Lecture 3. The Life of the Movement of 1833 not derived from the National Church

Objection:—Movement issued from the National Church

Personal Experience as Anglican

Grace Given to All

Grace Given Two Ways in a Sacred Ordinance

Others have Same Evidences

Catholics have both External and Internal Evidences



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{67} I AM proposing, my brethren, in these Lectures, to answer several of the objections which are urged against quitting the National Communion for the Catholic Church. It has been a very common and natural idea of those who belong to the movement of 1833, as it was the idea of its originators, that, the Nation being on its way to give up revealed truth, all those who wish to receive that truth in its fulness, and to resist its enemies, are called on to make use of the National Church, to which they belong, whose formularies they receive, as their instrument for that purpose. I answer them, that their attempt is hopeless, because the National Church is strictly part of the Nation, in the same way that the Law or the Parliament is part of the Nation; and therefore, as the Nation changes, so will the National Church change. That Church, then, cannot be used against the spirit of the age, except as a drag on a wheel; for nothing can really resist the {68} Nation, except what stands on a basis independent of the Nation. It must say and will say just what the Nation says, though it may be some time in saying it. Next, having thus shown that the National Church is absolutely one with the Nation, I proceeded further to show that, on the other hand, the National Church is absolutely heterogeneous from the Apostolic or Anglo-Catholic party of 1833; so that, while the National Church is part of the Nation, the movement, on the contrary, has no part or place in the National Church. To aim, then, at making the Nation Catholic by means of the Church of England, was something like evangelizing Turkey by means of Islamism; and, as the Turks would feel serious resentment at hearing the Gospel in the mouths of their Muftis and Mollahs, so was, and is, the English Nation provoked, not persuaded, by Catholic preaching in the Establishment.

And I rest the proof of these two statements on incontrovertible facts going on during the last twenty years, and now before our eyes; for, first, the National Church has changed and is changing with the Nation; and secondly, the Nation and Church have been indignant, and are indignant, with the movement of 1833. I conceive that, except in imagination and in hope, there are no symptoms whatever of the National Church preventing those changes of Progress, as it is called, whether in the Nation or in itself, though it may retard them: nor any symptoms whatever of its {69} welcoming those retrograde changes, to which it is invited under the name of primitive and Apostolical truth. The National Church is the slave of the Nation, and it is the opponent of the Movement; which, after all, has done no more than form a party in the one to the annoyance of the other.

And now I come to a second objection, which shall be my subject today. An inquirer, then, may say, "This is a very unfair and one-sided view of the matter. I grant—indeed I cannot deny—that the movement has but formed a party in the National Church. I grant it has no hold on the Church, that it does not coalesce with it, that it hangs loose of it: nay, I grant that this want of congeniality comes out clearer and clearer year by year, so that the Anglican party has never appeared more distinct from the Establishment, and foreign to it, than at this moment, when State and Bishops and people have cast it off, and its efforts, whether to alter the constitution of the Establishment, or to preserve its doctrine, have failed and are failing. I grant all this; I am forced in fairness to grant it;—or rather, whether I grant it or no, it will be taken for granted by all men without waiting for my granting. But still, so far is undeniable, that that movement of 1833 issued forth from the National Church; this, at least, is an incontrovertible fact: whatever light, life, or strength it has possessed, or possesses, from the National Church was it derived. {70} To the Sacraments, to the ordinances, to the teaching of the national Church, the movement owes its being and its continuance; and, if it be its offspring, it belongs to it, it is cognate to it, and cannot be really alien from it; and great sin and undutifulness, ingratitude, presumption, and cruelty, there must be committed by those who, belonging to the movement, abandon the Church." This is a consideration which is urged with great force against affectionate and diffident minds, and acts as an insurmountable difficulty in the way of their becoming Catholics. It is pressed upon them—"The National Church is the Church of your baptism, and therefore to leave it is to abandon your Mother."

Now, then, let us examine what is the real state of the case.


