his theological writings have avowedly influenced the belief and the conduct of great numbers in the English church. In his earlier writings, he gave proof of sincere attachment to the Anglican system; and as in Mr. Oakeley's case, love for that religious communion in which he found himself, was the principle that guided him at last to safety and peace. Extensive reading and varied research have ripened in a thoughtful mind, during a period of retirement, into thorough, earnest, and loving conviction, the grounds of which are given in the volume before us.

The "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine," is not a mere production of the day, which derives interest from temporary or from personal considerations. It has been the growth of many years of application to ecclesiastical literature; it contains views that would be striking, and arguments that would be convincing, at any period, and ought to be read independently of its connexion with Mr. Newman's joining the Catholic church.

It will justly seem superfluous to enter into any lengthened notice of this important work, because no doubt it has been by this time in the hands of most of our readers. It is not, therefore, our intention to do so. But we will content ourselves with some few remarks and extracts, for the sake of such as have not enjoyed its perusal. Mr. Newman's book was written before he united himself to the Catholic church; it contains not a theological treatise but an essay. These two facts must be borne in mind; the reader must peruse it, as the description of that process of {528} reasoning, by which his powerful and well-stored mind was brought to full accordance with the Catholic church—not as ideally imagined by those who would have her exactly as she existed in the three first centuries, not even as the lover of mediæval catholicism would restore her—but as she is actually, after the full term of eighteen hundred years, have brought her to the full measure of her natural growth. The author's early sympathies were, we believe originally, with the very primitive church; his study led him to the choice of the first three centuries as the type of the true spouse of Christ. That study, which further pursued, brought him to see in the fourth and fifth centuries, only necessary developments of an earlier age, has at last completed the chain, in his mind, from Nicea to Trent, and to recognise in the existing communion of Rome the descendent and legitimate representative of the apostolic church.

The object of Mr. Newman's work is to show this identity, by proving how naturally, how necessarily, doctrine and practice have progressively expanded from their first meagre or rudimental forms, till what we now see is but the sequence, the continuation, and the completion of what is traced more faintly in early ecclesiastical records. In executing the task which he has proposed to himself, the author proceeds systematically; first laying down his principles, and then applying them.

First we have an introduction, in which the reasons for undertaking the work are clearly laid down; they may be summarily expressed in this formulæ. There are doctrines which are unhesitatingly admitted to be true, in a clear, definite and fully developed form, as for instance the dogma of the Blessed Trinity as set forth in the Athanasian creed, which yet are not to be found in that distinct expression in writers antecedant to the Nicene council; or like the doctrine of the Eucharist, as it is admitted by many in the Anglican church, one distinguished member of which, in "a memorable sermon," out of one hundred and forty passages from the Fathers quoted in his notes, had only fifteen from Ante-Nicene writers [Note 2]. How are we to account for this? Are we to say that whatever appears on the face of these doctrines, beyond what the three first centuries clearly express, is erroneous? No believer in them will admit this. That they existed in those centuries just as {529} marked and decided as they do now, only that evidences of the fact have been lost? This, though only put by way of hypothesis, is proved incorrect by the evidences which do remain, and which present such vagueness and discrepancies (real or apparent) as contrast most prominently with the distinctness and definiteness of later declarations. A hypothesis may, therefore, be fairly put forward to meet this problem; and if it satisfy all its conditions, it must answer all purposes of removing difficulty, and be entitled to serious consideration. Such a hypothesis is the "Theory of Developments," which Mr. Newman so ably puts forth in the present work.

