John Henry Newman.

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

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effect :

1. They declare that the so-called "apocryphal" book
of Tobit is the teaching of the Holy Ghost, and is Scrip-

2. That the so-called " apocryphal *' book of Wisdom is
Scripture, and the infallible and undeceivable word of God.

3. That the Primitive Church, next to the Apostles'
time, and, as they imply, for almost 700 year3, is no doubt
most pure.

4. That the Primitive Church is specially to be fol-

5. That the Four first General Councils belong to the
Primitive Church.

6. That there are Six Councils which are allowed and
received by all men


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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 83

7. Again, they speak of a certain truth, and say that it
is declared by God's word, the sentences of the ancient
doctors, and judgment of the Primitive Church.

8. Of the learned and holy Bishops and doctors of the
Church of the first eight centuries being of great autho-
rity and credit with the people.

9. Of the declaration of Christ and His Apostles and all
the rest of the Holy Fathers.

10. Of the authority both of Scripture and also of

11. Of Augustine, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, and
about thirty other Fathers, to some of whom they give the
title of " Saint," to others of " ancient CathoKc Fathers
and doctors, &c."

12. They declare that, not only the holy Apostles and
disciples of Christ, but the godly Fathers also, before and
since Christ, were endued without doubt with the Holy

13. That the ancient Catholic Fathers say that the
. ** Lord's Supper" is the salve of immortality, the sovereign

preservative against death, the food of immortaKty, the j
healthful grace.

14. That the Lord's Blessed Body and Blood are re-
ceived under the form of bread and wine.

15. That the meat in the Sacrament is an invisible meat
and a ghostly substance.

16. That the holy Body and Blood of thy God ought to
be touched with the mind.

17. That Ordination is a Sacrament.

18. That Matrimony is a Sacrament.

19. That there are other Sacraments besides " Baptism
and the Lord's Supper," though not " such as " they.

20. That the souls of the Saints are reigning in joy and
in heaven with God.

21. That alms-deeds purge the soul from the infection

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and filthy spots of sin, and are a precious medicine, an
inestimable jewel.

22. That mercifulness wipes out and washes away sins,
as salves and remedies to heal sores and grievous diseases.

23. That the duty of fasting is a truth more manifest
than it should need to be proved.

24. That fasting, used with prayer, is of great efficacy
and weigheth much with God ; so the Angel Eaphael told

25. That the puissant and mighty Emperor Theodosius
was, in the Primitive Church which was most holy and
godly, excommunicated by St. Ambrose.

26. That Constantine, Bishop of Rome, did condemn
Philippicus, then Emperor, not without a cause indeed,
but very justly.

Putting altogether aside the question how far these
separate theses came under the matter to which subscrip-
tion was to be made, it was quite plain, that in the minds
of the men who wrote the Homilies, and who thus incor-
porated them into the Anglican system of doctrine, there
was no such nice discrimination between the Catholic
and the Protestant faith, no such clear recognition of
formal Protestant principles and tenets, no such accurate
definition of "Roman doctrine, ''as is received at the present
day :— hence great probability accrued to my presentiment,
that the Articles were tolerant, not only of what I called
"Catholic teaching,'' but of much that was " Roman."

4. And here was another reason against the notion that
the Articles directly attacked the Roman dogmas as de-
clared at Trent and as promulgated by Pius the Fourth: —
the Council of Trent was not over, nor its Canons promul-
gated at the date when the Articles were drawn up ', so

' The Pope's Confirmation of the Council, by which its Canons became de
Jlde, and his Bull super confirmatione by which they were promulgated to the
world, are dated January 26, 1564. The Articles are dated ]662.

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PBOM 1833 TO 1839. 85

that those Articles most be aiming at sometliing else?
What was that something else ? The Homilies tell ns : the ^^\
Homilies are the best comment upon the Articles. Let us '
turn to the Homilies, and we shall find from first to last
that, not only is not the CathoKc teaching of the first
centuries, but neither again are the dogmas of Some, the
objects of the protest of the compilers of the Articles, but
the dominant errors, the popular corruptions, authorized ^
or suffered by the high name of Rome. The eloquent de-
clamation of the Homilies finds its matter almost exclu-
sively in the dominant errors. As to CathoKc teaching,
nay as to Roman dogma, of such theology those Homilies,
as I have shown, contained no small portion themselves.

