John Henry Newman.

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

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displays, I dare not trust myself to put on paper my feel-
ings about the principles contained in it ; tending as they
do, in my opinion, altogether to make shipwreck of Chris- 1-
tian faith. I also lament, that, by its appearance, the first
step has been taken towards interrupting that peace and



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68 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOXTS OPINION^

mutual good understanding which has prevailed' so long in
this place, and which, if once serioiisly disturbed, will be
succeeded by dissensions the more intractable, because jus-
tified in the minds of those who resist innovation by a feel-
ing of imperative duty."

Since that time Phaeton has got into the chariot of the
sun ; we, alas ! can only look on, and watch him down the
steep of heaven. Meanwhile, the lands^ which he is passing
over, sufier from his driving.

Such was the commencement of the assault of Liberalism
>^upon the old orthodoxy of Oxford and England ; and it
could not have been broken, as it was, for so long a time,
had not a great change taken place in the circumstances of
that counter-movement which had already started with the
view of resisting it. For myself, I was not the person to
take the lead of a party ; I never was, from first to last,
more than a leading author of a school ; nor did I ever
wish to be anything else. This is my own account of the
matter ; and I say it, neither as intending to disown the
responsibility of what was done, or as if ungrateful to those
who at that 'time made more of me than I deserved, and did
more for my sake and at my bidding than I realized my-
self. I am giving my history from my own point of sight,
and it is as follows :— I had lived for ten years among my
personal friends ; the greater part of the time, I had been
influenced, not influencing ; and at no time have I acted on
others, without their acting upon me. As is. the custom of
a University, I had lived with my private, nay, with some
of my public, pupils, and with the junior feUows of my
College, without form or distance, on a footing of equality.
Thus it was through friends, younger, for the most part,
than myself, that my principles were spreading. They
heard what I said in conversation, and told it to others.
Under-graduates in due time took their degree, and became



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 59

private tutors themselves. In their new status, they in turn
preached the opinions, with which they had already become
acquainted. Others went down to the country, and became
curates of parishes. Then they had down from London
parcels of the Tracts, and other publications. They placed
them in the shops of local booksellers, got them into news-
papers, introduced them to clerical meetings, and converted
more or less their Rectors and their brother curates. Thus
the Movement, viewed with relation to myself, was but a
floating opinion ; it was not a power. It never would have
been a power, if it had remained in my hands. Tears
after, a friend, writing to me in remonstrance at the ex-
cesses, as he thought them, of my disciples, applied to me
my own verse about St. Gregory Nazianzen, " Thou couldst
a people raise, but couldst not rule." At the time that he
wrote to me, I had special impediments in the way of such
an exercise of power ; but at no time could I exercise over
others that authority, which under the circumstances was
imperatively required. My great principle ever was, Live
and let live. I never had the staidness or dignity necessary
for a leader. To the last I never recognized the hold I had
over young men. Of late years I have read and heard that
they even imitated me in various ways.* I was quite un-
conscious of it, and I think my immediate friends knew too
well how disgusted I should be at such proceedings, to
have the heart to tell me. I felt great impatience at our
being called a party, and would not allow that we were
such. I had a lounging, free-and-easy way of carrying
things on. I exercised no suflScient censorship upon the
Tracts. I did not confine them to the writings of such
persons as agreed in all things with myself; and, as to my
own Tracts, I printed on them a notice to the effect, that
any one who pleased, might make what use he would of
them, and reprint them with alterations if he chose, under
the conviction that their main scope could not be damaged