We see then, certainly, a multitude of men all over the country, who, in the course of the last twenty years, have been roused to a religious life by the influence of certain principles professing to be those of the Primitive Church, and put forth by certain of the National Clergy. Every year has added to their number; nor has it been a mere profession of opinion which was their characteristic, or certain exercises of the intellect; not a fashion or taste of the hour, but a rule of life. They have subjected their wills, they have chastened their hearts, they have subdued their affections, they have submitted their reason. Devotions, communions, {71} fastings, privations, almsgiving, pious munificence, self-denying occupations, have marked the spread of the principles in question; which have, moreover, been adorned and recommended in those who adopted them by a consistency, grace, and refinement of conduct nowhere else to be found in the National Church. Such are the characteristics of the party in question; and, moreover, its members themselves expressly attribute their advancement in the religious life to the use of the ordinances of that National Church.

They have found, they say, as a matter of fact, that as they attended those ordinances, they became more strong in obedience and dutifulness, had more power over their passions, and more love towards God and man. "If, then," they may urge, "you confront us with those external facts, which have formed the subjects of your first and second Lectures, here are our internal facts to meet them; our own experience, serious, sober, practical, outweighs a hundredfold representations which may be logical, dazzling, irrefragable; but which still, as we ourselves know better than any one, whatever be the real explanation of them, are, after all, fallacious and untrue."

Here, then, we are brought to the question of the internal evidence, which is alleged in favour of a real, however recondite, connection of the (so-called) Anglo-Catholic party with the National Church. It is said that, however you are to account for it, there is the {72} fact of a profound intimate relationship, a spiritual bond, between the one and the other; that party has actually risen out of what seems so earthly, so inconsistent, so feeble, and is sustained by it; and, in fact does but illustrate the great maxim of the Gospel, that the weak shall be strong, and the despised shall be glorious. Taking their stand on this evangelical promise and principle, the persons of whom I speak are quite careless of argument, which silences them without touching them. "Their opponents may triumph, if they will; but, after all, there certainly must be some satisfactory explanation of the difficulties of their own position, if they did but know what it was. The question is deeper than argument, while it is very easy to be captious and irreverent. It is not to be handled by intellect and talent, or decided by logic. They are undoubtedly in a very anomalous state of things, a state of transition; but they must submit for a time to be without a theory of the Church, without an intellectual basis on which to plant themselves. It would be an utter absurdity for them to leave the Establishment, merely because they do not at the moment see how to defend their staying in it. Such accidents will from time to time happen in large and complicated questions; they have light enough to guide them practically,—first, because even though they wished to move ever so much, they see no place to move into; and next, because, however it comes to {73} pass, however contrary it may seem to be to all the rules of theology and the maxims of polemics, to Apostles, Scripture, Fathers, Saints, common-sense, and the simplest principles of reason,—though it ought not to be so in the way of strict science,—still, so it is, they are, in matter of fact, abundantly blest where they are.

"Certainly it is vexatious that the Privy Council should have decided as it has done; vexatious not to know what to say about the decision; vexatious, inconvenient, perplexing, but nothing more. It is not a real difficulty, but only an annoyance, to be obliged to say something to quiet their people, and not to have a notion what. However, they must do their best; and, though it is true one of their friends uses one argument, another another, and these arguments are inconsistent with one another, still that is an accidental misery of their position, and it will not last for ever. Brighter times are coming; meanwhile they must, with resignation, suffer the shame, scorn of man, and distrust of friends, which is their present portion; a little patience, and the night will be over; their Athanasius will come at length, to defend and to explain the truth, and their present constancy will be their future reward."


Now, as truth is the object which I set before me in the inquiry which I am prosecuting, I will not follow their example in considering only one side of the question. {74} I will not content myself, on my part, with insisting merely upon the external view of it, which is against them, leaving them in possession of that argument from the inward evidences of grace, on which they especially rely. I have no intention at all of evading their position,—I mean to attack it. I feel intimately what is strong in it, and I feel where it halts; so, to state their argument fairly, I will not extemporize words of my own, but I will express it in the language of a writer, who, when he so spoke, belonged to the Established Church.

