John Henry Newman.

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

. (page 3 of 33)
Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 3 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

when I took orders in 1824 and had a curacy in Oxford,
then, during the Long Vacations, I was especially thrown
into his company. I can say with a full heart that I love
him, and have never ceased to love him ; and I thus pre-
face what otherwise might sound rude, that in the course
of the many years in which we were together afterwards,
he provoked' me very much from time to time, though I
am perfectly certain that I have provoked him a great
deal more. Moreover, in me such provocation was unbe-
coming, both because he was the Head of my College, and
because, in the first years that I knew him, he had been
in many ways of great service to my mind.

He was the first who taught me to weigh my words,
and to be cautious in my statements. He led me to that
mode of limiting and clearing my sense in discussion and
in controversy, and of distinguishing between cognate
ideas, and of obviating mistakes by anticipation, which to
my surprise has been since considered, even in quarters
friendly to me, to savour of the polemics of Rome. He is
a man of most exact mind himself, and he used to snub
me severely, on reading, as he was kind enough to do, the
first Sermons that I wrote, and other compositions which
I was engaged upon.

Then as to doctrine, he was the means of great additions
to my belief. As I have noticed elsewhere, he gave me

Digitized by VjOOQ IC

TO THE YEAR 1833. i

the "Treatise on ApostoKcal Preaching," by Sumner,
afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, from which I was
led to give up my remaining Calvinism, and to receive the
doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. In many other ways
too he was of use to me, on subjects semi-religious and

It was Dr. Hawkins too who taught me to anticipate
that, before many years were over, there would be an
attack made upon the books and the canon of Scripture. I
was brought to the same belief by the conversation of •
Mr. Blanco White, who also led me to have freer views
on the subject of inspiration than were usual in the Church
of England at the time.

There is one other principle, which I gained from Dr. ^
Hawkins, more directly bearing upon Catholicism, than
any that I have mentioned; and that is the doctrine of
Tradition. When I was an Under-graduate, I heard him
preach in the University Pulpit his celebrated sermon on
the subject, and recollect how long it appeared to me,
though he was at that time a very striking preacher ; but,
when I read it and studied it as his gift, it made a most
serious impression upon me. He does not go one step, I
think, beyond the high Anglican doctrine, nay he does not
reach it ; but he does his work thoroughly, and his view was
in him original, and his subject was a novel one at the
time. He lays down a proposition, self-evident as soon as
stated, to those who have at all examined the structure of
Scripture, viz. that the sacred text was never intended to
teach doctrine, but only to prove it, and that, if we would
learn doctrine, we must have recourse to the formularies
of the Church ; for instance to the Catechism, and to the
Creeds. He considers, that, after learning from them the
doctrines of Christianity, the inquirer must verify them by <-
Scripture. This view, most true in its outline, most fruit-
ful in its consequences, opened upon me a large field of

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


thought. Dr. Whately held it too. One of its effects was
to strike at the root of the principle on which the Bible
Society was set up. I belonged to its Oxford Association ;
it became a matter of time when I should withdraw my
name from its subscription-list, though I did not do so at

It is with pleasure that I pay here a tribute to the
memory of the Rev. William James, then Fellow of Oriel ;
who, about the year 1823, taught me the doctrine of
Apostolical Succession, in the course of a walk, I think,
roimd Christ Church meadow ; I recollect being somewhat
impatient of the subject at the time.

It was at about this date, I suppose, that I read
Bishop Butler's Analogy ; the study of which has been to
so many, as it was to me, an era in their religious opinions.
Its inculcation of a visible Church, the oracle of truth and
a pattern of sanctity, of the duties of external religion, and
of the historical character of Revelation, are characteristics
of this great work which strike the reader at once ; for
myself, if I may attempt to determine what I most gained
from it, it lay in two points, which I shall have an oppor-
tunity of dwelling on in the sequel ; they are the under-
lying principles of a great portion of my teaching. First,
the very idea of an analogy between the separate works of
God leads to the conclusion that the system which is of
less importance is economically or sacramentally connected
with the more momentous system *, and of thia conclusion
the theory, to which I was iuclined as a boy, viz. the un-
reality of material phenomena, is an ultimate resolution.
At this time I did not make the distinction between
matter itself and its phenomena, which is so necessary and
so obvious in discussing the subject. Secondly , Butler's
doctrine that ProbabiKty is the guide of life, led me, at

' It is significant that Butler begins his work with a quotation from Origeii.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC

TO THE TEAR 1833. 11

least imdep the teaching to which a few years later I was
introduced, to the question of the logical cogency of Faith,
on which I have written so much. Thus to Butler I trace
those two principles of my teaching, which have led to a
charge against me both of fancifulness and of scepticism.

