John Henry Newman.

Apologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions online

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than think that there was no Church any where, would
believe the Roman to be the Church ; and therefore would
on faith accept what they could not otherwise acquiesce in,
I suppose, it would be no relief to him to insist upon the
circumstance that there is no immediate danger. Indivi-
duals can never be answered for of course ; but I should
think lightly of that man, who, for some act of the Bishops,
should all at once leave the Church. Now, considering
how the Clergy really are improving, considering that this
row is even making them read the Tracts, is it not possible
we may all be in a better state of mind seven years hence
to consider these matters ? and may we not leave them
meanwhile to the will of Providence ? I cannot believe
this work has been of man ; God has a right to His own
work, to do what He will with it. May we not try to
leave it in His hands, -and be content P

* As things stand now, I do not think he would have objected to his opinion
being generally known.

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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 159

" If you learn any thing about Barter, which leads you
to think that I can relieve him by a letter, let me know.
The truth is this,— our good friends do not read the
Fathers ; they assent to us from the common sense of the
case : then, when the Fathers, and we, say more than their
common sense, they are dreadfully shocked.

"The Bishop of London has rejected a man, 1. Fori
holding ant/ Sacrifice in the Eucharist. 2. The Real Pre- 1
sence. 3. That there is a grace in Ordination *. (

" Are we quite sure that the Bishops will not be draw-
ing up some stringent declarations of faith ? Is this what
Moberly fears P Would the Bishop of Oxford accept
them ? If so, I should be driven into the Refuge for the
Destitute [Littlemore], But I promise Moberly, I would
do my utmost to catch all dangerous persons and clap them
into confinement there."

Christmas Day, 1841. " I have been dreaming of
Moberly all night. Should not he and the like see, that
it is unwise, unfair, and impatient to ask others. What
will you do under circumstances, which have not, which
may never come ? Why bring fear, suspicion, and dis-
union into the camp about things which are merely in
posse? Natural, and exceedingly kind as Barter's and
another friend's letters were, I think they have done great
harm. I speak most sincerely when I say, that there are
things which I neither contemplate, nor wish to contem-
plate; but, when I am asked about them ten times, at
length I begin to contemplate them.

"He surely does not mean to say, that nothing could
separate a man from the English Church, e. g. its avowing
Socinianism ; its holding the Holy Eucharist in a Socinian

' I cannot prove this at this distance of time ; but I do not think it wrong
to introduce here the passage contaifaing it, as I am imputing to the Bishop
nothing which the world would think disgraceful, but, on the contrary, what a
larice religious body would Approve.

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sense. Yet, he would say, it was not right to contemplate
sueh things.

"Again, our case is [diverging] from that of Ken's.
To say nothing of the last miserable century, which has
given us to dart from a much lower level and with much
less to spare than a Churchman in the 17th century, ques-
tions of doctrine are now coming in ; with him, it was a
question of discipline.

" If such dreadful events were realized, I cannot help
thinking we should all be vastly more agreed than we
think now. Indeed, is it possible (humanly speaking) that
those, who have so much the same heart, should widely
differ? But let this be considered, as to alternatives.
What communion could we join? Could the Scotch or
American sanction the presence of its Bishops and congre-
gations in England, without incurring the imputation of
schism, unless indeed (and is that likely ?) they denoimced
the English as heretical ?

" Is not this a time of strange providences P is it not
our safest course, without looking to consequences, to do
simply what tee think right day by day P shall we not be
sure to go wrong, if we attempt to trace by anticipation
the course of divine Providence ?

"Has not all our misery, as a Church, arisen from
y people being afraid to look difficulties in the face P They
have palliated acts, when they should have denounced
them. There is that good fellow, Worcester Palmer, can
whitewash the Ecclesiastical Commission and the Jerusalem
Bishopric. And what is the consequence? that our Church
has, through centuries, ever been sinking lower and lower,
till good part of its pretensions and professions is a mere
sham, though it be a duty to make the best of what we
have received. Yet, though bound to make the best of
other men's shams, let us not incur any of our own. The
truest friends of our Church are they, who say boldly when

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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 161

her rulers are going wrong, and the consequences; and
(to speak catachrestically) they are most likely to die in
the Church, who are, under these black circumstances,
most prepared to leave it.