6. So much for the writers of the Articles and Homi-
lies ; — they were witnesses, not authorities, and I used them
as such ; but in the next place, who were the actual autho-
rities imposing them ? I reasonably considered the autho-
rity imponens to be the Convocation of 1571 ; but here
again, it would be found that the very Convocation, which
received and confirmed the 39 Articles, also enjoined by
Canon that " preachers should be careful, that they should
never teach aught in a sermon, to be religiously held and
believed by the people, except that which is agreeable to
the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and which the
Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops have collected from that
very doctrine.'* Here, let it be observed, an appeal is
made by the Convocation imponens to the very same an- *
cient authorities, as had been mentioned with such pro-
found veneration by the writers of the Homilies and
the Articles, and thus, if the Homilies contained views of
doctrine which now would be called Roman, there seemed
to me .to be an extreme probability that the Convocation
of 1571 also countenanced and received, or at least did not /
reject, those doctrines. -^

6. And further, when at length I came actually to look

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' into the text of the Articles, I saw in many cases a patent
justification of all that I had surmised as to their vagueness
and indecisiveness, and that, not only on questions which
lay between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Zuinglians, but on
Catholic questions also ; and I have noticed them in my
Tract. In the conclusion of my Tract I observe: The
s Articles are " evidently framed on the principle of leaving
open large questions on which the controversy hinges.
They state broadly extreme truths, and are silent about
their adjuistment. For instance, they say that all neces-
sary faith must be proved from Scripture ; but do not say
'who is to prove it. They say, that the Church has autho-
rity in controversies; they do not say what authority.
They say that it may enforce nothing beyond Scripture,
but do not say where the remedy lies when it does. They
say that works before grace and justification are worthless
and worse, and that works after grace and justification are
acceptable, but they do not speak at all of works with
God's aid hefore justification. They say that men are law-
fully called and sent to minister and preach, who are
chosen and called by men who have public authority given
them in the Congregation ; but they do not add hy whom
the authority is to be given. They say that Councils
called by princes may err ; they do not determine whether
Councils called in the name of Christ may err."

Such were the considerations which weighed with me in
my inquiry how far the Articles were tolerant of a Catho-
lic, or even a Roman interpretation ; and such was the
defence which I made in my Tract for having attempted
it. From what I have already said, it will appear ttat I
have no need or intention at this day to maintain every
particular interpretation which I suggested in the course

_ of my Tract, nor indeed had I then. Whether it was
prudent or not, whether it was sensible or not, any how I
attempted only a first essay of a necessary work, an essay

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FBOM 1833 TO 1839. S?

whichy as I was quite' prepared to find, would require
revision and modification by means of the li^ts wHich I
should gain £rom the criticism of others. I should have
gladly withdrawn any statement, which could be proved
to me to be erroneous ; I considered my work to be faulty
and open to objection in the same sense in which I now con-
sider my Anglican interpretations of Scripture to be erro-
neous; but in no other sense. I am surprised that men
do not apply to the interpreters of Scripture generally the
hard names which they apply to the author of Tract 90.
He held a large system of theology, and applied it to the
Articles: Episcopalians, or Lutherans, or Presbyterians,
or Unitarians, hold a large system of theology and apply
it to Scripture. Every theology has its difiiculties ; Pro-
testants hold justification by faith only, though there is
no text in St. Paul which enunciates it, and though St.
James expressly denies it ; do we therefore call Protestants
dishonest ? they deny that the Church has a divine mission,
though St. Paul says that it is " the Pillar and ground of
Truth;" they ke^ the Sabbath, though St. Paul says,
" Let no man judge you in meat or drink or in respect of
. . . the sabbath days." Every creed has texts in its
favour, and again texts which run coimter to it : and this
is generally confessed. And this is what I felt keenly: —
how had I done worse in Tract 90 than Anglicans, Wes-
leyans, and Calvinists did daily in their Sermons and their
publications ? how had I done worse, than the Evangelical
party in their ex dnimo reception of the Services. for Bap-
tism and Visitation of the Sick *? Why was .1 to be dis-

