John Henry Newman.

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

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furnished to me by a Mend, to whom I had applied for
assistance, but who did not wish to be mixed up with the
publication. He gave it me, that I might throw it
into shape, and I took his arguments as they stood. In
the chief portion of the Tract I fully agreed ; for in-
stance, as to what it says about the Council of Trent;
but there were arguments, or some argument, in it which
I did not follow ; I do not recollect what it was. Froude,
I think, was disgusted with the whole Tract, and accused
me of economy in publishing it. It is principally through



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46 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

Mr. Froude's Eemains that this word has got into our lan-
guage. I think, I defended myself with arguments such
as these : — that, as every one knew, the Tracts were written
by various persons who agreed together in their doctrine,
but not always in the arguments by which it was to be
proved ; that we must be tolerant of diflference of opinion
among ourselves ; that the author of the Tract had a right
to his own opinion, and that the argument in question was
ordinarily received ; that I did not give my own name or
authority, nor was asked for my personal belief, but only
acted instrumentally, as one might translate a friend's book
into a foreign language. I accoimt these to be good argu-
ments ; nevertheless I feel also that such practices admit
of easy abuse and are consequently dangerous ; but then,
again, I feel also this, — that if all such mistakes were to be
severely visited, not many men in public life would be left
with a character for honour and honesty.

This absolute confidence in my cause, which led me to
the. negligence or wantonness which I have been instan-
cing, also laid me open, not unfairly, to the opposite charge
of fierceness in certain steps which I took, or words which
I published. In the Lyra Apostolica, I have said that be-
fore learning to love, we must " learn to hate ;" though I
had explained my words by adding " hatred of sin.*' In
one of my first Sermons I said, " I do not shrink from
uttering my firm conviction that it would be a gain to the
country were it vastly more superstitious, more bigoted,
more gloomy, more fierce in its religion than at present
it shows itself to be." I added, of course, that it would be
an absurdity to suppose such tempers of mind desirable in
themselves. The corrector of the press bore these strong
epithets till he got to "more fierce," and then he put
in Ihe margin a query. In the very first page of the
first Tract, I said of the Bishops, that, " black event though
it would be for the country, yet we could not wish them a



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 47

more' blessed termination of their course, than the spoiling
of their goods and martyrdom." In consequence of a pas-
sage in my work upon the Arian History, a Northern dig-
nitary wrote to accuse me of wishing to re-establish the
blood and torture of the Inquisition. Contrasting heretics
and heresiarchs, I had said, " The latter should meet with
no mercy : he assumes the office of the Tempter ; and, so
far forth as his error goes, must be dealt with by the com-
petent authority, as if he were embodied evil. To spare
him is a false and dangerous pity. It is to endanger the
souls of thousands, and it is uncharitable towards himself.*'
I cannot deny that this is a very fierce passage ; but Arius
was banished, not burned ; and it is only fair to myself
to say that neither at this, nor any other time of my life,
not even when I was fiercest, could I have even cut off a
Puritan's ears, and I think the sight of a Spanish auto-da-f^
would have been the* death of me. Again, when one of my
friends, of liberal and evangelical opinions, wrote to expos-
tulate with me on the course I was taking, I said that we
would ride over him and his, as Othniel prevailed over
Chushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia. Again, I
would have no dealings with my brother, and I put my
conduct upon a syllogism. I said, "St. Paul bids us
avoid those who cause divisions ; you cause divisions :
therefore I must avoid you." I dissuaded a lady from at-
tending the marriage of a sister who had seceded from the
Anglican Church. No wonder that Blanco "White, who
had known me under such different circumstances, now
hearing the general course that I was taking, was amazed
at the change which he recognized in me. He speaks bit-
terly and unfairly of me in his letters contemporaneously
with the first years of the Movement ; but in 1839, on
looking back, he uses terms of me, which it would be hardly
modest in me to quote, were it not that what he says of me
in praise occurs in the midst of blame. He says : " In this



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48 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

party [the anti-Peel, in 1829] I found, to my great sur-
prise, my dear friend, Mr. Newman of Oriel. As he had
been one of the annual Petitioners to Parliament for Catholic
Emancipation, his sudden union with the most violent bigots
was inexplicable to me. That change was the first mani-
festation of the mental revolution, which has suddenly