"Surely," he says, "as the only true religion is that which is seated within us,—a matter not of words, but of things, so the only satisfactory test of religion is something within us. If religion be a personal matter, its reasons also should be personal. Wherever it is present in the world or in the heart, it produces an effect, and that effect is its evidence. When we view it as set up in the world, it has its external proofs; when as set up in our hearts, it has its internal; and that, whether we are able to elicit them ourselves, and put them into shape, or not. Nay, with some little limitation and explanation, it might be said, that the very fact of a religion taking root within us is a proof so far that it is true. If it were not true, it would not take root. Religious men have, in their own religiousness, an evidence of the truth of their religion. That religion is true which has power, and so far as it has power; {75} nothing but what is divine can renew the heart. And this is the secret reason why religious men believe,—whether they are adequately conscious of it or no,—whether they can put it into words or no—viz., their past experience that the doctrine which they hold is a reality in their minds, not a mere opinion, and has come to them, 'not in word but in power.' And in this sense the presence of religion in us is its own evidence." [Note 1]


"If, then, we are asked for 'a reason of the hope that is in us,' why we are content, or rather thankful, to be in that Church in which God's providence has placed us, would not the reasons be some one or other of these, or rather all of them, and a number of others besides, which these may suggest, deeper than they?

"First, I suppose a religious man is conscious that God has been with him, and given him whatever he has of good within him. He knows quite enough of himself to know how fallen he is from original righteousness, and he has a conviction, which nothing can shake, that without the aid of his Lord and Saviour, he can do nothing aright. I do not say he need recollect any definite season when he turned to God, and gave up the service of sin and Satan; but in one sense, every season, every year, is such a time of turning. I mean, he ever has experience, just as if he had hitherto been living in the world, of a continual conversion; he is {76} ever taking advantage of holy seasons, and new providences, and beginning again. The elements of sin are still alive within him; they still tempt and influence him, and threaten when they do no more; and it is only by a continual fight against them that he prevails; and what shall persuade him that his power to fight is his own, and not from above? And this conviction of a divine presence with him is stronger, according to the length of time during which he has served God, and to his advance in holiness. The multitude of men, nay, a great number of those who think themselves religious, do not aim at holiness, and do not advance in holiness; but consider, what a great evidence it is that God is with us, so far as we have it! Religious men, really such, cannot but recollect in the course of years that they have become very different from what they were ... In the course of years a religious person finds that a mysterious unseen influence has been upon and changed him. He is indeed very different from what he was. His tastes, his views, his judgments are different. You will say that time changes a man as a matter of course; advancing age, outward circumstances, trials, experience of life. It is true; and yet I think a religious man would feel it little less than sacrilege, and almost blasphemy, to impute the improvement of his heart and conduct, in his moral being, with which he has been favoured in a certain sufficient period, to outward or merely natural causes. {77} He will be unable to force himself to do so—that is to say, he has a conviction, which it is a point of religion with him not to doubt, which it is a sin to deny, that God has been with him. And this is, of course, a ground of hope to him that God will be with him still; and if he, at any time, fall into religious perplexity, it may serve to comfort him to think of it." [Note 2]

And again:—

"I might go on to mention a still more solemn subject, viz., the experience, which, at least, certain religious persons have of the awful sacredness of our sacraments and other ordinances. If these are attended by the presence of Christ, surely we have all that a Church can have in the way of privilege and blessing. The promise runs, 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.' That is a Church where Christ is present; this is the very definition of the Church. The question sometimes asked is, Whether our services, our holy seasons, our rites, our sacraments, our institutions, really have with them the presence of Him who thus promised? If so, we are part of the Church; if not, then we are but performers in a sort of scene or pageant, which may be religiously intended, and which God in His mercy may visit; but if He visits, will in visiting go beyond His own promise. But observe, as if to answer to the challenge, and put herself on trial, and to give us a test of her Catholicity, our Church {78} boldly declares of her most solemn ordinance, that he who profanes it incurs the danger of judgment. She seems, like Moses, or the Prophet from Judah, or Elijah, to put her claim to issue, not so openly, yet as really, upon the fulfilment of a certain specified sign. Now she does not speak to scare away the timid, but to startle and subdue the unbelieving, and withal to assure the wavering and perplexed; and I conceive that in such measure as God wills, and as is known to God, these effects follow. I mean, that we really have proofs among us, though, for the most part, they will be private and personal, from the nature of the case, of clear punishment coming upon profanations of the holy ordinance in question; sometimes very fearful instances, and such as serve, while they awe beholders, to comfort them;—to comfort them, for it is plain, if God be with us for judgment, surely He is with us for mercy also; if He punishes, why is it but for profanation? And how can there be profanation if there is nothing to be profaned? Surely He does not manifest His wrath except where He has first vouchsafed His grace?" [Note 3]

I might quote much more to the same purpose; if I do not, it is not that I fear the force of the argument, but the length to which it runs.


