VII. Prospects of the Anglican Church

[British Critic, April 1839]

{263} THE existing state of parties in the Church is remarkable enough to justify some notice of it at the present moment, when a controversy is in progress, which has so powerfully arrested the attention, and excited the feelings, of its members. It is indeed melancholy to be called to such a task; for it is melancholy that there should be parties at all in a body which its Divine Founder intended to be one. However, that there are such is undeniable as a matter of fact; and with this fact we are principally concerned at present. What the cause of it is, and with whom the blame lies, of having brought things to such a pass, is another question, which shall not here be discussed.


The controversy in question began, it need scarcely be said, in the publication of certain Tracts, several years since, by certain members of the University of Oxford, which thereupon were accused in various quarters of tending to Popery. And it as little requires to be proved that there is at the present moment a reaction in the Church, and a growing reaction towards the views which it has been their endeavour, and, as it seemed {264} on their commencement, almost hopeless endeavour, to advocate. The fairness of their prospects at the present moment is proved by the attack which has been made upon them by the public journals, and is confessed both by the more candid and the more violent of their opponents. For instance, the amiable Mr. Bickersteth speaks of it as having manifested itself "with the most rapid growth of the hotbed of these evil days." The scoffing author of the Via Media says—"At this moment the Via is crowded with young enthusiasts who never presume to argue, except against the propriety of arguing at all;" and the candid Mr. Baden Powell, who sees more of the difficulties of the controversy than the rest of their antagonists put together, admits that, "however mistaken some of the notions, or exaggerated reports, which prevail on the subject, it is not the less certain that there does exist considerable ground for some such statement; and certainly an ample reason for making a close inquiry into the facts of the case. It is clear," he proceeds, "from published authorities, that opinions and views of theology (of at least a very marked and peculiar kind, applying more especially to the subject of Church authority and others dependent on it,) have been extensively adopted and strenuously upheld, and are daily gaining ground among a considerable and influential portion of the members, as well as ministers, of the Established Church." And the author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm, in a work the first part of which has appeared since these sheets were sent to press, speaks still more strongly: "The spread of these doctrines," he says, "is in fact now having the effect of rendering all other distinctions obsolete, and of severing the religious community into two portions, fundamentally and vehemently opposed one to the other. Soon there will be no middle ground left; {265} and every man, and especially every clergyman, will be compelled to make his choice between the two."

In order to show how widely the testimony to the fact extends, we will but add, out of many, two testimonies taken from the very extremes of educated society. The first is the grave witness of a bishop [Note 1], speaking (as the title-page of his publication implies) ex cathedrâ to his clergy, publishing at their request, and furnished with ample means of knowledge, at least of the external fact, if not of the works, which he condemns. He speaks of a "subject" which "is daily assuming a more serious and alarming aspect, and threatens a revival of the worst evils of the Romish system. Under the specious pretence of deference to antiquity, and respect for primitive models, the foundations of our Protestant Church are undermined by men who dwell within her walls, and those who sit in the Reformers' seat are traducing the Reformation." The other authority we allude to, is the amusing writer of Random Recollections of the Lords and Commons, who, in a new publication, called "Travels in Town," thus speaks of the spread of the doctrines of the Church:

"They have, indeed, already made fearful progress in different parts of the country, and, as before stated, are now making rapid progress where they were before unknown. One of the largest churches in Brighton is crowded every Sunday to hear those doctrines preached by the Rev. Mr. Anderson; so is the church of Dr. Hook, in Leeds. In fact, there are few towns of note to which they have not extended; nay, they have even reached obscure and insignificant places in the remotest parts of the kingdom. They are preached in small towns in Scotland. They obtain in Elginshire, which is 600 miles north of London; and I found them myself in the heart of the Highlands of Scotland, when travelling there three months ago … Nor are they confined {266} to mere churches and chapels of ease. As before remarked, they are advocated in the newspaper and periodical press. The Morning Post sustains the character of their apologist in London; and the Liverpool Mail, the Coventry Herald, and other journals identify themselves with them in the country. The Oxford Tract doctrines have even insinuated themselves into the House of Commons. There is, at least, one county member in the centre of England, who cherishes them with more than a parental affection, and who is most zealous in his efforts to inoculate others with them."

This being then the state of the case, no wonder a well-known Scotch Magazine, alluding to certain "unfortunate and deeply regretted publications" in behalf of these doctrines, feelingly observes, "The time is gone by when those works can be passed over without notice, and the hope that their influence would fail is now dead."

Mr. Hunter Gordon, assuming the fact, proceeds to assign it to a reaction of religious sentiment; in which we agree with him, though differing from him in the particular light in which he views it.

"Protestantism," he says, "whose just boast it is to have set reason free from the fetters of ecclesiastical authority, is not a fixed or stationary principle. On the contrary, it is in a state of rapid and irresistible progression; nor did it stop short or rest content with that measure of liberty of conscience which the Reformation established. Each age still carried the right of private judgment further than the preceding; and it is only within the memory of the present age that the minds of men, both here and on the Continent, have begun to pause in their career of discursive reasoning and speculation, and to revert towards faith and authority. Symptoms have even appeared of a disposition to revert to the other extreme."

All this is certainly very remarkable at first sight, considering the long time that these views have been withdrawn from our public teaching, and how gradually and certainly they seemed to be tending toward utter extinction. These very circumstances, however, have been, under God's good providence, the chief causes of {267} their revival. The truth is, that while our Church is bound as she is to her present Prayer Book, Services, and Homilies, there must ever be a point beyond which she cannot fall away from her professed principles without exciting the scruples and alarms of tender consciences. However silently and determinately the change may go on, this salutary check will be felt at last, and prevent matters from progressing further, at any rate within the Church. And when this takes place, and men at length begin to reflect on their existing state of belief, and turn back to survey that view of religion from which they have drifted, then the very novelty of it, and (as many an opponent of it will even confess) the touching beauty, loftiness of idea, and earnestness of character which it evidences or requires, take possession of their minds, and they proceed to advocate from affection what they took up as a duty.

This, it may be presumed, is a fairly correct account of the immediate circumstances under which the reaction to the true principles of the Church is at this time taking place. But other causes, collateral and disposing, may be enumerated in addition. One has been the plain tokens, which have appeared of late on the part of our civil governors, of an intention to withdraw the protection which Protestant England has as yet ever extended to the Church. In the defection which threatens her from this quarter, her members naturally look about for other means of sustaining her present hold upon the popular mind; and, being deprived of "the arm of flesh," are thankful to find that they have in their armoury spiritual weapons, long disused indeed, but, through God's mercy, not forfeited, and of untold efficacy.

Again, the violence of the acting parties among the sectarians has both opened men's minds to the serious {268} moral evils latent in sectarianism, and also removed or diminished the reluctance, which would otherwise have been felt, to recur to principles indirectly condemnatory of persons, with whom they had hitherto been living in habits of intimacy or intercourse.

But besides these, and similar causes of the moment, there has been for some years, from whatever cause, a growing tendency towards the character of mind and feeling of which Catholic doctrines are the just expression. This manifested itself long before men entered into the truth intellectually, or knew what they ought to believe, and what they ought not; and what the practical duties were, to which a matured knowledge would lead them. During the first quarter of this century a great poet was raised up in the North, who, whatever were his defects, has contributed by his works, in prose and verse, to prepare men for some closer and more practical approximation to Catholic truth. The general need of something deeper and more attractive than what had offered itself elsewhere, may be considered to have led to his popularity; and by means of his popularity he re-acted on his readers, stimulating their mental thirst, feeding their hopes, setting before them visions, which, when once seen, are not easily forgotten, and silently indoctrinating them with nobler ideas, which might afterwards be appealed to as first principles. Doubtless there are things in the poems and romances in question, of which a correct judgment is forced to disapprove; and which must be ever a matter of regret; but contrasted with the popular writers of the last century, with its novelists, and some of its most admired poets, as Pope, they stand almost as oracles of Truth confronting the ministers of error and sin.