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60. HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

by such a process. It was the same with me afterwards,
as regards other publications. For two years I furnished
a certain number of sheets for the British Critic from my-
self and my friends, while a gentleman was editor, a man
of splendid talent, who, however, was scarcely an acquain-
tance of mine, and had no sympathy with the Tracts.
When I was Editor myself, from 1838 to 1841, in my
very first number I suffered to appear a critique unfavor-
able to my work on Justification, which had been published
a few months before, from a feeling of propriety, because
I had put the book into the hands of the writer who so
handled it. Afterwards I suffered an article against the
Jesuits to appear in it, of which I did not like the tone.
When I had to provide a curate for my new church at
Littlemore, I engaged a friend, by no faidt of his, who, be-
fore he had entered into his charge, preached a sermon,
either in depreciation of baptismal regeneration, or of Dr.
Pusey's view of it. I showed a similar easiness as to the
Editors who helped me in the separate volumes of Fleury's
Church History; they were able, learned, and excellent
men, but their after-history has shown, how little my choice
of them was influenced by any notion I could have had of
any intimate agreement of opinion between them and my-
self. I shall have to make tho same remark in its place
concerning the Lives of the English Saints, which subse-
quently appeared. All this may seem inconsistent with
what I have said of my fierceness. I am not bound to ac-
count for it ; but there have been men before me, fierce in
act, yet tolerant and moderate in their reasonings ; at least,
so I read history. However, such was the case, and such
its effect upon the Tracts. These at first starting were
short, hasty, and some of them ineffective ; and at the end
of the year, when collected into a volume, they had a
slovenly appearance.
7 It was imder these circumstances, that Dr. Pusey joined



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 61

lis. I had known him well since 1827-8, and had felt for
him an enthusiastic admiration. I used to call him 6 fiiyag.
His great learning, his immense diligence, his scholarlike
mind, his simple devotion to the cause of religion, over-
came me ; and great of course was my joy, when in the
last days of 1833 he showed a disposition to make conmion
cause with us. His Tract on Fasting appeared as one of
the series with the date of December 21. He was not,
however, I think, fully associated in the Movement till,
1835 and 1836, when he published his Tract on Baptism, ^
and started the Library of the Fathers. He at once gave
to us a position and a name. Without him we should have
had little chance, especially at the early date of 1834, of
making any serious resistance to the Liberal aggression.
But Dr. Pusey was a Professor and Canon of Christ
Church ; he. had a vast influence in consequence of his
deep religious seriousness, the munificence of his chari-
ties, his Professorship, his family connexions, and his
easy relations with University authorities. He was to
the Movement all that Mr. Rose might have been, with
that indispensable addition, which was wanting to Mr,
Eose, the intimate friendship and the familiar daily
society of the persons who had commenced it. And he
had that special claim on their attachment, which lies
in the living presence of a faithful and loyal affectionate-
ness. There was henceforth a man who . could be the
head and centre of the zealous people in every part of
the country, who were adopting the new opinions; and
not only so, but there was one who furnished the
Movement with a front to the world, and gained for it
a recognition from other parties in the University. In
1829, Mr. Froude, or Mr. Eobert "Wilberforce, or Mr.
Newman were but individuals ; and, when they ranged
themselves in the contest of that year on the side of
Sir Robert Inglis, men on either side only asked with



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62 HISTORY OF MY BELTGIOUS OPINIONS

surprise how they got there, and attached no significancy
to the fact ; hut Dr. Pusey was, to use the common ex-
pression, a host in himself; he was able to give a name,
a form, and a personality, to what was without him a sort
of mob ; and when various parties had to meet together in
order to resist the liberal acts of the Government, we of
the Movement took our place by right among them.

Such was the benefit which he conferred on the Move-
ment externally ; nor were the internal advantages at all
inferior to it. He was a man of large designs ; he had a
hopeful, sanguine mind ; he had no fear of others ; he was
haunted by no intellectual perplexities. People are apt to
say that he was once nearer to the Catholic Church than
he is now ; I pray God that he may be one day far nearer
to the Catholic Church than he was then ; for I believe that,
in his reason and judgment, all the time that I knew him,
he never was near to it at all. When I became a Catholic,
I w£is often asked, "What of Dr. Pusey?" when I said
that I did not see symptoms of his doing as I had done, I
was sometimes thought uncharitable. K confidence in his
position is, (as it is,) a first essential in the leader of a party,
this Dr. Pusey possessed pre-eminently. The most re-
markable instance of this, was his statement, in one of his
subsequent defences of the Movement, when moreover it had
advanced a considerable way in the direction of Bome, that
among its more hopeful peculiarities was its "station-
ariness." He made it in good faith ; it was his subjective
view of it.

