3. The Anglican Church

{393} [Note 1] [This Writer says:—"If there is, as there is, a strong distrust of certain Catholics, it is restricted to the proselytizing priests among them; and especially to those, who, like Dr. Newman, have turned round upon their mother Church, (I had almost said their mother country,) with contumely and slander."—p. 36.

[No one has a right to make a charge, without at least an attempt to prove what he says; but this Writer is consistent with himself. From the time that he first spoke of me in the Magazine, when has he ever even professed to give evidence of any sort for any one of his charges, from his own sense of propriety, and without being challenged on the point? After the sentence which I have been quoting, and another like it, he coolly passes on to Tract 90! Blot sixteen; but I shall dwell on it awhile, for its own sake.]

[Now] I have been bringing out my mind in this Volume on every subject which has come before me; and therefore I am bound to state plainly what I feel and have felt, since I was a Catholic, about the Anglican Church. I said, in a former page, that, on my conversion, I was not conscious of any change in me of thought or feeling, as regards matters of doctrine; this, however, was not the case as regards some matters of fact, and, unwilling as I am to give offence to religious Anglicans, I am bound to confess that I felt a great change in my view of the Church of England. I cannot tell how soon there came on me,—but very soon,—an extreme astonishment that I had ever imagined it to be a portion of the Catholic Church. For the first time, I looked at it from without, and (as I should myself say) saw it as it was. Forthwith I could not get myself to see in it any thing else, than what I had so long {394} fearfully suspected, from as far back as 1836,—a mere national institution. As if my eyes were suddenly opened, so I saw it—spontaneously, apart from any definite act of reason or any argument; and so I have seen it ever since. I suppose, the main cause of this lay in the contrast which was presented to me by the Catholic Church. Then I recognized at once a reality which was quite a new thing with me. Then I was sensible that I was not making for myself a Church by an effort of thought; I needed not to make an act of faith in her; I had not painfully to force myself into a position, but my mind fell back upon itself in relaxation and in peace, and I gazed at her almost passively as a great objective fact. I looked at her;—at her rites, her ceremonial, and her precepts; and I said, "This is a religion;" and then, when I looked back upon the poor Anglican Church, for which I had laboured so hard, and upon all that appertained to it, and thought of our various attempts to dress it up doctrinally and esthetically, it seemed to me to be the veriest of nonentities. Vanity [Note 2] of vanities, all is vanity! How can I make a record of what passed within me, without seeming to be satirical? But I speak plain, serious words. As people call me credulous for acknowledging Catholic claims, so they call me satirical for disowning Anglican pretensions; to them it is credulity, to them it is satire; but it is not so in me. What they think exaggeration, I think truth. I am not speaking of the Anglican Church in [Note 3] any disdain, though to them I seem contemptuous. To them of course it is "Aut Csar aut nullus," but not to me. It may be a great creation, though it be not divine, and this is how I judge of it. Men, who abjure the divine right of kings, would be very indignant, if on that account they were considered disloyal. And so I recognize in the Anglican Church a time-honoured institution, of noble historical memories, a monument of ancient wisdom, a momentous arm of political strength, a great national organ, a source of vast popular advantage, and, to a certain point, a witness and teacher of religious truth. I do not think that, if what I have written about it since I have been a Catholic, {395} be equitably considered as a whole, I shall be found to have taken any other view than this; but that it is something sacred, that it is an oracle of revealed doctrine, that it can claim a share in St. Ignatius or St. Cyprian, that it can take the rank, contest the teaching, and stop the path of the Church of St. Peter, that it can call itself "the Bride of the Lamb," this is the view of it which simply disappeared from my mind on my conversion, and which it would be almost a miracle to reproduce. "I went by, and lo! it was gone; I sought it, but its place could no where be found;" and nothing can bring it back to me. And, as to its possession of an episcopal succession from the time of the Apostles, well, it may have it, and, if the Holy See ever so decide[d], I will believe it, as being the decision of a higher judgment than my own; but, for myself, I must have St. Philip's gift, who saw the sacerdotal character on the forehead of a gaily-attired youngster, before I can by my own wit acquiesce in it, for antiquarian arguments are altogether unequal to the urgency of visible facts. Why is it that I must pain dear friends by saying so, and kindle a sort of resentment against me in the kindest of hearts? but I must, though to do it be not only a grief to me, but most impolitic at the moment. Any how, this is my mind; and, if to have it, if to have betrayed it, before now, involuntarily by my words or my deeds, if on a fitting occasion, as now, to have avowed it, if all this be a proof of the justice of the charge brought against me <by my accuser> of having "turned round upon my Mother-Church with contumely and slander," in this sense, but in no other sense, do I plead guilty to it without a word in extenuation.