And while history in prose and verse was thus made {269} the instrument of Church feelings and opinions, a philosophical basis for the same was under formation in England by a very original thinker, who, while he indulged a liberty of speculation which no Christian can tolerate, and advocated conclusions which were often heathen rather than Christian, yet after all instilled a higher philosophy into inquiring minds, than they had hitherto been accustomed to accept. In this way he made trial of his age, and found it respond to him, and succeeded in interesting its genius in the cause of Catholic truth. It has indeed been only since the death of Coleridge that these results of his writings have fully shown themselves; but they were very evident when they were once seen, and discovered the tendencies which had been working in his mind from the first. Two living poets may be added, one of whom in the department of fantastic fiction, the other in that of philosophical meditation, have addressed themselves to the same high principles and feelings, and carried forward their readers in the same direction.

These writers, however, are to be noticed far more as indications of what was secretly going on in the minds of men, than as causes of it. The reaction in the Church, or whatever other name we may give it, was long ago anticipated; that is, long before it showed itself in any distinct tokens which would be obvious to the multitude. Twenty-three years since a sagacious observer, withdrawn from the world, and surveying its movements at a distance, writes as follows:

"No Church on earth," he says, "has more intrinsic excellence [than the English Church], yet no Church, probably, has less practical influence. Her excellence then, I conceive, gives ground for confiding that Providence never will abandon her; but her want of influence would seem no less clearly to indicate, that {270} divine wisdom will not always suffer her to go on without measures for her improvement.

"Temporary adversity is that to which, in all such cases, as far as we know, the providence of God has hitherto resorted; and we can form a clear idea of the manner in which a temporary depression of the English Church might exalt its moral qualities ... But I conjecture that other valuable results, perhaps not otherwise to be arrived at, are to be hoped for from the apprehended reverse. Hitherto the Church of England, though more temperate in her measures than any other portion of the reformed body, has manifested no sentiment with such unremitting intensity as dread of whatever could be deemed Popery. I deny not the expediency, perhaps the necessity, of this feeling, in such circumstances as have hitherto existed. But it has given safety to the Church of England at the expense of perfection, which last can be attained only by proving all things, and holding fast what is good; and this discrimination can be practised only in the absence of prejudice. As matters are, dread of transubstantiation has made the sacrament a ceremony; and to ward off infallibility, every man has been encouraged to shape a creed for himself. The next certain cure for this extreme will be to experience its fruits. Another fall by dissenterism will make it be felt, that if Popery can be a Charybdis, there is a Scylla on the other side no less dangerous. But it will be still more useful to learn, that, in the mixed mass of the Roman Catholic religion, there is gold and silver and precious stones, as well as wood, hay, and stubble; and that everything of the former nature is to be as carefully preserved, as everything of the latter nature is to be wisely rejected.

"Such are the considerations with which I comfort myself against events which I think I see approaching ... Shall the present negligence and insensibility always prevail? This cannot be: the rich provision made by the grace and providence of God, for habits of a noble kind, is evidence that men shall arise fitted both by nature and ability, to discover for themselves, and to display to others, whatever yet remains undiscovered, whether in the words or works of God. But if it be asked how shall fit instruments be prepared for this divine purpose, it can only be answered that, in the most signal instances, times of severe trial have been chosen for divine communications ... My persuasion of the radical excellence of the Church of England does not suffer me to doubt that she is to be an illustrious agent in {271} bringing the mystical kingdom of Christ to its ultimate perfection."—Knox's Remains, vol. i., p. 51, et seq.

Such is the prophecy of a calm and sagacious mind, whose writings are themselves no slight evidence of the intellectual and moral movement under consideration. In this respect he outstrips Scott and Coleridge, that he realizes his own position, and is an instance in rudiment of those great restorations which he foresaw in development. And while he shares with those eminent writers of his day the work of furthering what he anticipated, others doubtless, in a similar seclusion from passing events, shared with him anticipations which they were not led to further, or even to record. It was impossible for serious-minded men, ever so little versed in Antiquity, and in the history of the Reformation, not to see that, for a century and more past, primitive truth had either been forgotten, or looked down upon, and our own engagements to it tacitly loosened. Indeed, opinions which were openly acquiesced in by free-thinkers, and noticed with satisfaction by the world's philosophers and historians, could not but excite strange impressions in the minds of true Churchmen, partly melancholy, partly by way of contrast, leading them to look forward into the future, and to anticipate change and improvement in the public mind. A much venerated clergyman of the last generation, one of the most strenuous maintainers of ancient doctrines, and an energetic opponent of those who wished to carry our Church further than it had hitherto gone in the career of Protestantism, said shortly before his death to a friend of our own, "Depend on it, the day will come, when those great doctrines now buried," those connected with the Church, "will be brought out to the light of day, and then the effect will be quite fearful." If there be {272} any who now blame the impetuosity of the current, let them rather turn their reflections upon those who have dammed up our majestic river till it has become a flood.


Now if there be any truth in these remarks, it is plainly idle and perverse to refer the change of opinions which is now going on to the acts of two or three individuals, as is sometimes done. Of course every event in human affairs has a beginning; and a beginning implies a when, and a where, and a by whom, and a how. But except in these necessary circumstances, the phenomenon in question is in a manner quite independent of things visible and historical. It is not here or there; really it has no progress, no causes, no fortunes; it is not a movement, it is a spirit, it is a spirit afloat, neither "in the secret chambers" nor "in the desert," but everywhere. It is within us, rising up in the heart where it was least expected, and working its way, though not in secret, yet so subtly and impalpably, as hardly to admit of precaution or encounter, on any ordinary human rules of opposition. It is an adversary in the air, a something one and entire, a whole wherever it is, unapproachable and incapable of being grasped, as being the result of causes far deeper than political or other visible agencies,—the spiritual awakening of spiritual wants.

Nothing can show more strikingly the truth of this representation, than to refer to what may be called the theological history of the individuals who, whatever be their differences from each other on important or unimportant points, yet are associated together in the advocacy of the doctrines in question. Dr. Hook and Mr. Churton represent the High Church dignitaries of the last generation; Mr. Perceval the Tory aristocracy; Mr. {273} Keble is of the country clergy, and comes from valleys and woods, far removed both from notoriety and noise; Mr. Palmer and Mr. Todd are of Ireland; Dr. Pusey became what he is from among the Universities of Germany, and after a severe and tedious analysis of Arabic MSS. Mr. Dodsworth is said to have begun in the study of Prophecy; Mr. Newman to have been much indebted to the friendship of Archbishop Whately; Mr. Froude, if any one, gained his views from his own mind. Others have passed over from Calvinism and kindred religions.

While we write, a fresh instance of this independence and individuality meets our eye; which is so beautifully expressed that we must be allowed to set it before the reader.

"For the view contained in this Preface," says Mr. Oakeley in the remarks prefixed to his Whitehall Sermons, "such as it is, the author is alone responsible ... It has been developed (so far as it can be said to be developed) in his mind partly by study, partly by reflection, partly by conversation with one or two friends, inquirers like himself. Neither does he by any means wish to disclaim (far otherwise) the influence of the teaching and example of certain members of his own University, who have for some time past been actively engaged in calling the attention of the Church in this nation to the theology of primitive times, and of her own earlier age; and thus are very commonly, but very erroneously, represented as the founders of a system, to which they are after all but some, among many, witnesses. With those persons the present writer, though indebted to them for many acts of kindness, and far more indebted to them for benefits which, unconsciously to themselves, they have, as he humbly trusts, been instrumental in conveying to him, has yet never enjoyed the happiness and privilege of constant and familiar intercourse. From this circumstance his testimony to the truths, which they have long been engaged in upholding, may possibly have gained in independence what it has certainly lost in completeness."—Pp. lv. lvi.

Mr. Oakeley has but expressed in this extract what many could repeat after him. Where, then, is the common {274} origin to which may be referred the present movement? What head of a sect is there? What march of opinions can be traced from mind to mind? They are one and all in their degree the organs of One Sentiment, which has risen up simultaneous in many places very mysteriously.