Dr. Pusey's influence was felt at once. He saw that there
ought to be more sobriety, more gravity, more careful pains,
more sense of responsibUity in the Tracts and in the whole
• Movement. It was through him that the character of the
Tracts was changed. When he gave to us his Tract on
. / . Fasting, he put his initials to it. In 1835 he published
his elaborate Treatise on Baptism, which was followed by



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 63

* ^'

other Tracts from different authors, if not of equal learning,
yet of equal power and appositeness. The Catenas of An-
glican divines, projected by me, which occur in the Series,
were executed with a like aim at greater accuracy and
method. In 1836 he advertised his great project for a
Translation of the Fathers : — but I must return to myself.
I am not writing the history either of Dr. Pusey or of
the Movement ; but it is a pleasure to me to have been
able to introduce here reminiscences of the place which
he held in it, which have so direct a bearing on myself,
that they are no digression from my narrative.

I suspect it was Dr. Pusey's influence and example
which set me, and made me set others, on the larger and
more careful works in defence of the principles of the
Movement which followed in a course of years, — some of
them demanding and receiving from their authors, such
elaborate treatment that they did not make their appear-
ance till both its temper and its fortunes had changed. I
set about a work at once ; one in which was brought out
with precision the relation in which we stood to the
Church of Rome. We could not move a step in comfort,
till this was done. It was of absolute necessity and a plain
duty from the first, to prqvide as soon as possible a large
statement, which would encourage and reassure our friends,
and repel the attacks of our opponents. A cry was heard
on all sides of us, that the Trapts and the writings of the
Fathers would lead us to become Catholics, before we were
aware of it. This was loudly expressed by members of
the Evangelical party, who in 1836 had joined us in
making a protest in Convocation against a memorable
appointment of the Prime Minister. These clergymen
even then avowed their desire, that the next time they
were brought up to Oxford to give a vote, it might be in
order to put down the Popery of the Movement. There



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64 HISTORY OP MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

was another reason still, and quite as important. Mon-
7 signore Wiseman, with the acuteness and zeal which
might be expected from that great Prelate, had antici-
pated what was coming, had returned to England by

1836, had delivered Lectures in London on the doctrines
of Catholicism, and created an impression through the
coimtry, shared in by ourselves, that we had for oiir
opponents in controversy, not only our brethren, but our
hereditary foes. These were the circumstances, which led
to my publication of "The Prophetical office of the

^ Church viewed relatively to Bomanism and Popular Pro*
testantism."

This work employed me for three years, from the begin-
ning of 1834 to the end of 1836, and was published in

1837. It was composed, after a careful consideration and
comparison of the principal Anglican divines of the 17th
century. It was first written in the shape of controversial
correspondence with a learned French Priei^t ; then it was
re-cast, and delivered in Lectures at St. Mary's ; lastly,
with considerable retrenchments and additions, it was re-
written for publication.

It attempts to trace out the rudimental lines on which
Christian faith and teaching proceed, and to use them as
means of determining the relation of the Roman and
Anglican systems to each other. In this way it shows
that to confuse the two together is impossible, and that
the Anglican can be as little said to tend to the Eoman, as
the Boman to the Anglican. The spirit of the Volume is
not so gentle to the Church of Home, as Tract 71 published
the year before; on the contrary, it is very fierce; and
this I attribute to the circumstance that the Volume is
theological and didactic, whereas the Tract, being con-
troversial, assumes as little and grants as much as possi-
ble on the points in dispute, and insists on points of
agreement as well as of difference. A furtiier and



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 65

more direct reason is, that in my Volume I deal with
"Eromanism" (as I call it), not so much in its formal
decrees and in the substance of its creed, as in its tradi-
tional action and its authorized teaching as represented
by its prominent writers ; — whereas the Tract is writteA
as if discussing the differences of the Churches with a
view to a reconciliation between them. There is a further
reason too, which I will state presently.