* made him one of the leading persecutors' of Dr. Hampden,
and the most active and influential member of that associa-

* tion called the Puseyite party, from which we have those
very strange productions, entitled, Tracts for the Times.
While stating these public facts, my heart feels a pang at
the recollection of the affectionate and mutual friendship
between that excellent man and myself; a friendship,
which his principles of orthodoxy could not allow him to
continue in regard to one, whom he now regards as inevit-
ably doomed to eternal perdition. Such is the venomous
character of orthodoxy. What mischief must it create in
a bad heart and narrow mind, when it can work' so effectually
for evil, in one of the most benevolent of bosoms, and one
of the ablest of minds, in the amiable, the intellectual, the
refined John Henry Newman !" (Vol. iii. p. 131.) He
adds that I would have nothing to do with him, a circum-
stance which I do not recollect, and very much doubt.

I have spoken of my firm confidence in my position ;
and now let me state more definitely what the position was
which I took up, and the propositions about which I was
so confident. These were three : —
y 1. First was the principle of dogma : my battle was with
liberalism; by liberalism I mean the anti-dogmatic principle
and its developments. This was the first point on which
I was certain. Here I make a remark : persistisnce in a
given belief is no sufficient test of its truth : but departure
from it is at least a slur upon the man who has felt so
certain about it. In proportion, then, as I had in 1832 a



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FBOM 1833 TO 1839. 49

strong persuasion of the truth of opinions which I have
since given up, so far a sort df guilt attaches to me, not
only for that vain confidence, bjit for all the various pro-
ceedings which were the consequence of it. But under
this first head I have the satisfaction of feeling that I have
nothing to retract, and nothing to repent of. The main
principle of the movement is as dear to me now, as it ever
was. I have changed in many things : in this I have not.
From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the fundamental ^
principle of my religion : I know no other religion ;' I
cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion ;
religion, as a mere sentiment, is to me a dream and a
mockery. As well can there be filial love without the fact
of a father, as devotion without the fact of a Supreme
Being. What I held in 1816, I held in 1833, and I hold
in 1864. Please God, I shall hold it to the end. Even
when I was imder Dr. Whately's influence, I had no
temptation to be less zealous for the great dogmas of the
faith, and at various times I used to resist such trains of
thought on his part as seemed to me (rightly or wrongly)
to obscure them. Such was the fundamental principle of
the Movement of 1833.

2. Secondly, I was confident in the truth of a certain
definite religious teaching, based upon this foundation of
dogma ; viz. that there was a visible Church, with sacra-
ments and rites which are the channels of invisible grace.
I thought that this was the doctrine of Scripture, of the
early Church, and of the Anglican Church. Here again,
I have not changed in opinion ; I am as certain now on
this point as I was in 1833, and have never ceased to be
certain. In 1834 and the following years I put this eccle-
siastical doctrine on a broader basis, after reading Laud,
BramhaU, and Stillingfleet and other Anglican divines on
the one hand, and after prosecuting the study of the
Fathers on the other; but the doctrine of 1833- was

E



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50 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOXTS OPINIONS

Btrengthened in me, not changed. When I began the
Tracts for the Times I rested the main doctrine, of which
I am speaking, upon Scripture, on the Anglican Prayer
Book, and on St. Ignatius's Epistles. (1) As to the
existence of a visible Church, I especially argued out the
point fropi Scripture, in Tract 11, viz. from the Acts of
the Apostles and the Epistles. (2) As to the Sacraments
and Sacramental rites, I stood on the Prayer Book. I
appealed to the Ordination Service, in which the Bishop
says, "Receive the Holy Ghost;'' to the Visitation Ser-
vice, which teaches confession and absolution ; to the Bap-
tismal Service, in which the Priest speaks of the child
after baptism as regenerate ; to the Catechism, in which
Sacramental Commimion is receiving " verily and indeed
the Body and Blood of Christ ;" to the Commination Ser-
vice, in which we are told to do "works of penance ;" to
the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, to the calendar and
rubricks, portions of the Prayer Book, wherein we find
the festivals of the Apostles, notice of certain other Saints,
and days of fasting and abstinence.