We consider then this to be a truer view of the recent rise of Catholic opinions, than the one ordinarily given. Its progress, for example, has been lately referred, by a candid looker-on, to the confident tone of its visible organs, and the tendency of the human mind, in certain states, to accept whatever is forcibly urged upon its acceptance; and it is accordingly anticipated, that, when the excitement is over which such a mode of conversion implies, and the mind is turned calmly to examine the grounds of its new opinions, there will be a corresponding, though not perhaps so sudden a relapse from them. Now this, though an intelligible, and what is called sensible view of the matter, is surely deficient in depth; deficient for this reason, if for no other, that it does not contemplate and provide against the chance of deep moral causes being in operation, which are not seen. It may be frankly confessed that an excitement of the feelings, of whatever kind, has much to do with what is taking place, and perhaps will have still more,—and so again has the influence of authority, respect for character, and the like; so has sentiment, imagination, or fancy; and lastly, though the writer, to whom we refer, would perhaps deny it, so has discussion, argument, investigation. But neither one, nor all of them together have been the real operating cause; rather they had been the means only, through which that cause has acted. Men who feel in themselves a moral need, which certain doctrines supply, may be right or wrong in their feeling, as {275} the case may be; and the doctrines may supply it more or less genuinely; but anyhow they embrace the doctrines because they need them; and if they give tokens of being moved by argument, or feeling, or fancy, or by sympathetic excitement, or by influence and authority, it is merely that they are moved through these means, not by them. Minds contented with what they are and what they have, easily resist solicitations whether of imagination or argument; but they who wish for things which they have not, start and look about them with beating hearts and troubled eyes, when a whisper, from whatever source, tells them that their yearnings perchance may find somewhat to satisfy them. Such feelings, if of earth, are merely enthusiastic, and often argue impatience and want of discipline:—thus youths of high spirit indulge ambitious views, or allow themselves in other ways to idolize the creature; but when those feelings are true and right, they are the motions of a divine love, and the disposition to confide which they involve, whithersoever tending, is of the nature of faith. As to what are earthly, what heavenly feelings, and who is to discriminate between them, this is quite another question, on which men of different sentiments will decide differently. All we insist on is, that religious opinion in general is the result of something deeper than mere caprice or than syllogistic conviction, and more enduring than excitement or passion.


We have been led on from considering the history of the present reaction in religious opinion, to discuss the moral causes to which religious opinion is to be referred; and we say that, in a given case, argument, novelty, influence of others, imaginative beauty, these and the like {276} appeals which address themselves to the mind from without, are but touchstones or tests, bringing out the hidden dispositions of one man, not of another. They are but the occasions, not the causes, of a man's changing his mind, and any other view of them is a very shallow one. But at the same time we have no intention of disputing that, besides this moral orthodoxy, as it may be called, there are a great number of persons of unformed characters and opinions, who have not definite basis enough within them, good or bad, to respond to or revolt from the real substance of the various phantasiæ offered to them; and they certainly are arrested and accidentally persuaded one way or the other by those visible exhibitions, which to the former class of minds are but means and channels of something deeper. As some men are converted or repulsed by the hidden sympathy or antipathy of their hearts toward the objects presented to them, many more, being incapable of either, are what is called "convinced," that is by argument, or "taken," that is by mere fancy, or "persuaded," that is by mere external influence. Such persons, while they remain in this state, without root in themselves, are ever liable to be "convinced," "taken," or "persuaded" back again, and then they are rightly called inconsistent; though very often, nay in a measure always, in spite of the superficial character of such alternations, their hearts are unconsciously operated upon, for good or bad, by that doctrine, which they at first took up, not from its congeniality to their own minds, but from the shape in which it addresses them. And again some are called inconsistent by the world, whose changes are really owing to the keenness of their cravings after true spiritual nourishment. Persons thus earnestly on the look-out for something higher in the way of religion, than they at present possess, naturally {277} close at once with whatever promises best. Then as their tone of mind rises, they become dissatisfied with their first choice; and on something better offering itself, quit it; not of course from light or capricious motives, but from the ordinary development of their own character and perceptions.

All these things being considered, it would not be at all surprising if, in spite of the earnestness of the principal advocates of the views in question, for which every one seems to give them credit, there should be among their followers much that is enthusiastic, extravagant, or excessive. All these aberrations will be and are imputed to the doctrines from which they proceed; not unnaturally, but hardly fairly, for aberrations there must ever be, whatever the doctrine is, while the human heart is sensitive, capricious, and wayward. It must be so in the nature of things; it cannot be helped; a mixed multitude went out of Egypt with the Israelites. Truth and falsehood do not meet each other here by harsh lines; there are ten thousand varieties of intermixture between them. There will ever be a number of persons professing the opinions of a movement party, who talk loudly and strangely, do odd or fierce things, display themselves unnecessarily, and disgust other people; there will be ever those who are too young to be wise, too generous to be cautious, too warm to be sober, or too intellectual to be humble;—of whom human sagacity cannot determine, only the event, and perhaps not even that, whether they feel what they say, or how far: whether they are to be encouraged or discountenanced. Such persons will be very apt to attach themselves to particular persons, to use particular names, to say things merely because others say them, and to act in a party-spirited way; and in what has been above said, about the invisible and spiritual {278} character of the present reaction, there was no intention of denying that of necessity it will be invested externally, from the circumstances just mentioned, in the dress and attributes of a school.

There is no warrant, however, for supposing that the agents themselves in the present revolution of religious sentiment partake in the fault we have been specifying; though, as is natural, it is the fashion to lay it at their door. It has been the fashion; though, in spite of a certain learned dignitary in the North, we hope it is a fashion going out, to accuse them of being simple Dominics, or men who contract their notion of religious truth to a narrow range of words, and would fain burn every one who scruples to accept it. Now it is certainly true, that they attach the deepest importance to Catholic principles in themselves; but as certainly they do not consider any opinion to be per se the salvation or the condemnation of the individual holding it, but a real, congenial, hearty belief, which, whether it exist or not, an Omniscient Eye only can discern. They seem to believe that certain doctrines are the rightful property of certain minds, and true doctrines of true minds; that many minds are neither true nor untrue, but in a transition or intermediate state; moreover that true and untrue doctrines exert an influence upon all minds which admit them, whether of the formed or unformed class. In their judgments of individuals then they go as far as this, that the holding a true doctrine is in itself a right thing; the denying a true doctrine in itself an act of sin, as any other sinful act; and this they would say is quite sufficient, without going further, to influence our impressions of the persons holding the one and the other. If it be said that error, though of the nature of sin in itself, is not necessarily so in the person holding it, they are {279} willing to admit this; but they think at the same time that it is primâ facie evidence of a very cogent sort against that person. Lastly, they consider it a duty to act towards such persons, as if they were really what they appeared to be; for they are in the place of heretics, they profess themselves such: they stand in a hostile position to the Church, and the Church is bound, by her discipline and (as it were) her ceremonial, to withdraw her protection from them.

All this is by the way; and we will not interrupt the course of our remarks to notice an extreme misconception of the writer, to whom we have above referred, on this head [Note 2]; but we may be allowed, perhaps, in proof of {280} what we have said, to cite the Preface to the series of "Plain Sermons," which writers [Note 3] in the Tracts for the Times have lately commenced. Of these Sermons we will but say, that, if they continue as they have begun, they will do as much to calm and reassure religious persons, and to root Catholic doctrines into the hearts of their upholders, as any publication to which the last five years have given birth. The Editors say:

"If therefore, as time goes on, there shall be found persons, who, admiring the innate beauty and majesty of the fuller system of Primitive Christianity, and seeing the transcendent strength of its principles, shall become loud and voluble advocates in their behalf, speaking the more freely because they do not feel them deeply as founded in divine and eternal truth, of such persons it is our duty to declare plainly, that as we should contemplate their condition with much serious misgiving, so would they be the last persons from whom we should seek support.

"But if, on the other hand, there shall be any, who, in the silent humility of their lives, and in their unaffected reverence for holy things, show that they in truth accept these principles as real and substantial, and by habitual purity of heart and serenity of temper, give proof of their deep veneration for sacraments and sacramental ordinances, those persons, whether our professed adherents or not, best exemplify the kind of character which the writers of the Tracts for the Times have wished to form." {281}

Nothing, as it appears to us, can be more wise and religious than the temper which these remarks breathe. What more can be required of the preachers of neglected truth, than that they should caution persons against being carried away by it into the opposite extreme, and should admit that some who do not assent to their preaching, are holier and better men than some who do? Whether those peculiar doctrines which they are reviving, be true or not, is another question, into which we do not now enter; though no reader of the British Critic can doubt what our answer would be. We only say that the truth of their doctrine is the only point which lies open for discussion. It is not the mode of enforcing it, which is in fault. While they hold the sentiments of the above extract, their opponents will "not find any occasion against" them, except they "find it concerning the law of" their "God." They are not answerable for the dust and din which attends every great moral movement. The truer doctrines are, the more liable they are to be perverted.