But this Volume had a larger scope than that of
opposing the Roman system. It was an attempt at com-
mencing a system of theology on the Anglican idea, and
based upon Anglican authorities. Mr. Palmer, about the
same time, was projecting a work of a similar nature in
his own way. It was published, I think, imder the title,
" A Treatise on the Christian Church." As was to be
expected from the author, it was a most learned, most
careful composition ; and in its form, I should say, pole-
mical. So happily at least did he follow the logical
method of the Roman Schools, that Father Perrone in his
Treatise on dogmatic theology, recognized in him a com-
batant of the true cast, and saluted him as a foe worthy
of being vanquished. Other soldiers in that field he seems
to have thought little better than the Lanzknechts of the
middle ages, and, I dare say, with very good reason.
When I knew that excellent and kind-hearted man at
Rome at a later time, he allowed me to put him to ample
penance for those light thoughts of me, which he had once
had, by encroaching on his valuable time with my theo-
logical questions. As to Mr. Palmer's book, it was one
which no Anglican could write but himself, — in no sense,
if I recollect aright, a tentative work. The ground of
controversy was cut into squares, and then every objection
had its answer. This is the proper method to adopt in
teaching authoritatively young men ; and the work in fact
was intended for students in theology. My own book, on



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66 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

the other hand, was of a directly tentative and empirical
character. I wished to build up an Anglican theology
out of the stores which already lay cut and hewn upon
the ground, the past toil of great divines. To do this
could not be the work of one man ; much less, could it be
at once received into Anglican theology, however well it
was done. This I fully recognized ; and, while I trusted
that my statements of doctrine would turn out to be true
and important, still I wrote, to use the common phrase,
" under correction."

There was another motive for my publishing, of a per-
sonal nature, which I think I should mention. I felt
then, and all along felt, that there was an intellectual
^ cowardice in not finding a basis in reason for my belief,
and a moral cowardice in not avowing that basis. I
should have felt myself less than a man, if I did not bring
it out, whatever it was. This is one principal reason why
I wrote and published the " Prophetical OflSce.'' It was
from the same feeling, that in the spring of 1836, at a meet-
ing of residents on the subject of the struggle then pro-
ceeding against a Whig appointment, when some one wanted
us all merely to act on college and conservative groimds (as
I understood him), with as few published statements as
possible, I answered, that the person whom we were
resisting had committed himself in writing, and that we
ought to commit ourselves too. This again was a main
reason for the publication of Tract 90. Alas ! it was my
portion for whole years to remain without any satisfactory
i basis for my religious profession, in a state of moral sick-
I ness, neither able to acquiesce in Anglicanism, nor able to
; go to Rome. But I bore it, till in course of time my way
I was made clear to me. If here it be objected to me, that
as time went on, I often in my writings hinted at things
which I did not fully bring out, I submit for consideration
whether this occurred except when I was in great difficul-



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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 67

ties, how to speak, or how to be silent, with due regard
for the position of nAad or the feelings of others. How-
ever, I may have an opportunity to say more on this sub-
ject. But to return to the " Prophetical OflSce."
I thus speak in the Introduction to my Volume : —
"It is proposed," I say, "to offer helps towards the
formation of a recognized Anglican theology in one of its
departments. The present state of our divinity is as
follows: the most vigorous, the clearest, the most fertile
minds, have through God's mercy been employed in the
service of our Church : minds too as reverential and holy,
and as fully imbued with Ancient Truth, and as well
versed in the writings of the Fathers, as they were in-
tellectually gifted. This is God's great mercy indeed, for
which we must ever be thankful. Primitive doctrine has
been explored for us in every direction, and the original
principles of the Gospel and the Church patiently brought
to light. But one thing is still wanting : our champions
and teachers have lived in stormy times: political and
other influences have acted upon them variously in their
day, and have since obstructed a careful consolidation of
their judgments. We have a vast inheritance, but no
inventory of our treasures. All is given us in profusion ;
it remains for us to catalogue, sort, distribute, select, har-
monize, and complete. We have more than we know how
to use ; stores of learning, but little that is precise and
serviceable; Catholic truth and individual opinion, first
principles and the guesses of genius, all mingled in the
same works, and requiring to be discriminated. We meet
with truths overstated or misdirected, matters of detail
variously taken, facts incompletely proved or applied, and
rules inconsistently urged or discordantly interpreted.
Such indeed is the state of every deep philosophy in its
first stages, and therefore of theological knowledge. What
we need at present for our Church's well-being, is not