The theory itself may be thus simply stated. All doctrine was revealed from the beginning, and the deposit of this revelation was left in the Church. But many doctrines did not at once require or receive the attention, because they did not acquire the importance, which circumstances, providentially occurring at a fitting moment, afterwards procured them. Hence, they would indeed exist, but in an undeveloped state, not unlike to the seed or youthful plant, which contains in itself all the essential parts of its after growth, or to the infant that is in reality, though not yet in size or feature, the future man. This comparison is applied to this subject by Vicentius Lerinensis, the contemporary of St. Augustine. Popular illustrations of this view will at once be obvious to every Catholic. For example, it is clear that the honours to be paid to martyrs and their relics and their places of burial, could not be exhibited till persecution came, and made martyrs; nor would any one, in time of perfect peace, have thought of anticipating and marking out definitely what those honours would be. But there were principles and feelings laid up in the Church, which were sure to come into active display, the moment the circumstances occurred which could give them life; and if Dioclesian, instead of Nero, had been the first persecutor, they would have lain three hundred years dormant, instead of thirty. Till later persecutions drove Anthony and others into the desert, the monastic or cenobitic life was not systematically known or recognized, as a state in the Church. But who does not see, that it is in strict accordance with declarations of our Lord and His Apostles, which were sure, at a fitting opportunity, to develop and produce such a form of virtue. No one, in like manner, can doubt that the papal jurisdiction, though given {530} clearly to Peter, and through him to his successors, was not, and could not, be fully brought out, and displayed, and confirmed, till exigencies arose that called for its exercise—till bishops quarrelled with their patriarchs, or heretics became too strong for local churches, or distant synods oppressed prelates. Had not these things occurred for 300 or 400 years, we should have been comparatively at fault for continuous proof of the exercise of the apostolic authority m the Roman See. But it is enough for us to see that whenever and wherever they did happen, were it in Egypt, or in Spain, or at Constantinople, the aggrieved party, as a matter of course, sought protection from it; and the accused sought to defend itself, and did not protest against the competency of the tribunal chosen for appeal. Occasions thus brought out the power, defined it, strengthened it, showed its uses, its necessity, its divine part in the economy of Christ's Church.

But what we have thus familiarly put forward by way of explanation, is very differently handled in Mr. Newman's pages. There the theory is systematically, and we may say, scientifically explained, from its first principles, and is most variously and most learnedly applied.

The first chapter, "On the development of Ideas," after important general principles, proceeds to lay down seven tests by which a true development may be distinguished from a false one, in other words, from a corruption. Here, in truth, lies the pith of the work. Protestants will allow that many Catholic doctrines or practices, as now seen, have sprung from what was taught or performed in early ages. But then they consider them to have degenerated into downright abuses by excess as by perversion of object. Thus, the devotion paid to Saints they will allow to have had a germ in the feelings of the primitive Church; but they will assert it to have passed the boundary of a true, legitimate development, and to have become superstition, and even idolatry—therefore, a corruption. The tests which Mr. Newman lays down, and illustrates by many interesting examples, are directed to assay any doctrine, and prove whether it be a development, or a corruption, of that which prevailed in early Christianity. Our only fear is, that some readers, finding this chapter—as well us the two following, "On the development of Christian Ideas," and "On the nature of the argument in behalf of the existing developments of {531} Christianity"—more abstruse and solid than they are accustomed to in modern religious literature, may be deterred from proceeding further in the perusal of the book. But if they will go forward, we promise them in the succeeding chapters, which apply the tests, much gratification, edification, and instruction.

The first test of fidelity in development, "Preservation of Type or Idea," is most beautifully applied, by the comparison of the present state and form of Catholicism, with the Church of the six first centuries. We must make room for the conclusion of the first application, which is to the first three. The author first, at considerable length, with rare erudition and great sagacity, collects the popular accusations advanced against Christianity, by its early enemies. Some of these are analysed with great minuteness, and their exact meaning and origin happily illustrated; and a striking picture is thus worked out of the aspect in which Christianity showed itself to the prejudices of learned, and often amiable men, like Pliny, in these first ages. The application of this type or idea is made in the following powerful passage:

"On the whole I conclude as follows:—if there is a form of Christianity now in the world which is accused of gross superstition, of borrowing its rites and customs from the heathen, and of ascribing to forms and ceremonies an occult virtue;—a religion which is considered to burden and enslave the mind by its requisitions, to address itself to the weak-minded and ignorant, to be supported by sophistry and imposture, and to contradict reason and exalt mere irrational faith;—a religion which impresses on the serious mind very distressing views of the guilt and consequences of sin, sets upon the minute acts of the day, one by one, their definite value for praise or blame, and thus casts a grave shadow over the future;—a religion which holds up to admiration the surrender of wealth, and disables serious persons from enjoying it if they would;—a religion, the doctrines of which, be they good or bad, are to the generality of men unknown; which is considered to bear on its very surface signs of folly and falsehood so distinct, that, a glance suffices to judge of it, and careful examination is preposterous; which is felt to be so simply bad, that it may be calumniated at hazard and at pleasure, it being nothing but absurdity to stand upon the accurate distribution of its guilt among its particular acts, or painfully to determine how far this or that story is literally true, what must be allowed in candour, or what is improbable, or what cuts two ways, or what is not proved, or what may be plausibly defended; a religion such, that men look at a convert to it with a feeling which {532} no other sect raises except Judaism, Socialism, or Mormonism, with curiosity, suspicion, fear, disgust, as the case may be, as if something strange had befallen him, as if he had had an initiation into a mystery, and had come into communion with dreadful influences, as if he were now one of a confederacy which claimed him, absorbed him, stripped him of his personality, reduced him to a mere organ or instrument of a whole;—a religion which men hate as proselytizing, anti-social, revolutionary, as dividing families, separating chief friends, corrupting the maxims of government, making a mock at law, dissolving the empire, the enemy of human nature, and a conspirator against its rights and privileges; [Note 3]—a religion which they consider the champion and instrument of darkness, and a pollution calling down upon the land the anger of heaven;—a religion which they associate with intrigue and conspiracy, which they speak about in whispers, which they detect by anticipation in whatever goes wrong, and to which they impute whatever is unaccountable;—a religion, the very name of which they cast out as evil, and use simply as a bad epithet, and which from the impulse of self-preservation they would persecute if they could;—if there be such a religion now in the world, it is not unlike Christianity as that same world viewed it, when first it came forth from its Divine Author,"—P. 240-242.

It is not our intention to follow Mr. Newman through the application of his other tests. We will only say, in general terms, that they are treated with equal vigour and erudition. We will rather look at the work under another aspect.

That in a volume like the present there may be propositions to which all will not assent, and more which may be misunderstood, or even misrepresented, we are ready to allow. We have already said that it only records the process of reasoning which brought Mr. Newman to the Catholic faith. But no one, we are sure, will read this book as it deserves to be read, without coming to the conclusion, that never did convert come to the Church with mind, soul, and heart, more thoroughly made over to her cause—with a tribute of varied learning and extensive research more cheerfully laid at her feet—with more complete, hearty, and filial allegiance, than this work shows him to have done. It is not a controversial treatise, nor a systematic defence of Catholic doctrines; but it is more and better than this. There is hardly a contested point of faith, which is not introduced, by way of illustration, {533} or in application of principles; and everywhere the Catholic doctrine as now held, and its consequent practice as now followed, are ably and heartily defended. There are no reserves, there is no lingering wish for changes or modifications; but the Catholic system is embraced, and loved with the fervour and simplicity of one trained from infancy to the faith. The defence of communion under one kind, introduced at page 161, will be found most able and convincing. Again, the supremacy of the Holy See, its rights and privileges, are frequently brought forward, and proved, and illustrated from ecclesiastical documents and historical facts, in the ablest manner.

But the topic of all others, on which Mr. Newman exhibits the purest Catholic feeling and the noblest eloquence, is the honour and affectionate devotion paid by the Church to the Blessed Mother of God. Several times, in the course of his work, he touches upon the subject more theologically; but, towards the close of the work, there are two passages which must come home, convincingly and most congenially, to every Catholic heart. We will begin with the second, and it will fully explain itself.

"It has been anxiously asked, whether the honours paid to St. Mary, which have grown out of devotion to her Almighty Lord and Son, do not, in fact, tend to weaken that devotion; and whether, from the nature of the case, it is possible so to exalt a creature without withdrawing the heart from the Creator.

"In addition to what has been said on this subject in this Chapter and the foregoing, I observe that the question is one of fact, not of presumption or conjecture. The abstract lawfulness of the honours paid to St. Mary, and their distinction in theory from the incommunicable worship paid to God, have already been insisted on; but here the question turns upon their practicability or expedience, which must be determined by the fact whether they are practicable, and whether they have been found to be expedient.

"Here I observe, first, that to those who admit the authority of the Council of Ephesus the question is in no slight degree answered by its sanction of the [theotokos], or 'Mother of God,' as a title of St. Mary, and that in order to protect the doctrine of the Incarnation, and to preserve the faith of Catholics from a specious Humanitarianism. And if we take a survey of Europe at least, we shall find that those religious communions which are characterized by the observance of St. Mary, are not the Churches which have ceased to adore her Eternal Son, but such as have renounced that observance. The regard for his glory, which was professed in that {534} keen jealousy of her exaltation, has not been supported by the event. They who were accused of worshipping a creature in His stead, still worship Him; their accusers, who hoped to worship Him so purely, where obstacles to the development of their principles have been removed, have ceased to worship him altogether.