But to return. We allow, then, as those writers themselves confess, that the present widely spread change of opinion is by no means clear of moral extravagance in the case of individuals, which its promoters would fain see away, if they had their will. Nor again is it at all certain, that their influence will never recede where it has once gained a footing. Again, it may often happen, as the Editors of the Sermons contemplate, that persons rightly disposed in the main, but of less keen sensibilities, will be discouraged or perplexed by the appearances which the movement presents at the very outset, and prevented from embracing the truth, though offered to their acceptance, by the force of "logical conviction," or "imagination," or "external influence," having {282} already acted upon them the other way. These are the instruments by which our ideas of religion become impressed upon us, whatever they are; and as the heart shows itself tender and alive to truth when brought home to us through them, so it is almost of necessity dull and impenetrable when such natural avenues are closed. However, in spite of the extravagances, misapprehensions, and inconsistencies to which we have alluded, in men both on the right and on the wrong side of ecclesiastical questions, there will after all be a general coincidence between a certain set of opinions and a certain character. The one will attend upon the other, and be a sort of type of it, correct in the main, though not to be depended on in every particular case. It is surely reasonable to judge in this way. We expect of a person who has adopted a set of opinions, whatever it may be, a character and tone of mind to correspond; and if we fail to see it in him, we note down the inconsistency. And in the present instance there is nothing to prevent this general expectation from holding good. The views of Catholic truth which are now brought out are deficient in many of those suspicious attractions which other systems hold out to the pride of intellect and originality of mind, to powers of eloquence, to susceptibility of emotion, to impatience of restraint. These views elevate the Church, but they sink the individual: and therefore those who take up with them are the more to be depended on, as far as this goes, for the sincerity and consistency of their profession. It is easy indeed to talk of mere sentiment, romance, and the perception of the beautiful, acting powerfully upon such persons, and being the cause of the present revolution in religious opinion. Of course, if the doctrines in question do give scope for the exercise of these feelings, their advocates are not to blame for this: {283} they cannot help the Church system being beautiful in idea: it is so, whether they would have it so, or whether they would not. But at the same time, the sense of the beautiful, we would beg to suggest, as cherished and elicited by the Catholic doctrines, is, after all, no syren to beguile the unstable, to "take the prison'd soul and lap it in Elysium:" no need here for men to summon up fortitude, to be inflexible, to tie themselves hand and foot, for fear the winning sounds should lure them on to their own undoing. A very moderate foresight of the consequences of indulging it, would, we apprehend, be sufficient to make such precaution against its fascinations quite unnecessary. There are interests and motives which make a more pressing appeal on us than the sense of the beautiful. Yet, if this quality in Catholicism, which is so very much suspected by the prudent and reasoning among us, does carry men away, we do not see that any permanent mischief can come of it, where men are aware what they are doing. We see no harm in persons obeying the higher perceptions and impulses of their minds for the time being, whatever they may be, whether of the contemplative, or what is called the romantic, or again, of a more active and businesslike character,—provided always that they are ready to go on with what they have begun; to acquiesce in consequences when they come upon them; to take up with a course as a whole.

This influence of accidental causes, as instruments by which the catholicly-disposed mind is introduced to the objective catholic truth, is fully acknowledged and defended by Dr. Pusey in his recent Letter to the Bishop of Oxford. He says:

"One has begun probably by one portion of the system, another by another, as Providence guided his disposition or his circumstances; {284} yet as he took up, one by one, increasing duties, he found himself but filling up voids in himself; his unevenness or inequalities softened; inconsistencies subdued, and himself by each such approximation only rendered less out of harmony with the system in which he was placed; not thinking himself 'some great one,' but rather 'an unprofitable servant,' who was slowly learning to 'do that which was his duty to do.'"—P. 236.


We have been making admissions as to the operation of accidental causes in the present extension of Church principles, over and above the mere force of those principles themselves, and we make them without scruple or apprehension. Nor should we much object to carrying on such admissions farther; to admitting that certain accidental causes, such as the tendencies of the age, the national character, the character of the persons more especially engaged in the work, and the like, may be giving a tone and a bias to the rising Church spirit itself, and that of a nature to adhere to it even throughout its future progress. Accidental causes are indeed found to work both ways; they both influence the mind in embracing certain doctrines, and they permanently fix the expression and development of those doctrines afterwards. Thus truth in every age is marked by hues and touches, not its own strictly, however they may harmonize with it; and these become its historical distinctions in future time. This is unavoidable, and moreover it can hardly be doubted that much is gained by it; provided, of course, the true foundation is preserved throughout. Variety, to a certain extent, seems to be a prevailing law in the systems both of nature and of grace, and to be a great source of beauty and richness in both. Indeed, just as we say in physics, that nature "abhors a vacuum," in the same way, it would almost seem, in {285} moral subjects, that she abhorred identity; that is, identity of the narrow, absolute, formal kind, which is not content with that oneness of principle, which corresponds to the unity of physical laws, but would shape everything into one mould. It is a great characteristic in fact of the true system, that it can afford to be thus free and spontaneous, to vary its aspect, to modify, enlarge, and accommodate itself to times and places without loss of principle. Why should not the different ages of the Church, with their different characters, make up a whole, just as the Church itself in every age is, as St. Paul says, "many members, yet but one body"?

We mention this, because some persons are apt to think when Antiquity is talked about, that it implies an actual return to the exact forms of opinion and modes of feeling which are known to have prevailed in those earlier times; and they forthwith begin to talk about the nineteenth century, and the impossibility of our retrograding, and the folly and disadvantage of too narrow a standard, and the fallacy of thinking that whatever is ancient is, as such, an object of imitation. Simeon on his pillar, Antony in the mountain, Councils in full debate, and popular elections, incense and oil, insufflations and stoles with crosses on them, complete their notion of the Ancient Religion, when they hear it recommended. But all this is surely out of place at the present time. Nothing has been said by those whose writings have been so severely animadverted on lately, to show that they are antiquarian fanatics, urging the ancient doctrine and discipline upon the present age in any other except essential points, and not allowing fully that many things are unessential, even if abstractedly desirable. As to these points, let the age acknowledge and submit itself to them in proportion as it can enter {286} into them with heart and reality; in proportion as the reception of them would be, in its case, the natural development of Church principles. There are such things as indifferent points of character, all will admit, in which every age and every individual may be idiosyncratic without blame; and these surely may and often do produce theological differences of rite, usage, opinion, and argument, which fairly admit of a mutual toleration. We readily allow that the writer of the Homily on Alms-deeds scarcely keeps step when he would walk in company with St. Cyprian; and that Tertullian, on the other hand, feels uncomfortable when thrust by a venerated living prelate [Note 4] into the Thirty-nine Articles; or again, that even Bishop Bull in his Harmonia has not effected more than an armistice between the early Church and the German Protestants, on the subject which he treats.

Again, this age is a practical age: the age of the Fathers was more contemplative; their theology, consequently, had a deeper, more mystical, more subtle character about it, than we with our present habits of thought can readily enter into. We lay greater stress than they on proofs from definite verses of Scripture, or what are familiarly called texts, and we build up a system upon them; they rather recognized a certain truth lying hid under the tenor of the sacred text as a whole, and showing itself more or less in this verse or that as it might be. We look on the letter of Scripture more as a foundation, they as an organ of the truth. Such a difference is quite allowable, or rather natural or even necessary. The Fathers might have traditionary information of the general drift of the inspired text which we have not. Moderns argue from what alone remains to them; they are able to move more freely. Moreover, {287} a certain high moral state of mind, which times of persecution alone create, may be necessary for a due exercise of mystical interpretation. To attempt it otherwise than from the heart, would be a profanation; better not attempt it at all.