And now as to Dr. Whately. I owe him a great deal.
He was a man of generous and warm heart. He was
particularly loyal to his friends, and to use the common
phrase, "all his geese were swans.*' While I was still
awkward and timid in 1822, he took me by the hand, and
acted towards me the part of a gentle and encouraging
instructor. He, emphatically, opened my mind, and
taught me to think and to use my reason. After being
first noticed by him in 1822, 1 became very intimate with
him in 1825, when I was his Vice-Principal at Alban
Hall. I gave up that office in 1826, when I became Tutor
of my College, and his hold upon me gradually relaxed.
He had done his work towards me or nearly so, when he
had taught me to see with my own eyes and to walk with
my own feet. Not that I had not a good deal to learn
from others still, but I influenced them as well as they me,
and co-operated rather than merely concurred with them.
As to Dr. Whately, his mind was too diflferent from mine
for us to remain long on one line. I recollect how dis-
satisfied he was with an Article of mine in the London
Review, which Blanco . White, good-humouredly, only
called Platonic. When I was diverging from him in
opinion (which he did not like), I thought of dedicating
my first book to him, in words to the effect that he had
not only taught me to think, but to think for myself. He
left Oxford in 1831 ; after that, as far as I can recollect,
I never saw him but twice, — when he visited the Univer-
sity ; once in the street in 1834, once in a room in 1838.
From the time that he left, I have always felt a real affec-
tion for what I must caU his memory; for, at least from

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


the year 1834, he made himself dead to me. He had
practically indeed given me up from the time that he be-
came Archbishop in 1831 ; but in 1834 a correspondence
took place between us, which, though conducted especially
on his side in a friendly spirit, was the expression of dif-
ferences of opinion which acted as a final close to our inter-
cou>rse. My reason told me that it was impossible we could
have got on together longer, had he stayed in Oxford ; yet
I loved him too much to bid him farewell without pain.
After a few years had passed, I began to believe that his
influence on me in a higher respect than intellectual
advance, (I will not say through his fault,) had not been
satisfactory. I believe that he has inserted sharp things
in his later works about me. They have never come in
my way, and I have not thought it necessary to seek out
what would pain me so much in the reading.

What he did for me in point of religious opinion, was,
first , to teach me the existence of the Church, as a substan-
tive body or corporation; next to fix in me those anti-
Erastian views of Church polity, which were one of the
most prominent features of the Tractarian movement. On
this point, and, as far as I know, on this point alone,
he and Hurrell Froude intimately sympathized, though
Froude's development of opinion here was of a later date.
In the year 1826, in the course of a walk, he said much to '
me about a work then just published, called " Letters on
the Church by an Episcopalian.'* He said that it would
make my blood boil. It was certainly a most powerful
composition. One of our common friends told me, that,
after reading it, he could not keep still, but went on walk-
ing up and down his room. It was ascribed at once to
Whately; I gave eager expression to the contrary opinion;
but I found the belief of Oxford in the affirmative to be
too strong for me; rightly or wrongly I yielded to the
general voice; and I have never heard, then or since,

Digitized by VjOOQ IC

TO THE YEAR 1833. 13

of any disclaimer of aulhorsliip on the part of Dr.