(3.) And further, as to the Episcopal system, I founded
it upon the Epistles of St. Ignatius, which inculcated it
in various ways. One passage especially impressed itsdf
upon me: speaking of cases of disobedience to ecclesiastical
authority, he says, " A man does not deceive that Bishop
whom he sees, but he practises rather with the Bishop
Invisible, and so the question is not with flesh, but with
God, who knows the secret heart." I wished to act on
this principle to the letter, and I may say with confidence
that I never consciously transgressed it. I loved to act as
y feeling myself in my Bishop's sight, as if it were the sight
of God. It was one of my special supports and safeguards
against myself; I could not go very wrong while I had
reason to believe that I was in no respect displeasing him.
It was not a mere formal obedience to rule that I put



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 61

before me, but I desired to please him personally, as I
considered him set over me by the Divine Hand. I was
strict in observing my clerical engagements, not only
because they were engagements, but because I considered
myself simply as the servant and instrument of my Bishop.
1 did not care much for the Bench of Bishops, except as
they might be the voice of my Church : nor should I have
cared much for a Provincial Council ; nor for a Diocesan
Synod presided over by my Bishop ; all these matters seemed
to me to be jure ecclesiasiico, but what to me was Jure
divino was the voice of my Bishop in his own person. My
own Bishop was my Pope ; I knew no other ; the successor
of the Apostles, the Vicar of Christ. This was but a prac-
tical exhibition of the Anglican theory of Church Govern-
ment, as I had already drawn it out myself, after various
Anglican Divines. This continued all through my course;
when at length, in 1845, I wrote to Bishop "Wiseman, in <
whose Vicariate I found myself, to announce my conver-
sion, I could find nothing better to say to him than that I
would obey the Pope as I had obeyed my own Bishop in
the Anglican Church. My duty to him was my point of
honour; his disapprobation was the one thing which I
could not bear. I believe it to have been a generous and
honest feeling; and in consequence I was rewarded by
having all my time for ecclesiastical superior a man, whom,
had I had a choice, I should have preferred, out and out,
to any other Bishop on the Bench, and for whose memory
I have a 'special affection. Dr. Bagot — a man of noble
mind, and as kind-hearted and as considerate as he was
noble. He ever sympathized with me in my trials which
followed ; it was my own fault, that I was not brought
into more familiar personal relations with him, than it was
my happiness to be. May his name be ever blessed !

And now in concluding my remarks on the second point
on which my confidence rested, I repeat that here again



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52 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

I have no retractation to announce as to its main outline.
While I am now as clear in my acceptance of the principle
of dogma, as I was in 1833 and 1816, so again I am now
as firm in my belief of a visible Church, of the authority
of Bishops, of the grace of the sacraments, of the religious
worth of works of penance, as I was in 1833. I have added
Articles to my Creed ; but the old ones, which I then held
with a divine faith, remain.

3. But now, as to the third point on which I stood in
1833, and which I have utterly renounced and trampled
upon since,— my then view of the Church of Rome; — I
will speak about it as exactly as I can. "When I was
young, as I have said already, and after I was grown up, I
thought the Pope to be Antichrist. At Christmas 1824-5
I preached a sermon to that effect. But in 1827 I
accepted eagerly the stanza in the Christian Year, which
many people thought too charitable, " Speak gently of thy
sister's fall." From the time that I knew Froude I got
less and less bitter on the subject. I spoke (successively,
but I cannot tell in what order or at what dates) of the
Roman Church as being bound up with "the cause of
Antichrist," as being one of the " many antichrists " fore-
told by St. John, as being influenced by "the spirit of
Antichrist," and as having something "very Antichristian"
or " unchristian " about her. From my boyhood and in
1824 I considered, after Protestant authorities, that St.
Gregory I. about a.d. 600 was the first Pope that was
Antichrist, though, in spite of this, he was also a great and

Iholy man ; but in 1832-3 I thought the Church of Rome
was bound up with the cause of Antichrist by the Coimcil
of Trent. "When it was that in my deliberate judgment
I gave up the notion altogether in any shape, that some
special reproach was attached to her name, I cannot tell ;
but I had a shrinking from renouncing it, even when my
reason so ordered me, from a sort of conscience or preju-



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 63

dice, I think up to 1843. Moreover, at least during the
Tract Movement, I thought the essence of her offence tol
consist in the honours which she paid to the Blessedfj
Virgin and the Saints ; and the more I grew in devotion,
both to the Saints and to our Lady, the more impatient
was I at the Roman practices, as if those glorified creations
of God must be gravely shocked, if pain could be theirs, at
the undue veneration of which they were the objects.