This should be understood; if persons, in this day, do not feel "sufficient for such things" spontaneously, we are not going to force such things upon them as a piece of imitation. No good could come of merely imitating the Fathers for imitation's sake; rather, such servility is likely to prevent the age from developing Church principles so freely as it might otherwise do. Even the Fathers were of different schools. The respective characters of the Alexandrian, Antiochene, Roman, and African are distinctly marked. Again, it is hardly possible to deny that Augustine's theology is in a certain sense what may be called a second edition of the Catholic Tradition, the transmission of the primitive stream through an acute, rich, and powerful mind. Another change took place in point of tone and view (for it does not fall into our subject to allude to positive errors) in the theology of the schoolmen. And there have been other great changes since, involving changes in the moral state and (what may be called) mind of the Church, and that over and above the silent progress which society has been making, the revolutions of civil government, the march of civilization, and, what has necessarily attended upon it, a far more active and excited state of the public mind. These causes must have produced and must be still producing their several effects, greater or less, upon us, such as would extend at last to our theology. Indeed we cannot suppose any set of events of this nature to leave the world exactly where they found it; they would influence, or alarm, {288} or develop, or direct the minds of divines, as the case might be.

In this way, then, it is that we stand with respect to Antiquity. We cannot, if we would, move ourselves literally back into the times of the Fathers: we must, in spite of ourselves, be churchmen of our own era, not of any other, were it only for this reason, that we are born in the nineteenth century, not in the fourth [Note 5].


We are tempted to illustrate this matter a little more fully. Every one knows that in mathematics the same truths may be thrown into the language of geometry or algebra, the same conclusions worked out by distinct processes in this or that medium or calculus. The same thing takes place in all sciences. A problem which continually meets us is, how to express the truths of one province of knowledge in the terms of another. To take the stock illustration, red may be called the sound of a trumpet when thrown into the calculus of sound. Again, the great difficulty of translating is to find the equivalent expressions in the calculus of a fresh language. What, again, is the art of rhetoric but the reduction of reasonings, in themselves sound, into the calculus of the tastes, {289} opinions, passions, and aims of a particular audience. A parallel task frequently occurs in law; namely, the problem of bringing an existing case under established precedents, and expressing it in the formula which are received.

"Very accurate definitions," says De Lolme, "as well as distinct branches of cases and actions, were contrived by the first Roman jurist consults: and when a man had once made his election of that peculiar kind of action by which he chose to pursue his claim, it became out of his power to alter it. Settled forms of words, called actiones legis, were moreover contrived, which men must absolutely use to set forth their demands ... Extremely like the above actiones legis are the writs used in the English courts of law. Those writs are framed for and adapted to every branch or denomination of action, such as detinue, trespass, etc."

He proceeds:

"Of so much weight in the English law are these original delineations of cases, that no cause is suffered to be proceeded upon, unless they first appear as legal introductions to it. However important or interesting the case, the judge, till he sees the writ he is used to, or at least a writ issued from the right manufacturer, is both deaf and dumb. He is without eyes to see, or ears to hear ... To remedy the above inconvenience, or rather in some degree to palliate it, law fictions have been resorted to in the English law, by which writs, being warped from their actual meaning, are made to extend to cases to which they in no shape belong. Law fictions of the kind we mention were not unknown to the Roman jurisconsults; and, as an instance of their ingenuity in that respect, may be mentioned that kind of action in which a daughter was called a son. Several instances might also be quoted of the fictitious use of writs in the English courts of common law. A very remarkable expedient of that sort occurs in the method generally used to sue for the payment of certain kind of debt before the Court of Common Pleas; such (if I mistake not) as a salary for work done, indemnity for fulfilled orders received, etc. The writ issued in these cases is grounded on the supposition that the person sued has trespassed on the ground of the plaintiff, and broken by force of arms through his fences and enclosures, etc." {290}

If another illustration of these economies (as they may be called) is wanted, it will be found in the House of Commons, where no matter of principle can be introduced till it is thrown into the calculus of expediency.

Such in its origin and nature, though not such in its magnitude, is the change which the adjuncts of Christian teaching, its opinions, feelings, objects, and temper, may undergo in different eras. For instance, the doctrine of justification by faith only is the form in which the Reformation cast that eternal truth catholicly implied in the act of baptism, of which it is the equivalent. The Augustinian doctrine of predestination is the mode in which minds of a peculiar formation have, in a corrupt state of the Church, expressed the eternal truth, that the way of life is narrow. Or to take an instance of a different kind; this age, as we said above, is more practical, the primitive more contemplative; that age adopted a mystical religion, ours a more literal. How, then, in our age are those wants and feelings of our common nature satisfied, which were formerly supplied by symbols, now that symbolical language and symbolical rites have almost perished? Were we disposed to theorize, we might perhaps say, that the taste for poetry of a religious kind has in modern times in a certain sense taken the place of the deep contemplative spirit of the early Church. At any rate it is a curious circumstance, considering how much our active and businesslike habits take us the other way, that the taste for poetry should have been developed so much more strongly amongst ourselves than it seems to have been in the earlier times of the Church; as if our character required such an element to counterbalance the firmer and more dominant properties in it. We only mention this by way of instancing (if it is allowable to interpret it so) the power {291} which seems to exist in altered states of society and of the human intellect, and much more, with reverence be it spoken, of the divinely gifted Church, of working out for themselves channels of their own, to certain moral ends, when former ones have been lost sight of, or have become uncongenial to the public taste. It may appear to some far-fetched, of course, to draw any comparison between the mysticism of the ancients, and the poetry or romance of the moderns, as to the religious tendencies of each; yet it can hardly be doubted, that, in matter of fact, poetry has been cultivated and cherished in our later times by the Cavaliers and Tories in a peculiar way, and looked coldly on by Puritans and their modern representatives. In like manner, a Romanist writer observes of the "Christian Year," with a mixture of truth and error, that it is an attempt to collect and form into a crown the scattered jewels which the torrent of the sixteenth century has left to the English Church. Poetry then is our mysticism; and so far as any two characters of mind tend to penetrate below the surface of things, and to draw men away from the material to the invisible world, so far they may certainly be said to answer the same end; and that too a religious one.

Enough has now been said to explain what we consider the views of the present revivers of ancient truth. In going back to Antiquity, they do not wish to force men upon bare, literal, accurate Antiquity in points unessential; upon Antiquity exactly as it was when ancient times were modern. Identity of appearance is not the law on which the parts of the creation exist; and, as far as it shows itself, it has the most insipid associations connected with it. What happens in individuals, in countries, and in works, holds good also in times and eras. Let, then, party spirit, cowardice, misapprehension, {292} indolence, and secularity, clamour as they will, we cannot but trust that a great work is going on. In spite of the dread of Antiquity, the calumny of "popery," the hatred of austerity, the reluctance to inquire, and the vast hubbub which is thereby caused on all sides of us—we have good hope meanwhile that a system will be rising up, superior to the age, yet harmonizing with and carrying out its higher points, which will attract to itself those who are willing to make a venture and face difficulties, for the sake of something higher in prospect. And for such minds it will be a reward, and one which they will have fully deserved, to discover at length that they have less sacrifices to make, less to give up of their natural tastes and wishes, by adopting the rule of Catholic tradition, than they could have anticipated beforehand. On this, as upon other subjects, the proverb will apply, "fortes fortuna juvat." It is wrong, indeed, to have longings or schemes for being let off easily; and doubtless there are those with whom all duty is up-hill work: it is so in the affairs of life; it is no less so in religion; but, if serious people would but make up their minds to take what in the plain order of Providence is put before them, according to the amount of evidence for it, at all hazards, or, to use the language of the day, with a sounder meaning, to "march with the age," they would be surprised to see, when they had adopted the primitive system, how naturally and easily it fitted on to them, and how little it had of the galling nature of a yoke, a bondage, and a burden; names which are liberally bestowed upon it at present. As it is, however, the mere name of Antiquity seems to produce a sudden collapse of the intellect in many quarters, certain shudders, and spasms, and indescribable inward sensations. Of course, while such a {293} condition of mind lasts, nothing is left for those who happily are not infected by the epidemic but patience and activity; the causes which incapacitate the world for understanding them, happily incapacitating it also for opposing.