In no other sense surely; the Church of England has been the instrument of Providence in conferring great benefits on me;<—>had I been born in Dissent, perhaps I should never have been baptized; had I been born an English Presbyterian, perhaps I should never have known our Lord's divinity; had I not come to Oxford, perhaps I never should have heard of the visible Church, or of Tradition, or other Catholic doctrines. And as I have received so much good from the Anglican Establishment itself, can I have the heart, or rather the want of charity, {396} considering that it does for so many others, what it has done for me, to wish to see it overthrown? I have no such wish while it is what it is, and while we are so small a body. Not for its own sake, but for the sake of the many congregations to which it ministers, I will do nothing against it. While Catholics are so weak in England, it is doing our work; and, though it does us harm in a measure, at present the balance is in our favour. What our duty would be at another time and in other circumstances, supposing, for instance, the Establishment lost its dogmatic faith, or at least did not preach it, is another matter altogether. In secular history we read of hostile nations having long truces, and renewing them from time to time, and that seems to be the position <which> the Catholic Church may fairly take up at present in relation to the Anglican Establishment.

Doubtless the National Church has hitherto been a serviceable breakwater against doctrinal errors, more fundamental than its own. How long this will last in the years now before us, it is impossible to say, for the Nation drags down its Church to its own level; but still the National Church has the same sort of influence over the Nation that a periodical has upon the party which it represents, and my own idea of a Catholic's fitting attitude towards the National Church in this its supreme hour, is that of assisting and sustaining it, if it be in our power, in the interest of dogmatic truth. I should wish to avoid every thing, except [Note 4] <indeed> under the direct call of duty, <and this is a material exception,)> which went to weaken its hold upon the public mind, or to unsettle its establishment, or to embarrass and lessen its maintenance of those great Christian and Catholic principles and doctrines which it has up to this time successfully preached.

[[Note 5] I say, "except under the call of duty;" and this exception, I am obliged to admit, is not a slight one; it is one which necessarily places a bar to any closer relation between it and ourselves, than that of an armed truce. For, in the first place, it stands to reason that even a {397} volume, such as this has been, exerts an influence adverse to the Establishment,—at least in the case of many minds; and this I cannot avoid, though I have sincerely attempted to keep as wide of controversy in the course of it, as ever I could. And next I cannot deny, what must be ever a very sore point with Anglicans, that, if any Anglican comes to me after careful thought and prayer, and with deliberate purpose, and says, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, and that your Church and yours alone is it, and I demand admittance into it," it would be the greatest of sins in me to reject such a man, as being a distinct contravention of our Lord's maxim, "Freely ye have received, freely give."

I have written three volumes which may be considered controversial; Loss and Gain in 1847; Lectures on Difficulties felt by Anglicans in submitting to the Catholic Church in 1850; and Lectures on the present Position of Catholics in England in 1851. And though I have neither time nor need to go into the matter minutely, a few words will suffice for some general account of what has been my object and my tone in these works severally.

Of these three, the Lectures on the "Position of Catholics" have nothing to do with the Church of England, as such; they are directed against the Protestant or Ultra-Protestant Tradition on the subject of Catholicism since the time of Queen Elizabeth, in which parties indeed in the Church of England have largely participated, but which cannot be confused with Anglican teaching itself. Much less can that Tradition be confused with the doctrine of the Laudian or of the Tractarian School. I owe nothing to Protestantism; and I spoke against it even when I was an Anglican, as well as in these Catholic Lectures. If I spoke in them against the Church Established, it was because, and so far as, at the time when they were delivered the Establishment took a violent part against the Catholic Church, on the basis of the Protestant Tradition. Moreover, I had never as an Anglican been a lover of the actual Establishment; Hurrell Froude's Remains, in which it is called an "incubus" and "Upas Tree," will stand in evidence, as for him, so for me; for I was one of the {398} Editors. What I said even as an Anglican, it is not strange that I said when I was not. Indeed I have been milder in my thoughts of the Establishment ever since I have been a Catholic than before, and for an obvious reason;—when I was an Anglican, I viewed it as repressing a higher doctrine than its own; and now I view it as keeping out a lower and more dangerous.