* For instance, let candid men consider the form of Absolution contained in
that Prayer Book, of which all dergymeo, Evangelical and Liberal as well as
high Church, and (I think) all persons in University o£Sce dedare that '* it
containeth nothing contrary to the Word of God,**

I challenge, in the sight of all England, Evangelical clergymen generally, to
pat on paper an interpretation of this form of words, consistent with their

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honest and they inimaculate ? There was an occasion on
which our Lord gave an answer, which seemed to be
appropriate to my own case, when the tumult broke out
against my Tract : — " He that is without sin among you,
let him first cast a stone at him/' I could have fancied that
a sense of their own difficulties of interpretation would have
persuaded the great party I have mentioned to some pru-
dence, or at least moderation, in opposing a teacher of an
opposite school. But I suppose their alarm and their
anger overcame their sense of justice.

In the sudden storm of indignation with which the
TrjMJt was received throughout the country on its appear-
ance, I recognize much of real religious feeling, much of
honest and true principle, much of straightforward igno-
rant common sense. In Oxford there was genuine feeling
too ; but there had been a smouldering, stern, energetic
animosity, not at all unnatural, partly rational, against its
author. A false step had been made ; now was the time
for action. I am told that, even before the publication of
the Tract, rumours of its contents had got into the hostile
camp in an exaggerated form ; and not a moment was lost
in proceeding to action, when I was actually fallen into the
hands of the Philistines. I was quite unprepared for the

sentiments, which shall be less forced than the most objectionable of the inter-
pretations which Tract 90 puts upon any passage in the Articles.

** Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to His Church to absolve all
sinners who truly repent and belieTe in Him, of His great mercy forgive thee
thine offences ; and by Hit authority committed to me, I absolve thee from
all thy 9in$, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost. Amen.'*

I subjoin the Roman form, as used in England and elsewhere: '* Dominus
noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo, ab
omni vinculo excommunicationis et interdict!, in quantum possum et ta
indiges. Deinde ego te absolvo ii peccatis tuis, in nomine Patris et Filii et
Spiritfis Sancti. Amen.''

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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 89

outbreak, and was startled at its violence. I do not think
I had any fear, Nay, I will add, I am not sure that it
was not in one point of view a relief to me.

I saw indeed clearly that my place in the Movement
was lost ; public confidence was at an end ; my occupation
was gone. It was simply an impossibility that I could
say any thing henceforth to good effect, when I had been
posted up by the marshal on the buttery-hatch of every
College of my University, after the manner of discom-
moned pastry-cooks, and when in every part of the country
and every class of society, through every organ and oppor-
timity of opinion, in newspapers, in periodicals, at meet-
ings, in pulpits, at dinner- tables, in coffee-rooms, in railway
carriages, I was denounced as a traitor who had laid his
train and was detected in the very act of firing it against
the time-honoured Establishment. There were indeed men,
besides my own immediate friends, men of name and posi-
tion, who gallantly took my part, as Dr. Hook, Mr.
Palmer, and Mr. Perceval ; it must have been a grievous
trial for themselves ; yet what after all could they do for
me ? Confidence in me was lost ; — but I had already lost \
fuU confidence in myself. Thoughts had passed over me
a year and a half before in respect to the AngKcan claims,
which for the time had profoundly troubled me. They had
gone : I had not less confidence in the power and the
prospects of the Apostolical movement than before ; not
less confidence than before in the grievousness of what I
called the " dominant errors " of Rome : but how was I
any more to have absolute confidence in myself? how was
I to have confidence in my present confidence ? how was I
to be sure that I should always think as I thought now P
I felt that by this event a kind Providence had saved me
from an impossible position in the future.