" And I wiU add, that, considering the traces of God's
grace which surround us, I am very sanguine, or rather
confident, (if it is right so to speak,) that our prayers and
our akns will come up as a memorial before God, and that
all this miserable confusion tends to good.

" Let us not then be anxious, and anticipate difierences
in prospect, when we agree in the present.

" P. S. I think when friends " [i. e. the extreme party]
" get over their first unsettlement of mind and consequent
vague apprehensions, which the new attitude of the
Bishops, and our feelings upon it, have brought about,
they will get contented and satisfied. They will see that
they exaggerated things. ... Of course it would have
been wrong to anticipate what one's feelings would be
under such a painful contingency as the Bishops' charging
as they have done, — so it seems to me nobody's fault.
Nor is it wonderful that others " [moderate men] " are
startled " [i. e. at my Protest, &c. &c.] ; " yet they should
recollect that the more implicit the reverence one pays to
a Bishop, the more keen will be one's perception of heresy
in him. The cord is binding and compelling, till it snaps.

" Men of reflection would have seen this, if they had
looked that way. Last spring, a very high churchman
talked to me of resisting my Bishop, of asking him for
the Canons under which he acted, and so forth ; but those,
who have cultivated a loyal feeling towards their superiors,
are the most loving servants, or the most zealous pro-
testors. If others became so too, if the clergy of Chester
denounced the heresy of their diocesan, they would be doing
their duty, and relieving themselves of the share which they
otherwise have in any possible defection of their brethren.

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"St. Stephen's [Day, December 26]. How I fidgei!
I now fear that the note I wrote yesterday only makes
matters worse by disclosing too much. This is always my
great difficulty.

"In the present state of excitement on both sides, I
think of leaving out altogether my reassertion of No. 90
in my Preface to Volume (5 [of Parochial Sermons], and
merely saying, * As many false reports are at this time in
circulation about him, he hopes his well-wishers will take
this Volume as an indication of his real thoughts and feel-
ings : those who are not, he leaves in God's hand to bring
them to a better mind in His own time.' What do you
say to the logic, sentiment, and propriety of this?"

An old friend, at a distance from Oxford, Archdeacon
Robert I. Wilberforce, must have said something to me
at this time, I do not know what, which challenged a frank
reply; for I disclosed to him, I do not know in what words,
my frightful suspicion, hitherto only known to two persons,
viz. his brother Henry, and Mr. (now Sir Frederick) Rogers,
that, as regards my Anglicanism, perhaps I might break
down in the event, — that perhaps we were both out of the
Church. I think I recollect expressing my difficulty, as
derived from the Arian and Monophysite history, in a
form in which it would be most intelligible to him, as
being in fact an admission of Bishop Bull's ; viz. that in
the controversies of the early centuries the Roman Church
was ever on the right side, which was of course 2i prima facie
argument in favour of Rome and against Anglibanism
now. He answered me thus, imder date of Jan. 29, 1842 :
" I don't think that I ever was so shocked by any com-
munication, which was ever made to me, as by your letter
of this morning. It has quite unnerved me. . . . I cannot
but write to you, though I am at a loss where to begin.
... I know of no act by which we have dissevered our-
selves from the communion of the Church Universal. . . •

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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 163

The more I study Scripture, the more am I impressed
with the resemblance between the Romish principle in the
Church and the Babylon of St. John. ... I am ready to
grieve that I ever directed my thoughts to theology, if
it is indeed so uncertain, as your doubts seem to indi-

