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The Christian Life Its Course, Its Hindrances, And Its Helps online

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From the Fifth London Edition.


"As far as the principle on which Archbishop Laud and his
followers acted went to re-actuate the idea of the church, as
a co-ordinate and living power by right of Christ's
institution and express promise, I go along with them; but I
soon discover that by the church they meant the clergy, the
hierarchy exclusively, and then I fly off from them in
a tangent.

"For it is this very interpretation of the church, that,
according to my conviction, constituted the first and
fundamental apostasy; and I hold it for one of the greatest
mistakes of our polemical divines, in their controversies
with the Romanists, that they trace all the corruptions of
the gospel faith to the Papacy." - COLERIDGE,

_Literary Remains_, vol. iii. p. 386.




GEN. iii. 22. - And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one
of us, to know good and evil.


1 COR. xiii. 11. - When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as
a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away
childish things.


1 COR. xiii. 11. - When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as
a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away
childish things.


COL. i. 9. - We do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might
be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual


COL. i. 9. - We do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might
be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual


COL. iii. 3. - Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.


1 COR. iii. 21 - 23. - All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or
Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to
come; all are yours, and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.


GAL. v. 16, 17. - Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts
of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit
against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that
ye cannot do the things that ye would.


LUKE xiv. 33. - Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he
hath, he cannot be my disciple.


1 TIM. i. 9. - The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the
lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy
and profane.


LUKE xxi. 36. - Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be
accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and
to stand before the Son of Man.


PROV. i. 28. - Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer: they
shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.


MARK xii. 34. - Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.


MATT. xxii. 14. - For many are called, but few are chosen.


LUKE xi. 25. - When he cometh he findeth it swept and garnished.

JOHN v. 42. - I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.


MATT. xi. 10. - I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare
thy way before thee.


1 COR. ii. 12. - We have received not the Spirit of the world, but the
Spirit which is of God.


GEN. xxvii. 38. - And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one
blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.

MATT. xv. 27. - And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs
which fall from their master's table.


MATT. xxii. 32. - God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.


EZEK. xiii. 22. - With lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad,
whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that
he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.



HEB. iii. 16. - For some when they had heard did provoke; howbeit not all
that came out of Egypt by Moses.



JOHN i. 10. - He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the
world knew him not.



MATT. xxvi. 40, 41. - What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch
and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is
willing, but the flesh is weak.



ROMANS v. 8. - God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us.



JOHN xx. 20. - Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.



ACTS xix. 2. - Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?



JOHN iii. 9. - How can these things be?


EXOD. iii. 6. - And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon

LUKE xxiii. 30. - Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on
us; and to the hills, Cover us.


PSALM cxxxvii. 4. - - How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange


1 COR. xi. 26. - For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup,
ye do show the Lord's death till he come.


LUKE i. 3, 4. - It seemed good to me, also, having had perfect
understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in
order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty
of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.


Luke i. 3, 4. - It seemed good to me, also, having had perfect
understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in
order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty
of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.


JOHN ix. 29. - We know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow, we
know not from whence he is.


1 COR. xiv. 20. - Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit, in
malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.


MATT. xxvi. 45, 46. - Sleep on now and take your rest; behold the hour is
at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise,
let us be going: behold he is at hand that doth betray me.


2 COR. v. 17, 18. - Old things are passed away; behold all things are
become new, and all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself
by Jesus Christ.


EZEK. xx. 49. - Then said I, Ah, Lord God! they say of me Doth he not
speak parables?


ISAIAH v. 1. - Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved
touching his vineyard.


COL. iii. 17. - Whatsoever ye do in the word or deed, do all in the name
of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.



The contents of this volume will be found, I hope, to be in agreement
with its title.

Amongst the helps of Christian life, the highest place is due to the
Christian church and its ordinances. I have been greatly misunderstood
with respect to my estimate of the Christian church, as distinguished
from the Christian religion. I agree so far with those, from whom I in
other things most widely differ, that I hold the revival of the church
of Christ in its full perfection, to be the one great end to which all
our efforts should be directed. This is with me no new belief, but one
which I have entertained for many years. It was impressed most strongly
upon me, as it appears to have been upon others, by the remarkable state
of affairs and of opinions which we witnessed in this country about nine
or ten years ago; and everything since that time has confirmed it in my
mind more and more.