Now in this preference of internal evidences to those {79} which are simply outward, there is a great principle of truth; it requires much guarding, indeed, and explaining, but I suppose, in matter of fact, that the notes of the Church, as they are called, are chiefly intended, as this writer says, as guides and directions into the truth, for those who are as yet external to it, and that those who are within it have primā facie evidences of another and more personal kind. I grant it, and I make use of my admission; for one inward evidence at least Catholics have, which this writer had not,—certainty. I do not say, of course, that what seems like certainty is a sufficient evidence to an individual that he has found the truth, for he may mistake obstinacy or blindness for certainty; but, at any rate, the absence of certainty is a clear proof that a person has not yet found it, and at least a Catholic knows well, even if he cannot urge it in argument, that the Church is able to communicate to him that gift. No one can read the series of arguments from which I have quoted, without being struck by the author's clear avowal of doubt, in spite of his own reasonings, on the serious subject which is engaging his attention. He longed to have faith in the National Church, and he could not. "What want we," he exclaims, "but faith in our Church? With faith we can do everything; without faith we can do nothing." [Note 4] So all these inward notes which he enumerates, whatever their primā facie force, {80} did not reach so far as to implant conviction even in his own breast; they did not, after all, prove to him that connection between the National Church and the spiritual gifts which he recognised in his party, which he fain would have established, and which they would fain establish to whom I am now addressing myself.

But to come to the gifts themselves. You tell me, my brethren, that you have the clear evidence of the influences of grace in your hearts, by its effects sensible at the moment or permanent in the event. You tell me, that you have been converted from sin to holiness, or that you have received great support and comfort under trial, or that you have been carried over very special temptations, though you have not submitted yourselves to the Catholic Church. More than this, you tell me of the peace, and joy, and strength which you have experienced in your own ordinances. You tell me, that when you began to go weekly to communion you found yourselves wonderfully advanced in purity. You tell me that you went to confession, and you never will believe that the hand of God was not over you at the moment when you received absolution. You were ordained, and a fragrance breathed around you; you hung over the dead, and you all but saw the happy spirit of the departed. This is what you say, and the like of this; and I am not the person, my dear brethren, to quarrel with the truth of what you say. I am not the person to be jealous of such facts, nor to wish you {81} to contradict your own memory and your own nature, nor am I so ungrateful to God's former mercies to myself, to have the heart to deny them in you. As to miracles, indeed, if such you mean, that of course is a matter which might lead to dispute; but if you merely mean to say that the supernatural grace of God, as shown either at the time or by consequent fruits, has overshadowed you at certain times, has been with you when you were taking part in the Anglican ordinances, I have no wish, and a Catholic has no anxiety, to deny it.