"Next, it must be observed, that the tone of the devotion paid to St. Mary is altogether distinct from that which is paid to Her Eternal Son, and to the Holy Trinity, as we shall certainly allow on inspection of the Catholic services. The supreme and true worship paid to the Almighty is severe, profound, awful. Christ is addressed as true God, while He is true Man; as our Creator and Judge, while He is most loving, tender, and gracious. On the other hand, towards St. Mary the language employed is affectionate and ardent, as towards a mere child of Adam; though subdued, as coming from her sinful kindred. How different, for instance, is the tone of the Dies Iræ from that of the Stabat Mater. In the 'Tristis et afflicta Mater Unigeniti,' in the 'Mater fons amoris,' the 'Sancta Mater,' the 'Virgo virginum præclara Mihi jam non sis amara, Pœnas mecum divide,' the 'Fac me verè tecum fiere,' we have an expression of the feelings with which we regard one who is a creature and a mere human being; but in the 'Rex tremendæ majestatis qui salvandos salvas gratis, salva me Fons pietatis,' the 'Ne me perdas illâ die,' the 'Juste judex ultionis, donum fac remissionis,' the 'Oro supplex et acclinis, cor contritum quasi cinis,' the 'Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem,' we hear the voice of the creature raised in hope and love, yet in deep awe to his Creator, Infinite Benefactor, and Judge. Or again, how distinct is the language of the Breviary Services on the Festival of Pentecost, or of the Holy Trinity, from the language of the Services for the Assumption! How indescribably majestic, solemn, and soothing is the 'Veni Creator Spiritus,' the 'Altissimi donum Dei, Fons vivus, ignis, charitas,' or the 'Vera et una Trinitas, una et summa Deitas, sancta et una Deitas,' the 'Spes nostra, salus nostra, honor noster, O beata Trinitas,' the 'Charitas Pater, gratia Filius, communicatio Spiritus Sanctus, O beata Trinitas;' 'Libera nos, salva nos, vivifica nos, O beata Trinitas!' How gentle, on the contrary, how full of sympathy and affection, how stirring and animating, in the Office for the Assumption, is the 'Virgo prudentissima, quo progrederis, quasi aurora valde rutilans? filia Sion, tota formosa et suavis es, pulcra ut luna, electa ut sol;' the 'Sicut dies verni circumdabant cum flores rosarum, et lilia convallium;' the 'Maria Virgo assumpta est ad æthereum thalamum in quo Rex regnum stellato sedet solio;' and the 'Gaudent Angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum.' Or again, the Antiphon, the 'Ad te clamamus exules filii Hevæ, ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes in hac lacrymarum valle,' and 'Eia ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte,' and 'O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.' Or the Hymn, {535} 'Ave Maris stella, Dei Mater alma,' and 'Virgo singularis, inter omnes mitis, nos culpis solutos, mites fac et castos.'

"Nor does it avail to object that, in this contrast of devotional exercises, the human will supplant the Divine, from the infirmity of our nature; for, I repeat, the question is one of fact, whether it has done so. And next it must be asked, whether the character of Protestant devotion towards our Lord has been that of worship at all; and not rather such as we pay to an excellent human being, that is, no higher devotion than that which Catholics pay to St. Mary, differing from it, however, in being familiar, rude, and earthly. Carnal minds will ever create a carnal worship for themselves; and to forbid them the service of the Saints will have no tendency to teach them the worship of God."—P. 435-438.

After this, Mr. Newman enters upon an investigation which will be gratifying to every Catholic, though perhaps its result will appear new to some. He minutely examines the Exercises of St. Ignatius, to show how subordinate a part devotion to the Blessed Virgin has in that wonderful system for purifying and perfecting the spiritual man; and further gives the similar conclusion which he has drawn from the examination of a large collection of small devotional works, circulated in Rome among the people. But it will be seen that in the extract just given, reference is made to another passage, which is too striking and too beautiful for us to omit. It is as follows:

"There was one other subject on which the Arian controversy had a more intimate, though not an immediate influence. Its tendency to give a new interpretation to the texts which speak of our Lord's subordination, has already been noticed: such as admitted of it were henceforth explained more prominently of His manhood than of his Economy or His Sonship. But there were other texts which did not admit of this interpretation, but which, without ceasing to belong to Him, might seem more directly applicable to a creature than to the Creator. He indeed was really the 'Wisdom in whom the Father eternally delighted,' yet it would be but natural, if, under the circumstances of Arian misbelief, theologians looked out for other than the Eternal Son to be the immediate object of such descriptions. And thus the controversy opened a question which it did not settle. It discovered a new sphere, if we may so speak, in the realms of light, to which the Church had not yet assigned its inhabitant. Arianism had admitted that our Lord was both the God of the Evangelical covenant, and the actual Creator of the Universe; but even this was not enough, because it did not confess him to be the One, Everlasting, Infinite Supreme Being, but to be made by Him. It was not enough with that heresy to proclaim {536} Him to be begotten ineffably before all worlds; not enough to place Him high above all creatures as the type of all the works of God's Hands: not enough to make him the Lord of His Saints, the Mediator between God and man, the Object of worship, the Image of the Father; not enough, because it was not all, and between all, and anything short of all, there was an infinite interval. The highest of creatures is levelled with the lowest in comparison of the One Creator Himself. That is, the Nicene Council recognised the eventful principle, that, while we believe and profess any being to be a creature, such a being is really no God to us, though honoured by us with whatever high titles and with whatever homage. Arius or Asterius did all but confess that Christ was the Almighty: they said much more than St. Bernard or St. Alphonso have since said of St. Mary; yet they left him a creature and were found wanting. Thus there was 'a wonder in heaven:' a throne was seen, far above all created powers, mediatorial, intercessory; a title archetypal; a crown bright as the morning star; a glory issuing from the Eternal Throne; robes pure as the heavens; and a sceptre over all; and who was the predestined heir of that Majesty? Who was that Wisdom, and what was her name, 'the Mother of fair love, and fear, and holy hope,' 'exalted like a palm-tree in Engaddi, and a rose-plant in Jericho,' 'created from the beginning before the world' in God's counsels, and 'In Jerusalem was her power?' The vision is found in the Apocalypse, a Woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The votaries of Mary do not exceed the true faith, unless the blasphemers of her Son came up to it. The Church of Rome is not idolatrous, unless Arianism is orthodoxy.

"I am not stating conclusions which were drawn out in the controversy, but of premises which were laid, broad and deep. It was then shown, it was then determined, that to exalt a creature was no recognition of its divinity. Nor am I speaking of the Semi-arians, who, holding our Lord's derivation from the Substance of the Father, yet denying His Consubstantiality, really did lie open to the charge of maintaining two Gods, and present no parallel to the defenders of the prerogatives of St. Mary. But I speak of the Arians who taught that our Lord's Substance was created; and concerning them it is true that St. Athanasius' condemnation of their theology is a vindication of the Medieval. Yet it is not wonderful, considering how Socinians, Sabellians, Nestorians, and the like, abound in these days, without their even knowing it themselves, if those who never rise higher in their notions of our Lord's Divinity than to consider Him a man singularly inhabited by a Divine Presence, that is, a Catholic Saint,—if such men should recognise, in the honour paid by the Church to St. Mary, the very honour which, and which alone, they offer to her Eternal Son."—P. 404-406. {537}

Mr. Newman has here expressed more happily than probably it has ever been done before, the position assigned to the ever Blessed Mother of our Lord in the devotional feelings of Catholics; unmeasurably lower than that of her Son, but quite as high as heretics in ancient or modern days have wished to allot to Him. But the passage itself, independent of the noble view which it presents, will not be less interesting on the ground of its evidence, how completely the writer had imbued his heart with Catholic feeling, while he was studying Catholic Truth; how, instead of the cold calculations of even many Catholics, as to the minimum of reverence, affection, and confidence which they may be allowed to show to the Blessed Virgin, he has at once seized upon, mastered, and thoroughly incorporated that tender and sweet devotion which forms the solace, stay, and joy of simple and ardent souls in the Church. It has not been merely the understanding that has brought Mr. Newman into communion with her.

There is much more that we would gladly quote, but we will confine ourselves to giving the concluding paragraph of the book.