Others, according to their own statement, received the same impression
from the phenomena of the same period. But the movement had begun
earlier; nor should I object to call it, as they do, a movement towards
"something deeper and truer than satisfied the last century[1]." It
began, I suppose, in the last ten years of the last century, and has
ever since been working onwards, though for a long time slowly and
secretly, and with no distinctly marked direction. But still, in
philosophy and general literature, there have been sufficient proofs
that the pendulum, which for nearly two hundred years had been swinging
one way, was now beginning to swing back again; and as its last
oscillation brought it far from the true centre, so it may be, that its
present impulse may be no less in excess, and thus may bring on again,
in after ages, another corresponding reaction.

[Footnote 1: See Mr. Newman's Letter to Dr. Jelf, p. 27.]

Now if it be asked what, setting aside the metaphor, are the two points
between which mankind has been thus moving to and fro; and what are the
tendencies in us which, thus alternately predominating, give so
different a character to different periods of the human history; the
answer is not easy to be given summarily, for the generalisation which
it requires is almost beyond the compass of the human mind. Several
phenomena appear in each period, and it would be easy to give any one of
these as marking its tendency: as, for instance, we might describe one
period as having a tendency to despotism, and another to licentiousness:
but the true answer lies deeper, and can be only given by discovering
that common element in human nature which, in religion, in politics, in
philosophy, and in literature, being modified by the subject-matter of
each, assumes in each a different form, so that its own proper nature is
no longer to be recognized. Again, it would be an error to suppose that
either of the two tendencies which so affect the course of human affairs
were to be called simply bad or good. Each has its good and evil nicely
intermingled; and taking the highest good of each, it would be difficult
to say which was the more excellent; - taking the last corruption of
each, we could not determine which, was the more hateful. For so far as
we can trace back the manifold streams, flowing some from the eastern
mountains, and some from the western, to the highest springs from which
they rise, we find on the one side the ideas of truth and justice, on
the other those of beauty and love; - things so exalted, and so
inseparably united in the divine perfections, that to set either two
above the other were presumptuous and profane. Yet these most divine
things separated from each other, and defiled in their passage through
this lower world, do each assume a form in human nature of very great
evil: the exclusive and corrupted love of truth and justice becomes in
man selfish atheism; the exclusive and corrupted worship of beauty and
love becomes in man a bloody and a lying idolatry.

Such would be the general theory of the two great currents in which
human affairs may be said to have been successively drifting. But real
history, even the history of all mankind, and much more that of any
particular age or country, presents a picture far more complicated.
First, as to time: as the vessels in a harbour, and in the open sea
without it, may be seen swinging with the tide at the same moment in
opposite directions; the ebb has begun in the roadstead, while it is not
yet high water in the harbour; so one or more nations may be in advance
of or behind the general tendency of their age, and from either cause
may be moving in the opposite direction. Again, the tendency or movement
in itself is liable to frequent interruptions, and short
counter-movements: even when the tide is coming in upon the shore, every
wave retires after its advance; and he who follows incautiously the
retreating waters, may be caught by some stronger billow, overwhelming
again for an instant the spot which had just been left dry. A child
standing by the sea-shore for a few minutes, and watching this, as it
seems, irregular advance and retreat of the water, could not tell
whether it was ebb or flood; and we, standing for a few years on the
shore of time, can scarcely tell whether the particular movement which
we witness is according to or against the general tendency of the whole
period. Farther yet, as these great tendencies are often interrupted, so
are they continually mixed: that is, not only are their own good and bad
elements successively predominant, but they never have the world wholly
to themselves: the opposite tendency exists, in an under-current it may
be, and not lightly perceptible; but here and there it struggles to the
surface, and mingles its own good and evil with the predominant good and
evil of its antagonist. Wherefore he who would learn wisdom from the
complex experience of history, must question closely all its phenomena,
must notice that which is less obvious as well as that which is most
palpable; must judge not peremptorily or sweepingly, but with reserves
and exceptions; not as lightly overrunning a wide region of the truth,
but thankful if after much pains he has advanced his landmarks only a
little; if he has gained, as it were, but one or two frontier
fortresses, in which he can establish himself for ever.