Why should I deny to your memory what is so pleasant in mine? Cannot I too look back on many years past, and many events, in which I myself experienced what is now your confidence? Can I forget the happy life I have led all my days, with no cares, no anxieties worth remembering; without desolateness, or fever of thought, or gloom of mind, or doubt of God's love to me and providence over me? Can I forget,—I never can forget,—the day when in my youth I first bound myself to the ministry of God in that old church of St. Frideswide, the patroness of Oxford? nor how I wept most abundant, and most sweet tears, when I thought what I then had become; though I looked on ordination as no sacramental rite, nor even to baptism ascribed any supernatural virtue? Can I wipe out from my memory, or wish to wipe out, those happy Sunday mornings, light or dark, year after year, when {82} I celebrated your communion-rite, in my own church of St. Mary's; and in the pleasantness and joy of it heard nothing of the strife of tongues which surrounded its walls? When, too, shall I not feel the soothing recollection of those dear years which I spent in retirement, in preparation for my deliverance from Egypt, asking for light, and by degrees gaining it, with less of temptation in my heart, and sin on my conscience, than ever before? O my dear brethren, my Anglican friends! I easily give you credit for what I have experienced myself. Provided you be in good faith, if you are not trifling with your conscience, if you are resolved to follow whithersoever God shall lead, if the ray of conviction has not fallen on you, and you have shut your eyes to it; then, anxious as I am about you for the future, and dread as I may till you are converted, that perhaps, when conviction comes, it will come in vain; yet still, looking back at the past years of my own life, I recognise what you say, and bear witness to its truth. Yet what has this to do with the matter in hand? I admit your fact; do you, my brethren, admit, in turn, my explanation of it. It is the explanation ready provided by the Catholic Church, provided in her general teaching, quite independently of your particular case, not made for the occasion, only applied when it has arisen;—listen to it, and see whether you admit it or not as true if it be not sufficiently probable, or possible if you {83} will, to invalidate the argument on which you so confidently rely.


Surely you ought to know the Catholic teaching on the subject of grace, in its bearing on your argument, without my insisting on it:—Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum. Grace is given for the merits of Christ all over the earth; there is no corner, even of Paganism, where it is not present, present in each heart of man in real sufficiency for his ultimate salvation. Not that the grace presented to each is such as at once to bring him to heaven; but it is sufficient for a beginning. It is sufficient to enable him to plead for other grace; and that second grace is such as to impetrate a third grace; and thus the soul may be led from grace to grace, and from strength to strength, till at length it is, so to say, in very sight of heaven, if the gift of perseverance does but complete the work. Now here observe, it is not certain that a soul which has the first grace will have the second; for the grant of the second at least depends on its use of the first. Again, it may have the first and second, and yet not the third; from the first on to the nineteenth, and not the twentieth. We mount up by steps towards God, and alas! it is possible that a soul may be courageous and bear up for nineteen steps, and stop and faint at the twentieth. Nay, further than this, it is possible to conceive a soul going forward till it {84} arrives at the very grace of contrition—a contrition so loving, so sin-renouncing, as to bring it at once into a state of reconciliation, and clothe it in the vestment of justice; and yet it may yield to the further trials which beset it, and fall away.

Now all this may take place even outside the Church; and consider what at once follows from it. This follows, in the first place, that men there may be, not Catholics, yet really obeying God and rewarded by Him—nay, I might say (at least by way of argument), in His favour, with their sins forgiven, and in the enjoyment of a secret union with that heavenly kingdom to which they do not visibly belong—who are, through their subsequent failure, never to reach it. There may be those who are increasing in grace and knowledge, and approaching nearer to the Catholic Church every year, who are not in the Church, and never will be. The highest gifts and graces are compatible with ultimate reprobation. As regards, then, the evidence of sanctity in members of the National Establishment, on which you insist, Catholics are not called on to deny them. We think such instances are few, nor so eminent as you are accustomed to fancy; but we do not wish to deny, nor have any difficulty in admitting such facts as you have to adduce, whatever they be. We do not think it necessary to carp at every instance of supernatural excellence among Protestants when it comes before us, or to explain it away; all we know is, that the grace {85} given them is intended ultimately to bring them into the Church, and if it is not tending to do so, it will not ultimately profit them; but we as little deny its presence in their souls as they do themselves; and as the fact is no perplexity to us, it is no triumph to them.