While my old and true friends were thus in trouble
about me, I suppose they felt not only anxiety but pain, to
see that I was gradually surrendering myself to the influ-
ence of others, who had not their own claims upon me,
younger men, and of a cast of mind in no small degree un-
congenial to my own. A new school of thought was rising,
as is usual in doctrinal inquiries, and was sweeping the
original party of the Movement aside, and was taking its
place. The most prominent person in it, was a man of
elegant genius, of classical mind, of rare talent in literary
composition : — Mr. Oakeley. He was not far from my
own age ; I had long known him, though of late years he
had not been in residence at Oxford ; and quite lately, he
has been taking several signal occasions of renewing that
kindiaess, which he ever showed towards me when we were
both in the AngKcan Church. His tone of mind was not
unlike that which gave a character to the early Movement ;
he was almost a t}^ical Oxford man, and, as far as I recol-
lect, both in political and ecclesiastical views, would have
been of one spirit with the Oriel party of 1826 — 1833.
But he had entered late into the Movement ; he did not
know its first years ; and, beginning with a new start, he
was naturally thrown together with that body of eager,
acute, resolute minds who had begun their Catholic life
about the same time as he, who knew nothing about the
Via Media, but had heard much about Rome. This new
party rapidly formed and increased, in and out of Oxford,
and, so happened, contemporaneously with that very

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summer, when I received so serious a blow to my ecdesi-
astical views from the study of the Monophysite contro-
versy. These men cut into the original Movement at an
angle, fell across its line of thought, and then set about
turning that line in its own direction. They were most of
them keenly religious men, with a true concern for their
souls as the first matter of all, with a great zeal for me,
but giving little certainty at the time as to which way they
would ultimately turn. Some in the event have remained
firm to Anglicanism, some have become Catholics, and
some have found a refuge in Liberalism. Nothing was
clearer concerning them, than that they needed to be kept
in order ; and on me who had had so much to do with the
making of them, that duty was as clearly incumbent ; and
it is equally clear, from what I have already said, that I
was just the person, above all others, who could not un-
dertake it. There are no friends like old friends ; but of
those old friends, few could help me, few could understand
me, many were annoyed with me, some were angry,
because I was breaking up a compact party, and some, as
a matter of conscience, could not listen to me. When I
looked round for those whom I might consult in my diffi-
culties, I found the very hypothesis of those difficulties
acting as a bar to their giving me their advice. Then I
said, bitterly, " You are throwing me on others, whether I
will or no." Yet still I had good and true friends around
me of the old sort, in and out of Oxford too, who were a
great help to me. But on the other hand, though I neither
was so fond (with a few exceptions) of the persons, nor of
the methods of thought, which belonged to this new school,
as of the old set, though I could not trust in their firmness
of purpose, for, Kke a swarm of flies, they might come and
go, and at length be divided and dissipated, yet I had
an intense sympathy in their object and in the direction
in which their path lay, in spite of my old friends, in spite

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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 165

of my old life-long prejudices. In spite of my ingrained
fears of Rome, and the decision of my reason and con
science against ter usages, in spite of my affection for
Oxford and Oriel, yet I had a secret longing love of Rome
the Mother of English Christianity, and I had a true devo-
tion to the Blessed Virgin, in whose College I lived, whose
Altar I served, and whose Immaculate Purity I had in one
of my earliest printed Sermons made much of. And it
was the consciousness of this bias in myself, if it is so to
be called, which made me preach so earnestly against the
danger of being swayed in religious inquiry by our sym-
pathy rather than by our reason. And moreover, the
members of this naw school looked up to me, as I have
said, and did me true kindnesses, and really loved me, and
stood by me in trouble, when others went away, and for
all this I was grateful; nay, many of them were in
trouble themselves, and in the same boat with me, and
that was a further cause of sympathy between us; and
hence it was, when the new school came on in force, and
into collision with the old, I had not the heart, any more
than the power, to repel them ; I was in great perplexity,
and hardly knew where I stood ; I took their part ; and,
when I wanted to be in peace and silence, I had to speak
out, and I incurred the charge of weakness from some
men, and of mysteriousness, shuffling, and underhand
dealing from the majority.