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68 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

invention, nor originality, nor sagacity, nor even learning
in our divines, at least in the first place, though all gifts
of God are in a measure needed, and never can be unsea-
sonable when used religiously, but we need peculiarly a
sound judgment, patient thought, discrimination, a com-
prehensive mind, an abstinence from all private fancies
and caprices and personal tastes,— in a word, Divine
Wisdom."

The subject of the Volume is the doctrine of the Via
MediO y a name which had already been applied to the
Anglican system by writers of name. It is an expressive
title, but not altogether satisfactory, because it is at first
sight negative. This had been the reason of my dislike to
the word " Protestant ;" viz. it did not denote the profession
of any particular religion at all, and was compatible with
infidelity. A Via Media was but a receding from ex-
tremes, —therefore it needed to be drawn out into a definite
shape and character : before it could have claims on our
respect, it must first be shown to be one, intelligible, and
consistent. This was the first condition of any reasonable
treatise on the Via Media. The second condition, and
necessary too, was not in my power. I could only hope
that it would one day be fulfilled. Even if the Via Media
were ever so positive a religious system, it was not as yet
objective and real ; it had no original any where of which
it was the representative. It was at present a paper
religion. This I confess in my Introduction; I say,
"Protestantism and Popery are real religions . . . but
the Via Media, viewed as an integral system, has scarcely
had existence except on paper.*' I grant the objection,
though I endeavour to lessen it : — " It still remains to be
.tried, whether what is called Anglo-Catholicism, the
religion of Andrewes, Laud, Hammond, Butler, and Wil-
son, is capable of being professed, acted on, and main-
tained on a large sphere of action, or whether it be a mere



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FEOM 1833 TO 1839. 69

modification or transition-state of either Bomanism or
popular Protestantism." I trusted that some day it would
prove to be a substantive religion.

Lest I should be misunderstood, let me observe that
this hesitation about the validity of the theory of the Via
Me^ia implied no doubt of the three fundamental points
on which it was based, as I have described them above,
dogma, the sacramental system, and anti-Komanism.

Other investigations which had to be followed up were
of a still more tentative character. The basis of the Via
Media, consisting of the three elementary points, which I
have just mentioned, was clear enough ; but, not only had
the house itself to be built upon them, but it had also to
be furnished, and it is not wonderful if, after building it,
both I and others erred in detail in determining what its
furniture should be, what was consistent with the style of
building, and what was in itself desirable. I will explain
what I mean.

I had brought out in the " Prophetical Office " in what
the Roman and the Anglican systentis diflfered from each
other, but less distinctly in what they agreed. I had
indeed enumerated the Fundamentals, common to both, in
the following passage: — "In both systems the same
Creeds are acknowledged. Besides other points in common,
we both hold, that certain doctrines are necessary to be
believed for salvation ; we both believe in the doctrines of
the Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement ; in original sin ;
in the necessity of regeneration ; in the supernatural grace
of the Sacraments ; in the Apostolical succession ; in the
obligation of faith and obedience, and in the eternity of
future punishment,"— pp. 55, 56. So much I had said,
but I had not said enough. This enumeration implied a
great many more points of agreement than were found in
those very Articles which were fundamental. If the two
Churches were thus the same in fundamentals, they were



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70 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

also one and the same in such plain consequences as were
contained in those fundamentals and in such natural obser-
vances as outwardly represented them. It was an Anglican



Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 7 of 33)