On the other hand, Hurrell Froude in his familiar con-
versations was always tending to rub the idea out of my
mind. In a passage of one of his letters from abroad,
alluding, I suppose, to what I used to say in opposition to
him, he observes: "I think people are injudicious who
talk against the Roman Catholics for worshipping Saints,
and honouring the Virgin and images, &c. These things
may perhaps be idolatrous ; I cannot make up my mind
about it ; but to my mind it is the Carnival that is real
practical idolatry, as it is written, ' the people sat down to
eat and drink, and rose up to play.'" The Carnival, I
observe in passing, is, in fact, one of those very excesses,
to which, for at least three centuries, religious Catholics
have ever opposed themselves, as we see in the life of St.
Philip, to say nothing of the present day ; but this we did
not then know. Moreover, from Froude I learned to admire
the great medieval Pontiffs ; and, of course, when I had
come to consider the Council of Trent to be the turning-
point of the history of Christian Rome, I found myself as
free, as I was rejoiced, to speak in their praise. Then,
when I was abroad, the sight of so many great places,
venerable shrines, and noble churches, much impressed
my imagination. And my heart was touched also.
Making an expedition on foot across some wild country in
Sicily, at six in the morning, I came upon a small church ;
I heard voices, and I looked in. It was crowded, and the
congregation was singing. Of course it was the mass,



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54 niSTOEY OP MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

thougli I did not know it at the time. And, in my weary
days at Palermo, I was not ungrateful for tte comfort
which I had received in frequenting the churches; nor
did I ever forget it. Then, again, her zealous mainte-
;;^ nance of the doctrine and the rule of celibacy, which I
recognized as Apostolic, and her faithful agreement with
Antiquity in so many other points which were dear to
me, was an argument as well as a plea in favour of the
great Church of Rome. Thus I learned to have tender
feelings towards her ; but still my reason was not affected
at alL My judgment was against her, when viewed as an
institution, as truly as it ever had been.

This conflict between reason and affection I expressed in
one of the early Tracts, published July, 1834. " Consider-
ing the high gifts and the strong claims of the Church of
Home and its dependencies on our admiration, reverence,
love, and gratitude ; how could we withstand it, as we do,
how could we refrain from being melted into tenderness,
and rushing into communion with it, but for the words of
Truth itself, which bid us prefer It to the whole world ?
*He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not
worthy of me.' How could 'we learn to be severe, and exe-
cute judgment,' but for the warning of Moses against even
a divinely-gifted teacher, who should preach new gods;
and the anathema of St. Paul even against Angels and
Apostles, who should bring in a new doctrine ?" — Records,
No. 24. My feeling was something like that of a man, who
is obliged in a court of justice to bear witness against a
friend ; or like my own now, when I have said, and shall
say, so many things on which I had rather be silent.

*As a matter, then, of simple conscience, though it went
against my feelings, I felt it to be a duty to protest against
the Church of Eome. But besides this, it was a duty, be-
cause the prescription of such a protest was a living prin-
ciple of my own Church, as expressed not simply in a