And, secondly, in like manner, whatever be the comfort or the strength attendant upon the use of the national ordinances of religion, in the case of this or that person, a Catholic may admit it without scruple, for it is no evidence to him in behalf of those ordinances themselves. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from time immemorial, and independently of the present controversy, that grace is given in a sacred ordinance in two ways, viz.—to use the scholastic distinction, ex opere operantis, and ex opere operato. Grace is given ex opere operato, when, the proper dispositions being supposed in the recipient, it is given through the ordinance itself; it is given ex opere operantis, when, whether there be outward sign or no, the inward energetic act of the recipient is the instrument of it. Thus Protestants say that justification, for instance, is gained by faith as by an instrument—ex opere operantis; thus Catholics also commonly believe that the benefit arising from the use of holy water accrues, not ex opere operato, or by means of the element itself, but, ex opere operantis, through the devout mental act of the person using it, and the prayers of the Church. So again, the Sacrifice of the Mass {86} benefits the person for whom it is offered ex opere operato, whatever be the character of the celebrating priest; but it benefits him more or less, ex opere operantis, according to the degree of sanctity which the priest has attained, and the earnestness with which he offers it. Again, baptism, whether administered by man or woman, saint or sinner, heretic or Catholic, regenerates an infant ex opere operato; on the other hand, in the case of the baptism of blood, as it was anciently called (that is, the martyrdom of unbaptized persons desiring the sacrament, but unable to obtain it), a discussion has arisen, whether the martyr was justified ex opere operato or ex opere operantis—that is, whether by the physical act of his dying for the faith, considered in itself, or by the mental act of supreme devotion to God, which caused and attended it. So again, contrition of a certain kind is sufficient as a disposition or condition, or what is called matter, for receiving absolution in Penance ex opere operato or by virtue of the sacrament; but it may be heightened and purified into so intense an act of divine love, of hatred and sorrow for sin, and of renunciation of it, as to cleanse and justify the soul, without the sacrament at all, or ex opere operantis. It is plain from this distinction, that, if we would determine whether the Anglican ordinances are attended by divine grace, we must first determine whether the effects which accompany them arise ex opere operantis or ex {87} opere operato—whether out of the religious acts, the prayers, aspirations, resolves of the recipient, or by the direct power of the ceremonial act itself,—a nice and difficult question, not to be decided by means of those effects themselves, whatever they be.

Let me grant to you, then, that the reception of your ordinances brings peace and joy to the soul; that it permanently influences or changes the character of the recipient. Let me grant, on the other hand, that their profanation, when men have been taught to believe in them, and in profaning are guilty of contempt of that God to whom they ascribe them, is attended by judgments; this properly shows nothing more than that, by a general law, lying, deceit, presumption, or hypocrisy are punished, and prayer, faith, contrition rewarded. There is nothing to show that the effects would not have been precisely the same on condition of the same inward dispositions, though another ordinance, a love-feast or a washing of the feet, with no pretence to the name of a Sacrament, had been in good faith adopted. And it is obvious to any one that, for a member of the Establishment to bring himself to confession, especially some years back, required dispositions of a very special character, a special contrition and a special desire of the Sacrament, which, as far as we may judge by outward signs, were a special effect of grace, and would fittingly receive from God's bounty a special reward, some further and higher grace, and {88} even, at least I am not bound to deny it, remission of sins. And again, when a member of the Establishment, surrounded by those who scoffed at the doctrine, accepted God's word that He would make Bread His Body, and honoured Him by the fact that he accepted it, is it wonderful, is it not suitable to God's mercy, if He rewards such a special faith with a quasi sacramental grace, though the worshipper unintentionally offered to a material substance that adoration which he intended to pay to the present, but invisible, Lamb of God?