"Such were the thoughts concerning the 'Blessed Vision of Peace,' of one whose long-continued petition had been that the Most Merciful would not despise the work of His own Hands, nor leave him to himself;—while yet his eyes were dim, and his breast laden, and he could but employ Reason in the things of Faith. And now, dear Reader, time is short, eternity is long. Put not from you what you have here found; regard it not as mere matter of present controversy; set not out resolved to refute it, and looking about for the best way of doing so; seduce not yourself with the imagination that it comes of disappointment, or disgust, or restlessness, or wounded feeling, or undue sensibility, or other weakness. Wrap not yourself round in the associations of years past; nor determine that to be truth which you wish to be so, nor make an idol of cherished anticipations. Time is short, eternity is long.


In this last prayer we beg leave not to join. We trust its writer may yet live many years, to see the fruit of his future labours, and even of his past. He has left many behind him not yet of the fold—these likewise must be {538} brought in; and no one will work, we are sure, with more earnestness than he in the noble effort to gain them. It is just two years since this Review contained the following words:—"Whatever Mr. Newman writes is not only an evidence but a cause, not merely a record but an event. His words may serve to inform us and posterity of the present state of opinion in his Church, or at least of that portion of it whose standard he bears; but they will carry conviction to the heart of many, and bring them to think as they have not done before on the subject." [Note 4] This we are sure is the case with respect to the volume before us; many will be led by it to think seriously, and more practically, on the important evidences which it contains. And as we close it, we rejoice most heartily, in now for the first time introducing into our pages the name of its author, as that of a brother in the Faith, and a loving son of the Catholic Church.


But we cannot close our own volume without a few reflections connected with the past course and future prospects of our Review. And let our readers have patience with us, if we refer somewhat lengthily to what has been written in former volumes.

With the present number we close the tenth year of our literary career; and we may justly say that our first decennium could not finish under circumstances better entitling us to look back and examine, whether or no the Review started with just views, has persevered in them unflinchingly and invariably, and has been justified by their result. Of the society which first projected and undertook the establishment of a Catholic Quarterly periodical, a portion has continued from the first number to the present, intimately connected with it, and engaged in its direction. This circumstance is merely mentioned to show that sufficient connexion yet remains between the basis on which it was undertaken, and the views it now presents, to keep up the identity of the publication throughout, and to prove that the course which it has pursued was the result of system and deliberation—not of mere chance.

The main religious object proposed, in the first establishment of the Review, was to watch, to second, and to {539} correct, where necessary, the Religious Movement, which was just then becoming prominent in the English Church, and was beginning to interest the Catholics, both of England and of the continent. The view taken of it from the beginning by the founders of the Review was a hopeful one; and it was founded upon a conviction of three things—the reality, the sincerity, and the rightful tendencies of the movement. Not only the attentive perusal of what had been published, but other opportunities of more personal observation had led to this conviction; and it was made the groundwork of the line to be invariably pursued. While the fallacies and errors of the High-Church system were to be plainly and perseveringly exposed, every thing that could favour the kindest views respecting it, and encourage hopes for it and from it, was to be generously put forward; while those engaged in it were considered as every way worthy of our sympathy, of our kindness, and of our respect. If occasionally signs of irritation have appeared in our words, we are not conscious of any diminution, at any time, of our hopes for the cause, or of our kindness towards its promoters. Steadily confiding in Providence, and unmoved by frequent remonstrances and occasional obloquy, we looked forward to the present day, and thank God, we have now no cause to repent, and nothing, we trust, to retract. In our very first volume (on the "Oxford Controversy,") we expressed ourselves as follows:

"Do we mean then to join in the clamour which has been raised against them? Assuredly not. We gladly close our eyes to all consideration of personal motives or feelings which have been thought to prevail in this controversy, and we are willing to look upon it solely as a struggle of contending principles. For we believe that sincere regret has been felt by this party, at what they consider the exaltation of opinions hostile to their views of the church and its doctrines. But if any would look steadily at their own position, now rendered more manifest by the issue of the contest, they would feel that they are vainly trying to raise their church to the standard of influence and power which their affections have devised. They would feel that they are only one small section of it, tending to dissent from its essential principles. We can sympathise with their feelings, we can well conceive the painful disappointment which an ardent spirit must feel, when, having fixed its eagerest ambition upon the establishment of a favourite theory, it finds a clog upon its efforts in the very cause it has espoused … "

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1. "Oh, how limited, (All Saint's day, 1845.)" Author's note.
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2. Essay, p. 22.
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3. Proph. Office, p. 132.
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4. Vol. xv. p. 547.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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