We may seem to have been speaking in a sanguine way about the spread of the opinions in question; but this is in reality far from our intention. About the future we have no prospect before our minds whatever, good or bad. Ever since that great luminary, Augustine, proved to be the last bishop of Hippo, and his labours for his own Africa were lost forthwith in its Vandalic, and finally in its Saracenic captivity, Christians have had a lesson against attempting to foretell how Providence will prosper and bring to an end what it begins. What is true of great things, is true of little also. Catholic principles ought to spread at the present time as far as there is any substratum, as it may be called, in the national mind to support and give reality to them; but what a question is this, not to go to others, even to guess at! or rather it belongs simply to that invisible world into which none of us are admitted. What lies before our highly-favoured but unfortunate Church we know not; the principles now on the rise may be destined to prevail; or some miserable schism may gradually fritter them away, and some more miserable compromise suffocate them. We will not enter into the question, or risk any anticipation. There is nothing rash, however, in venturing one prediction, which will lead to some further remarks, viz., that, whether they maintain their ground or not, the two principles antagonistic to them will not maintain theirs. Whether the {294} English Church can keep a firm hold on Laud's divinity or not, it is very certain that neither Puritanism or Liberalism has any permanent inheritance within her.

As to Liberalism, we think the formularies of the Church will ever, with the aid of a good Providence, keep it from making any serious inroads upon the clergy [Note 6]; besides, it is too cold a principle to prevail with the multitude; so we shall say no more about it.

We have called the other system of opinion Puritanism, because we cannot hit upon a fit name for it. It is a very peculiar creed, as being based on no one principle, but propping itself up upon several, and those not very concordant; and thus to give it a name is almost as desperate a task as to set about giving it a consistence. To call it Evangelical, would be an unlawful concession; to call it Puritan, were to lose sight of its establishment side; to call it Ultra-Protestant, would be to offend its upholders; and to call it Protestant, would not be respectful to Protestantism. Anti-Catholic is vague; Anti-Sacramentarian is lengthy. This, indeed, is its very advantage in controversy with the upholders of Catholic principles; that it has a short and glib word ready at hand, and may promptly call them "Papists," while they had no retort courteous to inflict upon it. However, be its name what it will, it stands for the largest, most compact, most prominent party in our Church at this moment. It has much power, much money, much influence; and would seem, from its position, to have the ability, as it has (consciously or unconsciously) the will, {295} to effect sooner or later important changes in our doctrine and discipline.

But in spite of these appearances in its favour, a closer examination will show us that it cannot remain in its present state much longer; inasmuch as an internal principle of union, permanence, and consistency is wanting; and where this is wanting, a principle of life is wanting, and all is outward show. Its adherents are already separating from each other, and it is not difficult to see that in due time they will melt away like a snowdrift. Indeed their very success would cause this result, if there were no other reason. The possession of power naturally tends to the dissolution of mutual trust and intimate fellowship; how much more so then in the case of a party, which is not only open to the wilfulnesses and rivalries of our frail nature, but which actually sanctifies them by propounding as a first principle, that in spirituals no man is really above another, but that each individual, from high to low, is both privileged and bound to make out his religious views for himself? But over and above this, the system in question, if so it may be called, is, as we have intimated, full of inconsistencies and anomalies; it is built, not on one principle, but on half a dozen; and thus contains within it the seeds of ruin, which time only is required to develop. At present not any one principle does it carry out logically; nor does it try to adjust and limit one by the other; but as the English language is partly Saxon, partly Latin, with some German, some French, some Dutch, and some Italian, so this religious creed is made up of the fragments of religion which the course of events has brought together and has imbedded in it, something of Lutheranism, and something of Calvinism, something of Erastianism, and something of Zuinglianism, a little Judaism, and {296} a little dogmatism, and not a little secularity, as if by hazard. It has no straightforward view on any one point on which it professes to teach; and to hide its poverty it has dressed itself out in a maze of words, which all inquirers feel and are perplexed with, yet few are able to penetrate. It cannot pronounce plainly what it holds about the sacraments, what it means by unity, what it thinks of Antiquity, what fundamentals are, what the Church; what again it means by faith. It has no intelligible rule for interpreting Scripture beyond that of submission to the arbitrary comments which have come down to it, though it knows it not, from Zuingle or Melancthon. "Unstable as water, it cannot excel." It is but the inchoate state or stage of a doctrine, and its final resolution is in Rationalism. This it has ever shown when suffered to work itself out without interruption; and among ourselves it is only kept from doing so by the influence of our received formularies. When then it is confronted, as now it is more and more likely to be, by more consistent views, it cannot maintain its present unscientific condition. It will either disappear on this side or that, or be carried out. Some of its adherents will be startled and return to sounder views; others will develop themselves into avowed liberalism. Its many societies and institutions, however well organized and energetic, will avail it nothing in this crisis. They are but framework and machinery, and, while they presuppose a creed, they are available for one almost as much as another. As opinions change, these will be modified or destroyed. Imposing and flourishing as they are in appearance, they have as little power to stop the march of opinion as a man in a boat to act directly on its motion; they are the mere material or corporeal part of the system,—the instrument, not the living principle of its soul. {297}

Thus the matter stands as regards the far-spead religious confederacy of our days. We have no dread of it at all; we only fear what it may introduce. It does not stand on entrenched ground, or make any pretence to a position; it does but occupy the [metaichmion], the space between contending powers, Catholic truth and Rationalism; neither of these owning it, or making account of it, or courting it; on the contrary, both feeling it to be a hindrance in the way of their engaging with each other, and impatiently waiting to be rid of it. Then, indeed, will be the stern encounter, when two real and living principles, simple, entire, and consistent, one in the Church, the other out of it, at length rush upon each other, contending not for names and words, or half views, but for elementary notions and distinctive moral characters. Meanwhile the advocates of the motley Protestantism we have been describing, as if aware of its intrinsic hollowness and imbecility, are at this moment trying to make the most of their accidental advantages while they last; and would fain clench matters in their favour by such organic changes, whether in our discipline or services, or such accidental implications or authoritative explanations of doctrine, as the meeting of Convocation, or the erection of architectural memorials, or decisions in the law courts, would give them an opportunity for effecting.

Let us hear the author of "Ancient Christianity" on the prospective fortunes of this section of the religious world. He says:

"Nothing can be less desirable to the evangelical clergy than to be forced into any formal or particular argument with their accomplished and learned brethren, on the very points that have driven some of their most distinguished predecessors, and of themselves, to the edge of nonconformity, and which chafe many a sensitive {298} conscience. They may, by the aid of peculiar considerations, drawn from the perils of the times, have brought themselves to believe that they seriously disaffect nothing in the ritual or constitution of the Church: and they may be satisfied with this or that elaborate explanation of certain difficulties; nevertheless the uneasiness, although assuaged, is not removed, for the difficulty is real, and its reality and its magnitude must be brought afresh before them, to the renewal of many painful conflicts of mind, whenever the genuine and original Church of England principle and discipline comes, as now, by the Oxford divines, to be insisted on, expounded, and carried on to its fair consequences. What the English Reformers had in view was, Ancient Christianity, or the doctrine, and discipline, and ritual of the Nicene age, and of the times nearly preceding that age ... But how utterly different a notion of Christianity was that which animated the zeal of the founders of Methodism, and which in the main was caught by the fathers of the evangelical clergy! Holding to the same orthodoxy, the same Nicene and Athanasian doctrine, everything else in the two systems stands out as a point of distinction. What parallels could be more incongruous, even to absurdity, than such as one might strive to institute, for instance, between Cyprian and Romaine, Tertullian and Milner, Chrysostom and Cecil, Augustine and Scott, Jerome and Newton?"—Pp. 8, 9.