But this is not all, my dear brethren; I must allow to others what I allow to you. If I let you plead the sensible effects of supernatural grace, as exemplified in yourselves, in proof that your religion is true, I must allow the plea to others to whom by your theory you are bound to deny it. Are you willing to place yourselves on the same footing with Wesleyans? yet what is the difference? or rather, have they not more remarkable phenomena in their history, symptomatic of the presence of grace among them, than you can show in yours? Which, then, is the right explanation of your feelings and your experience,—mine, which I have extracted from received Catholic teaching; or yours, which is an expedient for the occasion, and cannot be made to tell for your own Apostolical authority without telling for those who are rebels against it? {89} Survey the rise of Methodism, and say candidly, whether those who made light of your ordinances, abandoned them, or at least disbelieved their virtue, have not had among them evidences of that very same grace which you claim for yourselves, and which you consider a proof of your acceptance with God. Really I am obliged in candour to allow, whatever part the evil spirit had in the work, whatever gross admixture of earth polluted it, whatever extravagance there was to excite ridicule or disgust, whether it was Christian virtue or the excellence of unaided man, whatever was the spiritual state of the subjects of it, whatever their end and their final account, yet there were higher and nobler vestiges or semblances of grace and truth in Methodism than there have been among you. I give you credit for what you are, grave, serious, earnest, modest, steady, self-denying, consistent; you have the praise of such virtues; and you have a clear perception of many of the truths, or of portions of the truths, of Revelation. In these points you surpass the Wesleyans; but if I wished to find what was striking, extraordinary, suggestive of Catholic heroism—of St. Martin, St. Francis, or St. Ignatius—I should betake myself far sooner to them than to you. "In our own times," says a writer in a popular Review, speaking of the last-mentioned Saint and his companions, "in our own times much indignation and much alarm are thrown away on innovators of a very different stamp. From the ascetics {90} of the common room, from men whose courage rises high enough only to hint at their unpopular opinions, and whose belligerent passions soar at nothing more daring than to worry some unfortunate professor, it is almost ludicrous to fear any great movement on the theatre of human affairs. When we see these dainty gentlemen in rags, and hear of them from the snows of the Himalaya, we may begin to tremble." Now such a diversion from the course of his remarks upon St. Ignatius and his companions, I must say, was most uncalled for in this writer [Note 5], and not a little ill-natured; for we had never pretended to be heroes at all, and should have been the first to laugh at any one who fancied us such; but they will serve to suggest the fact, which is undeniable, that even when Anglicans approach in doctrine nearest to the Catholic Church, still heroism is not the line of their excellence. The Established Church may have preserved in the country the idea of sacramental grace, and the movement of 1833 may have spread it; but if you wish to find the shadow and the suggestion of the supernatural qualities which make up the notion of a Catholic Saint, to Wesley you must go, and such as him. Personally I do not like him, if it were merely for his deep self-reliance and self-conceit; still I am bound, in justice to him, to ask, and you in consistency to answer, what historical personage in the Establishment, during its whole three {91} centuries, has approximated in force and splendour of conduct and achievements to one who began by innovating on your rules, and ended by contemning your authorities? He and his companions, starting amid ridicule at Oxford, with fasting and praying in the cold night air, then going about preaching, reviled by the rich and educated, and pelted and dragged to prison by the populace, and converting their thousands from sin to God's service—were it not for their pride and eccentricity, their fanatical doctrine and untranquil devotion, they would startle us, as if the times of St. Vincent Ferrer or St. Francis Xavier were come again in a Protestant land.

Or, to turn to other communions, whom have you with those capabilities of greatness in them, which show themselves in the benevolent zeal of Howard the philanthropist, or Elizabeth Fry? Or consider the almost miraculous conversion and subsequent life of Colonel Gardiner. Why, even old Bunyan, with his vivid dreams when a child, his conversion, his conflicts with Satan, his preachings and imprisonments, however inferior to you in discipline of mind and knowledge of the truth, is, in the outline of his history, more Apostolical than you. "Weep not for me," were his last words, as if he had been a Saint, "but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who doubtless, through the mediation of His Son, will receive me, though a sinner, when we shall erelong meet, to {92} sing the new song and be happy for ever!" Consider the deathbeds of the thousands of those, in and out of the Establishment, who, with scarcely one ecclesiastical sentiment in common with you, die in confidence of the truth of their doctrine, and of their personal safety. Does the peace of their deaths testify to the divinity of their creed or of their communion? Does the extreme earnestness and reality of religious feeling, exhibited in the sudden seizure and death of one who was as stern in his hatred of your opinions as admirable in his earnestness, who one evening protested against the sacramental principle, and next morning died nobly with the words of Holy Scripture in his mouth—does it give any sanction to that hatred and that protest [Note 6]? And there is another, a Calvinist, one of whose special and continual prayers in his last illness was for perseverance in grace, who cried, "O Lord, abhor me not, though I be abhorrible, and abhor myself!" and who, five minutes before his death, by the expression of his countenance, changing from prayer to admiration and calm peace, impressed upon the bystanders that the veil had been removed from his eyes, and that, like Stephen, he saw things invisible to sense;—did he, by the circumstances of his death-bed, bear evidence to the truth of what you, as well as I, hold to be an odious heresy [Note 7]? "Mr. Harvey resigned his meek soul into the hands of his Redeemer, saying, 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant {93} depart in peace.'" "Mr. Walker, before he expired, spoke nearly these words: 'I have been on the wings of the cherubim; heaven has in a manner been opened to me; I shall be there soon.'" "Mr. Whitfield rose at four o'clock on the Sabbath day, went to his closet, and was unusually long in private; laid himself on his bed for about ten minutes, then went on his knees and prayed most fervently he might that day finish his Master's work." Then he sent for a clergyman, "and before he could reach him, closed his eyes on this world without a sigh or groan, and commenced a Sabbath of everlasting rest." [Note 8] Alas! there was another, who for three months "lingered," as he said, "in the face of death." "O my God," he cried, "I know Thou dost not overlook any of Thy creatures. Thou dost not overlook me. So much torture ... to kill a worm! have mercy on me! I cry to Thee, knowing I cannot alter Thy ways. I cannot if I would, and I would not if I could. If a word would remove these sufferings, I would not utter it." "Just life enough to suffer," he continued; "but I submit, and not only submit, but rejoice." One morning he woke up, "and with firm voice and great sobriety of manner, spoke only these words: 'Now I die!' He sat as one in the attitude of expectation; and about two hours afterwards, it was as he had said." And he was a professed infidel, and worse than an infidel—an apostate priest! {94}