Now I will say here frankly, that this sort of charge is a
matter which I cannot properly meet, because I cannot
duly realize it. I have never had any suspicion of my
own honesty ; and, when men say that I was dishonest, I
cannot grasp the accusation as a distinct conception, such
as it is possible to encounter. If a man said to me, " On
such a day and before such persons you said a thing was
white, when it was black," I imderstand what is meant

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well enough, and I can set myself to prove an alibi or to
explain the mistake ; or if a man said to me, " You tried
to gain me over to your party, intending to take me with
you to Eome, but you did not succeed," I can give him
the lie, and lay down an assertion of my own as firm and
as exact as his, that not from the time that I was first un-
settled, did I ever attempt to gain any one over to myself
or to my Romanizing opinions, and that it is only his own
coxcombical fancy which has bred such a thought in him :
but my imagination is at a loss in presence of those vague
charges, which have commonly been brought against me,
charges, which are made up of impressions, and under-
standings, and inferences, and hearsay, and surmises.
Accordingly, I shall not make the attempt, for, in doing
so, I should be dealing blows in the air ; what I shall
attempt is to state what I know of myself and what I
recollect, and leave to others its application.

While I had confidence in the Via Media, and thought
that nothing could overset it, I did not mind laying down
large principles, which I saw would go further than was
commonly perceived. I considered that to make the Via
Media concrete and substantive, it must be much more
than it was in outKne; that the Anglican Church must
have a ceremonial, a ritual, and a fulness of doctrine and
devotion, which it had not at present, if it were to compete
with the Roman Church with any prospect of success.
Such additions would not remove it from its proper basis,
but would merely strengthen and beautify it : such, for
instance, would be confraternities, particular devotions,
reverence for the Blessed Virgin, prayers for the dead,
beautiful churches, munificent offerings to them and in
them, monastic houses, and many other observances and
institutions, which I used to say belonged to us as much
as to Rome, though Rome had appropriated them and
boasted of them, by reason of our having let them slip

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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 107

from us. The principle, on wbich all this turned, is
brought out in one of the Letters I published on occasion
of Tract 90. "The age is moving," I said, "towards
something; and most unhappily the one religious com-
munion among us, which has of late years been practically
in possession of this something, is the Church of Rome.
She alone, amid all the errors and evils of her practical
system, has given free scope to the feelings of awe, mystery, ^
^tenderness, reverence, devotedness, and other feelings
which may be especially called Catholic. The question
then is, whether we shall give them up to the Eoman
Church or claim them for ourselves. . . . But if we do
give them up, we must give up the men who cherish them.
We must consent either to give up the men, or to admit
their principles." With these feelings I frankly admit,
that, while I was working simply for the sake of the
Anglican Church, I did not at all mind, though I found
myself laying down principles in its defence, which went
beyond that particular kind of defence which high-and-dry
men thought perfection, and even though I ended in fram-
ing a kind of defence, which they might call a revolution,
while I thought it a restoration. Thus, for illustration, I
might discourse upon the " Communion of Saints" in such
a manner, (though I do not recollect doing so,) as might
lead the way towards devotion to the Blessed Virgin and
the Saints on the one hand, and towards prayers for the
dead on the other. In a memorandum of the year 1844 or
1845, 1 thus speak on this subject : " If the Church be not
defended on establishment grounds, it must be upon
principles, which go far beyond their immediate object.
Sometimes I saw these further results, sometimes not.
Though I saw them, I sometimes did not say that I saw
them : — so long as I thought they were inconsistent, not
with our Church, but only with the existing opinions, I

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was not unwilling to insinuate truths into our Churcliy
which I thought had a right to be there."