The main positions of this able essay are these ; first that
Church and State should be independent of each other : —
he speaks of the duty of protesting " against the profana-
tion of Christ's kingdom, by that double usurpation, the
interference of the Church in temporals, of the State in
spirituals," p. 191 ; and, secondly, that the Church may
justly and by right retain its property, though separated
from the State. " The clergy," he says p. 133, " though
they ought not to be the hired servants of the Civil
Magistrate, may justly retain their revenues; and the
State, though it has no right of interference in spiritual
concerns, not only is justly entitled to support from the
ministers of religion, and from all other Christians, but
would, imder the system I am recommending, obtain it
much more effectually." The author of this work, who-
ever he may be, argues out both these points with great
force and ingenuity, and with a thoroughgoing vehemence,
which perhaps we may refer to the circumstance, that he
wrote, not in proprid persond, and as thereby answerable for
every sentiment that he advanced, but in the professed
character of a Scotch Episcopalian. His work ha4 a
gradual, but a deep effect on my mind.

1 am not aware of any other religious opinion which I
owe to Dr. Whately. In his special theological tenets I
had no sympathy. In the next year, 1827, he told me he
considered that I was Arianizing. The case was this:
though at that time I had not read Bishop Bull's Defenaio
nor the Fathers, I was just then very strong for that ante-
Nicene view of the Trinitarian doctrine, which some
writers, both Catholic and non-Catholic, have accused of
wearing a sort of Arian exterior. This is the meaning of
a passage in Fronde's Remains, in which he seems to accusd
me of speaking against the Athanasian Creed. I had

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


contrasted the two aspects of the Trinitarian doctrine,
which are respectively presented by the Athanasian Creed
and the Nicene. My criticisms were to the effect that
some of the verses of the former Creed were unnecessarily
scientific. This is a specimen of a certain disdain for Anti-
quity which had been growing on me now for several years.
It showed itself in some flippant language against the
Fathers in the Encyclopaedia MetropoUtana, about whom
I knew little at the time, except what I had learnt as a
boy from Joseph Mflner. In writing on the Scripture
Miracles in 1825-6, I had read Middleton on the Miracles
of the early Church, and had imbibed a portion of his

The truth is, I was beginning to prefer intellectual

\ excellence to moral ; I was drifting in the direction of the

I Liberalism of the day *. I was rudely awakened from my

dream at the end of 1827 by two great blows— illness and


In the beginning of 1829, came the formal break between
Dr. Whately and me ; the affair of Mr. Peel's re-election
was the occasion of it. I think in 1828 or 1827 I had
voted in the minority, when the Petition to Parliament
against the Catholic Claims was brought into Convocation.
I did so mainly on the views suggested to me in the
Letters of an Episcopalian. Also I shrank from the bigoted
"two-bottle-orthodox," as they were invidiously called.
When then I took part against Mr. Peel, it was on an
academical, not at all an ecclesiastical or a political
ground; and this I professed at the time. I considered
that Mr. Peel had taken the University by surprise ; that
his friends had no right to call upon us to turn round on a
sudden, and to expose ourselves to the imputation of time-
serving; and that a great University ought not to be buUied

> Vide Note A, Liberalism f at the end of the volume*

Digitized by VjOOQ IC

TO THE YEAK 1833. 15

even by a great Duke of Wellington. Also by this time
I was under the influence of Keble and Froude ; who, in
addition to the reasons I have given, disliked the Duke's
change of policy as dictated by liberalism.

Whately was considerably annoyed at me, and he took
a humourous revenge, of which he had given me due
notice beforehand. As head of a house he had duties of
hospitality to men of all parties; he* asked a set of the
least intellectual men in Oxford to dinner, and men most
fond of port ; he made me one of this party ; placed me
between Provost This and Principal That, and then asked
me if I was proud of my friends. However, he had a
serious meaning in his act ; he saw, more clearly than I
could do, that I was separating from his own friends for
good and all.

Dr. Whately attributed my leaving his clientela to a wish
on my part to be the head of a party myself. I do not think
that this charge was deserved. My habitual feeling then
and since has been, that it was not I who sought friends,
but friends who sought me. Never man had kinder or
more indulgent friends than I have had ; but I expressed
my own feeling as to the mode in which I gained them, in
this very year 1829, in the course of a copy of verses.
Speaking of my blessings, I said, " Blessings of friends,
which to my door unasked, unhoped, have come.'* They
have come, they have gone ; they came to my great joy,
they went to my great grief. He who gave took away.
Dr. Whately's impression about me, however, admits of
this explanation : —