. First, if I remember right, they wished me to withdraw

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the Tract. This I refused to do : I would not do so for
the sake of those who were unsettled or in danger of un-
settlement. I would not do so for my own sake ; for how
could I acquiesce in a mere Protestant interpretation of
the Articles ? how could I range myself among the pro-
fessors of a theology, of which it put my teeth on edge
even to hear the sound ?

Next they said, " Keep silence ; do not defend the
Tract ;*' I answered, "Yes, if you will not condemn it, — if
you will allow it to continue on sale." They pressed on
me whenever I gave way ; they fell back when they saw
me obstinate. Their line of action was to get out of me
as much as they could; but upon the point of their
tolerating the Tract I was obstinate. So they let me con-
tinue it on sale ; and they said they would not condemn
it. But they said that this was on condition that I did
not defend it, that I stopped the series, and that I myself
published my own condemnation in a letter to the Bishop
of Oxford. I impute nothing whatever to him, he was
ever most kind to me. Also, they said they could not
answer for what some individual Bishops might perhaps
say about the Tract in their own charges. I agreed to
their conditions. My one point was to save the Tract.

Not a line in writing was given me, as a pledge of the
observance of the main article on their side of the engage-
ment. Parts of letters from them were read to me, with-
out being put into my hands. It was an "understanding.^*
A clever man had warned me against " understandings "
some six years before : I have hated them ever since.

In the last words of my letter to the Bishop of Oxford I
thus resigned my place in the Movement : —

" I have nothing to be sorry for," I say to him, " except
having made your Lordship anxious, and others whom I
am bound to revere. I have nothing to be sorry for, but
everything to rejoice in and be thankful for. I have never

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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 91

taken pleasure in seeming to be able to move a party, and
whatever influence I have had, has been found, not sought
after. I have acted because others did not act, and have
sacrificed a quiet which I prized. May God be with me
in time to come, as He has been hitherto ! and He will be,
if I can but keep my hand clean and my heart pure. I
think I can bear, or at least will try to bear, any personal
humiliation, so that I am preserved from betraying sacred
interests, which the Lord of grace and .power has given
into my charge \"

1 To the Pamphlets published in my behalf at this time I should add
'' One Tract more/' an able and generous defence of Tractarianism and No.
90, by the present Lord Houghton.

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And now that I am about to trace, as far as I can, the
course of that great revolution of mind, which led me to
' leave my own home, to which I was bound by so many
strong and tender ties, I feel overcome with the difficulty
of satisfying myself in my account of it, and have recoiled
from the attempt, till the near approach of the day, on
which these lines must be given to the world, forces me to
set about the task. For who can know himself, and the
^multitude of subtle influences which act upon him ? And
who can recollect, at the distance of twenty-five years, all
that he once knew about his thoughts and his deeds, and
that, during a portion of his Kfe, when, even at the time,
his observation, whether of himself or of the external
world, was less than before or after, by very reason of the
perplexity and dismay which weighed upon him,— when,
in spite of the Kght given to him according to his need
amid his darkness, yet a darkness it emphatically was?
And who can suddenly gird himself to a new and anxious
imdertaking, which he might be able indeed to perform
well, were full and calm leisure allowed him to look
through every thing that he had written, whether in
published works or private letters? yet again, granting
that calm contepaplation of the past, in itself so desirable,
who could afford to be leisurely and deliberate, while he

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noM 1839 TO 1841. 93

practises on liimself a cmel operatioii, tlie ripping up of
old griefis, and the yentnring again upon the '' infandum
dolorem " of years, in which the stars of this lower heaven
were one by one going out ? I could not in cool Uood,
nor except upon the imperions call of duty, attempt what
I have set myself to do. It is both to h^id and heart an
extreme trial, thus to analyze what has so long gone by,
and to bring out the results of that examination. I have
done various bold things in my life : this is the boldest :
and, were I not sure I should after all succeed in my
object, it would be madness to set about it.