There is another consideration which should be dwelt upon. It was long objected to the clergy that they were not a reading body; and much has been said, especially in attacks upon the Universities, concerning the profound attainments of German theologians. Sectarians have said much about our incumbents being in the commission of the peace or fox-hunters; thoughtful men have shaken their heads and come to the conclusion that it cannot be helped, the English being an active, not a studious race; and divinity professors have for years been doing what they could to revive the taste for reading. Now it is strange that amid all this accusation, all this regret, all this endeavour, it seems to {299} have been forgotten that reading implies books, as its correlative; that the clergy cannot read without reading something, and that that something will be to a certainty the works of divines who are of authority, not of those who are not. It is no use reading, unless we read something that is of use. There is no sense in reading nonsense; and we may be sure, if men make up their minds to sacrifice society, and outdoor amusements, and active employments, that they will not do so for the drudgery of reading newspapers, periodicals, novels, annuals, Exeter Hall divinity, et id genus, unless they be very ascetically disposed. If men resign themselves to being students in theology, they will read theological works. They will not read Milner or Scott, whatever their merits; they will read Hooker, Taylor, Barrow, Waterland, Wall, Bingham; and that, not to take for granted every word of each of these writers, which would be impossible, but in order to gain general notions what theology is. At the same time, unless they set themselves altogether against them and reject them in toto, (as some extreme persons do,) their views of religion must be influenced by them,—must become very different from those which are now popular,—very much more primitive, very like what religionists of the day call Popery. No one of any party denies, for instance, that Hooker says many things strange to our present notions of divinity; all that ultra-Protestants say in explanation is, that the leaven of Popery was not at that day worked out of the Church. We hold it to be a matter of fact which no one can doubt, that if a man strictly confined himself to the very letter of Hooker or of Taylor, he would be as seriously accused of Popery by the multitude, and as plausibly, as Mr. Palmer or Mr. Newman. These writers differ from Hooker and Taylor perhaps in many details: {300} but it is not those details which make them called Popish; it is the general strain of their doctrine, the tenor of their thoughts, in which they are as really followers of Hooker or Taylor as they are not followers of the religion of the day. But to return to Hooker and Taylor; they must be studied, it seems; and why, except because they are of name? and what is the reason that they are so, except that they are men of great intellect? Are they likely to turn out men of weak reasonings, inaccurate statements, fanciful theories? Are they not likely to say many things strongly and persuasively? Is it wonderful that they who read them, should be moved and convinced by them? Is it wonderful, then, that if their works are again opened to our clergy and become text-books, that our clergy should become much more Catholic and less Protestant in their religious views than they were?

This consideration will show how unsuitable is the vexation which seems in some quarters to be felt, that the present spread of a taste for theological study should most unfortunately be connected with opinions, as it is pretended, savouring of Popery. But what if it turns out that this apparent accident is but a necessary condition? Men will not study what they take no interest in, and care not for. If they are to read our divines, they must withal like them. Jackson's works sold for waste paper at the beginning of the century; they now bring seven guineas; have the clergy many seven guineas to throw away on what is not to influence or guide them? Are that great writer's views on Catholic tradition, justification, and Christ's presence, to go for as little, as when they sold for seven-and-sixpence, bound and in good condition? And so again of the Fathers: if they are to be read, are they to be read to {301} no purpose or to some purpose? are they or are they not to inform and instruct? There is but one other alternative, which we have already hinted at, that students should read to carp and oppose; which, we suppose, would not mend the matter, even in the judgment of those who are so cross at the present untoward burst of Catholicism.

But these cross persons will answer, that of course divines modern and ancient are to be read for instruction, but they are not to be followed slavishly or hotly; that they are to be read with discrimination, with judgment; and that this is the thing so much to be regretted at the present time, that there is such a lack of sound discretion, of wisdom, of moderation, of tact; so much of what is extreme, so much of excitement, so much of party, so much to shock and offend, so much that is to be deprecated and ought never to have been done. Now such persons must be plainly asked, whether by moderate and judicious opinions they do not mean just those very opinions, neither more or less, which do not shock themselves? whether there are not persons, on the other hand, whom their own opinions are calculated to shock? or again, if they shock and offend no one, whether the plain reason of this be not, because they do not or cannot put their opinions, whatever they are, before the world? whether, in short, their vagueness is not their sole protection? This, indeed, we think will be found generally to hold; that what men in common mean by strong opinions really are clear and distinct opinions. You may hold the most fatal errors or the most insane extravagances, if you hold them in a misty, confused way. Numbers will persist in countenancing and defending even these. But ask yourself what you mean by your words, try to master your own thoughts, try to ascertain what you believe and what you do not, avoid big professions, {302} blustering epithets, and languid generalities; and lookers-on at once begin to wonder why you should so needlessly hurt people's feelings and damage your own cause. In the present day mistiness is the mother of wisdom. A man who can set down half a dozen general propositions, which escape from destroying one another only by being diluted into truisms, who can hold the balance between opposites so skilfully as to do without fulcrum or beam, who never enunciates a truth without guarding himself from being supposed to exclude the contradictory, who holds that Scripture is the only authority, yet that the Church is to be deferred to, that faith only justifies, yet that it does not justify without works, that grace does not depend on the sacraments, yet is not given without them, that bishops are a divine ordinance, yet those who have them not are in the same religious condition as those who have,—this is your safe man and the hope of the Church; this is what the Church is said to want, not party men, but sensible, temperate, sober, well-judging persons, to guide it through the channel of No-meaning, between the Scylla and Charybdis of Aye and No. But, alas! reading sets men thinking; shut up their books, if this is a mischief; but if you do not, count the cost, weigh and measure the consequences. They will not keep standing in that very attitude, which you please to call sound Church-of-Englandism or orthodox Protestantism. It tires them, it is so very awkward; and for the life of them they cannot continue in it long together, where there is neither article nor canon to lean against; they cannot go on for ever standing on one leg, or sitting without a chair, or walking with their legs tied, or grazing, like Tityrus's stags, on the air. Premises imply conclusions; germs lead to developments; principles have issues; doctrines {303} lead to action. As well might you invert a pitcher of water, and expect the contents to eschew the ground and remain jam jam ruitura, as fancy that men will not carry out the truths which they have gained, whether from their own minds, or from our divines, or from the Fathers. They may take one view or another of the English or the Primitive Church; but, whatever else it be, on the long run, it will be a consistent view. It may be Rationalism, or Erastianism, or Popery, or Catholicity; but it will be real. It will not be a merely transition view; it will not be Lutheranism, or Presbyterianism, or Jewellism, or Burnetism, or Paleyism, or Erskinism. Effects will sooner or later be seen to presuppose causes; correlatives to imply each other; contradictions to exclude each other; the elephant will not for ever stand on the tortoise, nor the Barmicide fatten upon empty dishes. The most intense horror of Popery cannot undo facts or legitimatize fallacies. And the sooner certain zealous friends of Protestantism understand this, the better.


What has been said suggests one remark in addition. The reaction which has been the subject of it is not confined to England. This is a fresh fact, and it does not require much proof. Look at the state of Germany, where the old Rationalism of the last century is succeeded by Pantheism, by the modified Lutheranism of Neander and Leo, or by a return to Romanism. Look to Holland, where an attempt is now making to revive Calvinism on its strictest and most exclusive principles. Look to Denmark, where, to say the least, men seem to be sighing in secret for something deeper and firmer than the creed in which they have been brought up. {304} Look at the Church of Rome itself, everywhere, in which discipline and zeal have succeeded to a long indifference. Consider that at the present moment, in the three great literary countries of Europe—Germany, France, and England—translations of the Fathers, in series, are now in course of publication, by a simultaneous and apparently independent movement in each place. Consider that the Germans are beginning to study the schoolmen. Look at the state of literature in London; the old Benthamism shrivelling up, and a richer and warmer philosophy succeeding. Consider the state of our Universities; at Cambridge, Utilitarianism, Shelleyism, Coleridgism, edging forward and forward, no one knowing how, to a more Catholic theology; at Dublin, no uncertain tokens of a great and happy change, and that among able and serious men of various characters of mind, and of schools of opinion; Oxford again, the head-quarters of that special revolution of thought which has been our subject. Consider the number of volumes which, in the course of a few years, the fervour of the movement has thrown out, and the hunger of the Church has absorbed.

"Were I to give you a full list of the works they have produced within the short space of five years," says Mr. Bird to his friend, speaking of the Oxford school, "I should surprise you: you would see what a task it would be to make yourself complete master of their system, even in its present probably immature state. They commenced their labours, I believe, in 1833; .... and going on with a yearly birth of a thick volume of the Tracts for the Times, the fourth of which belongs to the present year, and of which an indefinite series may be expected, they send forth, at intervals, numerous large octavo volumes (some of them heavy in more respects than one, in spite of the acknowledged talent of the writers), accompanied by a light array of separate tracts, sermons, {305} letters, and poetry, and ably supported by Reviews and Articles ... The writers as a body have adopted, according to Dr. Pusey, the motto, 'In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.' With regard to confidence, they have justified their adopting it; but as to quietness, it is not being very quiet to pour forth such a rapid succession of controversial publications in the compass of so few years."—Letter, p. 5.