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 65

catena^ but by a consensus of her divines, and ,by the voice
of her people. Moreover, such a protest was necessary as
an integral portion of her controversial basis ; for I adopted
the argument of Bernard GKlpin, that Protestants " were
not able to give any Jirm and solid reason of the separation
besides this, to wit, that the Pope is Antichrist." But
while I thus thought such a protest to be based upon truth,
and to be a religious duty, and a rule of Anglicanism, and
a necessity of the case, I did not at all like the work.
Hurrell Froude attacked me for doing it ; and, besides, I
felt that my language had a vulgar and rhetorical look
about it. I believed, and really measured, my words, when
I used them ; but I knew that I had a temptation, on the j
other hand, to say against Eome as much as ever I could, \
in order to protect myself against the charge of Popery. \
And now I come to the very point, for which I have in-
troduced the subject of my feelings about Kome. I felt
such confidence in the substantial justice of the charges
which I' advanced against her, that I considered them to
be a safeguard and an assurance that no harm could ever
arise from the freest exposition of what I used to call
Anglican principles. All the world was astounded at what
Froude and I were saying: men said that it was sheer
Popery. I answered, " True, we seem to be making straight
for it ; but go on awhile, and you will come to a deep chasm
across the path, which makes real approximation impos-
sible." And I urged in addition, that many Anglican
divines had been accused of Popery, yet had died in their
Anglicanism ; — now, the ecclesiastical principles which I
professed, they had professed also; and the judgment
against Eome which they had formed, I had formed also.
Whatever deficiencies then had to be supplied in the ex-
isting Anglican system, and however boldly I might point
them out, any how that system would not in the process be
brought nearer to the special creed of Eome, and might be



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56 HISTORY OF MY EELIGIOUS OPINIONS

mended in spite of her. In that very agreement of the
two forms of faith, close as it might seem, would really be
foimd, on examination, the elements and principles of an
essential discordance.

It was with this absolute persuasion on my mind that
I fancied that there could be no rashness in giving to the
world in fullest measure the teaching and the writings of the
Fathers. I thought that the Church of England was
substantially founded upon them. I did not know all
that the Fathers had said, but I felt that, even when
their tenets happened to differ from the Anglican, no
harm could come of reporting them. I said out what I
was clear they had said ; I spoke vaguely and imperfectly,
of what I thought they said, or what some of them had
said. Any how, no harm could come of bending the
crooked stick the other way, in the process of straightening
it ; it was impossible to break it. If there was any thing
in the Fathers of a startling character, this would be only
for a time ; it would admit of explanation, or it might
suggest something profitable to Anglicans ; it could not
lead to Home. I express this view of the matter in a
passage of the Preface to the first volume, which I edited,
of the Library of the Fathers. Speaking of the strange-
ness at first sight, in the judgment of the present day, of
some of their principles and opinions, I bid the reader
go forward hopefully, and not indulge his criticism tiU he
knows more about them, than he will learn at the outset.
"Since the evil," I say, "is in the nature of the case
itself, we can do no more than have patience, and recom-
mend patience to others, and with the racer in the Tragedy,
look forward steadily and hopefully to the eventy t^ HXu
irtoTiv (l>ipwvy when, as we trust, aU that is inharmonious
and anomalous in the details, will at length be practically
smoothed."

Such was the position, such the defences, such the tactics,



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 57

by wUcli I thought that it was both incumbent on us, and pos-
sible for us, to ineet that onset of Liberal principles, of which
we were all in immediate anticipation, whether in the
Church or in the University. And during the first year of
the Tracts, the attack upon the University began. In No- ^
vember, 1834, was sent to me by Dr. Hampden the second
edition of hisPamphlet, entitled, "Observations on Religious
Dissent, with particular reference to the use of religious
tests in the University." In this Pamphlet it was main-
tained, that "Religion is distinct from Theological
Opinion," pp. 1. 28. 30, &c. ; that it is but a common
prejudice to identify theological propositions methodically
deduced and stated, with the simple religion of Christ,
p. 1 ; that under Theological Opinion were to be placed
the Trinitarian doctrine, p. 27, and the Unitarian, p. 19 ;
that a dogma was a theological opinion formally insisted
on, pp. 20, 21 ; that speculation always left an opening for
improvement, p. 22; that the Church of England was not
dogmatic in its spirit, though the wording of its formu-
laries might often carry the sound of dogmatism, p. 23.

I acknowledged the receipt of this work in the following
letter : —

"The kindness which has led to your presenting me
with your late Pamphlet, encourages me to hope that you
will forgive me, if I take the opportunity it affords of
expressing to you my very sincere and deep regret that it
has been published. Such aii opportunity I could not let
slip without being unfaithful to my own serious thoughts
on the subject.

" While I respect the tone of piety which the Pamphlet



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