In the spring of 1839 my position in the Anglican
Church was at its height. I had supreme confidence in
my controversial status, and I had a great and still grow-
ing success, in recommending it to others. I had in the
foregoing autumn been somewhat sore at the Bishop's
Charge, but I have a letter which shows that all annoy-
ance had passed from my mind. In January, if I recollect
aright, in order to meet the popular clamour against my-
self and others, and to satisfy the Bishop, I had collected
into one all the strong things which they, and especially
I, had said against the Church of Eome, in order to their
insertion among the advertisements appended to our pub-
lications. Conscious as I was that my opinions in religion
were not gained, as the world said, from Roman sources,
but were, on the contrary, the birth of my own mind and
of the circumstances in which I had been placed, I had a
scorn of the imputations which were heaped upoli me. It
was true that I held a large bold system of religion, very
unlike the Protestantism of the day, but it was the con-^
centration and adjustment of the statements of great An-
glican authorities, and I had as much right to hold it, as the
Evangelical, and more right than the Liberal party could
nhow, for asserting their own respective doctrines. As I

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declared on occasion of Tract 90, 1 claimed, in behalf of
who would in the Anglican Church, the right of holding
with Bramhall a comprecation with the Saints, and the
Mass all but Transubstantiation with Andrewes, or with
Hooker that Transubstantiation itself is not a point for
Churches to part communion upon, or with Hammond
that a General Council, truly such, never did, never shall
err in a matter of faith, or with Bull that man had in para-
dise and lost on the fall, a supernatural habit of grace, or
with Thorndike that penance is a propitiation for post-
baptismal sin, or with Pearson that the all-powerful name
of Jesus is no otherwise given than in the Catholic
Church. "Two can play at that," was often in my

y^ mouth, when men of Protestant sentiments appealed to
the Articles, Homilies, or Reformers ; in the sense that, if
they had a right to speak loud, I had the liberty to speak
out as well as they, and had the means, by the same or
parallel appeals, of giving them tit for tat. I thought that
the Anglican Church was tyrannized over by a mere party,
and I aimed at bringing into effect the promise contained
in the motto to the Lyra, " They shall know the difference
now." I only asked to be allowed to show them the

What will best describe my state of mind at the early
part of 1839, is an Article in the British Critic for that
April. I have looked oyer it now, for the first time since
it was published; and have been struck by it for this
reason : — it contains the last words which I ever spoke as

> an Anglican to Anglicans. It may now be read as my
parting address and valediction, made to my friends. I
little knew it at the time. It reviews the actual state of
things, and it ends by looking towards the future. It is
not altogether mine ; for my memory goes to this, — that
I had asked a friend to do the work ; that then, the
thought came on me, that I would do it myself: and that

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FROM 1839 TO 1841. 95

he was good enough to put into my hands what he had
with great appositeness written, and that I embodied it
in my Article. Every one, I think, will recognize the
greater part of it as mine. It was published two years
before the affair of Tract 90, and was entitled " The State
of Religious Parties."

In this Article, I begin by bringing together testimonies
from our enemies to the remarkable success of our exer-
tions. One writer said : " Opinions and views of a theo-
logy of a very marked and peculiar kind have been exten-
sively adopted and strenuously upheld, and are daily
gaining ground among a considerable and influential por-
tion of the members, as well as ministers of the Estab-
lished Church." Another: The Movement has manifested
itself " with .the most rapid growth of the hot-bed of these
evil days." Another: "The ViaMedia is crowded with young
enthusiasts, who never presume to argue, except against
the propriety of arguing at all." Another : " Were I to
give you a full list of the works, which they have pro-
duced within the short space of five years, I should sur-
prise you. You would see what a task it would be to
make yourself complete master of their system, even in its
its present probably immature state. The writers have
adopted the motto, ' In quietness and confidence shall be
your strength.' With regard to confidence, they have
justified their adopting it; but as to quietness, it is not
very quiet to pour forth such a succession of controversial
publications." Another : " The spread of these doctrines
is in fact now having the effect of rendering all other dis-
tinctions obsolete, and of severing the religious community
into two portions, fundamentally and vehemently opposed
one to the other. Soon there will be no middle ground
left ; and every man, and especially every clergyman, will

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 9 of 33)