Or again let us attend to the author of "Ancient Christianity":

"The general scheme of principles and sentiments that has been embodied in the publications referred to, recommends itself by a still depth, a latent power, a momentum, and a consistency in its development, which are the very characteristics of those movements that are to go on, and are to bring with them great changes, whether for the better or the worse."—P. 2.

All these are signs of change, not in this or that individual, but in the public mind. The reading public is coming under the influence of notions and convictions very different from those which have been fashionable of late. It exemplifies the march of the whole of educated Europe. The phenomenon, which has long been preparing in this country, is a European movement. This is the fact to which we would draw attention, and the inference is as plain as itself. To what does the current of opinion point? It points everywhere to Dogmatism, to Mysticism, or to Asceticism; it points on one side to Popery, on another to Pantheism, on another to Democracy; it does not point to the schools of the Reformation. England cannot any longer be Calvinistic, or Zuinglian, or Lutheran; does it wish to be democratic, or pantheistic, or popish? does it wish to be infected by the democratism of France, the pantheism of Germany, or the popery of Italy? Surely then {306} our true wisdom now is to look for some Via Media which will preserve us from what threatens, though it cannot restore the dead. The spirit of Luther is dead; but Hildebrand and Loyola are still alive. Is it sensible, sober, judicious, to be so very angry with those writers of the day, who point to the fact, that our divines of the seventeenth century have occupied a ground which is the true and intelligible mean between extremes? Is it wise to quarrel with this ground because it is not exactly what we should choose, had we had the power of choice? Is it true moderation, instead of trying to fortify a middle doctrine, to fling stones at those who do? On the other hand, is there not something natural and reasonable in what the latter parties are doing? they betake themselves to the old works, long neglected; they determine to put them in condition again. There is much to be mended; some additions necessary; some portions superseded by changes in the art of war. Culverins and demi-sakers are gone out of fashion. They may not, perhaps, draw their lines or make their trenches in the same direction to an inch, or so as to include the same number of square feet; yet, on the whole, they are taking up a position on the old sconce, and are repairing the works.

If this be a true account of the present position of things, it is plainly idle to make the whole turn upon this man or that; as if the movement arose from individuals, not from the age. What do persons who speak as if it did, think to gain by so treating it? Can you stop the course of opinion now that it has begun, by stopping the mouths of one or two men, even supposing you could do so? Surely it will be better for you, ultra-Protestant as you are, instead of reproaching them with a storm, which is none of their raising, to thank {307} them for making the best of a bad matter, or not the worst, if not the best. The current of the age cannot be stopped, but it may be directed; and it is better that it should find its way into the Anglican port, than that it should be propelled into Popery, or drifted upon unbelief. You cannot make others think as you will, no, not even those who are nearest and dearest to you. And if you cannot do this, if principles will develop themselves, beyond the arbitrary points of which you are so fond, and by which they have hitherto been limited, like prisoners on parole; then it becomes a piece of practical wisdom to take what you can get, since you cannot have what you like, or, to use the common illustration, to cut your coat according to your cloth.

Would you rather have your sons and daughters members of the Church of England, or of the Church of Rome? That is the real alternative, if we follow things to their results; and the Romanists feel this. Anglo-Catholicism is a road leading off the beaten highway of Popery: it branches off at last, though for some time it seems one with it. Accordingly they look on the English Church as a fraudulent come-off, as a sort of cul de sac, a bye-path which brings persons indeed to what looks like a holy place, and a temple, but which is only so from an external semblance of venerableness; like those modern specimens of architecture on which the plasterer's skill has been made to imitate the effects of time. They view ours, in short, as a Church which gratifies feelings apart from the proper objects of them; and thus they both envy her as a rival, and most unjustly feel irritation towards her, as an artful and unfair one. Do they not thus recognize in us their real and most formidable opponents?

April, 1839.

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Note on Essay VII

{308} The foregoing Essay is thus noticed in my "History of my Religious Opinions" (Apologia), p. 94: "It is not altogether mine; for my memory goes to this,—that I had asked a friend to do the work; that then, the thought came on me, that I would do it myself; and that he was good enough to put into my hands what he had with great appositeness written, and that I embodied it in my Article. Every one, I think, will recognize the greater part of it as mine."

Now, on going through it carefully for re-publication, I am quite clear, first, that it is from first to last my writing; and secondly, that what I have borrowed from the papers of my friend is the topic, which I have worked out and illustrated between pp. 283 and 292, and on which I have appended a note at p. 287, pointing out the difference between it and the view of doctrine which was habitual to my own mind.

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1. Dr. Sumner, Bishop of Chester.
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2. Yet we may mention it in a note. This gentleman says: "Who does not lament to read in the pages of the learned Author of the History of the Arians, the defence of some of the worst principles on which the Church of Rome established all its usurpations? Who would believe that in the present day, … when he is relating in very just language the evil consequences of the conduct of the heretics, who opposed, in the fourth century, the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, he declares, that it is 'but equitable to anticipate those consequences in the persons of the heresiarchs, rather than to suffer them gradually to unfold, and spread far and wide after their day, sapping the faith of their deluded and less guilty followers.' That is, it is better to inflict punishment upon the persons of the heresiarchs, than to wait to confute their opinions because those opinions are injurious."

The fact is simply this. Mr. Newman is speaking of the duty of cross-examining, pressing hard in argument, and forcing into consequences, the originator of an heretical opinion, as the Fathers at Nicæa did Arius. He says this is charitable to all parties, as tending to open their eyes; and equitable withal, since a heresiarch, instead of hiding his heresy from himself under ambiguous phrases, should have its full consequences, its fullest developed malignity, wrought out in his own instance, instead of its running its course through other minds, and growing by degrees into its full proportions after perhaps his death. There is not any allusion of any kind in the passage or context to persecution at all; and we entirely believe that the author himself had not the most distant intention of alluding to it. If Mr. T. will look again, he will see that by "person" Mr. Newman does not mean the heresiarch's actual body, as he strangely supposes. But Mr. T. seems to have no idea of any castigation but a physical one. Let us assure him there are such things as moral force, and victories in argument.

A person who has written on the "idolatrous tendency" of the Tracts for the Times, repeats this mistake apparently on Mr. T.'s authority; and we have lately heard a still further improved version of it, viz., "that there was no amount of physical suffering which Mr. Newman did not profess himself ready to inflict in order to put down his opponent."

[This note reminds me that I have been unfair to myself in my Apologia, p.47, ed. 2, in saying, in answer to Mr. T.'s charge, "Arius was banished, not burned;" for there is nothing whatever, as above observed, about civil punishment in the passage in question. The notice of Arius's banishment occurs in a subsequent part of my volume, which throughout discountenances civil penalties for religious opinions as leading to hypocritical conformity.]
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3. [Mr. Thomas Keble and Mr. Isaac Williams.]
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4. Dr. Kaye, Bishop of Lincoln.
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5. [Of course it is true that the past never returns, and that reactions are always in one sense innovations. But what is said above goes further than this, further than I habitually went myself as an Anglican, and in my deliberate judgment. The hypothesis about the depositum fidei in which I gradually acquiesced was that of doctrinal development, or the evolution of doctrines out of certain original and fixed dogmatic truths, which were held inviolate from first to last, and the more firmly established and illustrated by the very process of enlargement; whereas here I have given utterance to a theory, not mine, of a certain metamorphosis and recasting of doctrines into new shapes,—"in nova mutatas corpora formas,"—those old and new shapes being foreign to each other, and connected only as symbolizing or realizing certain immutable but nebulous principles.]
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6. [It must be confessed, however, these formularies have not excluded it from the Anglican Church; still it has no stay in Anglicanism, or in any other religious communion, for it is a transition state, and is running its sure course, and in a great number of minds has already resolved itself into that avowed scepticism or infidelity which is its issue.]
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