No, my dear brethren, these things are beyond us. Nature can do so much, and go so far; can form such rational notions of God and of duty, without grace, or merit, or a future hope; good sense has such an instinctive apprehension of what is fitting; intellect, imagination, and feeling can so take up, develop, and illuminate what nature has originated; education and intercourse with others can so insinuate into the mind what really does not belong to it; grace, not effectual, but inchoate, can so plead, and its pleadings look so like its fruits; and its mere visitations may so easily be mistaken for its indwelling presence, and its vestiges, when it has departed, may gleam so beautifully on the dead soul, that it is quite impossible for us to conclude, with any fairness of argument, that a certain opinion is true, or a religious position safe, simply on account of the confidence or apparent excellence of those who adopt it. Of course, we think as tenderly of them as we can; and may fairly hope that what we see is, in particular instances, the work of grace, wrought in those who are not responsible for their ignorance; but the claim in their behalf is unreasonable and exorbitant, if it is to the effect that their state of mind is to be taken in evidence, not only of promise in the individual, but of truth in his creed.

And should this view of the subject unsettle and {95} depress you, as if it left you no means at all of ascertaining whether God loves you, or whether anything is true, or anything to be trusted, then let this feeling answer the purpose for which I have impressed it on you. I wish to deprive you of your undue confidence in self; I wish to dislodge you from that centre in which you sit so self-possessed and self-satisfied. Your fault has been to be satisfied with but a half evidence of your safety; you have been too well contented with remaining where you found yourselves, not to catch at a line of argument, so indulgent, yet so plausible. You have thought that position impregnable; and growing confident, as time went on, you have not only said it was a sin to ascribe your good thoughts, and purposes, and aspirations to any but God (which you were right in saying), but you have presumed to pronounce it blasphemy against the Holy Ghost to doubt that they came into your hearts by means of your Church and by virtue of its ordinances. Learn, my dear brethren, a more sober, a more cautious tone of thought. Learn to fear for your souls. It is something, indeed, to be peaceful within, but it is not everything. It may be the stillness of death. The Catholic, and he alone, has within him that union of external with internal notes of God's favour, which sheds the light of conviction over his soul, and makes him both fearless in his faith and calm and thankful in his hope.

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1. The author's Sermons on Subjects of the Day, pp. 345, 346.
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2. Ibid., pp. 348-350.
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3. Ibid., pp. 353-355.
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4. Ibid., p. 380.
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5. Sir James Stephen.
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6. Dr. Arnold.
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7. Mr. Scott of Ashton Sandford.
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8. Sidney's Life of Hill. 
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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