Now, then, when Mr. Newman describes the movement of the present moment
as being directed towards "something better and deeper than satisfied
the last century," this description, although in some sense true, is yet
in practice delusive; and the delusion which lurks in it is at the root
of the errors of Mr. Newman and of his friends. They regard the
tendencies of the last century as wholly evil; and they appear to extend
this feeling to the whole period of which the last century was the
close, and which began nearly with the sixteenth century. Viewing in
this light the last three hundred years, they regard naturally with
excessive favour the preceding period, with which they are so strongly
contrasted; and not the less because this period has been an object of
scorn to the times which have followed it. They are drawn towards the
enemy of their enemy, and they fancy that it must be in all points their
enemy's opposite. And if the faults of its last decline are too palpable
to be denied, they ascend to its middle and its earlier course, and
finding that its evils are there less flagrant, they abandon themselves
wholly to the contemplation of its good points, and end with making it
an idol. There are few stranger and sadder sights than to see men
judging of whole periods of the history of mankind with the blindness of
party-spirit, never naming one century without expressions of contempt
or abhorrence, never mentioning another but with extravagant and
undistinguishing admiration.

But the worst was yet to come. The period which Mr. Newman and his
friends so disliked, had, in its religious character, been distinguished
by its professions of extreme veneration for the Scriptures; in its
quarrel with the system of the preceding period, it had rested all its
cause on the authority of the Scripture, - it had condemned the older
system because Scripture could give no warrant for it. On the other
hand, the partizans of the older system protested against the exclusive
appeal to Scripture; there was, as they maintained, another authority in
religious matters; if their system was not supported in all its points
by Scripture, it had at least the warrant of Christian antiquity. Thus
Mr. Newman and his friends found that the times which they disliked had
professed to rely on Scripture alone; the times which they loved had
invested the Church with equal authority. It was natural then to connect
the evils of the iron age, for so they regarded it, with this notion of
the sole supremacy of Scripture; and it was no less natural to associate
the blessings of their imagined golden age with its avowed reverence for
the Church. If they appealed only to Scripture, they echoed the language
of men whom they abhorred; if they exalted the Church and Christian
antiquity, they sympathised with a period which they were resolved to
love. Their theological writings from the very beginning have too
plainly shown in this respect the force both of their sympathies and
their antipathies.

Thus previously disposed, and in their sense or apprehension of the evil
of their own times already flying as it were for refuge to the system of
times past, they were overtaken by the political storm of 1831, and the
two following years. That storm rattled loudly, and alarmed many who had
viewed the gathering of the clouds with hope and pleasure; no wonder,
then, if it produced a stormy effect upon those who viewed it as a mere
calamity, an evil monster bred out of an evil time, and fraught with
nothing but mischief. Farther, the government of the country was now,
for the first time for many years, in the hands of men who admired the
spirit of the age, nearly as much as Mr. Newman and his friends abhorred
it. Thus all things seemed combined against them: the spirit of the
period which they so hated was riding as it were upon the whirlwind;
they knew not where its violence might burst; and the government of the
country was, as they thought, driving wildly before it, without
attempting to moderate its fury. Already they were inclined to recognise
the signs of a national apostasy.

But from this point they have themselves written their own history. - Mr.
Percival's letter to the editor of the Irish Ecclesiastical Journal,
which was reprinted in the Oxford Herald of January 80, 1841, is really
a document of the highest value. It acquaints us, from the very best
authority, with the immediate occasion of the publication of the Tracts
for the Times, and with the objects of their writers. It tells us
whither their eyes were turned for deliverance; with what charm they
hoped to allay the troubled waters. Ecclesiastical history would be far
more valuable than it is, if we could thus learn the real character and
views of every church, or sect, or party, from itself, and not from its

Mr. Percival informs us, that the Irish Church Act of 1833, which
abolished several of the Irish Bishoprics, was the immediate occasion of
the publication of the Tracts for the Times; and that the objects of
that publication were, to enforce the doctrine of the apostolical
succession, and to preserve the Prayer Book from "the Socinian leaven,
with which we had reason to fear it would be tainted by the
parliamentary alteration of it, which at that time was openly talked
of." But the second of these objects is not mentioned in the more formal
statements which Mr. Percival gives of them; and in what he calls the
"matured account" of the principles of the writers, it is only said,
"Whereas there seems great danger at present of attempts at unauthorized
and inconsiderate innovation as in other matters so especially in the
service of our Church, we pledge ourselves to resist any attempt that
may be made to alter the Liturgy on insufficient authority: i.e. without
the exercise of the free and deliberate judgment of the Church on the
alterations proposed." It would seem, therefore, that what was
particularly deprecated was "the alteration of the Liturgy on
insufficient authority," without reference to any suspected character of
the alteration in itself. But at any rate, as all probability of any
alteration in the Liturgy vanished very soon after the publication of
the tracts began, the other object, the maintaining the doctrine of the
apostolical succession, as it had been the principal one from the
beginning, became in a very short time the only one.