During the first years of my residence at Oriel, though
proud of my College, I was not quite at home there. I was
very much alone, and I used often to take my daily walk
by myself. I recollect once meeting Dr. Copleston, then
Provost, with one of the Fellows. He turned round, and
with the kind courteousness which sat so well on him,

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


made me a bow and said, ** Nunquam minus solus, quam
ciim solus." At that time indeed (from 1823) I had the
intimacy of my dear and true friend Dr. Pusey, and could
not fail to admire and revere a soul so devoted to the cause
of religion, so full of good works, so faithful in his affec-
tions ; but he left residence when I was getting to know
him well. As to Dr. Whately himself, he was too much

. my superior to allow of my being at my ease with him ;
and to no one in Oxford at this time did I open my heart
fully and familiarly. But things changed in 1826. At

^ that time I became one of the Tutors of my College, and
this gave me position ; besides, I had written one or two
Essays which had been well received. I began to be
known. I preached my first University Sermon. Next
year I was one of the Public Examiners for the B.A. degree*
In 1828 1 became Vicar of St. Mary's. It was to me like the
feeling of spring weather after winter; and, if I may so
speak, I came out of my shell; I remained out of it till 1841.
The two persons who knew me best at that time are still
alive, beneficed clergymen, no longer my friends. They
could tell better than any one else what I was in those
years. From this time my tongue was, as it were,
loosened, and I spoke spontaneously and without effort.
One of the two, a shrewd man, said of me, I have been told,
" Here is a fellow who, when he is silent, will never begin
to speak ; and when he once begins to speak, will never
stop." It was at this time that I began to have influence,
which steadily increased for a course of years. I gained
upon my pupils, and was in particular intimate and affec-
tionate with two of our probationer Fellows, Robert Isaac
Wilberforce (afterwards Archdeacon) and Richard Hurrell

^ Froude. Whately then, an acute man, perhaps saw around
me the signs of an incipient party, of which I was not
conscious myself. And thus we discern the first elements
of that movement afterwards called Tractarian.

Digitized by CjOOQ IC

TO THE YEAB 1833. 17

The true and primary author of it, however, as is usual
with great motive-powers, was out of sight. Having
carried off as a mere boy the highest honours of the Uni-
versity, he had turned from the admiration which haunted
his steps, and sought for a better and holier satisfaction in
pastoral work in the country. Need I say that I am 4^
speaking of John Keble P The first time that I was in a
room with him was on occasion of my election to a fellow-
ship at Oriel, when I was sent for into the Tower, to shake
hands with the Provost and Fellows. How is that hour
fixed in my memory after the changes of forty-two years,
forty- two this very day on which I write ! I have lately
had a letter in my hands, which I sent at the time to my
great friend, John William Bowden, with whom I passed
almost exclusively my TJnder-graduate years. " I had to
hasten to the Tower," I say to him, *' to receive the con-
gratulations of all the Fellows. I bore it till Keble took
my hand, and then felt so abashed and unworthy of the
honour done me, that I seemed desirous of quite sinking
into the groimd." His had been the first name which I
had heard spoken of, with reverence rather than admira-
tion, when I came up to Oxford. When one day I was
walking in High Street with my dear earliest friend just
mentioned, with what eagerness did he cry out, " There's
Keble ! " and with what awe did I look at him ! Then
at another time I heard a Master of Arts of my College
give an account how he had just then had occasion to in-
troduce himself on some business to Keble, and how
gentle, courteous, and imaffected Keble had been, so as
almost to put him out of countenance. Then too it was
reported, truly or falsely, how a rising man of brilliant
reputation, the present Dean of St. Paul's, Dr. Milman,
admired and loved him, adding, that somehow he was
strangely unlike any one else. However, at the time
when I was elected Fellow of Oriel he was not in resi-


Digitized by VjOOQ IC


dence, and lie was shy of me for years in consequence of
the marks which I bore upon me of the evangelical and
liberal schools. At least so I have ever thought. Hurrell
^ Froude brought us together about 1828 : it is one of the
sayings preserved in his " Remains," — " Do you know the
story of the murderer who had done one good thing in his
life ? Well ; if I was ever asked what good deed I had
ever done, I should say that I had brought Keble and
Newman to understand each other."