To so much I confe^ ; but I do not confess, I simply
deny that I ever said any thing which secretly bore against
the Church of England, knowing it myself, in order that
others might unwarily accept it. It was indeed one of my
great difficulties and causes of reserve, as time went on,
that I at length recognized in principles which I had
honestly preached as if Anglican, conclusions favourable
to the cause of Borne. Of course I did not like to. confess
this ; and, when interrogated, was in consequence in per-
plexity. The prime instance of this was the appeal to
Antiquity ; St. Leo had overset, in my own judgment, its
force as the special argument for Anglicanism ; yet I was
committed to Antiquity, together with the whole Anglican
school ; what then was I to say, when acute minds urged
this or that application of it against the Via Media ? it was
impossible that, in such circumstances, any answer could
be given which was not unsatisfactory, or any behaviour
adopted which was not mysterious. Again, sometimes in
what I wrote I went just as far as I saw, and could as little
say more, as I could see what is below the horizon ; and
therefore, when asked as to the consequences of what I had
said, I had no answer to give. Again, sometimes when I
was asked, whether certain conclusions did not follow from
a certain principle, I might not be able to tell at the
moment, especially if the matter were compKcated ; and
for this reason, if for no other, because there is great differ-
ence between a conclusion in the abstract and a conclusion
in the concrete, and because a conclusion may be modified
in fact by a conclusion from some opposite principle. Or
it might so happen that my head got simply confused, by
the very strength of the logic which was administered to
me, and thus I gave my sanction to conclusions which really

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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 169

were not mine ; and when the report of those conclusions
came round to me through others, I had to unsay them.
And then again, perhaps I did not like to see men scared
or scandalized by unfeeling logical inferences, which would
not have troubled them to the day of their death, had they
not been forced to recognize them. And then I felt alto-
gether the force of the maxim of St. Ambrose, " Non in
dialectica complacuit Deo salvum facere populum suum ;'* —
I had a great dislike of paper logic. For myself, it was
not logic that carried me on ; as well might one say that
the quicksilver in the barometer changes the weather. It
is the concrete being that reasons ; pass a number of years,
and I find my mind in a new place ; how ? the whole man
moves ; paper logic is but the record of it. All the logic
in the world would not have made me move faster towards
Rome than I did; as well might you say that I have
arrived at the end of my journey, because I see the village
church before me, as venture to assert that the miles, over
which my soul had to pass before it got to Rome, could be
annihilated, even though I had been in possession of some
far clearer view than I then had, that Rome was my ulti-
mate destination. Great acts take time. At least this is
what I felt in my own case ; and therefore to come to me
with methods of logic had in it the nature of a provoca-
tion, and, though I do not think I ever. showed it, made
me somewhat indifferent how I met them, and perhaps led
me, as a means of relieving my impatience, to be mysteri-
ous or irrelevant, or to give in because I could not meet
them to my satisfaction. And a greater trouble still than
these logical mazes, was the introduction of logic into
every subject whatever, so far, that is, as this was done.
Before I was at Oriel, I recollect an acquaintance saying
to me that " the Oriel Common Room stank of Lo^c'
One is not at all pleased when poetry, or eloquence, or de-


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votion, is considered as if chiefly intended to feed syllo-
gisms. Now, in saying all this, I am saying nothing
against the deep piety and earnestness which were charac-'
teristics of this second phase of the Movement, in which I
had taken so prominent a part. What I have been
observing is, that this phase had a tendency to bewilder
and to upset me ; and, that, instead of saying so, as I
ought to have done, perhaps from a sort of laziness I gave
answers at random, which have led to my appearing close
or inconsistent.

I have turned up two letters of this period, which in a
measure illustrate what I have been saying. The first was
written to the Bishop of Oxford on occasion of Tract 90 :

"March 20, 1841. No one can enter into my situation
but myself. I see a great many minds working in various
directions and a variety of principles with multiplied bear-
ings ; I act for the best. I sincerely think that matters
would not have gone better for the Church, had I never
written. And if I write I have a choice of difficulties.
It is easy for those who do not enter into those difficulties
to say, ' He ought to say this and not say that,' but things
are wonderfully linked together, and I cannot, or rather I
would not be dishonest. When persons too interrogate
me, I am obliged in many cases to give an opinion, or I
seem to be imderhand. Keeping silence looks like artifice.
And I do not like people to consult or respect me, from
thinking differently of my opinions from what I know
them to be. And again (to use the proverb) what is one
man's food is another man's poison. All these things
make my situation very difficult. But that collision must
at some time ensue between members of the Church of

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 15 of 33)