The great remedy, therefore, for the evils of the times, the "something
deeper and truer than satisfied the last century," or, at least, the
most effectual means of attaining to it, is declared to be the
maintenance of the doctrine of apostolical succession. Now let us hear,
for it is most important, the grounds on which this doctrine is to be
enforced, and the reason why so much stress is laid on it. I quote again
from Mr. Percival's letter.

"Considering, 1. That the only way of salvation is the partaking of the
body and blood of our sacrificed Redeemer;

"2. That the mean expressly authorized by him for that purpose is the
holy sacrament of his supper;

"3. That the security by him no less expressly authorized, for the
continuance and due application of that sacrament, is the apostolical
commission of the bishops, and under them the presbyters of the church;

"4. That under the present circumstances of the church in England, there
is peculiar danger of these matters being slighted and practically
disavowed, and of numbers of Christians being left, or tempted to
precarious and unauthorized ways of communion, which must terminate
often in vital apostasy: -

"We desire to pledge ourselves one to another, reserving our canonical
obedience, as follows: -

"1. To be on the watch for all opportunities of inculcating, on all
committed to our charge, a due sense of the inestimable privilege of
communion with our Lord, through the successors of the apostles, and of
leading them to the resolution to transmit it, by his blessing,
unimpaired to their children."

Then follow two other resolutions: one to provide and circulate books
and tracts, to familiarize men's minds with this doctrine; and the
other, "to do what lies in us towards reviving among churchmen, the
practice of daily common prayer, and more frequent participation of the
Lord's Supper."

The fourth resolution, "to resist unauthorized alterations of the
Liturgy," I have already quoted: the fifth and last engages generally to
place within the reach of all men, accounts of such points in our
discipline and worship as may appear most likely to be misunderstood or

These resolutions were drawn up more than seven years ago, and their
practical results have not been contemptible. The Tracts for the Times
amount to no fewer than ninety; while the sermons, articles in reviews,
stories, essays, poems, and writings of all sorts which have enforced
the same doctrines, have been also extremely numerous. Nor have all
these labours been without fruit: for it is known that a large
proportion of the clergy have adopted, either wholly or in great part,
the opinions and spirit of the Tracts for the Times; and many of the
laity have embraced them also.

It seems also, that in the various publications of their school, the
object originally marked out in the resolutions quoted above, has been
followed with great steadiness. The system has been uniform, and its
several parts have held well together. It has, perhaps, been carried on
of late more boldly, which is the natural consequence of success. It has
in all points been the direct opposite of what may be called the spirit
of English protestantism of the nineteenth century: upholding whatever
that spirit would depreciate; decrying whatever it would admire. A
short statement of the principal views held by Mr. Newman and his
friends, will show this sufficiently.

"The sacraments, and not preaching, are the sources of divine grace." So
it is said in the Advertisement prefixed to the first volume of the
Tracts for the Times, in exact conformity with the preamble to the
resolutions, which I have already quoted. But the only security for the
efficacy of the sacraments, is the apostolical commission of the
bishops, and under them, of the presbyters of the Church. So it is said
in the preamble to the resolutions. These two doctrines are the
foundation of the whole system. God's grace, and our salvation, come to
us principally through the virtue of the sacraments; the virtue of the
sacraments depends on the apostolical succession of those who administer
them. The clergy, therefore, thus holding in their hands the most
precious gifts of the Church, acquire naturally the title of the Church
itself; the Church, as possessed of so mysterious a virtue as to
communicate to the only means of salvation their saving efficacy,
becomes at once an object of the deepest reverence. What wonder if to a
body endowed with so transcendant a gift, there should be given also the
spirit of wisdom to discern all truth; so that the solemn voice of the
Church in its creeds, and in the decrees of its general councils, must

Online LibraryThomas ArnoldThe Christian Life Its Course, Its Hindrances, And Its Helps → online text (page 1 of 29)