The Christian Tear made its appearance in 1827. It is
not necessary, and scarcely becoming, to praise a book
which has already become one of the classics of the lan-
guage. When the general tone of religious literature was
so nerveless and impotent, as it was at that time, Keble
struck an original note and woke up in the hearts of
thousands a new music, the music of a school, long un-
known in England. Nor can I pretend to analyze, in my
own instance, the effect of religious teaching so deep, so
pure, so beautiful. I have never till now tried to do so ;
yet I think I am not wrong in saying, that the two main
intellectual truths which it brought home to me, were the
same two, which I had learned from Butler, though recast
in the creative mind of my new master. The first of these
was what may be called, in a large sense of the word, the
y Sacramental system ; that is, the doctrine that material
phenomena are both the types and the instruments of real
things unseen, — a doctrine, which embraces in its fulness,
not only what Anglicans, as well as Catholics, believe about
Sacraments properly so called ; but also the article of " the
Communion of Saints;" and likewise the Mysteries of
the faith. The connexion of this philosophy of religion
with what is sometimes called " Berkeleyism " has been
mentioned above ; I knew little of Berkeley at this time
except by name ; nor have I ever studied him.

On the second intellectual principle which I gained from

Digitized by VjOOQ IC

TO THE YEAR 1833. 19

Mr. Keble, I could say a great deal ; if thisi were the place
for it. It runs through very much that I have written,
and has gained for me many hard names. Butler teaches -
us that probability is the guide of life. The danger of this
doctrine, in the case of many minds, is, its tendency to
destroy in them absolute certainty, leading them to con-
sider every conclusion as doubtful, and resolving truth into
an opinion, which it is safe indeed to obey or to profess,
but not possible to embrace with full internal assent. If
this were to be allowed, then the celebrated saying, " O
God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul ! ''
would be the highest measure of devotion : — but who can
really pray to a Being, about whose existence he is
seriously in doubt P

I considered that Mr. Keble met this diflSculty by
ascribing the firmness of assent which we give to religious
doctrine, not to the probabilities which introduced it, but
to the living power of faith and love which accepted it.
In matters of religion, he seemed to say, it is not merely
probability which makes us intellectually certain, but pro-
bability as it is put to account by faith and love. It is
faith and love which give to probability a force which it u
has not in itself. Faith and love are directed towards an
Object; in the vision of that Object they live ; it is that
Object, received in faith and love, which renders it rea-
sonable to take probability as sufficient for internal
conviction. Thus the argument from Probability, in
the matter of religion, became an argument from Per-
sonality, which in fact is one form of the argument from

In illustration, Mr. Keble used to quote the words of the
Psalm : " I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not like
to 1 .orse and mule, which have no understanding ; whose
mouths must be held with bit and bridle, lest they
fall upon thee." This is the very difference, he used to

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


say, between slaves, and friends or children. Friends do
not ask for literal commands ; but, from their knowledge
of the speaker, they understand his half-words, and from
love of him they anticipate his wishes. Hence it is, that
in his Poem for St. Bartholomew's Day, he speaks of the
" Eye of God's word ;" and in the note quotes Mr. MiUer,
of Worcester College, who remarks in his Bampton Lec-
tures, on the special power of Scripture, as having " this
Eye, like that of a portrait, uniformly fixed upon us, turn
where we will." The view thus suggested by Mr. Keble,
is brought forward in one of the earliest of the '* Tracts
for the Times." In No. 8 I say, " The Gospel is a Law of
Liberty. We are treated as sons, not as servants ; not
subjected to a code of formal commandments, but addressed
as those who love (Jod, and wish to please Him."

I did not at all dispute this view of the matter, for I
made use of it myself; but I was dissatisfied, because it did
not go to the root of the difficulty. It was beautiful and
religious, but it did not even profess to be logical ; and
accordingly I tried to complete it by considerations of my
own, which are to be found in my University Sermons,
Essay on Ecclesiastical Miracles, and Essay on Develop-
pment of Doctrine. My argument is in outline as follows :
If that that absolute certitude which we were able to possess,

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 3 of 33)