Then as to my Lectures on Anglican Difficulties. Neither were these formally directed against the National Church. They were addressed to the "Children of the Movement of 1833," to impress upon them, that, whatever was the case with others, their duty at least was to become Catholics, since Catholicism was the real scope and issue of that Movement. "There is but one thing," I say, "that forces me to speak ... It will be a miserable thing for you and for me, if I have been instrumental in bringing you but half-way, if I have co-operated in removing your invincible ignorance, but am able to do no more."—p. 5. Such being the drift of the Volume, the reasoning directed against the Church of England goes no further than this, that it had no claims whatever on such of its members as were proceeding onwards with the Movement into the Catholic Church.

Lastly, as to Loss and Gain: it is the story, simply ideal, of the conversion of an Oxford man. Its drift is to show how little there is in Anglicanism to satisfy and retain a young and earnest heart. In this Tale, all the best characters are sober Church-of-England people. No Tractarians proper are introduced: and this is noted in the Advertisement: "No proper representative is intended in this Tale, of the religious opinions, which had lately so much influence in the University of Oxford." There could not be such in the Tale, without the introduction of friends, which was impossible in its very notion. But, since the scene was to be laid during the very years, and at the head-quarters, of Tractarianism, some expedient was necessary in order to meet what was a great difficulty. My expedient was the introduction of what may be called Tractarians improper; and I took them the more readily, because, though I knew that such there were, I knew none of them personally. I mean such men as I used to {399} consider of "the gilt-gingerbread school," from whom I expected little good, persons whose religion lay in ritualism or architecture, and who "played at Popery" or at Anglicanism. I repeat I knew no such men, because it is one thing to desire fine churches and ceremonies, (which of course I did myself,) and quite another thing to desire these and nothing else; but at that day there was in some quarters, though not in those where I had influence, a strong movement in the esthetic direction. Doubtless I went too far in my apprehension of such a movement: for one of the best, and most devoted and hard-working Priests I ever knew was the late Father Hutchison, of the London Oratory, and I believe it was architecture that directed his thoughts towards the Catholic Church. However, I had in my mind an external religion which was inordinate; and, as the men who were considered instances of it, were personally unknown to me, even by name, I introduced them, under imaginary representatives, in Loss and Gain, and that, in order to get clear of Tractarians proper; and of the three men, whom I have introduced, the Anglican is the best. In like manner I introduced two "gilt-gingerbread" young ladies, who were ideal, absolutely, utterly, without a shred of concrete existence about them; and I introduced them with the remark that they were "really kind charitable persons," and "by no means put forth as a type of a class," that "among such persons were to be found the gentlest spirits and the tenderest hearts," and that "these sisters had open hands, if they had not wise heads," but that "they did not know much of matters ecclesiastical, and they knew less of themselves."

It has been said, indeed, I know not to what extent, that I introduced my friends or partisans into the Tale; this is utterly untrue. Only two cases of this misconception have come to my knowledge, and I at once denied each of them outright; and I take this opportunity of denying generally the truth of all other similar charges. No friend of mine, no one connected in any way with the Movement, entered into the composition of any one of the characters. Indeed, putting aside the two instances which have been distinctly brought before me, I have not {400} even any sort of suspicion who the persons are, whom I am thus accused of introducing.

Next, this writer goes on to speak of Tract 90; a subject of which I have treated at great length in a former passage of this narrative, and, in consequence, need not take up again now.]

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Notes

1. 3. (in heading)] Note E. On page 318.
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2. Vanity This commenced a new paragraph in 1865.
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3. in] with
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4. , except] (except
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5. The matter between [ ], pp. 396-400, was not reprinted in 1865.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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